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'Up With Steve Kornacki' for Sunday, December 21st, 2014

Read the transcript to the Sunday show

Guest: Eugene O`Donnell, Robert George, Christina Bellantoni, Gabi
Domenzain, Dallas Woodhouse, Brad Woodhouse, Joy Woodhouse, Charlie Rangel,
Adolfo Franco, Bill Delahunt, Mario Russo, Sam Gejdenson


And good morning, and thanks for getting up with us this Sunday morning.
We have a full two hours of news and politics straight ahead, but right now
we want to begin this morning with our coverage of the very latest on the
fatal shooting of two police officers that took place here in New York City
yesterday. A gunman walked up to the window of a patrol car and the two
officers were seated inside and he shot them both in the head in broad


WILLIAM BRATTON, NYPD COMMISSIONER: Today two of New York`s finest were
shot and killed with no warning, no provocation. They were quite simply


KORNACKI: The suspect has been identified as Ismaaiyl Brinsley. This is a
mug shot of an arrest in Georgia, his latest known residence. After
yesterday`s shooting. He ran into a nearby subway station where he killed
himself. Yesterday he`d apparently written in an Instagram account that
this would be his final post. He would be putting wings on two cops today.
That`s what he said. He called them "pigs" saying further, "they take one
of ours, let`s take two of theirs." He added the #restinpeaceericgarner.
Restinpeacemichaelbrown. Police sources have said they believe this was
Brinsley`s account. And they are investigating it. Brinsley began his day
yesterday in Baltimore. Police there say that he went to the home of a
former girlfriend, shot and wounded her. And once they discovered his
Instagram post, Baltimore area officials sent warnings to the NYPD. But
New York`s police commissioner says it was received moments too late.

And then last night, dozens, if not hundreds of New York City cops and
firefighters lined up outside the hospital where the slain officers have
been taken, forming an honor guard as their bodies were taken away by
ambulance. Victims had been identified as officers Rafael Ramos and
Wenjian Liu.


MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, NEW YORK CITY: Our city is in mourning, our hearts
are heavy. We lost two good men who devoted their lives to protecting all
of us. It is an attack on all of us. It is an attack on everything we
hold dear.


KORNACKI: Early this morning, President Obama released a statement calling
the officers "brave men" and saying in part that he "unconditionally
condemns the killings." His attorney general Eric Holder called the
killings senseless and an unspeakable act of barbarism. And the federal
prosecutor in Brooklyn where the shootings occurred, the person President
Obama has nominated to replace Holder as attorney general Loretta Lynch
promised a complete investigation of this horrific crime, her words there.
The Reverend Al Sharpton who hosts a show on this network denounced the
violence and said that Eric Garner`s family has no connection to the
suspect and Michael Brown`s family in Missouri rejected the violence in a
statement that they posted online.

Adam Reiss joins us now from the crime scene in Brooklyn. So, Adam, we
went through the basics there. What are the things now that we have yet to
find out about this, that are going to be learned today, hopefully?

ADAM REISS, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Steve, investigators will continue to comb
this neighborhood here in Brooklyn looking to talk to more eyewitnesses in
what Police Commissioner Bratton is calling a cold blooded assassination.
Now, a makeshift memorial has been set up here. Officers dropping off
candles and flowers to mourn the two officers. One married just two months
ago, the other leaving behind two young sons. They`ll be looking into
Brinsley`s social media account. What did he leave online? What digital
footprint did he leave that may give them more clues as to his motive? We
know he was here on a mission to kill two police officers, but what more
can they learn? In addition, we have learned from "The New York Daily
News" they`ll be looking into this that he was possibly a member of a
prison gang in Baltimore, the name of the gang, the black guerrilla family.

KORNACKI: And Adam, also, the scene at the hospital last night there, I
think we showed some pictures from that. The officers - the fellow
officers forming an honor guard. What was - tell us a little bit more
about what was going on there last night.

REISS: There is video, Steve, of dozens of officers when the mayor
arrived. They turned their backs on the mayor. Now to say that relations
between the police and the mayor`s office is icy would be an
understatement. They turned their backs as he came on to the third floor
to meet with the families of the slain officers. And in addition, the head
of the police officers` union has said, "the blood on the hands starts at
the steps of city hall."

KORNACKI: Wow. Adam Reiss, some strong words there. I appreciate the
report, again, from the scene of the crime yesterday. Thank you for that.
Adam. And as Adam was just saying, ever since the Eric Garner grand jury
decision a few weeks ago New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Pat Lynch, the
head of New York`s police union, have been engaged in a very public dispute
over the mayor`s treatment of police officers. And last night lynch as we
just heard was blaming the mayor and the people who protested against the
grand jury`s decision. Here is Pat Lynch.


many hands tonight. Those that incited violence on the street under the
guise of protests that tried to tear down what New York City police
officers did every day. We tried to warn - It must not go on. It cannot
be tolerated. That blood on their hands starts on the steps of city hall
in the office of the mayor.


KORNACKI: All right, joining us now is former NYPD officer Eugene
O`Donnell. He`s now a professor at John Jay College here in New York.

So, let me just start with this: when you`re a police officer, I know it`s
got to be on your mind every day that something like this is possible.
When you`re an officer, when you`re a member of the officer stemly (ph) -
it`s always there. How much is it there day to day in an officer`s mind?
This possibility? How do you - just live with that every day?

EUGENE O`DONNELL, FORMER NYPD OFFICER: Well, in the city we have the good
fortune of having an outstanding police department. It is very restrained
and does the job and takes risks all the time. In the last week or so
we`ve had two events where the cops could have shot people, but they
didn`t. So, but, of course, it is on their mind, and particularly in the
climate we`re talking about. There`s been so much irresponsible rhetoric
comparing NYPD to the KKK. Look at the officers that got killed here, and
it`s one thing to have legitimate criticisms about the justice system,
which by the way many of the police people would share that. Some of the
things that we said over the course of the last year.

KORNACKI: I mean yeah, when you say like just stuff you`re hearing from
random people or stuff you`re hearing from specific political leaders?

O`DONNELL: I don`t want to target people, but I do think political leaders
should have stepped up in the last year and defended this organization that
is diverse, that`s outstanding in so many ways, that`s in demand. And
communities calling in nonstop asking for police service and for this
department to be maligned in the way it has been maligned for a year. I`m
not talking about the legitimate criticism. I`m talking about people
depicting the police as some sort of, you know, horrible alien force that
doesn`t represent the city. All the evidence is that this is an
extraordinary organization. If you look at their record on deadly force.
If you look at the restraints that they deal with.

Last week we had a police officer confronted with a man who just stabbed
somebody and he was waving a gigantic bloody knife at a police officer and
that officer begged that man to drop the knife. Took every step humanly
possible, caught on video that didn`t apparently go viral like these other
things go viral. That`s the police department I recognize. And by the
way, Steve, those of us who know this police department, we have failed
because we have not pushed back against this irresponsible stuff. A lot of
legitimate criticism, but those of us who - we don`t recognize the police
department that has been caricatured in this town in the last year. That`s
not the police department most of us. And there`s tens of thousands of
alumni of the NYPD, prosecutors, people who work directly with this
organization, and they know that there`s been a tremendous amount of
untruth. How many people have you killed today being called out. That`s
hate speech. That has to be ...

KORNACKI: Yeah, I mean, the backdrop for all of this, obviously, it`s the
death of Eric Garner and, obviously, the emotional response that people
have to seeing the video like that and, obviously, what happened in
Ferguson involved the New York - the police department, obviously.
Obviously, what happened in Ferguson, it creates sort of a national moods.
You have a very - you have this moment we`ve sort of been in where the
focus has been on police violence. The focus has been on excessive police
force and I think so many people looking at that video of Eric Garner
looked at that and then they said I don`t know if there is a racial element
to this or not, but, at the very least, people - and said, boy, that looks
awfully excessive to me.

Now, we have in a sort of an illustration of the everyday dangers that
police officers face and I think - it sometimes it takes sort of that
symbolic moment to drive home to people. You know, you look at the Eric
Garner video and you say wow, this is something that excessive force can
do. You look at a moment likes this, and you say, wow, this is what they
face every day on the streets.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, I mean I think the rank and file cops are horrified.
That the outcome in the Eric Garner case, I`ve talked to a cop who feels
that that is, you know, something to be happy about at all. This
tremendous, you know, regret about that event. But the context of this
conversation over the last year has really gone off the rails. I think
most people in the city are in the center and want to be in the center and
have a responsible conversation. There is room for a forum. By the way,
PBA gets malign - PBA for several years now condemned publicly and
repeatedly over policing. Over creating quotas, making the cops make
arrests they didn`t want to make. So, I hope that in the next few weeks we
can find some common ground here, which the city should warn this week for
these two police officers.

KORNACKI: What - when you - We played that clip from Pat Lynch, the head
of the police union here in New York. What is your reaction? I mean he`s
saying you are criticizing the general tone of some of the more virulent,
you know, antipolice stuff you`ve heard. He specifically citing the mayor
in this city and saying this starts in the mayor`s office. What is your
reaction hearing that?

