updated 2/12/2014 12:04:07 PM ET 2014-02-12T17:04:07

POLITICS NATION
February 11, 2014

Guests: Bonnie Watson Coleman, Ed Rendell, Dana Milbank

REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening, Ed. And thanks to you
for tuning in. I`m live tonight from Washington, D.C.

Tonight`s lead, an amazing day in the so-called loud music murder trial
that has re-ignited the debate about stand your ground. Seven months after
George Zimmerman was acquitted in the killing of Trayvon Martin, saying he
was in fear of his life, Florida`s controversial stand your ground law, a
law that you can use deadly force if you feel threatened, is back in the
national spotlight.

This case began one evening in November 2012 at a gas station in
Jacksonville, Florida. Michael Dunn got into an argument about loud music
with four teenagers sitting inside a parked SUV. Dunn fired ten shots at
the vehicle. One of the teens, 17-year-old Jordan Davis, died at the
scene.

Michael Dunn is charged with first-degree murder. He says the killing was
in self-defense and that the teen threatened him with a gun, but so far no
gun has been found. What this all comes down to is will the jury believe
him? He claims there was a gun, but no one else testified to that.

Today in a riveting courtroom moment, he took the stand himself. For over
three hours, he gave dramatic testimony, and at times he broke down, wiping
away tears. Here is what he says happened after he asked the teenagers in
the SUV to turn down their music.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL DUNN, DEFENDANT: He says yes, I`m going to (bleep) kill you. I
look, and I`m looking at a barrel. He is showing me a gun, and he is
threatening me. He said he was going to f-ing kill me. But after he
opened the door, then he looked at me and said you`re dead, (bleep).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And were you still sitting there in shock?

DUNN: Yes, I was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you in fear for your life?

DUNN: I became even more fearful at that point.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. At that point, what did you believe was about to
happen to you?

DUNN: I thought I was going to be killed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you even think he might even be able to get a shot
off?

DUNN: Yes. Yes, I did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Then he demonstrated for the jury what he says happened next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CORY STROLLA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: If you could, could you show the jury
exactly what you did when you heard "it`s going down now"?

DUNN: Well, if we say over here is my glove box, I`m looking out the
window, and I said you`re not going to kill me you son of a (bleep), and I
shot.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The stand your ground law means that the burden is on the
prosecutors to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Dunn was not in fear
and that there was no gun in the SUV. And that`s where they focused their
cross-examination of Dunn.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN GUY, PROSECUTOR: Let`s talk about what this -- what you saw was. As
you sit here today, what is it now?

DUNN: It was a shotgun.

GUY: It`s a shotgun. OK. What did you tell the sheriff`s office was?

DUNN: I told them it was shotgun.

GUY: Didn`t you tell them it was a -- either a barrel or a stick.

DUNN: Yes, I did. And this is after the police telling me there is no
weapon recovered at the car of the scene, and me believing the police are
competent and able to search the whole area. So by process of elimination,
you know, it`s like some kind of industrial object, a pipe, something that
looked very much like a barrel. No doubt in my mind that that was a
weapon. That that was a firearm. The doubt came in when the police
started telling me that they didn`t recover anything in the car or the
scene. But as we have learned, they didn`t check the scene.

GUY: But you said at that time it could have been a stick?

DUNN: Yes. And again, two hours of sleep, I misspoke. I mean, a stick
doesn`t really do justice to it. Picture anything that looks like a
barrel.

GUY: Detective said at some point it is possible it was your imagination,
and you said yes.

DUNN: No, I did not. And I started to say that anything is possible, but
not likely. And it certainly wasn`t my imagination that he came out of the
car.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Dunn`s fiancee, Rhonda Rouer was with him the night of the
shooting and in the hours after. At the time of the shooting, she was
inside the gas station`s convenience store, and she was back in the car
with him when they drove away from the scene. The prosecution wanted to
know what he told her about the shooting.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You love Rhonda Rouer.

DUNN: Yes, sir, I do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You love her a lot? Right?

DUNN: Yes, sir, I do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you loved her back then, correct?

DUNN: I love her today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: November 23rd, 2012, you were in love with her?

DUNN: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You cared about her?

DUNN: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. And when she got into that car, she asked you
what happened, right?

