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PoliticsNation, Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

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Show: POLITICS NATION
Date: April 23, 2015
Guest: Angela Rye, Ryan Grim, Margie Omero, Peter Slevin, Dana Milbank;
Karen Bass; Elijah Cummings; Laith Alkhouri;

REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Thanks to you for tuning in.

We start with breaking news. Loretta Lynch making history to become our
next attorney general. President Obama talked about it just moments ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`ve been looking forward to
saying this. That I am very pleased that Loretta Lynch has now been
confirmed as our next attorney general.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: And, you know, America will be better off for it. She`s spent her
life fighting for the fair and equal justice. That`s the foundation of our
democracy. She`s going to do a great job helping our communities, keeping
them safe, but also making sure our citizens are protected by equal justice
under the law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It took 166 days for the Senate to confirm President Obama`s
nominee.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On this vote, the yeas are 56, and the nays are 43.
The nomination is confirmed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The main holdup, Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell,
refused to schedule a vote. But after dragging his feet for months,
McConnell voted yes. He and nine other Republicans backed her
confirmation, including many up for re-election next year.

But this was never about Miss Lynch. This was about far-right Republicans,
hijacking her confirmation, to attack President Obama, and the current
attorney general, Eric Holder.

In Senator Ted Cruz`s speech today, he mentioned hold at least ten times
and used the word "lawless" at least six times.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: The consistent pattern of lawlessness. Attorney
General Eric Holder -- Eric Holder has abused the office. Eric Holder,
well, she chose to embrace the lawlessness of the Holder justice
department. She agreed with the Holder justice department. The Holder
justice department. The Holder justice department. She will continue the
Holder justice department`s lawlessness. Eric Holder -- same lawlessness -
- lawlessness -- lawlessness. Eric Holder.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Senator Cruz sure had his talking points down. But when it came
time to vote, he was nowhere to be found. His campaign said he had a
commitment in Texas. Maybe it was this. A fund-raiser for Senator Cruz
starts about an hour from now in Dallas. Apparently, a fund-raiser was
more important than voting on this historic nominee and it shows. That
maybe this whole fight was more about politics than about substance all
along.

Joining me now, Congresswoman Karen Bass, Democrat from California. She
serves on the Judiciary Committee. And Dana Milbank, from "the Washington
Post."

Thank you both for being here.

DANA MILBANK, POLITICAL COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Good evening,
Reverend.

REP. KAREN BASS (D), CALIFORNIA: Thanks for having us.

SHARPTON: Congresswoman Bass, I have to ask you first, did you think this
day would ever come?

BASS: Well, I`ll tell you, I was really beginning to wonder. The only
thing that made me think it would come was the way it went after attorney
general Holder. The question was, did you actually really want him to
leave? Well, if you wanted him to leave, then confirm Loretta Lynch, and
finally they did it, 100 days late.

SHARPTON: Yes. I would say at least 100 days late.

Dana, what do you make of Senator Cruz skipping this vote, apparently for a
fund-raiser?

MILBANK: Well, Reverend, I hear he may be running for president. But I
think --

SHARPTON: That`s a funny way to run, not to vote on the attorney general
of the United States.

MILBANK: Well, exactly. I mean, this is sort of a -- it`s a perfect
bookend to the whole thing that began as this farce and ended the same way.
But it shows the extent to which over the next 18 months or so, how the
business of the Congress and of the Senate is basically going to be
hijacked by the presidential aspirations of Marco Rubio and rand Paul and
Ted Cruz and whoever else decides they want to get involved there.

So I think this is really a taste of things to come. It was pointless, but
it did some real damage here. I mean, you know, for the Republicans to
manage to keep a man they don`t want on the job, in the job longer. But
more to the point, Loretta Lynch now has much less time to serve, to get
her people in place, and to run the United States justice department the
way it should be run. So they`ve really done the country a disservice, not
just Loretta Lynch.

SHARPTON: Congresswoman, let`s look at how the 2016 GOP contenders voted
here. Senator Cruz, as we said, didn`t show up. Senator Graham voted yes.
Senators Paul and Rubio voted no. Did Paul and Rubio need those "no" votes
for the GOP primary, you think?

