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PoliticsNation, Thursday, January 29th, 2015

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Show: POLITICS NATION
Date: January 29, 2015
Guest: Faith Jenkins, Carmen St. George, Zerlina Maxwell, Mark Hannah,
Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani

REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR, POLITICS NATION: All right. Thank
you, Ed. And thanks to you for tuning in. We start tonight with breaking
news.

Any minute now, President Obama will arrive in Philadelphia on board air
force one, where he`ll address House Democrats tonight at their three-day
retreat. The big theme -- fighting income inequality head-on.

This morning the president published a preview of his remarks, writing,
quote, "in order to get wages and incomes rising faster, we need to take
the next step." And promising to reveal a new budget next week aimed at,
quote, "bringing middle-class economics into the 21st century."

The budget will fully roll back those devastating cuts to domestic
programs, forced by the GOP Congress in to 13, while closing tax loop holes
for the top one percent. This is a president in fighting mode.

Today, the Republican Senate passed a bill to approve the controversial
keystone pipeline, but the president has already said, if it gets to his
desk, he`ll veto it. He`s not going to let them controlling the agenda.
And anyway, what is their agenda? Here`s speaker John Boehner from last
night --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This is the president
violating the constitution, violating his oath of office. It`s about the
constitution. It`s about the rule of law. We have 47 new members of
Congress on the Republican side who have never had the chance to cast their
vote to repeal Obamacare. The economy is a little better. I`m not going
to deny that, but he shouldn`t be takings credit for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Lawsuits, repeal votes and petty attacks. It`s not an agenda.
It`s the tea party`s greatest hits. I wonder why.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHNER: Listen, I was the tea party before there was a tea party. I
understand their concerns. I understand their frustrations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I guess if the speaker thinks if you can`t beat them, join them.
But tonight the president will lay out a vision that goes right around
them.

Joining me know are Jason Johnson and MSNBC`s Abby Huntsman. Thank you
both for being here.

ABBY HUNTSMAN, MSNBC HOST, THE CYCLE: Thanks, Rev.

JASON JOHNSON, POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR: Good evening, Rev.

SHARPTON: So Jason, does the country want a focus on jobs and fairness or
lawsuits and repealing Obamacare?

JOHNSON: My guess is people probably care a bit more about jobs. The
Republicans should have learned last fall that impeachment, lawsuits
against the president, none of these things are exciting. And the
president has realized, look, I`m riding high now. The economy is doing
well.. He has the best approval he has had in years. He actually has
higher approval today than Reagan had at this point in his second term.
And Obama has really just got to push through all the progressive agenda
thing that he said. He was going to do over the last six years.

So it`s clear that the public is in favor of what the president wants.
Maybe Congress will eventually listen.

SHARPTON: Abby, you know, Speaker Boehner said he can`t take President
Obama`s plan to roll back the budget cuts known as sequestration seriously.
But GOP Senator John McCain said, quote -- I think it`s unanimous. The
view that sequestration is a meat ax. I`m willing to do a number of things
in order to prevent sequestration from moving --

HUNTSMAN: It`s a tough word.

SHARPTON: I always twist it, probably because I don`t want it in the
discussion.

(LAUGHTER)

SHARPTON: Anyway -- from moving forward. Some Republicans appear tore
opening from hearing the president. Why is Speaker Boehner dismissing it?

HUNTSMAN: Yes. I`m still trying to figure out what he meant by saying I
was a tea party before there was a tea party. I`m not even sure what that
means. But you have John McCain who I think speak for a number of
Republicans that realize they have to get their message right when it comes
to the middle class and how he was born as a country with our economy. The
Senate is going to have to be the adults in the room.

The president has put forward its plans. Republicans are not going to sign
off on that, as you said. But now they`re in a position where they have to
put forward their ideas. What are they going to do? I think that`s the
big question. If they are talking about being the vote for the middle
class, we`ve heard a lot of them say that, but the middle classes still
struggling. If they are going to be the voice for that, then what are they
putting forward that lets people believe they are actually speaking for
them.

SHARPTON: But aside from the differences on sequestration, what about him
saying, Boehner, saying that he was a tea party before the tea party? I
mean, as a Republican, how do you -- I mean, what do you make of that?

HUNTSMAN: I think what he`s trying to say is I`ve always been a
conservative and I`m really for these cuts. But if you remember, the tea
party was different than the tea party that what we see today. It was
originated to be fiscally conservative. I spoke to a number of folks who
were part of that movement, and they say today they want nothing to do with
the tea party. He is trying to a totally different movement.

