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PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton, Transcript 12/4/2016

Guests: Elijah Cummings, Joan Walsh, Yamiche Alcindor, Matt Welch, Karen Desoto, Areva Martin

Show: POLITICS NATION Date: December 4, 2016 Guest: Elijah Cummings, Joan Walsh, Yamiche Alcindor, Matt Welch, Karen Desoto, Areva Martin


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Billionaire boys club. Donald Trump stacking his cabinet with the ultra-rich. How will democrats respond? We`ll talk to Congressman Elijah Cummings. Also, standing up to the Trump agenda. How sanctuary cities won`t be able to stop these deportations.

Plus, Dylann Roof, acting as his own lawyer, potentially grilling survivors and victims` relatives.

And the jury in the Walter Scott case, weighing the fate of his killer. The POLITICS NATION legal panel weighs in.

From Rockefeller Center in New York, this is POLITICS NATION with Al Sharpton.


AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Good morning. I`m Al Sharpton. For the 65 million Americans who voted for Hillary Clinton, only to wake up to find a government controlled by republicans, here`s a reminder. The country has been here before.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Election 2004 return the president to office and most of the congress will be going back as well. Republicans picked up senate seats in six states and on the house side, the GOP widened its majority. All of this leaves the democrats doing a lot of soul-searching today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The increasingly critics say rural voters see democrats as too smug, too urban, too elite. Now the party faces an identity crisis. Should it move toward liberals like Dean and Hillary Clinton or try to appeal to red states?


SHARPTON: For the left, 2004 was demoralizing and yet on election night one of the few democrats who won that year to become a first time senator had a message for those he called skeptics.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I had three words for them, the same three words that are going to carry us because as Dr. King said, the ark of the moral universe is long, but advance towards justice, as long as we help bend it that way, I have three words for them. What are those words? Yes, we can. Thank you, Illinois. I love you! Thank you!


SHARPTON: The left fought back. In 2005, President Bush tried to privatize social security, but democrats stopped him. Then he botched a response to Hurricane Katrina. And in the midterms, democrats rolled a wave of backlash, winning back the house. Two years later, that first time senator won the presidential election.

While democrats took control of the senate, this past week Donald Trump began packing his cabinet with millionaires and billionaires and doubled down on a right wing agenda, filled with giveaways to corporations and more.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`re going to massively lower taxes and make America the best place in the world to hire on regulation. We`re going to eliminate every single wasteful regulation. And by the way, we are repealing and replacing ObamaCare.

We will construct a great wall at the border. And the nice part, our victory was so great, we have the house, we have the senate, and we have the presidency.


SHARPTON: Today as democrats debate the way forward, they should remember they fought back before and won.

Joining me now is Congressman Elijah Cummings, democrat for Maryland. Thank you for being here, congressman.


SHARPTON: First, I want you to take a listen to what a wise man said the day right after the 2004 election when democrats were demoralized.

CUMMINGS: It`s been our philosophy that if we continue to press and press hard on those issues that affect people on a day to day basis, that that hopefully will yield success. We`ve some evaluating to do. We`ve got a lot of evaluating to do. But one thing I don`t want us to do is take the focus off of those things that affect our people on a day to day basis.

SHARPTON: Congressman, in the Trump era, what does it mean to keep your focus on issues affecting people on a day to day basis?

CUMMNINGS: Reverend, without a doubt, jobs have to be number one. If a person does not have a job at a livable wage, they cannot take care their families, it`s hard for them to have hope and see a better future for their children than what they had. And so we`ve got to concentrate on jobs. We got to look at some of the things that president elect Trump has said during the campaign.

And in some instances, we may be able to work with them, but hold them to the promises that benefit Americans, but where there`s fraud, waste, abuse, bigotry, racism, things of that nature, that we`re going to have to fight them at every level. And we`ve got to show the American people, we`ve got a message for the American people that we hear about them.

We care about the fact that they are now working harder, and earning less, if you put inflation in there, and we`ve got to make sure that we are telling them that we have solutions to address their problems and have been trying to address those problems for years, particularly with the Obama administration, but what we found is that we have had maximum opposition, not only to the president, but to the democratic congress. And so we do have work to do. We have to be vigilant.

SHARPTON: Let me push you on that work to do. Because we just had a democratic leadership fight, you supported minority leader Nancy Pelosi. But do the democrats need to change their messaging? Do they need to change their message to get to the American public what they want to get to them in terms of wage stagnation, in terms of jobs, in terms of concerns for average workers that polls tell us were really turned around by the Trump candidacy, even though many may feel -- many of us feel that they were being misled in terms of some of what was committed, promised or even represented.