BASS: Well, I think that`s absolutely right. I think that`s exactly what
they`re doing. And you know, one of the things that people really have to
realize, in these 100 days, while we were waiting for her to be confirmed,
work at the justice department has been stalled. So a lot of things that
needed to happen have not happened. So it wasn`t just a matter that a
confirmation was lingering, but this really has hurt the country. And
frankly, I am so excited about her confirmation, because I hope that she
continues the tradition of Eric Holder, especially in regard to criminal
justice reform, something that our country has desperately need.

SHARPTON: And voting rights as well.

BASS: Absolutely.

SHARPTON: But you know, Dana, there was a lot of pressure today on the
Republicans up for re-election next year in states that President Obama won
twice. Here`s how they all voted. Four in favor, three against. How
could those yes and no votes affect them as they tried to get re-elected in
blue states, Dana?

MILBANK: Well, look, it depends on how this election is shaping up, but
this is going to be a presidential year. And in the last several cycles,
Democrats have done a lot better in the presidential year. So I don`t
think it`s at all surprising that Rob Portman, who`s got a serious
challenge in Ohio, would want to take this issue away from the Democrats or
that Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire would want to do the same thing.

You know, just as the Republican presidential candidates need this to whip
up the base, there are others there who are actually looking at the broader
electorate and they are not just looking at the primary electorate. And
they`re realizing that voting against the first African-American woman to
be the attorney general, after a half a year delay, would probably be a
good idea to just let it go through at that point.

SHARPTON: You know, Congresswoman, when President Obama nominated Loretta
Lynch, she made a promise to the American people. Listen to this.

BASS: Sure.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LORETTA LYNCH, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: If I have the honor of being
confirmed by the Senate, I will wake up every morning with the protection
of the American people my first thought. And I will work every day to
safeguard our citizens, our liberties, our rights, and this great nation,
which has given so much to me and my family.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Congresswoman, what do you think a Loretta Lynch justice
department will look like?

BASS: I think a Loretta Lynch justice department is going to be excellent.
I`m excited about her confirmation, really look forward to working with
her. You mentioned voting rights act, and we need to do everything we can
to protect voting rights around the nation and really look at the whole
voter suppression that`s happening right now in our country, that as far as
I`m concerned, is just a 21st century version of the poll tax. And I know
that she will be there fighting hard against the voter suppression, and I
look forward to working with her, as well as the criminal justice reform,
as I mentioned earlier.

SHARPTON: Dana, what do you think it will look like? What is your guess?

MILBANK: Well, I suspect we won`t see a huge amount of change, if only
because she has such a short period of time to serve on the job. But I
think one thing you will see is a change with the relationship with
Congress. The relationship between Holder and Congress had gotten so toxic
over the years, and he clearly had very little use for them after a while.
And I think you`re going to see a fresh leaf turned there, which is all the
more reason why it was silly that the Republicans held this up for so long.

SHARPTON: Congresswoman, before I let you go, I know you serve on the
foreign affairs committee.

BASS: Yes.

SHARPTON: The African subcommittee of that committee. And I have been
raising that there`s been more attention to some things going on in Africa,
like the 900 that went down on the migrant boat in Libya the other day,
almost no notice, no rally, and 200 girls, a year later, still missing in
Nigeria. I mean, how do you respond to that and how do you respond to the
almost deafening silence about it, as a priority in this country, even in
the media?

BASS: Well, first of all, Rev., I just have to thank you for your
coverage. I think it`s so important to bring attention to this. This is
just horrible. I mean, over the weekend, you know, close to 900 people
died. I mean, this year alone, a couple a thousand people have died.
People are fleeing Libya, this really is an international problem.

And frankly, I hope the EU steps up in a much bigger way, because these
people that are leaving Libya are dying off the coast of Italy. And we
need to do everything we can, as the international community, but the EU,
obviously, has to take the lead on this.

SHARPTON: Thank you, Congresswoman.

Congresswoman Karen Bass, Dana Milbank, thank you both for your time
tonight.

BASS: Thank you.

MILBANK: Thanks, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Coming up, we`re following breaking news on a terrible tragedy.
An American hostage killed in a U.S. drone strike on Al-Qaeda. What
happened? And what does it mean for the future of drone welfare?

