August 6, 2014
Guest: Karen Bass, Ryan Grim, Joan Walsh, Ed Rendell
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
Breaking news, we are waiting on a news conference from President Obama as
the historic first ever U.S. Africa Summit draws to a close. The
president, running about an hour late right now, but expected to start
shortly. We`ll bring it to you live when it happens.
Of course, this summit is focus on foreign policy. But some domestic
issues surfaced earlier today. It happened when first lady Michelle Obama
and former first lady Laura Bush shared the stage to talk about the role
played by world leaders` spouses.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: First spouses, we don`t
choose this position. We just happen to be in it. And we do the --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re saying --
M. OBAMA: Right, right.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And can`t be fired.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
M. OBAMA: I guess we`ll see.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: I guess we`ll see. It appeared to be a light-hearted reference
to the serious subject of impeachment. We`ll see if the issues of
executive actions and the GOP`s impeachment threats come up at this news
conference. Again, the president expected to start any moment now.
Joining me now are Ryan Grim and Joan Walsh. Thank you both for being
JOAN WALSH, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, SALON.COM: Thanks, Reverend.
RYAN GRIM, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, HUFFINGTON POST/MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:
SHARPTON: Joan, as we await the president, did the first lady sum it up?
Is the political world watching and waiting to see just how serious
Republicans are about this impeachment talk?
WALSH: It cracks me up when I heard it, reverend al. I think that is
partly what she is alluding to in her draw way, you know. The president
really should have a job for a while, but some people would like him not
to. So I think that`s what she was joking about. Because as much as they
tell us, the Democrats are making up this threat and Democrats are raising
money off this threat. The impeachment talk just doesn`t stop.
SHARPTON: Ryan, this is the president`s last press conference before he
takes a short break. What does he need to say tonight? What does he need
to say about both the global situations, where clearly a lot of issues
around the world about the summit, the historic summit that is closing down
that he convened? And some of what is going on, not going on, in
Washington as it relates to his administration in the Congress. What does
he need to say tonight?
GRIM: Well, the choices that are facing the president over the next two
plus years are very much narrowed. You know, especially if Democrats lose
the Senate come November. So that means that what people will be watching
for is what action he will take at the executive level.
And in some senses, you know, he is actually boosted there by this
impeachment movement being out there. And in other words, the presence of
this more extreme friend of the Republican Party makes the Democrats look
good, the more that they elevate it. And the way to elevate it, is for the
president to take bold stands. In other words, if he comes out and says,
look, this is what we`re doing when it comes to immigration reform, I`m
going to legalize for the next two years while I`m president, you know,
roughly say five million people, that`s a number that`s been batted around,
that will drive that wing absolutely insane. And it will put the spotlight
on a part of the GOP that the mainstream elite would rather not see.
So, in this kind of paradox way, Democrats, you know, more liberal
Democrats are actually boosted by having this extreme fringe out there.
SHARPTON: You know, Joan, it occurs to me that this week, one of the few
Republicans who voted against Speaker Boehner`s lawsuit, you know, he says
that he feels the problem is it didn`t go far enough. Let me show you what
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. WALTER JONES (R), NORTH CAROLINA: I`m one that believes sincerely
that constitution says that when a president, be it Republican or Democrat,
when a president exceeds his authority and you can`t stop the president
from exceeding his authority, then we do have what`s called impeachment.
Use the constitution. That`s what it`s there for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: I mean, isn`t this the real problem that Speaker Boehner`s
lawsuit may not satisfy the far right? And just, they go ahead anyway and
try to force impeachment, particularly if they gain the Senate?
WALSH: I don`t want to see impeachment, Reverend Al. But the people who
argue this way actually may have the fact and the constitution on their
side. Speaker Boehner probably has no standing for his silly little
lawsuit, which is really impeachment for cowards. And so, the people who
are pushing for impeachment, I don`t agree with them about any of it, and I
don`t want it see it happen. But they are kind of right about the role of
Congress. And if you continue to call this man a tyrant and dictator and
say that he is, you know, he is breaking the law and he is making the law,
then impeachment. You know, you escalate it that level, well then
impeachment really is the remedy.
And you know, even as they refuse to pass a border crisis bill and then
tell the president he should take executive action even though, because
they won`t do their job, while they`re calling him a tyrant, they`re
setting this trap for him, but also for themselves. Because I think it
would be terrible for them too.
SHARPTON: But Ryan, let`s play that out. If there is a termination by the
courts that speaker Boehner has no standing, wouldn`t that just fuel the
impeachment crowd in the Republican Party?
GRIM: I think it would, and especially if it comes along with the
president continuing to take executive action, that Republicans object to.
You know, let`s say that he puts an executive action or executive order
about corporate inversion out there, along with something on immigration.
Let`s say he does something else on wages, and you combine that with the
court saying, no, you don`t have standing, then they do have a very valid
argument to say, look, you have already said that you believe that he
violated his oath. There is a very clear precedent, and very set of clear
instructions in the constitution for what Congress should do if they
believe the president violated his oath.