DUNN: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you told this juror you explained it to her, right?

DUNN: Yes, I did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And she, as you said, was a wreck, right?

DUNN: Yes, she was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because she knew that you had just fired into a car
with human beings inside?

DUNN: She doesn`t understand self-defense, but you are right. She was
very upset over what I had done.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right, right. And so you guys were together for three
miles, and she was hysterical?

DUNN: Crying, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. You didn`t not tell her during that three miles
anyone pointed any weapon at you, did you?

DUNN: I think I did. I think I was very clear that they threatened my
life. I was very clear that they came out of their car, advancing upon me.
And whether she comprehended what I was saying, I couldn`t say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My question was did you tell her they had a weapon of
any kind?

DUNN: Yes, I did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You did? What did you tell her? To the tell the jury
the term you used to describe the weapon.

DUNN: I don`t know what I said, but I told her they had a weapon, they
threatened my life, and they -- he advanced upon me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How did you describe the weapon? Did you say he had a
sword? Did you say they had a machete?

DUNN: Gun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A gun. You used the word gun with Rhonda Rouer?

DUNN: Yes, I did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When? When?

DUNN: Multiple times.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re telling this jury that on the way back to the
hotel you told Rhonda Rouer that the boys in the car had a gun?

DUNN: If I told her on the way to the hotel. I told her several times at
the hotel. I told her several times on the way home that this was self-
defense.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That wasn`t my question.

DUNN: Well, the whole conversation revolved around gun, threat. They came
out of the car at me. So it wasn`t just they had a gun. Because when he
just had a gun, I didn`t shoot him. It wasn`t until he made specific
threats and got out of his car and came after me. So all of that was part
of the conversation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. From the time you left the gate station to
the time you got back to the Sheraton, how many times did you use the word
"gun" to -- let me finish -- to describe what the boys in the car had.

DUNN: I couldn`t tell you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was it at least one?

DUNN: At least one.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHARPTON: But in a surprise twist, prosecutors called his fiancee back to
the stand, and then in a dramatic courtroom moment, she fought back tears
as she contradicted her fiancee`s testimony.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIN WOLFSON, PROSECUTOR: On November 23rd, 2012, after the shooting, when
you came out of the gate gas station and you got into the defendant`s car.

RHONDA ROUER, DEFENDANT`S FIANCEE: Yes.

WOLFSON: Did the defendant ever tell you he saw a gun in that red SUV.

ROUER: No.

WOLFSON: Did the defendant ever tell you that he saw a weapon of any kind
in that SUV?

ROUER: No.

WOLFSON: There was no mention of a stick?

ROUER: No.

WOLFSON: There is no mention of a shotgun?

ROUER: No.

WOLFSON: There was no mention of a barrel?

ROUER: No.

WOLFSON: There was no mention of a lead pipe?

ROUER: No.

WOLFSON: Back in the hotel room, Ms. Rouer that same night, did the
defendant ever tell you he saw the boys with a firearm?

ROUER: No.

WOLFSON: Did he ever tell you he saw the boys with a weapon?

ROUER: No.

WOLFSON: On the two-hour drive back to Brevard the following morning, did
the defendant ever tell you he saw a gun in the SUV?

ROUER: No.

WOLFSON: And on that two-hour drive, did he ever tell you he saw a weapon
of any kind.

ROUER: No.

WOLFSON: In that SUV?

ROUER: No.

WOLFSON: Can I have a moment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The witness testimony is now complete. The jury will hear
closing arguments tomorrow. If convicted, Dunn faces up to life in prison.

Joining me now is Florida criminal defense lawyer Ken Padowitz and former
prosecutor Faith Jenkins. Thank you both for being here.

FAITH JENKINS, FORMER CRIMINAL PROSECUTOR: Thank you.

KEN PADOWITZ, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Ken, a dramatic day of testimony. What`s your reaction to what
we saw?

PADOWITZ: Well, I think when Mr. Dunn took the stand, his testimony was
brilliant. He went on about his defense and how he was in fear and how he
saw a weapon. It was brilliant, brilliant. The only problem, Reverend, is
that his fiancee got on the stand and basically said he was a liar.
Basically took away his credibility with the jury. So this brilliant
testimony by the defendant went poof like a shooting star up in smoke, in
my opinion. That jury, credibility is everything to that jury. And here
in a self-defense case, Mr. Dunn basically had his credibility go down the
drain with the testimony of his fiancee. So I think the prosecution is in
a great position in this case.

