February 10, 2014
Guests: Emanuel Cleaver; Frank Pallone, Faith Jenkins, Ken Padowitz, Donte
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening, Ed. And thanks to you
for tuning in.
Developing news tonight, getting tough. Late today, the New Jersey
committee investigating bridge gate turned up the heat. They voted to
enforce subpoenas for documents issued to two key figures, Bridget Kelly
and Bill Stepien, threatening to hold them in contempt if they don`t
comply. Bridget Kelly is the former deputy chief of staff who sent that
infamous, time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee. Bill Stepien is the
former campaign manager who called the mayor of Fort Lee an idiot. They
were part of the governor`s inner circle, and they have been at the center
of this story since it broke last month. Governor Christie had harsh words
for both of them at the time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I have not had any conversation with
Bridget Kelly since the e-mail came out. And so she was not given the
opportunity to explain to me why she lied, because it was so obvious that
she had. And I`m quite frankly not interested in the explanation at the
moment. My decision on Bill was made based on the fact of the tone, the
tenor and the conduct that was evidenced in those e-mails. I lost
confidence in his judgment. And that`s why I made the decision I made as
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Again, both Bridget Kelly and Bill Stepien have taken the fifth,
refusing to turn over documents to lawmakers. Now lawmakers are pushing
back hard. This news comes as the investigation gets wider and deeper.
Today New Jersey lawmakers approved about a dozen new subpoenas. It`s on
top of the 18 already issued to individuals and two to organizations. And
tonight, the pressure is building on the people who work closest to
Joining me now is Congressman Frank Pallone, Democrat from New Jersey and
MSNBC`s Steve Kornacki, who has done so much great reporting on this story.
Thank you for being on the show, both of you, tonight.
REP. FRANK PALLONE (D), NEW JERSEY: Thanks.
SHARPTON: Congressman, let me go to you first. You`re a lawyer. What do
you make of today`s threat to hold Bridget Kelly and Bill Stepien in
PALLONE: Well, I think it`s inevitable that that`s what the committee
would do if they`re not cooperating. I think it`s unfortunate that they`re
not cooperating, you know, because from the perspective of the public, you
know, we need to get to the bottom of this and find out what actually
happened. As you know, I`m very concerned about the abuse of power and the
possibility that, you know, that the Christie administration was, you know,
trading Sandy money for approvals of developments in Hoboken, you know, for
other favors. And I think that they`re an important part of getting to the
truth. So, you know, keep the pressure on.
SHARPTON: Well, you know, when you hear this, Steve, and you know a
layman, I`m not a lawyer, a layman`s question is why would they not want to
cooperate? And the fact that this is big news that they may be hit with
contempt, how do you read this?
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST, UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI: I`m not a lawyer
SHARPTON: But you have driven this story.
KORNACKI: Well, yes.
SHARPTON: You have.
KORNACKI: I`ll be happy to take the compliment. One of the explanations
that has been given is you sort of have this investigation proceeding on
two tracks. You have you the legislature that is looking into this, and
you have the U.S. attorney who is looking into this in some way, right? So
take like Bill Stepien, for instance. Bill Stepien is subpoenaed by this
legislative committee, but the Christie reelection campaign has been
subpoenaed by the U.S. attorney`s office. So now Bill Stepien was the
campaign manager for that reelection campaign. So as far as we know, he
personally hasn`t been subpoenaed by the U.S. attorney, but the
organization he was running has been. So, I think from a legal standpoint,
I think there is some concern here on the part of these lawyers that, hey,
you know, you don`t want be exposed to the same questioning from two
different panels. And so, one of the questions this raise series the
question that has been out there the whole time and is there going to come
a point when the U.S. attorney for New Jersey steps in and basically said
when it comes to Stepien, when it comes to Bridget Kelly, when it comes to
the whole investigation, I`ve got this. And he is so far he has given this
committee the green light. But that question is still out there.
SHARPTON: Yes. But we don`t know whether that will happen or when that
will happen. But we do know, Steve, that at different times, Stepien and
Bridget Kelly occupied an office very close to Christie`s office. It was
on the same floor in the state house separated by just one room. So in
terms of physical proximity they were close to Christie. And anyone
looking into this would want to know what they knew and what they may have
had in their files.
