PoliticsNation, Friday, December 20th, 2013
Read the transcript from the Friday show
December 20, 2013
Guests: Elijah Cummings, Angela Rye, Maria Teresa Kumar, Faith Jenkins, Paul Henderson
REV. AL SHARPTON, POLITICS NATION HOST: Thanks Ed. And thanks to you for
tuning in. Tonight`s lead, the president vows a year of action. In his
last news conference of the year, President Obama spoke to reporters today
for an hour. He was peppered with questions about the healthcare rollout
about the NSA. He`s prowling numbers what they called his worst year in
It`s fine of course for reporters to ask him anything they want. But what
I found really surprising was all the questions dealing with real people
and their issues that were left out. Not a single question about income
inequality, about unemployment benefits, about food stamps, or the
president`s frightens (ph) this week of drug offenders surviving
unconscionable long jail terms. So, we begin tonight here in the real
world with what matters to millions and millions of Americans.
Today`s strong numbers -- strong new numbers at Ed Show, a robust economic
growth. We learn the economy grew 4.1 percent in the third quarter. It`s
the fastest phase in almost two years. And there`s another sign (ph) that
things are heading in the right direction. But, too many of the games are
still going too few today. The president vowed to make 2014 a year of
action on economic fairness.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 2014 needs to be a year of
action. We`ve got work to do to create more good jobs, to help more
Americans earn the skills and education they need to do those jobs, and to
make sure those jobs offer the wages and benefits that let families build a
bit of financial security.
We`ve got to build on progress we`ve painstakingly made over these last
five years with respect to our economy and those looking to join the middle
class to get a better opportunity. That`s where I will focus my efforts in
the year ahead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: A year of action to help Americans. And the president laid out
the first step, extending long-term unemployment benefits set to expire in
just eight days from now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Because Congress didn`t act, more than one million of their
constituents will lose a vital economic life line at Christmas time leaving
a lot of job seekers without any source of income at all. I think we`re a
better country than that. We don`t abandon each other when times are
tough. When Congress comes back from work, their first order of business
should be making this right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: We`re a better country than this. We don`t abandon each other.
This is what`s happening in the real world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Where would you be without the unemployment
benefits you`re getting?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would be quite lost. January 1st is looking scary
at this point.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We lose our benefits at the end of the month, so we`re
on the federal plan right now. It`s been very tough. I haven`t had any
real offers lately.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And then this comes from left field right before
Christmas. Merry Christmas, you know. You might not have a house very
much longer. It`s really easy to condemn people when you`re not in their
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: In the richest nation in the world, millions of families
shouldn`t be left out in t cold. And president Obama is vowing to take
action in the New Year. That`s a resolution we should all get behind.
Joining me now are E.J. Dionne and Jared Bernstein.
Thank you both for coming on the show.
JARED BERNSTEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you, Rev.
E.J. DIONNE, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Good to be with you,
SHARPTON: Jared, Republicans don`t want it extending unemployment
benefits. But an extension would help the economy and be good for the
country, am I right?
BERNSTEIN: Right. It`s what we think of in economics as good micro and
macro. From the perspective of the people you were just talking to, that`s
the micro side. They need work and the jobs aren`t out there. The
argument against unemployment insurance goes there are lots of jobs out
there. People don`t need UI, unemployment insurance. But if you look at
the share of people who have been unemployed for the long-term, at least
half a year, it`s actually twice what it`s been in the past when Congress
has allowed such extensions to expire. That`s the micro side.
The macro see is of course these people go out and spend their money and
that gives the economy a boost that it still needs. Yes, we`re growing
quicker but we`re not out of the woods yet.
SHARPTON: Now, E.J., we just saw people -- these are real people. These
are not caricatures that we see from the Republicans. These are real
people telling real stories. How do we ignore that and how do we deal with
the fact that people in eight days are on the verge of losing unemployment
DIONNE: Well, I think one thing is no one can keep quiet about it. And I
think the Democrats have to keep finding ways of bringing this up in the
new year. And it`s very important. This really is targeted assistance.
This goes to people in states and places where there is an exceptionally
high level of unemployment.