O`DONNELL: Well, again, people are going to get tribal when the
conversation gets polarized. So, people are going to dig in and I`m not
surprised they`re going to dig in. The challenge now in the next few weeks
was to get people to come together around the things that there is so much
agreement about. So, you know, and remember, this is a police union. The
cops do have due process rights. They`re working class people. The idea
that there is some sort of powerhouse as individuals is not true. They
work under very difficult conditions. It`s a job that very high rate of
dissatisfaction and the job on the very best days, and so - this notion
that there is some sort of powerful group of people, it seems
counterintuitive, but actually as workers, as people in a workplace, they
have no power at all and they spent a lot of time dealing with a pretty
brutal internal bureaucracy and people should reflect on that also.

KORNACKI: And what I mean - we had that report from the hospital last
night, officers turning their backs as the mayor entered. Obviously,
there`s been, again, there`s a back story to all of this. This is a long
time coming sort of this moment of what happened last night, but the
relations between the police and the mayor not been good at all. What do
you think those officers want to hear from the mayor at this point?

O`DONNELL: I think, you know, there`s a little event that needs to be more
of it, people cannot break the law, people cannot assault the police. The
police are different. They are surrogates. These people were picked not
because of who they were, they were picked as they were in uniforms as our
surrogates who go out and do our job and then I think elected officials
have to step up and explain, this is an adversarial job, it`s a job that
involves coercion and it`s being done in our name. We are the people that
are asking - these communities, particularly that particular location there
have been concerns over there in that precinct which has the cops there.

So, the elected leadership to be honest with you, really, did not step up
in the last year and did not explain that police power, police have a lot
of power. It`s hard to reign in police power and we keep adding more laws
and we keep broadening their portfolio. So, elected officials are the
architects of that. Prosecutors ratify those decisions. A lot of those
folks were in short supply and explaining the system to people. They know
the system and they know how hard it is to do reform.

And by the way, I mean one of the things that we see is the idea of prisons
being bad. Of course, prisons are bad. Jails are bad. This is a guy who
should have been imprisoned. This is a guy who should have been - or in a
psychiatric institution. He should have been incapacitated. I`m sure that
young woman who got shot in the stomach by him and her family would wish
this guy have been locked up. So, we have to have a some sort of
recalibration in this whole conversation.

KORNACKI: Yeah, and we will - It sounds like we will find out a lot more
probably today and definitely in the near future about this guy`s
background and about sort of what led to this. That`s necessarily to the
reporting. Still to come, but Eugene, thanks for coming in. You`ll be
back with us next hour. I appreciate that.

We`ll have much more on the police shooting throughout the morning and,
first, could a very special screening, this is next, I should say, should a
very special screening of "The Interview" be in the works? We`ll tell you
about that. That`s next.


KORNACKI: We`ll be returning to that police shooting in Brooklyn
throughout the show. Right now, though, we want to discuss the continuing
fallout over one of the biggest stories in recent days. One that doesn`t
appear to be taking the weekend off. The hackers who claim responsibility
for the cyber-attack on Sony, that`s an attack that the FBI has pinned on
North Korea, those hackers appear to have released a new message, and now
in which they mock the FBI. Quoting from it here, the result of
investigation by FBI is so excellent that you might have seen what we were
doing with your own eyes. That`s what the message reads. It continues,
"We congratulate your success. FBI is the best in the world. You will
find the gift for FBI at the following address." And that message links to
a YouTube video called "You are an idiot."

Meanwhile this morning we`re also mulling over an intriguing plan, I might
call it intriguing, to have the movie that was pulled "The Interview"
screened by a very small audience, but in the most high-profile setting

Senator David Vitter from Louisiana is urging President Obama to screen the
movie at the White House and to invite members of Congress over to join him
in watching it.

They also suggest the screening would be followed by a discussion about
what the U.S. will do to retaliate against cyber-attacks. President Obama
has not responded yet to Vitter`s idea but he did say Friday that the U.S.
would respond to the cyberattack "proportionately." I`m joined now by our
panel. We have "Roll Call`s" editor-in-chief, Christina Bellantoni, "New
York Post" editorial writer Robert George and Democratic strategist and
Obama 2012 spokesperson Gabi Domenzain.

So, how about this idea? David, you know, make a statement, we`re going to
watch it. Most sort of powerful influential people in the country. We
have no problems seeing this. Good politics. I tell you what, it`s good
politics for Vitter, if nothing else.

ROBERT GEORGE, NEW YORK POST: I think it`s good politics for David Vitter.
I think it`s good politics for President Obama, as well. He said that he
thought that it was unwise for Sony to pull "The Interview." We also, we
also know that historically this president has not been that great
schmoozing with members of Congress. I mean Democrats themselves say that,
as well. This could be a two-pher. He brings them in and they watch this
movie, they - everybody collectively, official Washington officially
rhetorically gives the finger to North Korea and the president can have
some conversations with members of Congress. I think it`s a great idea.

CHRISTINA BELLANTONI, ROLL CALL: If you`re worried about the security of
theaters so much that you pull the film, I don`t know that bringing it to
the White House with members of Congress is the best idea, but it is good
politics for Vitter. I am like deeply offended by this whole thing.
Right? I mean, freedom in speech is so core to what we all do and it`s
really upsetting that this is how it has all played out. And I can
understand the emphasis for that. Joe Scarborough actually the other day
said, oh, let`s play it at the Kennedy Center, and just invite people in
Washington, pretty sure that is not going to be legal since the movie is
now never going to be seen by anybody ever.

KORNACKI: It will ...


KORNACKI: Will eventually get out, but ...

Those on the right and on the left that want to see this as like - you
know, this posture or the symbolic thing, when have we gotten that from
this president? OK? He doesn`t do symbolic fluff things. I`m OK with him
not mingling.


KORNACKI: You can do- If you can do an interview.

DOMENZAIN: I`m OK with him not mingling as long as he is getting briefed
on the intelligence that he needs. One thing that I found out yesterday,
that I had no idea, did you know that China owns AMC movie theaters? The
largest movie theater in this country is owned by one of the richest men in
China. So, this whole we need to talk to China in order for them to help
us with this, there is so much more to this story from how it broke to what
we`re understanding now. I don`t think, you know, the interview summit at
the White House has anything to ...

KORNACKI: It does seem like - This is - I feel like this is tapped into
something in this country. Sort of a populous thing where it`s just like
people do feel we`re letting North Korea boss us around and we want to show
them. There`s this appetite like - if you could - if people could just
download it themselves as their own personal statement, I`m sure that thing
will be one of the biggest ...


GEORGE: There`s already talk.

DOMENZAIN: And why hasn`t private investigator come in and let us do all

GEORGE: There`s already talk that the streaming site Crackle, which I
think Sony co-owns may be the venue where they end up running this. But
what`s - the politics of this are rather interesting when George Clooney
and some of the most conservative Republicans are like - are all on the
same page in terms of this insult, this attack on American free speech and
so forth. That really isn`t, that really is an opening. I mean - and can
you imagine if they do something at the White House and they have, they
bring George Clooney and some of the Hollywood`s types?

DOMENZAIN: OK, well, if it`s that symbolic, then why don`t David Vitter
and all the other congressmen want to go to this and call on their home
state movie theaters to pick this up?


DOMENZAIN: This is not on Sony, right? This is on AMC and all the movie


KORNACKI: I guess the bigger question to me is I mean - this is one sort
of possible response and sort of way to feed that appetite. But more sort
of directly you have the president promising a proportionate response and I
keep wondering, what does that mean? What could the president be doing
here? What could the United States be doing here to respond to something
like this? I mean he is going out of his way, it seems, not to say this is
an act of war by North Korea. Not to say this - because when you`re
calling it terrorism and when you are calling it an act of war, a
proportionate response is a lot more than, you know ...

BELLANTONI: And the State Department response in all of this has been
interesting, too. Is it not everybody is on the same page here. And the
whole scenario is just so strange, and then with Congress not calling on
their home states and not saying, like, let`s stand up in the face of this
and it all happened so quickly with the movie getting entirely - that there
wasn`t even time for people to grandstand on it. Now, of course, you do
the after the fact, let`s all go to the White House movie theater. Which,
by the way, Republicans have criticized ad nauseum for the fact that ...


KORNACKI: The use of the movie theater? Yeah. So, now - now, well, OK,
yeah, that`s the great coming together.


KORNACKI: I`m always too optimistic. Of course, too optimistic ...

All right, the panel is going to be back. Here you go, later this hour.
They`ll be back with us.

But up next, will Jeb Bush`s last name help or hurt his chances of becoming
the next president? Some interesting numbers. We`ll tackle that right
after this.


KORNACKI: All right. We`ll have much more on the deadly shootings of two
NYPD officers just a few minutes from now, but for right now we want to
turn back to politics, to the 2016 race with one of the first major
official developments in that race taking place this week. Jeb Bush`s
announcement that he is launching an exploratory committee. That`s the
first step potentially towards a full-fledge national campaign. And the
further sign of his interest in running, Bush also said this week that he
is stepping down from his paid position as an adviser to Barclays. That`s
- bank. And an adviser to Bush also said, that he`s no longer booking paid
speaking gigs. There is, however, a big potential problem for Jeb Bush.
That problem is his last name.

Six years after his brother left office with poisonously low approval
ratings a new "Wall Street Journal" /NBC News poll this week finds that 57
percent of Americans, that`s nearly six in ten say that they cannot see
themselves supporting Jeb Bush in 2016. Only 31 percent say they could see
themselves doing that.

