PoliticsNation, Thursday, May 30th, 2013
Read the transcript from the Thursday show
May 30, 2013
Guests: Emanuel Cleaver, Mark O`Mara
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Thanks, Chris. And thanks to you
for tuning in. I`m live tonight in Miami.
Tonight`s lead, bringing down the house. President Obama`s confident
about the future and calling out the obstruction in Washington.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If day in and day out,
what we confront is obstructionism for the sake of obstructionism and what
appears to be an interest only in scoring political points or placating a
base as opposed to try and advancing the interests of the American people,
then we`ve got to find a way to work a way around that. And one of the
best ways to work around that is to have a democratic counsel of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Fighting obstructionism. It`s defined his presidency from
day one. They plotted to destroy him from day one, though. It was the big
tea party takeover of 2010. They vowed to take down the president. They
vowed to repeal Obama care. It was a brash in your face type of politics
but is failing.
Michele Bachmann is leaving office before she is voted out. Senator
Jim DeMint retired at the beginning of the year. Allen West and Joe Walsh
could hold on to their seats but they don`t learn.
Senator Ted Cruz, who once said President Obama is the most radical
president ever is ticking off the next generation of right wing heroes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: You come up with names like Marco Rubio,
like Mike Lee, like Rand Paul, like Pat Toomey, like Scott Walker. And
here`s what gives me so much optimism. If you look at this generation, I
refer to this new generation of leaders as the children of Reagan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The children of Reagan? Those guys make Ronald Reagan look
like a Hollywood liberal.
The president has remained focused on jobs, on fairness, on equal
rights. He is winning and feeling confident.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We have got a great chance of taking back the house and I`m
going to be working tirelessly wherever I get the opportunity to make the
case to the American people that our ideas are the right ones for growing
the middle class.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Joining me now are Krystal Ball and Dana Milbank.
Thank you both for your time.
KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC HOST, THE CYCLE: Thanks for having us, Rev.
DANA MILBANK, POLITICAL COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Hi, Rev.
SHARPTON: Krystal, the president is bringing it. I mean, what`s his
BALL: Well, I think you spoke very well to the strategy. I mean,
unfortunately, we are at a place where there is a very limited amount that
we can actually get done in terms of focusing on a recovery, on our
economy, building a long-term sustainable economy for the future. There`s
very little we can get done while we have a Republican House of
Representatives. John Boehner doesn`t have control of his caucus. It`s
still ruled by the extremes. So, the best thing they could possibly do is
to take back the house in 2014.
Now, we should stipulate that is very much an uphill battle, not only
because the incumbent president typically loses seats in the midterm
elections, but also because of redistricting in 2010, because of the way
these districts are drawn, Democrats would likely have to win about 55
percent of the popular vote to take back the house. But I think if
Republicans go way too far instead of focusing on these quote-unquote
"scandals," instead of what the American people really want to hear about,
which is jobs, which is prosperity for the future, then, they do run the
risk of having that big of a blowout.
SHARPTON: You know, Dana, the president spoke very confidently about
taking back the house but he still left the door open to compromises.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Part of my task is to constantly continually reach out to the
other side to try to find common ground, to look for those Republicans who
don`t think compromise is a dirty road. And so any opportunities I have to
do that, I will seize them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Even in his confidence, reaching out to Republicans, Dana.
Any chance they will reach back?
MILBANK: Well, he has been doing these charm offenses for a while so
far. And so far, all its netted him is a few nice dinners at the Jefferson
hotel. But it`s a very delicate balance that he`s got to strike here
because he is trying to do two things that are really oppose to each other.
He is trying to make deals with Senate Republicans, particularly on
immigration and such. But he`s also got to fight to try to regain control
of the house. And, as Krystal pointed out, that`s going to be very much an
The problem is, the more he fights to take back the house, the more he
antagonizes the Republicans he needs to work with the Senate. The more he
works and find common cause with Republicans in the senate, the less red
meat there is to try to take back the house. It`s got to be a very
delicate dance he`s doing.
SHARPTON: But it seems like the American public is fed up with this
tea party stuff. But, let me ask you, Dana. The president does seem like
he is not kidding about working with Republicans. It`s reported that he`s
expected to nominate former Bush official, James Comey, to lead the FBI.
