updated 2/5/2014 11:16:26 AM ET 2014-02-05T16:16:26

POLITICS NATION
February 4, 2014

Guests: Nia Gill, Susan Milligan, Kendall Coffey, Bob Ingle, Michelle Cottle, Goldie Taylor

REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening, Ed. And thanks to you
for tuning in.

Tonight`s lead, getting the story straight. One of the key questions in
the scandal swirling around Governor Chris Christie is when did he first
learn about the closings of access lanes to the George Washington bridge.
The shutdown of those lanes last fall caused massive traffic, backing up
emergency vehicles and kids on school buses for hours. So did the governor
know before the shutdown during the closures, or only weeks later when it
became public? That`s what he said up until now in a radio interview last
night. And in that interview, the governor dismissed questions about when
he knew about the lane closings.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: What is going on now with all this
other stuff, it`s just a game of got you, you know. You know, when did I
first learn about this or that? Well, the fact of the matter is I`ve been
very clear about this. Before these lanes were closed, I knew nothing
about it. I didn`t plan it. I didn`t authorize it. I didn`t approve it.
I knew nothing about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: But it`s not a game of got you. It matters. And here is what
Governor Christie said last night about the lane closings.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: The fact is the first time this really came into my
consciousness as an issue was when Pat Foye e-mail about this incident was
leaked to the media and reported on. And that was the first time that I
got a sense that there might be some issue here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: And who brought that to your attention? Was
it staff?

CHRISTIE: No, it was news accounts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: You read them personally or did somebody bring
to it your attention?

CHRISTIE: No, I read it. I read it in "the Wall Street Journal."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: He read it in "the Wall Street Journal." Here is the article
published October 1st, several weeks after the closing. But today "the
Wall Street Journal" says Christie`s own office contradicts that claim.
The journal says, quote, "Mr. Christie`s administration said over the
weekend that one of those articles, a column in the record on September
13th was how Mr. Christie first learned what was occurring.

September 13th, what happened to October 1st? In early December, Christie
said quote "the first I ever heard of the issue was when it was reported in
the press which I think was in the aftermath of the leaking of Mr. Foye`s
e-mail."

That e-mail leak happened on October 1st. But in January, Christie said he
learned about the closures before that story with the leaked e-mail.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: No, I think it was -- it wasn`t when Pat Foye`s e-mails, but I
think there was an earlier story about that. I don`t remember exactly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Something about the traffic, yes.

CHRISTIE: Something about the traffic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It`s not a game of got you. It`s about getting the facts
straight.

Joining me now is New Jersey state senator Nia Gill. She is on the super
committee investigating the bridge scandal and former U.S. attorney Kendall
Coffey.

Let me start with you, Senator.

STATE SEN. NIA GILL (D), NEW JERSEY: Yes. Do.

SHARPTON: You have a clear understanding of when the governor first
learned about the lane closures?

GILL: That`s why this investigation is so vitally important, so that we
can take all the factual evidence together and make that determination.
And in this sense, given what the port authority does, it controls the
bridges, the busiest airport and the world trade center. So if you take it
in that context and abuse of power in that context, the public deserves to
know, and this is what our investigation will do, who was involved, when
and how do we make sure that this never happens again.

SHARPTON: Now, I understand that you`re going to deal with the vital
issues, very important about who was involved, what was involved. But
looking at the time that the governor knew, because you`re dealing with the
fact emergency vehicles couldn`t get through, children on school buses,
tens of thousands of people delayed over these three or four days. Are we
being asked to believe in your committee that the governor who runs the
state of New Jersey with all kind of employees, with all kinds of people in
his executive office would only know about the stalled traffic for three or
four days in the largest bridge in the world because he read it in the
newspaper three weeks later?

GILL: Well, that`s why we need to get to the facts of this and not have a
moving target. We need to be able to fix the date with the governor with
all the other documents, because that date that we fix in this
investigation will have resulting effects in a long-term basis.

