PoliticsNation, Monday, September 29th, 2014
Read the transcript from the Monday show
September 29, 2014
Guest: Jack Rice, Brian Katulis, Maria Teresa Kumar, Midwin Charles,
Carmen St. George
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening, Ed. And thanks to you
for tuning in.
Breaking news on that White House fence jumper who was the first person to
ever make it inside the executive mansion. Tonight, we`re learning just
how far he made it. "The Washington Post" reporting Omar Gonzalez made it
much farther into the building than previously known, overpowering one
secret service officer and running through much of the main floor.
After barreling past the guard immediately inside the door, Gonzalez, who
was carrying a knife, dashed past the stairway, leading a half flight up to
the first family`s living quarters. This is stunning information. Secret
service had previously said Gonzalez was stopped in the main entry. Now it
appears he wasn`t stopped until he got deep inside.
According to the post, here`s what`s happened. This is the layout of the
state floor of the White House. Gonzalez made it through the entrance
hall, then into the 80-foot-long east room, the same room where President
Obama announced the killing of Osama bin Laden, before he reached the
doorway to the green room, where according to the post, he finally was
tackled by a counter assault agent.
Take a look at the ground he covered. The intruder didn`t simply make it
inside before he got tackled. And the green room where he was stopped,
overlooks the south lawn, where President Obama and his family had been
walking just minutes earlier, as they departed the White House.
How in the world did this happen? How did someone carrying a knife get
deep inside what`s supposed to be the safest home in America? Is the
secret service doing everything it can to keep the president and his family
Joining me now from the White House is NBC senior White House
correspondent, Chris Jansing.
Chris, what is your reaction to the White House and what is the reaction in
the White House to this report?
CHRIS JANSING, NBC NEWS SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It is as you
said, stunning. The White House won`t comment on these latest reports.
Neither will the secret service. But this really is, Rev., a very
different situation. And we were led to believe -- I was here that night.
Now, we just talked to congressman Elijah Cummings. He is the ranking
member of the committee that is going to talk to the secret service
director tomorrow. He said this should be a come to Jesus moment, a
transformational moment. He said the secret service has not lived up to
its reputation and here`s why.
Let`s go through what happened that night. After scaling the fence into
what as you said is widely expected to be the most secure house in the
country. Omar Gonzalez first ran 70 yards across the front lawn of the
White House. We believe he has stocked there just inside the front door.
Now we know he got well into the building, confronting at least two agents
along the way.
How could this happen? Well, we now believe the reason dogs didn`t stop
Gonzalez when he sprinted across the lawn, was because there were a lot of
officers there and there was concern the dogs might attack them instead.
Originally, you`ll remember the secret service said it was because he
appeared unarmed. And, of course, now we know he was carrying that
serrated blade knife.
What about the front door? "The Washington Post" reports there`s an alarm
box near the front entrance that`s supposed to alert guards to intrusion,
but apparently it had been going off a lot. And so it was on mute because
it was bothering staffers.
All of this, of course, happened just after the president. We saw these
pictures and his daughters and a friend got on Marine One for a weekend at
So these new revelations coming today following the weekend report about
the shooting in 2011. Seven bullets struck the White House. It took
agents four days to realize it even happened and it was actually a
housekeeper who found the evidence.
So as I mentioned, members of the House oversight committee are scheduled
to question secret service director Julia Pearson tomorrow during a
hearing. She wants at least part of that hearing to be closed. The
decision on that hasn`t been made. The president was left briefed by her
this past Thursday.
We`ve seen a few changes, including a double row of what looked like
bicycle racks surrounding the existing fence. And we saw agents on the
lawn just today, apparently testing communications equipment. But no one
at least that we know of has been relieved of duty.
At the briefing today, I just wanted to say I asked the White House press
secretary should the American people have confidence that the president and
his family are safe, and he says the president does, Rev.
SHARPTON: Well, Chris, Let me go back to the dogs. They`re saying that
the dogs they feared were going to attack agents. And that`s why the dogs
were not where they could have stopped, apprehended or at least brought
down this intruder?
JANSING: I`ve seen this before. When a previous intruder came over the
fence, Rev., and it was happening just right behind me, and there were
agents actually with guns drawn. But when the man was brought down, the
dog was within, I would say, inches of his face. They are trained to run,
to knock down a full grown man with a single leap. And then, if they need
to, they will bite, they will hold that will person down.