KORNACKI: Absolutely. To get to the bottom of this, Bridget Kelly is -- I
mean, Bridget Kelly, David Wildstein, Bill Stepien and Bill Baroni, I mean,
these are the people you really need to know everything that they know.
The question is how you going to get it out of them. Are we looking at a
protracted legal fight for a committee to assert its authority to force
this information from them? Are they going to have to go down that road to
get this information out of them or is the U.S. attorney going to compel it
from them? I think that`s the question right now.
SHARPTON: Let me go to another issue with you, Congressman. We also today
learned among the 12 new subpoenas that I referred to is a demand for the
records for the use of Governor Christie`s state helicopter that includes
records from September 11th, day three of the closings. Governor Christie
was in New York City that day and was with port authority officials,
including David Wildstein. Now, what could the records of the helicopter
that the governor used, what could that tell us?
PALLONE: Well, again, you know, there has been a long history of the
Christie administration not providing documents. I mean, even with the
issue that I raised with the stronger than a storm TV ad campaign, the
Asbury Park press had asked for documents that haven`t been forthcoming.
So, they haven`t provided a lot of the documents that are necessary and
In this case, obviously, it would show to what extent or could show to what
extent the governor knew what was happening at the port authority. So that
could relate to both bridge gate as well as Mayor Zimmer`s allegations
about the development in Hoboken where the port author or some of the
people were involved.
But, you know, the governor said he was going to provide everything and
cooperate. He hasn`t been doing that with these documents. And that`s why
I think it`s important that these documents not only these documents come
forth, but anything else that is related to the investigation.
SHARPTON: Congressman, you know, according to a report this weekend,
Governor Christie didn`t know than memo attacking David Wildstein. He also
said he didn`t know about the lane closing, David Wildstein or the Fort Lee
mayor. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIE: I had no knowledge or involvement in this issue, in its planning
or its execution. I think some of the stories impute like an emotional
relationship and closeness between me and David that doesn`t exist. Mayor
Sokolich was never on my radar screen. I have to tell you, until I saw his
picture last night on television, I wouldn`t have been able to pick him out
of a lineup.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: He didn`t know Sokolich, he didn`t know Wildstein well, he
didn`t know anything. I mean, supposedly we come back with the helicopter
record saying that he flew over the Gorge Washington bridge those days, is
he going to say he didn`t look down? I mean, where does this end?
PALLONE: It`s hard to believe that he didn`t know all these things, you
know. He has a reputation of being a micromanager, being very much in
charge. You know, these people are his close assistants. You know, some
of this is getting truly hard to believe. And I don`t really understand
why he continues to say he doesn`t know these people well who were some of
his closest advisers. It`s very hard to believe, Al.
SHARPTON: What sticks out to you, Steve, about these subpoenas? What
grabbed you when you heard this today about these subpoenas?
KORNACKI: Well, the interesting thing is the new subpoenas. So we have
we, we have a dozen new subpoenas that are going to be going out. And I`m
looking at all of the subpoenas that are already out there, all of the
names, all of the organizations that have already been subpoenaed. I`d say
who is this? This is a genuine mystery. And we haven`t seen the names
leak yet of who these people are. Is there an indication in 12 new
subpoenas going out that the scope of this has widened at all? Is it going
in a new direction at all? So, I think everybody is waiting to see right
now. Give us the names of the 12.
SHARPTON: Let me throw this (INAUDIBLE). Lawyers for the governor`s
office are seeking the interview and the receipt documents from Hoboken
mayor Dawn Zimmer, and you brought Dawn Zimmer to public attention, and her
attorney denied the request. Quote, "the question whether it is
appropriate for the governor`s office in essence to be investigating
itself, particularly when an investigation of the same subject matter is
being conducted by the U.S. attorney`s office."
What do you think of the governor`s office and the internal investigation
saying they want the documents and they want to interview Dawn Zimmer?
KORNACKI: It was -- I thought it was a little curious. It`s especially
curious when you know that the U.S. attorney is already looking into it.
She has already spoken with the U.S. attorney. You know, one of the
readings that I heard, you know, calling around today was that it may be an
effort by the governor`s office to sort of send a message, to send a
message to other mayors out there, to other political leaders out there
like Dawn Zimmer, sort of a message of, you know, we`re ready to play
SHARPTON: Congressman you have been very concerned about the Sandy funds.
