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Politics Nation with Al Sharpton, Transcript 1/29/2017

Guests: Zahra Billoo, Trita Parsi, Elizabeth Wydra, Vince Warren, Elijah Cummings

Show: Politics Nation with Al Sharpton Date: January 29, 2017 Guest: Zahra Billoo, Trita Parsi, Elizabeth Wydra, Vince Warren, Elijah Cummings 



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is the government prepared to implement the immigration executive order that you issued yesterday?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And is it a Muslim ban?

TRUMP: It`s not a Muslim ban, but we are totally prepared to support it. It`s worked out very nicely. You see it at the airports. You see it all over. It`s working out very nicely, and we`re going to have a very, very strict ban and we`re going to have extreme vetting, which we should have had in this country for many years.


AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Good morning and welcome to "PoliticsNation."

President Trump`s executive order starting extreme vetting has sparked worldwide outrage. Airports in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, and other cities were filled with protesters on Saturday, and more protests are expected today.

The president`s order temporarily restricts visitors from seven Muslim majority countries from entering the U.S. But late last night, a federal judge in New York blocked deportations nationwide.

NBC`s Sarah Dallof, is live at Atlanta`s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. What`s the latest there?

SARAH DALLOF, NBC NEWS REPORTER: Well, good morning, Al. Atlanta`s mayor has tweeted that 11 travelers detained here for hours yesterday have all been cleared. This, of course, following this executive order being issued, causing confusion, causing detainments across the nation for people returning from these seven countries, permanent residents, green card holders.

Here in Atlanta, that included a child, a 10-year-old, and an elderly grandmother who were detained for hours. They had been visiting family, we are told, over in Iran. But as I mentioned, all 11 cleared right now.

Now, this news comes as organizers put together protests across the nation, including here in Atlanta where some 2,000 people have indicated that they will be at the airport today to protest this executive order.

These protests happening across the country -- Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., people coming out in mass to make their voices heard, not only here in the country, the White House and around the world, Al.

SHARPTON: All right. Thank you for your report, NBC`s Sarah Dallof live at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta.

Joining me now is Zahra Billoo of the Council on American Islamic Relations and Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian-American Council.

Let me start with you, Zahra. How do you react to an executive order that is clearly targeting people based on their religion?

ZAHRA BILLOO, CIVIL RIGHTS LAWYER: Thank you so much for having me. Honestly, it`s been a mixed bag. Anger is a very common reaction. It`s what I`ve been feeling. This president promised a racist ban targeting Muslims and others from Muslim majority countries for months.

We should have expected that he would attempt to fulfill it. And what`s most concerning is the level of fear that we`re seeing from impacted individuals. Can they come in? What does it mean when a pregnant woman gets stuck at San Francisco airport for several hours? How are elderly people dealing with the fact that they may need to take two very long flights, one sending them back to their country of origin because of this executive order?

So, anger is what I`m feeling. Fear is what I`m seeing in a lot of the community members that we serve.

SHARPTON: And, Trita, a lot of people that are not Muslim have absolutely joined the protests, joined the outrage. Many of us have been saying for months this is something that is a threat to everyone.

But once you see it actually implemented, it really does raise the level of outrage and fear. I mean, we`re actually talking about an executive order that is based on who you are in terms of your religion or in terms of your background and not based on anything that you`ve done to raise suspicion. Is this unprecedented from where you sit?

TRITA PARSI, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL IRANIAN-AMERICAN COUNCIL: Well, unfortunately, these things have happened in this country before, but it`s been quite a while. And you`re absolutely right, the principle that this is based on is probably the most threatening thing and the most scary thing of all of this, because it essentially means that people are going to be judged because of their DNA, because of their religion, not because of their conduct.

And if this is a principle that gets established and becomes normalized, we`re going to see some very, very nasty things happening in this country.

And I think it`s bear reminding that this is not just targeting people with visas, this is actually now targeting people with green cards, people who have been living here for 20 years, whose children are American, who may have gone on a business trip and cannot get back to their children as a result of this.

This is truly stunning and shocking. And I`m not surprised at all to see that the entire world is just stunned that America could do something like this.

SHARPTON: Now, Zahra, when you mentioned that there was fear -- we just had a reporter in Atlanta. There was a child that was held. You mentioned a pregnant woman. Is part of this fear also that it begins to stereotype Muslims who are in the country and kind of give this blanket image that all of them are suspects of terrorism?