And like Joan said, you know, stand up behind your convictions. And have
the courage to say no, we`re going to impeach. So you know, they do find
themselves in kind of a boxed canyon there. She`s exactly right.
SHARPTON: You know, Joan, third ranking house Democrat congressman James
Clyburn says he expects impeachment. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D), SOUTH CAROLINA: If the Republicans maintain
control of the house, Barack Obama will be impeached. There are 225 votes
for this lawsuit. Well, beyond the 218 that`s need to impeach. That`s my
expectation. I hope I`m wrong, but I don`t think so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Is this a feeling that is settling among many Democrats that
president will be impeached after the midterm election is by Republicans if
they maintain majority?
WALSH: Well, I think more people are seriously worried, rather than
thinking it is just a vague possibility. And I think one reason is,
Reverend Al, you know, we saw John Boehner tell us he would never use the
debt ceiling as hostage and then he was forced to.
We saw speaker Boehner tell us that he did not want to see the shut down
over the budget stand standoff last year, but then government shut down.
And so, the speaker does not have the capacity to stand up to the right
wing of its caucus. They really are driving it. Speaker Ted Cruise is
And so, speaker Boehner is not entirely in charge. He knows that
impeachment would be terrible politically for Republicans. And yet, he
often gets taken away by the most extreme parts of his party. And I don`t
know that he can control this. Even if he knows what the right thing is to
SHARPTON: You were watching live as we await the president of the United
States to come at the end of this historic Africa summit, Africa Leaders
summit. And hold a press conference moments away, and we`ll show it to you
live, and then have reaction right after it concludes.
Let me go back to you, Ryan. Michele Bachmann, the congresswoman, she says
Republicans, if they don`t impeach the president, they should at least go
after his cabinet. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: For instance, I would nominate the
head of homeland he is security who will execute the laws on the border.
And we need to, it need be bring about articles of impeachment and tell the
president that if you issue these work programs, we are going to hold the
person accountable who is going to execute your law use is law, and we will
bring that person up for betrayal of public trust and we will impeach that
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: So now, Ryan, they are going after Obama cabinet members for
what they may do. They want it get rid of them and try them for what they
possibly will do. I mean, I`ve never heard of this one. But how do you
enforce something that hasn`t even been done yet?
GRIM: Right. And who is going to enforce it. That`s the problem that
they come up against. You know, OK, so the House declares that somebody
has broken the law or whatever. Then they refer it over to the justice
department. They don`t have the power to force the justice department to
go out and arrest that person. And in fact, when they tried to earlier,
Democrats cited an opinion written by Ted Olsen during the Regan
administration. So they are able to put, you know, the holy Ronald Reagan
back at the House of Representatives here. So they have all sorts of
problems when they are going to try this approach.
But, on the other thing I think that will moderate them slightly is that
Eric Cantor will be gone next time. Jeff Hensarling (ph) is not much of a
threat any more to the speaker and you have an otherwise very weak
leadership. So there isn`t really an alternative to John Boehner that has
emerged yet, that the tea party could get behind the challenge`s authority
and John Boehner knows that as well as anybody else.
SHARPTON: You know, I want to raise this as welling with Joan, while we
wait for the president to come and give his press conference, GOP
congressman Mo Brooks, he`s been out talking about he calls the Democrats
and the president`s war on white. He expanded these explosive comments.
Listen to what he is saying now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MO BROOKS (R), ALABAMA: We have imbedded in federal statutes, what is
the one race that can be discriminated against? As a matter of law, which
one is it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: White males.
BROOKS: That every other -- well, not just white males, but all whites.
Every other racial category under federal law has protected status. You
cannot discriminate against them. Whites are treated differently.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: I think you wrote a book about this.
WALSH: (INAUDIBLE). What`s the matter with white people? Yes. And I was
on vacation for a couple of days.
SHARPTON: And what`s the matter is that the only one that can be
WALSH: Ryan and I are here to tell you, it is very hard to be white right
now with this war on white people, Reverend Al. Thank you for having us on
the show because we don`t go get very many opportunities in media or in
business or in government. We really are kind of an endangered species.
And you are one of the few people who make us feel welcome. So we
appreciate that, sir.
Yes. And also the president, he is waging a war on himself so the poor
guy, you know. This is just very tough for Barack Obama. You know, I just
say they will not give up on the -- this used to be the Glenn Beck line.
But now we have people in Congress, not just doing it once but doubling
down and tripling down.
SHARPTON: Ryan. Your view on Mo Brooks, be in now in expanded mode.
GRIM: Yes. I mean, Lou ECK (ph) has a great riff on this about how great
it is to be white in this country. Not that white people are better, but
white people just simply that they have it better. You know, to understand
white privilege, just look around the country. You know, they control more
of the resources and have more of the opportunity. Any other way of
looking that it is just absolutely bizarre.
You know, "the Hill" reports that Republicans strategists are really
nervous about this rhetoric, Joan. I mean, we`re joking a little, you and
I, on it, but they say that Republican strategists are really nervous about
this kind of rhetoric. Republicans say GOP lawmakers make comments that
Democrats are waging a war on whites is just what the party doesn`t need to
deal with ahead of the midterm election. This is what "The Hill" writes.