How do you read this letter of inquiry from the governor`s office, his
attorneys handling this investigation?
PALLONE: Well, have I the same concern that Steve does which is this
another form of threat. You know, I`ve been very concerned about the
bullying and the threats over the years that have come out of the Christie
administration. And so, you know, this is part of the same MO of sort of
threatening people or making them think, you know, we`re watching you. So
watch what you do. And that`s very unfortunate, because, you know, again,
the governor is a public official. He should be doing, you know, what is
in the interests of the state and not, you know, continuing these threats,
this bullying, and ultimately what seems to be abuse of power.
SHARPTON: All right, I`m going to have to leave it there.
Congressman Frank Pallone and Steve Kornacki, thanks to both of you for
your time tonight. And be sure to watch "Up with Steve Kornacki" weekends
at 8:00 a.m. eastern right here on MSNBC.
Coming up, the prosecution rests in the loud music murder trial with 17-
year-old Jordan Davis killed in self-defense, or was it murder? The
defendant`s fiancee was emotional on the stand.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As we were walking to the register, did you hear
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did you hear?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I heard pop, pop, pop.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Plus, the coverage of a college football start coming out. He`d
be the first openly gay NFL player. Why Michael Sanders is a groundbreaker
and inspiration to all.
And surprising news on George Zimmerman`s so-called celebrity boxing match.
Big show ahead. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: Developing news tonight in the murder trial of a man who shot
and killed a teenager after complaining about loud music. The prosecution
rests. And now the big question, will the shooter testify? And will he
claim stand your ground? Stay with us.
SHARPTON: Here`s a memo for CEOs everywhere. If you`re cutting retirement
benefits, don`t try to justify it by blaming sick babies. That`s what the
head of AOL did last week, announcing cuts to employees` 401(k) plans. Tim
Armstrong cited one reason in particular, two sick babies, born to AOL
employees. The remarks set off a wave of criticism. And now the mother of
one of those babies is speaking out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEANNE FEI, MOTHER OF SICK BABY: To me, there did sound like the
implication that somehow we were greedy consumers of health care benefits
that we had kind of gobbled up more than our fair share of the pie. It did
feel like a violation of my family`s privacy, and it also felt like a
complete dehumanization of my daughter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The AOL CEO has apologized. The company has reinstated its
401(k) plan, or policy, and it should. After all, AOL only brought in $2.3
billion in revenue last year. And Mr. Armstrong earned $12.1 million
himself. But still they blamed sick babies for cuts to retirement plans?
That is shameful, but it`s what we have come to expect from the one
percent. One billionaire compared the treatment of the one percent to the
holocaust. Another said this --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The, quote, one percent are being pummeled because it`s
politically convenient to do so. The one percent work harder.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The one percent work harder? Try telling that to folks working
two or even three jobs just to get by. Arguments like that are getting
harder to swallow at a time when we`re fighting to raise just minimum wage
or extend jobless benefits, and make this country more fair for everyone.
Joining me now are Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, Democrat from Missouri, and
Krystal Ball, co-host of "the Cycle" here on MSNBC.
Thank you both for coming on the show tonight.
KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC HOST, THE CYCLE: Thanks for having us, Rev.
REP. EMANUEL CLEAVER (D), MISSOURI: Good to be here, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Congressman, what does this whole AOL controversy reveal about
the debate over inequality and workers rights today?
CLEAVER: Well, first of all, I think it`s very sick. And I`m willing to
get a room for them if they want to start a whining caucus of millionaires
and billionaires. But that`s what I think Mr. Armstrong is doing is trying
to become the chair.
SHARPTON: They may want a suite.
CLEAVER: I`m sorry. I apologize. You know, look, one percent of the
people in this country are earning 20 percent of the wages. And that`s 10
percent up from the 1970s. And, look, nobody is trying to say that these
people shouldn`t have money, many of them earned it. Many of them, not all
of them, many of them earned it. The problem is that the disparity is
growing in part because the wealthy are not paying their fair share of the
taxes. And that`s all the president is saying. Nobody is saying let`s go
and take their money from them and this guy is talking about the holocaust.
Everybody wants to bring in Hitler to their cause and this is ignorance.
And we`ve got to wipe away that from the whole discussion place. This is
sick for a bunch of billionaires to stand up and try to whine.