So as Jared said, there`s no excuse to say well this is just letting people
sit around. When there are jobs to be had. And when the president talked
about the year of action, it ought to start with restoring these
unemployment benefits. It ought to move to increasing the minimum wage, if
they don`t want people to avoid work, why not give real compensation pay
for their families. It has to include immigration reform.
I got to say on the third, I`m getting a little bit more optimistic. The
president sounded hopeful today saying Speaker Boehner wants to bring it
up. Tom Cole, one of the top lieutenants in Congress from Oklahoma gave
positive signals. If you could start with those and then move on to
infrastructure investment and the president`s pre-k program, you could have
a real year of action.
SHARPTON: Yes. But you know and you are right, it`s hopeful when you look
at the fact that the president`s economic agenda in 2014, if he can get any
cooperation, it includes a major push on extending jobless benefits,
stopping Republicans from slashing $40 billion from food stamps, and
passing an increase in the federal minimum wage.
Jared, any cooperation and movement on any two or all three of these would
be major for the average American.
BERNSTEIN: I think that`s right. And by the way, you make an important
point that we haven`t gotten to quite yet, which is part of the action that
the president`s talking about is not just the very positive things that
E.J. tipped off, but avoiding some of the negative ones that is creating
more fiscal head winds against the economy that will hurt growth in 2014.
And the farm bill which is where this food stamp piece exists is key to
that. The Senate has a bill that`s much more benign, but the House bill
would kick about four million people off the roles. And I think that will
turn out better.
I don`t know about the minimum wage. I think that`s going to be a very
heavy lift in Congress which is one of the reasons you`re seeing some
national minimum wages do pretty well around the country in states and
SHARPTON: You know, E.J., the president talked today about making sure
everyone is benefitting from the growing economy. I want to show you some
striking numbers. But listen to this.
In 1928 on the eve of the great depression, the top one percent in America
was taking home 24 percent of the country`s income. In 1979 after years of
healthy growth, the top one percent took in 10 percent of the country`s
But look at this, E.J. we`re back to this historic level of inequality.
In 2012 the top one percent took 22 percent of the income. We`re back with
this startling inequality, E.J.
DIONNE: And you know what? It is no accident that date there is 1928
because when you concentrate so much income at the top and ordinary people,
middle class people as well as working class people don`t have money to
spend, this hurts the economy. Christine Lagarde in her interview this
coming Sunday with David Gregory talks about how inequality is bad for
sustained economic growth.
And I think it`s just very important to keep driving home the point at
caring about inequality is not just a matter of justice although it is a
matter of justice, and it`s not just a matter of morality although it is a
matter of morality. It`s also about good economics. And if we want
sustained growth, which is good for everybody including rich people, we
should not want these very, very high levels of inequality.
SHARPTON: You know, Jared, this inequality is something you as an
economist has got to know that it really in many ways is bad for all
Americans as E.J. said including wealthy Americans.
BERNSTEIN: Right. Well, E.J. and I are old enough to remember that 1928
SHARPTON: Tell me about it.
BERNSTEIN: Well, look, I mean, the thing that`s interesting today in
particular is that we`re talking about this 4.1 percent GDP number for the
third quarter and that`s a nice number. We haven`t had a four percent
handle on our GDP growth in awhile. But what that graph reminds you is
that growth is necessary, but it`s not sufficient. We`ve had GDP up now
maybe 11, 12 percent over this expansion. The stock market up 70 percent
in real terms over this expansion, median household income, the typical
household income down four percent in real terms.
So what really has to happen here is we have to build the connective tissue
between economic growth and much more broad based prosperity. And that
gets you right back to the policy agenda the president talked about that
we`ve been discussing here.
SHARPTON: Jared Bernstein and E.J. Dionne, this is good stuff and we`ll be
watching this and looking forward to a year of action on these issues.
BERNSTEIN: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Thank you both for your time.
DIONNE: Thank you, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Great weekend to both of you.
DIONNE: You too.
BERNSTEIN: You too.
SHARPTON: Coming up, Darrell Issa`s new leaks and smears against the
president. The man taking him on, Congressman Elijah Cummings joins me
live on what he calls Issa`s quote "reckless pattern of misleading
And more fallout from the "Duck Dynasty" star`s anti-gay and racially
charged remarks. Why are so many on the right coming to his defense? One
even compared the TV star to Rosa Parks. Note to the Republican party, you
got a brand problem.
