Skip navigation

PoliticsNation, Monday, February 9th, 2015

Read the transcript from the Monday show

  Most Popular
Most viewed

Show: POLITICS NATION
Date: February 9, 2015
Guest: Joan Walsh, Dana Milbank, Thomas Harvey, Faith Jenkins, Eric
Guster, Noah Michelson


ED SCHULTZ, MSNBC ANCHOR: That`s "THE ED SHOW." I`m Ed Schultz. POLITICS
NATION with Reverend Al Sharpton starts right now.

Good evening, Rev.

REV. AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening, Ed. And thanks to you for
tuning in.

Tonight`s lead, a major shift in American politics. For years, President
Obama fought to tackle income inequality. Calling it the defining
challenge of our time. And finally, Republicans are getting the message.
They`re suddenly talking about inequality, too.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: The top one percent under President Obama, the
millionaires and billionaires that he constantly demagogues earn a higher
share of our income than any years since 1928. Those with powers and
influence who walk the corridors of power of the Obama administration have
gotten fat and happy under big government. But I will tell you,
hardworking men and women across America are hurting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Well, Senator Cruz is half right. Average Americans are
hurting, but blaming it on President Obama is off the mark. This problem
is decades in the making. For the last 50 years, the bottom 90 percent of
workers have barely seen their incomes rise. While incomes have exploded
for the top one percent, increasing 271 percent since 1960. This problem
has become impossible to ignore. That`s why it`s not just Ted Cruz talking
about income equality, Jeb Bush has hopped on the bandwagon, too, and
Senator McConnell, speaker John Boehner, Mr. Budget cuts for the poor,
himself, Paul Ryan, and the list goes on and on and on and on. All these
Republicans are paying lip service to inequality. But they`re not
proposing real solutions to fix the problem. President Obama is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our job now is to create
additional tools that, number one, make sure that everybody`s got a
baseline of support to be able to succeed in a constantly moving economy,
whether it`s health care that survives job loss, whether it is making sure
that we have childcare that allows two working household family to prosper
while still caring for their kids. Having a certain baseline in terms of
wages through the minimum wage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Raising the minimum wage, tax credits for childcare. These are
real policies that could help workers. And the other thing, no Republican
would dare mention, taxing the rich.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: How do we make sure that the folks at the very top are doing enough
for their fair share? The fact of the matter is that relative to our post-
war history, taxes now are not particularly high or particularly
progressive compared to what they were, say, in the late `50s or the `60s.
You know, there`s always been this notion that for a country to thrive,
there are some things, as Lincoln said, we do better together than we can
do for ourselves.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Until Republicans start pushing real ideas to narrow the wealth
gap, the talk about inequality will be just that, talk.

Joining me now is Dana Milbank and Joan Walsh. Thank you for being here.

DANA MILBANK, POLITICAL COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Hi, Reverend.

JOAN WALSH, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, SALON.COM: Thanks.

SHARPTON: Dana, is this step forward for the GOP? Is this a step forward
or at least they`re not talking about the 47 percent, right?

MILBANK: Yes, I guess that`s progress, Reverend, I mean, but there is
something hilarious about Ted Cruz or Mitch McConnell thinking that they`re
going to convince Americans that they are the party that cares the most
about income inequality. It`s like putting an alpaca sweater on your
little dog, Rex, and trying to convince America that he`s a llama. It`s
just not going to fly.

But, you know, more power to them for trying, because they`re recognizing
that the politics have changed and they`re trying to at least rhetorically
get in on it. You see it all the way on the left with Elizabeth Warren.
And now, crazily enough you`re seeing it with the likes of Ted Cruz.

SHARPTON: Yes. But Joan, Ted Cruz is trying to blame the wealth gap on
President Obama. Will anyone really buy that?

WALSH: No. I don`t think they will, Re Reverend Al. But the thing that
he leaves out of the equation, yes, the incomes of the very wealthy have
risen. The top one percent is getting richer. However, this president has
raised the tax rates so that top one percents, they are paying closer to
their fair share. It might not yet be their fair share, but he has raised
the tax burden on those people and that does do something to reduce
inequality. Not enough, but you transfer some of that income to poorer
people, working poor people, you`re narrowing the gap that way. And the
president has been able to do that. He hasn`t gotten there when it comes
to bringing up the share of the wages.