And, breaking tonight, the eyewitness who shot the cell phone video of the
arrest of Freddie Gray, speaking out for the first time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once I got around to see where Freddie was, I instantly
started recording. They had him folded up like he was a crab or like a
piece of origami.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And a "New York Times" story is raising questions about
potential conflicts of interest for Hillary Clinton. How is she
responding?

And a new book calls Michelle Obama the most unlikely first lady in modern
history. A personal look at her journey is ahead. Please stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Breaking news from Baltimore. Demonstrators gathering outside
city hall, protesting the death of Freddie Gray. He died earlier this week
after sustaining a severe spinal cord injury, allegedly while in police
custody. Gray`s family has now received his body. The funeral is set for
Monday. Cell phone video captured the 25-year-old screaming in pain while
being placed under arrest.

Kevin Moore, one of the eyewitness who shot this video, is speaking out for
the first time in an interview with "the Baltimore Sun."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEVIN MOORE, EYEWITNESS: Once I got around to see where Freddie was, I
instantly started recording. They had him folded up like he was a crab or
like a piece of origami, you know what I mean? He was all bent up and he
had his knees -- the officer had their knee in his neck and he was just
screaming. He was like screaming for life, you know what I mean?

He couldn`t breathe, he needed an asthma pump, which he let them know. He
couldn`t breathe, I need an asthma pump. They ignored it. You know what I
mean? When they went to pick him up off the ground, he was limp. The
heels of his feet was in his back and I mean, like he couldn`t move. And
then they yell, stop resisting, stop resisting, but there was no
resistance. There was no resistance. He couldn`t move.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: History has shown we need to be cautious about witness
statements, but they certainly need to be investigated. And in fact, "the
Baltimore Sun" reports Kevin Moore has spoken to two detectives in police
departments` office of internal oversight.

Joining me now is Congressman Elijah Cummings, Democrat of Maryland. He
represents parts of Baltimore. Thanks for being here tonight.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: It`s good to be with you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Congressman, what`s your reaction to this new claim from a
witness that Freddie Gray was bent over like a crab or an origami figure?

CUMMINGS: I think that this witness` testimony is extremely important,
Reverend. If you look at the film, he -- his legs are dangling, when they
attempt to put him in the police van. And sadly, this is a situation that
we are seeing far too often, throughout not only our city, but throughout
the country. And we`ve got to address this and we`ve got to address it
immediately.

SHARPTON: Now, the police commissioner`s office released a statement
today, saying, quote, "the Baltimore police department has a policy
requiring all prisoners to be properly seat belted during transport." But
listen to what a police union official said about Freddie Gray yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Do you know if Mr. Gray was secured when he
got into the transport van?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was placed in the transport van. Whether he was
seat belted in, is that what you`re asking for? I don`t believe he was.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now --

CUMMINGS: Yes.

SHARPTON: Are you concerned that police may have failed to follow their
own policy and that led to Gray`s injuries, Congressman?

CUMMINGS: I am -- yes, I am. I am extremely concerned. And Reverend, we
have to -- this matter needs to be investigated independently, and we have
to see exactly what happened from the time the police first laid eyes on
Mr. Gray until the time that he died. We need to have all the facts. And
yes, if he -- he may have been -- and again, this would come in an
investigation, already injured when they put him in the police wagon, and
certainly, if a man is handcuffed and perhaps with shackles on his feet,
and he`s already injured and not seat belted, he has no way to protect
himself. So, this is a major problem.

But I`m confident that the feds, we, senator McCullski (ph) and I,
congressional delegation, we`ve all joined in, in asking the department of
justice to come in and look at this case, because we all have concerns.
And, as I`ve said to police officers, many of them are wonderful people and
do a good job, but we`ve got some who perhaps should not be on the force.

But what I`ve said to them, Reverend, is that, you know, in the past,
they`ve asked me to work with them and get, what we`ve had crimes to take
place in our community, to ask the public to come out and testify, and to
be, you know, to provide evidence. And I`m saying to them, to the police,
somebody knows what happened here. And they don`t have the right to remain
silent, with regard to somebody who they were supposed to be protecting and
serving, and now, sadly, Freddie Gray is not with us anymore. There`s
something wrong with that picture.

SHARPTON: Well, let me put this one before you. On the street, there`s a
thing called a nickel ride. When a person is tossed into a police van and
intentionally knocked around by reckless driving. In Baltimore, in 2005, a
jury awarded a $7.4 million judgment for a man who got a fatal broken neck
in this fashion. And in Philadelphia, in 2001, the city paid out $2.3
million in settlements to people who went through this, including two who
were permanently paralyzed.