I`m not sure what he is trying to get at that, but clearly, I don`t think
he`s in step with a lot of other Republicans, more moderate Republicans and
he is not thinking about 2016. What are you doing today that is going to
impact 2016?

SHARPTON: Jason, here`s what GOP Congressman Bill Shuster said about the
president`s plan for free community colleges. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The free community college education for folks, I mean,
where is that coming from?

REP. BILL SHUSTER (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Well, look, the president believes
that the federal government has the answer for everything. It`s the nanny
state.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I mean, how can house Republicans, I mean, be credible on income
equality, Jason, if they make comments like that?

JOHNSON: You can even step back further, Rev. I was amazed during the
state of the union when the president said we should have equal pay and
sick leave, and there were Republicans who didn`t stand up. You can`t
rebrand yourself as the middle-class party if you`re against basic things
like people being able to get paid sick leave.

But I think the issue is this, and a lot of independents have this concern.
How are you going to pay for two free years for community college? The
president has a plan, I think it is something that the Republicans should
listen to, but I think in this -- on that particular policy issue, there
are a lot of people who wonder how they can be paid for and logistically
how you would turn that into a national policy.

HUNTSMAN: Right.

SHARPTON: But you now, Abby, last night in a if speech in Mississippi,
Mitt Romney said he`s focused on income inequality. Quote "I want to help
the poor and the middle class in this country. We need to lift people out
of the poverty. Almost every week during my campaign, I let folks who have
fallen into poverty."

Did he meet those people on the campaign trail before or after he talked
about the 47 percent, Abby?

HUNTSMAN: First of all, I still can`t wrap my head around the fact he`s
running again. I mean, that to me is still so crazy. You know, it`s
interesting, because Republicans --

SHARPTON: So you do think he`s running?

HUNTSMAN: I do think he is running. I think he is the only one -- he
thinks he`s the only one who can beat Jeb Bush which is why he is probably
getting in there. He probably thinks he is the only one out of anyone that
can be president.

SHARPTON: Do you think he can beat Jeb Bush for the nomination?

HUNTSMAN: No, I don`t. I think it will be interesting, but they`re very
different. So, you know, time will tell. And a lot depends on where the
money goes. But like that 47 percent comment, we already know Romney, you
know. He`s already introduced himself to the country two times now.

And it`s interesting, though, because you have all the candidates now
trying to own this inequality message. Ted Cruz says the 47 percent
comment is going to hurt him the most because there is a 47 percent we need
to be talking to. I mean, that`s Ted Cruz speaking about this.

So I do give credit to Republicans for at least acknowledging this is a
point and they jumped off the cliff. They just don`t have any place to
land yet.

SHARPTON: Jason, but they came kicking and screaming. I mean, they would
were the ones that were acting like we were being divisive, that we were
polarizing the country, now they`re adopting a theme and trying to redo it
like it`s theirs.

JOHNSON: You know, I love it. It sort of like when you have Kentucky
Fried Chicken, and no, we`re kitchen fresh chicken. We are fooling
everybody. It is healthy now. Like no one is going to believe that, you
know.

The Republicans can re-brand themselves when they have a policy that
matches the rhetoric. I will never forget Mitt Romney coming out and
saying he was speaking in Michigan. He was like, yes, I know a lot about
NASCAR. I have friends who own NASCAR teams. That`s now not how you
connect with the middle class. And the Republicans need policies.

SHARPTON: And a friendly $10,000 bet wasn`t exactly 47 percent.

HUNTSMAN: Not so much.

SHARPTON: I want to switch quickly, Abby, to the house GOP`s decision to
invite the Israeli prime minister to address Congress. "New York Times"
writes it`s backfiring, and that`s had quote "the unintended effect of
helping the president rally Democrats as his administration negotiates a
delicate nuclear deal with Iran.

Now, we already knew House Republicans broke protocol. Did they also hurt
themselves politically with Boehner inviting the Prime Minister Netanyahu?

HUNTSMAN: Yes, I think it`s a really bad situation. I don`t know who is
winning out of this. I can`t imagine Speaker Boehner pat himself on the
back saying this is a job well done. Because, I mean, folks back in Israel
are really upset about this too. As you said, this is really important
time.

SHARPTON: And it`s a tight race.

HUNTSMAN: It is a tight race. And this one of the most important
relationships that we have. I mean, imagine if this were the president of
China that we did this too, alright? I mean, this is really important
stuff. And I think it sets a bad precedent moving forward about how we do
diplomacy here in the United States. I think it is quite concerning. And
it is all about politics. And the rest of the world is watching. I don`t
think it is the right now.

SHARPTON: Jason Johnson, Abby Huntsman, thank you both for your time
tonight.

