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PoliticsNation, Monday, December 15th, 2014

Read the transcript from the Monday show

Date: December 15, 2014

Guest: Dana Milbank, Joan Walsh, Laith Alkhouri, Marq Claxton, Faith
Jenkins, Chris Witherspoon, Alyona Minkovski

Schultz. "POLITICS NATION" with Reverend Al Sharpton starts right now.

Good evening, Rev.

REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening, Ed. And thanks to you
for tuning in.

We start with breaking news on the siege in Sydney, a 16-hour stand-off
with a gunman holding 17 hostages in a cafe in Australia`s largest city,
finally ending this morning in a hail of gunfire.


SHARPTON: Here`s what we know right now. Police say two of the hostages
are dead. And that the gunman was killed in the raid. They say they
stormed the cafe after hearing gun shots.


ANDREW SCIPIONE, SOUTH WALES POLICE: They made the call because they
believed at that time if they didn`t enter, there would have been many more
lives lost.

Events that were unfolding inside the premises led them to the belief that
now was the time to actually deploy the number of gun shots that were
heard, which caused officers to move straight to what we call an
(INAUDIBLE), an emergency action plan and that caused them to enter.


SHARPTON: After the raid, a number of hostages were taken out on
stretchers and transported by ambulance to Sydney hospitals. It was the
conclusion of a stand-off that gripped the world`s attention.

Overnight, we saw chilling images of five hostages making a daring dash to
safety. While inside customers and staff were forced to hold up this
Islamic banner. Witnesses described the first moments of the siege.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I saw the gunman, yes. And he was quite tall and
pretty late 40s. He is very calm and he was just pacing. And he was
looking out into the lift well. And the customers were still sitting at
the tables. And they were also drinking, but I`m not sure how alert they
were to what was going to unfold.


SHARPTON: Police identifying the suspected gunman as Man Haron Monis, who
also went by the name Sheik Haron. He had a criminal record, a long
criminal record at that, including a conviction for sending offensive
letters to the families of Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This pen is my gun. And these words are my bullets.
I`ll fight with these weapons against oppression, to promote peace.


SHARPTON: Today, the U.S. defense department told NBC News there was no
evidence the gunman had any connection to ISIS. But among the questions
now, was he a lone Wolf, or part of a larger plot? And how can future
incidents be stopped?

Joining me now is Jim Cavanaugh, retired ATF analyst and Laith Alkhouri, a
counter-terror expert.

Thank you both for being here.



SHARPTON: Jim, let me go to you first. Let`s talk about how this all
ended. Walk us through the raid by the Australian police.

CAVANAUGH: Well, what happened, Reverend Al, from all the reporting, it
looks like that the hostage taker about 2:00 in the morning, about 2:03 in
the morning, started hurting the hostages into two separate groups. So
that`s the activity that started everything, it looks like.

And then a series of events happened. One man went out a door. And a
couple minutes later, five more people went out. Australian newspapers are
reporting that a man inside a few minutes later tried to grab the guy`s
gun. I`m not sure when. They`re saying it might have happened. But at
any rate, the dynamics were changing inside. People were escaping out the
door. And one of the long riflemen looked through the window and reported
a shot fired at a hostage, and then they launched the emergency assault.

Now, you can see on the video you`re showing there, Reverend Al, the
emergency assault where the flash bang devices are deployed and they set
off a series of explosions. There`s also some gunfire no doubt in there,
and there`s evidence that he fired at the police. Because one of the
officers was wounded with a pellet. But he was killed, unfortunately, two
hostages were dead.

So, the on-scene commanders were forced to make a decision. It looks like
he shot a hostage. It all started when there was some activity in there.
A guy tried to get his gun away from him, or him trying to herd the people
around. We are not sure which happened first, but it was the only response
that they could do.

SHARPTON: Laith, we watched this all night. The world was totally gripped
by this. What are you learning now tonight? What has come to you now
that`s new?

ALKHOURI: Well, we`ve learned a few things just by studying what`s left of
his social media activities. And that is his twitter account that has not
been taken down. His latest tweet was on December 12th. But the man --

SHARPTON: Which was Friday?

ALKHOURI: Which was Friday. And the man appeared to be infatuated by
radical elements like ISIS, he declared that the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr
Al-Baghdadi is actually the caliph of the entire and Muslim (INAUDIBLE).
He asked people to pray for him. He accused the Australian government of
actual practicing torture on prisoners in Australia and for launching what
he called terrorist campaign by allying itself with the U.S.-led coalition
that has targeted --

SHARPTON: But there`s no evidence of a direct connection with ISIS or any
terrorist group?