Now, we don`t know if that`s what happened here, but it`s something
investigators should look at, don`t you think?

CUMMINGS: Absolutely, Reverend. We need to look at every single second of
what happened here. Again, we need to look at what happened before the
film began rolling, and it`s good to have the testimony of the gentleman
that you just had on, the witness who shot the video. But then we need to
look at how, what kind of drive was taking place to get him to the station
and why it took so long for them to get medical care, why he was not seat
belted, if he was not. A lot of questions.

But Reverend, the thing that`s really important right now, is that we have
to have transparency. We have to have independent investigation. And we
have to be very thorough with regard to what went on here.

SHARPTON: All right. Well, this is a big story, a big concern to many,
many, many Americans. We`re going to stay on it.

Congressman Elijah Cummings, thank for your time tonight.

CUMMINGS: Thank you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Now to news out of Ferguson, Missouri. Today, Michael Brown`s
family announced the filing of a civil lawsuit against the city of
Ferguson. Officer Darren Wilson fatally shot Brown last year. The
department of justice did not fine civil rights charges against Wilson and
the grand jury chose not to indict officer Wilson for a crime. This case
will now go to civil court.

Coming up, we`re following breaking news. An American hostage killed in a
U.S. drone strike on Al-Qaeda. President Obama takes full responsibility
today. More on this terrible tragedy, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back with more breaking news, as we learn more about the
two innocent hostages killed in U.S. drone strikes on Al-Qaeda. The
attacks were launched in January, over the Afghanistan/Pakistan border.
The victims, 73-year-old Dr. Warren Weinstein, an American aid worker held
hostage since 2011, and Italian aid worker, Giovanni Laporto, kidnapped
days after he arrived in the region to help with flood recovery in 2012.

Today, President Obama took full responsibility for the tragedy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: As president and as commander in-chief, I take full responsibility
for all our counterterrorism operations, including the one that
inadvertently took the lives of Warren and Giovanni. We believed that this
was an Al-Qaeda compound, that no civilians were present, and that
capturing these terrorists was not possible. And we do believe that the
operation did take out dangerous members of Al-Qaeda. What we did not
know, tragically, is that Al-Qaeda was hiding the presence of warren and
Giovanni in this same compound.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The strikes also killed two American Al-Qaeda members, though
neither were specifically targeted. Today, Weinstein`s widow released a
statement on behalf of the family saying, "those who took Warren captive
over the three years ago bear ultimate responsibility. He would still be
alive and well if they had allowed him to return home."

But the tragedy is raising questions about America`s drone strategy, which
might not be as clean cut as most Americans would probably like to think.
But is there a better alternative to fighting terrorists that doesn`t
involve yet another ground war?

Joining me now is Laith Alkhouri, our counterterrorism expert, thank you
for being here today.

LAITH ALKHOURI, FLASHPOINT GLOBAL PARTNERS: Thank you, Rev.

SHARPTON: So the president said there was no intelligence that there were
civilians at this compound. Does Al-Qaeda use these hostages as human
shields?

ALKHOURI: So, ever since the United States launched a number of air
strikes on Al-Qaeda sites in Afghanistan and Pakistan, kind of narrowing
them down, kind of suffocating them in a few corners in that border region,
the very restive border region. You know, we can just expect that the
hostages being taken by Al-Qaeda would be in a pretty short proximity from
their operatives. Of course in this case, we had signal intelligence, but
we did not have human intelligence that would confirm whether or not there
were hostages or not or whether there would be Al-Qaeda leaders or not.

SHARPTON: Now, the president said today there would be a full
investigation of what happened. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Already, I`ve directed a full review of what happened. We will
identify the lessons that can be learned from this tragedy and any changes
that should be made. We will do our utmost to ensure it is not repeated.
And we will continue to do everything we can to prevent the loss of
innocent lives, not just innocent Americans, but all innocent lives, in our
counterterrorism operations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Could for affect a U.S. drone policy, drone warfare, in the
future?

