PoliticsNation, Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Read the transcript from the Tuesday show
Guests: Richard Codey, Marie Corfield, Alex Wagner, Richard Wolffe, Brett
Bursey, Judith Browne-Dianis, Lloyd Doggett
REV. AL SHARPTON, HOST: Hey, Republicans. Your supposed savior is
just a bully.
New Jersey`s Chris Christie, the perfect man for the party that cheers
the death penalty and boos gay soldiers. I`ll talk live with a New Jersey
teacher who had the guts to go toe-to-toe with Governor Tough Guy.
Plus, how Republican voter I.D. laws are wreaking havoc on voters,
including an 85-year-old man just fighting for the right to vote. It`s
important and it`s outrageous.
And the Obama health care law is headed for the Supreme Court, but
will Clarence Thomas recuse himself given his private and troubling
connection? Governor Lloyd Doggett on the coming fight for fairness on the
Welcome to POLITICS NATION. I`m Al Sharpton.
Tonight`s lead: Republicans, meet your dream date.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Hey, Gail (ph), you know what?
First off, it`s none of your business. I don`t ask you where you send your
kids to school. Don`t bother me about where I send mine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIE: Can you guys please take the bat out on her for once?
And you know what? You know what? Let me tell you this. You know
what? It`s people who raise their voices and yell and scream like you that
are dividing this country.
You must be the thinnest-skinned guy in America, because you think
that`s a confrontational tone. Then you should really see me when I`m
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Yes, Republicans, that`s your dream candidate, the man who
says, "Take the bat out on her." That`s who you want representing this
country. And you`re not the only ones.
Everyone from David Koch and Roger Ailes is reportedly asking him to
get in. And while he says he`s not running, he`s certainly being a bit of
Look, like all of the compassionate, conservative Republicans, he`s
making the GOP pilgrimage to the Reagan Presidential Library. Tonight
he`ll give a speech there called "Real American Exceptionalism." But let`s
take a look at his view of American exceptionalism.
It means trying to cut $500 million from Medicaid last year. It means
vetoing a tax increase for millionaires that would have generated $637
million for his state, all while cutting $819 million in state aid to
education, and laying off 3,000 teachers.
This is the man that they are saying can come in and save the party.
The guy from Texas didn`t work. Michele Bachmann, whoosh, evaporates. So
bring in the tough guy from Jersey.
He`s compassionate. Look at him beat up on teachers. He cares about
people, and just imagine him at the U.N., telling people how pissed off he
is. And if you argue against this guy`s policies, here`s how he`ll respond
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIE: First of all, I am not lambasting the public school system
in the state of New Jersey.
So if you would like to conduct a respectful conversation, I`m happy
to do it. If you don`t, please go and sit down and I`ll answer the next
What`s your choice?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m running for state assembly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Joining me now is New Jersey State Senator Richard Codey.
He`s the former Democratic governor of the state. And New Jersey teacher,
Marie Corfield, the woman who confronted Governor Christie at that town
Thank you both for being here.
RICHARD CODEY (D), NEW JERSEY STATE SENATOR: A pleasure.
MARIE CORFIELD, NEW JERSEY TEACHER: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Let me start off with you, Marie.
Governor Christie is being touted -- he`s being -- by any number of
people called upon to run for president. You and he had a now-famous or
infamous, given one view of it, confrontation. Tell us what happened.
Well, he had a town hall meeting across the street from where I work,
and he holds his town hall meetings during the day so that most working
people can`t attend. I just happened to be on my lunch hour, so I walked
across the street and I confronted him about the awful things he was saying
about New Jersey teachers and public schools.
SHARPTON: Now, you`re a teacher.
CORFIELD: Yes, I am.
SHARPTON: And, of course, you spend most of your life as a radical
running around harassing governors and chasing people and all of that,
CORFIELD: Oh, yes. Yes.
SHARPTON: I`m saying that facetiously so people understand you`re a
very reasonable, middle class teacher that just wanted to know why he was
saying these horrible things about people that have been the backbone of
CORFIELD: Right, exactly.
SHARPTON: And his response?
CORFIELD: He denied it. He denied saying anything bad about public
school teachers. But, you know, I read the papers every day.