But one thing I also thought was important he talked to Ezra about today
was labor law, strengthening labor laws.

SHARPTON: Yes. That`s very important.

WALSH: Because that is -- it`s not going to happen without --

SHARPTON: And they`ve been really at war with labor and the president
really emphasized that.

But let me stay on Ted Cruz a minute, Dana. Because he`s talking about
inequality, but here are some of the policies he supports. Repealing the
affordable care act. Instituting a flat tax rate. He`s against a minimum
wage hike and against equal pay measures. How exactly would any of this
stuff narrow the wealth gap?

MILBANK: No, it would make for a far more regressive taxation system that
would, of course, make the wealthy wealthier.

Now, there`s a fair criticism to be said that even the things that
President Obama`s talking about don`t go far enough. That`s certainly what
you`ll hear from the likes of Bernie Sanders. He`s not really taking on
the wealthy, he`s not really taking on wall street because, you know, let`s
face it, the Democratic Party needs money to run campaigns almost as much
as the Republicans do. But, of course, that`s not the argument that Ted
Cruz is making. It`s just sort of turn the universe upside down.

SHARPTON: Joan, let`s also go to Jeb Bush, one of the loudest voices on
the right. He`s talking about inequality. Listen to this from a recent
speech of Jeb Bush`s.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: Today, Americans across the country
are frustrated. They see only a small portion of the population riding the
economy`s up escalator. Roughly two out of three American households live
paycheck to paycheck. Can we restore that dream, the moral promise that
each generation can do better?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, he sounds like President Obama, Joan. But Democrats says
he`s got a lot more in common with Mitt Romney.

They plan to talk about how he opposed the auto bailout, worked in finance,
backed wall street bailout and supports tax cuts for wealthy big business.
So how can he talk about inequality if he`s seen as a Romney 2.1?

WALSH: He thinks he needs to talk about it. And I agree with Dana, that`s
progress. That now you have both sides of the aisle saying this is a
problem for the American people. But that speech was kind of shocking in
how empty it was, Reverend Al. This is Jeb Bush,. This is not, say, Scott
Walker who has also empty policies. But Jeb Bush, we know him --

SHARPTON: You expect more.

WALSH: You expect more. You expect him -- he`s not introducing himself to
the American people. We know him. So he should have been introducing,
this is how I will handle income inequality.

He goes to Detroit where all that he serves, all that he does by doing that
is reminding the media that he did not support the auto restructuring. But
he doesn`t take the opportunity to say, you know what, this is what I would
do for the city like Detroit that still has more than its share of
problems.

There was nothing about anything. Just this notion that we need to grow,
yes, we need growth, but we`ve seen growth both under President Clinton and
President Obama. We`ve seen wonderful growth that does not do enough to
close the wage gap. And that`s what we haven`t gotten to. Growth is not
enough.

SHARPTON: But, Dana, let`s go the other side of the political partisan
divide. I was reading in "The New York Times" over the weekend, an article
that says if Hillary Clinton runs in 2016, there are few policies that will
definitely be part of her economic agenda. She`ll push to raise the
minimum wage, invest in infrastructure, and close the corporate tax
loopholes. It is also possible she suggests incentives for companies that
share profits with employees and push to strengthen collective bargaining.

Now, she faces some criticism for ties to Wall Street. Would these
platforms help to counter that for Miss Clinton?

MILBANK: You know, Reverend, I think they would counter it to a small
extent. She is seeing much more than President Obama as being very tight
with Wall Street. And, of course, she`s going to need him out here, the
kind campaign that`s going to rely on these big dollar contributions.

So I think, you know, certainly, those kinds of policies like Obama`s
policies are a step in the right direction and will convince some people.
But there, a lot of progressives are disillusioned with the president, but
even more so with Hillary Clinton. And that`s why they`re the ground swell
for Elizabeth Warren who doesn`t show any indication she`s running.

SHARPTON: That`s the challenge, Joan. Of course, the big fight in 2016 is
going to be around economic inequality. And Mrs. Clinton has got to deal
with the pressure from some of the progressives, who frankly some have real
questions and some of us have other questions. And, but she`s got to have
a clear voice to battle the Republican because this is going to be one of
the most deciding issues in 2016.