HUNTSMAN: Thanks, Rev.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

SHARPTON: And watch Abby on "the Cycle" weekdays at 3:00 eastern right
here on MSNBC.

Coming up, a former NFL superstar goes on trial for murder. Dramatic video
shown inside the courtroom. Is he holding a gun? Or a remote control?

Plus the amazing story of what this photo inspires strangers to do for his
school.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I never want you to feel like there`s a cap on how
far you go. So the entire school, we`re all goods to Harvard. Is that
exciting?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: A big debate about whether this "Newsweek" cover is sexist.
What do you think?

And will we see a Letterman/Leno reunion before Dave says good-bye? It`s
all ahead a "Politics Nation."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Social media has been on fire about a picture posted on the
popular photo blog, humans of New York. This is Vidal. He`s from
Brownsville, Brooklyn, my owned neighborhood. He told the story of how his
principal, Nadia Lopez, has inspired his middle school. Now a social media
fund for the school has raised more than $1 million to pay for college
trips and tuitions.

Tara wrote, great story. We need more educators like her.

Angela said this is good, but if we put more into education than prisons,
we wouldn`t need fund-raising for trips.

Bonnie posted, I love reading all the stories and seeing photos of people
living their lives.

Bonnie, I do, too.

We`ll talk about this later in the show, but keep this conversation going
on our facebook page or tweet us @politicsnation.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: There were two kinds of winces today at the confirmation hearing
for Loretta Lynch to be attorney general. The ones who actually knew Miss
Lynch and said things like this --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JANICE FEDARCYK, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: I wholeheartedly endorse
her confirmation from the vantage point of someone who worked closely
alongside Loretta.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was clearly tough, but also fair and gracious.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It has been my privilege to witness the development and
emergence of the best of who we are as a nation in the person of Loretta.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Talk about glowing recommendations. But Republicans also called
another kind of witness. These witnesses didn`t know much about Ms. Lynch,
but they were chock-full of opinions about President Obama and our current
attorney general Eric Holder.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID CLARKE, MILWAUKEE COUNTY SHELBY: I want to spend some time
critiquing outgoing attorney general Holder`s tenure.

SHARYL ATTKISSON, JOURNALIST: If you cross this administration with
perfectly accurate reporting they don`t like, you will be attacked and
punished.

CATHERINE ENGELBRECHT, TRUE THE VOTE: Trickle-down tyranny that is
actively endorsed by the current administration and rigorously enforced by
the department of justice.

CLARKE: The incendiary rhetoric used by Eric Holder create a pathway for a
false narrative that then became the rallying cry for cop haters across
America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: We get it, they`re not fans of the Obama administration, but
this hearing was about Loretta Lynch. And check out what happened when
they were asked if she could be confirmed as attorney general?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: Those who oppose her as FBI -- as
attorney general, please raise their hand. Let the record show no hands
were raised.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Yes, none of them oppose her. So why were they called in to
testify? One democratic senator had a pretty good idea.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D), RHODE ISLAND: I regret that this hearing and
this solemn occasion has been co-opted to that extent and turned into what
happens to be a sound bite factory for FOX News and conspiracy theorists
everywhere.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: It was supposed to be a serious hearing. Instead Republicans
turned it into a farce.

Joining me now is that senator you just heard, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode
Island.

Senator, thank you for being here.

WHITEHOUSE: Good to be with you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: You called the hearing a sound bite factory for FOX new. Why
would your Republican colleagues instead those witnesses to testify?

WHITEHOUSE: Well, I think they probably scoured high and scoured low, and
couldn`t find anybody who was willing to say a bad thing about the nominee.
And she had done such a good job the day before that there wasn`t a glove
laid on her. So what were they left with? Just trying to airing a lot of
grievances that they have with the Obama administration, going so far as to
have one of that you are witnesses be a litigant against the department of
justice who sat there at the table with her lawyer right at her side. And
have not a word to say about Loretta Lynch.

SHARPTON: You know, Senator, at least one of your colleagues wants to
block Loretta Lynch`s nomination. Ted Cruz says she has dangerous views in
quote "in my view, the majority leader should announce the senate will not
confirm any executive or judicial nominees in this Congress other than
vital national security positions, unless and until the president resins
the executive action."

And another Republican senator said this last night --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think there`s any chance that Ms. Lynch will
not be confirmed?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I think there`s some chance, yes. We`ve got to
think this through. Congress has a right to defend itself and its
legitimate powers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: What`s your reaction, Senator?