Plus will there be justice after all? New developments tonight in the so-
called affluenza case.
And George Zimmerman gets back his guns. And his girlfriend was right by
his side. We open the justice files tonight. Stay with us. Big show
SHARPTON: Too rich for jail? It was the week of the affluenza case, but
now a question. Could be too rich too jail become not rich at all? Stay
SHARPTON: For the last three years, Congressman Darrell Issa has made it
his mission to antagonize President Obama. After all, he told Rush
Limbaugh this in 2010.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: He has been
one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Issa later tried to walk that statement back, but when he became
chair of the house oversight committee, he still planned constant attacks
on the Obama administration. Famously telling "Politico," quote, "I want
seven hearings a week times 40 weeks." Maybe he hasn`t held hundreds of
hearings, but not for the lack of trying.
He`s tried to link the Obama administration to phony scandals on everything
from Benghazi to the IRS. But besides this out of the ordinary
aggressiveness, we`ve seen another disturbing pattern from Congressman
Issa. Democrats say he`s repeatedly leaked materials that are supposed to
be private to the press and misled the public in the process. It has
happened with documents related to the TSA. The fast and furious
investigation. The attacks in Benghazi. The IRS investigation. And now
New stories today questions are the security of the health care Web site.
Based on documents from, guess who? Congressman Issa.
But Democrats say he cherry picked misleading information to scare people
away from the Web site. And they`re fighting back.
Joining me now is the man who`s challenging Issa, Congressman Elijah
Cummings, the ranking democrat on the house oversight committee.
Congressman, first of all, thanks for being here tonight.
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: It`s good to be with you.
SHARPTON: You`re calling his behavior, quote, "reckless." Tell us why?
CUMMINGS: Well, first of all, Reverend, it`s reckless because what
Chairman Issa has done as he`s done in the past is he has presented certain
testimony, cherry picked testimony that makes it look as if a lady named
Teresa Fryer who is the chief information officer at the center for
Medicaid and Medicare, he claims that she is saying that she had
significant security concerns with regard prior to the Web site being put
forth and basically implying that those problems still exist.
Now, that`s what Issa put out. But he left out some key information.
First of all, he left out the fact that she has said that there has been no
successful breaches. She also said that when she had those concerns, the
response was that they were put in mitigation measures in case there was a
problem. She did -- once those mitigations measures were put in -- keep in
mind, this is information he didn`t disclose. Once those measures were put
in, she was satisfied.
She also said the mitigation measures exceeded the industry standards. In
other words, they were higher. He never put that in. And he never said
she was completely satisfied with the security situation with regards to
the Web site. He never said any of that, never said not one syllable.
SHARPTON: Here -- Let me give the particulars here, Congressman, of
exactly what you`re saying. Because Congressman Issa`s claims is based on
the testimony of a healthcare.gov security officer.
CUMMINGS: That`s right.
SHARPTON: But you say he didn`t include this information. That officer
testified the Web site systems exceeded standards set by the national
institutes of standards and technology. In fact she agreed they went
beyond best practices. And there have been no successful breaches of
healthcare.gov. So no security breaches and the Web site exceeds
standards, but Congressman Issa didn`t mention that. Doesn`t that show
he`s not interested in the facts, congressman?
CUMMINGS: Clearly. What he is trying to do -- the Republicans and Issa,
they`re frustrated, reverend. They could not win when we took the vote on
this when it first came -- we passed it. Then they`re hoping it would be
killed in the courts. It wasn`t killed there. And now by any means
necessary, they`re trying to discourage people from actually signing up.
And this is so sad. And it`s very upsetting that in trying to make people
feel as if their information will not be secure. And that`s what this is
all about. Keep in mind, he`s run around the country. He had four
hearings, one-sided hearings and all they presented were people who may
have had problems with the Web site or had problems with it or never liked
it. He never produced one single witness to say, you know, this is good
thing for me, it`s working for my family, none of that.