SHARPTON: Faith, your views on what happened today.

JENKINS: I mean, here you have Rhonda Rouer, right, his fiancee, she loves
him. She doesn`t want to see him go to jail. She doesn`t want to see him
get into trouble. She obviously doesn`t want to be there on the witness
stand. She comes in and she is sort of reluctantly telling the jury what
the real truth is. And it as minutes after Michael Dunn looks in the
jury`s eyes and tells them they had a gun. They had a weapon. They were
threatening me with their life. Because what better way to bolster his
testimony that he was in fear for his life than to put a gun in Jordan
Davis` hands. But the fact is that night what happened that night, the
minutes after he shot and killed Jordan Davis, he is with his fiancee for
hours, hours after that incident. He never, ever mentions that they
pointed a weapon at him. And now the jury know, they know he was
absolutely lying.

SHARPTON: Now, Ken, the key here is the credibility, as you said, of Dunn,
the defendant. And the entire defense circles around whether there was a
gun or any kind of weapon for that matter in the teens` car. And in an
exchange today, the defense attorney seems to be laying blame on the police
work after the shooting, asking Dunn about the police interview he did.
Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did he tell you if we found any gun, that would be
different?

DUNN: Yes, he did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did he even tell you if we found a water gun that was
paint black, that would be different.

DUNN: Yes, he did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you under the assumption that they actually
searched the plaza for a gun?

DUNN: I was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you under assumption that they actually searched
the Bushes for a gun?

DUNN: I was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you under the assumption that they checked
dumpsters that night for a gun.

DUNN: I was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did they ever convey to you in your interrogation that
nothing was ever checked in the area when they told you we never found a
gun?

DUNN: They did not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Well Ken, will the jury buy this?

PADOWITZ: Well, it`s a good tactic that the defense attorney has to use in
this case. He has to try to poke holes in the investigation by the police,
or lack thereof, to try to show that there was an opportunity for their too
have actually have been a weapon, there to have been a gun, and that it was
disposed of by the other individuals in the car.

The problem here is, again, it rests on credibility of the defendant, even
after we focus on the police investigation. The defendant not saying
anything to his fiancee, the day driving away, not calling the police,
driving away to the hotel, not saying anything to his fiancee about a gun
at the hotel. And the next day driving home and not saying anything about
a gun, that`s going to undermine the good points that the defense attorney
made in front of that jury.

So I think it was the right thing for the defense to do. But I think it`s
going to go, again, down the tube because of the testimony by the fiancee
that Mr. Dunn never said anything about a weapon.

JENKINS: And here is another problem with that. Here is another problem
with that. If he had called the police or stayed at the scene or called
911 and made a report in that moment of the alleged gun, they could have
looked for a gun at the scene. But he didn`t. They didn`t know there was
this alleged gun in the hands of Jordan Davis and his friends until the
next day when the police called him and made him come in and surrender
himself.

So the fact that there was time for these teens to hide a gun in part
because he fled, he is able to benefit from his fleeing and say well, the
police didn`t do their job when in fact they didn`t know to look because he
didn`t stay to tell them.

SHARPTON: I`m going to ask you to hold it right there, Faith, Ken. Please
stay with us.

More on the Michael Dunn trial coming up, including a police tape played in
court today that surprised everyone.

Plus, Chris Christie leaves New Jersey, but he can`t leave behind questions
about the bridge scandal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does the GW bridge situation impact your ability to
execute on those priorities for the state?

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I`m shocked you brought that up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Serious questions tonight about whether Christie`s office will
actually cooperate with investigators.