And this won`t be the first Republican that he`s put in a key position,
Dana. When we look at other Republicans, he has nominated to key
positions. Chuck Hagel as defense secretary, he kept Robert Gates as
defense secretary, Ray LaHood as transportation secretary. He even named
Jon Huntsman as ambassador to China.
How can Republicans claim the president doesn`t work across the aisle
when he has named all of these Republican to key posts?
MILBANK: You know, it`s funny, there may be a Republican in good
standing but as soon as the president embraces them or God forbid nominates
them, they become Rhinos, Republicans in name only. So, all these guys
wind up getting attack like Chuck Hagel did.
Bow, Comey is a very interesting case because he has nominally a
Republican, and he did serve in the Bush administration. But he was very
tough on Alberto Gonzales and the others during that warrantless wire
MILBANK: Right. So, he is really a law and order kind of guy, not
particularly partisan. In other words, he is exactly the sort of guy who
should be running the FBI and it will be -- it`s so hard to imagine there
being any opposition to him. But it is very also clear that no matter who
the president is nominating it`s not buying him goodwill with Republican.
SHARPTON: Now, talking about Republicans, Krystal, the new generation
of Republican leaders certainly are not toning down their rhetoric. Listen
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Nobody questions his legal authority
but I think he`s really losing the moral authority to lead this nation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think President Obama is the most radical
president we`ve ever seen.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: In the months to come, I`m really going
to focus on repealing Obama care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: They seem to be just as out there in terms of rhetoric and
charges as the tea party group that we see go off to the wild, wild yonder
in this last cycle.
BALL: And I have got to tell you, as a democrat hoping that we do
take back some seats in the house, I hope they keep it up because they are
so out of touch with what the American people think about this president.
It`s the same mistake that they made in 2012 in the election, thinking that
the entire American population hated this president and suspected the worst
of him just like they do and it`s a total mistake. The thing that
Americans are focused in a new Quinnipiac poll underscores this, is the
economy. They are not as concerned about these small scandals that the
Republicans have been so focused on. They are certainly not interested in
a 38th vote to repeal Obama care. They want to see actual governance. Our
government working together and none of those guys that you just showed has
any interest in that.
SHARPTON: You know, Dana, you would think, as Krystal says that, that
after the election of 2012 where it was clear she stated that the American
public was not where they were in their opinion of the president or the
style that the tea party far right was coming that they would re-strategize
and come back with another strategy or that the more moderate Republicans
would take charge. But it doesn`t seem like they either can or they are
willing to take charge and kind of push this kind of wow far right very,
very ugly rhetoric to the background of the party.
MILBANK: Well, be patient, Reverend, because as Ted Cruz says, these
are children of Reagan. And as children, we sometimes have to give them
time to get around to this point of view.
The party has said what needs to be done. It did its own autopsy. It
said what direct needs to go and the problem is, you can`t control people
like Rubio, people like Rand Paul, people like Cruz because they are not
answering to the electorate at large. They are answering to a small sliver
of it in terms of that tea party base in very red states.
So, you know, the president`s popularity has remained relatively high
and as long as the economy continues to improve, as it has been, that
popularity is not going to be dipping no matter what these guys say.
SHARPTON: Well, I guess I have to be patient, Dana. But my mother
was a little more stern with raising her children.
Krystal and Dana, thank you both for your time.
BALL: Thanks, Reverend.
MILBANK: Thank you.
SHARPTON: And catch Krystal on "the Cycle" weekdays at 3:00 p.m.
Eastern right here on MSNBC.
Coming up, George Zimmerman`s lawyer will be here for a live
interview. You won`t want to miss this.
And first, it was mayor Bloomberg. Today, a threatening letter sent
to President Obama over gun control. And we know exactly why that right
wing scandal machine is working so hard. Big news on that.
And I`ve got my e-mail ready for you, "Politics Nation." friend or
foe, I want to know. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: Have you joined the "Politics Nation" conversation on
facebook yet? Today, people were talking a lot about the ricin-laced
letters sent to President Obama and mayor Bloomberg.
Nora says, all sane and responsible gun owners should be very angry at
the ones that threaten others with death.
Laura says, actions like this only make people even more determined to
fight the gun lobby and the gun control laws.
Rodney says, if ever we needed background checks, this is a perfect
example of why.
We have got more on those letters and the escalating gun control
debate coming up next.