SHARPTON: And some complained they were barred from their request to be
CUMMINGS: That`s right.
SHARPTON: And I think people need to understand how powerful this
committee is. It`s the investigative committee. It is very powerful. It
does the investigations in and for the congress, but it has to be used
CUMMINGS: That`s right. In other words, we are the oversight and
government reform committee, but Reverend, I`ve told Chairman Issa many
times in order to bring about reform, you must have the whole truth and
nothing but the truth. Don`t give me a little piece of truth here and then
leave out other pieces of it. The pieces that you don`t like or does not,
you know, go into your narrative. That`s not truly bringing about reform.
You cannot bring about reform unless you have accurate information.
SHARPTON: Congressman Elijah Cummings, thank you so much for your time.
CUMMINGS: Good to be with you, Reverend.
SHARPTON: And thank you for keeping your eye on Congressman Issa. Have a
CUMMINGS: And happy holiday to you and yours.
SHARPTON: Thank you.
Coming up, the controversy everyone is talking about. This "Duck Dynasty"
star suspended from his TV show after making anti-gay and racially charged
comments. But today, more conservatives continued rushing to his defense
bringing that Obama rodeo clown into the debate and comparing the TV star
to Rosa Parks. What it says about a party trying to rebrand.
SHARPTON: How bad is the right wing defense of the "Duck Dynasty" star?
Today, one Republican is comparing him to, get this, Rosa Parks. We`ll
talk about all that next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight we are all Phil Robertson. Phil taught us so
much. I will tell who I felt sorry for, folks, A&E. With this
controversy, they may have just lost "Duck Dynasty" massive black and gay
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The right wing`s cluelessness has become a punch line. GOP
pundits and politicians are falling all over themselves to embrace the
"Duck Dynasty`s" star suspended after making anti-gay, racially charged
comments in a magazine.
One GOP congressman says Phil Robertson is a conservative hero just like
the offensive Obama rodeo clown. Quote, "I stood up for Tuffy, the rodeo
clown when the radical left took away his job. Now they`re out to get
Phil. And trust me, you are next."
Really? "Duck Dynasty" and the Obama rodeo clown. Those are the new
heroes for the GOP? Is this really what Republicans want Americans to
think of when they think of the GOP?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s Obama.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, let me tell these people about who we got helping.
Obama`s going to have to just stay there. Obama, watch out for those
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey. I know I`m a clown. He`s just running around
acting like one. Doesn`t know he is one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Stay classy, GOP. And here`s another one for you. A Republican
running for Congress in Illinois says the "Duck Dynasty" star is the Rosa
Parks of our generation. He says, quote, "In December 1955 Rosa Parks took
a stand against an unjust societal persecution of black people. And in
December 2013 Robertson took a stand against persecution of Christians.`
That`s so wrong and ignorant it`s not even worth talking about.
Folks, one year ago the Republican national committee announced an autopsy
to figure out how they can win over minority voters. Looks like they need
go back to the drawing board.
Joining me now are Maria Teresa Kumar and Angela Rye.
Thank you both for being here.
MARIA TERESA KUMAR, PRESIDENT, CEO, VOTO LATINO: Thank you, Reverend.
ANGELA RYE, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: Thank you, Rev.
SHARPTON: So, Angela, a Republican candidate says the guy from "Duck
Dynasty" is just like Rosa Parks. How is that going to win back African-
RYE: Well, Rev, unfortunately we`ve seen throughout this week that there
are a lot of African-American voters and supporters in their party that
will defend this no matter what. Whether or not it`s based on any type of
fact whatsoever. The unfortunate part is history will not be kind to them
because it`s just false. This isn`t about religious persecution. We`ve
all read history books and know that there was a time when Christians were
persecuted. They have to draw the little fish to demonstrate where they
had to congregate. And that`s not what this guy was doing.
Instead of supporting his Christian brothers and sisters that may have a
different lifestyle by loving them, in spite of his disagreement with the
lifestyle, he`s actually persecuting other people and comparing said
lifestyle to some very disgusting behaviors. And I think furthermore when
you go into what he talked about with black folks, you know, singing while
they picked cotton, it`s just so unfortunate. And again, it demonstrates
the fact that as we go into 2014, we have so much more work to do. And
part of it is teaching people history based upon facts, not perception.