Also, a big win for President Obama. He stood up to the tea party and they
blinked. We`ll tell you what happened. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Seven months after the George Zimmerman verdict, stand your
ground is back in a major murder trial in Florida. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: One of the reasons the so-called loud music murder trial is so
important is it puts the debate over shoot first law back in the spotlight.
Florida was the first state to add the stand your ground law to its books
in 2005, and it quickly spread to 24 other states. The debate exploded
when we found out an unarmed teenager was killed in Florida. And now once
again it`s sparking controversy in Florida in Michael Dunn`s trial. I
found it interesting to hear him use a lot of the language of the stand
your ground law today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DUNN: I saw two young men with menacing expressions. He is showing me a
gun, and he is threatening me. I was in fear for my life, and I was
probably stunned. I became even more fearful. I thought I was going to be
killed. What went through my mind is that this was a clear present danger,
and I said you`re not going to kill me, you son of a (bleep). It was self-
defense. I had no choice but to defend myself. It was life or death. I
had already been afraid for my life, but now the fear was imminent. I`m
not going to forfeit my life to somebody.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Faith Jenkins, what do you make of the language Michael Dunn
used on the stand?

JENKINS: I think he said all the right buzzwords. He was pretty much a
walking, talking stand your ground statute at one point when he testified
today. I mean, it came across as so inauthentic because real people don`t
talk like that. I mean, he came across as very arrogant and pompous and
absolutely no remorse whatsoever for taking Jordan Davis` life. And that
was reflected throughout his testimony.

But repeatedly using those buzzwords, you know now what his attorneys want
to get up and argue in closing arguments. The jury can`t consider the fact
that he could have left, he could have retreated. If he didn`t like the
loud music, he could have walked away. But in Florida, they can`t consider
that because he has the right to stand his ground.

SHARPTON: But that`s stand your ground, Faith.

JENKINS: Right.

SHARPTON: Because he used not only, yes, buzzwords, but actual words in
the law, in the elements of the law of stand your ground, menacing, things
that are in that law. And that is really what is the point of national
interests in this side is there is a life loss, here is somebody saying
with no one but him saying there was a gun. In fact, his own fiancee
saying he never mentioned a gun to her who was in the store, got in the car
with him right after the shooting and was with him the next two days. She
never heard gun. He is the only one saying that, but he almost
meticulously uses the language of stand your ground in this testimony.

JENKINS: Right. And that is what would make an acquittal this case, why
it would set such a horrible precedent. That you can have somebody come
forward when there is no corroborating evidence whatsoever that there was
actual lay gun. But just based on his words, saying I was in fear for my
life because I thought there was a gun, and you`re able to walk away from a
murder charge because of, that is a very dangerous precedent that could
possibly be set with this case with an acquittal. But I don`t think it`s
going to happen. I think he is going to be convicted.

SHARPTON: But wait a minute. You`re a former prosecutor and lawyer.
You`re saying, because I want people around the country to understand this,
with no corroboration, with no real evidence, just based on someone saying
they thought their life was threatened, they can use the stand your ground
law to get away with killing someone this young man had no record, this
young man, there is no evidence he was doing anything. You`re saying that
according to Florida law, that would be enough if the jury wanted to go
that way.

JENKINS: Well, and his fear has to be reasonable. That`s the other
argument. He is arguing, of course, that it is reasonable, and he is using
all of the language that Jordan Davis said when he spoke to him and the
fact that he got out of the car, and he believes that he saw this gun.
Those are the things, the facts that he is using to support his argument
that he was in actual and reasonable fear for his life.

SHARPTON: Now, Ken Padowitz, Dunn also referred to the people in the car
as gangsters. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why were you behaving that way?

DUNN: I was trying to get her to relax and stop hyperventilating and calm
down, explain to her that it was self-defense. That we were not in trouble
with the police. We might be in trouble with the local gangsters, but not,
you know -- I didn`t do anything wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You thought everybody in the car was a thug or a
gangster, right?

DUNN: After the way they behaved, yes, I did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Thugs and gangsters, Ken. What does that say to the jury about
his mentality at that time?

PADOWITZ: The prosecutor can actually turn this around and use it against
the defendant, because he is saying they`re gangsters and thugs. He drives
back to the hotel, but the testimony is that he left his gun, his self-
defense gun in the car. He doesn`t bring it into the hotel room.

Now, he is afraid of these thugs and these gangsters are going to be coming
after him, yet he doesn`t keep the firearm on his person in order to defend
himself. The prosecution is going to use that in his closing argument
against the defendant, and it`s going to come around and it`s going to hurt
the defense.

SHARPTON: Well, let`s follow that up, Faith. Let me play for you what he
said happened after he got back to the hotel. This is Dunn on the stand
describing what he did when he did get back to the hotel.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You knew nobody was behind you?