SHARPTON: You know, the thing that is striking to me, Krystal, is that it
is one thing to disagree in terms of the economic inequality debate. There
are legitimate arguments on both sides, but it`s almost like a contempt for
poor people that are being expressed by some.
SHARPTON: Not all, but some billionaires and some rich people. Like how
dare you. And I think the mother whose baby was called out by the AOL CEO,
she wrote an article about it. She says it best. She says, quote, "he
exposed the most searing experience of our lives for no other purpose than
an absurd justification for corporate cost-cutting."
SHARPTON: It`s like their lives and their experience doesn`t matter.
They`ll just use that for something like cutting costs for corporations.
BALL: Yes. They were just lines on the ballot sheet.
BALL: And I think it also exposes this idea that if there were increased
costs on the side of the workers, there was no way it was going to come out
of Tim Armstrong`s share or the shareholders` share at a time when the
company is making record profits. It was going to have to come from other
workers to make up that difference if there were increased costs.
And I think it also exposes the fact that workers in this country now have
so little power. There was just this expectation that they would just have
to take those benefit cuts and they would have to deal with it, and that
the explanation didn`t matter, and that it didn`t need to be rational,
because they were going to have to deal with it. And they were met with
this overwhelming wave of criticism, of backlash, and were forced to
backtrack and reinstate the benefits they were trying to cut. It shows
that people have much more of a voice, and that workers have much more
power than I think a lot of CEOs realize.
SHARPTON: Yes, and you know, Congressman, when you look at the fact that
we`re in a midterm election year and the majority of mention believed that
the Republican party is focused on the wealthy. In fact, a poll this week
shows that 69 percent think the GOP`s policies favor the rich. Do you
think that this kind of feeling is going to be reflected in the elections
this year where people will come out and try and vote based on their
economic concerns about equality?
CLEAVER: Well, there are more of us than them. And I think it`s also
important to realize that the people around the country who are suffering,
you know, many of them were having out of money experiences as a result of
the 2008 financial disaster that struck the country.
CLEAVER: And people are angry. And I think that Democrats ought to be
willing to talk about the imbalance in income in this country. You know,
there is a scripture first hymn of chapter 67 maybe the tenth verse that
people misquote all the time which says money is the root of all evil.
Well, money is not the root of all illness, (INAUDIBLE) anyway. But
brokenness is the root of all evil.
If you want to see some evil, look at what happens to poor people when
they`re broke. And I think now people who are broke are going to have a
chance to vote against people who actually come to Washington and work
against them every single day in the House of Representatives.
SHARPTON: I would only suggest one preacher to another if you want to see
more evil, try to find a rich guy that goes broke. Now that`s an evil guy.
But Krystal, you know, the Republicans have opposed minimum wage, which is
another issue in this quest of dealing with economic security for the
people that are working middle class and even working lower class. But
they`re Republicans that, not only against raising the minimum wage,
they`re against the minimum wage altogether. Look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Do you advocate getting rid of the minimum
wage? Would that create more jobs?
RON PAUL (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Absolutely. And it would
help the poor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Do you think for abolishing the minimum wage?
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: Well, I think that we need to look
at all of the factors that go into job creation. And I think that`s
something that obviously Congress would have to take a look at.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I want people to make as much as they can.
I don`t think the minimum wage law works.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you do not belief in the concept of the minimum
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s correct.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You would abolish the minimum wage?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Correct.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: I mean, it`s almost like we don`t want to extend benefits for
the long-term unemployed. We don`t want to deal with 401(k) plans with
some of the private sector.
SHARPTON: We don`t want the minimum wage. It`s like there is no guarantee
for anything other than the super wealthy in this country. They can get
tax breaks. They can get what they need to continue to make money in the
name of one day it may trickle down to you guys.
BALL: Right. And that idea of trickle down has been I think at this point
thoroughly debunked when you see the soaring heights of inequality that we
And to your point, Rev, I think this idea of abolishing the minimum wage
altogether is much more pervasive within the Republican Party than you
would think. When I was running for Congress, my opponent was asked about
this and he said we should get rid of it all together.
It`s the logical outgrowth of their argument, which also is not true by the
fact that having a minimum wage leads to increased joblessness. So they
think that the free market should have at it to set the level at whatever
they want without any sort of a floor for individuals to be able to live on
those wages and have the dignity of working and supporting their families.