ALKHOURI: So far there`s no direct connection that we see. There`s also
no direct connection that we see with a larger group. It seemed that he
acted on his own.

SHARPTON: Jim, from the suspected gunman`s background, he faced more than
40 charges of sexual or indecent assault. In 2013, he was charged with
being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife, and he was convicted of
sending offensive letters to relatives of fallen Australian soldiers. So
he was certainly on the radar of authorities in Sydney, right?

CAVANAUGH: That`s right. I mean, they knew about him, Reverend Al, and
even the reporters knew about him because of his extremist views and his
being public in the street, you know, preaching in the street this
extremism and sending these letters to the families of the Australian

So he was well-known to the police. He was well-known to the media. But I
agree with Laith. I mean, he`s an inspired, international, lone actor,
much like major Hassan at Ft. Hood, the hatchet attack on the London
soldier, the Canadian attack on the parliament, this guy, we could across
the world. They`re inspired actors. They are lone. They`re not part of
the connected organization, but they`re still deadly. They are still

SHARPTON: Isn`t that even more dangerous, Laith, than organized groups
that can be looked upon, monitored, spied upon? That you have these lone
people that no one has any way of knowing they`re going to come out? How
do we protect ourselves from that?

ALKHOURI: I mean, most definitely, these are the so-called unknown
unknowns. You don`t know whether they`re going to strike. They leave very
little evidence behind. They don`t cooperate or organize with other
individuals. And they also don`t act specifically or explicitly on behalf
of a group. They act -- inspired by an ideology more than anything else.

So it is very difficult to defeat an ideology using air power, using group
troops. What we need, we need a counter narrative, a de-radicalization
campaign that can take off in a number of societies where we believe ISIS
is trying to infiltrate, or its ideology is trying to infiltrate, this
could go on in Australian society, in the United States, in Europe and also
all across the Middle East.

SHARPTON: Because, Jim, you were talking about other incidents around the
world and some that have occurred may have been inspired by other terrorist

In May, four people were shot and killed at a Jewish museum in Brussels.

In October, a man drove his car over two Canadian soldiers in a strip mall.

Two days later a Canadian soldier was shot and killed at the national war

And today, the stand-off in Sydney. And here`s what President Obama`s
former deputy director of the CIA, Mike Morrell said today. Listen to


MIKE MORRELL, FORMER DEPUTY CIA DIRECTOR: What concerns me the most is
that we`re going to see this kind of terrorism around the world and we are
going to see it here, and we need to be prepared for that, you know. It
shouldn`t surprise people when this happens here sometime over the next
year or so. Guaranteed.


SHARPTON: That is, Jim, a very chilling, chilling statement to Americans.

CAVANAUGH: Right, it is, Reverend Al. But we`ve seen it before. I mean,
we have seen it in Ft. Hood. We`ve seen it in the cases you`ve outlined.
You know, if the people don`t have a connection, direct connection to ISIS,
if they haven`t gone over there, or Al-Qaeda, if they haven`t worked with
them, fought with them, trained with them, you know, and they`re not in
contact with them, then they`re inspired lone actor. But they`re still
deadly and they still can pop up.

So the broader community of Americans, and then the broader community of
Muslims that reject these people whole heartedly, we all have to work
together to find them and, you know, interrupt their deadly plots if we

SHARPTON: Jim Cavanaugh and Laith Alkhouri, thank you both for your time

ALKHOURI: Thank you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Straight ahead, revenge politics. Why Senator Vitter is vowing
to block President Obama`s pick for attorney general.

Plus, thought Elizabeth Warren fight was over? Think again. The power of
Warren and what it means for the new Congress.

And tens of thousands marched to end police brutality. Now Oprah Winfrey
is speaking out. More on the Oprah effect on the movement ahead.


SHARPTON: Breaking news tonight, GOP senator David Vitter, announcing
he`ll try to block President Obama`s nominee for attorney general, Loretta
Lynch. But it`s not about her record. It`s about political revenge.
That`s next.


SHARPTON: Breaking news tonight, the politics of revenge. That`s what
we`re seeing from Louisiana senator David Vitter. He`s so mad over the
president`s immigration executive action, he`s vowing to block his pick for
attorney general, Loretta Lynch.

Vitter says quote "we`ll have the opportunity to push back on executive
amnesty with one of our first major battles, the attorney general
nomination. The attorney general is one of the linchpins to Obama`s
amnesty plan, and I`ll be working to get the new Congress to block this

This has nothing to do with Lynch`s merits. It`s just a childish political
power play. It it`s counterproductive and it`s today`s Republican Party.