SHARPTON: Kendall, you were a U.S. attorney and so was Chris Christie.
And I was struck by him saying when this came into my consciousness about
the bridge closings, he wasn`t sure. I wouldn`t help but wonder, as U.S.
attorney, would he have allowed one of those politicians that he prosecuted
to talk about when something came in their consciousness? I mean, isn`t
that a little vague? And wouldn`t that be questioned by you as a
prosecutor on why someone couldn`t be more specific about something that
important?

KENDALL COFFEY, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, I think of course it`s
going to be a fascinating issue for anyone who is investigating this. We
know that a letter was issued very recently that said that Christie knew
about it and there is evidence to support that. If you piece that together
with a statement about I gained a consciousness of it afterwards, I think
what it suggests is that there may be some kind of documentation, e-mail or
otherwise suggesting that something came across Christie`s desk or
something might have been copied to him.

In the real world, we know that people don`t read and carefully absorb
everything that is copied to them when they get gazillions of e-mails and
texts. On the other hand, it looks bad and it is complicating it already
difficult timeline which so far as it is coming from the administration
seems to be raising more questions than answers almost on a daily basis.

SHARPTON: But doesn`t it also look at that and even as a prosecutor raise
an eyebrow when you go from you definitely didn`t know date certain to I
may have known it this time to maybe my consciousness. I mean, your
consciousness is a long away from I definitely didn`t know until I read it
in "the Wall Street Journal."

COFFEY: Well, for sure you`re right. And carefully worded when it came to
my consciousness is never as good as an answer as unequivocally yes,
unequivocally no, and having a definitive timeline. Well still don`t have
a definite timeline. And I think part of why people who are in the middle
of a conflict like this is they pick very carefully worded messages. They
don`t just know how the other fact are going to develop and what other
people are going to say and what the other documents are going to come out
to woodwork.

(CROSSTALK)

SHARPTON: He has been very clear, he didn`t know before the bridge
closings. He didn`t depend on consciousness there. He is being very firm
that no, I didn`t know before. But he is vague on at what point after that
he knew which leads to maybe what you`re saying about he is trying to see
what may have come across or comes out with these documents.

Let me ask you, senator.

GILL: Yes.

SHARPTON: Three officials are now taking the fifth, Bridget Kelly, the
former deputy chief of staff is refusing to hand over documents to you in
the super committee.

GILL: Yes.

SHARPTON: She is the one that did the e-mail, "time for some traffic jam
on the bridge." Bill Stepien, the former campaign manager and David
Wildstein, he is submitting the documents, but he is refusing to testify.
If they hold their guns on the fifth, what can the super committee do to
get them to talk? If anything, what happens next?

GILL: First of all we already have documents that we are actively
reviewing because people are responding to the production of documents on
an ongoing basis. And the issue with respect to the fifth amendment, we
know that our committee is statutorily mandated to investigate. It is not
a criminal investigation.

SHARPTON: Not the documents you`re going over are not from any of those
three.

GILL: They`re not from any of those three. But we will in consultation
with our attorney. And as a committee as a whole deal with the issue of
the assertion of fifth amendment constitutional rights.

SHARPTON: Now, when the Senator says, Kendall, they are not a criminal
investigative body, does that mean they have no options available to them,
they had to refer to a prosecutor if that is their choosing, and then how
do they deal with the fact that state prosecutors are connected to the
governor?

COFFEY: Well, I think from the standpoint of the subject of an
investigation, whether or not they`re facing an investigation that is
purely criminal in nature, they still have fifth amendment rights. The
question really here is this going to get them anywhere at the end of the
day in terms of withholding documents. As we have talked about, the fifth
protects testimony. It doesn`t protect preexisting documents. It keeps
you, perhaps you can hold your tongue, but you can`t hold back the smoking
gun.

Now they are arguing issues under New Jersey law that arguably apply to the
legislative subpoenas, and they`re also complaining that the subpoenas are
too broad, asking for too much. And yet I think we know that sooner or
later, there are also going to be federal subpoenas which don`t have to
take account of New Jersey protections, whatever they might be. Sooner or
later, all the documents are going to reach the hands of federal
investigators, if not the hand of the legislative process.

SHARPTON: But here is what concerns some people, Senator and Kendall.

GILL: Yes.

SHARPTON: You have -- If it goes outside of your committee, referred or
not to a criminal prosecutor.