WALSH: Well, you know, the mainstream party does this. One set of voices
says we don`t want to be going at -- we don`t want to be the white party
any more. We can`t afford to be the white party any more. And then,
another wing of the party continues to gin up this notion that whites face
discrimination, that whites are embattled, that affirmative action ruined
what it means to be white. And so, they try to have it both ways. Or
it`ll blow up against them. It won`t blow up probably before to 2014. So
you know, it works to turn out their embattled, paranoid, older white base.
SHARPTON: And the president appears to be preparing to walk in and yes,
there`s the president, coming in. He will make a statement and then he
will take questions. Let`s go live to Washington.
(BEGIN LIVE FEED)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Please be seated.
SHARPTON: To the president of the United States.
B. OBAMA: As I think everyone knows by now this first U.S.-Africa leader
summit has been the largest gathering we`ve ever hosted with African heads
of state and government and that includes about 50 motorcades. So I`ll
begin by thanking the people of Washington, D.C. for helping us host this
historic event and especially for their patience with the traffic.
As I`ve said, this summit reflects the reality that even as Africa
continues to face great challenges, we`re also seeing the emergence of a
new, more prosperous Africa. Africa`s progress is being led by Africans
including leaders here today.
I want to take this opportunity again to thank my fellow leaders for being
here. Rather than a lot of prepare speeches our sessions today were
genuine discussions, a chance to truly listen and to try to come together
around some pragmatic steps that we can take together. And that`s what
we`ve done this week.
First, we made important progress in expanding our trade. The $33 billion
in new trades and investments that I announced yesterday will help spur
African development and support tens of thousands of American jobs. We
have made a new commitment to our power African initiative. We tripled our
goal and not aim to bring electricity to 60 million African homes and
And today, I reiterated that we`ll continue network with Congress to
achieve a seamless and long term renewal of the African growth and
opportunity act. We agree that Africa`s growth depends first and foremost
on continued reforms in Africa, by Africans.
The leaders here pledge to step up efforts to pursue reforms that attract
investment, produce barriers that stifle trade especially between African
countries and to promote regional integration.
And as I announced yesterday, the United States will increase our support
to help build Africa`s capacity to trade with itself and the world. And
ultimately, Africa`s prosperity depends on Africa`s greatest resource its
people. And I`ve been very encouraged by the desire of leaders here to
partner with us in supporting the entrepreneurs including through our young
African leaders initiative.
I think there`s an increasing recognition that if countries will reach
their full economic potential than they have to invest in women, their
education, their skills, and protect them from gender based violence and
that was a topic of conversation this afternoon. And this week, the United
States announced a range of initiatives to help empower women across
Our new alliance for food security and nutrition continues to grow, aiming
to lift 50 million Africans from poverty. In our fight against HIV/AIDS,
we`ll work with ten African countries to help them double the number of
their children on life-saving anti-retroviral drugs.
And even as the United States is deploying some of our medical first
respond towers West Africa to control the Ebola outbreak, we`re also
working to strengthen the health systems including joining with the African
union to pursue the creation of an African centers for disease control.
I also want to note that the American people are renewing their commitment
to Africa. Today, interaction, the leading alliance of American NGOs is
announcing that over the next three years its members will invest $4
billion to promote maternal health, children`s health and the delivery of
vaccines and drugs. So this is not just a government effort, it is also an
effort that is spurred on by the private-sector.
Combined with the investments we announced yesterday and the commitments
made today at the symposium hosted by our spouses, that means this summit
has helped to mobilize some $37 million for Africa`s progress on top of,
obviously, the substantial efforts that have been made in the past.
Second, we addressed good governance, which is a foundation of economic
growth in free societies. Some African nations are making impressive
progress but we see troubling restrictions on universal rights.
So today was an opportunity to highlight the importance of rule of law,
open and accountable institution, strong civil societies and protection of
human rights for all citizens and all communities. And I made the point
during our discussion that nations hat uphold these rights and principles
will ultimately be more prosperous and more economically successful.
In particular, we agreed to step up our collective efforts against
corruption that cause African economy`s tens of billions of dollars every
year, money that ought to be invested in the people of Africa.
Several leaders waved the idea avenue partnership to combat illicit finance
and there was widespread agreement. So we decided to convene our experts
and develop an action plan to promote the transparency that is essential to
Third, we`re deepening our security cooperation to meet common threats from
terrorism to human trafficking. And we`re launching a new security
governance initiative to help our African countries continue to build
strong professional security forces to provide for their own security and
we`re starting with Kenya, Niger, Mali, Nigeria, Ghana and Tunisia.
During our discussions, our West African partners made it clear that they
want to increase their capacity to respond to crises. So the United States
will launch a new effort to bolster the region`s early warning and response
network and increase their ability to share information about merging
We also agreed to make significant new investments in African peace
keeping. The United States will provide additional equipment to African
peacekeepers in Somalia and the Central African Republic.