Joining me now are Dana Milbank and Joan Walsh. Thank you both for being


SHARPTON: Joan, this is flat-out revenge. I mean, how will it play out if
he follows through with this blocking plan of his?

JOAN WALSH, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, SALON.COM: I don`t know. But he`ll get some
support for sure, Reverend Al, I mean. But look at what he didn`t say in
that release. He didn`t say her name. He didn`t say anything about her

SHARPTON: Because it was all about President Obama.

WALSH: Right. He didn`t say, we`re going to talk to her about her views
on immigration and executive power. There were lots of things he could
have said. He didn`t say anything about her record here in New York, pro
or con. She`s not a person. She`s a cipher. She`s a stand-in for the
president. And she also happens to be African-American. And you know,
there`s tended to be a little bit of a beating up on certain black nominees
and black office holders like Eric Holder and Susan Rice. So, you know,
this is shaping up to be another one of those battles where it can get
pretty ugly. I have expected it will.

SHARPTON: But, Dana, this is crazy. I mean, we are in the middle of some
very serious legal questions in this country, from immigration, to
policing, to Wall Street. And we`re not debating the merits of the
attorney general nominee. We`re playing political revenge power games
here, Cana?

MILBANK: Right. Well, of course it`s crazy, reverend. But you`re not
surprised that craziness is occurring to Capitol Hill right now. This is
basically the Ted Cruz playbook. He said he wants to fight President Obama
in every way possible, including with the nominations. Now, there aren`t a
lot of guys like Ted Cruz and David Vitter who want to do this. But you
don`t need too many.

They can`t stop it permanently, but they can really slow it down. And you
know who doesn`t want to hear this news right now is Mitch McConnell,
because it`s exposing a rift within the Republican Party. And they, the
leadership there, doesn`t want to look irresponsible. And if they go
holding up confirmation of the nation`s chief law enforcement official,
regardless of who it is, they`re going to look pretty irresponsible.

SHARPTON: But Joan, you know, we did have a hint when Dana mentioned Ted
Cruz. We had a hint that conservative centers might go after Loretta Lynch
over immigration. Because when she was nominated senators Ted Cruz and
Mike Lee asked her to put out a statement on whether or not she believes
the president`s executive amnesty plans were constitutional and legal. If
Senator Vitter is getting tips from Ted Cruz, this can`t end well for him,
can it?

WALSH: You know, he`s made a choice to get his tips from Ted Cruz. I
mean, Ted Cruz has said he didn`t think they should approve any nominees,
not for ambassadorships, not for anything, including the attorney general.

So, you know, Dana might be more optimistic than I am about there being
really pushback among leadership. I can`t really see Mitch McConnell
stopping -- letting his people stop this, but I can see him letting them
have some fun with it. So we`ll see.

SHARPTON: Now, we see the revenge coming from the right. But I also want
to talk about the thunder from the left. Elizabeth Warren, taking on the
GOP for pushing through secret favors for big banks.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Democrats don`t like Wall Street
bailouts. Republicans don`t like Wall Street bailouts. The American
people are disgusted by Wall Street bailouts. And yet here we are five
years after Dodd-Frank with Congress on the verge of ramming through a
provision that would do nothing for the middle class, do nothing for
community banks, do nothing but raise the risk that taxpayers will have to
bail out the biggest banks once again.


SHARPTON: This is Warren`s moment. And the fight is only beginning.
She`s trying to derail the nomination of an investment banker named Antonio
Weiss for position at the treasury department. Senator Warren`s arguing a
Wall Street executive shouldn`t turn around and start regulating Wall

Republicans try to block nominees to score political points. This move is
on actual policy. Dana, there seems to be a false equivalence here,
linking Elizabeth Warren`s fight to the far right. What`s your take on

MILBANK: No. I mean, in a superficial sense, yes, she`s bucking the party
establishment, you know, the way a Ted Cruz bucks the party establishment,
but she`s not trying to throw sand in the gears here. She`s stating her
policy objection right up front here.

I think for the Democrats as a whole, it`s unfortunate because they could
be at this moment, exploiting the rifts that are naturally existing on the
right in the Republican Party as they take over Congress. It would be nice
to see that the White House could get on the same page with Elizabeth
Warren and they could get some of that populist energy going and back away
from being just the second major corporate party in American politics.

But when you have these disputes out in the open, they`re losing an
opportunity for unity here to exploit the Republican divisions that are
going to be popping up.