GILL: Yes.

SHARPTON: The state prosecutors are connected to the governor. If it goes
to the U.S. attorney`s office, many of those that work in the U.S.
attorney`s office worked when Christie was the U.S. attorney. Those are
his former employees and friends that are in that office. How do you get
an objective analysis of this from any prosecutor`s office that has not had
some connection to this governor?

GILL: Because I think they are professionals, and they take their job
serious. The evidence will be presented. And that evidence will be vetted
in accordance with the constitutional and statutory obligations to arrive
at a decision. That would be saying that since I knew Chris Christie in my
capacity as one, an attorney, in my capacity as a legislator, even if I
take on different positions, I would therefore not be able to render a fair
and impartial decision.

I think the facts are going to drive this case, not the personalities, but
the facts. And that`s why when we do that investigation, those facts will
lead us to the conclusions of who knew, when they knew, and what we can do
going forward.

SHARPTON: Kendall, does it not have the appearances anyway that a lot of
people can be concerned about since there is some involvement in each
potential office with the governor?

COFFEY: Well, I think the U.S. attorney`s office is clearly staked out its
right, the New Jersey office to investigate this case. So they have enough
confidence in their own integrity, their own professionalism and the
reputation for integrity. If this became a big controversy, if there was a
lot of criticism of that office getting involved, they could certainly
bring in main justice, the department of public integrity to come in and
oversee the investigation. But for now there seems to be an acceptance
that this office is well-positioned to do a fair, impartial and I think
it`s going to be a thorough investigation.

SHARPTON: All right. I`ll leave there it. State Senator Nia Gill and
Kendall Coffey, thank you both for your time tonight.

GILL: Thank you very much.

COFFEY: Thanks, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Ahead, is Chris Christie strong than the political storm? New
questions tonight about hurricane sandy and what his state`s top paper
calls, quote "political slush fund."

Also, Ted Cruz and the new myth of President Obama`s lawlessness. What is
this attack really all about?

Plus, the shocking Republican town hall where a voter said this to a GOP
congressman.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obama, he`s not president as far as I`m concerned. He
should be executed as an enemy combatant, really.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: How did that congressman respond to this offensive statement?
Did he do the right thing? You`ll definitely want to see this one. Stay
with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Coming up, strange thing. Governor Christie says he still
doesn`t know if there was a traffic study or not. We`ll cut through the
confusion, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: One of the many outstanding questions in the Christie bridge
scandal is why. Why were the lanes closed? What purpose did it serve?
We`re all curious about it, including apparently the governor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: What I`m curious about is what happened here. And that`s why I
authorized an internal investigation as I talked about on January 9th. And
we`ve hired a law firm to come in and do that internal investigation.
They`re working really hard. They`re working diligently. And I can`t wait
for them to be finished so that I can get the full story here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: He is curious. So am I. But here is what I`m curious about.
Why didn`t governor Christie ask a top aide, Bridget Kelly, when he had the
chance, when he fired her? She is the former aide who wrote that it was
time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee. If he was so curious about all
of this, why didn`t he ask her?

Joining me now are Susan Milligan and MSNBC`s Toure. Thanks for being
here.

TOURE, MSNBC HOST, THE CYCLE: Thank you.

SUSAN MILLIGAN, POLITICAL WRITER, US NEWS & WORLD REPORT: Thanks for
having me.

SHARPTON: Toure, do you find Christie`s positioning on all of this
somewhat this curious?

TOURE: Absolutely. I mean, the guy was supposed to be a micromanager.
There are his people who he put in the place. Are we really supposed to
believe that he knew nothing? And David Simon who wrote the wire had an
excellent post, I mean, talking about you don`t do this sort of a thing
without getting to go to your boss and say, you know, get that at a boy
from your boss?

So why would somebody in his office be doing these sorts of things? It`s
not just what happened with the GWB, right? It`s also what happened in
Hoboken, right? Surely there are others who are letting the attorneys know
this happened to me. That happened to me. So it`s not just this one GWB
portion of it.