SHARPTON: Now, Maria, you know, he has the right. I want to be clear. He
has the right to say whatever he wants to say. But people also have the
right to say to people that they consume products from I`m not buying
products of people that support this. And those companies have the right
to say, we`re not supporting it without money. No one is talking about his
right. We`re talking about everybody has rights here.
KUMAR: That`s absolutely right. I mean, the fact that A&E said we`re not
going to tolerate intolerance, we`re not going to go after, we`re not going
to basically be a platform for someone that is perpetuating hate and
differences in a time we`re seeking unity. They did the right thing. I
was more surprised the fact that Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana,
got into the fray. This is an individual who has his eyes set on being a
possibly president candidate in 2016. And for him to say that this wasn`t
a violation of freedom of speech. There was a violation of freedom of
speech. You can say whatever you want.
KUMAR: But sometimes that speech has consequences. And I applaud A&E for
the move that they did.
SHARPTON: It had nothing to do with freedom of speech.
SHARPTON: But let me go back to a point you raised, Angela, I want to go
back to elaborate on it. Because I want to remind folks what we`re talking
about here. Here`s what "Duck Dynasty" star said about growing up in
Louisiana in the Jim Crow era. Quote, "I never with my eyes saw the
mistreatment of any black person. I hoed cotton with them. I`m with
blacks because we`re white trash. We`re going across the field. They`re
singing and happy. Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare. You say were they happy?
They were godly. They were happy."
What is Christian, what is religious freedom about saying blacks were happy
under Jim Crow? This has nothing to do with one`s biblical analysis of
anything to say that blacks were happy under Jim Crow is a Christian
position. Is that what some of his defenders are saying?
RYE: I think that they`re trying to argue the other point about the
references he made to homosexuality. What we know here Rev is that --
SHARPTON: But that`s not all he said.
RYE: No, that`s absolutely right. And that`s part of the problem. I`m
glad that your show and others are bringing this up because that`s not the
only offensive thing he said. For him to say that blacks were happy during
Jim Crow is now only offensive, it`s patently false. Right? The fact that
they were happy around him is probably a defense mechanism. Why would they
act happy or act sad or seem like they were going to rebel in an era where
they were operating under terror and fear?
So this was in spite of the situation, in spite of their oppressive laws
that were ruling the land at that time. They were going to be joyful.
Again, this is about how he`s remembering history, these rose colored duck
glasses he`s wearing, he needs to take them off. Because he really doesn`t
know the truth.
SHARPTON: Now, you know, Maria, it was mentioned about the Louisiana
Governor Bobby Jindal claiming it`s all about religious freedom and free
speech. Let me play with the governor said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I think you see a growing political correctness amongst
the left where again they say they`re for tolerance, they say they`re for
diversity but only if you agree with them. The bigger issue is not what he
said or even how he said it, the bigger issue here is about religious
liberty. It`s about the first amendment and the right to speak up and say
what you believe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: So again I think the issue is being clouded here. No one is
saying he doesn`t have the right to say it. No one`s saying he doesn`t
have the right to speak up. But you and I have the right to speak up and
disagree and companies have the right to say we`re not subsidizing it
because we don`t agree with it. They`re really trying to say we`ve got to
support and pay for whatever it is that they decide they want to say.
KUMAR: And you`re absolutely right. Let`s be clear. Again, there are
consequences when you say something that it`s not that it goes against
grains of society, but something that`s hateful. And you can`t take what
he said any other way and say that he`s basically perpetuating division and
he`s basically perpetuating terrible stereotypes. And when Bobby Jindal, a
governor who has presidential aspirations jumps into the fray and tries to
twist exactly what happened, again, it`s not about the first amendment.
It`s just that, what you say does have oftentimes have consequences. And
this employer, A&E said, we are not going to tolerate intolerance.