SHARPTON: But, Joan, everybody`s eyes are on Elizabeth Warren right now.
How much political power does she really have?

WALSH: I think she has a power in her caucus. I mean, Senator Dick
Durbin, a very close ally of the president, has also come out against
Antonio Weiss. Joe Minchin, a blue dog, not normally with Elizabeth
Warren, not necessarily a populist, has joined her on this one.

I don`t know that she can block it, but you know, she`s going to try. She
hasn`t given up. I know there were some progressives who hoped maybe the
president would back away from this nomination. He forced people to vote
for the budget, even with the Wall Street stuff in it that they didn`t
like. Maybe he would give on this one. He`s not going to. That`s his
prerogative. That`s fine. But he`s going to face a fight with his party.

I guess I disagree with Dana a little bit on the issue of democratic unity.
I think this is a fight worth having. And I think fake unity, sometimes
fake unity has prevailed. Certainly, Nancy Pelosi had to whip votes for
things she didn`t believe in over the years. And I think that kind of
faith unity is not going to happen and maybe some serious debate can be

SHARPTON: Usually ends up with no unity at all. But Senator Warren, you
know, they keep talking about her running for president, Dana. She was
asked again today if she`d consider a run for president. Take a listen.


WARREN: I`m not running for president. That`s not what we`re doing. We
had a really important fight in the United States Congress just this past
week, and I`m putting all my energy into that fight and to what happens
after this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Would you tell these independent groups, give
it up, you`re just never going to run?

WARREN: I told them, I`m not running for president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: You`re putting that in the present tense,
though. Are you never going to run?

WARREN: I am not running for president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: You`re not putting a never on that.

WARREN: I am not running for president. Do you want me to put an
exclamation point at the end?


SHARPTON: She says she`s not running for president, Dana, but is there a
reason she won`t put a "never" in that statement?

MILBANK: Well, because she`s a politician, Reverend. So, you`re never
supposed to put the never in front of that statement if you have ambition.
But not only she`s saying she is not doing anything to would indicate that
she`s running for president or that she`s prepared to run for president.
So I would take her at her word right now. And that she is trying to
infuse this populist energy into the party.

I`m not sure what Joan means about fake unity. I think the White House
should be grasping some of this populist energy and shifting their views to
where the energy is within the party right now. And I think that would be
very effective.

SHARPTON: Dana Milbank and Joan Walsh, thank you for your time tonight.

MILBANK: Thanks, Reverend.

WALSH: Thanks.

SHARPTON: Breaking news, breaking news. President Obama`s nominee for
surgeon general was just confirmed by the Senate with a 51-43 vote. Dr.
Vivek Murthy was nominated by President Obama over a year ago and has faced
steep opposition from Republicans, namely because the NRA opposed his
nomination. Murthy has been confirmed now. We`ll have more on this and
Ted Cruz`s role in his nomination ahead. Murthy confirmed.

Also ahead, Dick Cheney`s explosive comments about torture, innocent
people, and whether he`s do it all over again.

Plus, Oprah Winfrey`s powerful interview about the policing protests
sweeping the country.

And what President Obama says is so hard about buying Christmas presents
for the first lady.


SHARPTON: The wheels are coming off the bus of the Ted Cruz self-
promotional tour. Late Friday night, the Texas Republican took to the
Senate floor to protest the spending bill and rail against President
Obama`s immigration action.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: And before the United States Senate is a bill
that does nothing, absolutely nothing, to stop President Obama`s illegal
and unconstitutional amnesty. I am now offering and raising a
constitutional point of order.


SHARPTON: Another late-night Ted Cruz grandstand. Too bad he forgot his
copy of "green eggs and ham." But his show boating totally backfired.
Cruz`s point of order stunt set off a chain reaction in the Senate
procedures. Eventually allowing democratic leader Harry Reid to set up
dozens of Obama nominees to be confirmed before the Senate adjourns this
week. Nominees who Republicans hope to run out the clock on. Like Tony
Blinkin, for the deputy secretary of state and Sarah Saldana to head
immigration and customs enforcement.

And most controversial of all, Vivek Murthy, President Obama`s nominee for
surgeon general who strongly was opposed by the NRA. But he was just
confirmed by the Senate moments ago. Democrats were overjoyed. It was
like Christmas came early and Senator Cruz was Santa Claus.

But Republicans weren`t as thrilled. Susan Collins declared it
counterproductive. Kelly Ayotte called it ridiculous. And Orrin Hatch
said it was quote "irritating a lot of people."

Did Senator Cruz think we`d ignore his crash and burn on the Senate floor?
Nice try, but looks like your fellow Republicans "Got You."