SHARPTON: Now, Susan, the curious thing to me, let`s say the governor is
saying he didn`t know. But we don`t know when he knew. And therefore
never took any action. And he then turns around, not knowing what happened
or why, fires who did it, never asking them what they did and why.

Isn`t that very strange? Wouldn`t you at least want to know why he said
she lied to him, why she lied and what she lied about since you have an
oath to uphold to the people of the state that had to deal with this
inconvenience and it could have been much worse?

MILLIGAN: Well, yes, you would think so. And I think in general his
behavior has been pretty erratic on this. And this has been one of the
most damaging things for him. If the fundamental charge against you is
that you`re a bully, you don`t respond in a bullying manner. When they
sent out that e-mail on Saturday, you know, saying -- you know, accusing
David Wildstein of all of these transgressions in high school, you know, a
person he said he barely knew in high school. All I could think of is this
is the political strategic equivalent of drunk dialing. Don`t do it.
Someone should physically hold your hand and keep you from hitting the send
button.

You know, what he should be doing is what he did on the radio and what he
did at the press conference and say look, this is awful what happened. I
apologize. And I want there to be a full investigation. All he had to do
is be calm and just say I want to get ahead with the business of New Jersey
and I want to find out what happened too. It`s in everyone`s best interest
there be an independent investigation into what happened. But his erratic
behavior is not really sort of proving his innocence on this, if you will.

SHARPTON: Now, the other thing here, Toure, is he needs to take away the
traffic study thing or some do so it takes away the political angle. I
mean, he kept referencing the supposed traffic study, some of his
appointees at the port authority claim was being conducted. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: I still don`t know whether there was a traffic study that
morphed of --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: You still don`t know at this point whether
there was a traffic study?

CHRISTIE: Well, what I`m saying, Eric, is did this start as a traffic
study but then morphed into some political shenanigans, or did it start as
political shenanigans that became a traffic study?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, port authority officials have said they had never was any
traffic study. So why does Christie still insist that this was what was
going on?

TOURE: And maybe this is the little log that he is able to hold on to keep
the river from just whooshing him away and over the falls. I don`t know.
This is the best he can come up with. This is a guy who we have looked at
as a talented politician. But it is hard, reverend, to fight a multi-front
war. He has got Dawn Zimmer coming in this way and the GWB coming in this
way, and the U.S. attorney coming the other way.

The guy is just one e-mail, one leak, one more mayor away from the whole
thing imploding. And Rev., the only thing that is really keeping him alive
is the folks down the street at that other network, they don`t talk about
this. They talk about Benghazi way more than they talk about bridge gate.
So if you live in that bubble, this story barely exists.

SHARPTON: Well, let me ask you this, Susan. He has also said during the
interview that it only matters if he knew before the bridge closing. Watch
this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: The most important issue is did I know anything about the plan
to close these lanes, did I authorize it, did I know about it, did I
approve it, did I have any knowledge of it beforehand? And the answer is
still the same. It`s unequivocally no.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I mean, even if Christie didn`t know about it beforehand,
doesn`t it matter, Susan, that he respond when he did find out about it and
what he did about it and what he looked into? I mean, he can`t set the
clock where he wants to. The broncos can`t start the super bowl in the
third quarter.

MILLIGAN: Or the first quarter apparently.

TOURE: Oh.

MILLIGAN: Sorry. Well, I agree. Look, if he had known about it ahead of
time that would kill him. I mean, that would just be horrible. But where
he is giving some very shaded answers here. I mean, he indicated earlier
that he didn`t even know about it when it was going on. And I don`t know
how you don`t know about this huge traffic backup on the world`s busiest
bridge. So, he is going to have to come up with a better explanation.

And as usual, the cover-up is always worse than the original crime. And
it`s unfortunate, because his appeal was always that he was very frank,
very direct. And I think the American public found that very refreshing.
They feel like they get a lot of double-talk from Washington. But all of
these kinds of shaded answers undermine his fundamental strength.

SHARPTON: And Toure, the kind of consciousness and curiousness and
vagueness taken weeks before he goes on radio last night, take nothing
questions. Now, this is not the image of the guy who had nothing to hide,
I`m in your face, come what may. This is not the Chris Christie brand that
he built.