WHITEHOUSE: I think she`s got smooth sailing ahead. She showed herself
very well in front of the American people. Senator Cruz is obviously
working his presidential candidacy with the farthest right tea party
members, but I don`t think he reflects the views of the -- even the
Republican caucus. I think that folks like Senator Hatch and Senator
Grassley and Senator Graham and others who are very conservative, but also
very fair and very sensible are going to vote in support of her. She did a
great job.

SHARPTON: How do you think she`ll do as attorney general?

WHITEHOUSE: I think she`ll be terrific. I was a United States attorney,
so I have a bias in favor of people who were United States attorneys. So I
think that field experience is very important to bring to the department of
justice. It gives you both a familiarity with the department of justice,
but still that outsider`s perspective where main justice is not always your
best friend, and clearly in the way she conducted herself in the hearing,
this is a woman who has immense intelligence, immense Grace and immense
poise under pressure.

SHARPTON: Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, thank you for your time tonight.

WHITEHOUSE: Of course, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, a murder trial for a former NFL superstar. Why his
defense team says Aaron Hernandez was being targeted by police.

But first, Scott Walker lands back in an old familiar place -- tonight`s
"Got You."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Wisconsin governor Scott Walker is considers a run for
president. And he is wasting no time crossing items off his to-do list.
Appeal to the tea party, check. He went right to Iowa last weekend,
kissing up to Steve King with other potential candidates. Next, win the
rush Limbaugh caucus, check.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Ladies and gentlemen, the Republican
Party has a genuine star. The Republican Party has a demonstrated genuine
hero and potential star in his ranks, and he is the governor of Wisconsin.
His name is Scott Walker.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: High praise from the head of the GOP.

Next on the list, former a PAC, check. He`s very patriotic-sounding. Our
American revival PAC was just rolled out with this video.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: America stands on the brink, at a time and place in our
history where failed leaders preside over a nation adrift, with family
incomes in steady decline. Dreams stifled.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In America we celebrate our independence for the
government, now our dependence on it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: There`s just one slight problem with this. They used foreign
stock images to make it. Yes, foreign images for the American revival PAC.

This man staring off into the distance comes from an Italian company
according to BuzzFeed. This woman paying the bills is from a polish
photographer.

Here`s a tip -- if you`re calling it American revival, maybe, I don`t know,
put more Americans to work making the ad? It looks like Scott Walker just
checked another item off his list starring in one of "Got Yous." Nice try
governor, but we got you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: The spotlight is on the New England Patriots as they get ready
for the Super Bowl, but a different spotlight is on one of the their former
stars. Aaron Hernandez, whose murder trial started today. He`s charged in
the killing of semipro football player Odin Lloyd about a year and a half
ago. Prosecutors say Hernandez and two other men shot Lloyd and left his
body near his home. Today prosecutors tried to convince the jury that
Hernandez planned the murder and a cover-up. It was understandably tough
for the Lloyd family to hear. They find a joint. That joint is later.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ASST. D.A. PATRICK BOMBERG, BRISTOL COUNTY: They find a joint, a marijuana
cigarette to Odin Lloyd`s right. That joint is later analyzed and was
determined to have Odin Lloyd`s DHA and the defendant`s DNA. The
defendant`s footwear impression, ladies and gentlemen, is consistent with
the footwear impression that was left at the scene. The DNA on the shell
casing was consistent with the defendant`s DNA. He swore on his baby, he
said he was elsewhere at the club when the killing happened.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: At one point Lloyd`s mother was so upset she left the courtroom.
The defense says Hernandez was targeted because of his fame.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The police and the prosecutors targeted Aaron from the
very beginning. As soon as they found out that Aaron Hernandez, the
celebrity football player, the New England Patriot was a friend of Odin
Lloyd`s, Aaron never had a chance.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: He had a long-term professional football contract, he
had a beautiful home -- that he had just settled into. He had a girlfriend
with whom they had started talking about wedding plans. He was the father
to a 7-month-old baby girl.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Joining me now, former prosecutor and host of Judge Faith, Faith
Jenkins, and trial Attorney Carmen St. George. Thank you both for being
here.

FAITH JENKINS, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Thank you.

CARMEN ST. GEORGE, TRIAL ATTORNEY: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Faith, for the first time we are finally hearing the defense
strategy here. What`s your take on it?

JENKINS: I actually thought the defense did a pretty good job in their
opening statements today, because they`re really bringing one big question
before this jury that I don`t know prosecutors will be able to answer. And
that is, why? Here you have Aaron Hernandez as the defense attorney said,
multimillion contract, new fiancee, newborn child, Odin Lloyd is his
friend. Several times during opening statements, his defense attorney said
Odin Lloyd is his friend. And the fact is Aaron Hernandez` fiancee is also
the sister of Odin Lloyd`s girlfriend. So there`s this family connection
there. Why would Aaron Hernandez murder Odin Lloyd? You don`t have to
prove motive, but in a case like this, jurors are going to be asking why.