SHARPTON: I`m going to have to leave it there. Congressman Emanuel
Cleaver and Krystal Ball, thank you both for your time this evening.
BALL: Thanks, Rev.
CLEAVER: Good to be with you, Rev.
SHARPTON: And be sure to catch Krystal on "the Cycle" weekdays at 3:00
p.m. eastern right here on MSNBC.
Still ahead, will the shooter testify? A critical moment in the trial of
the man accused of murdering a teenager after a fight over loud music.
And an embarrassing moment for the man who wanted to make Barack Obama a
one-term president, Mitch McConnell is up in tonight`s got you.
SHARPTON: Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has had one deal for
the last five years, block President Obama at every turn.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: Some have said it was
indelicate of me to suggest that our top political priority over the next
two years should be to deny President Obama a second term.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: That was his top priority. Well, that failed. The president
won reelection by five million votes. Maybe senator McConnell should have
spent a little more time helping constituents back home in Kentucky because
President Obama now has a higher approval rate than McConnell in the deep
red state. A state that President Obama lost by 23 points in 2012.
Senator McConnell faces a tough primary challenge and even a tougher
democrat in the fall. No wonder some on the right don`t seem too
enthusiastic about supporting his reelection.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLENN BECK, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: The hardest question that I have for you
and it is this. Why are you endorsing Mitch McConnell?
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I`m here in Texas to endorse Don Huffines.
We have our signals crossed here. I`m going back to Kentucky because he
asked me. He asked me when there was nobody else in the race, and I said
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Ouch. Rand Paul, the other senator from Kentucky only supported
Mitch McConnell because no one else was running at the time? Well, just
moments ago Paul released a statement calling McConnell, quote, "an
important ally and a conservative voice." OK, senator. But did Senator
McConnell think we wouldn`t notice that he spent too much time blocking the
president and not enough helping the bluegrass state? Nice try but we got
SHARPTON: It was a dramatic day inside of a Florida courtroom with stand
your ground again at the center of another controversial murder trial.
It`s the so-called loud music murder trial. In November of 2012, Michael
Dunn opened fire on an SUV full of teenagers parked at a gas station after
an argument about loud music. One of those teens, 17-year-old Jordan Davis
was killed. Today, after four days and 24 witnesses, the state rested
their case, claiming Davis was killed by first-degree murder.
The last two witnesses called to the stand included a gun expert and a
medical examiner on how Jordan was shot. Jurors also saw close-up photos
of Jordan`s body after he was killed. But perhaps the most dramatic moment
came over the weekend when Dunn`s fiancee took the stand. She fought back
tears describing the night of the shooting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIN WOLFSON, PROSECUTOR: As you were walking to the register, did you
hear anything unusual?
RHONDA ROUER, MICHAEL DUNN`S FIANCEE: Yes.
WOLFSON: What did you hear?
ROUER: I heard pop, pop, pop.
WOLFSON: What did you do when you first heard those gunshots?
ROUER: I said "what was that?"
WOLFSON: And were you speaking to the cashier in front of you?
ROUER: Yes, I was.
WOLFSON: What did you hear next?
ROUER: When I heard another pop, pop, pop.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: She also described the moment when they pulled up alongside the
teens` car that was playing the loud music.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOLFSON: Did the defendant say anything about the music when he parked the
car next to the red car?
WOLFSON: And what did the defendant say?
ROUER: "I hate that thug music."
WOLFSON: And what was your response to the defendant?
ROUER: I said yes, I know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The defense is now presenting its case, but the key question is,
will Michael Dunn take the stand in his own murder trial?
Joining me now is Florida criminal defense lawyer Kim Padowitz who has used
stand your ground in trials. And former prosecutor Faith Jenkins. Thank
you both for being here.
FAITH JENKINS, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Thank you.
KIM PADOWITZ, FLORIDA CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER: Thank you.
SHARPTON: I want to hear from both of you on this, starting with you,
Faith. Did the prosecution make the case it was first-degree murder?
JENKINS: I think they did. And I think that they did so rather
convincingly. They knew going into this trial that Michael Dunn admitted
to shooting and killing Jordan Davis and admitted to shooting into the
vehicle. And the question then became was it justified. So his state of
mind at this point becomes key evidence in the trial. And the best
testimony we have so far about Michael Dunn`s state of mind came from his
fiancee. Moments before he shot into the SUV, he said "I can`t stand this
thug music." And they were listening to rap music.