TOURE: That`s right. And it does fit into the narrative that we have had
too long that he is a bully, right? That he does things the way he wants
to. He bulldozes over people. So when you have allegations that fit into
the narrative, whether or not the U.S. attorneys can ultimately prove it
and find that smoking gun in a political world, right in the court of
public opinion, folks have got to be like, yes.

And this is national, because he`s got to be able to raise funds for the
Republican governors association. If he can`t fly around to Dallas and
Chicago and these other places, raising funds for these 22 Republican
governors who are up in November, then he can`t help them and it becomes a
national problem for them.

SHARPTON: Susan Milligan and Toure, we`re going to have to leave there it.
Thanks again for coming on the show tonight.

TOURE: Thank you.

MILLIGAN: Thank you.

SHARPTON: And don`t forget to watch Toure on "the Cycle" weekdays right
here at 3:00 p.m. on MSNBC.

Still ahead, Chris Christie`s other headache, the growing scandal over
hurricane Sandy funds. Where they used to score political points? Big
news tonight.

Also, a Republican town hall where voters said some shocking things about
the president. How did the Republican congressman respond? We`ll show you
the tape that is raising a lot of questions today. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Before the bridge scandal hit governor Chris Christie`s got
credit for reaching across the aisle to work with President Obama in the
days following hurricane Sandy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: The president is great. I spoke to him three times yesterday.
The president has been all over this, and he deserves great credit. The
president has been outstanding in this and so the folks at FEMA.

I cannot thank the president enough for his personal curb and compassion
for the state and for the people of our state.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: But now, there are questions about whether he used Sandy aid as
a political tool and a political weapon. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Today Governor Chris Christie tried to get back to business as
usual. He spent the day talking about Hurricane Sandy relief, promising
storm victims who are still waiting for help that more aid is on the way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: So folks who have not yet gotten back
in their home, or have their home elevated or feel safe again are saying
well, I know you have helped a lot of people, but when is mine? I get it.
And what I`m saying is we`re doing the best we can going as quickly as we
can to get it done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Until recently, this was the issue that Christie hope would all
be talking about. After all, his storm response made his national
reputation. But after the storm, he was everywhere, building his
reputation as someone willing to work across the aisle. It was a huge part
of his re-election appeal in a blue state. And a huge part of why he was
talked about as a national contender. That was then. This is now.
Earlier this month, the mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey told MSNBC Steve
Kornacki, that Christie`s team warned her they would withhold Sandy relief
funds unless she approved a development deal. And now Steve reports the
politics of Sandy funds were beyond Hoboken.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: We`re going start with a story that made news
this week. It`s a story you probably already know about. It was reported
on Tuesday night by the Newark Star Ledger that Christie himself had
aggressively pushed $6 million in Sandy money for the development of a
senior citizen housing complex in the town of Belleville, New Jersey. Sure
enough, just after Christie took part in that groundbreaking ceremony for
the Belleville project last May, the mayor of Belleville did endorse him.
So that was the news this week. Six million dollars in city money steer
toward this project.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The governor`s office has denied anything improper, and this
week the head of the recovery effort said, quote, "Politics has played
absolutely no role in disaster recovery." But New Jersey`s largest paper,
the Newark Star Ledger says Christie used Sandy money as a political slush
fund, and says, quote, "this was about politics and that is simply wrong."
Sandy victims everywhere should be furious.

Joining me now is Bob Ingle. He is author of "Chris Christie: The Inside
Story of His Rise to Power." Bob, first, thanks for being here tonight.

BOB INGLE, AUTHOR, AUTHOR, "CHRIS CHRISTIE: THE INSIDE STORY OF HIS RISE TO
POWER": Glad to be here, Rev.

SHARPTON: How serious are all of these questions about the Sandy relief
funds?

INGLE: I think it`s very serious. But one thing you have to keep in mind,
you know how federal regulations are, you get a stack about that high. And
within that, the locals are given a lot of leeway to do things as they want
to do.

SHARPTON: Sure.

INGLE: Now what the administration has said and what you just repeated is
there is no politics involved. So the problem is proving that it really
was made on a political decision.