SHARPTON: The gun control debate is heated. But it`s taken an ugly
term, from threatening rhetoric to physical threats. The FBI is testing a
letter that may have been laced with ricin, sent to the president of the
United States, threatening him if he continued to advocate for gun control.
The text of the letter was identical to two ricin-laced letters sent to New
York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, a leader for gun control.
NBC news has learned the letter read quote "you will have to kill me
and my family before you getting my guns. Anyone wants to come to my house
will get shot in the face. The right to bear arms is my constitutional god
given right and I will exercise that right till the day I die. What`s in
this letter is nothing compared to what I`ve got planned for you."
Mayor Bloomberg told reporters the threats wouldn`t make him back
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK CITY: The letter was obviously
referred to are antigun efforts and 12,000 people are going to get killed
this year with guns and 19,000 are going to commit suicide with guns and
we`re not to walk away from those efforts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Joining me now is Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, Democrat
from Missouri and David Corn from "Mother Jones".
Thank you both for being here tonight.
DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Good evening.
REP. EMANUEL CLEAVER (D), MISSOURI: Good to be with you, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Congressman, this is pretty disturbing. What do you make
of these ricin-laced letters?
CLEAVER: Well, first of all, they are acts of terror. And the people
who sent those ricin-laced letters to the president and mayor Bloomberg and
to the office of the mayors are no better than the Chechen brothers who
bombed Boston. They are no better than any low-down criminal gangster mob-
like terrorist in our country.
And what people need to keep in mind is that words have meaning. And
before any act of violence, particularly if it`s a public act, they are
preceded by words, whether it was the holocaust in Germany, or whether in
our tradition it was a resurrection. Those acts were preceded by words and
a lot of people contributed to this because they were making all kinds of
statements about the president and mayor Bloomberg wanted to come and take
their gun and neither of them said that. But, there are people who can be
easily tricked, whose minds are psychologically strong enough to decide for
truth from fiction. And so, we see that in what just happened.
SHARPTON: Now, when you look, David, at the fact that we heard
violent threats from folks on the right over gun control before, I want you
to listen to an NRA board member and celebrity gun rights activist Ted
CORN: I knew you were going there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TED NUGENT, GUN RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Barack Obama becomes the president
in November again, I will be either dead or in jail this time next year.
We need to ride into battlefield and chop their heads off in November.
The Barack Obama gang who believes in, we the sheeple (ph) and
actually is attempting to re-implement the tyranny of King George that we
escaped from in 1776. And if you want to know the concord bridge, I got
Anybody that wants to disarm me can drop dead. You can take it, which
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALL: Now, you say you knew I was going there, David. But I played
this because this is a man who was invited to the state of the union
address of the president by a Republican member of Congress.
CORN: And Mitt Romney, don`t forget, accepted his endorsement and he
is a leader of the NRA, featured at all of their conventions and radio
shows and such. But, he is not the only one. I tell you, I get e-mail
after e-mail on conservative mailing lists almost every single day, still
saying that Barack Obama is coming to take your guns away.
And you know, Rand Paul and others contributed to these sorts of
demagogic attempts to frighten people so that they oppose any gun safety
legislation. And also, send their hard earned dollars to these groups that
are demagoguing away.
And so, it does create an atmosphere which is a false atmosphere, as
the congressman noted, in which people who are more paranoid, maybe
psychologically troubled who hear this stuff and they hear the extreme
rhetoric and they decide it`s time to take extreme action.
And listen. I don`t worry so much more about mayor Bloomberg or the
president, their letters intercepted although, not the one that the gun
control group. But you know, a mail handler, somebody is going to get
harmed in an attack like this who has nothing to do with anything. It`s
really quite dangerous when the rhetoric gets so extreme and people have to
take responsibility for it.
SHARPTON: Congressman, you know, we have reached a milestone in gun
violence today. I want to give you these figures because sometimes I think
people don`t understand the gravity of this issue.
In the casualties during the entire Iraq war, we lost -- we had 4,488
United States casualties. But as of today, there have been 4,499 gun
deaths in this country since the shootings at Sandy Hook, 4,499. Since
Sandy Hook elementary school, just 5 1/2 months ago -- I`m sorry, that`s
4,502 deaths since Sandy Hook. That is unbelievable. More people have
died to gun violence in this country since Sandy Hook. This is since Sandy
Hook, than died in the Iraq war -- United States citizens.