We will support the African`s union`s effort to strengthen its peace
keeping institutions. And most importantly we are launching a new African
peace keeping rapid response partnership with the goal of quickly deploying
African peacekeepers in support of U.N. or AU missions and will join with
six countries that in recent years have demonstrated a track record as
peacekeepers, Ghana, Senegal, Rwanda, Tanzania, Utopia and Uganda. And we
are going to invite countries beyond Africa to join us in supporting this
effort because the entire world has a stake in the success of peace keeping
In closing, I just want to say this has been an extraordinary event, an
extraordinary summit, given the success we had this week, we agreed that
summits like this can be a critical part of our work together going
forward, a forcing mechanism for decisions and action. So we agreed that
the U.S.-Africa leader summit will be a recurring event to hold ourselves
accountable for our commitments and to sustain our momentum. And I`ll
strongly encourage my successor to carry on this work because Africa must
know that they will always have a strong and reliable partner in the United
States of America.
So with that I`m going take a couple of questions. I`m going to Julie Pace
of Associated Press. Where`s Julie?
JULIE PACE, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Thank you, Mr. President. There`s a lot of
discussions surrounding this summit about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa
and there`s an untested and unapproved drug in the U.S. that appears to be
helping some of the Americans who are infected. Is your administration
considering at all sending supplies of this drug if it becomes available to
some of these countries in West Africa? And could you discuss a bit the
ethics of either providing an untested drug to a foreign country or
providing it only to Americans and not to other countries that are harder
hit if it can save lives?
B. OBAMA: Well, I think we got to let the science guide us. And I don`t
think all the information is in on whether this drug is helpful. What we
do know is that the Ebola virus both currently and in the past is
controllable if you have a strong public health infrastructure in place.
And the countries that have been infected are the first to admit that
what`s happened here is that their public health systems have been
overwhelmed. They weren`t able to identify and then isolate cases quickly
enough. You did not have a strong trust relationship between some of the
communities that were affected and public health workers as a consequence
it spread more rapidly than has been typical with the periodic Ebola
outbreaks that occurred previously.
But despite, obviously, the extraordinary pain and hardship of the families
and persons who have been infected and despite the fact that we have to
take this very seriously, it`s important for us to remind ourselves this is
not an airborne disease. This is one that can be controlled and contained
very effectively if we use the right protocols.
So, what we`ve done is to make sure we`re surging not just U.S. resources
but we reached out to European partners and partners from other countries
working with the WHO. Let`s get all the help workers we need on the
ground, let`s help to bolster, the systems that they already have in place.
Let`s nick as early as possible any additional outbreaks of the disease.
And then, during the course of that process, I think it is entirely
appropriate for us to see if there are additional drugs or medical
treatments that can improve the survivability of what is a very deadly and
obviously brutal disease.
So, we`re going to -- we`re are focusing on the public health approach
right now because we know how to do that. But I will continue to seek
information about what we`re learning with respect to these drugs going
PACE: If it`s effective, would you support fast tracking its approval in
the United States?
B. OBAMA: I think it`s premature for me to say that because I don`t have
enough information. I don`t have enough data right now to offer an opinion
John Karl, ABC News.
JOHN KARL, ABC NEWS: Thank you, Mr. President.
When you were running for president you said, quote, "the biggest problems
we`re facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and
more power into the executive branch and not going through Congress at all
and that`s what I intend to reverse."
So my question to you has Congress`s inability to do anything significant
giving you a green light to push the limits of executive power, even a duty
to do so or put another way does it bother you more to be accused of being
an imperial president pushing those limits or to be accused of a do nothing
president who couldn`t get anything down because of a dysfunctional
OBAMA: Well, you know, I think that -- I never have a green light. I`m
bound by the constitution. I`m bound by separation of powers. There`s
some things we can do. Congress has the power the first, for example. I
would love to fund a large infrastructure proposal right now that would put
millions of people to work and boost our GDP. We know we got roads and
bridges and airports and, you know, electrical grids that need to be
rebuilt. But without the cooperation of congress, what I can do is speed
up permitting process, for example. I can make sure that we`re working
with the private-sector to see if we can channel investments into much
needed projects. But ultimately, Congress has to pass a budget and
authorize spending. So I don`t have a green light.
What I am consistently going to do is wherever I have the legal authority
to make progress on behalf of middle class Americans and folks working to
get in the middle class, whether it`s by making sure federal contractors
are paying a fair wage to their workers, making sure that women have the
opportunity to make sure they are getting paid the same as men for doing
the same job, where I have the capacity to, you know, expand some of the
student loan programs that we`ve already put in place so repayments a
little bit more affordable for college graduate, I`ll seize those
opportunities and that`s where I think the American people expect me to do.