SHARPTON: Now, a new analysis by WNYC of one of Sandy`s grant programs
found, quote, "multiple irregularities in how funds were distributed." An
analysis showed Hoboken has been awarded the same amount as two much
smaller towns, neither of which experienced much damage from Sandy or
previous storm. Which the reporter said could lend credence to Mayor
Zimmer`s claim that Hoboken was shortchanged. Now the governor`s office
says the grant process is ongoing, but what does this say to you?

INGLE: Well, it says to me that they`re going to have to be doing some
more digging before they have that smoking gun that we`re always talking
about. Because on the surface they can say this fit all the regulations.
And until you get into the minutia and the dotting of the I`s and the
crossing of the T`s, it`s just he said-she said kind of stuff.

SHARPTON: Now, you know, they also reported at WNYC that last year the
Sandy contractors gave $300,000, more than $300,000 to the Republican
Governor`s Association, and the Governor`s Association, the Republican
Governor`s Association gave Governor Christie $1.7 million for his re-
election campaign. You`ve been covering things a long time. Doesn`t that
seem a little odd to you?

INGLE: Odd is not the way I would describe it, Rev. Before this book, I
had a book called "The Soprano State: New Jersey`s Culture of Corruption."
New York Times best-seller. Everywhere I went across the country, people
would say how would they get by with this stuff? And it`s very simple.
It`s not illegal.

SHARPTON: It`s not illegal.

INGLE: Well, making contributions, you know, first you have to prove that
they expected to get something particular back. But in New Jersey,
development is the mother`s milk of politics. They give to candidates
expecting to get something back in the way of contracts. And developments
always have a lot of contracts, lawyer, consultants, building, the whole
thing. It is the way they do business in Jersey.

SHARPTON: Now, there is some that speculate that there may have been some
of these developments that may have been the real motive around even the
bridge -- the bridge closings. Do you see any credibility into that?

INGLE: Steve Kornacki actually was the first to come up with that. When
this first happened, there was nobody who believes really that it had to do
with a senator who didn`t vote for a judge or it had to do with a mayor who
didn`t endorse this governor. We knew there was something else. We just
didn`t know what it was. Steve Kornacki looked at the map, and he saw that
this development that is planned needed to have access to the bridge. And
if you cut back that access, it would lower the value of the development
and maybe even stop it. That has a lot more meat on it to me following
Jersey as I have than the mayor didn`t endorse a governor. I just never
could believe that.

SHARPTON: Wow. Well, we still don`t know what happened, but it`s getting
more and more interesting. Thank you so much, Bob Ingle for coming. Thank
you for your time tonight.

Up next, the Republican town hall that includes some stunning rhetoric
about President Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: The only way I see out of this is to overwhelmingly
change the Senate.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: So that we then can impeach the SOB.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: We`ll show you what the Republican lawmaker said to that voter.

Also, what is wrong with this picture? It`s part of a new GOP dirty tricks
campaign. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Over the past few days, we`ve seen a stampede of Republicans
call the president lawless. Today Senator Ted Cruz said the president
disregards the law. Just this weekend, Congressman Paul Ryan and Eric
Cantor trotted out similar lines. It`s all variations of what we have seen
from the right time and again. Calls for impeachment, conspiracies that
the president was born in Kenya, loose talk of him being a dictator. And
instead of putting an end to this toxic talk, some on the right seem to
revel in it. The latest example comes from an event involving GOP
Congressman Jim Bridenstine. The video was posted on conservative website
World Net Daily and they say it`s likely it was recorded in the past few
months. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Obama, he is not president as far as I`m concerned.
He should be executed. He is an enemy combatant, really. Muslims that he
is shipping into our country through pilots and commercial jets, I can`t
tell you, I can`t say because this is a public place, this guy is a
criminal. Nobody is stopping him. And the other thing too, Congress doing
nothing, that legally allows this moron to make decisions. He has no
authority, none. And he is just -- and we just said oh, yes, we should do
this and we should do that, but nobody is doing anything to accomplish
anything.