So, this feels like the week of the Republican primaries finally begin and
Jeb is clearly interested in being his party`s nominee in 2016, but is that
party really ready to nominate another Bush? To discuss, joined again by
our panel here, "Roll Call" editor-in-chief Christina Bellantoni, Robert
George of "The New York Post" and Democratic strategist Gabi Domenzain.
So, I got to say, I think the thing that`s interesting to me about the Bush
coverage is we`re hearing so much about he is going to be, sort of, this is
the one the establishment wants. This is the most electable one the
Republicans can nominate, and I feel like that`s what might have been said
15 years ago about George W. Bringing - post George W? Look at those
polls, I say, there is a real, some real baggage with this name.

BELLANTONI: Yes. But how can we have this conversation without talking
about Hillary Clinton yet again? Right? We did have this conversation in
2008 about her. It`s a totally different scenario. And while George W.
Bush did leave office with the low approval ratings, they`re actually much
higher now. In fact, he`s fairly popular now since he`s left office. And
a lot of voters you talk to like political success. Political dynasties
have not bothered a lot of voters. They think this is a family that
understands politics and they know how to navigate it.

KORNACKI: Yeah, we all say we hate them, and then we vote for them.
That`s true.

BELLANTONI: He`s going to have to run these primaries on his own merits.
And the name is going to be something he continually has to talk about, but
he actually has a record he can talk about, whether or not that is going to
be one that appeals to Republican primary voters, is a totally ...


KORNACKI: Our Republican primary voters worried from more like a pragmatic
standpoint. Like hey, I`m not worried about the Bush name, I kind of like
the Bushes. I think you got a raw deal. But I`m afraid those general
election voters aren`t ready for that Bush. Does that ...

GEORGE: I think there are a handful, there are a handful of pragmatists
that are worried about that, but those same pragmatists are a lot of the
same money people that see him as a very, very solid guy. Smart, very much
in tune. He is basically kind of a policy even more so far more so than
his brother. They like him. I think they like the cut of his Jeb, as it
were (ph)



KORNACKI: That`s bad.


GEORGE: Thank you very much. But the, but the problem is, though,
conservatives. They don`t like where he is on immigration. They don`t
like where he is on common core. But if he manages to navigate his way
through the ...

KORNACKI: Those are big. Those are big ...

GEORGE: If he navigates his way, though, through the primaries, a lot of
that 57 percent are actually conservatives who don`t like Jeb for a number
of reasons, but if he manages to navigate his way through the primaries,
the Republican base will be with him. And again, if he`s running against
Hillary Clinton, the whole dynasty thing is awash on both sides.

DOMENZAIN: I think ....

KORNACKI: Are Democrats, do you look at Jeb Bush and say this is the most
electable Republican? This is the one we`d least like to face in the fall?

DOMENZAIN: I as a Latina Democrat, look at Jeb Bush and say, this is the
one that we`d least want to face in the fall?

Because of his name recognition in Florida and because of his name
recognition with Hispanics. If you think of the coalition that Democrats
are going to have to cover, forget that? Right? You need women, you need
youth, you need Latinos, basically. I don`t think African-Americans would
vote for a Bush. Let`s put it that way.

So, of these three ...

GEORGE: One or two might.

DOMENZAIN: One or two might.


DOMENZAIN: The Senator now, anyway. So, these three, right. If it`s a
Clinton, because I think you`re absolutely right. You can`t talk about it
without context. If it`s a Clinton/Bush election women - hoping first
woman president, right? Energy of the first woman president versus another
Bush. Latinos, that`s where we have to be worried, in my opinion.

KORNACKI: So, he can make end roads there.

GEORGE: He is ..

DOMENZAIN: He has name, credibility and ...

BELLANTONI: ... speaks Spanish.

DOMENZAIN: Speaks Spanish. All that stuff is posturing to me. Like I
don`t care if he speaks Spanish. I care where you are on the issues. And
he has already had to start walking back some of his immigration stuff. He
used to be for a path to citizenship, now you are saying, oh, that`s -
either way, because of the primary, how does he win the primary with the

BELLANTONI: The statement about an act of love is going to be played over
and over and over again in this primary and that would help him in a
general election.

KORNACKI: And that`s, I mean, that was the Rick Perry thing, too, in the
debate, right? He was, you don`t have a heart, you know, if you. Let me
ask you this, though, about what the effect of what Jeb Bush did this week
is on the rest of the Republicans, because it seems like there`s sort of
two tracks here when you look at the Republican field, right? There is the
- it`s Bush versus Christi, versus maybe Mitt Romney to be the
establishment candidate and then there`s everybody else. Sort of the -
sort of the voice of the base. So, Bush doing it this week. What does
that do to Christie, what does that do to this Romney talk?

BELLANTONI: I love all of it. I think the Romney donors that start - keep
- Jeb blocks up that money, but think about Rand Paul and Marco Rubio and
suddenly Barack Obama with this decision on Cuba and you get to talk about
them and their little fight about this, and you`re not talking about Jeb
any more. Like it`s totally like, OK, let`s do this Cuba thing right when

KORNACKI: But Jeb ...

DOMENZAIN: Have the contender with the record in Florida.

KORNACKI: Yeah. But Jeb Bush, he is like his mentor. He`s not running
with Jeb Bush.

GEORGE: Well, no, no, but that is a kind of funny thing because as we
said, there`s the establishment versus the outsider primary within the
Republican Party. But there`s also a mini Republican - a mini Florida
primary between Rubio and Bush. And arguably maybe a Texas primary between
Ted Cruz and Rick Perry.

KORNACKI: But is Bush doing it. I haven`t talked to anybody who says, I
think Rubio will actually get in against Jeb.

GEORGE: I think it`s unlikely. But, the immigration, excuse me, the Cuba
decision definitely gave Rubio a real big spark and actually allows him to
build, rebuild relations with the base that was scarred in the immigration
fight. So, there is a possibility.

KORNACKI: Right. You get to be here ...

BELLANTONI: Or this Jeb`s position sort of moderating on the immigration
issue and it being in genuine, and Rubio`s position of being part of the
Gang of Eight. Like it actually gives them both a little freedom if
they`re both in that race.

KORNACKI: It`s interesting. Well, OK, well, maybe he`ll surprise me.
Maybe they`ll both ....




KORNACKI: Hey, we had two Minnesotans in 2008. Polante and Bachmann.


GEORGE: Oh, yes. That`s - We had talked about that.


KORNACKI: They weren`t the mentor protege, though. I know that. Anyway,
they`ll be back with us. Moment later, when we hope to look at the
progressives maybe shaking up the Democratic Party, that is still ahead.

First, you`ll get an update on the two police officers who were shot and
killed in the New York City in apparent revenge attack. Stay with us.


KORNACKI: So, pictures this morning of fellow police officers placing
flowers at the scene of yesterday`s fatal shooting of two New York City
police officers, obviously, an emotional scene there. We`re learning more
this morning about the two officers who were killed. A friend telling the
Associated Press that Rafael Ramos was married and he had a 13-year-old son
and another who is in college. Also, Wenjian Liu, the other officer, had
been on the job for seven years and only two months ago had just got
married. One of New York`s longest serving congress man is going to be
here to help us make sense of what happened or at least to talk about it in
just a little bit, plus, obviously, all the new details as they come in.
So, please, stay with us.


KORNACKI: We`re going to have much more on the shooting of those two NYPD
officers in just a little bit. But shifting back to our discussion of
politics this hour, the movement to draft Elizabeth Warren to the
presidential race picked up its most prominent supporter yet this week.
Congressman Keith Ellison. He`s the chairman of the House Progressive
Caucus. "I would love to see Elizabeth Warren in this race. I think it
would be fantastic. I think it would help the quality of the debate and
she may win." And Ellison didn`t actually stop short of saying whether he
would support Warren over Hillary Clinton and Warren, obviously, continues
to insist that she`s not running for president and that she`s taken
actually great pains not to visit Iowan and New Hampshire even on her book
tour. But while Warren remains on the sidelines, Vermont Senator Bernie
Sanders was in Iowa this week to test the waters. Also to call for a
revolution saying that that is what it would take to fix the country and to
convince him to run. Quoting from Sanders, "There is no way we`re going to
address the problems facing this country without a political revolution."
This was Sanders fourth trip this year to Iowa.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I) VERMONT: I`m one of the few people who will talk
about this. You`re looking at unbelievable greed and power on the part of
the billionaire class. These guys want it all and they want to push down
working, they want to - they want to cut Social Security, Medicare,
Medicaid. That is what they want to do. I`m going to do everything I can
do to stop them.


KORNACKI: So, Sanders, former Virginia Senator Jim Webb and Maryland -
outgoing Maryland Governor Martin O`Malley are all toying with running in
2016 to Hillary`s left and, of course, it`s Elizabeth Warren who continues
to draw the most headlines. Warren issuing a new warning this week about
Wall Street saying that less than a week after letting the big banks
dictate some of the language in terms of the government funding bill, that
the house is delaying implementation of another key part of the Dodd/Frank
financial reform law. Or is also picking up support in her battle to
derail President Obama`s nominee for a top treasury post. Antonio Weiss is
his name, Warren is arguing that he`s too close to Wall Street.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D) MASSACHUSETTS: Enough is enough with Wall Street
insiders getting key position after key position and the kind of cronyism
that we`ve seen in the executive branch.


KORNACKI: So, is Warren going to change her mind? Can her mind be changed
or is somebody else from the left going to step up and challenge Hillary
Clinton in 2016? Back to talk about this our panel. We`ll introduce them,
again. Christina Bellantoni and "Roll Call," Robert George of "The New
York Post," Gabi Domenzain, Democratic strategist. How absolute is
Elizabeth Warren? OK, if you want to parse this.