SHARPTON: Carmen, I mean, all you need is reasonable doubt with one juror
and you have a hung trial.

GEORGE: You do, but if you were to take the prosecution`s perspective
here, you`re talking about all the circumstantial evidence en masse, you
have the confirming DNA, the confirming footprint. You`re going to talk
about the images that are on the video going into the home. The timing of
ten minutes that had lapsed between the time that they had left the home
and we`re at the scene of the crime and when they return. I do think that
the defense has a stronger case in this position with the whole theory of
tunnel vision and they`re honing into this all-star player, this well-known
NBA athlete. They`re going to have to jump hula hoops to convince these
jurors that this person committed the crime.

SHARPTON: Faith, it seems like one image is going to play a central part
of this trial, it`s all about what`s in Aaron Hernandez` hand here. Listen
to both sides.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOMBERG: You`ll hear from a representative of Clock, they will tell you
that ladies and gentlemen that appearance is unique. That, ladies and
gentlemen, is a glock.

MICHAEL FEE, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: What`s in Aaron`s hand? Whether it`s an
iPod or iPhone or iPad or a Blackberry or TV remotes? Or a gun or
something else.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: How big a deal is this image going to be? Let me start with
you, Faith.

JENKINS: Well, it`s a big deal. This is a case where the murder weapon
was never found. He was shot six times. The murder weapon was never
recovered. And Aaron Hernandez had been charged with murder. So at some
point they want to be able to connect him with a murder weapon. Connect
him with the gun and the only evidence they really have is one, there was a
shell casing found in the rental care that Aaron Hernandez was driving and
then there`s this photo. So, obviously prosecutors are going to go after
this photo and say listen, he was holding the type of gun that was used to
kill O. Lloyd, that`s the big deal. But the defense attorneys on the other
hand, they`re going to say use your own eyes. Look at that photo. Are you
sure? Are you convinced? Or is there reasonable doubt in your mind as to
what Aaron has been holding.

SHARPTON: Carmen, I mean, do you think that looks like a glock?

GEORGE: There`s no way you could see that from that image. I mean, even
if the stellar witness takes a stand and this qualified an expert in the
detection of this image, I highly doubt that this predominant amount of
women on this jury are going to be able to say, you know, what, yes, that
that one can really say that that is a glock in his hands. If they can,
then he`s in trouble. But I think that there is going to be a reasonable
doubt as to what is actually in his hands which leaves us to reasonable
doubt as to whether or not he committed the crime.

SHARPTON: And even if it`s a gun, it really doesn`t mean that is that gun.
But it`s far to the argument. But Faith, you saw that there were Odin`s
mother had to be taken out of the courtroom kind of emotional. Now, she`s
on the witness list, to testify, what kind of impact -- you talk about the
impact of his celebrity, Hernandez, a celebrity.

JENKINS: Right.

SHARPTON: But what kind of impact is the mother testifying? What kind of
potential impact could that have?

JENKINS: They always tell the jurors emotion plays no role and sympathy
plays no role, but everyone is human and the jurors, they sit there and
they watched everything going on in the courtroom. They look at Aaron
Hernandez, they look at O. Lloyd`s family. They see people crying and
someone is dead here. So there is going to be an emotional impact in this
case, but at the end of the day Rev I`ve always found when jurors are
instructed and they know the importance, someone else`s life hangs in the
balance here with this trial. They are instructed to base the case based
on the evidence that they hear and make a determination based on that. And
often times jurors, they really do take that job seriously, and they look
at the evidence and they want to make the right decision at the end of the
day.

SHARPTON: Carmen, you know, I noted that Hernandez is charged with murder,
first-degree murder, but it doesn`t mean prosecutors have to prove he
pulled the trigger. Listen to what the judge told the jury.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUDGE SUSAN GARSH, MASSACHUSETTS SUPERIOR COURT: First, the commonwealth
must prove that the defendant knowingly participated in the commission of
that crime. And second the commonwealth has proved that he did so with the
intent require to commit the crime.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So, prosecutors say they have evidence to put Hernandez at the
scene hut there`s no murder weapon. How hard is this charge to prove?

GEORGE: It`s going to be extremely hard. Just look at those buzz words.
Knowingly participated with the intent to commit murder. Are they going to
be able to show that there`s three men at a crime scene and he specifically
knowingly participate in this crime? And this famous NFL start, $40
million person who you are talking about in a state which is like idolizing
and revering the group, the sport that he is affiliated with. It`s going
to be very hard to convince these jurors that he had a mind-set to kill
somebody. Let alone a rising star in his same profession.