SHARPTON: A disturbing new video is highlighting how the family members of
police shooting victims are treated in the wake of their loved one`s death.
John Crawford III was shot and killed by police in August. After officers
saw him carrying a pellet gun through an Ohio Walmart. Late today we
learned that John Crawford`s parents plan to sue the two officers involved
in the shooting of their son, as well as the police chief and Walmart. And
now in a new video obtained by "The Guardian" newspaper, we`re seeing how
his girlfriend was grilled and threatened by police for over an hour and a
half right after Crawford was shot dead.


RODNEY CURD, DETECTIVE: And you might be on your way to jail, so I`m going
to be very clear --

I swear to God, I have a job and a family on everything I love.

CURD: Where did he get this gun?

THOMAS: Sir, I don`t know. I swear to God. Sir, I swear to God.

CURD: You were with him. You were with him just moments before this
happened. You need to tell me the truth.

THOMAS: I am. I am, I swear to God.


SHARPTON: You might be on your way to jail. That man had a weapon. But
the threats and attacks didn`t stop there.


CURD: Why would he have a gun in the store?

THOMAS: I don`t know.

CURD: Is he known to carry a gun?

THOMAS: Not that I --

CURD: Don`t tell me that you don`t know. Because that`s the first thing I
realize when somebody`s not telling me the truth when they say that kind of
stuff. You are very close to this man and that`s why you know what`s going
on and need to be truthful with me. Because this might be your last
chance. I`m not going to take another statement to let you recant it. The
truth is, you knew at some point he did carry a gun, isn`t it true?

THOMAS: No, sir, I didn`t know. I swear I didn`t know.

CURD: Tasha, I`m having trouble with this.

THOMAS: Give me a lie detector test.

CURD: That might come in the future.


SHARPTON: He`s grilling her as if she committed a crime. This video is
disturbing. But it`s part of a growing problem. People who have lost
loved ones to police shootings deserve to be treated with respect and
dignity, not as if they`ve done something wrong.

Joining me now are Marq Claxton and a former New York City police officer
and director of Black Law Enforcement Alliance. And former prosecutor and
host of "Just Faith," Faith Jenkins. Thanks for being here tonight.


SHARPTON: Faith, the Guardian says, the officer didn`t even tell her that
John Crawford was dead until 90 minutes into the interrogation. I mean,
what`s your reaction to this video?

JENKINS: This video was so disturbing to watch, especially in light of
what we know now about what really happened in that Walmart. But, you
know, sometimes police officers have to question witnesses or suspects in a
hostile manner to get information. But this wasn`t one of those cases.
This woman was not a suspect. There was a phone call at the Walmart about
John Crawford. She had done nothing wrong. She was not suspected of doing
anything wrong. And the way this officer is interrogating her, well, first
of all, you know, in this state, he`s interrogating her about him having
this gun. Where did he get the gun? You know he has a gun, he`s at
Walmart with his gun. Well, in his state, he`s legally able to do so.
Even if that`s true, that`s not illegal in the state of Ohio. And under
Walmart`s regulations.

SHARPTON: And it`s not -- because it was a toy gun.

JENKINS: Right. And then second, on top of that, this is about an hour
and a half, at what point after they shoot John Crawford the police
officers are there, they`re trained, right? They`re trained to use deadly
force. They know what real guns look like. How do you not know at some
point right after the shooting, that`s not a real gun? It`s a bb gun.
It`s sold in Walmart while this officer is questioning her for 90 minutes.

SHARPTON: But Marq, he basically is calling her a liar. Now, he`s the
girlfriend of a man just killed, who was talking to him on the phone. She
was not there, not suspected of anything. He`s badgering her and basically
calling her a liar. I mean, you were a police officer for many years. He
even asked, was she sober. Watch this.


CURD: Are you under the influence of anything?


CURD: Been drinking?


CURD: Drugs?


CURD: See, your eyes are kind of messed up-looking and you seem lethargic
and tired that I don`t know if it`s because you`re upset or not. I just
want to make sure what`s going on.


SHARPTON: I mean, this is crazy. Mark, is this an appropriate way for law
enforcement to interrogate someone?