So, originally the question was, why weren`t they released? And they said,
he appeared unarmed. Same reason that apparently snipers chose not to take
a shot. But now they`re telling a different story altogether. Elijah
Cummings said these are the kinds of questions they want to get to the
Let me just make one more point that he said. He said one of the things
that disturbs him so much about this, Rev., is that part of what keeps the
president safe is the reputation of the secret service, people have come to
believe if you try something, they`ll stop you. And he`s concerned about
the message that this sends.
SHARPTON: And they`re saying he appeared to be unarmed. Chris Jansing at
the White House, I thank you for your time this evening.
JANSING: You are welcome.
SHARPTON: Let me bring in Jack Rice, a former CIA agent who spent time as
-- as a special agent in the office of security and Jim Cavanaugh, MSNBC
analyst and retired ATF analyst. Thank you both for being here.
JIM CAVANAUGH, MSNBC ANALYST: Thanks for having us.
SHARPTON: Jack, this man with a knife was deep inside the White House.
What`s your reaction?
JACK RICE, FORMER CIA SPECIAL AGENT: Well, this is horrifying. If you
contemplate what the potential could have been here. Yes, everything
turned out already in a sense. I guess the positive is that you realize
the procedures, the protocols that were in place, that should have been in
place, were simply dismissed, ignored, or whatever reason, not there.
But I think Chris` point is a really good one. One of the biggest concerns
that we need to have now besides all that is this lack of credibility. The
perception that the secret service is failing to do their job. Because
potentially, what that does, is encourage others to simply test just how
good, or how bad the secret service actually is.
SHARPTON: Now, Jim, the post reports that an alarm box was turned off. I
want to go back to that. Quote "an alarm box near the front entrance of
the White House designed to alert guards to an intruder had been muted at
what officers believed was the request of the usher`s office. Said a
secret service official who spoke on the condition on anonymity. How could
something like this happen? I mean, does this appear to be a breach of
CAVANAUGH: I think so, Reverend Al. You know, I`ve been on a lot of
secret service details. The one thing you hear a lot of carping about
people, it`s intrusive, it bothers them. There`s all kinds of reasons. If
this is true, and the ushers office said that, I think that`s a failure as
well to interfere at all with the security. But the atmosphere of the
secret service, down to any agent and uniformed division officer has to be
that you`re not going to compromise the security no matter who requests it.
And the chain of command is going to back you up.
So they have to change the atmosphere. They have to listen to their
people. They had the female agent on the balcony in 2011. She said there
were shots fired and she was fearful to bring it up again. So the climate
is not right. The atmosphere has to change. And Director Pearson, you
know, has to be the one to change it. And she has to take responsibility
tomorrow in front of the Congress for this lapse. This is outrageous. I
agree with Jack, it`s outrageous that a person could penetrate to the green
SHARPTON: I mean, this is shocking. Outrageous is almost an
understatement. Let me go back to you, Jack. The Post also reports that
at least one secret service agent appeared to have been caught off guard.
Quote "the female officer posted inside the front door appeared to be
delayed in learning that the intruder, Omar Gonzalez, was about to burst
through. Officers are trained that upon learning of an intruder on the
ground, often through the alarm boxes posted around the property. They
must immediately lock the front door."
Now, does this suggest a widespread breakdown? I mean, shouldn`t that
agent have been alerted?
RICE: Without question. I mean, that`s again, one of the problems here.
There are procedures that should be in place. And by the way, how is it
the ushers` office gets to determine security?
SHARPTON: Good question.
RICE: I mean, at the end of the day, you need to have a director who
clarifies what happens and the chain of custody -- the chain of command,
all the way up to the Potus (ph) himself, has to say, we`re going to back
you up. It`s not the ushers office. It`s the secret service. They make
the call to apply all of the things they have to apply. They didn`t in
this case, and that`s clear.
SHARPTON: You know, Jim, the president said after the secret service, this
story first surfaced, certainly not with these details of coverage weeks
ago. A few days after the break-in, listen to what the president said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m grateful for the
sacrifices they make on my behalf, and my family`s behalf.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: What needs to change in the secret service? What needs to be
CAVANAUGH: The atmosphere. The atmosphere needs to change from the top
down. You need to listen to all the people. The people that know the most
about the security of the president are the 6,000 men and women of the
secret service. They have to be listened to and they have to be trusted.