KORNACKI: What she keeps saying when she`s asked about this is, I am not
running for president. When the question is, will you run for president?
Now, are we parsing that too closely or is that a politician leaving the
door open?

BELLANTONI: I don`t know her personally, but the few times I`ve spent with
her, I`ve never sensed that she is somebody who wants to be president.
Which is a very different thing than when you sit down with Hillary Clinton
or interact with even Jim Webb, right? She has a huge opportunity to
effect change from within the Senate, especially if someone like Bernie
Sanders is talking about these issues on a debate state with Hillary
Clinton. So, in some ways it`s like a twofer. Because you get her pushing
the issues from the minority party in the Senate and getting time, and
getting online base excited about an issue. You got Bernie Sanders running
to Hillary Clinton`s left in the actual presidential campaign. It forces
them to talk about these issues, economic populism, which we`ve seen have
this resurgence within the Democratic Party. But I don`t know if she`s

KORNACKI: Is part of it that she can`t see, see like a path to victory?
In 2006 I remember the sort of the trajectory of the Obama thing. The idea
of Obama running for president. It started out, he really didn`t seem
interested in it, and partly it was because nobody thought he could beat
Hillary Clinton. Then he goes out there, he starts getting these crowds of
5,000 people, the polls show him a lot closer than anybody thought, and he
suddenly seems to reconsider, and get very interested. I mean right now we
are still seeing, if you pull Hillary versus Elizabeth Warren, Hillary is
still ahead by, you know, 40 points here or something.

DOMENZAIN: I think look, I think she serves a purpose either way. I can`t
speak for her how she`s seeing her future, I agree with the parsing of the
word and that`s actually what I`ve been thinking. But the grassroots
support for this and the move one coming and doing this. I am getting e-
mails from former Obama colleagues saying, hey, will you join this. And
I`m like wait a second, so there is a difference between OK, I don`t want
to do this, but the people that I think aren`t being represented in
Washington want me to do it. That`s something forceful there.

BELLANTONI: Because how influential Teddy Kennedy was ...


BELLANTONI: And yes, he did run for president, you know, in that sort of
deal bad, but he had an enormous outsize import on that party from within
the Senate. And if you don`t want to be president, it doesn`t matter how
many people want you.

DOMENZAIN: I agree with this, is where is the impact? Will I be more

GEORGE: He`s in the Kennedy seat, too.

DOMENZAIN: Exactly - Will I be more impactful from within and from outside
through, let`s say, a Bernie Sanders or will I be more impactful throwing
my hat in? I don`t know ...

KORNACKI: It does have to, at a certain point, it does have to get to kind
of get you as a human being, though. When there`s people out there. I
mean it flatters you a little bit doesn`t it? You should be president.
You should be president. Please, please, run for president.

GEORGE: The other thing is, too, the longer that she lets - leaves this
out here, the more her voice is prominent within the Senate. I mean,
technically speaking, she knows she doesn`t really have to make a decision
until sometime in the middle of next year and if, you know, if Hillary
Clinton, you know, may decide not to run and there`s probably a small
chance of that. But if she does, she can, Elizabeth Warren can still jump
in. You know, why - if she rules herself out now, you know, people will
stop paying attention to her. A lot less anyway.

KORNACKI: OK, so, it is not - If it`s not Elizabeth Warren, take it off
the table. Is Bernie Sanders, is this - are we looking at Hillary Clinton?
First, she has to register as a Democrat, I think.


KORNACKI: That`s the first step. So, let`s say he does that and actually
becomes a Democrat, is that the race we`re looking at? Hillary Clinton
versus Bernie Sanders? We are going to have ten debates there.

BELLANTONI: I think Jim Webb cannot be discounted. This is someone who
has, you know, a really strong political talent and has the strong feelings
about the Clintons in general.

And has a lot of experience to run. Like he`s going to be on that list.

KORNACKI: No, what are his feelings about the Clintons?

BELLANTONI: Well, you know, we should ask him that question.


BELLANTONI: They have evolved over the years. And they helped him in his
Senate race and he said many times - you know, we`re friendly and I respect
her, whatever. But he has said negative things about them, as well.

GEORGE: Vietnam vet versus Bill Clinton had that whole draft dodging
issue. You know, when he was - I mean.

KORNACKI: Do we still care about Vietnam ...


BELLANTONI: Democratic turned into a Republican.

GEORGE: Jim Webb has a long, has a long memory. But the thing is, though,
he also has, he might very well be able to tap into a certain aspect of the
populous argument, as well.


GEORGE: And I think, I mean I don`t know Democratic politics, but it seems
he could very well do it in an even more, shall we say, energetic way than
Bernie Sanders.

BELLANTONI: Sanders is very energetic. I will point two things.
Remember, the Filibernie. This was the first - before Ted Cruz was popular
among the conservatives for doing this, he rallied against extending the
Bush tax cuts.

KORNACKI: He was on the Senate floor ...

BELLANTONI: So much attention, broke Twitter. And he not only has energy,
but he is the sort of Ron Paul of the Democratic Party in a way. He can
generate the online money. And he`s raised enormous amounts of money.
He`s out there, he`s 73. He is speaking truth, so, you get the young
people sort of interested. He is never going to win the nomination, but he
pushes the argument in a different direction.

GEORGE: Or certainly - So he`s Ron Paul, not Rand Paul. OK. Right.

DOMENZAIN: That the left wants, right? So, we`re seeing all these
actions, but we`re not motivating voters. And they`re both tapping into
this. So, it`s useful in some way to bring them in. It`s very useful, in
my opinion, from the policy discussion. Look what happened with
immigration when we had a crisis on the border and Governor O`Malley comes
from the left and he`s like, wait a second. These are human beings. This
move of the debate just because he was thinking about running for
president. The same thing with Bernie Sanders and ....


KORNACKI: It would be like a --

GEORGE: Just a quick thing ...

KORNACKI: Very quickly.

GEORGE: Just a quick thing on the Jim Webb. When there are some people in
the Democratic Party are saying it`s time to write off the south. Jim Webb
is somebody who I think would actually start trying to get some of those
white voters in the South in the South back.

KORNACKI: Yeah, well, hey, I think the Clintons still think they can ...


GEORGE: I know ...


KORNACKI: I don`t know this year if that`s going to happen. Anyway,
thanks to our panel for today. Gabi Domenzain, Christina Bellantoni,
Robert George. I appreciate you all joining us this morning.

And as you know, we have been staying on top of and we`re going to keep
staying on top of the latest developments in the shooting deaths of those
two NYPD officers. We`re going to go live to the scene of that shooting in
just a couple of minutes.

But before that, up first, the C -SPAN segment that went viral this week.
Christina talked about the Filibernie. Well, how about this one. The mom
of oh, God, it`s mom. Joins us right after this.


KORNACKI: Some things go viral because they`re cats and anything involving
cats seem to go viral. Other things, though, go viral because they`re
relevant, they`re amazing, they`re funny, they deserve to be seen by
millions of people. Meet Dallas and Brad Woodhouse. They are political
operatives and they are brothers on opposite ends of the partisan spectrum.
Dallas a conservative, Brad a liberal.

As you have no doubt seen by now, if you have access to the Internet, they
were united this week doing their usual arguing when something unusual
happened on C-SPAN. This.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go to joy in Raleigh, North Carolina.

DALLAS WOODHOUSE: Hey, somebody from down South.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re right I`m from down South.

DALLAS WOODHOUSE: Oh, God, it`s mom.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I`m your mother and I disagree that all families
are like ours. I don`t know many families that are fighting at

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this really your mother?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was very glad that this Thanksgiving was a year
that you two were supposed to go to your in-laws and was hoping - I`m
hoping you`ll have some of this out of your system when you come here for

DALLAS WOODHOUSE: Yeah, we were not together this Thanksgiving. We are
most years.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would really like a peaceful Christmas and I love
you both.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, let me jump in. Because this was not planned.
She called in on the normal line.


KORNACKI: All right, so, both of those sons, Dallas and Brad and their
families are now home with their mother in North Carolina for the holidays
and we are lucky enough to have all three Woodhouses Joining us live this
morning from their Christmas gathering. So, Mrs. Woodhouse, let me start
with you. You said you hoped in that clip, you hoped that your sons get it
out of their system and that you guys can have a peaceful family Christmas.
Is that what you`re enjoying there? Did they get it out of their systems?

JOY WOODHOUSE: That`s what I wanted. Excuse me. It hasn`t happened yet.
But they`ve been busy so far. So, I`m asking everybody to pray for us so
to have a peaceful Christmas.


KORNACKI: Well, let me ...

DALLAS WOODHOUSE: I figured out one answer, Steve. We have a really big
Woodhouse extended Christmas family party today and the Woodhouses, when
you get them all together have big, diverse political and my uncle, you
know, back in the `60s was the chair of the Democratic Party in North
Carolina. He`s now a big conservative. I mean, we have big diverse
political views, but in a --

BRAD WOODHOUSE: Do you have a point?

DALLAS WOODHOUSE: Yeah, I have a point. In a show of bipartisan good
faith, I have decided that I will not say a word about politics today. I`m
sending my brother and I`m taking my son to the Packers game.


KORNACKI: So, Brad, can you make that same commitment? Will you not say a
word about politics?