BILLOO: I would say the fear is two-fold. First, we have someone holding the highest elected office in this country continuing to spew racist Islamaphobic rhetoric, and now attempting to put forward policy based on that.

So this makes people who were otherwise considering hate crimes but wouldn`t have done them feel emboldened, feel like they are on the correct side of things and feel like they have the support of the president.

The other part of the fear, I would note, though, is that this executive order starts with seven countries and certain time limits on the various restrictions it puts into place.

But what we`ve heard from some republican leaders, right here on MSNBC is that they may add additional countries later. And so, what we permit to happen today will continue to have an impact, a ripple effect on other Americans beyond just the seven countries, and that`s a source of fear.

We`re hearing from people from Pakistan, people from Sri Lanka, people from Malaysia who are asking, well, what does this mean for me, and can I travel at this time?

SHARPTON: And as you point out, I think it is important to bring back, Trita, that this also impacts people with green cards. I mean, for people at home this morning, tell them actually what the practical implications of this order is, because I don`t know that people really understand when we say ban, what does that really mean? Who is banned and what does it do to those that are banned, Trita?

PARSI: So, it`s targeting individuals who have been born in seven countries and have citizenship in those countries. Now, when they first talked about this earlier on, it gave the impression that it would be banning new visas and immigration from those countries.

There was no hint that it would also be targeting people who already have visas or it will be targeting people who already live here and have been living here for years because they are green card holders.

SHARPTON: So, if you have a visa, if you`ve been living here for years, you still fall under this ban?

PARSI: Absolutely, and this is the thing. There are students here from these countries. About 48 percent of the people that are affected by this are Iranians because that`s the biggest group in this. A lot of students here. If they travel outside of the country right now, they`re not going to be able to be let back in.

And also, I think one thing that I want to mention that people really should be aware of, the green card holders that have been interrogated and then decided on a case-by-case basis whether they can come in or not, I`ve spoken to people who have been let in, and I`ve also spoken to people who have been deported.

The people who have been let in told me that they were handcuffed, that they were interrogated for hours, they were asked for their social media and Facebook and Twitter and Instagram that was reviewed. They were also asked their view on Donald Trump. And this is pretty scary. People are walking out of this feeling that they always thought that they lived in the country --

SHARPTON: People who were held were asked their views on Donald Trump? What does that have to do with anything about entering the country and about whether or not you`re suspected, if that is the assumption, of doing something unlawful?

PARSI: And this is exactly the point. People walk out of this extremely intimidated and feeling that they`re no longer living in a land of laws because you`re being asked questions about what their views is on the president. If they give the wrong answer, they may not have been let into the country.

SHARPTON: This enhances, Zahra, the fear that you talk about, because if you -- let`s say, for example, you don`t agree with President Trump. Are you supposed to out of fear say I like the president because you want to get in the country? This is absolutely an outrage on its face on what the United States constitutions supposed to guarantee you in this country.

BILLOO: I agree. I mean, and the difficult thing is that it targets the most vulnerable populations. If I were advising a U.S. citizen coming into the border and I was told that a law enforcement or other government agent asked them about their religious or political beliefs, my advice would be to say mind your own business, that is not a question I`m required to answer.

But I can`t safely say that to a green card holder or someone with a visa because they could very well be detained and turned away which is some of what we`ve seen in the last 24 to 36 hours.

And so, it targets people who are most vulnerable, and then it asks them about information that we as Americans believe at our core the government has no business asking us.

SHARPTON: Trita, let me ask you quickly. I`m out of time, but a judge in Brooklyn, in eastern district, stopped the deportations but did not have order that they can actually enter the country. Where are we legally here? What are the legal goals to try and deal with this executive order?

PARSI: So, right now where we are is that those that are already here cannot be deported until this matter has been resolved, but people who are not here, who are green card holders, who are about to board a plane or students, they still would be in jeopardy if they got on. And in fact, many of them are not even going to be able to get on the planes because the airlines won`t let them on.

But I think it`s also important to keep one thing in mind -- this is not making America safer in any way, shape or form. This is only dividing the country, turning Americans against Americans and dragging America`s name through the mud internationally.