And they have to know that their commander trusts them. That`s how you
change the atmosphere.
Look. What we`re facing really is this worldwide terrorism issue. And all
the vulnerabilities now are exposed. Now, when these terrorists want to
launch an attack, it`s not one guy who has, you know, mental issues. It`s
three or four attackers with some machineguns like killed Sadat, or hand
grenade and some machineguns attack like killed Bhutto.
These are the types of attacks that are used by terror cells that are
watching this every day. They are watching this minute by minute. There
media savvy. And this story is in "the Manila Times" today. So they have
to really got to tighten it up.
SHARPTON: The president says, Jim, he has confidence in them, but how
angry do you think he must really be? His family is there. This guy got
right to the entrance of where you, the bottom of the steps where you go up
to the living quarters of the residence at the White House.
CAVANAUGH: Right, Reverend Al. Well, you know, the President`s do and he
is a leader. He is backing his people. He knows what the secret service
has been through. And you know, in years, we can go down. They`ve had
their people shot, you know, protecting President Reagan. They`ve been
hurt. They are killed in front of the Blair house with Harry Truman, the
White House uniform division.
So they`re very brave. He`s backing them up. He needs to do that. But
the mistakes need to stop. The director needs to take a hit on the hill
tomorrow, take responsibility, it was on her watch with the fence jumper,
and let`s institute plans to get this fixed.
SHARPTON: This is not just a little mistakes, for example, Jack. "The
Washington Post" is also reporting on a 2011 incident that January referred
to, which it says the secret service fumbled. Seven gun shots struck the
White House, seven gun shots. But it took four days for the secret service
to realize what had happened. The Post says the secret service` response
infuriated the president and the first lady.
RICE: Well, Rev., that`s again, that`s one of our problems. Again, what
we`re not seeing is transparency here, at least within the organization
itself. They`re not responding. They`re not being responsive in the way
that they need to be. If they see a failure, they need to address it.
SHARPTON: But four days -- but four days, Jack, and you don`t know seven
shots hit the White House? It takes someone in the White House staff to
notice some glass before you realize that shots actually went into the
RICE: Well, apparently it`s the ushers office and the cleaning crew who is
actually securing the White House now. I mean, what does that say?
SHARPTON: That`s my question, to not only you, but I hope it`s raised in a
vociferous manner tomorrow at the hearing.
RICE: Me too, Rev. Me too.
CAVANAUGH: I agree with that.
SHARPTON: I mean, Jim, I think words can`t express how unbelievably
outrageous this is.
CAVANAUGH: Well, it is. And when the shots hit in 2011, Rev., you know,
they should have sent a dozen special agents who were off duty down in to
sort it out. You know, come in from the suburbs and come in from home,
it`s an urgent thing. You`ve got to respond now. That`s why you`re the
Not only the people on duty, but you bring in more people, you bring in
commanders. You know, you got to be there. You got to be on the scene.
You got to sort it through, you got to search, you got to listen to your
people, you got to trust them.
So they need to change the way they`re thinking. They`re changed over the
years. I have been around them. I have a lot of friends. I have a great
respect for the agency, but they stumbled, they failed. And now they got
to pick it up and do a better job. The director has a chance to do that.
SHARPTON: Jack, let me ask you. Let me go back to Congressman Cumming`s
point. We talk about this sense of alert around the world with terrorism.
What does this do to the reputation of the secret service, that might
encourage all kinds of reaction, if people feel you`ve got not one, but two
incidents that both got through to the White House? Seven bullets, seven
shots, and then a man with a knife actually getting on the grounds, running
through the main floor. What does this say to the world?
RICE: Well, that`s the scary part, Rev. In the end, it`s not just about
competency. It`s about the perception of incompetency in this case. If
you can`t establish that if you step on White House grounds and you`re not
supposed to be there, you`re going down in some fashion or another.
If you can get into the White House, get across the main floor, get into
the building, get very close to the family. What`s not to encourage
somebody else to try again. Except for somebody who actually has
competency. Somebody who can run a real operation. And that`s what we`re
afraid of. Frankly, that`s what the secret service is afraid. That`s what
Potus is afraid of. That`s what we should all be afraid of.
SHARPTON: Jack Rice and Jim Cavanaugh, thank you both for your time
CAVANAUGH: Thanks, Rev.
RICE: Thank you, Rev.