My preference in all these instances is to work with Congress because not
only can Congress do more, but it`s going to be longer lasting. And, you
know, when you look at, for example, congressional inaction and in
particular the inaction on the part of House Republicans when it comes to
immigration reform, here`s an area where I`ve said before, not only the
American people want to see action, not only is there 80 percent overlap
between what Republicans say they want and what Democrats say they want, we
actually passed a bill out of Senate that was bipartisan. And in those
circumstances what the American people expect is that despite the
differences between the parties there should at least be the capacity to
move forward on thing we agree on. And that`s not what we`re seeing right
So, in the face of that kind of dysfunction, what I can do is, you know,
scour our authorities to try to make progress. And we`re going to make
sure that every time we take one of these steps, that we are working within
the confines of my executive power but I promise you the American people
don`t want me just standing around twiddling my thumbs and waiting for
Congress to get something done. Even as we take these executive actions
I`ll don`t reach out to Democrats and Republicans, to the speaker, to the
leadership on both sides and in both chambers to try to come up with
formulas where we can make progress even if it`s incremental.
KARL: Do you believe you have the power to grant work permits to those who
are here illegally as your supporters have suggested?
OBAMA: What I certainly recognize with respect to immigration reform and
I`ve said this in the past is that we have a broken system. It`s under-
resourced. And we got to make choices in terms of how we allocate
personnel and resources.
So if I`m going to, for example, send more immigration judges down to the
border to process some of these unaccompanied children, that have arrived
at the border, then that`s coming from someplace else. And we`re going to
have to prioritize that`s well within our authorities and prosecutorial
discretion. My preference would be an actual comprehensive immigration law
and we already have a bipartisan law that would solve a whole bunch of
these problems. Until that happens, I`m going to have to make choices.
That`s what I was elected to do.
Margaret Telev, Bloomberg.
MARGARET TALEY BLOOMBERG: Thank you, Mr. President. Along the lines of
executive authority, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has previously said that
the executive range of government doesn`t have the authority to slow or
stop corporate inversions. The practice that you have called distasteful
patriotic, et cetera. But now he is refusing options to do so. And this
is an issue for a lot of businesses, probably including some of the ones
who are paying a lot of attention to this summit. We`re interested in.
So, what I wanted to ask you was, what prompted that the parent reversal,
what actions are now under consideration? Will you consider an executive
order that would limit or ban such companies from getting a federal
contract and how soon would you like to see treasury act given Congress`
B. OBAMA: Just to review why we`re concerned here, you have accountants
going to some big corporations, multinational corporations that are clearly
U.S.-based and have the bulk of their operations in the United States and
these accounts are saying, you know what, we found a great loophole. If
you just flip your citizenship to another country, even though it is a
paper transaction, we think we can get you out of paying a whole bunch of
taxes. Well, that`s not fair. It`s not right.
The lost revenue to treasury means it has to be made up somewhere. And
that typically is going to be a bunch of hardworking Americans who either
pay through higher taxes themselves or to reduce services. And in the
meantime, the company is still using all of the services and all of the
benefits of effectively being a U.S. corporation. They just decided that
they two go through this paper exercise. So there is legislation working
its way through Congress that would eliminate some of these tax loopholes
And it is true what previous Treasury Secretary Lew are previously said,
that we can`t solve the entire problem administratively. But what we are
doing is examining other elements to how existing statutes are interpreted
by rule, or by regulation or tradition or practice. That can at least
discourage some of the folks who may be trying to take advantage of this
loophole. And I think it is something that would really bother the average
American. The idea that somebody renounces their citizenship but continues
to entirely benefit from operating in the United States of America.
Just to avoid paying a whole bunch of taxes. We`re reviewing all of our
options as usual and related to the answer I gave Jonathan about executive
actions. My preference would always be for us to go ahead and get
something done in Congress. And keep in mind, it is still a small number
of companies that are using this because I think most American companies
are proud to be American. Recognize the benefits of being American. And
our responsible actors and willing to pay their fair share of taxes, to
support all of the benefits that they receive from being here.
But you know, we don`t want to see this trend grow. We don`t want
companies who have, up until now been playing by the rules, suddenly
looking over their shoulder and saying, you know what? Some of our
competitors are gaming the system and we need to do it too. That kind of
hurt mentality I think is something we want to avoid. So, we want to move
quickly. As quickly as possible.
TALEY: Just to qualify, the federal contractor seems like -- that you
liked to, its worked well for you on issues like pro-gay rights or
contraception policy, isn`t fair to seem that that would (INAUDIBLE).
B. OBAMA: Margaret, I`m not going to announced specific -- and drops, when
we`ve done a thorough evaluation and we understand what our authorities
are, I`ll let you know. Chris Jansing, NBC News.
CHRIS JANSING, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, Mr.
President. Russia said today that it is going to ban food and agricultural
product import, that was about $1.3 billion last year. At the same time,
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that -- troops along the border of
Ukraine increases the likelihood of an invasion. Our sanctions is not
B. OBAMA: Well, we don`t know yet whether the sanctions are working.
Sanctions are work as intended in putting enormous pressure and strain on
the Russian economy. That`s not my estimation. If you look at the markets
and if you look at estimates in terms of capitol flight, if you look at
projections for Russian growth, what you`re seeing is that the economy has
ground to a halt, somewhere between 100 and $200 billion of capitol flights
taken place. I`m not saying a lot of investors are coming in new to start
businesses inside of Russia. And it has presented the choice to President
Putin as to whether he is going to try to resolve the issues in Eastern
Ukraine, through diplomacy and peaceful means.