BRAD WOODHOUSE: Well, I can`t make a commitment that I won`t say a word
about politics. But since Dallas is going to Charlotte today and I`m in
Raleigh, mom is safe from us having any political disagreements. I can`t
speak for what is going to happen on Christmas. Just like on C-SPAN, I
mean, we, you know, we can`t.

KORNACKI: I think we were having some technical difficulties there, as you
could see. But I do want to thank Joyce, Dallas, Brad Woodhouse -- we got
them back. Sorry about that. Can we pull that back up on the screen? So,
Mrs. Woodhouse, I`m sorry, we had a few technical difficulties there. But
I think one thing people who watch this clip, are kind of wondering about
was, what were these guys like as kids? Has it been your whole life dealing
with a Democrat and a Republican arguing with each other?

JOY WOODHOUSE: I`m sorry. I didn`t hear the question.

KORNACKI: What were they like as kids, Ms. Woodhouse?

JOY WOODHOUSE: We were both democrat. We were both Democrats and he
became conservative and then we argued about politics. He was always
trying to get me to vote his way. And I always let the children go in the
booth with me until they could read how I was voting. And so then I
stopped that. But when we are - the Woodhouse side of the family of mine
were always politically minded. As I`ve said, my husband had Brad watching
- when he was five years old and he always- and watching videos of Franklin
Roosevelt, Richard Nixon. He loved history. And we used to go on trips
and when the children were young, do we have to go somewhere that is rich
in history, but then they started enjoying history.

DALLAS WOODHOUSE: The thing is, you know, we always argue. In good times,
we don`t argue about politics, we`d find something else to argue about.
Whether the sky is blue or what color Santa`s hat is or something like

BRAD WOODHOUSE: Dallas will always find something to argue about.

DALLAS WOODHOUSE: Yeah, just me, just me, really? It`s just me, Steve.

KORNACKI: Yes. We could see. I think it sounds like it`s both of you.
It sounds like they might be starting another argument here. But we`re
having some technical difficulties, too, obviously. So, I do want to
thank, though, Joyce, Dallas, Brad Woodhouse for taking a few minutes from
their family - their family Christmas gathering joining us this morning.
Also we want to thank Skype for proving to me that that was probably our
first and last Skype interview we`re going to attempt on this show.
Anyway, thanks - It was fun to talk to them. I hope you guys at home
enjoyed that segment a little bit. Again, sorry about the technical
difficulties we were having there.

We still have a full hour of news and politics ahead this morning.
Including the latest on that police shooting in New York City. We are
going to go live to Brooklyn on the other side of the break. We are going
to be joined also by one of New York City`s longest serving congressman for
his reaction. That`s ahead.


KORNACKI: All right, thanks for staying with us this busy Sunday morning.
We have a lot of ground to cover this hour, including the historic
announcement President Obama made this week about U.S. relations with Cuba.
Former Senator Bob Graham from Florida will be here later in the hour. We
want to begin this hour, though, with a developing story out of Brooklyn.
Two New York City police officers were shot and killed yesterday. Police
say that revenge appears to be among the motives. In an Instagram post,
the alleged gunman, Ismaayil Brinsley, posted anti-police messages and he
hashtagged both Eric Garner and Michael Brown. Correspondent Adam Reiss is
live for us in Brooklyn this morning at the scene of the attack. Adam,
what can you tell us about, we were talking last hour about some of the
reactions from police union leaders here sort of blaming this essentially
or laying some of the responsibility for this on the hands of the mayor of
the city, Mayor de Blasio. What do we know about what the mayor is going
to be doing this morning and today?

REISS: Steve, the mayor is headed to St. Patrick`s Cathedral for mass this
morning. And as he does that, investigators will be combing the
neighborhood here looking to talk to more eyewitnesses into what
Commissioner Bratton is calling a targeted assassination. These officers
targeted for their uniform. Now, makeshift memorial has been set up behind
me. You can see flowers and candles dropped off by residents and police
officers in this area of Brooklyn - Bedford Stuyvesant. And police will be
looking into Brinsley`s social media. His digital footprint, if you will,
to see what they can find out in addition to what they`ve learned in terms
of his postings and what his motivation was in coming here to murder two
police officers. Now, last night we can tell you when the mayor showed up
at the hospital to meet with the families of the slain officers, he was met
by dozens of police officers with their backs turned towards him. And they
said that the blood on the hands is left at the steps of city hall. That
from the head of the policeman`s union. The blood on the hands is left at
the steps of city hall.

KORNACKI: Strong words as we say. Adam Reiss for us live in Brooklyn.
Appreciate the update for me this morning. Thanks for that.

Both Mayor Bill de Blasio and police commissioner Bill Bratton showing
emotion and even coming close to tears as they discussed what they
described as the execution of those two New York City police officers.


BRATTON: Nevertheless, they do what you expect of them. They grieve, they
mourn, but then they go out onto the streets of the city and work to keep
it safe every day and every night. We have never and never will forget
that mission. We will never forget the two young men who lost their lives


KORNACKI: In fact, emotions have been running high in New York City for
weeks now. This ever since the Staten Island grand jury announced that it
would not be pursuing charges in the death of Eric Garner. The head of the
city`s police union is blaming, as we said, the protesters of the Garner
decision and Mayor de Blasio for yesterday`s shooting. The mayor`s office
responding to that and saying, "It`s unfortunate, that in the time of great
tragedy, some would resort to irresponsible, overheated rhetoric that
angers and divides people. Mayor de Blasio understand this is the time
when we must come together to support the families and friends of those
brave officers New York City lost last night, and the entire NYPD

To talk about this, I want to bring in now Congressman Charlie Rangel from
New York and Former NYPD officer Eugene O`Donnell, he is back with us, he`s
also a professor at John Jay College. So, Congressman, let me start with
you. Obviously, an incredible tragedy here. The reactions that we`re
starting to see come in as we talked about there, Pat Lynch, the head of
the police union here basically saying that blood on the hands. Blood left
on the steps of city hall basically saying this is the mayor`s
responsibility in some way. What do you make of that reaction?

REP. CHARLIE RANGEL (D) NEW YORK: It`s not fair. This is the time that we
all feel pain. It doesn`t help to throw gasoline on a terrible situation
and to polarize people. Pat Lynch gave New Yorkers an opportunity to tell
these brave men and women and the New York City Police Department how we
love them. How we need them. How we support them. And not to allow the
behavior of an animal who obviously is sick to damage an already sensitive
relationship that law enforcement has with some parts of our community.
Hatred can be contagious and lead to terrible things. Now`s the time to
pause and to talk as New Yorkers. About what`s in the best interest of all
of us.

KORNACKI: This relationship we`re talking about between Mayor de Blasio
here and the police in New York City. Again, this is something, there is -
in a way, it`s a moment, that there`s a long history to this moment. It
has not been a good relationship for a long time now. When you look at how
the mayor has handled his end of that relationship. We have officers last
night as the mayor arrived at the hospital turning their backs on him. I
mean it`s just an incredible scene.

RANGEL: That`s wrong.

KORNACKI: Has the mayor handled, has he made mistakes in how he handled
this relationship?

RANGEL: I don`t think so. And if there was a better way to do it, I`m
certain the mayor would attempt to do that. The problem that we have, as I
see it, is this blue wall of silence. There`s no question in my mind that
when someone joins the police department they are courageous individuals
that are ready to put their lives on the line to protect other people.
This is a courageous thing just by signing up. But when they see other
people violating all of morality and taking advantage of someone that is
unarmed, it`s not so much the police officer that is committing these
criminal immoral acts because in all probability they have mental problems,

It`s the cop that doesn`t want to get involved in it and refuses to say,
hey, buddy, you wearing the uniform that I wear. I have got to walk the
streets and demand the respect of people and you`re disrespecting the
uniform. And so, when you have this polarization and Pat Lynch gives to
the policemen, we have got to get back at them by insulting the mayor. Or
say anything. When I walked into this building, I was just saying earlier,
I went up to a policeman to offer my sympathies to him and I had no idea
what his reaction was going to be to me, as a public official of color.

KORNACKI: What was his reaction?

RANGEL: He thanked me so much. He said this means a lot to me and it
means a lot to my family. And I wish every rabbi, every priest, every
minister would tell their congregation, go out. You don`t have to hug a
priest, I mean a police officer. But tell them that how sympathetic you
are. And that has nothing to do with the disagreements we may have with a
few of them. Because overwhelmingly, we need police and police need the

KORNACKI: Let me ask Eugene about the point the congressman is making
there about - basically saying from the standpoint of the police, the
closing ranks around each other whether it`s in the wake of the Garner
thing or other incidents and basically contributing to a break down in the
relationship with the mayor and maybe some of the members of the public
that way. Do you think that`s been a problem for the police? That sort of
the tendency to close rank around each other in times like that and sort of
no matter what?

O`DONNELL: Well, honestly, I think what`s been unfair about this
conversation, is that it`s devolved onto the shoulders of front line
officers. A lot of these issues are top level down issues. These are
leadership issues and police are a quasi-military group there, directed to
do these things. Whenever you see them somewhere, it`s because they`re
told to be there. Like Staten Island where they were ordered to do this
kind of enforcement. Pennies on the dollar of tax cigarette enforcement.
I don`t think any cop joins the NYPD to do that. I would hope that
political leaders will also spend some time at the top of these
conversations. There`s been a lot of the time spent on the bottom. None
of that takes away from individual responsibility, but there really has
been a skewing of this conversation in the direction of pointing at
patrolmen, basically, in a major organization where there`s political
leadership issues.