WALSH: It is. But one thing that that "New York Times" reminded us --
article reminded us about, Rev., she actually came out, even though she was
a senator from Wall Street, she came out in favor of closing that carried
interest loophole that left investors saying --.

SHARPTON: She did do that.

WALSH: You know, I forgot about that. There are several things,
moratorium on foreclosures. There were several progressive things in that
2008 platform that I hope she brings back. I hope we see that Hillary
Clinton in 2016.

SHARPTON: Dana Milbank, Joan Walsh. Thank you both for your time tonight.

MILBANK: Thanks, Reverend.

WALSH: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: Six months after the Michael Brown shooting, a new push for
justice in Ferguson. But now the fight`s about putting people in prison
for being poor.

Also, the investigation into that deadly accident involving reality star
Bruce Jenner.

And a new smear attack on the president by Mike Huckabee.

All of that, plus, social justice at the Grammys. From black lives matter,
to domestic abuse. How the biggest stars in the world took their fight to
the Grammy stage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Albums still matter. Like books and black lives.
Albums still matter. Tonight --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: "Conversation nation" is ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Now to the record-breaking snowfall slamming Boston and much of
the northeast. This is what it was like driving around in Cambridge,
Massachusetts, earlier today. In the last 30 days, Boston has been hit
with more than 60 inches of snow, breaking records. In two weeks, enough
snow in Massachusetts has been removed to fill the Patriots stadium 90
times. With the storm still passing through the northeast region, what can
residents expect to see next?

Joining me now from Boston is MSNBC`s Adam Reiss.

Adam, you had a snow squall. Can you explain to viewers at home what that
is?

ADAM REISS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Sure, Reverend. Good evening.

Four storms as you mentioned in less than two weeks. Now we`re up to 73
inches. So a big problem for officials here is what to do with all the
white stuff. Well, they bring it here to a snow farm, one of a few snow
farms in Boston. We`re in south Boston.

Take a look behind me. These mounds of snow, some of them are 40 feet and
higher. Trucks have been coming in all day long with piles and piles of
snow. They bring it here. They bring it to the middle. These front
loaders then take it over to the melter. They`re bringing in melters from
out of state because they have so much snow they need to melt down. Some
of the other snow is being brought to beaches south of here along the
coast.

Now, as you mentioned, 73 inches of snow. The governor says that they
don`t know what they`re doing to do if it keeps piling up. He says like
you said, 90 times they could fill Gillette stadium. He says they should
have bid for winter Olympics instead of the summer Olympics as they did --
Reverend.

SHARPTON: How is transportation in the Boston area being impacted, Adam?

REISS: The airport, Logan airport, was basically operating on a limited
basis today. They canceled 500 flights. And in terms of ground
transportation, it was basically completely blocked out today. The
governor at a press conference this afternoon said he was very angry and
displeased with the fact the "T" was not operating. Even in this weather,
he hoped that it would least operate in the morning hours but it did not --
Reverend.

SHARPTON: MSNBC`s Adam Reiss in Boston. Thank you for your time tonight.
And Adam, stay warm.

REISS: I will.

SHARPTON: Coming up, will Olympic legend and reality TV star Bruce Jenner
be charged in a deadly car accident?

And President Obama`s top political adviser has advice for Hillary. Please
stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Six months ago today the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in
Ferguson, Missouri, put a new spotlight on criminal justice in this
country. And today, a lawsuit is posing new challenges to police practices
in that city and in the nearby town of Jennings.

Alleged they created modern day debtors prisons. Jailing poor people when
they were quote "unable to pay a debt owed to the city from traffic tickets
or other minor offenses. In each case, the city imprisoned a human being
solely because the person could not afford to make a monetary payment."

The suit argues the motivation is financial. Ferguson has a population of
21,000 people. But in 2013, it issued 33,000 arrest warrants raising $2.6
million in fines and court fees. Its second largest revenue source. One
of the plaintiffs in the new lawsuit is Tanya Debarry, a 52-year-old
grandmother. She says she was pulled over for a traffic violation in 2014
and jailed in St. Louis county, released after paying a $300 fine. But
instead of being freed, she was transferred to jail in Ferguson where she
spent two nights before shelling out another $300. Only to be put in jail
in Jennings because of more unpaid tickets.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just traffic tickets. No criminal act. Nothing.
Just traffic tickets. If you had the money, you would never go through
that type of situation. If you don`t have the money, it`s jail, jail.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Late today, the mayor of Ferguson issued a statement reading in
part quote "we believe this lawsuit is disturbing because it contains
allegations that are not based on objective facts.