Recognizing the Ukraine is a sovereign country. And that it is up
ultimately to the Ukrainian people to make decisions about their own lives.
Or alternatively continue on the course that he`s on, in which case, he`s
going to be hurt in this economy and hurting his own people over the long
term. And in that sense, we are doing exactly what we should be doing.
And we`re very pleased that our European allies and partners joined us in
this process as well as the numbers of countries around the world.
Having said all that, the issue is not resolved yet. You still have
fighting in Eastern Ukraine. Civilians are still dying. We have already
seen some of the consequences of this conflict in the loss of the Malaysian
Airlines airline. Or jetliner. And the sooner that we can get back on a
track in which there are serious discussions taking place, to ensure that
all Ukrainians are hurt, that they can work through the political process,
that they represented. That the reforms that have already been offered by
the government in Kiev are implemented. To protect Russian speakers. To
assure decentralization in power. The sooner that we move on laws, and as
soon as President Putin recognizes that you know, Ukraine is an independent
country. You know, it`s only at that point where we can say that the
problem is truly been solved. But in the meantime, sanctions are working
the way this posted.
JANSING: The truths that are mounting on the border are more highly
trained. They seem to have more sophisticated weaponry according to
intelligence. Does that make you reconsider as a few Democrats have
suggested providing full aid to Ukraine given those troop movements?
OBAMA: Well, keep in mind that the Russian army is a lot bigger than the
Ukrainian army. So, the issue here is not whether the Ukrainian army has
some additional weaponry, at least up until this point. They`ve been
fighting a group of separatists, and engaged in some terrible violence.
But who can`t match the Ukrainian army. Now, if you start saying an
invasion by Russia, that`s obviously a different set of questions. We`re
not there yet. What we have been is providing a whole host of packages to
the Ukrainian government. And to their military. And we will continue to
work with them, to evaluate on a day by day, week by week basis. What
exactly they need in order to be able to defend their countries and to deal
with the separatist elements that currently are being armed by Russia. But
the best thing we can do for Ukraine is to try to get back on the political
track. David Ohito, The Standard.
DAVID OHITO, THE STANDARD: Thank you, Mr. President. You`ve been hosting
African kids, primary and president for the last three days. But that --
in Africa, media freedom is tracks. So why would opportunities become
increasingly difficult. (INAUDIBLE) In Kenya, they have passed very bad
lows targeting the media. What can the international community do to
ensure that we have a strong leader in Africa? And more potentially to
secure the relief of the generally swap behind bars. And two, so many
countries in Africa posting threats of terror. I`m glad you mentioned a
few message that you`re going to take. But what can the international
community do also to neutralize terror threats in Mali, Camaro, Nigeria,
Kenya, could that be the reason you have keep visits to Africa? Thank you.
B. OBAMA: I`m sorry. What was the last part of the question?
OHITO: Could the terror threats the reason you have to keep Kenya in your
B. OBAMA: No, no, no.
Well, first of all, with respect to journalists in the media. The last
session that we had on good governance, emphasized that good governance
means everybody has a voice. That government is transparent. And thereby
accountable. And even though leaders doesn`t always like it, the media
plays a crucial role in assuring people that, they have the proper
information to evaluate the policies that their leader are pursuing. And
so, we have been very consisted in pushing governments, not just in Africa
but around the world. To respect the right of journalists to practice
their trade, as a critical part of civil society and a critical part of any
You know, the specific issue of the al Jazeera journalist in Egypt, we`ve
been clear both publicly and privately that they should be released. And,
you know, we have been troubled by some of the laws that have been passed
around the world. That seem to restrict the ability of journalist to
pursue stories or write stories. We`ve also been disturbed by efforts to
control the internet. Part of what`s happened, over the last decade or
two, is that there`s a new media, new technology. Allow people to get
information that previously would have never been accessible or only to a
And now, people can punch something up on the internet and pull up
information that`s relevant to their own lives and their own societies and
communities. So, we`re going to continue to push back against these
efforts. As is true on whole range of issues. And I`ve said this in the
past, you know, many times we will work with countries even though they are
not perfect on every issues. And we find that in some cases engaging, a
country generally that generally is a good partner but is not performing
optimally, when it comes to all various categories of human rights, you
know, that we can be effective by working with them on certain areas and
criticizing them and trying to enlist improvements in other areas.
And even among countries that generally have strong human rights records.
There are areas where there are problems. That`s true of the United
States, by the way. And so, the good news, and we heard this in the
summit, is that more and more countries are recognizing that in the absence
of good governance. In the absence of accountability and transparency.
That will not only going to have an effect domestically on the legitimacy
of a government. It`s going to have an effect on economic development and
growth. Because you know, ultimately, you know, in an information age,
open societies, have the capacity to innovate and educate and move faster
and be part of the global marketplace, more than close to site do over the
long term. I believe that.