SHARPTON: You know Faith, there`s some crucial evidence we won`t see at
the trial. Lawyers cannot bring off Hernandez`s indictment in a separate
double murder, and text messages, Odin Lloyd sent to his sister the night
he died, he wrote, quote, "you see who I`m with?" And quote, NFL, just so
you know. Lloyd`s sister says NFL was her brother`s nickname for
Hernandez. Is it the right call to exclude this? I mean, how important is
this evidence?

JENKINS: I think the judge made the right call to exclude both of those
piece of evidence. First of all, he is indicted on a separate case
involving two murders from 2012. That can`t come before this jury. It
would be too prejudicial to come before this jury in another murder case.
What you hope is that they haven`t heard that he`s been indicted. Because
that`s been big news in that area and nationally. So, you hope they
haven`t heard that. And the text message, that`s hearsay. And if it
doesn`t fall under an exception to the Hearsay rule, O. Lloyd didn`t send
that when he was dying as a dying declaration, so it doesn`t come in under
an exception to the Hearsay.

SHARPTON: Carmen, right call?

GEORGE: Look, I think it`s the right call, it also could mean that he`s
bragging, he`s excited, he`s out with the NFL star that he looks up to.

SHARPTON: Well, we`ll definitely going to be watching this. We`ll be
following this trial. Carmen St. George, Faith Jenkins, thank you both for
your time tonight.

GEORGE: Sure. Thanks, Rev.

JENKINS: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up. A big debate about this "Newsweek" cover. Is it
sexist?

Also, one school`s unusual plan to stop bad behavior on campus.

And buzz about a possible Jay Leno appearance on Letterman in Dave`s final
days. "Conversation Nation" is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: It`s time now for "Conversation Nation." Joining me tonight,
Zerlina Maxwell, Mark Hannah and Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani. Thank you
for all for being here tonight.

ZERLINA MAXWELL, ESSENCE MAGAZINE: Thanks, Rev.

MARK HANNAH, FORMER OBAMA CAMPAIGN ADVISOR: Thanks, Rev.

CAROLINE MODARRESSY-TEHRANI, HUFFPOST LIVE HOST: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: We start with a college banning booze. In response to student
misconduct, Dartmouth College is banning hard liquor on campus. The Ivy
League School is one of 50 elite schools the Department of Education is
investigating for its sexual assault policies. Dartmouth`s president
didn`t directly link drinking to sexual assault, but instead pointed out
hard liquor consumption led to the most emergency room visits. Zerlina,
what`s your reaction? Good call over reaction.

MAXWELL: I think this is an overreaction. Because alcohol does not cause
sexual assault rapists cause sexual assault. And so, there`s so many
people who have been assaulted while they`ve been sober or while they were
seven and not drinking. So, I think that we need to start the conversation
with how we actually can prevent sexual assault which is talking to men
about consent and intervention and those types of prevention strategies,
instead of just saying, well, don`t ever drink and you`ll be safe because
that`s not actually true.

SHARPTON: Caroline?

MODARRESSY-TEHRANI: Yes, I mean, I just think it shows again the colleges
don`t seem to have a grasp of how to combat the problem of sexual assault
and sexual violence on campus. I mean, you know, you can`t just ban
something. It`s the same vein as saying, well, don`t wear short skirts,
ladies. You know, don`t wear high heels, because you must be able to run
away from your assailant.

MAXWELL: Right.

MODARRESSY-TEHRANI: I mean, it just shows that they do not have a grasp of
how to tackle this problem.

MAXWELL: Mark?

SHARPTON: How do you say, Mark?

HANNAH: Rev, look, this is already illegal, it`s already illegal for so
many undergraduates at Dartmouth College to be drinking because they are
freshmen, they are sophomores, they`re 18-years-old, 19-years-old, so the
argument that this is going to be somehow drive it underground, it`s
already happening in an underground way, it`s already happening in a way
that potentially really -- not potentially really dangerous, as these
articles and all the bad press that Dartmouth has been getting,
demonstrate, it has been dangerous for many women.

SHARPTON: But that`s part of it. This has been in the press, this has
been in the media all over the place about this sexual assault, about these
issues. Is this a viable first step? Or is this trying to put it over
here and hoping it will take some of the sting out?

MODARRESSY-TEHRANI: It`s a misstep, it`s not even a first step. It`s just
an unfortunate misstep. I just don`t think they`re getting the point. I
think that they have to be listening to women that have been victims of
sexual assault on campus. I think that would be a great first step, when
you listen to victims, a lot of information can be gleaned. And also I
think that as Zerlina was saying, you need to be talking and educating men,
because if more men -- and there are a lot of them out there that say, I
will not tolerate this against my fellow female college mates, they will
make a stand, and they will put a stop to it.

SHARPTON: All right. Now, let`s go to a provocative picture. Here it is,
on the cover of "Newsweek," the title story, "What Silicon Valley thinks of
Women? The article focuses on a sexist culture in the tech industry, but
some on social media say the cover itself is sexist? Let`s go to you,
Zerlina. What do you think?

MAXWELL: I definitely think that`s a sexist cover. I think that`s what
"Newsweek" thinks about women. And they don`t think very highly of us. I
think that if you`re going to have an article that`s talking about the
serious issue about sexism and tech, which is a real issue. There are
people that are losing their jobs, getting death threats, and docked on a
regular basis because of sexism and tech, but if you`re going to depict
that, use an actual woman. I know at least 20 that are in tech that have
actually been threatened with death and rape, that you could use their face
instead of a --

SHARPTON: Mark, I see you kind of bobbling, like you`re not sure?

HANNAH: Yes. I half agree with Zerlina. Look, I think it`s an important
article that was written, I applaud Newsweek for actually writing the
article --

SHARPTON: Is there a problem with women in Silicon Valley?

HANNAH: In the tech industry? Absolutely. Zerlina mentioned people that
are working to sort of remedy that problem. Rachel Scholar who is in
charge of the list is an advocacy group that helps other women sort of get
their start. Because there is, I think some institutional sexism and the
tech industry --

MODARRESSY-TEHRANI: There absolutely is.

HANNAH: Okay. Fine. Fine. You guys are more assertive in that than me.
The thing about this cover --

SHARPTON: There`s a lot of exclusion in the tech industry.

HANNAH: Absolutely. And the cover I think might be, you know, the cover
is designed to sell magazines, so it`s provocative. I wouldn`t have gone
with that cover, but it`s an impressive story, and I`m glad that Newsweek
is tackling this issue and giving it the gravity in the attention --

SHARPTON: But Caroline, is it good or bad that they`re tackling an
important issue, but the cover raises another issue that might in some way
erase some of the impact of the article?

MODARRESSY-TEHRANI: So, I`m in that camp of kind of not in fan of the
cover, but a big fan of the article. Because I think it brought up some
fantastic points which is the 80 percent of women that have to stump up the
money themselves. Eighty percent of women in Silicon Valley do not get VC
funding. That`s just a five. You know, and I think that it raises some
fantastic issues. Would I have gone with a different cover? Probably, but
I think we should all not let that stop us from actually reading the story.

SHARPTON: Everyone stay with me. When we come back, a Super Bowl public
service announcement getting attention. And is an epic late-night reunion
coming to a TV near you?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back with our panel. Zerlina, Mark and Caroline. Now to
a Super Bowl ad getting a lot of attention. The NFL will run a domestic
violence public service announcement from Nomore.org during this year`s
game.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(Phone ringing)

911 OPERATOR: 911 operator, 911, where`s the emergency?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (INAUDIBLE)

911 OPERATOR: Okay, what`s going on there?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (INAUDIBLE)

911 OPERATOR: Ma`am, you reached 911, this is an emergency line.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (INAUDIBLE)

911 OPERATOR: You know, you called 911, this is an emergency line.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Do you know how long it will be?

911 OPERATOR: Hey ma`am, is everything okay over there? Do you have an
emergency or not?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Yes.

911 OPERATOR: And you`re unable to talk because --

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Right, right.

911 OPERATOR: Is there someone in the room with you? Just say yes or no.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Yes.

911 OPERATOR: Okay. It looks like I have an officer about a mile from
your location. Are there any weapons in your house?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: No.

911 OPERATOR: Can you stay on the phone with me?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: No. Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Caroline, after all the NFL`s issues of domestic violence this
year, what do you make of this ad?

MODARRESSY-TEHRANI: I mean, what a powerful ad. I mean, it says so much
and says so little. I just think it`s absolutely fantastic. It`s a great
step in the right direction to actually keep this conversation in the
spotlight. There was a lot of coverage in 2014 about domestic violence,
particularly as it pertains to the NFL, to football, and I think that we
need to keep the conversation going in 2015. We need to keep pushing it
forward. And it`s breathtaking, quite frankly.

SHARPTON: Mark, the NFL is partnering in this ad, so they are beginning to
make strides in this area. After a very high-profile year of those that
are the NFL that have abused in this fashion.