DUNN: Well, I didn`t know anything. And like I said, the fear while we
were up in the club room, I agree was irrational, but this is what we were
experiencing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And when you were at the hotel room, you didn`t call
911?

DUNN: I didn`t call the police until the following morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You called the pizza man? Right?

DUNN: Yes. I think I mentioned that. I wanted to get something for
Rhonda to eat to calm her upset stomach.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So he never called the police, even though he was afraid of
gangsters and thugs, but he called for pizza. And he never called the
police until the next day, Faith. How will this play to the jury?

JENKINS: It plays terribly to the jury, because nothing about what he did
says he was the victim of a crime. Here he said he was afraid and looking
out of his hotel window because he think more members of the gang are going
to come after him. Isn`t that more of a reason for you to call 911 because
a gang of kids just tried to attack you and pointed a gun at you and tried
to kill you and now they`re running loose on the street? He doesn`t call
911 because he was never in fear for his life. He was infuriated. He
thought Jordan Davis disrespected him and he killed him.

SHARPTON: Well, we`re going to follow this closing arguments tomorrow.
We`ll have full coverage tomorrow night. We`ll be following this.

Thank you very much, Ken Padowitz and Faith Jenkins. Thank you again for
your time.

JENKINS: Thank you.

PADOWITZ: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Ahead, why was Governor Christie laughing after being asked
about bridge gate today?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: In the right wing spin machine, characters have always been
welcome, unless of course they`re cartoons. The newest villains over at
FOX are LEGOs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Hollywood pushing its anti-business message to our kids.
First it was the Muppets movie. Remember, they used an oil baron as the
enemy. A year later it was the lorax casting environmentalists against
anyone who bear to create a new business in. Now it`s the lego movie with
the villain named president business. Take a listen to him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Would you cancel my 2:00? This next meeting could run a
little bit deadly.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Looks a little bit like Mitt Romney.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So let me get this straight. Hollywood is brainwashing your
kids with a lego villain who looks like Mitt Romney? Really. Come on. I
remember when the number one target on the block was "Sesame Street."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I thought "Sesame Street" was supposed to be sharing
and being nice to people. But over the years they have gotten more
liberal.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Maybe they should. They should have the hungry Muppets,
the food stamp Muppets and have the evil person being the Obama
administration.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That`s right, kids. Efforts for food stamps, and Dr. Seuss
hasn`t been spared either.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The lorax an adaptation of the classic Dr. Seuss
children`s book. The movie set to be released nationwide next month is
about a woodland creature who speaks for the trees and fights rampant
industrialism.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: These guys are right. What we`re doing is creating
occu-toddlers?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Occu-toddlers. I think they`re occu-crazy. The FOX says, even
gone after a certain cartoon sponge who lives in a pineapple under the sea.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Because SpongeBob is talking a lot about global
warming, and he is only looking at it from one point of view.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Clearly, nickelodeon is pushing a global warming agenda.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Poor SpongeBob. But it turns out FOX was singing a different
tune about him not too long ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You`re fired!

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: OK, so here is the story. The harsh economic climate
has hit the underwater community. After 14 years of flipping crabby
patties, SpongeBob is fired from his job. SpongeBob sets out to return to
the workforce.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Yikes. It`s a SpongeBob flip-flop. The right wingers were
against SpongeBob before they were for him. The truth is there is only one
cartoon network, FOX News. So to everyone over there, nice try, but that`s
all, folks. We got you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Today Chris Christie left New Jersey, but he couldn`t leave
behind the questions about the growing bridge scandal. The governor was in
Chicago to raise money for the Republican Governors Association. But even
in front of a friendly audience, he had to address the controversy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Does the GW bridge situation impact your ability to
execute on those priorities for the state?

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Actually, I`m shocked you brought
that up. Some people who work for me made some significant mistakes in
judgment. And when you`re the leader of that organization, and you`re
confronted with that, the first things that happened to you, it happened to
me, was extraordinary disappointment. Extraordinary disappointment that
people that I had trusted had made such bad judgments and had not told the
truth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Once again, Christie laid the blame squarely on rogue employees.
It`s a response that to date has not put the questions to rest. Lawmakers
a still searching for answers, issuing 18 new subpoenas last night. But
today a potential red flag. The Christie administration announced that
under its policy, no members of the governor`s office are allowed to appear
before legislative committees. This could have a dramatic impact on the
investigation. And it appears to strike a different note than the
governor`s pledge to cooperate with the feds last month.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: Listen, I have absolutely nothing to hide. And I have not given
any instruction to anyone yet, but my instruction to everybody will be to
cooperate and answer questions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Already ten subpoenas for documents have gone out to current
members of the governor`s office. If those Christie aides are called to
testify, will the governor`s office cooperate?

Joining me now is Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, a member of the
select committee investigating the scandal, and former Pennsylvania
Governor Ed Rendell. Thank you both for being here.

ASSEMBLYWOMAN BONNIE WATSON COLEMAN (D), NEW JERSEY: Thank you for having
me.

FMR. GOV. ED RENDELL (D), PENNSYLVANIA: My pleasure.

SHARPTON: Let me go to you first, Assemblywoman. Does it concern you that
the governor`s office now says its members aren`t allowed to appear before
legislative committees?

COLEMAN: Yes. I think it`s kind of unprecedented. And it certainly is
unacceptable. And it`s contradictory to what the governor said he was
going to do. He said he was going to be forthright and he`s going to be
open and get to the bottom of this and he is going to share and be
responsive so that we can get to the bottom of this. And now he is trying
to shut his staff down and make it difficult to communicate with him or
find out what they need, what they know or find out what we need to know.
So it is sort of contradictory. And I`m shocked that he would be shocked
that he would be asked that question in a friendly audience.

SHARPTON: How concerns ready you about this? Are you concerned about this
development?

COLEMAN: Well, let me just share this with you, Reverend. I don`t think
that the governor and whether or not these are delaying tactics or
distractions is going to wear us down, wear us out or distract us. We`re
going to stay on the course and do what we have to do as the legislators,
because that`s our responsibility. And he can make it as difficult as he
feels he needs to make it. I don`t understand it. This governor is
supposed to be so transparent. He always talked about being transparent.
It`s the most opaque transparency I`ve ever seen. I mean, it`s bordering
on whack-a-Dodgeville. I don`t know what to except more from this
administration and neither did the people in this state of New Jersey.

SHARPTON: Governor Rendell, you know, in his state of the state`s address,
Governor Christie said he would cooperate with all appropriate inquiries.
Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: I`m the governor. And I`m ultimately responsible for all that
happens on my watch both good and bad. Now, without a doubt, we will
cooperate with all appropriate inquiries.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Do you think, Governor, that he doesn`t think that the state
committees are appropriate inquiries?

RENDELL: Well, how can he think that, Rev? Is it appropriate for the
legislature to want to know why the major bridge in their state, even the
major bridge in the country was tied up for four days, endangering public
safety? Of course it`s appropriate. And there is no law he can rely on.
When members of my staff were called by the legislature to testify often,
and we did it voluntarily. But there is no law he can rely on to say that
there is an executive privilege that members of his staff can`t talk to the
legislature. That`s ridiculous.

SHARPTON: Now, he said he was disappointed after learning what his
staffers did, but that he took decisive action in response. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: You only have a few minutes to wallow in that disappointment.
And then if you`re a leader, you have to try to get a handle on the story
and then take decisive action which we did by letting people go and talking
to the public about it. We`re in the midst of an internal review now. And
whatever that internal review discloses, we`re going to release to the
public.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, governor, he says they`re in an internal review. Should
the public trust the Christie administration investigating itself?

RENDELL: Well, of course not. No one -- that`s not a reflection on
Governor Christie. No one in similar circumstances with the public trust
to conduct an investigation into their own conduct. It`s silly. The whole
thing is silly. I think the assembly man said whack-a-dooville. And she
is probably right. I mean, none of this make any sense. If the governor
knew nothing about it, then what does he have to fear about having members
of his administration and staff testify before the legislative committees.
What does he have to fear if he knew nothing about it?

SHARPTON: Now, Assemblywoman Bridget Kelly and Stepien have both taken the
fifth. And they`ve said they`re not going to cooperate with the committee
you`re on investigating this. How far are you willing to take this? What
are the next steps, and how far do you and the committee intend to go to
try to find out what they know?

COLEMAN: I`m going tell you, Reverend, without telling you specifically
where we`re going to go, because I think there are several options. But
I`m going to tell you that I think that this committee is committed to
understanding what happened. And to getting to the bottom of the issue, to
getting the questions answered. And we`ll do, I believe, whatever is
appropriate and whatever is responsive and whatever is allowed under the
law. I think that this has gone on much too far, much too long. It`s
become overly complicated. If the governor knew nothing about this, the
governor has nothing to hide. Then why doesn`t he just avail us of the
information and the people that have the information so that people of the
state of New Jersey can move forward, and there can be some governing
taking place in the state of New Jersey.

SHARPTON: Now, Governor Rendell, not long ago, Governor Christie was
leading in the polls for the republican nomination in 2016, and he at first
was very cooperative in what he was saying and the tone of what he was
saying. Now it seems that they`re kind of digging in. Do you think he has
written off his national ambitions, at least for now, and is now gearing up
for a legal and local political fight?

RENDELL: No, I don`t think he has written it off. And I think the whole
tactics if you`re taking, asking for his lawyer asking to interview the
mayor of Hoboken, things like that, I think they`re trying to intimidate.
There is no legal right for them to do that, there is no criminal charges
yet. They`re not entitled to discovery. They`re trying to intimidate
people. But that`s been the style of the administration from the
beginning. That`s what got them into this hole in the first place. But
the governor should face reality.

If everything he said is true and you know you`ve heard me say before that
it defies credibility, but if everything he said is true, the governor of
the state, an activist governor for four days, his number one bridge was
tied up endangering public safety, causing massive traffic jams,
inconvenience for his citizens, and he knew nothing about it? That`s a
governor who is on top of things?

SHARPTON: Yes.

RENDELL: That`s a strong leader? No way, no way.

SHARPTON: Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, and Governor Ed Rendell,
thank you both for your time tonight.

COLEMAN: Thank you for having me, Reverend.

RENDELL: Thanks, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, Republicans crumble on one of the biggest votes of
the year so far. What this major victory for the president could mean for
the rest of his agenda.

Also, the attorney general is calling for big change that could affect
millions of Americans and their right to vote. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Tonight a major win for President Obama. This evening, the
House voted to raise the debt limit with no more cuts and no strings
attached. It passed with mainly Democratic votes after years of GOP
hostage taking, Speaker John Boehner scheduled this vote in a clear rebuke
to the Tea Party. They were shocked. It`s been a rough day for the GOP
and for Speaker Boehner. Walking into the press room to make the
announcement, he tried to grin and bear it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), OHIO: Good morning, everybody.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Good morning.

BOEHNER: Happy, happy, happy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Happy, happy, happy. And Boehner didn`t seem any more chipper
on the way out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHNER: Thanks.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Thank you.

BOEHNER: Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay. My oh my, what a wonderful
day. Plenty of sunshine coming my way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Cheer up, Speaker Boehner. After all, why is your party stunned
by today`s deal? Don`t you remember hearing this?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: Let me repeat. I will not
negotiate over Congress`s responsibility to pay bills it`s already racked
up. There will be no negotiations over this.

The American people are not pawns in some political game.

We`re not going to pay a ransom for America paying its bills. That is
something that should be non-negotiable, and everybody should agree on
that.

No, we`re not going to negotiate for Congress to pay bills that it has
accrued.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The president called the bluff on some of those bullies on the
right. And let`s face it. If Republicans wise up and start doing their
jobs, then maybe everyone will be happy, happy, happy.

Joining me now is Dana Milbank. Dana, a lot of Republicans didn`t believe
the president when he said he wouldn`t negotiate on the debt limit. Think
they believe him now?

DANA MILBANK, COLUMNIST, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, zippity doo day. I
think they do believe him now. And this is showing again, when this
president exerts forceful leadership, that he gets something done. Now
this happened with the government shutdown. He said I`m not going to
budge, he stuck to it and they knuckled under. So, I think there is reason
to celebrate. I know you like blueberry pie. So, I brought this to
celebrate. But I don`t want you to get too excited because I think the
fever has broken on the Tea Party here, but the virus is still in the body.
I don`t think we`re not out of the woods yet.

SHARPTON: A blueberry pie with tea will help them with the virus. But,
you know, outside Tea Party groups have already slammed this move. The
senior conservative fund says, quote, "John Boehner must be replaced," and
Tea Party Patriots call it, quote, "a complete capitulation." Club for
growth says, quote, "We thought it was a joke, but it`s not." The right
wing media has also come out hard against the plan. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STUART VARNEY, FOX BUSINESS ANCHOR: Speaker of the House will submit that
clean bill. It gives the president a blank check, nothing in return.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Well, this is a rejection of whatever values remain in
the Republican Party.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: He is such a poor politician that he cannot explain to
the American public that if the government shuts down, it`s not because the
Republicans won`t vote to raise the debt ceiling. It`s because the
president refuses to talk to them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I mean, they`re going after it already.

MILBANK: You know, they are. And this is the latest in the series.
Boehner effectively did the same thing in defying the hard right Tea Party
outside organizations on the farm bill, on the budget, on the spending
bill. And he said they overplay their hand. They`re irrelevant. Now,
they can push back and fight, but it`s clear that they don`t have the
numbers they used to have. It does not appear that John Boehner`s
speakership is in jeopardy at all.

SHARPTON: It does not appear he is in trouble.

MILBANK: Not at this moment. I mean, he can`t keep doing this every time.
But in fairness to him, what he did was say look, you want us to tie it to
X? And they said they could not get a majority for that. You want us to
tie to it Y, the debt limit vote, they defeated each thing he came up with
within their caucus. So he said fine. I`m going to let the Democrats pass
this.

SHARPTON: Now, will we see more movement now on the president`s agenda
like minimum wage? I mean could, this mean other things could move
forward?

MILBANK: That`s why I say I think the virus is still in the body here, and
it`s not automatic. This is something we had to pass, otherwise the nation
goes into default. So the minimum wage is not something that John Boehner
feels he has to pass if more pressure is brought to bear. If the president
now realizes that hey, when I stick to a position and keep hammering away,
it get something done. Yes. But it doesn`t suddenly mean that the entire
Obama agenda is going to sail through the House.

SHARPTON: So we can`t expect that this is a trend. We know that this is a
victory, and you feel it`s because the president called their bluff. But
that does not mean minimum wage and unemployment coverage for long-term
unemployed. That does not automatically mean that will follow.

MILBANK: Because Boehner can`t do this each time. He can only play this
card so many times, breaking what is called the Hastert rule, going against
the majority of Republicans in his caucus. You do it too many times, he
does lose his job. So he is going to have to pick his battle.

SHARPTON: So they`re still going to fight, which is why I will use this
blueberry pie you brought me. Dana Milbank, thanks for coming on the show
tonight.

MILBANK: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Ahead, Attorney General Holder makes a strong case for voter
rights today. But something is happening in Ohio that shows the fight is
only beginning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Millions of Americans have been stripped of their right to vote
because of laws dating back to the civil war. That must change. That`s
next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Finally tonight, a bipartisan call to action on voting rights.
In America today, 5.8 million Americans have been stripped of their right
to vote due to current or past felony convictions. More than a third of
those are African-American. Many of the laws targeting felons were
originally passed just after the civil war as a way to keep blacks from
voting. Today Attorney General Eric Holder called on states to repeal
those laws.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Although well over a century has
passed since post-reconstruction states used these measures to strip
African-Americans of their most fundamental rights, it is unjust, and it is
not in keeping with our democratic values.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: This should not be a partisan issue, and in fact it`s not.
Today Republican Senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee embraced Holder`s remarks
and said it`s time to restore these voting rights.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I`m also in favor of giving people back the
right to vote in my state. So I`ll be testifying next week in Frankfurt
before the legislature and I will be testifying in favor of restoring
voting rights for nonviolent felons.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Senator Paul and Attorney General Holder may not agree on much,
but they agree on this. Voting isn`t a democratic right or a republican
right. It`s an American right. But unfortunately, in states like Ohio,
some in the GOP are trying to roll back the clock and push ahead with laws
that restrict voting rights. The very fundamental basis of this country is
the right to vote, is a participatory democracy. We ought not try and make
it limited to any American citizens. We must open this nation up for all.
And all of us will continue to fight for that.

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

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