CLEAVER: We are the leading nation on planet earth and we are
creating an atmosphere in this country where we are interested in laying
out the most obscene rhetoric, the most volatile rhetoric and we are
essentially saying, we don`t care if people have mental disabilities. They
ought to be able to get a gun. And the figures you just cited should cause
this nation to erupt in anger at what`s going on and then we need to
redirect our anger, try to support the president`s effort to get a
background check the president`s not breaking into anybody`s home.
The president is not breaking to anybody`s home. The president has a
pretty nice looking home there in Washington. And we had a lot of people
out here who are sick, who are eating this stuff up, who eat this ugly
language that we hear up and they do it. Now, people like Senator Paul,
may know better. They know better but they are feeding it to people who
SHARPTON: Now, you know, David, you have got people even calling for.
There was one guy, a right-wing activist who recently canceled an armed
march on Washington and now he`s calling for the American revolutions. He
writes, and I`m quoting Adam Kokish, who is a -- the activist that did
He wrote this, a new American revolution is long overdue. This
independence day, it shall take a new form as the American revolutionary
army will march on each state capitol to demand that governors of these 50
states immediately initiate the process of an orderly dissolution of the
federal government. Should one whole year from this July 4th pass while
the crimes of the government are allowed to continue, we may have passed
the point at which nonviolent revolution becomes impossible. This is
CORN: Reverend, this is a big country. We have a lot of unhinged
people in it who are able to get attention and if he gets 5,000 people to
sign up for his effort to overthrow the U.S. government, that doesn`t
To me the more troubling thing, is that you have leaders, political
leaders who play footsy with this. When you have Michele Bachmann and
others out there talking about the tyranny of big government and
(INAUDIBLE) your eyes, death panels with the Obama care, and things like
that, and then you have people like John Boehner who are not calling out
those members of his party, it`s a spectrum.
The guy you just mentioned is all the way on the far right, whatever
far end of the spectrum. As you get closer, you get closer to the Michele
Bachmann`s and then you get to John Boehner and you see there is a whole
environment, so of an infrastructure of ideology that allows this stuff to
percolate and spread much wider than it should and it`s the more
responsible people and the adults that are letting these wildfires rage,
you know, without distancing themselves and the party from it.
SHARPTON: Congressman Emanuel Cleaver and David Corn, thank you for
your time tonight.
CORN: My pleasure.
CLEAVER: Good to be with you, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Coming up, just 11 days ahead of George Zimmerman`s murder
trial, I have a lot of questions. Mr. Zimmerman`s lawyer is here live.
Stay with us.
SHARPTON: On February 26th of last year 17-year-old Trayvon Martin
was shot and killed. In 11 days, George Zimmerman will be on trial for
second degree murder, accused of killing Trayvon. Zimmerman`s lawyer, Mark
O`Mara joins us live, next.
SHARPTON: There`s just 11 days until the start of George Zimmerman`s
second degree murder trial. He stands accused of killing Trayvon Martin.
Mr. Zimmerman is facing the possibility of life in prison for the death of
the 17-year-old which happened on February 26th of last year.
Mr. Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty and claims he shot Trayvon Martin
in self-defense. That claim of self-defense will be the heart of the case.
Joining me now is George Zimmerman`s defense Attorney Mark O`Mara.
Mr. O`Mara, first I want to thank you for coming on the show tonight
and I look forward to having a candid and respectful conversation about
MARK O`MARA, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN`S ATTORNEY: Thank you very much,
Reverend. Great to talk to you.
SHARPTON: Let`s start with the night in question. Let`s listen to
the part of Mr. Zimmerman -- let`s listen to part of the tape of the 911
call when Mr. Zimmerman and a dispatcher. When the dispatcher talks to him
about pursuing Trayvon Martin.
O`MARA: Yes, sir.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, SHOT TRAYVON MARTIN: (BLEEP) he`s running.
911 DISPATCHER: He`s running? Which way is he running?
ZIMMERMAN: Down towards the other entrance of the neighborhood.
911 DISPATCHER: Which entrance is that that he`s heading towards?
ZIMMERMAN: The back entrance.
911 DISPATCHER: Are you following him?
911 DISPATCHER: OK. We don`t need you to do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now, how can Mr. Zimmerman claim self-defense if he was the
one with the gun and he was the one pursing Trayvon Martin, even after he
agreed with the dispatcher who advised that he doesn`t need him to follow.