And so go ahead and feel that way, but if you`re going to do it, we`re
going to penalize you. But let`s have a broader conversation. This is not
about Christianity. If you look at a lot of the rebranding Rev that you
mentioned earlier that the GOP did, there was a whole movement in the
evangelical community saying that they wanted to embrace this marriage
equality, they wanted to have discussion because you`re seeing a new
generation of evangelical saying that that is not Christianity when you`re
intolerant and you`re hateful and divisive about who someone chooses to
SHARPTON: You know, Angela, that rebrand was just a year ago. The RNC
autopsy report on what they should do after the 2012 election loss. Quote,
"We need to campaign among Hispanic, Black, Asian, and gay Americans. And
demonstrate we care about them too." And it says Republicans should stress
the importance of welcoming inclusive message in particular when discussing
issues that relate directly to a minority group. Well, how`s the rebrand
doing this week as many of the leading Republicans including Governor
Jindal are out there defending this kind of rhetoric?
RYE: Well, Rev, first and foremost it was called the autopsy report. And
that`s a good thing because they`re still dead. They are not relevant and
they will not ever be relevant if they can`t figure out how to meet people
where they are. If they can`t figure out how to tell the truth and go from
there. So if you build it, they`ll come. That`s a concept we know in the
church. But the first step is to have people believe. And right now we do
not believe you.
SHARPTON: Angela Rye and Maria Teresa Kumar, thank you both for your time.
Have a great weekend.
RYE: Thank you, Rev.
KUMAR: You too, Reverend, thank you.
SHARPTON: Still ahead, the POLITICS NATION justice files. Why did George
Zimmerman get his guns back? And what effect will civil lawsuits have on
the family of the teenager some say was too rich to jail? Stay with us.
SHARPTON: We`re back with the special Friday night edition of the Justice
Files. Joining me now are Faith Jenkins and Paul Henderson. Thank you
both for coming on the show tonight.
FAITH JENKINS, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Thank you.
PAUL HENDERSON, VETERAN PROSECUTOR: Pleasure.
SHARPTON: First up, the latest on George Zimmerman. Zimmerman and his
formerly estranged girlfriend left a Florida sheriff`s office yesterday.
They were there to retrieve guns confiscated during a domestic dispute in
November. The sheriff confirmed to the Orlando Sentinel that two handgun
handguns, a shotgun, and an AR-15 assault rifle were returned to George
Zimmerman. His girlfriend picked up her gun as well. The couple`s weapons
were removed after that same girlfriend called 911 to say that Zimmerman
was threatening her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DISPATCHER: What`s going on?
SAMANTHA SCHEIBE, GIRLFRIEND OF GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: He`s in my housebreaking
all my (bleep) because I asked him to leave. He has his freaking gun
breaking all of my stuff right now. No this is not --
SCHEIBE: I`m doing this again? You just broke my glass table. You just
broke my sunglasses and you put your gun in my freaking face and told me to
get the (bleep) because this is not your house. No, get out of here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: As we know she later dropped the charges. Paul, no charges so
he gets his gun back. What do you make of this news?
HENDERSON: Well, he gets his gun back. Obviously I think a lot of
prosecutors and the rest of the people that are watching this story are
disappointed. It was so frustrating after listening to the tape and
hearing her exciting utterances, you know, that gave us a sense of
credibility that what was happening was actually happening. And the fact
that she came back in the court and recanted and said, it didn`t happen,
she didn`t want to press charges, that she felt safe, that she didn`t want
there to be a prosecution, I think was disappointing to a lot of people.
But this is something that we`ve seen in the past. You know, I`ve handled
a number of domestic violence cases where this has taken place. One thing
that we all need to keep in mind that if circumstances change, those
charges can be revived. If she changes her mind or comes back and is
willing to testify, that could change.
SHARPTON: Faith, not only have we seen this a lot in the past. We`ve seen
it with George Zimmerman. This is the second or third time we`ve seen a
recanting after accusations were made.
JENKINS: Right. And I always say where there`s smoke, there`s fire.
There`s something going on with George Zimmerman. It started before
Trayvon Martin but look at the pattern of behavior we witnessed under the
eyes of the law, is it illegal for him to have his guns? No. Is it
problematic? Yes. There have been too many instances where George
Zimmerman has been accused of pulling his gun on people when he gets upset.
We all know what happened with the Trayvon Martin case. So I see this as
very problematic. And I don`t think it`s the last time we`ll be hearing
about George Zimmerman.