MARQ CLAXTON, FORMER NYPD DETECTIVE: Not appropriate at all. What we`re
witnessing there on the video is termed the hard interview. And there are
occasions when police investigators, like I was a retired detective,
utilized a hard interview to gather information, facts, some evidence. But
then there are times when the investigator themselves are basically
incompetent and unaware of the facts to engage in a successful or fruitful
or meaningful hard interview. You can`t lose your humanity and your
decency and your morality when dealing with anyone, especially this young
lady, who he knew had a boyfriend who had just been killed. He should have
also known that the weapon in question was not a real weapon. It was a toy
gun. So he went in, basically blind, if you believe him, and then used
this hard interview technique. And I suspect that technique is probably
used with everybody he interviews. That`s his style and that`s one of the
problems with some investigations and with the investigators that conduct

SHARPTON: But, you know, Marq, Faith just talked about humanity and that`s
what I`ve been saying all along. Where does your humanity come in?
Ferguson, Staten Island choking a man. When does your humanity kick in?
We`re learning more about how police treated the family of Tamir Rice, a
12-year-old boy shot by Ohio police. After he was killed, listen to his
sister described what happened when she tried to run to her brother`s side.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I ran to the gazebo. And I couldn`t get there all the
way to him because the officer attacked me. Threw me on the ground,
tackled me on the ground, put me in handcuffs and put me in the back of the
police car. When I came running out, they tackled me and they didn`t do
nothing. They was just standing there and stuff looking really lost.


SHARPTON: I mean, Faith, her brother was dying. And they tackled her and
threw her into the police car. I mean, do they have any legal recourse?

JENKINS: This is a kid. Right? You look at her, you clearly see that
she`s a kid. You know, these police officers are, whether it`s with Tamir
Rice, or with Eric Garner, you see police officers and this pattern of them
responding to a scene or to a call, and there`s this inability to assess
the situation, to assess the real dangerousness of a situation before using
deadly force. So it`s not surprising that they treated her that way. They
just killed a 12-year-old with a fake gun because they responded in a
matter of seconds decided to use deadly force on that 12-year-old, before
making the proper assessment to see who he was and what he was really

SHARPTON: In a recent case here in New York, Akai Gurley was killed by
officers in the stairwell of his home. And "The Daily News" reports Marq
that the NYPD officer who shot Gurley was texting his union rep as Gurley
lay dying. And what the officers and his partner were, quote, "were
incommunicado for more than six and a half minutes while their commanding
officer and an emergency operator tried to reach them." Marq, what can be
done to ensure police treat the people they shoot and their families with
more dignity?

CLAXTON: You have to shift the mind-set of law enforcement, which is
surrounding much of what the activity is going throughout the nation. You
have to shift the mind-set of law enforcement to the point where they
realize that what you`re doing is public service. You`re doing community
service. You`re doing goodwill. That`s the bulk of law enforcement. And
until you shift the mind-set away from this kind of over militarized, over-
aggressive, in many communities of color in particular, and we have to be
honest about that, until you shift away from that mind-set, you`ll continue
to find incidents that deal with insensitivity, where people, they don`t
respect the humanity, when they can even see the humanity. And in large
part, too many police agencies, too many law enforcement agencies operate
based on color and the community. What community they`re in and what color
the individuals that they`re dealing with are, and that`s unacceptable on
any level.

SHARPTON: Totally unacceptable.

CLAXTON: We have to shift it back to public service.

SHARPTON: Totally unacceptable. And I want to add, I`m not saying this
about all police, not even most police. But those that operate this way
needs to be held accountable. Marq Claxton and Faith Jenkins, thank you
both for your time tonight.

JENKINS: Thanks, Rev.

CLAXTON: Thank you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Coming up, Dick Cheney`s talking torture. Would he do it again?

Plus, we heard from a lot of celebrities on the movement against police
brutality. Now Oprah is speaking out.

And President Obama revealed something about his Christmas list.
"Conversation Nation" is next.


SHARPTON: Time now for "Conversation Nation." Joining me tonight, MSNBC`s
Krystal Ball, TheGrio`s Chris Witherspoon and HuffPost Live host Alyona
Minkovski. Thank you all for being here.

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC CO-HOST, "THE CYCLE": Thanks for having us, Rev.


SHARPTON: We start with former Vice President Dick Cheney`s defense of the
CIA`s enhanced interrogation methods. Despite all the findings in the
torture report, he said he`d do to again.


FMR. VICE PRES. DICK CHENEY (R), UNITED STATES: I have no problem, as long
as we achieve our objective and our objective is to get the guys who did
9/11 and it`s to avoid another attack against the United States. I was
prepared and we did, we got the authorization from the President and
authorization from the Justice Department to go forward to the program. It
worked. It worked now for 13 years, we`ve avoided another mass casualty
attack against the United States. We did captured Bin Laden. We did
capture an awful lot of the senior guys at al Qaeda who are responsible for
that attack on 9/11. I`d do it again in a minute.