CUMMINGS: Reverend, you are absolutely right. I think we could do a far better job of messaging when I think about the things that you just mentioned, minimum wage, and supporting unions and I can go on and on, those are things that we don`t just see as good politics, but more importantly, that democrats truly believe in regardless of the politics.

So the question is, are we getting over to the American people, making them hear us, but at the same time, Reverend, making them understand that a Trump administration, from what we can see is going to probably be doing everything in their power to destroy unions.

SHARPTON: Let me ask you this before we run out of time. You`re the ranking democrat on oversight. And the GOP chairman is -- said this week that he won`t let it go when it comes to Hillary Clinton. Will he investigate the conflict of interest of Donald Trump that has been raised? He wants to go at Mrs. Clinton. What about these conflicts of interest that the incoming president may have? Will that be investigated by the oversight committee?

CUMMINGS: He claims that he`s going to hold Donald Trump to the same standards, but, Reverend, we have asked now -- or at least six times in the last two or three weeks for them to do something and we had radio silence.

SHARPTON: Congressman Elijah Cummings, not radio silent on this show. We will be watching and waiting and also moving to make sure America works fairly and equally for everyone in the congress. Thanks for your time.

CUMMINGS: Thank you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Now, let`s bring in Joan Walsh from The Nation. Yamiche Alcindor from The New York Times and Matt Welch, editor-at-large of Reason Magazine. Thank you all for being here.

Joan, let`s pick up on that last part. If republicans refuse to do oversight on Trump including conflicts of interest, how can democrats hold his feet to the fire?

JOAN WALSH, NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, THE NATION: They don`t have a ton of power. Representative Cummings has asked for several inspector general reports on conflict of interest, on the Comey letter. I think that he has an aggressive agenda, Rev, but I don`t -- I don`t know -- they`ll get a report, but they don`t have hearing power, you know. They can make a big deal at hearings that others scheduled.

But as we saw in the last session, it`s tough getting to the bottom of things when you`re in the --

SHARPTON: but are there ways that can dramatize this, by refusing to -- for example, Yamiche, you hear the threat by some to go ahead and investigate Hillary Clinton, no matter what. In fact, at the rally the other night, that Donald Trump had, they were still yelling lock her up. Watch this.


TRUMP: We did have a lot of fun fighting Hillary, didn`t we? Right.


SHARPTON: I mean, will the republicans go forward and could this back fire and create an opening for the democrats?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, NATIONAL REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I don`t think that the republicans are going to go forward, mainly because I feel like while Donald Trump has said this and people are chanting lock her up, lock her up, most people I feel like are ready to move on and like most republicans, they`re so eager to repeal ObamaCare. They`re so eager to do all the policies to look at abortion rights, to do all these other things that they`ve been talking about and I think because they have both houses of congress, to waste time then prosecuting Hillary Clinton, that`s really -- they may not have Donald Trump for eight years, so to waste that, I think would just be -- would be stupid.

And I also should just say, I`ve talked to a lot of his supporters and Trump supporters aren`t waiting for him to lock her up. They say this and it`s something that`s fun to say, but I don`t think that they`re really -- they see it as a mandate.

SHARPTON: And not digging in from your conversation?


SHARPTON: All right. Well, Matt, is there an opportunity, a lot of us are looking at the confirmation hearings. Trump has just appointed -- or at least nominated some millionaires and billionaires this week with all kinds of interesting backgrounds.

MATT WELCH, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, REASON MAGAZINE: Wait, you`re saying there`s millionaires in government?

SHARPTON: I didn`t just say -- I mean -- the confirmation hearings, doesn`t that give an opportunity for democrats to bear down. There`s nothing barring them from going after some of the things that we`re hearing in the background of some of the nominees.

WELCH: Right. And I hope that in that process that they`re very selective, and then it`s more than just that Wilbur Ross, for example, is a cajillionaire. But it`s more that Jeff Sessions who`s supposed to be in charge of the Department of Justice is against criminal justice reform, is against civil asset -- has a 180s era the kind of attitude about the drug war and he`s going to be in charge for a lot of enforcement opportunities.

So picking the right fight among people who have the actual opportunity to do things that democrats and non-democrats alike think are bad, that is key, just throwing up your hands in the air and saying that they`re all bad, they`re all rich, well they`re all republican, that`s not going to get it done. A president does get deference with most of his cabinet.

SHARPTON: Unless they`re selective in your opinion, Joan.

WALSH: Yes, I agree with that. I mean, I think every hearing is an opportunity to air the things in their backgrounds that don`t jive with Trump`s promises. But I think Sessions will be a big one. I think Steve Mnuchin, the treasury secretary, Goldman Sachs guy, apparently there`s a Trump voter who just discovered that she was evicted by Mnuchin`s old company, OneWest. And she`s despondent that she voted for Trump. She believed his promises, he was going to drain the swamp and now we`ve got swamp thing as treasury secretary. I mean, I think Tom Price will be a big target. But you`re right, everyone can`t be subject to the same level --

SHARPTON: Price at HHS was the one who consistently went after ObamaCare. But Yamiche, how concerned -- I want to go to Matt`s point, should democrats be about the fact that all of these multi-corporate connected Wall Street millionaire guys. How concerned should democrats be about that or should it be on specific issues and specific things that much of the public may not even know about some of the nominees` background?

ALCINDOR: I think it should be a public concern about both the democrats. I`m talking to are concerned about the fact that you have people who have run private equity firms, who have all this money, making decisions about people and really are not going to have the kind of working class, even working class white voters, but I would also say working class of all races at heart when they make these decisions. But the other thing --

SHARPTON: Well, you have a working class person nominated. I mean, what happened to all of the blue-collar workers, and all of the people he was rallying in key states, nobody liked that is nominated for this cabinet.

WALSH: Sarah Palin is calling the Carrier bailout crony capitalism, which it is.

SHARPTON: Oh, really? She figured that out all by herself?

WALSH: I`m not praising her. I am just noticing that there are already cracks in this coalition. And I think the hearings are an opportunity to - -

WELCH: But I think there are microcracks at this point. I don`t think the people voted for Donald Trump to make sure that someone with a perfect blue-collar pedigree is going to be the head of the department of commerce.

SHARPTON: But an understanding of blue-collar people may be something that you can at least get some light in. Everybody stay with me. Lots more ahead.

Ahead this hour, accused Charleston Church shooter Dylann Roof goes on trial this week. And he`s representing himself. What that could mean for the families who will have to face him?

Also, a potential showdown at the longest running protest in recent American history.

But, first, the fight to stop threats of deportation. I`ll talk to a leader of the movement, an undocumented immigrant himself.



TRUMP: Hillary supports totally open borders. There goes your country. There goes your country, folks. And strongly supports sanctuary cities like San Francisco. We will cancel all federal funding to sanctuary cities.


SHARPTON: It was one of Donald Trump`s key campaign threats. A warning he`ll cut off federal funds to so-called sanctuary cities, areas that refuse to coordinate with federal law enforcement to deport undocumented immigrants.

At least 39 cities fit the bill. And since the election, some have come forward, vowing they`ll keep on protecting immigrants. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio delivered that message at Trump Tower. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti says he`ll resist Trump on this issue.


ERIC GARCETTI, MAYOR, LOS ANGELES: Immigration is the responsibility of our federal government. We`ve been very clear. It`s not the responsibility of LAPD. I think anything that would take away federal aid would cause social, economic, and security problems. And so I`m hoping that we can have this conversation separate and without threats.


SHARPTON: Joining me now is Cesar Vargas, co-founder of the DREAM Action Coalition. He`s an undocumented immigrant. Thank you, first of all, for being here, Cesar.

CESAR VARGAS, CO-FOUNDER, DREAM ACTION COALITION: Thank you so much for having me.

SHARPTON: You`re an attorney. Do mayors have the legal basis for resisting Trump on deporting immigrants?

VARGAS: Well, first, I hope that the mayor and the governor who have said that New York City is a sanctuary city actually commit to those words that is not just a campaign rhetoric. But it`s not only legal --

SHARPTON: As well as Garcetti and others.

VARGAS: Absolutely. But it`s not only legally defensible, but critical to our national security, to assure and allow cities to enact sanctuary laws to assure its taxpayer residents regardless of immigration status that their local government will protect them from federal overreach, when in case that infringes on the peace and security. And most importantly, we have seen that states can provide more protections and cities to its residents and that establishes jurisprudence.

So the most important thing is, one, the president does have to enforce the law, but he has to enforce the law according to our constitutional rights. And most importantly, he has to respect state constitutional protections, city charter protections.

SHARPTON: Let me push you on that a little. Let me play the devil`s advocate. What do you say to those opponents who say but the law must be enforced?

VARGAS: Well, we have seen in history where we are in the same place, you had that fugitive slave act, back one of the most controversial laws in the 19th century. This law congress passed. But in this situation -- those situations, northern states passed special legislation to defy the federal government because they saw that states and cities could provide that legal protection to its residents and the federal government cannot force states or cities to strip its residents on protections that the states or cities have provided.

So when we come here about, well, the president has to enforce the law. Yes, but he has to enforce the law according to those constitution, protections provided by the federal, but also the state and city charters.

SHARPTON: Let me raise something else to you that touches concerns here from people. After the election, Trump said that he`ll deport two or three million undocumented immigrants. Watch this.


TRUMP: What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, when a lot of these people, probably two million, it could even be three million, we are getting them out of our country or we`re going to incarcerate.


SHARPTON: Are there two to three million undocumented immigrants with criminal records? I mean, help me with the fact check here.

VARGAS: Well, first, the Migration Policy Institute has said that there`s approximately 600 to 700,000 people with some criminal records. But let`s be very careful. Who are these people with criminal records? Sometimes it could be a parent who has worked with fake papers, right? When associate - - who`s only --

SHARPTON: Which is called a criminal -- creates a criminal.

VARGAS: But at the same time, we saw in Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio was targeting Latinos and immigrants and charging them with felonies. In that case, they were criminals. So in that case, let`s be very careful about those terms. But in the reality, when we see Donald Trump talk about persecuting immigrants, you`re creating social unrest because we`re not just targeting undocumented immigrants.

Many of these families have U.S. citizen`s spouses, U.S. citizen children. So it will create social unrest when we talk about this type of rhetoric.

SHARPTON: Cesar Vargas, thank you for your time this morning.

VARGAS: Thank you so much for having me.

SHARPTON: Coming up, one holdout among jurors in a police shooting that grabbed national headlines. Will they buy this officer`s claim that he fired out of fear?

But, first, dollars and nonsense. Why Trump`s Carrier deal just doesn`t add up. That`s next.



TRUMP: I just want to let all of the other companies know that we`re going to do great things for business. There`s no reason for them to leave anymore. These companies aren`t going to be leaving anymore. They`re not going to be taken people`s hearts out. They`re not going to be announcing like they did at Carrier, that they`re closing up and they`re moving to Mexico


SHARPTON: Donald Trump boasting about the nearly 1,000 jobs he says he stopped from moving to Mexico. Carrier agreed to keep the jobs here in exchange for $7 million in taxpayer money. Obviously, we`re happy for those workers. But what about others in the same boat? Like the 300 workers at the Rexnord Plant right off the block? They`re also about to lose their jobs next year.

These are the workers all happy for their colleagues but wondering why they didn`t get help too.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The issue we have is that I feel like the president- elect Trump has actually put himself in a box now. So we`re -- I mean, we`ve got millions of manufacturing jobs across this entire United States. This is like -- they`re going to be like, OK. Well, am I next? Are you going to come around with your stick and be able to actually go to every CEO of these companies and save these jobs an keep all jobs in America?


SHARPTON: The truth is Trump`s strategy is unrealistic to save jobs. You need a policy, not a publicity stunt. Paul Krugman points out, "Trump would have to do a deal like this every week for the next 30 years in order to save as many jobs as President Obama saved with the auto bailout.

Those 1.5 million jobs made a huge difference to those families and to the economy in general. But of course, pundits on the right hated the auto bailout. Folks like Sean Hannity.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Day number 70 of radicalism you can believe in commander and CEO and that`s what we have tonight folks. And how better to take charge of an industry and troubles then your federal government? What we`re left with tonight is government running American business with your hard-earned tax dollars.


SHARPTON: Are you surprised that Sean Hannity is singing a different tune now with Trump in charge? Me neither.


HANNITY: And a major win for American workers, Donald Trump tweeted that he that he has brokered a deal with air-conditioning manufacturer Carrier to keep about 1,000 jobs that it was planning to send to Mexico right here in America.


SHARPTON: Now, we`re happy for those thousand workers who are keeping their jobs. But no one should pretend it`s a substitute for an actual agenda to create jobs.

So nice try, Mr. Trump, but we got you.


SHARPTON: Tomorrow morning, a juror will resume deliberations in the Walter Scott shooting. There`s apparently one holdout juror in the case. The jury deadlocked about the guilt or innocence of Police Officer Michael Slager. The case got national attention after this video was released showing Scott running away as he was shot by Officer Slager. Scott was originally stopped for a broken taillight. This week emotional testimony from Scott`s mother.


JUDY SCOTT, MOTHER OF WALTER SCOTT: He said they tasing me and I heard him groaning like he was in in excruciating pain.


SHARPTON: The officer faces 30 years to life behind bars if found guilty. The jury seemed to be focused on this question, did Officer Slager believe he was shooting in self-defense?


MICHAEL SLAGER, FORMER POLICE OFFICER, NORTH CHARLESTON: (inaudible) in my mind, fear, scared.


SHARPTON: Joining me now Defense Attorney and former prosecutor Karen Desoto, and Areva Martin, managing partner at the law firm Martin and Martin.

Karen, let me go to you first. What should we make of the fact that one juror, just one, is the holdout here we`re told?

KAREN DESOTO, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, it`s interesting because this does happen all the time in murder trials. As you know reasonable doubt is a really high standard for jurors and it`s not unusual in murder cases. This is the ultimate serious high as you can go is criminal penalties and a lot of times it`s not unusual to have one juror hold out because they`re not firmly convinced for some reason.

And so we don`t know if the holdout is for the murder charge or the manslaughter charge in this case, we haven`t gotten that information yet. So we don`t know exactly what information unless, of course, you have more information on that.

SHARPTON: No, we don`t.

Areva, what`s your take on this?

AREVA MARTIN, MANAGING PARTNER, MARTIN & MARTIN: I think this is really troubling, Rev. We`ve seen so many of these cases, African-American, unarmed African-American men be shot by police officers, many of the cases involving white police officers as is the case of Walter Scott. And you see this videotape and for the millions of people that saw that videotape, that was proof positive. That was all the evidence that we thought would be needed for justice to be delivered for the Scott family.

And now to have this jury say on two occasions that they don`t think they can reach a unanimous decision is very troubling.

SHARPTON: You brought up --

MARTIN: This is a troubling case.

SHARPTON: Areva, you brought up an unarmed black man and I went down to North Charleston, around this, right after it happened. The fact is this jury is all white with the exception of one juror. Does this in any way affect how they approached or should approach their case?

MARTIN: You`d like to think, Rev, that race doesn`t matter and the fact that the jurors, the majority of them are white, isn`t what is causing one juror not to be able to make a decision. But I think in the court of public opinion, if there is a deadlock, if this juror is unable to reach a unanimous decision, I think the country will have to explore, examine, raise that question about whether this is about race.

SHARPTON: Let me ask you before we run out of time, Karen, the fact that when Officer Slager says that in hindsight he wouldn`t have chased Walter Scott in the first place, what is a jury supposed to make of that?

DESOTO: Well, I think that they had an expert on that says that when you`re under traumatic experiences like that, you only as a police officer have a couple of seconds. So thinking back on it, I think his thing was he could have handled it multiple different ways, or at least that`s what the defense was trying to grasp with that. That he could have done it differently, unfortunately he`s a police officer, and because of his training, you have to think quick and think fast and sometimes you make mistakes and sometimes you don`t.

SHARPTON: The chase, we saw it -- let`s turn to another case. This week, the trial begins for accused Charleston Church shooter Dylann Roof. He`ll be representing himself. That means he could cross-examine survivors and victims` family members during the trial.

Roof has accused of gunning down nine black worshipers in June of 2015. Authorities say he targeted the victims because of their race. Areva, how unusual is this courtroom scenario?

MARTIN: It`s very unusual, Rev, because you have a federal capital murder case, very complicated case, even for lawyers, particularly lawyers that don`t have specific experience in capital murder cases.

So to have an individual with no legal training, no expertise, representing himself is highly unusual and you hit on one of the salient points here, is that this shooter, this murderer will further humiliate, demean these family members, the survivors who will have to give testimony during this trial and not just face Roof as a defendant sitting at a table, but actually have to be questioned by him and have to confront him to discuss the most painful thing that you can ever imagine that has happened to them. This is going to be an incredibly emotional situation for the family.

SHARPTON: Karen, the judge said that Dylann Roof, he found him to be, quote, highly intelligent as -- is he intelligent enough to be his own attorney?

DESOTO: Absolutely not. I mean, people who are autistic are highly intelligent, that doesn`t mean that they should be attorneys and in death penalty cases be trying cases. I think this case is really disturbing on a lot of levels.

His defense attorneys have been trying to take the reins back and the judge really is denying them. Obviously again, the death penalty this is not a case where you want him cross-examining. The judge has said that he wants him to speak to the judge and not the attorney is when there are objections or motion.

And that`s disturbing on a lot of levels. I mean, in the beginning of this case, we had motions on whether or not he was even sane enough to even be involved in the case, and now that they have ruled that he is in fact sane enough, now they`re going to let him try his own case? It`s very disturbing.

SHARPTON: Let me go back, Areva, to the human element here that I raised that you picked up, the families, the victims` families, having to face this man who killed a loved one and no one knows what he will do, how -- look into their eyes, you have to sit there and look at a man who gave you the most painful experience in your life. I mean, I`ve never heard or even imagined of this kind of situation.

MARTIN: It`s going to be traumatizing to say the least. And we`re going to have to see how the judge lets this play itself out in a trial. We don`t know what Dylann Roof`s agenda is. Clearly he has an agenda. He has an agenda when he went into that church and sat quietly and waited and then murdered nine people.

He has an agenda by asking his very skilled set of attorneys be relieved as council. And I think the agenda is to further traumatize these families.

SHARPTON: Well, they said he said he wanted a race war. How do we know he won`t use this as a platform for marking and just more pain who knows what he`s going to do? It`s really, really a scary situation to me.

Karen Desoto and Areva Martin, thanks for being here.

DESOTO: Thanks, Reverend.

MARTIN: Thanks, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Coming up, a picture is worth a thousand words. What Mitt Romney`s face could tell us about the Trump transition?

Plus, the most surprising phone call I`ve gotten in years.


SHARPTON: We`re back with a question that I want to raise. Is Donald Trump using his transition reality show not to find the best talent, but instead to humiliate his former critics and rivals?

He summoned Mitt Romney for two high profile meetings with photos that generated instant mockery.


NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Ever in your career seen a serious adult who`s wealthy, independent, has been a presidential nominee, suck up at the rate that Mitt Romney is sucking up?


SHARPTON: But sources tell NBC, Romney`s name is now not in the top tier of candidates. So what is this all about? What was this all that we were watching? Also, Rick Perry`s name was floated for the department of energy. I wonder why they picked that department. Maybe it was because of this.


RICK PERRY, FORMER GOVERNOR OF TEXAS: And I will tell you it`s three agencies of government when I get there that are gone, commerce, education and the -- what`s the third one there? Let`s see. I would do away with education, the -- commerce -- and let`s see. I can`t -- the third one, I can`t. Sorry. Oops. Well, every one of those and, by the way, that was the department of energy I was reaching for a while --


SHARPTON: It was the department of energy he couldn`t remember. So now some wonder if Trump is just trolling Perry with this possibility. So is Trump using his transition to settle scores and satisfy his own ego? And if so, what will he do in the oval office?

Let`s bring back our panel, Joan, Yamiche and Matt.

So, Matt, what was Trump doing to Mitt Romney?

MATT WELCH, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, REASON MAGAZINE: I will never try to get into Donald Trump`s head because it just didn`t work this whole campaign. So let`s talk about the effect that what Donald Trump is doing, not just on Mitt Romney, but on the party.

Mitt Romney represents the kind of beating heart of anti-Trumpism in the Republican Party, which was basically Mormons. It was Mike Lee who never endorsed him, it`s Jeff Flake who never endorsed him, people found to be vulgar and beyond the pale and not sufficiently patriotic. But a lot of those people have come back in the fold including Senator Crapo from Idaho.

But so by having him twist in the wind for a really long time, and getting those people`s hopes up, that level of kind of opposition to Trump gets smaller. And a lot of these names have been floated including names that has zero chance that being in the Trump administration represent little nuggets from ideologies from potential sources of conflict.

They floated Tom Massie`s name as a potential administration member who`s a libertarian and he has zero chance of being nominated but it`s to placate that small little anti-Trump libertarian --

SHARPTON: There`s some politics there, but there`s also some of Trump doing what some suspect is mocking people, others suspect -- there`s a personality trait that he has that he wants to talk to people himself.

He`s -- I was on a show early this weekend and talked about how it is to be an out of borough New Yorker and he is and I was and he actually called me and made news.

He`s the kind of guy that`ll pick up the phone and talk direct to people and deal with people and you don`t know what his motivation is and he knows he and I don`t agree on much of anything. But he`ll talk to you. And you never understand the motive and some of it is just him and some of it is maybe having a little evening the score.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, NATIONAL REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I`ll go and say we`re talking about the first reality TV show president. And the idea is that a lot of his voters, millions of voters I think remember him from the apprentice. And I think he`s having a really good time having these people come in, kiss their the ring, having the people floated in front of the cameras. This is someone who hasn`t held a press conference for months now.

However when you look at the pictures of people coming in, he was holding Chris Christie`s hand almost on a death lock, saying, you know, we`re still posing. I don`t want to hear what you`re talking about, we`re still posing.

And I think that those moments are really as a journalist what to me tells me that he`s really enjoying his time and his really taking his time and he really likes --

SHARPTON: He always enjoyed his time, whether we agree or not. The question becomes will he act like this in the oval and what will the impact be on the nation, on people that really need serious leadership. Because clearly when you look at his speech the other night, and his victory tour, he said I`m not going to hold you in suspense, I`m going to tell you my nomination for secretary of defense or I was going to hold people in suspense until Monday. Why even suggest holding people in suspense? We`re talking about the defense department here.

JOAN WALSH, NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, THE NATION: Right. Because he`s telling them that they`re getting something special from him. That he is the guy --

SHARPTON: But we`re talking about the defense department.

WALSH: I`m well aware, so to your original question, is he going to change once he gets to the oval office. Of course not. He`s never once changed. All the times we`ve been waiting for the pivot, for the gravity of the situation, whatever, it never came, and it never will come.

I mean, we saw that with him calling the president of Taiwan the other day, you know, first president since 1979.

SHARPTON: `79, yes.

WALSH: To speak to the U.S. president. What is -- this is just what he`s going to do. And some of it is going to seem really refreshing and different to his supporters and some of it is going to get him in a lot of trouble.

SHARPTON: But at the same time, let`s not underestimate that there is a line here because the people that he has selected are almost the same kind of ways he satisfied certain factors in the party. So even though he may relish the parade, he seems to know strategically where he`s going or where he`s taking council, Matt.

WELCH: Yes. There is strategy all throughout his picks. The fact that he put Nikki Haley as the ambassador to the United Nations, was a big middle finger to Ann Coulter and that wing of the party and Coulter very famously calling Nikki Haley immigrant, which she`s not, and a bunch of other things.

So he is picking people from different -- Mike Flynn is not the same guy as Mad Dog Mattis. Those people are going to butt heads. So he`s going to have some team of rivals amongst each other inside of his cabinet and they will represent different constituencies and it`s --

SHARPTON: And it`s a strategy, what I`m saying is -- and I propose and dealing with all of that now, but he`s been many things, stupid is not one of them. And we can debate about how smart he`s been on terms of understanding people and their pain, but he`s a strategist.

ALCINDOR: Yes. And he likes to have people, I think, be in conflict. You think of Reince Priebus and then you think of Steve Bannon, they`re going to be arguing in the White House all the time. So I think he also likes the idea of people roughing it out and then him saying, okay --

SHARPTON: He`s got to make the ultimate decision. Joan Walsh, Yamiche Alcindor, Matt Welch, thank you for your time this morning.

Still to come, standing their ground at Standing Rock. There`s more to the story behind one group`s battle against big oil.


SHARPTON: I`d like to close the show this morning with a shout-out to the protesters at Standing Rock. They`ve been camped out for months, trying to stop construction of an oil pipeline they say threatens the environment and sacred Native American land.

Authorities have ordered them to leave their camp by tomorrow. But veterans are now moving in, starting today, to protect them and act as human shields. The protests have been dangerous, police have allegedly used rubber bullets and tear gas. They`ve also sprayed water on protesters during freezing temperatures. There`s nothing glamorous about this.

Those protesters are cold. They`re hungry. And until recently they weren`t getting any attention from the outside world. But they didn`t give up. And whether you agree or disagree with their cause, you have to respect that because that`s how change happens.

I know in my life I`ve seen protests that led to change. Sometimes we went to jail, I went three months one time. People can`t pay you or give you enough publicity. It`s got to be something you believe in, and for even those causes that I disagree, I respect people that will pay a price because that`s what will make us all move more toward a just and fair and perfect union.

That does it for me. Thanks for watching. I`ll see you back here next Sunday.