O`MARA: Well, the question is when he was pursing him and if he
continued to pursue him. That`s what the jury has to determine. The
question is not really one of whether or not any pursuit at all then allows
violent response. The Florida law, ignoring stand your ground because it
doesn`t really apply, but Florida`s self-defense law says, you`re allowed
to respond with force with life force and when that force gets to force
likely to cause great bodily injury, then you can respond with deadly
So if you suggest, well, Mr. Zimmerman was at least at one point
pursuing, following Trayvon Martin, then he can`t argue any type of self-
defense, that`s just not the law. It really comes down to what happened
when the two people, individuals got together and what happened at that
point which would justify either one of them doing something to the other.
SHARPTON: But you can`t dismiss how they got together and if they got
together, based on the pursuit of Mr. Zimmerman, and a pursuit that he was
advised by the dispatcher not to do and which he agreed not to do and did
anyway, that would also set up the framework of how they got together and
what transpired when they got together. Then you can`t come back with only
one alive and say, I was defending myself.
O`MARA: I understand that perspective but you have to understand that
there is no evidence whatsoever and the state has not brought forth any
evidence to suggest that Mr. Zimmerman was following Trayvon Martin after
the dispatch said you don`t have to do that because Mr. Zimmerman`s
response was OK. There`s no evidence to support that he continued to
pursue. So, I understand what you`re saying if he did, but there`s no
evidence to support that.
SHARPTON: OK. So when he said OK, you`re saying that that was --
that he did not follow him after that? Is that what you`re representing?
O`MARA: Well, knowing the evidence, I`m trying not to get into
specific pieces of evidence, that`s truly for the trial. But to respond to
your inquiry, there`s no evidence that the state had and actually, I asked
the investigator at the April 20th hearing way, way, way in the beginning,
I said, do you have any evidence to support that George Zimmerman continued
to pursue Trayvon Martin? And he said, no.
I also asked the question, do you have any evidence to suggest that
George Zimmerman who began the physical confrontation. And there is no
evidence of that. Obviously, there is a gap of evidence or information
that we won`t know. There wasn`t a video tape. We`ll never know precisely
what happened but being that it`s the state`s --
SHARPTON: Well, that`s maybe why he doesn`t -- that`s maybe why he
said he didn`t have any evidence because there was only two people that we
know of there and one is dead, it`s very difficult for him to get from the
one claiming defense, that kind of evidence. But, all right, you -- let`s
go to another piece of evidence.
SHARPTON: That bothers a lot of people. A key evidence is the
screaming heard on the -- on a witness 911 call, which the prosecution says
is Trayvon Martin. Let`s listen to that tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I think they are yelling help but I don`t know.
Just send someone quick please.
911 DISPATCHER: OK. Does he look hurt to you?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I can`t see him. I don`t want to go out there.
I don`t know what`s going on. (INAUDIBLE)
911 DISPATCHER: They are sending.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Help!
911 DISPATCHER: Do you think he`s yelling help?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Yes.
911 DISPATCHER: All right. What is your (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: There`s gunshots.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now, both a prosecution expert and Martin`s father say it`s
Trayvon on the tape. How can Mr. Zimmerman claim self-defense if Trayvon
Martin is the one screaming for help?
O`MARA: Well, again, Tracy Martin when he was first asked about that
said it wasn`t Trayvon and then at a later date he said he listened to a
cleaned up copy and it was Trayvon Martin although there has never been a
cleaned up copy. So understand Tracy Martin`s concern with having just
lost his son but that`s to answer one part of it. You also mentioned that
the state expert said that it was Trayvon Martin and they actually didn`t
If you look at the reports, they suggest that at times there was
Trayvon`s voice and at other times, particularly before the shot, that it
was George Zimmerman`s voice. So, I had mentioned before that I thought
this case was going to be easy in the sense that I thought that tape was
going to be easily determined to be one or the other screaming. I may have
had my thoughts but my opinion doesn`t matter.
I thought it was going to be easy to find out who it was. All of the
experts have suggested how difficult it is going to be to ask to identify
whose voice it is. There`s none of the state`s experts that have come back
and said conclusively that it was Trayvon or conclusively that was George.