OBAMA: Now with respect to terrorism, I think there`s uniform concern of
terrorist infiltration in many countries throughout Africa. Obviously,
there`s a concern that we have globally. A lot of the initiatives that we
put forward were designed to partner so that countries first and foremost
can deal with these problems within their own borders or regionally. And
the United States doesn`t have a desire to expand and create a big
footprint inside of Africa. What we do want to make sure we can do is
partner with the African union. With -- with individual countries to build
up their capacity.
One of the encouraging things in the sessions was a recognition that
fighting terrorism, also requires security forces that are professional,
that are disciplined, that themselves are not engaging in human rights
violations. That part the lesson that we`ve all learn about terrorism is
that it is possible in reaction to terrorism to actually accelerate the
disease. If the response is one that alienates populations or particular
ethnic groups or particular religions. And so the work that we`re doing
including the security initiatives that I announced today I think can make
a big difference in that direction.
It is not just a matter of us providing better equipment or better
training, that`s a part of it. But part of it is also making sure that
these security forces and the intelligence operations are coordinated and
professional and are not alienating populations. The more we do that, the
more effective we can be. Last point I`ll make is on good governance. One
of the best inoculators against terrorist infiltration is, a society in
which everybody feels as if they have a stake in the existing order and
they feel that their grievances can be resolved through political means
rather than through violence. And so, that`s just one more reason why good
governance has to be part of the recipe that we use for a strong, stable
and prosperous Africa. Last question. Jerome Cartillier.
JEROME CARTILLIER, AFP: Thank you, Mr. President. Earlier today, Israeli
prime minister described his operation as justified and proportionate. Do
you agree these two words? And Israel and Hamas seems to be -- cease-fire.
Are you hopeful the cease-fire, the truce cease-fire can be achieved and
what exact role can the U.S. play in the current nukes going on in Cairo?
B. OBAMA: I have said from the beginning, that no country would tolerate
rockets being lunch into their cities. And as a consequence, I have
consistently supported Israel`s right to defend itself and that includes
doing what it needs to do to prevent rockets from landing on population
centers, and more recently as we learn preventing tunnels being dug under
their territory, that can be use to launch terrorist attack. I also think
it is important to remember that Hamas acts extraordinarily irresponsibly
when it is deliberately citing rocket launchers in population centers. You
know, putting populations at risk because of that particular military
Now, having said all that, I have also expressed my distress at what
happened to innocent civilians including women and children during the
course of this process. And I`m very glad that we have at least
temporarily achieved the cease-fire. The question now is, how do build on
this temporary cessation of violence and move forward in a sustainable way.
We intend to support the process we`re taking place in Egypt. I think the
short term goal has to be to make sure that rocket launches do not resume.
That the work that the Israeli government did in closing off these tunnels
has been completed.
And that we are now in the process of helping to rebuild a gas that`s been
really badly damaged. As a consequence of this -- this conflict. Long-
term. There has to be a recognition that Gaza cannot sustain itself
permanently. Closed off from the world. And incapable of providing some
opportunity, jobs, economic growth for the population that lives there.
Particularly given how dense the population is. How young that population
is. We`re going to have to see a shift in opportunity for the people of
I have no sympathy Hamas. I have great sympathy for ordinary people who
are struggling within Gaza. And the question then becomes, can we find a
formula in which Israel has greater assurance that Gaza will not be a
launching pad for further attacks. Perhaps more dangerous attacks as
technology develops into their country. But at the same time, ordinary
Palestinians have some prospects for an opening of Gaza so that they do not
feel logged off an incapable of pursuing basic prosperity. I think there
are formulas that are available but they`re going to require risks on the
part of political leaders.
They`re going to require a slow rebuilding of trust which is obviously very
difficult in the aftermath of the kind of violence that we`ve seen. So, I
don`t think we get there right away but the U.S. goal right now would be to
make sure that the cease-fire holds, that Gaza can begin the process of
rebuilding. And that some measures are taken so that the people of Gaza
feel some sense of hope. And to the people of Israel feel confident that
they`re not going to have a repeat of the kind of the rocket launchers that
we`ve seen over the last several weeks. And Secretary Kerry has been in
consistent contact with all the parties involved.
We expect we will continue to be trying to work as diligently as we can to
move the process forward. It is also going to need to involve the
Palestinian leadership in the west bank. I have no sympathy for Hamas. I
have great sympathy for some of the work that has been done in cooperation
with Israel, the international authority by the Palestinian authority. And
they have shown themselves to be responsible, they have recognized Israel.
They are prepare to move forward, to arrive at a two-state solution. I
think Abu Massan (ph) is sincere in his desire for peace. But they have
also been weakened, I think, during this process.
The population in the West Bank may have also lost confidence or lost the
sense of hope in terms of how to move forward. We have to rebuild that as
well. And the delegation that is leading the Palestinian negotiators, and
my hope is that we will be engaging with them to try to move what has been
a very tragic situation over the last several weeks and no more
Thank you very much, everybody. And thank you all who participated in the
African summit. It was an outstanding piece of work. And I want to remind
folks in case they forgot of the incredible young people who participated
in our fellows program. We are very proud of you. And we are looking
forward to seeing all the great things that you do when you go back home.