ALKHOURI: We know that a drone strategy has been extremely controversial,
not only in the Middle East and North Africa, but generally speaking,
worldwide. But they know they are much more precise than launching a full-
fledged war. The drone strikes have taken out many important members of
Al-Qaeda and other violent, radical movements out there, but we cannot say
they are going to be 100 percent precise, in taking them out. There`s
always going to be some human loss, just like in any war.

And of course, the president does not want to put any boots on the ground
anyway, because the American people stand against it, people worldwide
stand against it, this is one of the very few options that the United
States has in its pocket.

SHARPTON: But that`s the problem, Laith, isn`t it? Because they don`t
want to put boots on the ground, and the administration has made drones a
key part of the fight against terror. In Pakistan alone, 364 strikes
against terrorist targets have been launched under President Obama. Is
there a viable alternative to drone strikes, without having to put troops
on the ground?

ALKHOURI: I believe cooperation between the United States government and
other governments in the region, where these movements operate, is
absolutely key. When the government, let`s say the Pakistani government
confirms locations where they are providing the only signal intelligence,
but as well as human intelligence, when you put these two key elements
together, then we have a much better view of what`s going on there. But if
we don`t have the full picture, sometimes you have to take a chance.

Now, this compound was clearly an Al-Qaeda compound. It clearly the United
States received intelligence on targeting it, but they did not have full
intelligence on who was exactly inside. Killing two key Al-Qaeda members
that have been on the hunt for many years, but, of course, tragically
taking out American citizens.

SHARPTON: Laith Alkhouri, thank you for your time tonight.

ALKHOURI: Thank you, Rev.

SHARPTON: And as we wait for the investigation into this tragedy to be
carried out, we remember tonight that two families are grieving the loss of
their loved ones. Our thoughts are with the victims` families this
evening.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Coming up, a "New York Times" story is raising questions about
potential conflict of interest between the Clinton Foundation and Clinton`s
role as secretary of state. We`ll have a response.

And a political fight we didn`t see coming. Elizabeth Warren and President
Obama trading barbs on trade. Our panel weighs in, ahead.

And a new book on Michelle Obama, explores her life from Chicago`s south
side to the White House. The author calls her the most unlikely first lady
in modern American history. He joins us, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Time now for "Conversation Nation." Joining me tonight,
political strategist Angela Rye. Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief for
the "Huffington Post." And Margie Omero, democratic strategist, and co-
host of the podcast, The Pollsters. Thank you all for being here tonight.

MARGIE OMERO, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Thanks, Rev.

ANGELA RYE, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Good evening, Reverend.

SHARPTON: First topic, Hillary Clinton on the defensive. "The New York
Times" story is raising questions about potential conflict of interest.
Between the Clinton Foundation and Clinton`s role as secretary of state,
this story details how a Russian firm bought up a company controlling one-
fifth of all uranium produced in the United States. The deal had to be
approved by the State Department. "The Times" says a foundation linked to
that company gave over $2 million to the Clinton Foundation, during the
approval process. A Russian bank tied to the deal also paid former
President Clinton $500,000 for a speech in Moscow. "The Times" says it`s,
quote, "Unknown whether those donations played any role in the approval of
the deal. In other words, there`s no smoking gun."

And a Clinton spokesman says, quote, "No one has produced a shred of
evidence that Hillary Clinton ever took action as secretary of state in
order to support the interests of donors to the Clinton Foundation." "The
Times" admits some of its reporting was originally based on material from
the book, "Clinton Cash," which critics say is a right-wing hit job. Ryan,
let`s talk about the strategy here. How damaging is this and how does
Clinton need to respond?

RYAN GRIM, THE HUFFINGTON POST: It`s one more occasion where, you know,
she`s spending time, you know, on the defensive. You know, a couple things
can be true at the same time. One, you know, on the one hand, you can
have kind of a -- you know, people that don`t have her interests at heart,
you know, putting a lot of money into trying to dig up dirt, and putting it
in the light least favorable to her. At the same time, you have, you know,
the Clintons doing things that allow these sorts of things to get spun out.
You know, the State Department wasn`t the one necessarily leading the
approval of this, but, you know, Secretary Hillary Clinton is a huge
figure, and so does the Clinton Foundation need to be taking that amount of
money from these Russian sources, from these Canadian sources, you know, in
the middle of this approval process? And why didn`t they disclose it? You
know, these questions are going to be continue --

SHARPTON: Yes, the problem was, though, the disclosure also is something
that they raise. Margie, Mrs. Clinton did a press conference a few days
ago, dealing with some things. Does she need to come out and deal with
this? We`re talking about a huge "New York Times" story, a Reuters story,
a "Newsweek" story, no disclosures, re-doing taxes. Does she need to come
out and do another press conference and take on all the questions?