SHARPTON: Coming up, President Obama talks candidly on dealing with the
ISIS crisis. So why is Senator John McCain criticizing him today?
And breaking news from the Supreme Court today on voting in a critical
Plus, we know George Clooney, the actor, and George Clooney, the activist.
But now, it`s George Clooney, the husband.
And it was a night to remember in Central Park, a concert to end poverty,
60,000 came out over the weekend and hundreds of millions of lives were
impacted. That`s ahead. Please stay with us.
SHARPTON: Over the weekend, one of our favorite socially conscious
activists tied the knot. He also happened to be Hollywood`s most eligible
bachelor. George Clooney and his human rights attorney fiancee got married
this weekend in Venice. And it was a talker with our "politicsnation"
social media community.
Lois said, what a wonderful couple.
Shaliza posted, Finally! Congrats!
E.M. wrote, he definitely married up. She`s spectacular, chic, brilliant,
accomplished, gorgeous. Congrats to the new couple.
And please keep the conversation going on our facebook page or tweet us
SHARPTON: Developing news tonight in the fight against ISIS. The Pentagon
announcing the U.S. and his partners launched eight airstrikes against ISIS
targets yesterday and today for a total of 290 strikes against ISIS and
other terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria.
In an interview on "60 Minutes," President Obama said only the United
States could lead this fight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: America leads. We -- we are the indispensable nation. We have
capacity no one else has. Our military is the best in the history of the
world. And when trouble comes up anywhere in the world, they don`t call
Beijing, they don`t call Moscow. They call us. That`s how we roll. And
that`s what makes us America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The president also said the U.S. government didn`t anticipate
how ISIS would advance, nor how the Iraqis would react.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I think our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has
acknowledged that, I think they underestimated what had been taking place
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: I mean, he didn`t say that -- just say that we
underestimated ISIL. He said we overestimated the ability and the will of
our allies, the Iraqi army, to fight.
OBAMA: That`s true. That`s absolutely true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The U.S. is now defending on those Iraqi troops to stand and
fight. This time backed by American air power. But the president is
standing by his promise, that he won`t let us be dragged into another
ground war in the Middle East.
Joining me now is Brian Kalutis, senior fellow at the center for American
progress. Thanks for being here, Brian.
BRIAN KALUTIS, SENIOR FELLOW, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Great to be
SHARPTON: Some are criticizing President Obama`s comments. But frankly,
did anyone expect ISIS fighters to do so much so quickly? Or the Iraqi
army to have so many problems?
KATULIS: Well, I think the key is the Iraqi army shocked everyone when
they literally stripped off their uniforms and handed over their weapons in
Mosul and in other places. That`s something nobody anticipated.
And I think the key point here, is that our human intelligence, our ability
to understand what Iraqis or others can do is quite different than what we
can collect from sat slights and phone calls. And having that human
intelligence, sometimes people do the craziest things and the Iraqis just
did not fight for their country. And that`s what shocked everyone.
SHARPTON: You know, Senator John McCain will use just about any excuse to
go to war. But he really likes pushing war. But today, he went after
President Obama for not launching attacks on Syrian president Assad.
Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Are we going to ask young men to train and
equip, and we send them back to be slaughtered by Bashar AL-Assad`s air
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: What`s the solution?
MCCAIN: We need a no-fly zone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: What happens if he breaches it in this
MCCAIN: If he breaches it, we take out his air force. The president can
act, even under the war powers act --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Against Assad?
MCCAIN: Absolutely, he can act against Assad. I mean, why shouldn`t he?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Why shouldn`t we attack Assad? I mean, isn`t he being extremely
casual about something that could lead to some very dangerous results?
KATULIS: I think he is. But I think we need to understand that even these
Syrian rebels, the third way forces that oppose ISIS and Assad, they`re
complaining as well. So it`s not only senator McCain. And I think Senator
McCain has some points here in saying that, look, at a certain point inside
of Syria, Assad himself is also part of the problem. He allowed the rise
of ISIS. I`m not saying strike them as Senator McCain is. But we should
think about how this policy fits together. Because at this point, we have,
I think, necessary action against ISIS. We don`t have a clear picture of
how this all ends.
SHARPTON: You know, a new CNN poll finds the American people support the
president`s strategy on ISIS, 73 percent support airstrikes, while 60
percent oppose U.S. ground troops. So the American people don`t want U.S.