KORNACKI: Where do you think this is, I mean, so, one of the things we
talk about this breakdown in this relationship. One of the things that`s
been happening in the last week and we don`t know yet if this is the case
with these officers. But there`s been a movement among the police officers
in New York to sign, basically to sign a declaration that if I am killed in
the line of duty, I don`t want Mayor de Blasio attending my funeral. I
have not seen any reporting whether these officers actually signed that.
But you have that movement, you have officers turning their back on the
mayor as he shows up last night, you have the statement from the police
union had this morning. It seems like we could be headed towards a real
confrontation here in the next few days.

O`DONNELL: We need people to explain what the police job is in the city
and I hate to say that, but I think anybody who is in law enforcement
definitely feels that there is not an understanding of what the police
actually do and I think that goes across the board. So, the police are,
again, they`re directed to do these things. They do them at risk
themselves. They don`t have automatic protection. When they use force on
people, they could be at any minute criminally charged and even though it
doesn`t happen, but it doesn`t certainly happen on a regular basis, they
are exposed on these things. And again, they are, there are people who`ve
used coercion, there are people that are armed, there are people who have
an adversarial job, but they are being brought into communities by people
asking for enforcement and lawmakers and elected officials should explain
and the congressman has alluded to this that his office and I`m sure a lot
of other elected official offices are overwhelmed with request for police
service. So, there is a need for the police. Hopefully, again, this
conversation will get recalibrated and I think the vast majority of the
people in the city are not in an extreme on this conversation.

RANGEL: Let me just say, murder is no solution to the problems that we are
discussing. That is off of the table. And I think Pat Lynch ought to put
it off the table because there`s no human being at all that could support
this type of murder and what of our comrades whether they`re in uniform or
out of uniform and turning your back on the mayor, even symbolically is not
a way to bring a family together. New York is just too great for that.
And we have got to sit down and we have got to talk. And that way when
we`re talking about what your job is and what my job is as a public
official, we`re talking as friends or at least people that respect each
other. And not about some heaven (ph). The only good thing he`s done was
kill himself so we don`t have to go through this whole mess again. It`s a
terrible thing that happened and most New Yorkers, most human beings know
this is wrong, it`s wrong and wrong and it deserves more than policemen
turning their back on the mayor of the city of New York.

KORNACKI: Eugene O`Donnell, I want to thank you for joining us this
morning. Congressman Rangel you`re going to be back with us in just a few
minutes to talk about Cuba. Coming up next, as we say, Obama delivers
change on Cuba. Can Congress keep him from going big, though? The
congressman will be back with us to continue the discussion. That`s next.


KORNACKI: When we start to think back on the year in politics in 2014, it
turns out that the biggest thing to happen all year might have happened
this week. Talking about the Cuban news here, not just because it`s recent
but also because it`s big. With one announcement President Obama upending
half a century of established U.S. policy.


OBAMA: What I know deep in my bones is that if you`ve done the same thing
for 50 years and nothing`s changed, you should try something different if
you want a different outcome. And this gives us an opportunity for a
different outcome.


KORNACKI: When the reactions to this were not necessarily predictable.
Some surprising support from the president from some.


RAND PAUL: I mean if the goal was regime change, sure doesn`t seem to be
working and probably it punishes the people more than the regime because
the regime can blame the embargo for hardship and if there`s open trade, I
think the people will see what it is like to all the things that we produce
under capitalism. So, in the end I think probably opening up Cuba is a
good idea.


KORNACKI: But Obama`s effort to normalize relations with Cuba could hit a
brick wall in Congress. South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham
tweeting this week, "I will do all in my power to block the use of funds to
open an embassy in Cuba. Normalizing relations with Cuba is a bad idea at
a bad time. It`s also the question of whether Congress will agree to lift
the embargo. These comments from Speaker John Boehner don`t seem to offer
much wiggle room. "Relations with the Castro regime should not be
revisited let alone normalized until the Cuban people enjoy freedom and not
one second sooner." So, what will it take to totally restore diplomatic
relations and how much of that could be blocked by the Republican-
controlled Congress that convenes in January? Joining me now to discuss,
we have Adolfo Franco, he is a former adviser to Senator john McCain. He
is Republican strategist and Democrat from New York Charlie Rangel.
Congressman Charlie Rangel back with us at the table.

So, Adolfo, let me start with you on this question of, I know you have
issues with what the president did this week and a lot of Republicans do as
well. What do you want Republicans and anybody - I mean even Menendez in
New Jersey, Democrat who is against this. What do you want people who are
against this to be doing in Congress right now? Do you see a way to stop
it there and if so, what is it?

ADOLFO FRANCO, FMR. MCCAIN ADVISOR: Well, the first thing I would like
Republicans to do in Congress when they assume the majority in the Senate
and, of course, we have the largest House Majority in 82 years is to hold
hearings and bring in the comments of dissidents that have not been heard
on the so-called change to Cuba. The change, of course, is a U.S. change.
Cuba remains the totalitarian repressive bloody regime it has been for the
last 54 years. To bring in the voices, Steve, of those who are fighting
and suffering in Cuba that are dead set against this change in policy. The
ladies in white, the leading dissidents, all of them have denounced this as
betrayal, and the wrong thing to do. The actual mechanics of it, and I
think you alluded to it here with Senator Graham and Senator Rubio and
others that will control the appropriation process is to do everything
possible to deny funding for the embassy. Although we have an intersection
there. So, we have been talking to Cubans for years on necessary issues to
do that. So, I think getting the voices of why it`s a bad policy and also
to talk about not what the president intends to do with Guantanamo because
Cuba will press for the return of Guantanamo which will be a horrible thing
to do, (INAUDIBLE) to do that, and, lastly is, the rights of Cuban
Americans whose properties were expropriated and under our law, now they
are entitled to compensation as they were in Nicaragua. We`ll see how the
administration answers those questions as the process to normalization

KORNACKI: Congressman, you were actually in Havana this week when this
happened. So, this historic announcement was made and you`re actually on
the scene as this is happening. The argument that Adolfo was making there
about the voices of dissidents. The people who have been brutalized by the
Castro regime over the last half century. Their families, the families of
victims and their voices maybe not being heard in this. What do you say to

RANGEL: These are legitimate concerns and used to be a decade ago that
this was the common feeling of a lot of Cuban Americans who felt that
Castro had destroyed their families and their future. Fortunately, this
sense diminished, but people have to be concerned. Those who have personal
experiences, but this isn`t about Cuban Americans. This is about America.
This is about our foreign policy, our economic policy, our relationship
with Latin America and Central America. This is about trade between
nations. This is about a fight against terrorism. And, so, I don`t
dismiss Adolfo`s feeling about what has happened to a group of people. How
Native Americans got a legitimate complain about what happened to them, but
the president has to do and I`m telling you, a lot of people didn`t have
the courage to do it. Democrats and Republicans because this never was
really looked at as a compassionate anti-communist issue. It was looked at
who is going to get the electoral college votes in Florida.

And you didn`t talk about Cuban Americans, whether you were for the embargo
or against the embargo and that was the issue. Fortunately, younger Cuban
Americans feel that they would like to visit Cuba, they would like to see
more democracy, but, listen, if we can do business with China, if we can do
business with Vietnam, we got to work our way up.

KORNACKI: Adolfo, what do you say to that? Both what the congressman is
saying about we`re already doing business with China and Vietnam, also, so
much of the rest of the world is already doing business with Cuba.

FRANCO: Well, two or three things. First of all, to address the
congressman`s point. This idea of doing business with Cuba. There are
ranking of credit worthiness of nations in the world. 179. Cuba is 178th.
One country has a poor record, that is North Korea. The idea that we`re
going to be trading with Cuba significantly is just not going to be the
case. What`s happened here is that the president now is going to really
extend credits to Cuba and Cuba will do what it has done with other
countries and get additional lifeline now that Venezuela oil is
diminishing. And the result will be Cuba will not - not pay its debts. If
Congressman - If you`re concerned about terrorism, we should be concerned
that Cuba was in the process of exporting arms to North Korea when a ship
was seized in the Panama Canal. China-Vietnam, this is a country that is
90 miles away from our shores. We have a Monroe doctrine, we have our
interest in the hemisphere. Cuba has been involved in supporting
terrorism. It`s on the terrorist list and it still remains on the
terrorist list. It`s been involved in supporting revolutionary movements
throughout the region.

KORNACKI: Let me just ...

FRANCO: The environment should have been strengthened, not weakened.

KORNACKI: Let me ask the congressman about that point, because part of
this is that designation of Cuba as a sponsor of terrorism, that is being
revisited. Do you think Cuba should be removed from that list?

RANGEL: Of course they should be removed. At the time that we described
how Mandela was on the terrorist list until a few years ago. And so, it
has to be updated. Are there people that have practices that are not
democratic? Yes. And who is going to change these things? Clearly, it`s
not going to be presidents in the United States and it`s not going to be
the Castro brothers. What it is going to be is the American people and the
Cuban people and I don`t know how it happened, but the people in Cuba love
Americans and Americans love Cubans and no matter what they say, they have

KORNACKI: All right, we got - we got - Adolfo, certainly, we are out of
time on this one, but I have got to thank Congressman Charlie Rangel,
former McCain advisor, Adolfo Franco. I`m sorry, we have to - a fresh at a
time. But thank you both for being here this morning.

RANGEL: Thank you.
FRANCO: Thank you.