OMERO: Well, I think her team is answering, is addressing a lot of the, a
lot of these accusations, by saying -- you know, reiterating, as you
mentioned, that there is -- there has been no evidence that she had
anything to do with the approval, the main contributor that was cited in
"The New York Times" actually sold a share of the business several years
before any of this happened. The guy who wrote -- the author who wrote the
"Clinton Cash" book is a known republican operative, and conservative
operative. I mean, there are a series of things here that call into
question, what are we really dealing with or is this a nothing burger?
That said, there are still -- it does reinforce some of the narratives that
are out there, about Hillary Clinton, that I think something from a
campaign and political perspective, she`ll need to address down the road.
I don`t think she needs to overcorrect by immediately responding, because I
think her team is doing an excellent job responding.

SHARPTON: So, do you agree, Angela, that she should let her aides respond,
even when you have the lack of disclosures and the fact that you have the
real allegation, that there were conflicts, and that they`re goings to also
re-do some of the tax statements that the foundation has given the IRS?

RYE: Well, Rev, let`s address a couple of things. One is, something that
appears to be a conflict is not in and of itself a conflict. Of course,
the optics right now look bad, because you haven`t heard a response from
Secretary Clinton. But her team has been very clear about saying, not only
is this a republican hit job, not only has Secretary Clinton not been --
they haven`t claimed anything about her wrongdoing in this effort, this is
totally just a smear job. In fact, recently, there was a republican
strategy call about this very thing, about the Clinton cashbook, and about
the fact that this is one of the places where they could -- they need to
hit her hard, because their potential candidates are not as strong as her
on foreign policy. These are the things that we need to look into, when we
also look at potential conflicts. That`s not what this is. This is a hit
job and we need to call it what it is.

SHARPTON: All right. Now to an unlikely feud between President Obama and
Senator Elizabeth Warren, over the fast track trade deal. The President
says the deal will help middle class workers, while Warren worries that
fast tracking any trade deal sets a dangerous precedent. Here`s what
President Obama told my colleague, Chris Matthews, earlier this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: I love Elizabeth. We`re allies on
a whole host of issues. But she`s wrong on this. Now, I would not be
doing this trade deal if I did not think it was good for the middle class.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Senator Warren responded last night on "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: If it`s a great deal for
families, like the President says, or a great deal for workers, then put it
out there and let them see it before we have to grease the skids to get the
deal done. My view is, when the process is rigged, then the outcome is
likely to be rigged.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: And moments ago, President Obama responded to her response.
Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I`ve got some good friends who are opposed to this trade agreement,
but when I ask them specifically, what is it that you oppose, they start
talking about NAFTA. And I`m thinking, well, I -- I just come out of law
school when NAFTA was passed. That`s not the trade agreement I`m passing.
So you need to tell me what`s wrong with this trade agreement, not one that
was passed 25 years ago.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Margie, this is an issue that divides many democrats, am I
right?

OMERO: It is something in the news now, you do hear a lot of folks on the
Left talking about it. I think what`s a pending question is, will this
matter going forward, both in terms of how people feel about the President
and how people feel headed into the primary. And that I`m not as sure
about.

SHARPTON: Ryan?

GRIM: Yes, I think, you know, Elizabeth Warren is probably on the safest
rhetorical ground when she says, okay, look, Mr. President, you know, tell
me what`s in the deal, and then I`ll tell you what`s wrong with it. You
know, that`s a very hard challenge, you know, to meet. I mean, it`s quite
simple. Look, if this is a good deal, let us see it. And if it`s a good
deal, the American people will agree, and it will go through Congress. So,
you know, there are a lot of skeptics out there, you know, who are
discouraged about the deal, by the fact that they`re not allowed to review
it, they`re not allowed to review it with staff. There are a lot of parts
of it that are classified, so that you can`t even talk to reporters about
it. So this idea of, like, tell me what we should change, you know, that
leaves a little bit to be desired from the one side.

SHARPTON: Angela?