REP. JIM BRIDENSTINE (R), OKLAHOMA: Look, everybody knows the lawlessness
of this president. He picks and chooses which laws he is going to enforce
or not enforce. He does it by decree.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The congressman is told the President should be executed. And
he says nothing? Our president is called an enemy combatant, and the
congressman doesn`t even condemn it? No, he doesn`t. He simply uses this
as an opportunity to call President Obama lawless. And then this happens.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRIDENSTINE: I have time for one more question. Yes, ma`am?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: The only way I see out of this is to overwhelmingly
change the Senate.

BRIDENSTINE: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: So that we then can impeach the SOB.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

BRIDENSTINE: You know, you look so sweet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Laughter, laughter when the president is described that way.
Whatever happened to reasonable disagreement? What happened to leadership
in Washington? What happened to simple decency? We have e-mailed the
congressman`s office for a statement. As of yet we`ve gotten no response.

Joining me now are Michelle Cottle and Goldie Taylor. Thank you both for
coming on the show tonight.

MICHELLE COTTLE, "THE DAILY BEAST": Thanks, Reverend.

GOLDIE TAYLOR, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Goldie, how can an elected member of Congress hear vicious
rhetoric like this and simply let it go?

TAYLOR: He can do it if he has a very, very conservative base with his
county GOP. He can do it if he has a very conservative red district. He
can do it if his national party, people like Reince Priebus, you know, fail
to call him out on a daily basis. I mean, he can get away with this kind
of thing. The fact of the matter is the people who are uttering words of
impeachment are people who don`t understand the standard of law that it
takes to bring an impeachment, articles of impeachment. They don`t
understand the process that it takes to work its way through the House and
through the Senate. What they really don`t understand is what an
impeachment process really does to this country. It shuts down everything.
It shuts down the talk about jobs. It shuts down talk about growing this
economy.

SHARPTON: But before they can shut it down, they have to have something to
try an impeachment on. There is not even a charge.

TAYLOR: And that is the legal basis.

SHARPTON: And they`re not even Michelle, acting like this a charge.
They`re just calling him lawless without even saying breaking what law. If
the lawlessness is reflected by his saying he is going to use an executive
order, he is the least one to use it. He has used it least of any
president in the last six or seven presidents. So that can`t be serious,
Michelle.

COTTLE: It`s not so much serious. It`s just the way the game is now
played. Everybody likes a strong president while their team is in power.
And then when the other team is in power, they`re just outraged and
scandalized about how he is abusing the constitution. But especially with
this president, there is a big section of the Republican base that just
views him as illegitimate. And they don`t care how they get him out of
office or how they negate his presidency. They just can`t quite believe
they`ve been saddled with someone whose legitimately they just refuse to
acknowledge.

SHARPTON: You know, Goldie, this wasn`t the first time the GOP lawmakers
have failed to condemn this kind of language that we heard in that room
with this congressman. Take a listen to town hall last summer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: What I need from you is to know what you can do, you
and your fellow non-communist colleagues in the lower house, what you can
do to stop these communist tyrannical executive orders laid down by this
foreign-born, American-hating communist despot. What can you do for me?

(APPLAUSE)

We need to know.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: So thank you for your question. He said it loud
enough that you all heard it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So, I mean, we can disagree without being disagreeable. We can
go through our differences without being ugly. And this is the kind of
stuff, I mean, you always going to have friends. You always going to have
people that will say extreme things.

TAYLOR: Sure.

SHARPTON: But whatever happened to leadership, Goldie. Whatever happened
to people saying, wait a minute, maybe when I use younger and more stride
and I would say irresponsible things, but I`m not going to tolerate the
president or anyone being characterized or in some ways threatened. Let`s
deal with the issues in the policy. What happened to that kind of
leadership?

TAYLOR: Well, that kind of leadership seems not to exist today, at least
on this issue. At the end of the day, we`re talking about a small group of
party activists, the people who run county and state parties. And these
are the people who really work campaigns. These are the people who show up
and show out at every election. These are the people who raise those small
dollar contributions to fuel campaigns. So, this is the kind of base that
you want to placate. You know, but the problem here is that it gets
dangerous. This stuff doesn`t happen in a bubble anymore. Your
independents, your more moderate Republicans, they begin to hear this kind
of ugliness come up out of their own party, and you begin to lose your
moderate Republicans, you begin to lose independents, and you become a
localized party, never able to recapture a national election.