He instantly referred to that music as thug music, hip-hop music. And so
he associated these kids with thuggery, criminals, people who commit crimes
and violence when reality they were just kids going to the mall to flirt
with girls. But that was his mind-set minutes before he pulled the
trigger. And then they focused on his intent. We heard testimony today
that every time he fired that gun, ten rounds, he had to pull the trigger.
SHARPTON: Every time.
JENKINS: Every time.
SHARPTON: It was not one of those autos.
JENKINS: That`s right. Every time he fired, he had to pull the trigger.
SHARPTON: Ken, did the prosecution make the case?
PADOWITZ: They made a very, very strong case for second-degree murder.
And clearly there was evidence that you can argue that goes to first-degree
murder indictment that this man is charged with. It was very, very strong
evidence to show that the gun was fired and required six pounds of pressure
on that trigger, and it was fired six times into that vehicle. No weapon
was found in that vehicle. So it`s a very, very strong second-degree
murder case in my mind.
And like I said, I think there is very good argument for the prosecutor to
make the case that this actually was premeditation. There is no
advertisement limit in Florida law as to how long it takes to premeditate a
murder. And here in just a matter of seconds to get that gun, to load it,
to fire off that many shots, an argument can be made by the prosecutor to
the jury that this was in fact premeditated murder.
SHARPTON: Faith, you mentioned the fiancee. Who was called by the
prosecution in this case, by the way, not by the defense. And in her
deposition to police, however, Dunn`s fiancee said she didn`t know why Dunn
shot at the teens. Quote, "Dunn never told Rouer he saw a gun in the SUV."
He later told police he saw a shotgun. Now nobody so far has said they saw
a gun. Nobody.
SHARPTON: Does this mean Dunn has to testify?
JENKINS: Oh, I think he has to testify. Because he has to say that he was
in fear for his life who else is going to say that at this point it? It
has to be him. And I think in order for it to be enough to justify this
killing, he has to put a weapon in those kids` hands. He is the only
person who can do that. But the fact that she said that in her deposition,
that he never mentioned a gun to her is so compelling here.
SHARPTON: People need to understand she was in the car with him, had got
out and went in the store, and the shooting happened when she was in the
store. She came back and got in the car with him and they pull off. And
he never told her he shot at them because he saw a gun. He told her he
shot at them but not because of a gun.
JENKINS: Nothing about what they did after the shooting says that this man
was a victim of a crime and had to act in self-defense, including the story
about the gun didn`t come up until after he was caught, after the police
caught him. He never called the police the next day.
JENKINS: It never came up. The hours that they spent together that
evening when he went to walk the dog and order pizza and drink a rum and
coke in the hotel room. The gun never came up until after he was caught.
SHARPTON: Ken, would you put him on the stand?
PADOWITZ: Well, absolutely. He has a Fifth Amendment right not to
testify. But if he has any chance of walking out of that courtroom a free
man, he`s got to get on that stand. It`s an affirmative defense in
Florida, self-defense. And the only evidence of self-defense will have to
come from the defendant himself. So he has got to take the stand. I would
put him on stand as a defense attorney, and he`s got to convince that jury
that he believed that he was defending his life, that he observed a weapon
or thought a weapon was being pointed at him. And that he had to fire in
That he had to, of course, the magic words, stand his ground, and fire that
weapon. And the only one who can make that case is a defendant taking the
stand. And now this time he`ll be subject to cross-examination, unlike the
Zimmerman case where the prosecutors made that major error by putting on
all these self-serving statements of the defendants. Here in this case,
there are no self-serving statements. The defendant has to take the stand
and has to be cross-examined by the prosecution in front of that jury.
SHARPTON: Now, one of the reasons, a lot of the nation, including people
like me are watching this aside from the fact here is another young man as
far as anyone can tell unarmed, dead, is the stand your ground law. Here
you have a case where there is an allegation of a gun that no one has seen,
no one has said that they have ever seen. He never brought it up to the
next day, Faith, never even to his own girlfriend, who was right inside
when he did the shooting and got in the car and left with him, you know,
responding to the fact that he had shot this. Stand your ground is as much
a part of what this verdict is going to be as I feel Michael Dunn is.