All right? Thank you.
(END LIVE FEED)
SHARPTON: President Obama wrapping up a wide ranging news conference at
first ever U.S.-Africa Summit. He spoke for about 40 minutes, taking 10
questions on foreign and domestic issues. He had some strong words for
Russia and Hamas. He also talked about taking dysfunction in Congress on
and about taking executive action wherever he had the legal authority to do
so. And he said the American people do not want him to quote -- they do
not want him twiddling his thumbs while waiting for Congress to act.
Joining me now is Congresswoman Karen Bass, Democrat from California. And
back with me, Joan Walsh and Ryan Grim. Thank you for being here again to
all of you. And congresswoman, thank you for joining me.
The president says, he wants to work with Congress but the American people
don`t want to see him twiddling his thumbs. Your reaction it that.
REP. KAREN BASS (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, I mean, I think that`s right and
then I certainly support the president issuing as many executive orders as
he possibly can. Because I think Congress has demonstrated over the last
four years that they are not going work with him on any issue. The
American public want to see something get done. So, I applaud the
executive orders. I think it`s pretty incredible though for the first time
in U.S. history to have 50 leaders, from the continent of Africa here, for
the president to have a press conference and there to be one question on
the summit, this was a historic occasion over a hundred events were held
around town related to Africa. And I frankly think there should have been
a lot more attention to that.
SHARPTON: You`re on the subcommittee on Africa and you know how important
this issue is and how it has been ignored. And the president`s whole
statement was around the $37 billion invested.
SHARPTON: Coming out of this conference, about good governance, about
peacekeeping, about human rights in Africa.
SHARPTON: And the American press, I think, asked about Ebola and then went
totally into other areas. Which kind of shows the point of the summit is
that Africa has been ignored.
BASS: Absolutely. And last week, for example, there were 500 young
African leaders here. This event was really a legacy, event for the
president. Because I think it is a complete reset in terms of U.S./Africa
relations. But last week, there was a summit of 500, a young African
leaders. One of his initiatives. Fifty thousand young people from the
continent of Africa applied. Five hundred were selected from every single
country. So not only are we paying attention to Africa today, we are also
preparing for Africa in the future. And this is under his leadership. So,
this is something that I know will be written about in history and it`s a
shame that there hasn`t been more attention put on it this week.
SHARPTON: Written about it in history, Joan. I was down there Monday.
What is -- what does this do to the president`s legacy?
WALSH: Well, it struck me, you know, so many people in this country have
such high hopes for him and such need for him. But the one question that
we did get from the reporter from The Standard, really showed you the high
hopes that Africans have of their first African-American president and the
desire that he go to Kenya and also the desire that he be a force for human
rights and also for press freedoms recognizing, you know --
SHARPTON: And to get incarcerated journalists out of jail.
WALSH: Incarcerated journalist out of jail. Yes. So much is expected of
him. And I`m with Congresswoman Bass, it is really a microcosm of American
attention to Africa that this historic occasion gets one question and it is
from an African journalist, not American journalist. But I`m glad you were
there Congresswoman to remind us.
SHARPTON: I think the gentleman Ryan from The Standard asked one in the
opening question about Africa so technically was two. But it was about the
Ebola and basically about the use of whatever us being used here, being
untested on those that had it. But I mean, how does that make us look to
Africa and the rest of the world when he`s -- they are at the summit. And
the media says OK, fine, that`s nice, but let`s talk about a, b, c, d, e.
And I`m not saying those issues are not important but this was the closing
press conference of the African Summit.
GRIM: I`m sure it looked strange to foreign viewers. Especially the
setting. If this was in the White House, and the White House press corps
was asking these questions it might have looked, you know, a little bit
more normal to them. However, the president knew that this was going to
happen. If he wanted more questions about the situation in Africa, there
were a lot of African journalist there that he could have called on. And
that`s not to say that the American journalist couldn`t have asked those
SHARPTON: Well, I think and maybe Congresswoman, that`s the point. If he
knew it was going to happen is to let people see how far we have to go.
How far -- we`re going to run out of time. How much does Africa mean to
the U.S. economy? Because we`re not talking about a pity party they had
the last three days.
BASS: Africa means an awful lot to the U.S. economy. First of all, there
is a potential of what it could mean if our relationships are strengthened
but all you got to do is go put gas in your car. And that`s what Africa
means to the U.S. economy. We have a significant amount of our oil from
the African continent. So I think that that is no excuse to me, the fact
that there were African journalist there. American journalist should be
SHARPTON: And since the United States was hosting it.
SHARPTON: I think we should have shown more interest. But Congresswoman
Karen Bass, Ryan Grim, and Joan Walsh, thank you for your time. And we
will be discussing I`m sure tomorrow night a lot of the other issues. But
I think today we should all acknowledge history was made.
Thank you for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.
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