KORNACKI: Still, the happiest hour. Latest developments on the shooting
of the two NYPD officers. We`ll have more on that, and next. The end of
an era on Capitol Hill.


KORNACKI: We`re still gathering new information about yesterday`s deadly
shooting of two NYPD officers. We are going to update you on that story in
just a few minutes, but we want to turn back now to the world of politics.
It`s been part of the political cast for so long many of us have assumed or
maybe we just hoped it would go on forever. Lawmakers bunking together
like any other roommates eating someone else`s cereal, neglecting to make
their beds and ignoring a rodent problem in hopes that it might just go
away. This two-story row house in Washington that you are looking at here,
has received a lot of attention over the years. Most recently, including
from us, when the Amazon series "Alpha House" premiered. It`s what you`re
looking at here. The real-life alpha house where over the years, a
rotating cast of Democratic lawmakers, Democratic members of Congress have
crashed during the week. Senators, congressmen we`re talking about here is
the kind of place that you better be sure that the cleaning woman is a
legal immigrant and where House Speaker Tip O`Neill would call up in the
middle of the night before a vote, and ask what sort of trouble are you
guys going to create for me tomorrow?

Mark Leibovich, the writer, once described the house as MTV`s "Real World"
with the cast of slavingly (ph) Democratic power brokers. But now the
owner of the real alpha house Congressman George Miller, who`s been in
Washington for 40 years, well he`s retiring from Congress and he has
decided to sell the house effective now. Which means that Congressman
Miller, Senator Dick Durbin, Senator Chuck Schumer, they all were forced to
move out of the house last week. Miller actually brought the place back in
1977, he started offering beds to his colleagues in 1982 and the House has
seen an interesting cast of roommates over the years. Leon Panetta lived
there until President Clinton appointed him the director of the Office of
Management and Budget in 1993, then he was forced to move out because ethic
laws prevent a White House official from paying rent to a member of

So, now I`m joined by former Congressman Bill Delahunt, former Congressman
Mario Russo, former Congressman Sam Gejdenson, all of them have lived in
the house. The real-life alpha house at various points over the last
several decades. So, Congressman, you actually - it is your son who is
actually buying this house?

FMR. REP. SAM GEJDENSON, (D) CONNECTICUT: Yes. He`s a restaurant chair in
Washington D.C., just opened a new bar called Denson`s and 600 F Street
northwest, he has got a place on Capitol Hill. He loves the Hill, because
they spend about half the year back in Basra and half the year in D.C., my
daughter Mia and my son Ari would hang out at the house and we would cook
them. Senator Durbin would interrogate my daughter as to who she was
dating. And at one point ...

KORNACKI: They were raised there, basically.

GEJDENSON: Yeah, absolutely. It was really great.

KORNACKI: Yes, so what - let me bring in Bill Delahunt, former congressman
from Massachusetts. You were there, I think, most recently. What is life
like in a house where, you know, you were there I guess with Schumer and
with Durbin, it`s very close quarters. You guys are in Congress all day,
you are doing TV shows and everything, you come back at night. What is it
like there after hours?

BILL DELAHUNT: It`s tough. It`s really tough. Occasionally we would
threaten a rent strike. I was once asked about the cleanliness of this
particular unit. And my response was, well, we don`t have any cockroaches.
Because our rats scare the cockroaches away.


KORNACKI: What - you say your rent strike. How was the rent? Was it a
reasonable rate?

DELAHUNT: Well, John said it was reasonable.


DELAHUNT: But myself and Senator Schumer and Durbin said this is
outrageous. $850 for a slump. It was bad. You know, the public thinks
that we are indulging in eating at fine restaurants or at embassy
receptions. And the stories that came out about the house, I think, really
gave the American people a reality check to what it`s like. But it was a
lot of fun. In fact, I`m really pleased to hear that Sam`s son is taking
the house, the tradition will continue, and, Sam, tell Ari that I intend to
stay there occasionally.

KORNACKI: Congressman Russo, let me ask you this. So many names we hear
who lived there over the years. Who was your favorite roommate and who was
the worst roommate?

RUSSO: Well, you know, you have to understand, I got there because of a
major snow storm in Washington, D.C. I couldn`t get home that night, and
George Miller said, why don`t you bunk with me. My wife and kids have
moved back to San Francisco, and I did, and I never left. So, it was
originally George and I, and then George wanted to see if I could recruit
somebody else to help reduce the expenses. So, we had this not very
powerful guy, kind of lonely House member from New York named Chuck Schumer
who lived in a dump, and so we basically said, Chuck, for the right price
you could come sleep on the couch that Marty won in a golf tournament. And
that`s how Chuck got in there, and then shortly thereafter, I was in the
recruiting mode and I looked at the bay window and I said, you know,
George, if we took the piano out of the bay window, we could put a bed in
there and cut our costs down and get somebody else in there. And he said,
who are you going to recruit? I said, I`ll go after the Budget chair, Leon
Panetta. So the idea that Democrats aren`t budget conscious is not true.
We are very budget conscious.

KORNACKI: Sam, talking about, you know, Senator Chuck Schumer, Dick
Durbin. These are two of the most powerful guys in the Senate right now.
What are they like as roommates? What are they like to live with?

GEJDENSON: It was great, actually, because Congressman Miller and myself,
you know, knew what were going on in the House that day. We could check
with our Senate colleagues what was happening in the Senate, and there
would be some collaboration. There were some differences. We sometimes
fought as our districts had different interests. But it was actually a
very good way to live. You were in Washington from usually Tuesday night
to Thursday night, and it meant that you had to work all the time. You
didn`t have to feel guilty of not going home to see your family. And then
you had somebody to collaborate with. You didn`t just go back to a place
by yourself. It was a good deal economically. I want to complain to
Congressman Russo, the couch was very uncomfortable and it took me about
four months to figure out I could call a store and they would deliver a bed
and I bequeathed that bed to Mr. Delahunt when he moved in.

KORNACKI: You get what you pay for, I guess.

RUSSO: One of the funny things about having four men work and live
together, we don`t know much about anything how things work, and one time
Schumer, we got home at 10:30 at night and Chuck had this wonderful
appetite for chocolate chip cookies, so he decides he wants to make
chocolate chip cookies but none of us could figure out how to light the
stove. So we called a store in Hawaii to ask them how to light this Viking
stove because the four of us couldn`t figure it out.

KORNACKI: I guess that`s sort of part of this, right? You`re in these
close quarters and you get to know people in a way that for better or
worse, nobody else knows them.

DELAHUNT: Well, there is a lot of camaraderie and I think we all look back
on it very fondly. But I found it interesting in your opening, you
referred to the fact that we had to make sure that the cleaning person was
not an illegal immigrant. I`m sure that Sam and Marty would corroborate
this. But I never saw a cleaning person.


GEJDENSON: In defense of George, I said, the house was clean and it wasn`t
quite as bad as my colleague from Massachusetts indicated. It wasn`t
pristine. You know, there weren`t white gloves.

KORNACKI: You are saying it was sanitary.


RUSSO: When I was there, I was a Felix Ungar. I made sure the house
stayed clean. In fact, if those guys didn`t clean the floor at night,
about 2:00 in the morning, I would get up and turn the vacuum machine on.
And vacuum the floor underneath Schumer and underneath Panetta. So I made
sure it was clean. It went downhill when you got in there.

KORNACKI: Life in the alpha house, the series on Amazon right now, but
these guys lived the real thing for years. It`s so interesting, I think,
because people assume members of Congress in Washington they`re all at the
pricy hotels and the penthouse or whatever.

GEJDENSON: There was a poll, actually, years ago, how does a member of
Congress live. They figured we each had a chauffeur. We had (inaudible),
you know, being served. We ate out of the cheapest restaurant in Capitol
Hill. It was before my son had one on Capitol Hill, and it was completely
like a small frat house of four aging frat boys.

KORNACKI: No, here we find out the truth. They`re sleeping on couches and
calling people in Hawaii to make cookies at midnight. My thanks to former
congressmen Sam Gejdenson, Bill Delahunt, Marty Russo, all alums of the
real-life alpha house. Thank you for joining us this morning. We
appreciate it.

And up next, the latest on that deadly shooting of those two NYPD officers.
Later, we turn back to the debate over U.S. policy in Cuba.


KORNACKI: All right. The big news of the week, obviously, the president
moving to normalize relations with Cuba, this after an embargo that lasted
more than 50 years now. This is something that a lot of people thought
maybe we would never see, it has taken so long. So we thought we would
talk about how it came about politically. Why is it that right now at the
end of 2014, an American president has finally decided it is politically
safe, politically smart maybe even, to make a move like this, when all the
American presidents before him didn`t feel the same way. What has changed
and what is going on right now? We thought we`d start over at the big

What you have here, we`re going to start with this, this is before this
week, from a few months ago, actually. This gives you a baseline to show
you where the country has been on the basic question do you want to
normalize relations with Cuba, do you want to engage more with Cuba? when
you`re giving all Americans that choice, again, this is back earlier this
year, but this is a pretty good idea of where the country stood. Pretty
strong support, 56 percent said, yeah, we should be normalizing and
engaging more, and only 35 percent saying no.

Now, when you get to the politics of this, though, this has always been a
very complicated, tricky issue. It is not necessarily about what all
Americans think about Cuba policy. It`s about what Cuban Americans and
Americans living in the state of Florida think. Florida, we know, such an
important state in American politics and in the presidential primaries, but
really in the general election. You remember the 2000 election came down
to a few hundred votes in Florida. So, politicians are always going to be
very, very sensitive to Florida, and Florida with a large Cuban American
community. So that`s the more important number here I think politically.