But listen to what Speaker Boehner said over the weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: If no one else will step up, you would
recommend putting American boots on the ground?
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We have no choice. These
are barbarians. They intend to kill us. If we don`t destroy them first,
we`re going to pay the price.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: We have no choice, he says. Why is he jumping into something
the American people are so overwhelmingly against?
KATULIS: Well, I think it`s in the DNA of the Republican party. Even
after the mistakes that they made over the past decade, to try to get us to
pull the weight of everyone around the world. What President Obama is
trying to do, in essence, with this coalition that he`s trying to build, he
is essentially say look, Iraqis, Syrians, and Turks, will you fight for
your region? Will you fight against these mad men? And when you see
Speaker Boehner or you see Senator McCain, essentially they`re saying the
exact opposite. Hey are saying we should carry the weight for others. And
I think we should have learned that decade during the previous decade. And
I think most Americans have, but many in the Republican party have not.
SHARPTON: Brian Katulis, thank you for your time tonight.
KATULIS: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Still ahead, breaking news from the Supreme Court, a ruling to
limit voting in a key, swing state, just weeks before the midterm election.
But first, we welcome back an old favorite into tonight`s "Got You."
Senator McConnell, you`re up.
SHARPTON: What do you do when your policies are unpopular? Anything. And
that`s exactly what we`ve seen from republicans, this circus of an election
season. It`s the lamest show on earth. Take Congressman Tom Cotton. He
just tried to blame President Obama for a deeply unpopular vote he took
against the farm bill. Cotton doesn`t like food stamps, so he voted
against the whole thing. Now he`s trying to bluff his way through it,
blaming President Obama. That`s certainly a trick we`ve seen before.
Here`s another act for you. Mitch McConnell twisting himself into a
pretzel. Steven Brennan at Maddow Blog calls him out. McConnell told a
room full of billionaire donors, what kind of majority leader he would be
if republicans take the Senate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY: We`re not going to be debating all
this gosh darn proposals. That`s all we do in the Senate is vote on things
like raising the minimum wage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: He`s not going to debate the gosh darn minimum wage. But just
last week, McConnell was asked if he would allow a vote on the minimum
wage, and he said yes. He sure is walking a tight rope, trying to have the
issue both ways. Mitch McConnell and the republicans know they`re on the
wrong side of the issues. Sixty one percent say, it`s important to pass
significant immigration reform. Sixty seven percent say, we need to make
changes in the workplace to treat men and women equally. And 71 percent
support increasing the minimum wage. The GOP has blocked all of these
efforts. So what`s a republican to do? Anything but talk about policy in
a substantive way. Did Senator McConnell and the republicans think these
high-flying acrobatics are going to fly with the American people? Nice
try, but we got you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Let`s get back to our schools and offices, our churches, our beauty
shops, barber shops, make sure folks know there`s an election coming up.
They need to know how to register, and they need to know how and when to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The President this weekend talking about the urgency of getting
out there to vote in this midterm election. But late today, breaking news
from the Supreme Court which issued a ruling to block early voting in Ohio.
Just hours before it was supposed to start. Early voting was supposed to
start tomorrow. But this ruling delays early voting by a full week. It
eliminates weekend voting in the two weeks before election, including polls
on Sundays. It also eliminates weeknight voting in those two weeks, making
it harder for folks to vote after work. The ruling was a five to four
decision, with all five conservative justices supporting an argument that
will lead to fewer people voting this fall. It`s stunning and it could
have a huge effect on lawsuits to protect voting rights in other states,
including Wisconsin, North Carolina, Texas, and Arkansas.
Joining me now is Maria Teresa Kumar and Krystal Ball. Thank you both for
KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC CO-HOST, "THE CYCLE": Thanks for having us Rev.
MARIA TERESA KUMAR, VOTO LATINO, PRESIDENT AND CEO: Thank you, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Krystal, is voter suppression not just part of the election
strategy for the right?
BALL: Unfortunately, I guess they feel that they can`t win on the power of
their ideas, so they have to win by rigging the rules. And it`s incredibly
troubling. I mean, in Ohio what they did is they moved it from having 35
early voting days to 28. And you think, OK, why does that make such a
difference? Well, there was a week there where you could register and you
could vote on that same day, which was important, as you`re pointing out.
You also had a curtailing of Sunday voting, and they claim that this all
has to do with combatting voter fraud, which, a, no one can prove exists in
any meaningful quantities. And b --
SHARPTON: Data says, it doesn`t exist.