SHARPTON: All right. Go ahead.
HENDERSON: I was just going to say, you know, if you ever want to try and
guess and figure out what people are going to do in the future, you can
just look at their past behavior.
HENDERSON: And the fact that this is how Zimmerman resolves his conflicts
is with a loaded weapon, even amongst people that he supposedly cares
about, this is a real problem and we have a past history that we can look
at that confirms just how dangerous it is. It`s a real shame that under
these circumstances with the victim recanting that he gets his guns back,
but he`s got them back and I for one am concerned. I`m presuming that many
other members of the public are concerned.
SHARPTON: Let me get a couple of more cases in justice files tonight.
Let`s go to the case of Ethan Couch, the teen who some say was too rich to
jail. The teen may have escaped jail time by claiming affluenza, but the
civil lawsuits are piling up. There are currently five civil cases being
filed including one for $20 million from the family of Sergio Molina.
Molina was severely injured by the accident and can no longer move or talk.
In the criminal case, Couch claimed he suffered from affluenza and that his
parents did not place limits on his behavior. Now in the civil lawsuits,
Couch`s parents are also named. In addition, so is the family company
Cleburne Metal Works.
SHARPTON: Ethan had been driving the company-owned F-350 pickup truck at
the time of the crash. Faith, what do you expect from the civil suits.
JENKINS: Well, I think the cure for affluenza would be to deprive Ethan of
his wealth. And I think that that may in fact happened in this case. I
think his parents should be prepared to write out a check and the question
is going to be the number of zeros they`re going to have to add to the end
of it. Because the plaintiffs have a good case here of Negligent
Entrustment to get to these parents and the money and that company because
Ethan was driving the company`s truck. The parents knew he had a
propensity to drink. He`d been stopped for drinking and driving before.
They knew that he was having parties unsupervised in a 4,000 square foot
house. And they still gave him the keys to that truck and let him drive it
every day. So, I think the plaintiffs have a good case here.
SHARPTON: And again, he had a background because he`d been warned before
SHARPTON: We`re told that he was found -- he had passed out or was asleep
next to a naked 14-year-old. So it`s not like he didn`t have reason to
know that this behavior wasn`t something that was at least questionable by
the law. Here we end up with four people dead and one paralyzed.
HENDERSON: And the parents knew about that past behavior. So if you
combine that with the fact that the very defense that they used was that
they don`t punish him, that they don`t hold him accountable, I mean, this
is just opening the door to that civil liability. And that defense which
is junkenstein (ph) and in insult to the criminal justice system is going
to come back and bite them in the civil suits that are following now. The
other thing I just want to point out right quick is that, you know, there
could be even more civil suits.
I have seen in the past cases where counties and cities themselves as a
municipality sued defendants for damages that they`ve caused. So, I don`t
think we`re hearing the end of this civil suit. And it`s only going expand
from here especially because people feel so outraged about what happened
with this case in terms of the sentencing and the lack of accountability
that took place in this case.
SHARPTON: And -- I mean, this is big. Not the criminal case, but it`s big
and it has a potential for lot of implications, Faith.
JENKINS: Right. Because when you have someone who`s asserted a defense
like this and you have four people who are dead and two people seriously
injured as a result of this young man and him not being properly
supervised, you can count on a lot of lawsuits stemming from his behavior.
SHARPTON: And this was his defense that he was not property supervised.
SHARPTON: I mean, inadvertently, they`ve brought the parents in.
JENKINS: Right. And it is going to come back to bite them in this civil
case. And they should be prepared to pay. This case is not going to go to
trial. It will settle and it will just be the amount of money that they
will have to pay.
SHARPTON: Faith Jenkins and Paul Henderson, thank you both for your time
this evening. Have a great weekend.
JENKINS: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Pleasure. Thanks for having us.
We`ll be right back with a Republican ritual that will get you in the
SHARPTON: It`s a holiday tradition. Not the eggnog and not the Christmas
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: You have a problem with Obama`s extravagant
17-day vacation? People are suffering, people are struggling, no jobs,
record debt, deficit.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: He deserves it.