Let`s take a look, though, the same question a few months ago in Florida.
This was a big surprise a few months ago. Actually more support in Florida
than you`ll find across the rest of the country for normalizing relations
or engaging more with Cuba. That caught people a little bit by surprise
when this came out earlier this year, and it suggested maybe the politics
of this were changing a little bit more.

But, again, this was before the president made his announcement this week.
Now, the president has come out and done it. Now people are digesting the
news and now people are thinking this is a real thing. What is happening
now? We don`t have a lot of polling, but we do have one very interesting
poll that came out the other day that looked in the state of Florida or
looked at the Cuban American population, which is heavily centered in the
state of Florida. You look at Cuban Americans and their reaction to what
the president did this week. Let`s take a look at that. Very interesting
numbers here. Overall, 48 percent saying that they disagree with what the
president did here. They did not think that President Obama should be
trying to move to normalize relations with Cuba right now.

Look a little bit closer there. Here`s what you see. These are Americans,
these are Cuban Americans who are born in Cuba. They are expats. They
have come to the United States, they are exiles, and many of them have
very, very negative experiences, terrible experiences in many cases with
the Castro regime in Cuba. Overwhelmingly or by a strong margin, at least,
they are against this move, 53 to 38 percent. How about Cuban Americans
who are second generation. Cuban Americans who were born in this country.
They weren`t born in Cuba. They were born and raised in the United States.
Very different view on this. 64 percent say yes. 33 percent say no. A
margin of 2-1. That`s where you really see the politics of this changing.
As the second generation of Cuban Americans who are born in this country,
who were not raised in Cuba, don`t necessarily have that first-hand
experience with the Castro regime. They know the United States a little
bit more. They have a much more favorable view of this. They are,
obviously, growing in numbers. More and more are born every day. Sort of
the way nature works, right? So the more you`re moving towards that second
generation, the politics of this are changing, and you`re seeing that
reflect in the overall numbers. So something that maybe 10, 20, 30 years
ago wouldn`t have been seen as politically safe for a politician. Now, the
president of the United States can look at this and a lot of politicians
who are supporting this can look at this and they can say, you know, we`re
not necessarily offending all of the Cuban American community by doing
this. A lot of Cuban Americans are going to be against this, but a lot of
them are going to be for it, too. And when a lot of Cuban Americans are
for it, it changes the politics in Florida, changes the politics in
Florida. It changes the politics of this issue. We`ll talk more about the
politics of Cuba, about that big announcement the president made this week
with our panel. That`s next.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good evening. President Carter today declared parts of
Florida to be under a state of emergency because of the enormous influx of
Cuban refugees. And he made $10 million available to help the state handle
the human flow. So far, in the recent exodus from Cuba, more than 17,000
people have arrived, and the authorities say that as many as 3,600 more are
arriving every day with no end in sight.

(end video clip)

KORNACKI: That was NBC "Nightly News" back in May of 1980, at the height
of the Mariel boat lift. In April of that year, Cuban President Fidel
Castro announced that all Cubans wishing to emigrate to the U.S. could do
so, and within weeks, 125,000 Cuban refugees would reach the state of
Florida. Bob Graham was the governor of Florida then, continued to serve
in statewide office for nearly three decades, including in the Senate.
Now, as we told you earlier, we had been planning to be joined right now by
Senator Graham. Unfortunately, he is unable to be here today, so we hope
to get him back on the show soon. We`re going to be rejoined by our panel
now, though. "Roll Call" editor in chief Christina Bellantoni, Robert
George of the "New York Post," Democratic strategist Gabi Domenzain.

So what we wanted to talk about with Bob Graham, former Senator Bob Graham
who was going to be on the show today, was just what we were doing there
with the big board, looking at some of those numbers, the changing politics
of the issue of Cuba. It used to be, Gabi, as we were saying, it was seen
as sort of -- the Cuban American vote seemed very monolithic. If you
wanted the Cuban American vote, aka if you wanted to win the state of
Florida, you had to be as anti-Castro as possible and pro- embargo as
possible. And that`s a real split.

DOMENZAIN: And you could posture, right? You could just go down, go down
to Freedom Tower, I grew up in Miami, and I saw this my whole life. You
could go down to Freedom Tower, give a speech, and you had them in your
pocket. But now with what you`ve shown with the (inaudible) poll is this
generational divide. And also place divide, right? In Florida versus New
Jersey, the other mecca of which you had original reporting from yesterday,
right? So it`s fascinating to watch.

The one thing that I would heed, I think, for both parties that are trying
to use this for political gain or not, this is such a sensitive issue.
This is kind of like saying all of America thinks that all immigrants
should be deported. No, no, no. Undocumented immigrants, for them it`s a
super, super personal issue. Cuban Americans, because of their trajectory
and because of how severe and harsh and horrible this regime has been to
their parents and grandparents -- we`re not talking that much far removed -
- you can`t just clump them against the American public that they see
rightfully so as not understanding what`s going on in Cuba. So I would
really, really caution anybody from saying, hey, this is a completely
popular opinion. No, this is deep.

KORNACKI: But it`s striking, and Rand Paul has sort of broken the rules of
politics in a number of subjects, but it`s striking to me to see somebody
who clearly wants to run for president in 2016, has a pretty big base in
the Republican Party, and he feels politically it`s safe right now for him
to be out there saying, yeah, normalize, trade, let`s do it. Rand Paul.

GEORGE: Exactly. Well, the dynamics are changing within the Republican
Party. One of the senators who visited there recently, and we think kind
of behind the scenes helped broker this deal was Jeff Flake from Arizona,
whose politics overlap a fair amount with Rand Paul. So it`s definitely
changing. By the way, we`ve been showing the footage of the Cuban lift
from 1980. Even though Hillary Clinton came out in support of what Barack
Obama did, Bill Clinton has memories of that airlift because he thinks he
lost his gubernatorial re-election in 1980 because a number of the Cubans
settled in Arizona -

KORNACKI: Arkansas.

GEORGE: Excuse me, Arkansas, and his Republican opponent used that against
him, and he lost, and had to make a comeback in 1982. So even the Clintons
have some long memories of politics --


KORNACKI: -- during Bill Clinton`s presidency, the whole Elian Gonzalez
thing happened. That was the 2000 presidential election--

GEORGE: Which may have lost Florida to those people. It lost Florida for
Al Gore.

BELLANTONI: You have to look at this as a generational issue on both
sides. Sort of the way the people feel about it, you know, as that
population is getting younger and more people are born, as you`re talking
about, that changes sentiment a little bit as well, but then it`s a new
generation of politics who didn`t come up through Elian Gonzalez, who did
not see this happening in real-time. Don`t forget, Barack Obama made this
promise in 2007 at that Youtube debate when a citizen asked a better
question than I think a lot of the press had been asking him, would you sit
down and have these direct conversations? He said yes, and it ended up
being one of the few real flashpoints between Clinton and Obama in that
campaign. In some ways, this is again President Obama looking at his
legacy and thinking, what is he going to do in the next two years?

DOMENZAIN: This is something we`ve been watching. In 2012 - this is
interesting, the headlines that the Obama won the Cuban American vote on
election day, and people were like, no, that`s not true. It is a tongue in
cheek headline right, on election day. So the people who stood in line for
six hours to vote voted for the president when he had already relaxed
travel restrictions, which, by the way, the same poll shows the majority,
whether you`re old or young, are in favor of the easing travel
restrictions. Romney lost almost nine percentage points to what McCain had
won in the previous election. So this has been something--


KORNACKI: If you look back 10, 15 years, even, and you`re asking Cuban
Americans what party do you identify with, I mean, I found polls from the
early 2000s where it was like 65-20 Republican, and you ask now and it`s
basically dead even. That`s an amazing change in a very short period of
time. Where is this ultimately going? Is this one of those things where
once this step is taken, there is no going back? Could a Republican
president get in there? Jeb Bush was so critical this week. If he gets
elected in 2016, do we go back to an embargo?

DOMENZAIN: I think every single person, every single hard-liner and every
single person in favor of opening negotiations is going to be extremely
vigilant about everything that happens. There is no talk about lifting the
embargo right now. There are so many things that could be done that Cuba
will have a chance to react to. That will determine whether or not this
continues or actually gets shut again. I wouldn`t be surprised either way.

GEORGE: I think a Republican president, though, may want to wring more
concessions out of the Castro regime. There are between 50 and 70 American
criminals who have been basically given asylum there, including some who
killed New Jersey cops back in the 1970s. I think Republicans will use
some of this debate to try and get some of those there, and if that doesn`t
happen under Obama, a Republican president may be pushing it.

BELLANTONI: I think it`s about the Republican senate. They will want an
opportunity to hold hearings, to examine this, and don`t forget the entire
debate about Guantanamo Bay. Barack Obama explicitly said he would veto a
bill that defunded his ability to move prisoners out. He didn`t veto it,
he signed it, and now this is an entirely still existing debate.

KORNACKI: All right, I want to thank our panel for today. Gabi Domenzain,
Christina Bellantoni, Robert George. Appreciate all of you joining us, and
thank you at home for joining us today. Happy holidays to all of you.
Coming up next, Melissa Harris-Perry will have much more on the deadly
shootings of those two NYPD officers yesterday.


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