JENKINS: Right. Because people -- what you`re doing with laws like stand
your ground, you`re making people judge, jury, and executioner in a
moment`s notice when they`re in situation, they`re in a confrontation,
there is no motivation for them to back down, because they know that they
have this law on their side. And when you have on the other side -- the
reason why this case is going to trial is because you have a white man in
his 40s, no criminal record against four black teenagers listening to rap
music. And so one of the inferences that he wants to make in this trial is
of course they had a gun. Of course I was scared for my life. Of course I
had to defend myself. And this law is helping them do that.
SHARPTON: Ken, Faith, we`re going to have to leave it there. Faith
Jenkins and Ken Padowitz, thank you both for your time tonight.
JENKINS: Thank you.
PADOWITZ: Thank you, Rev.
SHARPTON: Coming up, big news on that so-called celebrity boxing match
with George Zimmerman. And a profile in courage. Why the all American
football player coming out as gay transcends sports. NFL veteran Donte
Stallworth joins me next.
SHARPTON: At times, breaking barriers in the world of sports transcends
the game and helps bring change to American society. And right now we`re
watching history in the making. As Michael Sam, a former defensive lineman
for the University of Missouri took a major step for equal rights by
announcing he is gay.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL SAM, ALL-AMERICAN DEFENSIVE LINEMAN: I`m not afraid of who I am.
I`m not afraid to tell the world of who I am. I am Michael Sam. I`m a
college graduate. I`m African-American, and I`m gay.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: There has never been an openly gay player in the NFL. And Sam`s
announcement brought him waves of support, including for President Obama,
who tweeted congratulations on leading the way. That`s real sportsmanship.
The first lady told Sam, quote, "You`re an inspiration to all of us." We
couldn`t be prouder of your courage both on and off the field. But Sam`s
announcement also brought out lots of negative reaction, with some asking
how the news will affect his draft stock. An NFL executives questioning if
the league gets ready for him. And one former coach claiming he is
bringing baggage to the locker room. Here are the facts. Michael Sam came
out to his Missouri teammates last year, and they were one win away from
being the national championship. Didn`t hurt the game at all. He is an
inspiration to all.
Joining me now is Donte Stallworth. He is a ten-year NFL veteran, most
recently playing for the Washington Redskins. Thanks for being with us.
DONTE STALLWORTH, 10-YEAR NFL VETERAN: Thanks for having me on, Reverend.
SHARPTON: You`ve been tweeting about Michael Sam. You said you wish him
the best of luck, and you wrote, "If any NFL team can`t handle the media
coverage of drafting Sam, then your team is already a loser on the field.
Let me tell you why." Well, Donte, tell us why.
STALLWORTH: Well, first of all I want to say congratulations to Michael
Sam in entering the brotherhood of the National Football League, I think
that he is going to be welcomed with open arms and he`s going to get a lot
of support, and more than he knows. First of all, I wanted to say that
there is a multitude of things that can happen during an NFL season,
situations that can arise that you have no control over and you have no
idea when they`re going to come. So if a team is not ready for those type
of situations to handle that when it`s unexpected, how are you not going to
be able to see something from afar as far as Michael Sam`s situation is
He is a great player, and he has done lot of good things that I`ve heard
that I`ve talked to a lot of people that are a part of the Missouri family,
and they said he is a great kid. Said he is a great kid. So, I think the
most important thing that people need to understand with Michael Sam is
that first of all, in an NFL locker room, the only thing that guys care
about is if you can play football or not. And that kid can play football.
He was SEC co-defensive player of the year. And I know a lot of people are
looking forward to watching him play this season.
SHARPTON: Now, Donte, as you said, there is a lot of unexpected things
that can happen with no notice in the season. And if someone can`t handle
something that they know, because this is being brought out now, even
before he is drafted, then they certainly would be hard-pressed, let`s put
that it way, to handle the life of an NFL player when you have to deal with
so many unforeseen crisis, distractions, et cetera.
STALLWORTH: Yes. There is a lot of people that are on the staff within an
organization, the public relations staff that handles the media. And
they`ve dealt with a bunch of different things throughout the past. Now,
this is obviously a unique situation with Michael Sam being the first
openly gay NFL player to be in the National Football League. But if you
look at the model for handling the media, New England with the Patriots,
Bill Belichick and Mr. Kraft, they have done a great job with handling the
Aaron Hernandez situation.