So, that`s another issue where unfortunately, I don`t think we`re going to
ever have precise evidence on it.
SHARPTON: Well, Mr. O`Mara, you have the state that we are told has
an expert witness that says this as well as last year. Let`s go to another
source. "The Orlando Sentinel," the paper in that area, had two experts
saying the voice screaming on the tape was not the voice of George
Zimmerman. Now, there were only two people there. If it wasn`t Zimmerman,
then clearly it would be Trayvon. Doesn`t that under cut your case if you
have three experts now saying that it was not Zimmerman that was screaming
for help that night? How is he depending himself if he`s not the one
O`MARA: Well, again, respectful of your position and your insight,
because I certain you are entitled to it, I think the hearings that are
going to be held next week, Thursday and Friday, the judge will have a
better opportunity to see whether or not any of that evidence is going to
come in and that even beyond that if it does come in, the jury is going to
look at it, hopefully listen to the tape themselves.
Because they have got to make a decision not just on what they hear,
and what experts tell you because I will tell you, it`s going to be across
the board but I will just let you know that`s what all of the experts are
going to do. Then they are going to be across the board. But what they
also have to do is take that evidence --
SHARPTON: But the experts say, we`ve heard from -- go ahead. I`m
O`MARA: They also have to take that evidence in conjunction with all
the forensic evidence. And as we know that a lot of the forensic evidence
suggests that though Trayvon Martin was fatally shot, he didn`t have any
other injuries that suggesting an altercation yet George Zimmerman had a
lot of injuries that might suggest or show an altercation. So, the jury
has got to look at all at one context, we could take out little pieces of
it, it just makes it difficult. But I agree, I thought that the voice was
going to be easy to identify one or the other and it`s just not.
SHARPTON: Well, we`ll have to see at the hearings. But we`ve had
three public experts that say contrary to that. Let me go to another issue
O`MARA: Yes, sir.
SHARPTON: .on the night of Trayvon Martin`s death, police let Mr.
Zimmerman go. Many of us felt that that violated the rights of Mr. Martin
and which is why a lot of us became very interested in the case. Did they
make the right decision that night to let him go without a full
O`MARA: Well, three answers. For those people who are very concerned
the way that young black males are treated in the criminal justice system,
no. Because it looked like they were just ignoring the fact that a young
black teen was lost or killed and the guy went home. So from that
perspective, no. They didn`t make the right decision. From the
perspective of looking at the statute that says if you have a belief that
he acted in self-defense, you cannot arrest until you get to the point of
From that perspective, they did the right thing because they waited
until they gathered more evidence to decide what to do. And that`s not a
bad thing. There are many cases where people are shot, people are killed
and arrests are not made. The third point is this, and as a former
prosecutor, when you arrest the six months speedy trial clock starts
ticking. If you arrest on January 1st, you`ve got to try that client by
June 30th and if you don`t, he could walk.
So, if in fact as a prosecutor I would say, don`t arrest him until we
actually have time to build our case, find out what`s going on. We can
always arrest. We know where he is. And we`ll get to him and arrest him
when we`re ready to prosecute him. So, three different perspectives by
certainly understand all three and if it was anything other than a concern
for how the community was going to react, then I think the decision was
probably proper to wait on the arrest.
SHARPTON: But Mr. O`Mara, are you then saying that police should have
the right to determine whether or not there was evidence of self-defense?
Because you said that if they determined there was evidence of self-
defense, they could not make the arrest. The police in the police station,
whether the person is black, white, Latino, Asian, anyone is dead, how do
the police then become empowered to determine whether it was self-defense
or not when there`s one person dead and the only other person there is the
one that`s alive, how do they become the judge and jury and the prosecutor
O`MARA: Well, if you look at our statutes and this is throughout the
states, and not just here in Florida, cops make decisions on probable cause
every day and every arrest they have to look at it and say, is there a
probable cause here. Do I arrest you for a DUI because I have probable
cause will lead you`re driving under the influence? Do I arrest you for --
because I believe the witness who said you had in your pocket? And in a
murder case, we look at it and say, was your shooting of this person
justified or not?
I`ll give you an example. If somebody came in to your house, and came
at you, you have the absolute right. And then you would have shot that
person and killed him and a cop would come to your house, you`d say, he was
in my bedroom, I woke up, I had a gun and shot him. Then the cop would go,
there`s no probable case here for an arrest. And they would not arrest you
and they shouldn`t arrest you. So, take it out to --
SHARPTON: In my house. But we`re not talking about in my house.