SHARPTON: Krystal, he would do it all over again.

BALL: Unbelievable, I mean, kudos to Chuck, this was a great great
interview. And it was so illuminating. Because he asked him, you know,
forced rectal feeding, do you think that`s torture? Cheney says, "no."
The conditions that they held detainees in where they froze to that, is
that torture? "No." So obviously Dick Cheney`s definition of torture does
not match what international standards and what the American people just at
a basic level of common sense think. And on the point of whether or not it
works, I mean, that was one of the things that was very clarifying about
this report. No, torture did not keep us safe. It did not make us safer.

SHARPTON: But Chris --


SHARPTON: But Chris, when you see an interview like this, taking the
politics out of it, does it help or hurt his side with the American people,
when he`s saying rectal feeding is not torture? People like that were
undecided, start looking at this and saying, what?

WITHERSPOON: I think it`s not so much what he said, but how he said it.
He was very arrogant, unapologetic. Ultimately, the bud is on his hands
with this. Ultimately, we know he`s to blame. He was involved at
overseeing the CIA. So I think that the fact that he was so arrogant and
kind of backed away from saying any kind of I`m sorry, I apologize, this
was inhumane, to me it was kind of absurd.


BALL: And he said it was -- but then he didn`t deny any of the allegations
that Chuck laid out from the report.


MINKOVSKI: I just don`t know why everyone is so surprised that Dick Cheney
is not apologizing here and he said, he`d do it again. And of course he
would because he was never held accountable for it, right? Nobody was
punished. Nobody was prosecuted for torturing during the Bush
administration. And that I think is a key failure of the Obama
administration. The rhetoric the President tells us that he`s opposed to
torture, but the actions there just don`t line up.

SHARPTON: What could be done?

MINKOVSKI: Well, what could be done, is you could actually hold somebody
accountable. You could try to prosecute people. You could try to set an
example. If we supposedly -- if this goes against our fundamental values
as a country, then we need to prove it to the rest of the world. We are
signatories to international conventions against tortures, against our own
laws here in the United States as well.

BALL: And one idea that`s been floated with, to issue pardon, because that
way you`re recognizing wrongdoing without going back through all of the
details, you`re able to move forward but with the recognition that there
was wrongdoing. Another thing, another idea here is, no one`s lost their
job. I mean, no one`s been held accountable at that basic level of losing
their job for what clearly the American people see as torture and for not
to mention lying to Congress and lying to the American people.

SHARPTON: On the scale of public opinion, how alarmed is the public on
this, Chris? Is there a real backlash and a real sense of outrage that you
sense in the public?

WITHERSPOON: I mean, I think you can look at it as a political story, but
it`s crossed into the homes of the American people. I think everybody is
upset about this. There`s outrage. And it`s absurd. I think you look at
America as a country that protects its nation, but also protects those in
other countries. And to go to other countries and do what we are saying
and that we see has happened in these reports, it`s shocking. I think
people across the country and the world are shocked.

SHARPTON: Now to Oprah Winfrey, speaking out on the nationwide protests
against police brutality. Last night at the Selma movie premiere in New
York City, Oprah spoke to "Conversation Nation`s" own Chris Witherspoon
working for TheGrio.


OPRAH, TV HOST: My feeling is that everything is always happening exactly
as it should and on time. It`s not coincidence that this is happening now,
but because it`s happening now, people are paying more attention. And I
think life is always there ready to teach, enlighten and open you up to the
greater possibilities of what can be done, if you`re willing to be awake
and to see it.


SHARPTON: Chris, great interview. She said "willing to be awake." What
do you think the Oprah effect will be on this?

WITHERSPOON: I think because Oprah has been silent for so long. She
hasn`t been on Instagram and talked about Eric Garner, Ferguson, Michael
Brown, twitter, none of that. And the fact that she`s finally speaking, I
think this is going to make people realize that this is something that is a
national issue. And what he said I think is beautiful, but it`s sad that
these guys are gone, that these families are mourning, but people now are
awake. That they`re being more active than ever. They want to engage in a
voting, now more than ever before.

SHARPTON: I think Alyona, when she says that now people are paying
attention, it was almost implicitly saying, this has been happening a long
time, but now is the time.

MINKOVSKI: This has been happening for a very long time and I think that -

SHARPTON: You know I know.


MINKOVSKI: Well, you know, one of the other things that Oprah has said
about this too in regards to Selma and the movie coming out, is that the
movie is proof that people have been fighting for justice for so long,
various reasons, right? Whether it be voting rights, or fighting against
police brutality in this country, and not to take it for granted and not to
forget that people risk their lives for this in the past.