SHARPTON: Well, I`m going to deal with that in the next segment because it doesn`t even really target where the terrorism that we`ve seen even comes from, and I`m going to deal with that in the next segment. Zahra Billoo, Trita Parsi, thank you.

Up next, more on the fallout from President Trump`s ban on refugees. Could it actually backfire? I`ll ask terrorism analyst Malcolm Nance.


SHARPTON: President Trump`s immigration restrictions affect seven Muslim majority countries, but it does not affect others, like Saudi Arabia, where the Trump organization does business. It is also unclear whether this will actually improve national security.

A new study finds that terrorism by Muslim Americans account for less than one percent of all murders in the U.S.

Joining me now by phone is MSNBC terrorism analyst Malcolm Nance. Malcolm, let me ask you, first of all, these seven countries that have been designated or that has been named in this ban, do they have a history of terrorism in the United States?

MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, technically, some do but in the past, but under previous regimes, like Libya. But for the most part, none of these countries have produced terrorists who have come to the United States and carried out acts of terrorism.

A couple of them, like Somalia, Yemen, and Libya, do have members of ISIS groups that are actually under great attack right now. Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism. But as you know, we have millions of Iranians mainly who live in this country out in the west coast.

But I don`t know where they chose these nations from, because none of them have anything to do with international terrorism.

SHARPTON: So, if none of these have anything to do with national terrorism, how do they then exclude Saudi Arabia, where coincidentally, the president`s business does business, and other Muslim nations that are not on this list? I mean, where did this selection process find its way of deciding who`s banned?

NANCE: Well, I think that the writer Murtaza Hussain from "The Intercept" put it succinctly, the other day, when he wrote that these seven nations were the low-hanging fruit of countries that most people know. They have very few people who come to the United States and that it would be very easy to just call them Muslims, all Muslims, and put a ban in place. That doesn`t mean that there won`t be a rolling ban over time where we start excluding other Muslim nations.

But the ones right now where it appears that Donald Trump has a national security interest or a personal financial interest, he has not expressed any interest in banning those. And those are the countries with real terrorism -- Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia -- 17 of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia on 9/11.

SHARPTON: And they`re not a part of this ban?

NANCE: No, no, not at all. As a matter of fact, the largest country with the largest number of members of ISIS per capita was Tunisia, which is an ally of ours, who we`re helping fight is in their own country, but they`re mainly concentrated in Syria. European ISIS members. There`s no ban on them individually or as a collective.

This is just absolutely insane and it smacks of racism, to be quite honest, because this has no intelligence or national security value. No one, obviously, from the community was consulted about this. No one, none of the experts from state department were obviously. This is done within Trump`s inner circle from a group of people who seem to have a problem with the word Muslim.

SHARPTON: Now, going into his inner circle, his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, many feel has a lot of influence on this. How do you respond to that? What do you know about Bannon and his background that would give us some kind of reason to feel some of this may have come from his advice?

NANCE: OK. I`m going to give you my opinion, which is an intelligence perspective based on what we know about him. He actually holds an ideology and espoused an ideology when he was leading the alt-right, right? The white supremacist Neo-Nazi movement media arm.

He believes in a thing called duganist eurasianism philosophy. It`s a doctrine that was developed by a Russian, Aleksandr Dugin, who believes that the west needs to be aligned in an axis, that Russia and the United States, against Islam in a clash of civilizations.

Steve Bannon in the past referred to himself as a Leninist who believes in, you who believes in, you know, the destruction of governments and also this clash between Christian west, the United States and Russia, versus Islam.

And to me as an intelligence professional, although I don`t like to get this deeply involved in politics, I have to understand that the principal ideology of this individual is now guiding national security policy and making the president, or drafting executive orders for the president of the United States.

SHARPTON: So this man who has in the past -- you`re quoting -- has a real self-portrayal of him believing that we must unite, even with Russia, against Islam, this is the man that is the chief strategist for President Trump?

NANCE: Yes. Yes, it is. And unfortunately, he`s not only the chief strategist, he now has a seat at the table on the National Security Council and the homeland security councils at a time when no president have ever brought a politician on board to do that role.

And to me, it just seems that he`s going to take on the role of commissar to make sure that the national security apparatus is meeting the political goals of the president.

SHARPTON: MSNBC terrorism analyst Malcolm Nance, thank you so much for your time.

NANCE: My pleasure.

SHARPTON: Next, we`ll take you live to the White House for reaction to the blowback from President Trump`s travel ban.


SHARPTON: President Trump`s executive order on refugees continues to spark outrage across the globe. Protests were held across the country last night and even more are planned for later today, 2,000 people are expected to march in Atlanta.

Let`s bring in NBC`s Kelly O`Donnell, who`s live at the White House.

Kelly, has the Trump administration responded to these protests at all?

KELLY O`DONNELL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have been reaching out, Reverend Al, and we`ve not received a specific response to the protests or an official statement on sort of judging the first day of this new plan.

However, this morning the president is using his Twitter feed to make a comment that you can infer is a reaction to some of these protests. The president tweets, "Our country needs strong borders and extreme vetting now," all caps. "Look what is happening all over Europe and indeed the world -- a horrible mess!"

Of course, extreme vetting is a term that President Trump uses to describe, in effect, the plan that he has set in motion, where his executive order prohibits the admission into the U.S. from those seven countries that are predominantly Muslim, for a temporary period of time and suspends indefinitely the admission of Syrian refugees.

And so, all of what we`re seeing right now is a reaction to this in part because even though Donald Trump talked about this on the campaign trail, even though this is in many ways delivering on a promise he made to his voters and following through on what he said he would do, the order itself sort of came up quickly, and the implementation seemed to be a little spotty, although the president said that he thinks it`s working out nicely at airports. But there were questions at airports around the country. So, you had democratic governors going to airports in their home states when they learned of possible travelers being detained.

The numbers we have this morning from the department of homeland security suggests about 375 travelers were either stopped at their point of origin from flying to the United States or stopped upon arrival. And there isn`t a hard number on the number detained.

Now, there was the court action in New York, a very narrow action filed after an ACLU suit late Saturday night hearing, and a judge in New York did decide to stay on an emergency basis any deportations that might result from this travel ban.

That is a very narrow part of what this overall executive order would be, and I did talk with a senior Trump White House official who reacted to that piece, the judge in New York taking action, calling it a nonevent, saying that it really deals with a very small number of individuals, it deals with specific individuals who were in New York who were detained and then released because their paperwork was reviewed, and saying that that judge taking action does not really affect the Trump order.

So, this will play out, Reverend Al. We`ve also seen from republican senators a handful who are concerned about the scope of this travel ban. So democrats coming out were forcefully in public joining the protests. Some republicans through statements and comments saying they have some concerns about how this is playing out. Reverend Al?

SHARPTON: NBC`s Kelly O`Donnell at the White House. Thank you.

When we come back, who will Donald Trump pick to fill the empty seat on the Supreme Court? And how could it impact the immigration debate? That`s next.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You will make your Supreme Court choice --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- announcement. Two questions on that. One, will it be from the list that you gave out during the campaign?

TRUMP: The answer is yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will it be an originalist?

TRUMP: I don`t want to say that. You`re going to see on Thursday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you made your decision?

TRUMP: I have made my decision pretty much in my mind, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Next question --

TRUMP: Now, that`s subject to change at the last moment, but I think this will be a great choice.


SHARPTON: Donald Trump says he will announce his choice to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia next Thursday. One of the leading contenders is William Pryor, a prot‚g‚ of Trump`s attorney general nominee, Jeff Sessions.

President Trump`s new executive orders on immigration and extreme vetting could be one early test for the Supreme Court.

Joining me now, Vince Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Elizabeth Wydra, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center.

Let me start with you, Elizabeth. President Trump will make an announcement Thursday. He will make it in the midst of this executive order that`s to have extreme vetting and to ban people from seven countries, at least until the extreme vetting is done.

In light of that, if he puts someone on the court that will in many ways be in line with that, couldn`t we be looking at the fact that we would really be changing from, on a permanent level, or at least as long as that court is not overturned at some future date, immigration policy and immigration law in this country?

ELIZABETH WYDRA, PRESIDENT, CONSTITUTIONAL ACCOUNTABILITY CENTER: Thanks, Reverend Al. That`s a really important question. Obviously, the Supreme Court is important, no matter the context. Every year it`s an important court. If cases get to the court, they`re probably going to raise important issues to the nation.

But I think this context shows exactly why the courts and the Supreme Court at the pinnacle, are so important. We saw these orders coming in overnight, starting with New York, serving as a check on the president`s use of his executive order, when he`s violating the constitution, the rights of these folks who are trying to flee persecution and come to this country.

And the court`s serving as a check on the elected branch`s violations of the constitution or misuse of power is incredibly important. And whoever the nominee, is he or she is going to have to show to the American people and to the senate, who will give its advice and consent on this nominee, that he or she does not hold the extreme views of the president who`s going to nominate him or her.

The primary job of the Supreme Court, the highest calling of a judge, is to be faithful to the constitution and the law, and these orders that we`re seeing coming out of the Trump White House threaten to violate the constitution, if they aren`t already put into action, and we`ve seen Trump, he`s been incredibly anti-constitution.

SHARPTON: but, Vince, isn`t that the fear, though? If you have people that see the constitution in a certain way, they can, in effect, if you put the -- if you put someone on the court that is very close to the president`s views --


SHARPTON: -- who will then sit in front of a senate that is majority republican, they will in effect be able to vote and say this is constitutional. So say, for example, if you, the Center for Constitutional Rights, which I`m familiar with your work, you get a case. Federal court says, you`re right, this is unconstitutional.

This appeal, it goes up to the Supreme Court, and the court says, you`re wrong, it is constitutional. This has permanent damage not only on immigration rights, but voting rights and gender rights.


SHARPTON: Roe versus Wade, voting rights bill. I mean, we`re talking about things that go way beyond the tenure of a President Donald Trump.

WARREN: You`re absolutely right, Reverend. And you know, the Supreme Court pick, this is really about what the soul of the Supreme Court is going to be for the next many generations, or at least the next several decades, and the Supreme Court is actually going to be looking at defying what the soul of the nation is.

So, you`re 100 percent right that these terrible policies that are coming down from President Trump, unchecked, un-reviewed, are going to be reviewed ultimately by the federal courts and by the supreme court there.

Looking at the replacement for Antonin Scalia, what we`re seeing from the three replacements that we know so far that are in the running, that they`re very conservative. The conservatives are having a great time right now because they are in line with what Donald Trump -- well, who knows what Donald Trump thinks? They`re in line with the conservative establishment.


WARREN: I do think, and I want to say this, and I agree with Elizabeth, there is a chance that Donald Trump`s stuff is so crazy that the conservative courts might actually say we don`t want to give the president the type of authority and power that he`s trying to claim. There is that scenario that`s down the road. It`s a difficult thing to bank on, though.

SHARPTON: Well, quickly, Elizabeth, do you feel that the threat of this appointee or this nominee this week, and if he gets one more, which will tilt the court -- do you think that there will be any republicans, any conservatives in the senate that will really stand up and really say, wait a minute, we can`t have extremists in the court?

WYDRA: Gosh, I hope so. If this is ever a time to show backbone, to show courage, you know, those both sides of the aisle should be doing it. Because as you said before once this person is on the bench, the Supreme Court is the final word on the arbiter of the constitution. So it`s an incredibly important role and you`ve got to do it now before they`re on the bench.

SHARPTON: They can wipe out now the last half a century of progress in civil rights, women`s rights, LGBT rights. I mean, this is as serious as it gets.

WARREN: As serious as it gets, particularly on those issues, things like criminal defense, things like fourth amendment challenges, fourteenth amendment challenges, equal protection and what happens with the Trump presidency is going to be key with this court.

SHARPTON: Thank you, Elizabeth Wydra and Vince Warren for being with us this morning.

Coming up, Donald Trump`s debunked claims about widespread voter fraud. Congressman Elijah Cummings weighs in, next.


SHARPTON: We continue to follow the reaction to President Trump`s temporary ban of immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries. More protests are planned across the nation at airports today. But right now we want to focus on the president`s completely false claim that millions of people voted illegally in the election.


TRUMP: If you look at voter registration, you look at the dead people that are registered to vote, who vote, you look at people who are registered in two states, you look at all of these different things that are happening with registration, you take a look at those registrations, you`re going to find -- and we`re going to do an investigation on it --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But three million to five million illegal votes?

TRUMP: We`re going to find out, but it could very well be that much.


SHARPTON: I spoke this week with democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings about President Trump`s plans for an investigation into voter fraud.


REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: I say it`s going to be a waste of money and a waste of time, and I really do believe that this is a distraction, Reverend.