Joining me now is Thomas Harvey, executive director and co-founder of art
city defenders. One of the groups that filed this lawsuit.

Thomas, first of all, thank you for coming on the show.

THOMAS HARVEY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CITY DEFENDERS: Thank you so much for
having me, Reverend Sharpton.

SHARPTON: The suit alleges modern debtors prison in Ferguson and Jennings.
Explain what`s going on here.

HARVEY: Well, it`s very much what you just described. People are jailed
by the cities of Jennings and Ferguson because of unpaid debt. They are
held there. They`re not appointing their attorney. They`re told that if
they come up with a certain amount of money, they can leave that day. If
they don`t have that money, they`re threatened with indefinite detention in
the jail. These folks are not brought before a judge in the time required
under law. They are told on a daily basis that if they only had $1,000
this day, $500 the next day, in sort of an arbitrary way, what they call a
bond is reduced from day-to-day. And if they have the money, they can get
out. and if they don`t, they have to remain to remain in jail. And the
conditions in the jail are deplorable.

SHARPTON: Yes, that is what I want to ask you about that because that`s
one of the things that caught my attention. In the law, you describe the
conditions. People were denied toothbrushes. Forced to share a single
unclean toilet. Enduring untreated infections in open wounds. Given
insufficient food and water leading to weight loss and dehydration.
Surrounded by walls smeared with mucus and blood. I mean, all for
allegations related to a traffic ticket, Thomas?

HARVEY: That`s right. And to be more -- to be more poignant about it,
it`s because they`re poor people. If hay had the money, if you or I had a
traffic ticket, we`d never spend a day in that jail. But if you`re poor
and you can`t afford the bond, can`t afford the money, the fines, the
unpaid debt, then you stay in jail.

And the conditions are awful. Our clients describe things that are
horrific in nature. And they`re taunted by -- they allege they`re being
taunted by the jailers and that they`re told they could leave if they have
the money.

SHARPTON: Wow.

HARVEY: But instead --

SHARPTON: Well, let me let one of the Missouri residents that talked about
the cycle of tickets and fines, and he`s not included in the lawsuit, but
he discussed it. Listen to this.

HARVEY: Sure.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I do get locked up and I go to court, they want you
to pay a certain fine that I cannot afford to pay. I got a family. And
because I can`t pay that fine, I`m forced to be locked back up. And when I
don`t, go back to court, there`s another $100 added so there`s no way I can
get out of it. They want their money. They want their money, and it`s
simple as that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Doesn`t that eat away at the trust in the criminal justice
system when people feel they`re caught in a web and they just continue to
be dealing with fines and fees increasing every step they take, Thomas?

HARVEY: Absolutely. I think that, you know, we never make a claim that
people were on the streets after the killing of Mike Brown because of
traffic tickets. But frankly, this is one of the factors that led to the
erosion of trust between the community and its government. And this is a
type of thing where people have been suffering this low-level harassment of
their entire lives. Some of our plaintiffs in this lawsuit have been
jailed 19 and 20 times in their lifetime.

SHARPTON: Wow.

HARVEY: They`re so accustom to being jailed as a result of their poverty,
some find it difficult to remember which jail they were in on one day. For
most folks in you`re ever in jail, you know exactly that day. But it`s
such a -- it`s such a portion of the culture in St. Louis county to jail
poor and black people because of their poverty. Many of our clients don`t
even remember which days. We have the court documents to back up what they
said.

SHARPTON: And not to be misunderstood, if people do something wrong, they
should pay for it, but this is so out of proportion. This is way over the
top, and I think six months after Michael Brown, to be looking at this
shows the culture that all of us around the country are concerned about.
Not only there, but wherever this happens.

Thomas Harvey, out I`m of time but thank you for your tame tonight.

HARVEY: All right, thank you, Reverend Sharpton.

SHARPTON: Coming up, will Olympic athlete and reality TV star Bruce Jenner
be charge in a deadly car accident?

Plus, Kanye almost did it again at the Grammys. Did you love it or did you
hate it?