BALL: It doesn`t. And somebody please explain to me how voting on Sundays
increases voter fraud. It makes absolutely no sense. And it`s troubling
that the Supreme Court went in and said at the very last minute that we are
going to block this early voting and people cannot start voting tomorrow.
SHARPTON: Maria, a U.S. appeals court heard arguments against North
Carolina`s voter suppression law. And a judge asked a very simple
question. Why does the state of North Carolina want people to vote? You
know, isn`t that the heart of the issue here?
KUMAR: Well, they keep changing the rules --
SHARPTON: But the quote was, why does people in the state of North
Carolina not want people to vote? Go ahead. I wanted to correct one.
KUMAR: No, no, and that`s absolutely right. And I think what this judge
was trying to live is that, we are right now, live in the most diverse
country and by changing the rules in the middle of the game because you
don`t like the people who are participating, not only is it unfair, but
it`s undemocratic. What Krystal was saying is absolutely right. The fact
that the Supreme Court is increasingly an activist court, it`s not talking
about the letter of the law, it`s not talking about how do we modernizing
our election system, how do we actually make sure that the majority of
Americans are voting? It`s basically because they don`t want
participation. And what we`re seeing, unfortunately, you mentioned Ohio,
you mentioned North Carolina, Texas, Arkansas.
These are increasingly swing states, where you have a huge boom, not only
in the African-American vote, but a huge boom in the Latino vote. And what
you`re saying to young people, what you`re saying to people of color is
that we don`t want your participation. And what we have to do is to ensure
that we hold their feet to the fire and make sure that we`re having these
conversations. Because at the end of the day, the only way that you
maximize participation is that you make voting easier, not harder.
SHARPTON: Well, you know, I`ve been looking at supreme courts a long time
now, this is the most partisan Supreme Court bench I`ve seen. I mean, the
five conservatives here are like the political guardians of the right, in
terms of a strategy for winning elections, in my opinion. But maybe
republicans need to suppress the vote, Krystal, because they can`t run on
their policies. I mean, check out what Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst
said about climate change in a debate just last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONI ERNST, IOWA SENATE CANDIDATE: I don`t know the science behind climate
change. I can`t say one way or another what is the direct impact from
whether it`s man-made or not. I`ve heard the arguments from both sides.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Just to clarify, you do accept that climate change does
ERNST: I do believe that our climate is changing, but again I`m not sure
what the impact of man is upon that climate change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now Miss Ernst may not know about climate change, but scientists
do. I mean, in fact 95 to 97 percent of all climate scientists agree that
humans are a factor in global warming. I mean, is the GOP trying to hide
candidates` views on issues like climate change, Krystal?
BALL: That`s absolutely right. I mean, with Joni Ernst, to say that well,
she`s not a scientist, so how could she possibly know what`s going on with
climate change is just absurd. And she`s far from the only candidate who
is making that argument. That seems to be the republican line now, of oh,
we`re not scientists, so how can we say? Well, why don`t you ask a
scientist and see what they say, and maybe take their word, for the 95 to
97 percent who say man-made climate change is a real thing. And you know
what else, let`s be pro-active about it. Let`s say that you are skeptical,
BALL: Why not go out and try to do something about it, so we can make sure
that we`re taking steps and precautions that we can. But I think it`s an
excellent example of how the GOP can`t win on ideas, can`t even explain
their ideas, so they have to go about trying to rig the rules.
SHARPTON: It won`t represent their policies. You know the Senate race in
Colorado, Maria, is a very interesting one. It`s in a dead heat, and the
big story there has been republican Congressman Cory Gardner supporting a
federal personhood bill that could ban virtually all abortions. Obviously
this is a big problem with women voters. So, just watch what Gardner did
when he was asked about his position in an interview on Sunday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: If you don`t support the personhood initiative at the
state level anymore, why keep your name on that live begins at conception
act at the federal level.
REP. CORY GARDNER (R), COLORADO: There`s no such thing as a federal
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: OK. But Corey, I mean, the people who wrote that bill,
Congressman Duncan Hunter of California, Paul Brown of Georgia. They say,
personhood, USA, says that that`s what the --
GARDNER: When I announced for the Senate, that`s when this outcry started
from the Senate campaign of Senator Udall. That`s what they`re trying to
do. This is all politics. It`s unfortunate, they can`t focus --
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The facts are, I mean --
GARDNER: The facts are, that there is no federal personhood bill. There
is no federal personhood bill. There`s simply politics. There`s no
federal personhood bill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: You know, Gardner can`t admit to his own extreme views. Isn`t
this a problem for GOP candidates all across the country, Maria?