HANNITY: He does?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: He works very hard. You know? Many sleepless nights.
HANNITY: He plays a lot of golf.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: And now that everything is resolved with ObamaCare and
a lot of other foreign affairs, he deserves a vacation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: You`ve got to love the sarcasm, but that`s right, folks. It`s
that time of year when right wingers blast the president for taking his
Christmas vacation. And it`s not just Hannity. The conservative
"Washington Times" says, "Beach bum, Obama to holiday in Hawaii." Fox
news.com wonders, "Obama`s 2013 Hawaiian vacation. What`s wrong with
Dollywood? Why would the president want to spend Christmas at Dolly
Parton`s amusement park? But as always, it`s Donald Trump who takes the
cake. On twitter he said, "President Obama is about to embark on a 17-day
vacation in his native Hawaii putting secret service away from families on
Christmas. Aloha." See that? He even put native in quotes just to cast
some doubt on whether the president was actually born there. It`s a
birther vacation derangement combo. But while the right wing is beside
itself about the president`s vacation, I wonder what House Republicans are
doing. Let`s take a look at the house floor.
SHARPTON: Oh. That`s right. They`re out of session. And besides a few
ceremonial sessions, they`re on vacations through the holiday. I guess you
can`t blame them. They`re tired. They worked a total of 28 whole hours a
week. That`s exhausting. In the right`s attempt to smear the president,
it looks like they took a vacation too. A vacation from the facts.
SHARPTON: Finally tonight, fighting the epidemic of gun violence in cities
across America. Last night I was in Chicago leading a town hall meeting to
call for a unified commitment to end gun violence. We met with hundreds of
activists and community members to stress the importance of working
together on the problem facing the city.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: We want answers. We do not just need to hear griping. There`s
griping everywhere. We want solutions. We know that some folk don`t like
each other. We know some folk don`t get along. We got that. This is not
a night for that. We understand that. We want to hear where everybody can
say this is what I`ve done and this is what I want to put on the table.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: I also had a chance to sit down with members of the community
who are making a difference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: You lived a life, you walked the walk. You`ve been inside.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: In prison for the last 27 years I was in prison. And
also I was a former gang leader of a gang on the west side of Chicago. And
I come home and saw the condition of my community and knew that it was
something that I needed to do.
SHARPTON: You`ve been in the trenches. You`ve been doing a lot of things.
Are you hopeful?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I`m very hopeful. Most of my hopefulness comes from the
people in the street. My street family, when I was doing decent, they
wasn`t. So, I know a lot of brothers fought hard to keep me into school
and keep me safe. So, I felt like I had to come back and a lot of that
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The people of Chicago are coming back and there has been
progress. Last year there was more than 2300 shootings in Chicago. So far
this year, there have been just over 1700 shootings. A 26 percent drop in
the right direction. But as I said last night, if one person is shot, it`s
one too many. And when I met with students in Chicago last month, they
made it clear that gun violence was a top concern.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: When you leave school, how afraid are y`all about gun violence?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It`s always on my mind.
SHARPTON: Gun violence is always on your mind?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Yes. Like what if this happens, what if that happens?
SHARPTON: What would you say any of you that you would like to see done to
make the city safer?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I would put more law enforcement in high schools. Like
maybe getting on the bus it would be a big old crowd of them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: And that`s why I`ll keep going back to Chicago. And that`s why
I will keep showing you what we`re doing out there. What amazed me last
night was the hundreds that came out not around a crisis, not around a new
incident. But out of concern. Wanting to be heard. Wanting to be part of
the solution. Willing to work together and be in one room to stand for
what was right. No big names. Local community grassroots organizers. I
was talking to one, Dwight McKeon and Marie Forte (ph) and they said,
Reverend, people will respond that their call. People want to stop it
because they`re the ones that live through it.
We must stop talking at people and start talking to people. So that we can
come up together in solving the problems. The reason that things are
progressing in Chicago is not only the police, but people on the streets.
Some who have made mistakes themselves that are out there every day in the
trenches turning this around, talking to these kids, giving them a new way
out. If we would just stop chasing headlines and chase solutions, we can
make a difference.
Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. Have a great weekend. "HARDBALL"
starts right now.
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