O`MARA: I`m sorry.
SHARPTON: We`re talking about Trayvon Martin going to his father`s
house, he`s dead, the police come, there`s one shot, Mr. Zimmerman had the
gun, how can the police determine no matter what Mr. Zimmerman says,
there`s no probable cause when you have nothing but one shot, one man with
a gun, and they were not in anyone`s homes. They were not in Mr.
Zimmerman`s area that could have been violated by Trayvon Martin. How
could they possibly predetermine that was self-defense?
O`MARA: Yes, Reverend. I was just mentioning that that was an
obvious example where you could kill somebody and there be not probable
cause to arrest. But let`s look a little bit closer to a case like the
Zimmerman case. If there is in fact evidence that you acted in a way that
was necessary to defend yourself -- I mean, self-defense and even killing
somebody is self-defense is allowable if it`s justified. So when a cop
look at this, without -- ignore the stand your ground for a second, ignore
776 for a second, and just say, is there probable cause.
They may not be and again I think the idea of wait until you built it
up is better but then if we add on our new statute passed in 2005 that
says, affirmatively you cannot arrest somebody who acts in self-defense
unless you determine probable cause, they are immune from prosecution, that
in Florida actually increases the obligation on the police department to
make sure they have probable cause before they arrest somebody.
SHARPTON: You`re saying that -- but there`s not probable cause when
you have an unarmed person dead and the person there then decides that he`s
going to use a defense, self-defense, defense to the police and you`re
empowering the police to determine whether there`s self-defense or not?
The probable cause is, you have a dead body of an unarmed person and there
was no crime, there was no reason that the police could determine at the
scene, that`s probable cause.
I mean, otherwise anyone in this country could be shot and killed and
the police could just decide in the police station will decide whether they
go or not. That`s a very dangerous precedent, wouldn`t you think so,
O`MARA: I definitely would agree with your perspective. I truly do.
Because what it seems like is that it would have given the cops too much
power. And if in fact they can look at somebody, look at the
circumstances, not do a good job at investigating and say, you know what,
that kid was black, or this guy is purple, whatever it is. That`s not
probable cause, then you`re right, that`s an inappropriate decision. But I
will say that if we give cops the opportunity to investigate crimes fully
and they actually do, then it`s not a bad way to say you have to have
Now, here`s a concern that I think is out there and you just sort of
referenced it. If you relate a dead body to probable cause, then yes,
everybody who ends up causing death for another should be arrested, but it
is a slightly, more cautious or difficult standard because when you throw
on this defense, of self-defense -- and there are a lot of scenario, it`s
where you just sitting in your house but where you can say, it`s obvious
this person acted to protect himself. I`m not talking about this case but
any case where a person obviously had acted certain way to protect
themselves, you know, a rape situation where someone shoots somebody, no
one would say that that was inappropriate the. So, if you`re talking about
the great --
SHARPTON: But that`s the problem that a lot of us have here. How can
the police given this circumstance determine in this case, how can they
determine that, yes, there was a reason for this and clearly when it was
investigated by a special prosecutor they found and charged differently.
Let me ask you one other thing and we`re going to run out of time.
O`MARA: Yes, sir.
SHARPTON: You put out a lot of stuff on Trayvon Martin that the judge
did not allow yet you say we should go by the six or seven minutes of that
night. Yet, you put it out, you did not have to put this out in public.
You could have waited until the hearing. Was this to try and poison the
public against Trayvon Martin and clearly your client`s past who had been
arrested twice, Trayvon was never arrested, your client was. That can`t be
brought up at trial but you clearly put out things that stereotypes, like
gold teeth and all of that. What does that have to do with self-defense?
O`MARA: OK. First of all, George was arrested once, the charges were
dismissed not twice. But not to get into that too much. The process was
put in place by the prosecutor`s office where in the beginning of this
case, when they put all of the discovery out on their website. They did
that and actually it made sense because that was easy access for the media.
When we started getting up discovery, then, we put it out on our website.
Now, let`s talk about what discovery is and isn`t.
If I were to hold on to that information until the hearing or until a
trial, if it doesn`t get disclosed to the state, then it never can be used.