Everybody knows that there is the voter fraud that there might be is very miniscule or almost nonexistent. And the thing that upsets me more about this, and when I meet with the president, I`m going to talk about this, is that we know, Reverend, that there are many people, particularly African- Americans, Hispanics and others, whose votes are being suppressed. We know that. I mean, the research is done.


CUMMINGS: It is clear. As a matter of fact, the 4th circuit just said that the North Carolina legislature surgically went through and figured out how they could stop African-American people from voting and those who would vote normally for democrats from voting.

SHARPTON: So based on race --

CUMMINGS: Based on race. That`s right.

SHARPTON: Clearly based on race.

CUMMINGS: That`s right. So, I`m saying to the president, if you`re serious about doing some research, why don`t you do some research on white people are being denied their right to vote. We know that. And we also know for a fact there is no voter fraud. So, I`m basically coming at him that way, and it`s a waste of money. I`m just being very frank.

But let me tell you one other thing. We can save the president some money because I as a top democrat on the oversight committee, we`ve already sent out letters a few days ago to every attorney general in the country.


CUMMINGS: To every secretary of state, asking them certain questions about any kind of voter fraud. We`re already getting responses back, Reverend, where they`re saying, no, no, no, no. And a lot of these are republicans, OK?

SHARPTON: Well, see, one of the things I think you pointed is you and I, many of us have fought hard around the denial of people of color, blacks in particular --


SHARPTON: -- North Carolina and others that have been established in the court. So we`re not defending by any stretch of the imagination voting fraud. But when you say --

CUMMINGS: That`s right.

SHARPTON: -- three or four illegal. I mean, I have relatives in Alabama that couldn`t get to vote because of the new government photo I.D. laws.

CUMMINGS: That`s right. That`s right.

SHARPTON: They closed -- eight counties closed DMVs that were of the ten majority black counties. So they couldn`t get government photo I.D. to vote. And yet, you`re going to tell me three or four million illegal immigrants can come in here? How did they get government photo I.D. in Alabama, Texas, and other places?

I mean, you`re going to tell me that people who came here for economic opportunity were savvy enough to get government photo I.D. in those states that require it and people living here couldn`t get it and were prohibited from voting? I mean, on its face, it just does not make sense.

CUMMINGS: But Reverend, there`s one thing that we`ve got to remember. Back in 2002, remember when Robert Gonzales was -- and Ashcroft were attorney general of the United States, they tried the same thing.


CUMMINGS: They said go out there and find some people who are improperly registering people to vote and all that kind of thing, and voting improperly. And then when the attorney general, the U.S. attorneys general of various states went out and could not find any evidence of it, then they fired between seven of them or nine, between seven and nine of them because they refused to go and prosecute people when they had no evidence.

So I`m wondering if this is a setup, Reverend, to then expand all of these restrictive laws to even the states that don`t have them now. Do you follow me?

SHARPTON: And when you talk about a setup when they wouldn`t prosecute people that they couldn`t find, in some of that discussion has been around some of us that have raised questions about his attorney general nominee, Jeff Sessions --

CUMMINGS: That`s right. That`s right.

SHARPTON: -- who did prosecute some people who had been longtime civil rights workers, had worked with Martin Luther King himself, and a jury came right back and said there was no merit to it. So, that is all in the same context of what many of us are questioning senator sessions about.

CUMMINGS: That`s exactly right. And Reverend, I am so glad that you`re raising this, and I hope that your guests and others will continue to raise this, because at this point in our history, we really do have to take these kinds of situations that are -- I mean, again, you and I agree, we want to go against voter fraud, but we know, we know for a fact that there are people right now watching this show right now who are not able to vote in the last election.

As a matter of fact, back in 2014, it was estimated in Texas that approximately 600,000 people were not able to vote that should have been able to vote because of all kinds of restrictions put on them by state legislators.

SHARPTON: Now, let me raise another concern that you`ve raised about looking in. And again, you`re the ranking member, house committee on oversight.

CUMMMINGS: Oversight, yes, sir.

SHARPTON: And you`ve raised concerns about the president`s connections to Russia. And we`re hearing a lot over the weekend about that. What are your concerns? And what do you want to look into?

CUMMINGS: My concern -- very good. My concern, Reverend, is that we`ve got 17 intelligence agencies of the United States who have unanimously agreed, unanimously, that the Russians did, in fact, interfere with our elections.

And for the life of me, seems like there`s just no urgency on the part of the republicans to look into this. And what I want to know, what we want to do is create a commission, a commission that would be sort of like the 9/11 commission. I don`t want any senators. I don`t want any congressmen on it. I want reputable people who will then look at all the evidence, have subpoena power, and figure out what happened here and then come back and tell us how do we make sure that doesn`t happen again?

We can`t have somebody over in Russia controlling our elections. That`s ridiculous!

SHARPTON: Now, let me ask you this while I have you in the few moments I have left.

You were on this network on "Morning Joe." You pointed at the camera and said to the president at that point, a direct message. He called you. And I know that experience because he called me after a couple of "Morning Joe" one day.

CUMMINGS: That`s right.

SHARPTON: And he talked about, though, the common ground that you two could meet around your concerns about prescription drugs. Explain to us your concerns and what you hope you and the president can do together and how you feel the fact that you raise other questions and you`ve been opposed to other things.

Do you think this president can deal with people that don`t agree with them? When he called me, I said I would love to meet as long as you`re meeting with other heads of national civil rights groups. I`m not doing the one-on-one photo op.

But I think there are legitimate issues that you have to deal with, but you`ve got to deal with people that would disagree and come out and say what they said to you in disagreement.

Do you think this president can do that and explain the common ground you would seek in the prescription drug area with President Trump?

CUMMINGS: I`m not sure. I`m not sure because I don`t know him that well, but I do believe that people need to talk, because after all, he is the president of the United States and is going to be the president of the United States for the next four years.

And so, what I`m trying to do is find that common ground. With regard to prescription drugs, he has said that a lot of these companies, these manufacturers are getting away with murders. As a matter of fact, he said it to me.

In other words, they`re jacking up the price of prescription drugs 100 times, 200 times, and the next thing you know, a person that paid $100 for two EpiPens now pays $600 for two EpiPens. Now paid $600 for two EpiPens. And I could go on and on.

So, I think we can try to address this issue by, say, proposals to import drugs, proposals to make sure that there`s negotiation with regard to our Medicaid, Medicare purchase of drugs. I think we can find some common ground on that.

But I want to use this, Reverend, as a door to get into the White House and talk to him about voting rights. I want to talk to him about the Affordable Care Act. I want to talk to him about those things, educating our children and improving our communities, and I also want him to understand that I live in the inner city and have lived in the inner city for 35 years and that I would appreciate him not just blanketing the inner cities of our country as if they are some kind of hell hole.

SHARPTON: Yes, well, I agree people need to talk, but I think that we`ve also got to say this is the agenda, have witnesses there, and he`s got to be big enough -- and he`s the president now -- to deal with people that will be critical and say that criticism outside. And O know that --

CUMMINGS: I want to be clear --

SHARPTON: -- you are someone who has demonstrated integrity in that area.

CUMMINGS: Thank you, Reverend, but one of the things that I know that we will be meeting with others -- I`m not going in by myself. I`m like you.

SHARPTON: Well, there`s a difference between the red carpet going into your reality show premiere, Mr. President, and taking care of the business as head of state.

CUMMINGS: That`s right.

SHARPTON: Congressman, thank you for being with us this morning. Congressman Elijah Cummings. Thank you for being here. Final thoughts when we return.



SHARPTON: As one who has been a civil rights activist all of my life, I look at this ban by President Trump as something that violates the human rights, civil rights and constitutional rights of American citizens.

I cannot view this as anything other than as biased, racist, and Islamaphobic. But it is more personal to me because I`m also a lifelong Christian. I`ve been a Baptist minister and a preacher all of my life, and I worship Jesus Christ, who according to the scriptures was taken to Egypt as a child seeking refuge of his earthly parents, Mary and Joseph.

How do I preach about Jesus Christ, who was a refugee, and not be sensitive to what we do with refugees today? Now, I am not saying people should believe my religion. I`m not saying they should believe any religion, and that is the point, that you can`t discriminate, ban, or have different standards for people based on who they are and what they believe. You must have a nation that protects everyone or you can`t protect anyone.

That does it for me. Thanks for watching. And to keep the conversation going, like us at, and follow us on Twitter @politicsnation. I`ll see you back here next Sunday.