HANNAH: Absolutely. And there are going to be critics that come out and
say, well, this is just pr, or they`re trying to paper over this endemic
problem that exists with domestic violence, but this is -- the NFL had to
do something to address this problem. They didn`t have to do this. A
minute of airtime during the NFL, that goes for millions and millions of
dollars, and they`re connecting with their community, they`re connecting
with their audience, which is the -- is frankly gigantic during the Super
Bowl, so they`ve got like -- like Caroline said, they have an incredibly
powerful message here and they`re going to draw a lot of attention to this
--

SHARPTON: And I understand Zerlina, that various women`s groups, the abuse
groups, domestic abuse groups and others, I talked with Melanie Campbell
today, others who have met with Goodell, had advised this, and they were
surprised they got it done.

MAXWELL: Well, I think it`s a powerful ad, because it`s a real 911 call.
It`s actually someone calling and trying to hide the fact that they`re
calling for help by saying that they`re ordering pizza, because of the
volatile situation that they`re experiencing. I think that`s one of the
most powerful things. And no more is an incredible organization aside from
the NFL, and so they`re continuing to do great work -- from SPU (ph). And
I think that this is a great first step. We were talking about missed
steps before, this is a great first step. They need to continue.

SHARPTON: They have to keep going.

MAXWELL: They need to keep it up.

SHARPTON: Don`t make it the last step.

MAXWELL: Right.

SHARPTON: Now, changing gears here, is an epic late-night truce coming
longtime rivals David Letterman and Jay Leno might be reuniting on the air.
Reports say Letterman wants Leno as a guest on his show before he retires
in May. The pair were famously close friends before Leno was picked over
Letterman to take over "The Tonight Show" for Johnny Carson. Mark, could
this be a reunion for the ages?

HANNAH: I certainly hope so. I mean, this is how people identify
themselves, as either you`re either a Leno watcher or you`re a Letterman
watcher and people sort of dig their heels and these guys don`t share an
audience. You know, they have been on primetime in the network spots and
have been sparring for decades. And so this would be sort of a -- sort of
a great finale for both of them, I think.

SHARPTON: Caroline?

MODARRESSY-TEHRANI: I think it would be, this seems like a lot of fun.
And I know, hopefully --

SHARPTON: Were you Leno or were you.

MODARRESSY-TEHRANI: Growing up in London, I have to say I was really
neither, but out of two -- don`t make me decide, Rev. Zerlina, what do you
--

SHARPTON: All right. Zerlina?

MAXWELL: I think I`m more Jimmy Fallon or like even when I was growing up,
I think I was Arsenio Hall, either both of them.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

SHARPTON: And I am Jimmy Fallon.

MAXWELL: I think that`s going to get great ratings. And I wish Joan
Rivers is here. That`s the only thing for me that`s missing from that
epic.

SHARPTON: Zerlina, Mark and Caroline, thank you for your time.

MODARRESSY-TEHRANI: Thanks, Rev.

HANNAH: Thank you, Rev.

MAXWELL: Thank you.

SHARPTON: When we come back, the viral photo changing lives. Next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Finally tonight, a story of how one picture can start changing
lives. It all started with this photo, taken by the blog humans of New
York. Of a middle school student named Vidal. He`s from my old
neighborhood of Brownsville, Brooklyn where kids have to deal with crime
and poverty every day. He was asked who influenced you most in life. And
he said his principal Miss Lopez. Quote, "When we get in trouble she
doesn`t suspend us, she calls us to her office and explains to us how
society was built down around us, and she tells us that each time somebody
fails out of school, a new jail cell gets built. And one time she made
every student stand up one at a time, and she told each one of us that we
matter."

The picture has gotten over a million likes on Facebook. People were so
touched by that story that they have donated over a million dollars in just
the past week. The money will be used to send the Brownsville middle
schoolers to visit Harvard, hold summer camps, and eventually send them to
college. An MSNBC digit at crew caught the moment when Miss Lopez made the
big announcement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I didn`t know that each and every one of you, as much
as you feel like Miss Lopez keeps talking, Miss Lopez keeps talking, I
think you are so dope and dynamic and exceptional. So the entire school,
we`re all going to Harvard. Is that exciting? I need you to know that as
scholars of Mott Hall Bridges Academy, you are inspiring an entire world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Inspiring an entire world. I remember when I was a little kid
in Brownsville. A Brownsville even then that had crime and violence. But
I remember those that told me I mattered, and the first responsibility of
all of us is to make people know they matter. The other part is what I had
to learn -- you have to believe them. If you can make kids believe they
matter, you can change the world, because life is not about where you
start, it`s where you end up and where you end up starts with where you
believe you can go.

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


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