SHARPTON: Michelle, Senator Ted Cruz called in to Glenn Beck`s program
today. And here is what he had to say. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: There is a pattern of lawlessness in this
administration that is breathtaking. We have never seen a president like
President Obama who if he doesn`t agree with the federal law, he refuses to
enforce it, and he openly defies it over and over and over again. He
simply disregards the law. And that ought to concern everybody. Unchecked
power in the presidency, an imperial presidency, it`s fundamentally
inconsistent with individual liberty.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Imperial presidency, unchecked power. It seems to be the new
line they`re running down, Michelle. Of course, they never in any way give
an example even remotely of what they`re talking about. But they are
repetitive with this new line, imperial presidency, unchecked power.

COTTLE: You know, in this case, they talk about appointments,
controversial appointments to the Labor Relations Board or laws that he
chose not -- that the president has ostensibly chosen not to, you know,
enforce. But it all comes down to Ted Cruz knows which side his bread is
buttered on. He has risen to power and made a name for himself by playing
to the passions and paranoia of a lot of people in the base who just can`t
quite believe this president, you know, is still in office. So I think
kind of the extreme language plays very well with the people he is talking
to. And he is not really all that worried about a broad-based appeal right
now.

SHARPTON: You know, Goldie, Senator Chuck Grassley is demanding a legal
defense for the president`s use of executive actions. Now during his time
on Capitol Hill, he has seen seven different presidents govern, all of whom
have used the executive orders. What difference is it about President
Obama?

TAYLOR: Well, you know, there are many, many clear differences about
President Obama. But chief among them is that, you know, he was elected by
a new class of voters who came up and showed up and showed out. And that,
you know, the electorate is expanding. What is different about Obama is
that tomorrow, tomorrow`s election is going to look very different for
Republicans. That they have to look about a new way about winning, because
this president has truly changed the game. And so, what is different here
is the fear is stoked higher by any number of reasons.

SHARPTON: In your view, Michelle, are they playing to the crowd? I`m
talking about some of the far right leadership. Are they playing to the
crowd? Are they really people that came out of the crowd and believed
this?

COTTLE: Well, I think it`s split. Ted Cruz is a really smart guy, but he
is also extremely conservative. And he has to walk that fine line. But,
yes, he is playing to some of the most kind of conspiracy theory minded
folks in the party.

SHARPTON: Well, I`m going to have to leave it there. And if we hear from
Congressman Bridenstine`s office, we will let you know. Michelle Cottle
and Goldie Taylor, thanks for your time this evening.

TAYLOR: Thanks, Reverend.

COTTLE: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Ahead, the GOP has a new plan to win elections, and how is this
for transparency? It involves a fake website. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Republicans have a new not so secret plan to win elections.
Create a fake website. Really? Yes, really. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Consumer advocates always say you`ve got to read the fine print.
Well, apparently that`s even true for politics. Here is a website that
appears to be for a democratic Congresswoman from Arizona who is running
for re-election. You get to this website if you type in
"Contribute.SinemaforCongress.com." See the large print? Kyrsten Sinema
for Congress. But what does the fine print say? Quote, "Make a
contribution today to help defeat Kyrsten Sinema and candidates like her."
Defeat her, but the website says Kyrsten Sinema for Congress. I was
confused until I read the even smaller fine print all the way at the bottom
of the page.

It says, "Paid for by the National Republican Campaign Committee. The
NRCC. That`s the official Republican Election Committee in the House, and
they have targeted other democratic candidates with the same dirty trick.
We`ve already seen one voter come forward to say he donated to the scam by
mistake, and now the Republicans are paying him back. We`ve seen dirty
tricks from the GOP before, but now those dirty tricks are being updated
for the dotcom era. So be careful, and watch. And always remember, those
that try to achieve power in a dirty way usually will handle power in a
dirty way. Vote and choose your person or your candidate, but make sure if
they respect you, that they are direct and transparent.

Thank you for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST, "HARDBALL": Rowing disclosure. Let`s play HARDBALL.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
END

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