So the filter is, they have to give me everything. There`s a bunch of
information they`ve given me about George Zimmerman that I presume that
they know is never getting into a courtroom and there was a bunch of
information about Trayvon Martin that I presume is never getting into a
courtroom. But if we don`t put out that first round of information, that
discovery, then we can never use the more filtered round of what is out
Now, if I wasn`t to tell the state, hey, here`s stuff we got of
Trayvon Martin`s phone, here`s stuff we saw in twitter or whatever, then no
matter what happens, I can never use that. I`ve said it and I`ll say it
here tonight, my hope still is that this man gets tried in the six or seven
minutes of what happened from that non-emergency call to the end of the
emergency call and what happened that night.
But here`s the problem. If the state goes into George`s past, then I
get to go into George`s proper and positive past. If they say he`s
aggressive, I say he`s peaceful. If they go into Trayvon`s past, Trayvon
is peaceful, I might be able to say Trayvon is aggressive. I truly hope
none of that gets into a courtroom. This was a six-minute event. But as a
good criminal defense attorney, you have to be ready. I`ve got a lot of
arrows in my quiver that I really hope they all stay there and we try this
case just on the facts of that night but I just like the prosecutor has to
SHARPTON: Well, I`m out of time. Clearly we are going to disagree on
the smears that were put out in my opinion. But you`ve explained your
legal position. I appreciate you coming on and I hope we can have you
back. Let me ask you this. The family of Trayvon Martin and the attorney
for the family has said to all citizens that they hope that they follow
these proceedings in a civil matter and that we follow the letter of the
law and have even denounced when there have been people that have said
things like rewards and vigilante justice. We`ve heard a lot of ugliness
on the other side from even family members.
O`MARA: There is.
SHARPTON: Do you denounce the ugliness and say that we should proceed
in a civil way and not in the ways that we`ve heard on any side and go
through this process respecting the law since it is a trial and justice
that those of us that were concerned seeking in this matter?
O`MARA: I`m very worried that we have tied way too much to this
verdict, whatever verdict it is, that the country is getting divided by the
case in that people are going to react negatively to it. So let me be very
clear, this needs to be tried in a courtroom. It needs to be tried with
the law and the facts of the case and everybody, even if they don`t like
the result, everybody`s got to respect it. This is the best system in the
world. It will lose its shine if we lose respect in it. So even though
we`ve had troubles in the past, and you know them better than I, we have to
rely on the jury system to do what they supposed to do right and trust it
and live with whatever result that is.
SHARPTON: Well, I take that then that you agree with our actions
because we fought to get it into a courtroom, not the police station to
O`MARA: I agree with that.
SHARPTON: So, I accept your endorsement of our rallies. Thank you.
O`MARA: I absolutely agree with that.
SHARPTON: Thank you for your time. And in full disclosure in civil
court, George Zimmerman has sued NBC Universal for defamation and the
company has strongly denied his allegations. We hope to have you back and
continue these very frank conversations as well as with Mr. Crump. We`ll
be right back.
SHARPTON: My final thoughts on the interview I just had when we come
SHARPTON: In 11 days, George Zimmerman will go on trial in this
state. He has the right to a defense. He has a right to explain his
actions. But Trayvon Martin also had rights. And many people around the
world of all races, including me, said that the police should not be able
to go beyond those rights. And that`s what many felt when he was released
-- George Zimmerman was released and this was not tried in a court of law.
Now it will be in a court of law and even Mr. O`Mara said that`s where it
Well, I`m not sure that that would have happened had not the public
said, wait a minute, everyone`s rights, Trayvon Martin`s rights cannot be
violated. I hope that we have a fair and just trial and we`ll be watching
that. But I hope the public will not use this as a way to go beyond the
means of law. I hope that the law will stand up for what is right and we
see that we live in a nation where people cannot just do things and walk
away without being held accountable.
It is important for this nation that we watch and see how far we`ve
come. That`s why we needed to go in a court of law and that`s what we
sought and then 11 days, that`s what will begin to happen.
Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2013 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Transcription Copyright 2013 ASC LLC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is
granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not
reproduce or redistribute the material except for user`s personal or
internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall
user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may
infringe upon MSNBC and ASC LLC`s copyright or other proprietary rights or
interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of
MORE FROM POLITICSNATION
Add PoliticsNation headlines to your news reader: