PoliticsNation, Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014
Read the transcript from the Tuesday show
July 22, 2014
Guest: Jeff Rosen; Jim McDermott; Clarence Page, Mark Potok, Carmen St.
George, Michelle Suskauer
ED SCHULTZ, MSNBC ANCHOR, THE ED SHOW: That`s "the Ed Show." I`m Ed
Schultz. "Politics Nation" with Reverend Al Sharpton starts right now.
Good evening, Rev.
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening, ed. And thanks for
tuning in. I`m live tonight in Washington, D.C.
Tonight`s lead, is the president`s health care law headed back to the
Supreme Court? Two conflicting federal appeals court rulings today
concerning a key question about the president`s health care law. Does the
federal government have the right to subsidize health insurance for
millions of Americans? This isn`t a hypothetical point. It is an urgent
issue that could apply directly to 4.5 million people who are right now
receiving money for health insurance from the federal government.
The health care law says that government can subsidize insurance bought
quote "through an exchange established by the state." Opponents of the law
went to court arguing that the language means only people who bought plans
through the 16 state-run exchanges to get subsidies. And the people in the
34 states who bought their insurance through the federal exchange would
lose their health care support.
Today, two Republican-appointed judges agreed with those challenging
federal subsidies. But just a short time later, another appeals court in
Virginia ruled that subsidies are allowed which means we are at an impasse.
Until another court, maybe the Supreme Court, decides who is right. So
Joining me now is Jeffrey Rosen, president and CEO of the National
Jeffrey, first of all, thanks for being here.
JEFFREY ROSE, PRESIDENT/CEO. NATIONAL CONSTITUTION CENTER: It`s great to
be here, Reverend.
SHARPTON: You know, it seems so unusual that we`d have two different
rulings on the same issue on the same day. I mean, how could they come to
such different conclusions?
ROSEN: Well, it was high drama. As you say, to see one opinion one minute
and then literally two hours later a conflicting decision on the same day
is unusual. It is headed for the Supreme Court when there is a serious
disagreement among two federal courts, the Supreme Court often intervenes.
And what makes this case so interesting, is it was really about the meaning
of the statutory language.
You quoted it correctly and the thing says you can get tax credits if the
exchange is created by a state. And the literal minded reading which the
D.C. court bought is that a federally created exchange can`t get the
credits. And the Virginia court and the Obama administration said this
makes no sense.
Obviously, Congress intended for the individual mandates to bind
individuals and employers. So it was really a triumph of hyper literalism
over the context, the Congress --.
SHARPTON: One interpreted it as almost like a typo could possibly wipe out
almost five million people`s insurance because the technical term there of
state sponsored could have easily not been there given the spirit of the
law like a typo.
ROSEN: That`s ma very good analogy. It literally was almost like a typo.
And there are many decisions which say that when a technicality prevents
Congress` intent from taking place courts should defer to the agency. And
that is what the Virginia court say held here. The IRS said clearly
Congress meant for the subsidies to go more broadly and the courts should
be differential to the interpretation.
SHARPTON: Now, it may go to the Supreme Court. You know the court better
than most. Will justice Roberts want to be responsible for a ruling that
would take away insurance for millions of people?
ROSEN: That`s the $60,000 question. Obviously, he cared a lot about the
legitimacy of the court before and was uncomfortable with the spectacle of
five Republicans denying health care against the sense over four Democrat.
Given the extreme technicality of the majority decision here, I wouldn`t be
surprised if he agrees once again that the subsidies should go forward.
SHARPTON: Now Jeff, I want to read part of the ruling from the D.C. panel
which was against the subsidies. The judge wrote quote "we reach this
conclusion frankly with reluctance. Our ruling will likely have
significant consequences both for the millions of individuals receiving tax
credits through federal exchanges and for health insurance markets more
Are they acknowledging how significant the ruling is when they say this,
ROSEN: They were acknowledging. They knew exactly what they were doing.
The dissenting Judge as Harry Edward (ph) said, this decision is going to
gut the affordable health care mandate. So I don`t think the judges, you
know, intentionally, set out to gut it. But they realized the consequences
of this. And they had an opportunity to step away from are the abyss and
instead they decided to be hyper technical.
SHARPTON: All right, Jeffrey, please stand by for one moment.
I want to turn to the politics here. Republicans have tried everything, I
mean everything, to attack the affordable care act. Refusing to accept its
legitimacy even though the law was passed by both houses of Congress. It
was signed by the president. It was upheld by the Supreme Court with the
opinion written by the Republican appointed chief justice. And it was
debated again in the last election. We all know how that ended.
After more than 50 repealed votes, Republicans are still trying desperately
to re-litigate this law. They are now trying to take health care away from
Americans who have it. And that may be very hard to sell.
Joining me now are Congressmen Jim McDermott, Democrat from Washington.
And Clarence Page, columnist for the Chicago tribune.
Thank you both for being here.
CLARENCE PAGE, COLUMNIST, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Thank you, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Congressman, let me go to you first. What`s your reaction to
today`s two rulings?
REP. JIM MCDERMOTT (D), WASHINGTON: Well, they have been trying since the
bill was passed to gut it. And there have been one attempt after another.
We have had 50 attempts to repeal it in the House. We had the Supreme
Court case that were already went up there. This is a constant. They are
taking each segment of it and bringing it to court.
The question you ought to be asking is who is financing these lawsuits.
These people are out there, they don`t have the money to go to a federal
court then go to an appeals court, go all away up to Supreme Court out of
their own pocket. They are getting a subsidy.
The people who are protesting are ones who are eligible for a subsidy. And
they are saying we don`t want it. Now, what they want is us to pay for
their health care. It makes no sense whatsoever.
SHARPTON: No. It`s a good point. But Clarence, you know, it`s one thing
to fight a law before it takes effect. But now, you`re talking about
taking back health care for millions of people. I mean, how will that
affect the whole political landscape this year if this happens.
PAGE: Well, I suspect that there are a lot of lawmakers who are relieved
at the notion that there is probably wouldn`t get the Supreme Court after
the election. Because the fact is as much as Republicans talk about these
various libertarian ideas and all that, they also ask Ted Cruz, among
others has said, that once you get Obamacare passed, it`s likely to be so
popular that people won`t want to repeal it. Once they have a benefit they
don`t want to give it back.
And so, it is going to be tough for a lot of politicians to actually have
to vote against it if it came down to that. In other words that will go
back to Congress to rewrite the law.
So I think, it`s much more likely that the courts will want to defer to the
executive as the Virginia judge has said unanimously. There is ample
precedent for that and avoid all of the terrible (INAUDIBLE).
SHARPTON: This is frightening.
You know, Congressman, I want to read some of the Republican reaction to
today`s decision against the subsidies.
Speaker Boehner called it quote "proof that President Obama`s health care
law is completely unworkable."
Senator Ted Cruz said, it was quote "a repudiation of Obamacare and all the
lawlessness that`s come with it."
And Governor Bobby Jindal claimed it was no surprise after the President
rammed Obamacare through Congress without any care for following the
constitution and the laws of the country.
I mean, how can they make the same attacks when the law is working,
MCDERMOTT: I don`t know.
You know, there are 14 and a half million people as you said earlier who
are getting health care because of the affordable care act. And for them
now to try to dismantle it and throw those people back out in the street
with no coverage by this technicality is, in my view, the height of
political cynicism. That`s all it is. Because I expect what`s going to
happen is that the government is going to go in and ask the whole circuit
court here in D.C. to review the decision of the three judges.
I think it will be over turned at this level. It will never get to the
Supremes. But I really think that it is the height of political cynicism
to say you want to take away from people a program that`s working and
giving them health insurance.
I mean, 87 percent of the people who would be thrown out by this decision
are receiving subsidies which means they are poor people. They are just
barely making it. And here you are taking it away from the middle class
again. It`s the Republicans attacking the middle class. I mean, it`s the
same old story.
SHARPTON: You know, Jeffrey, would this go down, this affordable care act,
as the most litigated thing we have seen in America? I mean, we have Hobby
Lobby, the original ruling now, this could go to the Supreme Court. It
would have to be among the most litigated that we have seen in American
ROSEN: This is very bad for the country, but very good for places like the
national constitution center because we can have panels and discussion
about these things every single week. And you isn`t see nothing yet.
There is more coming down the line. They are going go after the president
for not executing the law on time. There are going to be other legal
challenges. It`s full employment for law professors and constitution
SHARPTON: It is good for the right wing, too, Clarence, in terms of
planning their based, but what about moderates?
PAGE: Well, Moderates are going to look at this and say, well, is this yet
another polarized issue that results in the benefits to millions of people
being threatened by one line out of context in the law? A rather obvious
typo here when you look at all the other parts of the Obamacare law that
talk about state exchanges and put them in the same level as federal
exchanges. It is very obvious that this law is aimed at affordable care
for everybody, universal care. And that`s an obvious thing.
So, I think a lot of moderates, as I mention earlier, if Obamacare really
does appears to be threatened, it will be like Medicare, you are back in
the 60s. Ronald Reagan called Medicare creeping socialism, Marxism, et
cetera. But it is now the most popular program in the federal government.
SHARPTON: But to think that on a typo, they would wipe it out. I mean,
every time I think I have heard it all, I hear some more.
Congressman Jim McDermott, Clarence Page and Jeff Rosen, thank you all for
your time tonight.
MCDERMOTT: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Coming up, Sarah Palin, she may not even be in Georgia for
today`s Republican primary election. But her impeachment spirit might as
well be calling the shots. That`s next.
Plus, a chilling new report on the fallout from that lawless Bundy rancher.
Why it is the embroiled the anti-government movement and emboldened them.
And more on the choke hold death of Eric Garner.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every time you are see me, you mess with me. I`m tired
of it. Don`t touch me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Tonight, we have the police report and a serious new question
and other serious questions about first responders. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: It`s the case outside Detroit drawing similarities to the George
Zimmerman trial. The jury has been selected in the trial of Theodore Wafer
in the killing of Ranesha McBride. What`s the breakdown of the jury and
what will it mean for the trial going forward?
Also, where is the humanity? Tonight, we have the police report and
serious new questions on the chokehold death of Eric Garner by New York
SHARPTON: That music means it`s an election night. In just under an hour
polls will close in the Georgia Republican Senate run-off. It`s been an
ugly and close race between Congressman Jack Kingston and David Perdue
since the May primary. But there is one thing they agree on -- impeaching
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m not up there. I don`t have the facts. But right
now, if he`s violated his oath of office to a degree that`s egregious
enough, I will embolden that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not a day goes by when people don`t talk to us about
impeachment. I don`t know what rises to that level yet but I know there is
mounting frustration that a lot of people are, you know, getting to. And I
think Congress is going to start looking at it very seriously.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Forget Georgia peach. It`s Georgia impeach.
Back in February when there were seven candidates vying for the Republican
nomination, this happened at a debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Clinton was impeached for perjury. Obama has
perjured himself on multiple occasions. Would you support impeachment if
presented for a vote?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Three people on that panel want the president impeached. It is
the same talk we are hearing from the leaders of this impeachment movement.
Sarah Palin and others are using it to fire up the base. But will it all
backfire on Republicans?
Joining me now is Michelle Cottle and Goldie Taylor. Thank you both for
being here tonight.
MICHELLE COTTLE, WASHINGTON REPORTER, THE DAILY BEAST, NEWSWEEK: Thanks,
GOLDIE TAYLOR, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you, Reverend Sharpton.
SHARPTON: Let me go to you first, Goldie. You`re in Georgia. How is that
impeachment talk playing there?
TAYLOR: You know, for mainstream, so-called responsible Republicans here
in the state, it`s really just campaign fodder. It is something to really
rile up the base. If the base is telling you that we want him impeached on
a day to day basis, you can`t really sort of disagree with them. But you
can placate them with talk around language. And that`s what you are
hearing from Jack Kingston. That`s what you are haring David Perdue.
It`s not something that they can really come out strongly against. But
they can give you some language that says well, if it comes to the floor I
would support it. But I don`t know where the case is just yet, but it`s
You know, I understand your frustration. And so, that`s really the
language that you are hearing. Today, we had, you know, a base within a
base, you know, primary run-off. Who knows how that is going to turn out?
Jack Kingston certainly has, you know, the stronger organization here, he
has a stronger backing from the GOP establishment here. And strong backing
from, you know, the national chamber of commerce.
And so, you`re going to find that what we think are more extreme things
coming from these two candidates, you are going to find that they are
fairly mainstream here in Georgia and that you are going to have six of one
half dozen of the other whether Perdue or Jack Kingston is elected.
SHARPTON: But Michelle, they may be talking around it in the Senate run-
off even though neither one of them had said they would vote any way but
supportive if they got through to the Senate.
But it is not only on the Senate level. Former congressman Bob Barr who is
running for Congress again in Georgia now. Listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB BARR (R), GEORGIA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I was with some folks just
recently and pulled out of a file in my office the house resolution. The
house resolution that I introduced on November fifth of 1997. That was the
very first official inquiry of impeachment filed against Bill Clinton. And
what I did is I took that document figuratively, kind of dusted it off,
added a little bit of language to it, and darned if it doesn`t sound pretty
good with Barack Obama`s name in there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: And you know, Michelle, this talk of impeachment is becoming a
major trend on the right. Listen to Sarah Palin in the past few weeks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: The one tool that Congress has to
halt what`s going on, this lawlessness from the top, the one tool they have
are articles of impeachment. Let`s get going on that.
These days you hear all of these politicians, they are denouncing Barack
Obama saying, he`s a lawless, imperial president. He ignores court orders
and changes laws by fiat and refuses to enforce laws he just doesn`t like.
There is only one remedy for a president who commits high crimes and
misdemeanors and it`s impeachment. It`s the I-word.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: So Michelle, with all these impeachment talk from Bob Barr to
senate candidates to Sarah Palin and on and on, is it that they don`t have
any policies? Is it that there is not a lot of agreement, or is it that
they know this will fire up the base and you are dealing with narrow
primaries of base voters?
COTTLE: It`s definitely a lot of options. Look. They worked very hard to
nationalize the midterm. You know, if you can make this all about how much
the base hates Barack Obama and how much you are going to work to bring
down what they say is an illegitimate presidency you have a chance to have
taking down the Senate and picking up seats in the house.
SHARPTON: You know, but Goldie, history shows when Republicans are talking
impeachment it`s not great for their approval ratings.
This is Gallup tracking Republican party favorable ratings going back to
1992. Now, look at 1999. When Republicans called for President Clinton to
be impeached, GOP favorability dipped to 31 points. And now look at 2014
when Republicans are calling for President Obama to be impeached. GOP
favorability is down again, just that 34 percent.
Is there a correlation there, Goldie?
TAYLOR: I think the correlation is that people need jobs. Bob Barr
doesn`t have a job. And so, he wants to go back to Congress because it`s a
job. And so, in order to get there, he must push impeachment. That`s why
he`s dusting off old articles of impeachment. Not because he cares what`s
happening polling-wise around Congress.
SHARPTON: But my question is, is there a correlation in the dip in the
favorability ratings that we saw under the calls for the Clinton
impeachment and now that calls of the Obama impeachment.
TAYLOR: I think that correlation that you really seeing here has probably
less to do with impeachment, but more to do with the deadlocked Congress
that it isn`t focused on the business of the people. This is focus on
creating jobs, in focus on, you know, solving the border crisis.
If you are talking impeachment all day, something that really can`t happen
because you don`t have votes in the Senate. Then you are really talking
about drumming up votes rather than solving problems. And I think that`s
where the American people, you know, really have a difference with this
stuff, is that you are not solving the problems that they sent you to
Washington to get the job done on. You know, so much so that you are
focused on your own job, on getting yourself elected by these issues that
are clearly just distractions.
SHARPTON: Michelle, you have been covering Washington and elections a long
time. What do you see in terms of any kind of correlation between the `90s
with Clinton and now with Obama with this impeachment talk and the extreme
COTTLE: I do think, you know, people used to talk about this a lucky
break. Though, Clinton have was that his enemies always overreached. And
I do think when people are dissatisfied with Washington not getting things
done, any kind of glaring reminder of how politicized things are does carry
a risk of back-firing on them. When it gets to the point you sound crazy
when you talk the about impeachment. Then people start noticing.
SHARPTON: Michelle Cottle and Goldie Taylor, hank you both for your time
TAYLOR: Thank you, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Coming up, a disturbing new report on the rise of right wing
militia groups in the wake of the stand-off with radical rancher Cliven
Also, self-defense or murder? 19-year-old Renisha McBride, shot and
killed. The jury is set in the case. That`s drawing parallels to the
George Zimmerman trial. Already today it looks like the defense is trying
to put her on trial.
SHARPTON: There are still many unanswered questions surrounding the death
of Eric Garner who died last week after being put in a chokehold by a New
York City policeman including grave legal questions. But also basic
questions of humanity. How could emergency responders let this man lay
motionless on the ground without treating him? Where is the sense of
urgency, of decency. My thoughts ahead.
SHARPTON: Today, a chilling new report on a, quote, "much larger and more
dangerous anti-government movement coming from the far right." The report
examines the impact of radical rancher Cliven Bundy who three months ago
became a hero on the right for refusing to pay federal grazing fees.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I abide by all of Nevada`s state laws but I don`t
recognize the United States government as even existing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: On the Malaysia groups flock to the ranch confronting officers
from the Bureau of Land Management. The threat of violence caused the
government to back down. Some in the right wing media embraced Bundy and
today, disturbing new details on Bundy`s continued influence. The Southern
Poverty Law Center which tracks extremist groups is out with a report
titled "War in the West, the Bundy ranch stand-off and the American radical
Quote, "Cliven Bundy may have faded from public view, but the movement that
spawned him is boiling." And it says Bundy`s actions have led to, quote,
"an even more emboldened anti-government movement." It is an eye-opening
conclusion and raises ominous new questions about the threat.
Joining me now is Mark Potok, the lead author of the report and a senior
fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center. Thank you for being here, Mark.
MARK POTOK, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: A pleasure, Reverend. Thanks for
SHARPTON: Now, according to your research, what was the real significance
of the Bundy stand-off?
POTOK: Well, the Bundy stand-off was seen by the radical right in America
as a huge victory. At the end of the day what happened was that although
the government came in looking quite tough with helicopters, police dogs
and so on, these militiamen, Cliven Bundy`s allies, you know, point to
their weapons at law enforcement. They actually created an armed stand-off
looking down the barrels of their guns at law enforcement and ultimately
forced the BLM to back down which the BLM in fact wisely did and avoided
blood bath -- what could have been a bloodbath as a result. What is
happened in the aftermath --
SHARPTON: The Bureau of Land Management.
POTOK: That`s right. What`s happened in the aftermath of the report of
this stand-off is that so called patriots, militia groups around the
country have been energized. They see this as a tremendous victory, there
have been a number of subs and confrontations in western states between
agencies like the Bureau of Land Management and various militia type
SHARPTON: Yes. Let me question you about that, Mark. Because here in the
report it says that the impact in the Bureau of Land Management stand-downs
has been significant. It says, quote, "in just in months since the Bundy
victory, tense stand-offs between the BLM and anti-government activists
have taken place across the west in Idaho, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah." I
mean, is this all part of a ripple effect of the Bundy ranch episode?
POTOK: I think so. Less than a month after the Bundy stand-off, we saw
for instance a very large group of people including some members of the
Bundy family barge into a closed road in Utah, riding ATVs. This road had
been closed in order to protect a fragile archaeological remains of
American-Indian communities. And these guys just rolled ride in quite
illegally and in fact were not confronted by the government in that case
either. So, that is the kind of thing we have been seeing. And of course,
it`s difficult to forget the murder of two police officers in Las Vegas in
early June by two people, Jared and Amanda Miller who, in fact, had been at
the Bundy stand-off for a short time.
SHARPTON: Now, your report also mentions the impact of right wing media
that cheered Bundy on. Listen to what some were saying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: I`m not a rancher but I would think the
federal government might be thankful because you are cutting a lawn for
free and they are charging huge amounts of money, right? To let your
cattle graze there with these fees.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: These are folks that live in Nevada. These are good
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It shows you the attitude of the federal government
today and it shows you the resistance of patriotic Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: I mean, what`s the impact of this kind of talk? Does this fan
the flame of extremism, Mark?
POTOK: Absolutely. We saw just a despicable show from politicians like
the governor of Nevada, like a number of congressmen from the Sean Hannitys
of the world and his echo chamber in the FOX world and so on describing
Cliven Bundy not as a thief who refused to pay a million dollars he owed to
the federal government, to you and I, but as some kind of great defender of
the constitution. So, you now, all of these people of course ran away from
him very quickly when he started to discuss the so-called problems of the,
quote-unquote, "negro." But it was only then that these people started to
think that maybe Cliven Bundy wasn`t such a terrific friend to have after
SHARPTON: Yes. And I want to go to some that we don`t talk a lot about.
Because your report knows that since 2009 there have been 17 shooting
incidents between anti-government extremists and law enforcement. I mean,
what needs to be done to prevent more shootings, anti-government shootings
between groups and law enforcement?
POTOK: Well, I think that one of the things that needs to be done is there
need to be more analysis of this movement coming out of the Department of
Homeland Security. Their unit on non-Islamic domestic terrorism
essentially has withered since it repudiated a perfectly good report that
was issued in 2009. In addition, the Attorney General Eric Holder recently
reconstituted an executive committee on domestic terrorism that had laid
fallow since the 9/11 attacks of 2001. And that I think is a very good
thing. I think in general law enforcement needs more training on the views
of some of these people and on the dangers they present.
SHARPTON: Wow. So I think when you raised this, are we saying that in
many ways we are not taking this as seriously as we should even though you
have had these amounts of shootings?
POTOK: I think that`s exactly right. I think there is a tendency to say
that these things are less important than they are. There is a tendency,
as we have heard in the case of the Bundy stand-off for certain elements of
the political right in an opportunistic fashion to lionize these people, to
make heroes out of them in such a way that the movement spreads and
POTOK: And so, I think these are very real problems. We have seen an
enormous amount of violence coming from the radical right. And it will
very likely get worse before it gets better.
SHARPTON: This is a very important report. And we are going to keep
watching it and keep monitoring what`s going on. Mark Potok, thank you for
your time tonight.
POTOK: And thank you, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Ahead, the jury is now set in the shooting death of 19-year-old
Renisha McBride. That case that some compare to the shooting of Trayvon
Martin. Self-defense? Or murder?
Also tonight, we have the New York City police report on the chokehold
death of Eric Garner. But it leaves open serious questions.
SHARPTON: Was it self-defense or murder? It`s being compared to the
George Zimmerman trial and tomorrow the Renisha McBride shooting trial
begins in Detroit. A jury has been selected in the trial of Theodore
Wafer, a Detroit man who shot and killed 19-year-old Renisha McBride, a
drunk but unarmed teenager. Who was on his porch on November. Around 1:00
a.m. on November 2nd, Renisha McBride was intoxicated and crashed her car
into a parked vehicle. Her family said she walked to Mr. Wafer`s house
seeking help, but the 55-year-old shot McBride in the face through a closed
door after she was on the porch.
He`s charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter and felony use of a
firearm. He claimed self-defense, saying McBride was trying to break into
his house. Today, the jury was selected. It`s made up of seven men and
seven women, two of whom will serve as alternates. Two African-American
men, two African-American women, one Arab man, two minority women, four
white men and three white women. Tomorrow morning this 14 minute women
will hear opening statements in the murder case against Wafer.
Joining me now are former prosecutors and trial attorneys Carmen St. George
and Michelle Suskauer. Thank you both for being here.
MICHELLE SUSKAUER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Thank you.
CARMEN ST. GEORGE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Sure.
SHARPTON: I want to hear from both of you, starting with you Michelle, the
jury has been seated. Seven men, seven women. What do you make of the
SUSKAUER: Well, I think it`s a really diverse jury. Of course, just like
you mentioned, we don`t know who the alternates are going to be that are
going to be excused and won`t able to deliberate, but I think a real cross
section of the community. And just so many times as the defense lawyer,
I`m not able to get such a diverse jury. So, I think that that`s
wonderful. But in terms of, you know, the division of men and women, I
mean, it`s equal. But in terms, if you are asking me about, you know, the
racial makeup of this jury, I don`t think race plays a part in this case.
So, I think it should be irrelevant, I think it`s a cross section. And
that`s what`s important.
SHARPTON: Now, let me ask you, Carmen. The jury selection lawyers from
both sides struck down potential jurors. Each side gets 12 challenges to
strike down a potential juror, the defense used 10, the prosecutors used
seven, total of 30 people were dismissed in jury selection. What are the
attorneys looking for when they want to eliminate a potential juror?
GEORGE: What they are looking for is anything that will show that the
potential juror would not be able to be fair and impartial if they were
chosen and selected to sit. And a lot of things come into play. You are
not looking certainly, only at demographics across the board. You want
everybody to have a friend. For example, when they are on the jury. You
don`t want to have one female and the rest made up of males and vice versa.
You also don`t want to have a jury made up of only eight minorities and a
few Caucasians. You want across suction.
What you want to weed out with your peremptory challenges, those are
challenges for the viewers that don`t know what this is, and attorney has a
right to be able to strike a person from the jury, for any reason, for no
reason at all, doesn`t have to be stated. Which is different from
challenges for cause which basically you can set up a bias that a
particular juror has to say, well, this particular juror has a vested
interest or they are skewed one way or another. So, they should be off.
The peremptory challenges were used both by the prosecution and the defense
in this case, equally. They had a different number that they each used.
At the end of the day both sides are looking for a fair and impartial jury
to sit on this case.
SHARPTON: Let me go back to you, Michelle. A judge was asked to let
jurors see photos from McBride`s phone, that show with wads of money,
alcohol, and marijuana, one is a blurry photo of McBride holding what
appears to be a gun. That request was denied.
SHARPTON: But it seems to me like they are trying to put Renisha McBride
on trial here. What`s your reaction to that?
SUSKAUER: Well, I think the judge made a wise decision. Because really,
what that does is it just shows bad character. And that`s not appropriate
information to put before a jury. That`s not evidence. Now, if the
defendant knew of any of McBride`s propensity to, you know, to carry a
weapon, to be violent, then that would be relevant to come in. But this
was a complete stranger. So, I think the judge made the right decision
here. But in terms of credibility.
In terms of McBride`s character certainly as a defense lawyer, you are
going to want to bring that before a jury. It`s going to be directly
relevant that she was almost three times the legal limit. That`s important
because it goes to what she may have done in her actions on his porch at
4:30 in the morning. So, I think that`s important. But bringing up those
irrelevant things about her, you know, maybe using marijuana or having a
gun is not relevant in this case. The judge made the right call.
SHARPTON: Let me go back to you because we saw this in the Zimmerman
trial. Could this information was reported in the local news have tainted
the jury? I`m talking to Carmen.
SUSKAUER: Oh, so sorry.
GEORGE: Most definitely. This information would have tainted the jury.
The judge made the right call. I mean, ultimately the jurors have to
decide was this self-defense? Is this a stand your ground? Because, you
know, Detroit has that law in effect which basically means if you feel as
if you are in fear of imminent danger or death, you can basically use
deadly force against you. The defendant in this case is going to have a
difficult challenge to meet. Because he has to show basically that he was
in fear, she was aggressive. And she`s there by herself. And there are
other factors which saw that he --
SUSKAUER: Wait, wait, wait a second. Wait a second. I completely
SHARPTON: We`re out of time.
SHARPTON: We are definitely going to debate this.
SHARPTON: Including, I disagree that race won`t be a factor here. But we
will deal with that as this trial goes on. Carmen St. George and Michelle
Suskauer, thank you both for your time tonight.
GEORGE: Thank you.
SUSKAUER: My pleasure.
SHARPTON: Coming up, a funny thing happened in Washington. A bipartisan
effort on jobs. Amazing. And later, new details from an internal police
report about the choke hold death of Eric Garner, it raises more questions
than it answers. My thoughts ahead.
SHARPTON: The employment picture is getting better, but nearly ten million
Americans are still unemployed. But 4.5 million jobs remained unfilled.
Right now, there are many factors but one big one is the skills gap. In
our ongoing advancing the dream series we are looking for solutions. And
today, President Obama signed one such solution into law. Reforming the
federal work force training system.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: If you`re working hard, you should
be able to get a job. That job should pay well. And you should be able to
move forward, look after your family. Opportunity for all. And that means
that even as we are creating new jobs in this new economy, we have to make
sure that every American has the skills to fill those jobs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: We need skills training available to any American committed to
working hard. Eighty percent of middle skills jobs required just one year
of training or less. Today`s bill was aware bipartisan effort. President
Obama thanked both Democrats and Republicans for their support.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I want to thank all the Democrats and Republicans here today for
getting this bill done. This is a big piece of work. You can see it`s a
big bill. But I`m also inviting you back. Let`s do this more often. It`s
so much fun. Let`s pass more bills to help create more good jobs,
strengthen the middle class. Look at everybody smiling, everybody feels
good. We could be doing this all the time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Yes, we could be doing this all the time. Imagine that. Here`s
hoping this is one step in the right direction.
SHARPTON: We are learning new details about the death of Eric Garner, the
43-year-old father of six will be laid to rest tomorrow. According to the
New York Daily News, an internal police report on the death does not
mention a chokehold and states he was not in great distress. Also today
the four EMS workers who responded to the scene were suspended without pay.
But there are many unanswered questions. In the video we can see a police
officer putting Garner in an illegal chokehold as three others surround
him. Next you see another officer come in and pin Garner`s head against
the ground. And as he`s pinned, this is what Garner is saying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC GARNER, DIED WHILE BEING ARRESTED: I can`t breathe. I can`t breathe.
I can`t breathe. I can`t breathe. I can`t breathe. I can`t breathe. I
can`t breathe. I can`t breathe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Eleven times he says he can`t breathe. Then he stops talking,
stops moving. But how did we get to this point? The altercation starts
with just two police officers talking to Garner. Almost 30 seconds later,
four police officers are surrounding him. One puts him in a chokehold.
Another 30 seconds go by. And now seven officers surround him. He`s not
armed. He`s down. Soon after Garner`s motionless body lay on the
sidewalk, hands cuffed behind his back. From the moment this video started
we know it takes EMS at least four minutes until they show up and the lack
of urgency is stunning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EMS WOMAN: Sir, is everything all right with you now? It`s EMS.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Sir, EMS is here. Answer their questions, OK?
VIDEOGRAPHER: He can`t breathe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: No CPR. No sense of urgency. No trying to revive him. How do
we explain an illegal chokehold? How do we explain policemen standing
around doing nothing while they see the chokehold? How do we explain EMS
workers taking four minutes before they do their job as Emergency Medical
Service? There are too many unanswered questions. Too many people
involved. That`s why there is outrage and that`s why we are going to stay
on this until all those questions are answered and the people involved held
Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.
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