SHARPTON: Some lost their lives.

MINKOVSKI: Many lost their lives.

SHARPTON: And the other thing I think Krystal that was interesting about
Chris tying this into the red carpet interview with Oprah is that in the
film, they thought they show some of the tension in the movement. And it
takes away some of the romance that you get with the rewrite of history,
like everybody wasn`t with Dr. King including this staff. There`s a lot of
in-fighting, a lot of controversy, but they still made progress.

BALL: That`s right. And he wasn`t born a nationally beloved figure. It`s
only looking back at history that now everyone as a nation celebrates what
he did as part of that movement and what we were able to achieve. But I
think it`s really powerful to hear Oprah on this, I think it helps to keep
the spotlight on. But I have to say, if people watched that video of Eric
Garner and aren`t moved to action, to recognize that there is a problem in
this country, I don`t know that Oprah can fix it.

SHARPTON: Everyone, please stay with me. When we come back, President
Obama`s big Christmas decision. It`s about shopping. Next.


SHARPTON: We`re back with the panel, Krystal, Chris, and Alyona. Now to
the holiday shopping. And I have a question. I want a show of hands here.
Who is done with their Christmas shopping?

BALL: Who hasn`t started their Christmas shopping?

MINKOVSKI: I`ve started at least. I`m three quarter of the way through.

WITHERSPOON: I`ve not started.

SHARPTON: All right. We have nine shopping days left before Christmas.
And if you still have work to do, don`t worry. So does President Obama.
Here`s what he told Ryan Seacrest today.


PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: Michelle`s hard to shop for. She`s
very fashionable and she looks good. So I`m worried about buying her
clothes, because, you know, on Christmas Day she`ll look at it and say,
that`s really sweet, honey and peck me on the cheek and then I never see
her wear whatever I bought. So I`ve got to rack my brain to see what`s a
new idea.


SHARPTON: Alyona, what`s your gift idea for the first lady?

MINKOVSKI: Oh, God, that`s tough. I mean, I think it`s pretty, you know,
fair to say, you shouldn`t be buying clothes for the first lady though if
you`re the president. Because everything she wears is judged and
criticized and scrutinized. But I mean, you know, the First Lady has a lot
of responsibility, a lot of duties in her own right. Not to mention you`re
the person has to be next to the person with the most stressful job on the
planet. So I think she needs a spa day. You can`t go wrong with that.

SHARPTON: Spa day. Chris?

WITHERSPOON: I think an all-access, unprecedented access, Beyonce tour
pass, her and the girls.

BALL: Oh, I like that.

WITHERSPOON: For her, Malia and Sasha, Obama and Beyonce.

SHARPTON: Krystal?

BALL: Yes. I like the theme of experiences and someone who needs to take
a little time for herself. I mean, it is a little generic, but I think you
can never go wrong for a woman with a day at the spa. Little gift
certificate somewhere nice. Take time for yourself.

SHARPTON: Beyonce, I would get her extra guards at the gate to the White
House lawn. More security.


Krystal, Chris and Alyona, thank you for your time.


MINKOVSKI: Thanks, Rev.

BALL: Thank you.

SHARPTON: When we come back, the fight for justice across the country.


SHARPTON: Finally tonight, people marching for justice all across the
country. On Saturday in Washington, tens of thousands of protesters
marched right up to the United States capitol. In a rally organized by my
civil rights group, the National Action Network. We marched with the
families who have lost loved ones at the hands of police. Relatives of
Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Jr., Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice, and Trayvon
Martin, showing the world that Americans are uniting for justice.


SHARPTON: I stood in this city and was inspired when I saw a black man put
his hand on the bible and become president. But I`ve also been inspired
today when I see young white kids holding up signs saying, "black lives
matter." This is not a black march or a white march. This is an American
march for the rights of American people.


SHARPTON: We also saw tens of thousands of protesters marching here in New
York City and similar rallies in cities like Oakland, Boston, Philadelphia,
and St. Louis. The calls for change are getting louder. Last night the
cast and crew of the movie Selma wore "I can`t breathe" t-shirts at the
premiere. And Cleveland Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins wore a shirt
yesterday that read "Justice for Tamir Rice and John Crawford." As we see
these marches, people that sit on the sidelines that may or may not agree
with our raising the questions of fairness, need to ask themselves, the
people young and old, the people of all races, are saying that the system
is broken in terms of fair and impartial review of cases. And something
must be wrong. What would make people across these lines march? The
answer is, we need change.

Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.


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