Former FOX News host Mike Huckabee`s comments on President Obama and
religion. Why I`m calling for an apology, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: At the national prayer breakfast, President Obama offered a
historical perspective on religious extremism by referencing the Christian
crusades.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Men have been grappling with these questions throughout human
history. Unless we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some
other place, remember that during the crusades and inquisition, people
committed critical deeds in the name of Christ.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: These remarks have stirred debate on all sides of the political
spectrum. But here`s exactly what we don`t need from former governor Mike
Huckabee.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: Everything he does is against
what Christians stand for and he`s against the Jews in Israel. The one
group of people that can know they have his undying, unfailing support,
would be the Muslim community.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The president is against people of the Christian and Jewish
faiths? Against them, Governor? Are you really saying this?

Governor Huckabee, you`re thinking about running for president. It`s time
to elevate the debate, not lower it. Is this what you think you need to
say to be elected in a party where ugly sells? We`ve known each other for
years, Governor, and I know you`re better than this. That`s why I think
you should apologize. We can disagree without being disagreeable. This
isn`t a nice try, but we still got you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Time now for the "Justice Files." Joining me tonight, criminal
defense Attorney Eric Guster, and former prosecutor and host of "Judge
Faith," Faith Jenkins. Thank you, both, for being here.

FAITH JENKINS, HOST, "JUDGE FAITH": Thank you, Rev.

ERIC GUSTER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Thank you for having us.

SHARPTON: We start tonight with a deadly car wreck involving Olympian and
reality TV star Bruce Jenner. Bruce was not harmed. Right now, California
deputies are trying to get the cell phone records of the drivers. They say
a woman in a white Lexus rear ended the car in front of her. Jenner`s
escalade hit that Lexus sending it into oncoming traffic where the driver
was hit and killed. That driver Kim Howe did not have a valid license
according to DMV records. Jenner released a statement saying, quote, "It
is a devastating tragedy and I cannot pretend to imagine what this family
is going through. At this time, I am praying for them." Jenner is
cooperating and passed a sobriety test. No one has been charged.
Investigators will look through cell phone records to see whether anyone
was texting. Jenner`s publicist says he was not. Faith, let me ask you.
If records show Jenner was texting, does it prove he caused the crash?

JENKINS: Well, it doesn`t necessarily prove that, but it could prove that
he was distracted and if he was distracted, you could be looking at some
type of vehicular manslaughter charge. However, I don`t think that`s going
to be the case. There were photographers at the scene, and they took
photos right before this car crash and Bruce Jenner had a cigarette in his
hand, not a cell phone. Now, this crash, Rev was --

SHARPTON: They took pictures right before the crash.

JENKINS: Right before the accident. That`s what they the reporting is now
and that he had a cigarette in his hand, not a cell phone. And he has
consented to allow them to look through his records. This was three-car
pileup at least. There was a Prius, a first car that tried to push and
stop short. The Lexus, the car that the woman was driving, the woman was
who killed, then stopped short and Bruce Jenner hit her car.

SHARPTON: Right.

JENKINS: Now, California like most states, they have a law that says, you
have to follow, be a certain distance behind cars and presumably if someone
stops short, you should be able to stop to prevent an accident. So while I
don`t think Bruce Jenner`s facing criminal charges, I think there could be
some civil charges.

GUSTER: He`s definitely civilly liable.

SHARPTON: So, what was your take on the whole question of texting? I
mean, how do you see this whole case?

GUSTER: Well, if he was texting, he would be liable, more than likely
criminally as well as civilly because in California, they have laws that
discuss distracted driving which all these laws are being passed across the
United States. Because if a person is paying attention to their cell
phone, looking at their phone, not paying attention to what`s going on in
front of them and he hit this lady from behind, then he would be liable for
her death.

SHARPTON: Now, paparazzi, we`re following Jenner, as you talk about
photographers. Police say they were not responsible for the crash. If
Jenner is charged, how will that play into his defense, Faith?

JENKINS: Well, of course, they`re going to look for all the mitigating
factors. Number one is going to be that the woman that he hit actually hit
another car before he hit her. So he`s going to say it was unavoidable and
because she hit a car, he calls at him to have to try to stop before
hitting her. And then he`s going to argue, of course that perhaps
paparazzi were around and that somehow contributed. I just don`t see that
happening in this case with a three-car pileup.