KUMAR: Well, not only can he not support his own platform, what`s
happening in Colorado is really curious. He`s going around advocating that
he wants women to provide, basically get contraception over the counter.
When that happens is, all of a sudden, if you get your contraception over
the counter, all of a sudden, you`re basically negating people to actually
use ObamaCare. So, what he`s not saying is that by doing that, then all of
a sudden women don`t get the luxury of the $600 that they get because of
their insurance because they`re protected with ObamaCare. So not only is
he not being straightforward and embracing his position which I think most
voters, they may not completely agree with you but at least stands, you
know, speaks straight and then at least, they know where you fall. But
then at the same time, he`s trying to confuse voters by actually using
language and probably other policy positions that are not in the voters`
SHARPTON: Maria Teresa Kumar and Krystal Ball, thank you both for your
time this evening.
BALL: Thanks, Rev.
KUMAR: Thank you, Reverend.
SHARPTON: And be sure to watch Krystal on "THE CYCLE" weekdays at 3 p.m.
right here on MSNBC. Coming up, a grand jury has begun deciding whether
there should be criminal charges in the Eric Garner chokehold case. And
the retrial of Michael Dunn, a man charged with killing an unarmed teen,
over loud music. The Justice Files is next.
SHARPTON: We`re back with tonight`s "Justice Files." Joining me now is
former prosecutor and current trial Attorney Midwin Charles, and trial
Attorney Carmen St. George. Thank you both for being here.
MIDWIN CHARLES, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Thank you, Rev.
CARMEN ST. GEORGE, ATTORNEY: Thank you.
SHARPTON: We start tonight here in New York where a special grand jury is
convening for the first time today to consider evidence in the murder of
Eric Garner. It`s been 74 days since Garner was killed. The 43-year-old
father of six was put into an illegal chokehold by police in July after
they accused him of illegally selling loose cigarettes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC GARNER, STATEN ISLAND MAN: Every time you see me, you want to mess
with me. I`m tired of it.
UNIDENTIFIED OFFICER: Hold on, hold on.
GARNER: Don`t touch me, please. Don`t touch me.
I can`t breathe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The medical examiner`s office ruled Garner`s death a homicide
and said neck compression from the chokehold killed him, but no arrests
have been made in the case. And Officer Daniel Pantaleo who put Garner in
the chokehold, was stripped of his gun and badge pending an internal
investigation. Another officer was placed on desk duty. And two
paramedics were suspended for failing to provide CPR in a timely manner.
But no one has been formally charged for causing Garner`s death. And while
the special grand jury is convening today, the Staten Island District
Attorney Daniel Donovan has not announced which charges the grand jury
might consider in Garner`s death, nor against whom charges could be filed.
My civil rights organization, the National Action Network, has actively
lobbied for a grand jury to be convened and for federal officials to step
in and investigate the case. Midwin, what do you think this grand jury is
looking at today?
CHARLES: Well, this grand jury is going to be looking at whether or not
this police officer, one, I guess intended to kill Eric Garner. But one of
the things that we have to point out here is that the prosecutor hasn`t
been specific with what charges the grand jury is going to consider, or who
is going to be charged. Remember, there are several officers on that
videotape, seen taking down, for lack of a better word, Eric Garner. So
it`s very difficult, actually, Rev, to know exactly what the grand jury is
going to be considering.
SHARPTON: Who should be charged, Midwin?
CHARLES: Obviously the police officer who put the initial chokehold and
anyone else who assisted or I guess added to this compression that the
medical examiner says was the cause of death or at least led to the cause
SHARPTON: Now, Carmen, chokeholds are illegal, it`s against NYPD policy in
New York, but a new report from NYPD civilian complaint review board shows
that chokeholds are a real problem in the Police Department. The report
shows from 2009 through June of this year, 2014, the civilian complaint
review board substantiated a total of ten choke hold allegations. Half the
officers in chokehold complaints had a history of six or more CCRB
complaints with 25 percent of officers having a history of ten or more
complaints. So it`s like, it`s there, but they don`t have to go by it.
GEORGE: Well, I read that CCRB report, Rev, and it really goes into -- it
matters what the CCRB complaints previously had been for. This doesn`t
necessarily mean that each officer that had been filed a complaint for a
current chokehold had prior chokehold complaints. It might just be a
violation of a car accident incident, or an improper procedure that these
officers had. And what has been happening is that although the complaints
have gone up, they`ve been found to be insignificant, unsubstantiated. And
these officers with the most part --
SHARPTON: The ones I`ve read were substantiated though.
GEORGE: They are. And for the most part, the problem is, the Police
Department isn`t effectively punishing these officers.
GEORGE: And whether it`s based on race, discrimination, disparities that
these officers are not properly disciplined. They`re finding that they`re
only given ten days suspension for the most part for these incidents.
SHARPTON: But Midwin, doesn`t that encourage police to not take the law
seriously if people have done, it, police have done it, it has been
substantiated and nothing happens?
CHARLES: Well, it sends the message that this sort of behavior by police
officers can go unchecked. And that`s a problem. As you know, the police
are there to serve and protect the community. And so if they can go by
doing these sorts of things to the people that they actually are there to
protect, it sort of runs the gamut in terms of where are we going with
this? How is it that can we spend this message to the people that police
officers -- and I understand they have a very difficult job to do. I`m not
saying that they don`t. But it must be done according to rule and law.
SHARPTON: But Carmen, isn`t that the problem I mean all over the country
from Ferguson to L.A., where people lose faith in law enforcement,
enforcing the law on law enforcement? I agree with Midwin, not all police,
not even most police, but those that step out of line, when they are proven
to step out of line and nothing happens to them.
GEORGE: It`s true. And until they`re exposed. Until these issues come to
the forefront, nothing is seen to the public. I mean, I handled cases with
the New York City Police Department against the Hispanic police officers
and Latino, African-American police officers that were being discriminated
based upon race and other factors. And until it shows the disparities that
these officers are facing based upon whatever actions, nobody is going to
take any action.
SHARPTON: I`m out of time. I wanted to get to Joan Davis, but thank you
Midwin Charles and Carmen St. George. Thank you both for your time this
evening. And we did not have time to get to the Michael Dunn retrial on
the Jordan Davis case, but we will cover that trial in the coming days.
Still ahead, the justice gap, President Obama`s call to fix the gulf of
mistrust at the heart of our criminal justice system. But first, Jay-z and
Beyonce lead the way in a concert for a cause. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: A concert for a cause. The Global Citizen Festival brought
60,000 people to Central Park Saturday night. They all earned their way in
through activism. The Global Poverty Project with MSNBC put this show on
with a goal to end extreme poverty by 2030. It`s estimated 259 million
people were helped by this year`s festival. So many great musicians
donated their time, from No Doubt to Carrie Underwood, to The Roots, to
Alicia keys. But the night was capped off by the king of hip-hop, Jay-Z,
and he had a special surprise with him to end the night, Queen Beyonce.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(BEYONCE KNOWLES PERFORMING)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: What a great night, and now the real work begins. Every day is
a day to help end poverty in the world.
SHARPTON: Finally tonight, closing the justice gap in America, President
Obama talked about it this weekend at the Congressional Black Caucus Awards
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: And we have to close the justice gap. How justice is applied, but
also how it is perceived, how it is experienced.
OBAMA: In too many communities around the country, a gulf of mistrust
exists between local residents and law enforcement. Too many young men of
color feel targeted by law enforcement. Guilty of walking while black, or
driving while black. Judged by stereotypes that fuel fear and resentment
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The President also said this justice gap affects all Americans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: And that has a corrosive effect, not just on the black community.
It has a corrosive effect on America. It harms the communities that need
law enforcement the most. It makes folks who are victimized by crime and
need strong policing reluctant to go to the police because they may not
trust them. And the worst part of it is, it scars the hearts of our
children, whether you`re black or white. You don`t want that for America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: We don`t want that for America. I was in Washington at the
caucus with the parents of Michael Brown, as we sought federal cases to
deal with what happened to their son and other cases. But we also
denounced the shooting of two police in Ferguson. Law enforcement said it
was unrelated to the protests. We must be against all violence, all wrong,
no matter who the victim, and no matter who the assailants. It`s time to
rebuild the trust by having equal protection under the law.
Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.
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