RYE: Yes. And I just have to disagree with this. I think the biggest
issue that we have right now Rev is the fact that people are conflating TPA
which is Trade Promotion Authority with the TPP, which the Trans Pacific
Partnership. That is the real challenge here. And so we have to be honest
in our dialogue and our rhetoric to say, this may not be NAFTA, but I`m
afraid because of what NAFTA did, how do we ensure that this does not
become the next NAFTA, and the best way to do that is by having a real,
honest dialogue. Are we going to deny this president, which would be the
first one since Eisenhower to not have trade promotion authority? That`s
unfortunate. That just give him the ability to negotiate a potential
agreement, that would then have to go to Congress to be voted on. So, none
of this is being done in the dark. I think we have to be really honest,
and it`s okay to have a debate, but let`s at least debate with facts.

SHARPTON: We can have different opinions, but we can`t have different
facts. Everyone, stay with me. When we come back, Marco Rubio is leading
all GOP contenders.

And later, a revealing new biography of the First Lady. The author joins
us, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back with the panel. Angela, Ryan, and Margie. Now to
the GOP primary. A new poll of republican voters show Marco Rubio at 15
percent, leading the rest of the field. Angela, good news for Rubio. Does
this poll surprise you?

RYE: The poll doesn`t surprise me, Rev. As we all know, Marco Rubio is
the least tested and tried, and so they don`t know any of his baggage.
He`s the least known, so he has the least amount of baggage, that`s all
this is.

SHARPTON: What do you think, Ryan?

GRIM: I mean, I think some of it is, you know, the Republican Party would
love to see a Latino candidate. You know, as the one out there. They
think that that`s one of the ways to kind of counteract this demographic
push, you know, that democrats have been trumpeting for the last couple of
years.

SHARPTON: Margie?

OMERO: Well, he`s had a bigger bounce, post-announcement, than other
candidates have announced so far. CNN shows him doing better than the rest
of the field, among non-whites. A Mason-Dixon poll shows him beating Jeb
Bush in his home state. He`s seen tying or leading the field in terms of
who represents the vision for the party of the future, among republican
voters. So, I think he really has some real advantages, at least for now.

SHARPTON: All right. Angela, Ryan, and Margie, thank you all for your
time tonight.

OMERO: Thank you.

RYE: Thanks, Rev.

GRIM: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, a new book describes her as the most unlikely first
lady in modern American history. The life and times of First Lady Michelle
Obama and her major impact in that role. The author joins me ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Last night on "The Tonight Show" Jimmy Fallon had some fun with
Obama expressions. And I think you`ll have a good laugh.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": This first lesser known expression
is from a recent White House press event. This is called the "Sup, Bae?"
this one is great. It`s from Obama`s visit to an Irish pub. This is the,
"Am I pretty president?" This next expression is from a recent press
conference. Check this out. This is, "Ay, oh! This guy over here."
Here`s another expression that you don`t see as often, this is the, "hey!"

(LAUGHTER)

That`s a rare one.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Yes, that`s a rare one.

FALLON: That`s a rare one. Hey!

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That was great. And we know First Lady Michelle Obama is no
stranger to "The Tonight Show" stage. But the First Lady didn`t always
like the spotlight. Her new biography calls her the most unlikely first
lady in modern American history. It`s a personal revealing portrait of one
of the most famous women in the world and the author joins me, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: A revealing new biography is offering a closer look at our
country`s first lady. Michelle Obama, a life, takes us through her
incredible journey from growing up in a working class family in Chicago`s
largely segregated south side, to her Ivy League education at Harvard. All
the way to the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, U.S. FIRST LADY: My ancestors came here in chains. My
parents and grandparents knew the sting of segregation and discrimination.
Yet, I attended some of the best universities in this country. I had
career opportunities beyond my wildest dreams. And today, I live in the
White House.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: In a rose, as wife to President Barack Obama, mom-in-chief to
their two young daughters, activist and organizer, she has become what the
author calls, quote, "The most unlikely First Lady in modern American
history."

Joining me now is the author, Peter Slevin, thanks for being here tonight,
Peter.

PETER SLEVIN, AUTHOR, "MICHELLE OBAMA: A LIFE": Great to be here,
Reverend.

SHARPTON: As I said, you call her the most unlikely first lady in American
history. Why is that?