GUSTER: Right. And his problem is going to be, he has to have a fair
distance between him and the car were before to allow him to stop and he
didn`t obviously stop which can make him liable.

SHARPTON: All right. I want to move to this domestic abuse charge,
charges, really, dropped against NFL Star Greg Hardy. This is a call that
no one saw coming for the California Panther. Last year Hardy`s ex-
girlfriend described a terrifying night. She said he choked her with both
hands. Dragged her by her hair. Screaming he would kill her. And he
picked her up over his head to throw her onto a couch covered with assault
weapons, assault rifles to be exact. But today as Hardy showed up in court
in North Carolina, she was nowhere to be found. The local district
attorney says they have not been able to find Nicole Holder since November.
He says he has reliable information that she reached an independent
settlement with Hardy. Eric, what`s your take? Is something like this
common?

GUSTER: It`s very common, Reverend Al. I`ve had cases where a lady has
been assaulted and by the time he`s at the jail, they`re hiring a lawyer to
get him out. Because most women just want the abuse to stop. It`s not --
they don`t want him to be punished. However, this case is a little bit
different. She went to trial one time. She went to a bench trial. He was
found guilty. And in most jurisdictions you have the right to appeal to a
jury trial which is what he did.

SHARPTON: Which is what today was about.

GUSTER: Yes.

SHARPTON: Let me say this, Faith. Because I want to lead -- the question
I want to ask you. Everyone wants know where Nicole Holder is because she
had said she didn`t want to go through another trial. The "Charlotte
Observer" reports tonight she was snowmobiling in Colorado. Then off to
New York City. I mean, is there a way to force her to testify?

JENKINS: Well, apparently the D.A. is saying that they tried to serve her
with subpoenas to get her to come to court. I`m shocked by this. This was
a man who went to trial before a judge. She testified before. He was
convicted. Very serious allegations of domestic abuse.

SHARPTON: Right. And he was convicted.

JENKINS: He was convicted. How do you then today completely dismiss a
case against him? I want to know, they should be asking, has he been in
touch with her? What about this civil settlement? How much money was she
paid? When did they agree to that? It`s very --

SHARPTON: If she wants to take the settlement, Eric, isn`t that her right?

GUSTER: It is her right. However, it`s the state`s case to prosecute and
the state cannot prosecute without a victim in this type of case. There
are domestic violence cases.

SHARPTON: The state could have questioned him, right? As Faith is
raising.

GUSTER: No.

SHARPTON: Because?

GUSTER: No, sir, they could not. Because if a trial is not commencing a
person, well, even if a trial started, he has a right not to testify and
take the stand.

SHARPTON: Because he`s the defendant.

GUSTER: Yes, sir. He would not have to answer any questions. So, they
can`t ask him if you pay it all for --

JENKINS: I think you can find her.

GUSTER: Yes. They can find her.

JENKINS: You can`t tell me that she cannot be found.

GUSTER: Yes. They can always be found.

SHARPTON: I have to leave it there. Eric Guster and Faith Jenkins, thank
you both for your time tonight.

GUSTER: Thank you.

JENKINS: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, the Alabama chief justice is trying to stand in the
way of progress.

Some political advice for Hillary from President Obama`s top political
adviser. Wait until you hear what he says she needs to do.

And social justice comes to the Grammy awards. "Conversation Nation" is
next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Time now for "Conversation Nation." Joining me tonight, MSNBC`s
Joy Reid. The "Huffington Post`s" Noah Michelson. And MSNBC`s Abby
Huntsman. Thank you all for being here.

ABBY HUNTSMAN, MSNBC CO-HOST, "THE CYCLE": Thanks, Rev.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST, "THE REID REPORT": Thank you.

NOAH MICHELSON, "THE HUFFINGTON POST": Thanks.

SHARPTON: Did Alabama`s chief justice try to break the law in the name of
states` rights? Last night, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore ordered judges
not to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. Just hours before federal
ruling went into effect allowing same-sex marriages. This morning the
Supreme Court refused to issue a stay to overturn the ruling and at least
eight counties began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. But
the confusion has led judges in some counties to continue denying same-sex
marriage licenses. Like in Shelby County, where a sign on the courthouse
door reads, "Due to the conflicting orders, this office will not issue any
marriage licenses for the immediate future." Joy, is this states` rights
in Alabama all over again?