SHARPTON: So he just in a very reasonable and diplomatic tone said
no, that is not the case, my dear Marie, hold my hand and let me explain to
you what I`m doing. Is that how he denied it?
CORFIELD: No, no. He had his usual aggressive tone, and, you know, I
wasn`t going to get a word in edgewise. He did have the microphone. But
it did -- as a result of that confrontation, I`m here now running for state
SHARPTON: You`re running for state assembly. So he did inspire you
to try and show what elected officials ought to behave like.
CORFIELD: Yes. And, you know, teachers, other teachers that I talked
to afterwards -- when the Democratic Party approached me to run, they said
you have to do this. You have to do this. We need somebody in there to,
you know, to be a voice for us because we`re not -- you know, we`re not
horrible people. We`re not using our students as drug mules.
The overwhelming majority of us are going to work every day doing a
SHARPTON: Governor Codey --
CODEY: Yes, Rev?
SHARPTON: -- the last of the candidates, it seems like the Republican
Party can`t jump-start their alternative to President Obama.
CODEY: You know, Reverend, you said about their dream candidate.
When you and I were younger, we had these dream girls.
CODEY: They didn`t turn out to be dreams, am I right, sometimes, sir?
SHARPTON: Well, let`s put it this way --
CODEY: You never know when you open the box.
SHARPTON: -- they were great until we woke up.
CODEY: Well, I`m not going to go there, but --
SHARPTON: But let me say this. This is a man -- you have been
governor of the state of New Jersey.
SHARPTON: Part of his national reputation is bullying people. I
mean, let`s face it.
CODEY: In your face, confrontational, no question about it. That`s
his style. He likes it. He thinks it plays well. If in fact he runs --
and we don`t know that right now, Reverend.
CODEY: But he`s doing a great job of dangling this thing out and
playing with the press.
SHARPTON: Well, look at -- he`s going -- I`m going to show you in a
SHARPTON: But let me say this -- given the economy -- I mean, let`s
talk very seriously here, Marie and Governor Codey -- the 9.1 unemployment,
given the economy in terms of we don`t know where and how we`re going to
get the turnaround we need, we`re involved in two or three wars, do we need
a bully as the president? I mean, is this guy ready for prime time?
I bring to you, Governor Codey, my first witness, Chris Christie. Let
him tell you whether he`s ready.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIE: You`ve got to believe in your heart that you are ready to
walk into the Oval Office and to lead the nation, and I don`t feel like I`m
I don`t feel ready in my heart to be president.
I don`t feel like I`m ready to be president.
I simply do not have the desire to do it, nor do I think I`m ready.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: I mean, how many times does he have to say -- Roger Ailes,
Mr. Koch, he`s not ready. He says he`s not ready. What are you doing to
CODEY: So, if he does, there`s going to be a whole lot of crow
But look, look at the tour he`s going on nationwide. It`s not the
first time, and he kind of plays with the press. He says, no, I`m not
ready to run, but does actions like this that would say to you and I, OK,
that he is in fact running.
So it`s time to fish or cut bait. You`re running or you`re not
running, and stop the con game.
SHARPTON: Well, let me show you this, Marie. Now mind you, the state
of New Jersey has been in a serious crisis since Hurricane Irene.
SHARPTON: They`re arguing about FEMA funds, and they`re arguing about
how to deal with the damage done in your state. But look at where the
He`s doing fund-raisers in Missouri, fund-raisers in California. He`s
not only doing the California -- the Reagan Library, he`s going from there
to do a fund-raiser for Meg Whitman. Then from there he`s going to
Louisiana, to Baton Rouge, for Governor Jindal.
I mean, for a guy that`s not ready, he`s doing a whole lot of national
touring. And for a guy whose state needs those FEMA monies, he seems to be
way out West somewhere.
CODEY: Yes, he does. But the thing is, Reverend, that, in some of
these fund-raisers he`s raising money for other people, and the other fund-
raisers he`s raising money for his party in New Jersey to defeat people
like Marie and myself.
CODEY: So it`s a twofold purpose that he`s doing that.
SHARPTON: So he`s raising money in some cases for other Republicans -
CODEY: Other Republicans.
SHARPTON: -- who, if he ran, would of course, be supportive.
CODEY: Be supportive.
SHARPTON: And he`s raising money to make sure that people like you in
his home state --
CODEY: Don`t get elected.
SHARPTON: -- can`t -- having a voice for teachers and for some of the
things that I said, the cuts that we showed that he`s made.
SHARPTON: And this is the last of the guys that they -- or ladies
they want to roll out as the new promise of the Republican Party.
CODEY: Yes. Well, I mean, if Perry didn`t make it, if Bachmann
didn`t make it, so maybe it`s going to be him and Romney.
And, you know, running for president is a full-time job. How can you
possibly be the governor of a state as large and significant as New Jersey
and at the same time be running for president? So, I mean, I think he`s
being disingenuous at best, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Well, I think -- I don`t agree with his policies, I don`t
agree with a lot of what he says. I`ve met him. I think he`s probably a
But I agree with one thing. He`s not ready. He said that. I just
showed it to you over and over again.
You`re not ready. And I don`t think we`re ready for you.
Governor Richard Codey and Marie Corfield, thanks both of you for
joining me tonight.
Ahead, President Obama is fired up and ready to go. He`s back on the
road calling out Republicans, and the base is loving it.
Plus, exposing the Koch brothers` dangerous and secret connection to
the Supreme Court.
And the Michael Jackson death trial is under way in Los Angeles. The
time is now for justice.
SHARPTON: Today we saw a new strong left hook from President Obama,
who is hitting Republicans harder than ever for opposing his jobs bill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some even said that if
they agree with the proposals in the American Jobs Act, they still
shouldn`t pass it because it might get me a win.
OBAMA: Think about that. Give me a win? Give me a break. That`s
why folks -- that`s why folks are fed up with Washington.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: This comes a day after the president warned he`s running
against a Republican agenda that would "cripple America." And the
president`s base is loving it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!
OBAMA: And that`s what I`ve been fighting for since I got to
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Obama!
OBAMA: America`s been through tougher times. We have been through
tougher times, and we have always been able to get through them. We`ve got
to have some revenue. And the question is, how do we do that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tax the rich!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Tax the rich. Americans are on board. A new poll shows 67
percent agree we should raise taxes on the wealthy to bring in revenue.
Some friendly advice for Republicans: watch out. The last two weeks,
top GOP lawmakers saw the president bring the message straight to their
home districts. Now he`s making it clear that the gloves are off for good.
Joining me now is Alex Wagner, MSNBC analyst, and Richard Wolffe,
MSNBC political analyst.
Alex, what do you take from the new tone that the president is taking
on? Is it being effective?
ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC ANALYST: I think -- look, a lot of people have
been waiting for him to, as you say, deliver the left hook.
WAGNER: I think the White House has made a specific calculation here.
They know that they need to get voters excited and out to the polls, and
they know that between now and November of next year, there`s not a lot of
legislation that`s going to happen.
They`ve got to get them excited and they`ve got to feel like there`s
something on the line and that Obama can deliver, if he`s elected for the
next four years. In that way, I think it`s a really sound strategy,
although I will say I think part of the reluctance that we saw in months
previous was because, look, Obama rode into office saying he was going to
change politics as usual. Unfortunately, for him, Congress and the climate
in Washington does not allow for that kind of presidency.
WAGNER: And so, in a lot of ways, he`s really had to pivot off that
WAGNER: Well, Richard, is this a change in strategy, in your opinion,
or is it that the president, dealing with serious economic problems, tried
to reach some kind of bipartisan understanding, and when it seemed that the
other side just won`t make any kind of bipartisan agreement, they are
determined to have the election? He just said, well, we might as well just
go into election mode.
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, there`s some of that,
for sure, but the president`s friends told me over the summer that that
whole mess about the debt ceiling, the debt limit, really left the
president steamed. There`s a lot that`s personal here.
You can have your strategists and your consultants, and you`ve also
just got the personal emotion here. It`s a president who felt very
frustrated by what went on, could see the damage it was inflicting on his
own polls and supporters through the summer, and has come out swinging as a
result of that.
And there`s a reason for the consultants being happy with that, the
campaigners being happy with that, of course, because the big question out
of the summer was about the strength of his leadership. Well, you can
assert your leadership by getting a lot of stuff done in Congress, and this
president has got plenty of a record to talk about, but you`ve also got to
assert it by getting out there and talking in a feisty, strong way that
makes those differences clear to voters. And I think for both those
reasons, political and personal, this moment has come together at this
SHARPTON: But Alex, I also think, well, when you look at the fact
that there was the midterm election, the results of sweeping in a new
group, and what voters did, and now what voters are going to assess, look
at what David Axelrod said about what Independent voters did and now what
that`s going to spring about in terms of going forward.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID AXELROD, OBAMA CAMPAIGN SR. STRATEGIST: As Independent voters
did, with the best of intentions, was sweep in the most ideological
partisan group of Republicans of my lifetime. These same forces that are
very much in control of the Congress now are very much a force in
independent voters did, with the best of intentions, was sweeping in the
Republican nominating process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: And I think that`s going to be an interesting point to
WAGNER: Sure. I mean, the White House is clearly trying to position
sort of levelheaded rational Obama against a GOP caucus that`s being held
hostage. You know it`s a loaded term, but its terms are being dictated by
a group, a handful of Tea Partiers who don`t have any sort of connection
with the reality of governance.
I think that narrative serves President Obama well, if only because,
you know, constitutionally, he is that guy. I mean, when he says -- you
know, that clip that you have of him speaking at the fund-raiser in Los
Angeles at the House of Blues, he gets heckled in the crowd. And what`s
amazing to watch is there`s a smile on his face.
WAGNER: As it`s being sort of thrown at him, he kind of pivots
immediately and he has a real warmth, and it`s very genuine, his calm. And
I think sort of extrapolating that further and using that as sort of
something to run on for the next 14 months, as it were, is something that
will serve him well.
SHARPTON: Now, Richard, if you look at the fact that he also will be
armed with a lot of resources to make his case -- look at his fund-raising
and where that`s going. You see that he is on pace for a million donors by
October. You have the DNC fund-raising in the summer raised $86 million
between he and the DNC. And the target for the third quarter fund-raising
is $55 million.
So with a million donors coming, bringing in this kind of money in the
summer with their targeting, he will have the resources to really bring
home his message.
WOLFFE: He is, and he`s going to need them. The irony there,
Reverend Sharpton, is that just a couple of days ago, conservatives were
licking their chops at a "New York Times" story saying this president had
trouble with his small donors, that they were disillusioned and weren`t
People don`t remember that in 2007, for all their talk of being sort
of Web driven and having all these small donors, most of the money in the
Obama campaign was coming from big, old-style donors. And, you know,
obviously they are doing that now, but the small donor level is way ahead
of where they were four years ago.
They are not going to have a problem raising money. The problem is
that the other side is going to raise just as much.
It`s a zero sum game, and in this environment it`s how you spend that
money. They have got to be the forces of reform, otherwise the sweep of
change is going to be -- is going to follow not the money, but the mood of
SHARPTON: Well, I think that it`s going to be an interesting race
when the Republicans ever figure out who their candidate is going to be. I
mean, I`ve heard of the flavor of the day. It`s almost flavor of the hour
SHARPTON: -- in the Republican side, Alex.
WAGNER: Waiting for a unicorn, I think, that may not ever
SHARPTON: Is that what it is? I was wondering what they were waiting
for -- a unicorn.
You always teach me something, Alex.
Alex Wagner and Richard Wolffe, thank you both for being with me
WAGNER: Thanks, Rev.
WOLFFE: Thank you.
SHARPTON: A quick reminder. We want your nomination for lawmakers in
our Crybaby Caucus, members of Congress who are crying about the lack of
change instead of fighting for it.
Just log on to Facebook.com/politicsnation. We want to hear from you.
Ahead, voter suppression in the states. It`s not just a theory, this
is happening. We`ll uncover the latest injustice.
But first, Republicans love to hate the stimulus, except when it
creates jobs back home. Yes, I caught another one. That`s next
SHARPTON: Folks, when will the Republicans learn if you`re against
the stimulus, don`t do a photo-op in front of a stimulus project?
Meet Illinois Republican Robert Dold. He`s a freshman congressman.
Dold has co-sponsored a bill to rescind any unused stimulus money.
And as a candidate, he said the stimulus didn`t create enough jobs.
Dold said the stimulus was "-- a dismal failure. We need to be pro-
growth and pro-jobs strategies out there."
But as "The Huffington Post" reports, Congressman Dold has had a
change of heart. Here`s the lawmaker at a ribbon cutting of a restored
train station in his district paid for by stimulus dollars, and Dold seems
happy with the project. He told Patch.com, "This is an investment in the
infrastructure we can all be proud of."
These Republicans sure do love to hate the stimulus until they need
the stimulus to create jobs back home.
Nice try, Congressman, but we got you.
Ahead, remember the health care craziness? Well, that Tea Party
freight train is coming straight to the Supreme Court. We`ll tell you why
Clarence Thomas should have no say in it.
And voter suppression is real, and it is happening in places you might
not expect. That`s next.
SHARPTON: Republicans are ramping up their unprecedented effort to
suppress voter turnout ahead of the 2012 election. As we`ve reported, this
year alone we`ve seen voter ID bills introduced in 34 states. Bills
supposedly designed to reduce voter fraud even though actual cases are few
and far between, amounting to a tiny percentage of the total votes cast.
In Ohio, Republicans passed a bill shrinking the window for early voting.
It could have a huge effect in that state where nearly one in three votes
in 2008 were cast early.
Ohio Democrats are trying to block that law, organizing petitions to
have Ohio voters decide the issue before it goes into effect. It`s an
effort the Obama re-election campaign is getting involved in, too. Hoping
to repeat the success they had fighting the GOP anti-union law, delivering
more than a million signatures to repeal that bill. But what`s even worse
in South Carolina where Nikki Haley`s voter ID law may leave 217,000 voters
unable to cast ballots.
With me now to discuss that story, Brett Bursey, executive director of
South Carolina progressive network, a group that`s been on the front lines
fighting for voter ID laws in that state. And Judith Browne-Dianis, co-
director of the Advancement Project of civil rights organizations focused
on issues on democracy and race. Thank you both for joining me.
JUDITH BROWNE-DIANIS, DIRECTOR, ADVANCEMENT PROJECT: Thank you.
BRETT BURSEY, S.C. PROGRESSIVE NETWORK: Thank you for having us,
SHARPTON: Today we learned that Governor Haley`s promise to drive
people without IDs to the DMV has resulted in a whopping 22 rides to help
217,000 people in that state that don`t have ID. I mean, Brett, 22 people,
when you`re dealing with 217,000 could be exposed. I mean, does this do --
does it do anything other than suppress votes?
BURSEY: Reverend, if you had watched the sausage being made here over
the last three years, you`d have absolutely no doubt that the whole thing
was an ill conceived and ill planned and poorly implemented attempt to
suppress the vote, to suppress minority votes, student votes, senior votes,
people who happen to be voting majority democrat. The seven counties with
the largest number, double digit numbers of voters who do not have ID are
majority black counties. And today`s efforts of giving the ride to the
polls which is putting a band-aid on something that was a bad idea to begin
SHARPTON: Now the advancement project has been working on this and
clearly one of the most respected civil rights group. And I understand
that more than -- let me show you this full screen of hundreds of voters
that called in inquiring of voter ID laws. They often asked about birth
certificates, am I right?
DIANIS: That`s right. Well, what has to happen here is that with
regard to birth certificates, the reason we`d say this is a poll tax is
because you have to obtain the underlying documents in order to get the
actual voter ID. So, people -- you have to pay to vote, no matter which
way you look at it. You can give me the free ID, but if I have to go and
get a certified birth certificate, this is nothing more than a poll tax.
SHARPTON: Now, thank you for that, Judith. Now, Brett, let me ask
you this. One of the things that has really drove this home to me, an 85-
year-old man Larry Butler, now you know how many in the generations ahead
of us and even now we had to fight to restore the voting rights act. It
was gamed by those ahead of us. We fought it in our time to listen to this
85-year-old man talk about what he had to go through to vote. Listen to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY BUTLER, SOUTH CAROLINA RESIDENT: My name is Larry butler. Born
in Calhoun County, South Carolina, and I was born in a home February the
23rd 1926. I went to the motor vehicle department, and they told me that I
needed a birth certificate which I did not have.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Eighty five years old. Brett, tell us the story about
Larry. They started with a birth certificate, and then what happened?
BURSEY: Reverend, if you met Mr. Butler, you would understand the
cold-hearted nature of this whole thing. Mr. Butler retired from Maryland,
moved back to South Carolina several years ago, registered to vote and
voted in the last two elections. He had a Maryland driver`s license that
you can`t trade for a South Carolina driver`s license nor can you vote in
South Carolina if this new law passes with anything other than a South
Carolina driver`s license.
BURSEY: And Mr. Butler went -- didn`t have a birth certificate, went
through the steps at the health department to -- to get a delayed birth
certificate, got his college records, his high school records, medical
records, military records and took that to vital records and they said, we
want your elementary school records.
SHARPTON: So he took all of those records and they still wanted
BURSEY: He went to school in a black church in the 1930s, and it
doesn`t exist anymore, and we found later Mr. Butler`s census records that
showed him being born in 1930 or being four years old in 1930 in Calhoun
County, living where he said he was, and he was so excited, and he took
that record from the census into the vital statistics, and he showed it to
him, and they looked at it and it said, we`re sorry Mr. Butler, it says
right here in the census record. Your first name is Larry and you spell it
Larrie. You`ll going to have to go to family court, pay $150 filing fee
and get your name changed. So, that`s the types of problems that we`re
running into over and over again. Regardless of what kind of bandage
arrives, the government wants to give. There`s going to be mass confusion
and voter suppression.
SHARPTON: Judith, I mean, it`s almost like how many bubbles are in --
to go get your birth certificate, go back and get this.
DIANIS: That`s right.
SHARPTON: And then when you look at the percentages of those that
have voter ID that qualify in the state for discrimination. I mean, if we
look at the breakdown. Look at the numbers. It speaks for themselves.
Twenty five percent African-Americans.
DIANIS: Do not have.
SHARPTON: Eight percent white Americans. The disparity in voter ID
in the state is clear. Now, when you compare that to the votes, if we look
around the country because people need to understand that this is not only
a civil rights issue, it`s a democracy issue.
DIANIS: That`s right.
SHARPTON: If you look at the amount of people that are
disenfranchised. Let me show you the screen in Ohio where we talked about
the early voting. In Ohio, early voting, 1.7 million early votes cast.
President Obama won the state by 300,000 votes. If you knock out 1.7
DIANIS: That`s right.
SHARPTON: You can clearly determine that he could lose the state just
because people didn`t have early voting, and you have a state with
significant Electoral College votes that is gone. This is an issue of
democracy that I intend to fight, and we`re going to keep on, Miss Judith.
DIANIS: That`s right. We are -- they are shredding the fabric of our
democracy by making sure that not -- that every American cannot
participate. They are putting barriers in our way and we`ve got to fight
this. It isn`t just the voter ID. But it is the wiping out of early
voting opportunities in Ohio taking away the golden week where you could
come and register and vote in the same week, and the same day. They are
taking that away because they know that people liked the convenience of it,
that they turned out in numbers.
DIANIS: Why is it that we have decided that certain people should not
participate in our democracy? It`s because there are some people who want
to undermine democracy, cut off the voices of the powerless.
SHARPTON: Well, I thank you both. We`re going to keep fighting.
Judith, we certainly respect the work of the advancement project, and
Judith, I respect the judgment of Brett. For many reasons, but mainly
because he told a member of my staff. Brett, tell Judith, who did you vote
for president in 2004 in the democratic primary?
BURSEY: Al Sharpton.
SHARPTON: That`s a man after my own heart. Thank you both. Have a
DIANIS: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Straight ahead, guess who has an inside track to Clarence
Thomas and the Supreme Court? Only two of the richest Tea Party activists
in the world. And the Michael Jackson death trial gets under way today.
My commentary about a friend loss and a search for justice.
SHARPTON: Karl Rove`s powerful political organization, American
Crossroads is raising tens of millions of dollars and support for
Republicans` candidates. And thanks to last year`s Citizens United Supreme
Court ruling, the group can collect unlimited amounts of cash with no names
attached. Phantom money. Last year, $500 million was spent to influence
the Congressional elections. American Crossroads was committed to raising
$120 million for the next year`s elections, but they have a new target, a
measly $240 million. In response, a group of business leaders demanded
Congress pass legislation to disclose the source of that money. I agree.
Don`t you want to know who is trying to buy your vote? Sure do. I do.
SHARPTON: Now it looks like the legal battle over President Obama`s
affordable care act will reach the Supreme Court in the next few months,
and we`ll get this critical ruling right in the middle of the election
season. Today`s critics are renewing their call for Justice Clarence
Thomas to disqualify himself. Why? Because his wife Virginia Ginni Thomas
is a major lobbyist for conservative groups, including the Tea Party.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VIRGINIA GINNI THOMAS, WIFE OF CLARENCE THOMAS: Washington is broken.
It`s addicted to spending. It`s addicted to power. America is at risk,
and I didn`t know how far left President Obama and the leadership was going
to take us. Maybe we did get President Obama so that we can wake this
country up, and you guys are the political first responders, and I love the
Tea Party movement. The clear focus is to stop the Obama agenda.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The focus is to stop the Obama agenda. Really? Liberty
Central, the lobbying group that Ginni Thomas founded is just blown on
their Web site saying, they quote, "Support repeal of Obama-care." But how
much does Ginni Thomas really influence Clarence Thomas? Here. He`ll tell
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLARENCE THOMAS, U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: We love being with each
other because we love the same things. We believe in the same things. We
are focused on defending liberty. I admire her and I love her to death.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: There you have it. We believe in the same things, but it`s
not just his wife. Thomas has cozied up to other conservative groups out
to kill the affordable health care act. In 2008, Thomas spoke at a
conference organized by the Koch Brothers. The billionaires who funded the
Tea Party fight against health care reform. Now, the Koch Brothers are
using his appearance to drum up support for other events. Justice Thomas
is famous for being silent on the bench. Now, he`s being silent about his
own conflicts of interest.
Joining me now, Congressman Lloyd Doggett, democrat from Texas, and a
former state Supreme Court Justice. Congressman, thanks for coming on
tonight. You`re one of 74 lawmakers who wrote to Judge Thomas asking him
to recuse himself from the case. Do you expect him to do it?
REP. LLOYD DOGGETT (D), TEXAS: Reverend, I think he certainly should
do it. When a justice is subject about a question about his impartiality
or her impartiality, she ought to step aside. And in this case, we`ve not
heard back from Justice Thomas. This is such an important matter with the
Court of Appeals having divided on the question of the individual mandate,
and one court saying, the parties didn`t have standing to bring the suit,
it`s so critical. It`s such a big issue with judge`s wife declaring
herself to be an ambassador to the Tea Party and saying and being involved
and earning money the way she does. It just really raises a question about
his service. He ought not to be hearing this case.
SHARPTON: Now, when we -- so people don`t think we`re just being
partisan here, let`s look at the fact that when judge -- let`s say what the
rules say that a justice ought to look at. Says any judge, any justice or
magistrate judge of the United States shall disqualify himself in any
proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned. So
congressman, you and the other 73 are saying it`s very reasonable if he has
spoke for groups that have led the fight against what is known as Obama-
care, if his wife has founded a group and made public appearances, and I
played the sound of her saying herself what has to happen with the
president`s health care and with the president stands for, I mean, I think
that it is absolutely a hard and shut case that he`s not impartial here.
DOGGETT: He clearly has a lack of impartiality, and the same concern,
of course, was raised by common cause back in that Citizens United case,
that he was speaking at these Koch brother conferences and really couldn`t
be impartial. So, I think this is part of a pattern of associating himself
with these ultra right wing causes and then hearing a case as important as
this. It would just be better for the respect and the position of the
Supreme Court as a whole if he stepped aside and let other impartial judges
of different philosophies consider this case. It`s not about his
philosophy. It`s about what he`s done and the role his wife has chosen to
play here as an ambassador to the Tea Party. He just has no business
hearing this case.
SHARPTON: And people have the right to take whatever position they
want, but then they also must stand by the consequences of it, and that is
that you should step aside if there is the appearances of partiality.
SHARPTON: He spoke for the Koch Brothers. The Koch Brothers also
helped to fund the Heritage Foundation where his same wife worked. Is that
not also a conflict? In 2003, she made 121,000, 2004, 131, on and on down
to 2007. This is the income she made from the Heritage Foundation. The
Koch Brothers helped to fund it, and none of this was disclosed in the
justice`s disclosure forms. He said his wife made zero dollars for those
DOGGETT: Exactly. It`s really troubling. Hundreds of thousands of
dollars that she receives from this foundation, describing herself now as a
voice that will use her connections and experience to fight the agenda of
the president. This suggests a lack of impartiality. It suggests a
pattern. Justice Thomas has already been part of a majority, as you`ve
noted, that have approved the pollution by corporations of our political
process and starring in a ways that would have been previously
unimaginable, to now reach out and be involved in a decision as critical as
health care knowing how many Americans suffer from the current health care
system and that we finally have a chance to do something about it. The
very thought that someone who lacks impartiality would be there interfering
with that health care law, and that`s really troubling. It goes really to
the very core of our democracy and the need for impartial judiciary.
SHARPTON: And I know that the 74 of you were attacked by some saying,
oh, they are attacking Justice Thomas, but I don`t think you can have Mrs.
Thomas go out and attack the health care bill and others and there were
people respond and say, well, wait a minute, you stepped over the line of
impartiality. We`re stopping an attack on something that is good for
America. We`re not picking on somebody. We`re saying you can`t have it
DOGGETT: Absolutely. You can be sure if there was someone else out
there on the court and their wife was out doing what Miss Thomas is doing,
we would hear about it every day. This is a unique situation. The Thomas
family has chosen to put themselves in this situation. I`m concerned about
what happens to all those families that are out there counting on the new
health care law to meet their needs, already getting some benefits from it,
but the major benefit will come in 2014. If the court interferes with
that, with someone who is not a person of impartiality, who casts the
deciding vote, that would really earned great disrespect for the Supreme
SHARPTON: Well, they deserve the people, that is, an impartial
hearing from the highest court in the land. Thank you.
DOGGETT: That`s what all of us would want, yes. We don`t want
somebody who has already made up their mind. Thank you so much.
SHARPTON: Congressman Lloyd Doggett, thank you very much for your
DOGGETT: The king of pop died long before he should have. My take on
the death trial, next.
SHARPTON: Michael Jackson`s death trial got under way in Los Angeles
today. Dr. Conrad Murray is charged with involuntary manslaughter.
Charged with recklessly killing Jackson with the sleep drug Propofol.
Murray`s lawyer today claimed Jackson caused his own death by giving
himself drugs, but the prosecution played a shocking audio recording of
Jackson slurring his words. The voice recording was made a month before
Jackson`s death, and it was taken from Dr. Murray`s own iPhone.
(AUDIO RECORDING OF JACKSON MICHAEL JACKSON)
SHARPTON: Prosecutors say, Murray acted with negligence and
incompetence. They will argue whether the doctor with Propofol or
whatever, way you pronounce it was the right thing for the doctor to do,
but I deal with first the shock. I remember when I heard Michael had died.
I did a eulogy at his burial. Many of you remember I spoke at the memorial
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: I want his three children to know wasn`t nothing strange
about your daddy. It was strange what your daddy had to deal with, but he
dealt with it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: I spoke because I knew Michael. We`ve been friends for 30
years. I stood there because I wanted his children to know it was
something strange their father had to deal with that tape shows. It`s
strange to pay people that see you in trouble and still will prescribe
things to you. It`s strange for people that will take from you and not
help contribute to you. I fought for Michael in life. I`m going to fight
for him in death. There`s something strange about a man that gives so much
and can`t get justice, even in death.
Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.
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