SLEVIN: She calls herself a statistical anomaly. She`s always saying, you
know, I`m not supposed to be here. When you think where she came from, on
the south side of Chicago, when you think about her grandparents, who came
north in the great migration, three of them, how unlikely it was for her to
get through Princeton and Harvard, it is a remarkable story.

SHARPTON: Yes. You know, the book got very personal. You write about her
growing up on a largely segregated Chicago south side, as you say, and then
attending Ivy League University. How did those experiences, though, shape
her to who she is today?

SLEVIN: You know, I think if you look at what Michelle Obama is doing and
saying now, the way she talks about inequality, the way she talks about
unfairness, you can trace that right back to her upbringing, the stories
she heard growing up, the life she`s lived, and the history that she`s
lived. And I think you can see her drawing those connections, in the way
she says, you know, the deck is a little bit stacked, but, you know, hang
in there, stick with it, and you can be there too. You know, she had a
grandfather who really did suffer the sting of discrimination, as you say,
but he also told Michelle Obama, when she was a girl, your destiny was not
written the day you were born.

SHARPTON: You`ve been working on the book for four years, I believe, is
that right?

SLEVIN: That`s right. And I covered her before that for "The Washington
Post."

SHARPTON: All right. Before, for the four years that you were working on
the book, what surprised you the most as you worked on this, about the
First Lady and her story?

SLEVIN: You know what`s striking? We think of Michelle Obama striding
through life, really confidently. You know, she hula hoops on the White
House lawn, she`s on late-night comedy shows, she`s a force on the campaign
trail, but one of the things that really surprised me was how often she
talks about her own self-doubt, about what motivated her, what worried her
growing up. What worried her and made her feel lonely at Princeton and
Harvard. And she tells those stories especially to girls who she says, you
know, you can do it too. If I did it, you can do it. She talks about the
power of her own trajectory.

SHARPTON: And she does it passionately. I remember one night, she
lectured my daughter, in the White House a good 20 minutes, and I think she
connected with Dominique better than I ever have. She really, really keys
in on young ladies.

SLEVIN: That is her audience. You know, she is a mentor to her bones.
And she tells those stories of her own life and of Barack Obama`s life and
she says, we are here, you can be here too. It`s going to be tough, she
said, you`re going to get knocked back sometimes, but you`ve got to stick
with it. That`s right.

SHARPTON: Now, you mentioned her campaigning, she played a key role in
campaigning for her husband. Take a look at this clip from the 2012 DNC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

M. OBAMA: If we want to give all of our children a foundation for their
dreams, and opportunities worthy of their promise, then we must work like
never before. And we must once again come together and stand together, for
the man we can trust to keep moving this great country forward, my husband,
our President Barack Obama.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: What impact has she had on President Barack Obama`s presidency?

SLEVIN: You know, she talks about those very opportunities that she has
had, and she also talks about all the people who were left behind, who
didn`t have a lucky break, who didn`t have the chance that she had. And in
his presidency, she is sounding those themes. If you think about what the
two of them are talking about in this second term, Reverend, I think you`ll
hear that same theme of fairness, where they`re working together on it, in
very much the same way that I found as writing the book, they were working
on it early in their marriage. And as for her relationship with Barack
Obama and his presidency, people told me that she is the most "Do What`s
Right" person in his circle. Valerie Jarrett says that she is direct at
all times with him. Now, of course, Michelle also says, you know, when
Barack Obama crosses threshold every night for dinner, he doesn`t always
need me haranguing him. She said she picks her moments.

SHARPTON: Now, what do you expect to see from her after the White House?

SLEVIN: She has said that she will keep talking, she wants to do some
writing, she has also said she wants to keep working on education, which as
you know, is what her most recent project is all about, called "Reach
Higher" --

SHARPTON: Right.

SLEVIN: -- helping disadvantaged kids. She says she wants to keep working
on education, because it`s the greatest civil rights challenge of our time.

SHARPTON: Peter Slevin, it`s a great read, by the way.

SLEVIN: Thank you so much.

SHARPTON: Thank you for your time tonight. Again, the book is "Michelle
Obama: A Life." Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton.

Coming up next on "HARDBALL," Chris speaks with the man who landed a
gyrocopter on the capitol lawn. "HARDBALL" starts right now.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
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