When they picked up Tim Tebow, a lot of people thought that somewhere along
those lines there would be some type of distraction, there never was. And
to me, that`s a model that everyone should follow. If Bill Belichick can
do it with the New England Patriots, and they obviously had a very
successful season, not to mention the many injuries that they had, if they
can do it, then why not -- to me it`s a cop-out for other teams to use that
as an excuse.
SHARPTON: Now, you mention that the only thing that matters in the locker
room is winning. And you`ve tweeted today "in my ten years as an NFL
player, I played for six different teams and have been in every kind of
locker room, vet, young, mature, immature." I mean, what it is like in an
NFL locker room and what kind of environment would he be going in?
STALLWORTH: Every locker room has its own identity. I think that one of
the things that you have to have is major leadership not only within the
locker room, but from the top down of the organization down to the bottom.
Starting with the owner. If the owner is a guy of integrity, which a lot
of the owners that I`ve had the opportunity to play for are, they`ll be
able to handle things. And the head coach, they can really control things.
But the locker room is, it`s a bunch of different guys ranging from ages 21
to mid-30s. And for the most, you know, the unique thing with an NFL
locker room is there are a bunch of different guys. They`re veterans.
They are young guys, they`re guys that are Christians, they are guys that
are atheists. But the one common goal is to win football games. And at
the end of the day, guys, when you`re on the field and when you`re blocking
for your teammate or, you know, you`re catching passes from your
quarterback, you could care less about what their beliefs are off the field
as long as that person comes in and works hard and is determined to prepare
to win a game every week. It`s not going to matter.
SHARPTON: You know, Michael Sam says himself that his sexuality shouldn`t
matter to future teammates. I want to play you what he said. Listen to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAM: It shouldn`t matter. If I can -- if I work hard, if I make plays,
that`s all that should matter. Can he help us win games, is he a team
player? That`s all that should matter. It`s a business workplace, and we
have to act professional.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: It`s a business workplace, the locker room. Do you agree with
STALLWORTH: Very, very wise young man. I`m looking forward to meeting him
one day very soon. And let him know that he`s got a lot of support. It`s
the truth. It`s the truth. I mean, the guys come in and they work hard.
And at the end of the day, everyone wants to put on that ring there is only
one out of 32 teams that can do it. And I look forward to watching him
compete this year, and good luck to him, definitely.
SHARPTON: Donte Stallworth, thank you for your time tonight.
STALLWORTH: Thank you for having me on, Rev.
SHARPTON: Ahead, will George Zimmerman actually get into the ring? Some
big news tonight about that so-called celebrity boxing match.
Plus, a massive march to fight for justice and against those trying to roll
back rights. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: The progressive fight is on in North Carolina. What started as
moral Mondays grew over this weekend to a huge protest with nearly 100,000
protesters in downtown rally fighting against an extreme agenda, an agenda
that trounces voter rights, cuts from the poor, and attacks women`s rights.
Governor McCrory has said these protesters don`t represent the majority of
those who called themselves moral. But I disagree. If you want something,
you need to fight for it. This is what it means to take action. We`ll
know, and we know that they`ll keep coming, but so will the people
SHARPTON: We got some welcome news this weekend. George Zimmerman`s so-
called celebrity boxing match was canceled. The promoter made the
announcement on twitter after days of outrage and criticism. A Facebook
page opposing the fight got over 300,000 likes, and over 28,000 people
signed a petition at whitehouse.gov. That petition blasted Zimmerman and
the promoter for, quote, "Attempting to profit off racial tensions in
America." As I`ve said before, the only reason George Zimmerman is famous
is because he killed an unarmed teenager named Trayvon Martin. That`s it.
And this entire episode is a reminder that we need to be careful about who
we glorify as a celebrity.
There are reports out tonight that yet another promoter is trying to buy
the rights and stage some sort of fight with George Zimmerman. But even if
that does happen, I`m confident Americans will find something better to do
that night than watch Zimmerman enter the ring. On the show, national
radio host Joe Madison said the root of the word celebrity is celebrate.
If Mr. Zimmerman wants to make a living, he has every right to make a
living every way we can. But we also have the right to determine who we
celebrate and what is worth celebrating their rise to fame. And for that I
think people ought to watch and weigh very carefully any support of any
match that is called celebrity boxing match.
Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.
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