REID: Yes, it is. It`s almost like Judge Roy Moore is sort of the back to
the future Supreme Court justice. I think he needs to get to know
something called the supremacy clause, it`s in the constitution, I think
it`s Article 6. And it says that federal law supersedes state law and that
if the Supreme Court has said you have to issue marriage licenses to same-
sex couples, I hate to break it to you, justice, but you do. This is not,
this is sort of a stand in the schoolhouse door moment. It should be a no
brainer for anyone calling themselves a judge.

HUNTSMAN: Yes.

SHARPTON: Noah, he -- the courts in Alabama ruled --

MICHELSON: Uh-huh.

SHARPTON: They refused to stay it.

MICHELSON: Yes.

SHARPTON: So what`s confusing about that to these counties that claim
today talking about conflicting? There`s no conflict here, there`s no stay
on the order by the higher court.

MICHELSON: It`s almost like no one`s in charge in Alabama. We`re still
trying to figure it out. Even the governor, Governor Bentley won`t say one
way or the other what is supposed to go on. He said they`ll support the
probate judges no matter what they do. People are afraid to make a move.
They`re afraid that if they go the wrong way, they`ll going to get into
trouble. And instead of this day being a historic day for same-sex
couples, beautiful, hundreds of couples who want to get married, now we`re
talking about Justice Moore instead.

HUNTSMAN: Yes. It`s because I think the people are confused. Some people
are still confused over this. I mean, I like to say that just like we tell
people, there used to be a time when blacks couldn`t vote, I will tell my
kids and grandkids there was a time when gays couldn`t get married and you
see there are still places especially in the south. I mean, I`m from Utah
where it`s 50/50. People still are struggling with how fast we`ve been
evolving on this.

SHARPTON: But this clearly, Abby, is going to change, and --

HUNTSMAN: Yes.

SHARPTON: -- and this is sort of like the last breaths of existence.

HUNTSMAN: They`re holding on as much as they can.

SHARPTON: But the reason I brought it to states` rights, which is part of
the civil rights history, is that Joy confused, or wanting to be confused.

REID: Yes.

SHARPTON: If the Supreme Courts say we`re not staying it, we`re not
staying it. What`s confusing about that? The order stands.

REID: And Rev, I can understand ordinary citizens being confused. But
anyone who has gone to law school which presumably this chief justice has
understands the supremacy clause, understands that once the Supreme Court
rules there is no confusion.

SHARPTON: Anybody that went to school --

(LAUGHTER)

REID: Civics class in seventh grade, I think that is where we learned
about it. A lot goes back to religion. You have to remember, for many of
these folks they can`t separate their politics with what they go to church,
and our told on Sunday --

SHARPTON: I understand that. I understand that.

REID: -- that is a real challenge, I`m not saying it`s right, I`m just
saying, that is what it`s called.

SHARPTON: But I also understand religion has been used wrongly before then
you`ve got to deal with the law.

MICHELSON: Exactly. I mean, Moore is on the record as saying that
homosexuality is evil. You know, so when you surf from that kind of
advantage point, we know what he`s talking about.

SHARPTON: It`s a different kind of bias but they said interracial
marriage.

MICHELSON: Exactly. I mean, exactly.

SHARPTON: You cannot not deal with the law. And if your religion, you
feel violated, break the law and suffer the consequences like many of us
did with civil disobedience.

REID: Yes, indeed.

SHARPTON: Let`s move on to presidential politics and some advice for the
democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. David Axelrod, the man who
orchestrated President Obama`s political rise from the Senate to the White
House was promoting his new book today when he offered this advice if
Hillary does decide to run again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: She needs a very well-conceived message about where she
wants to lead the country. I think she has to approach this campaign like
a challenger, not like a front-runner. Like an insurgent and go out there
and really make a strong case.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Run like an insurgent. Abby, what do you make of that advice?

HUNTSMAN: Interesting advice there. Everyone is wanting to throw some
advice to Hillary Clinton. They want to feel like they have a say in
whether she wins or not. You know, I think the biggest thing for Hillary
Clinton is being human. And being herself. And every time she talks about
being a mother and being a grandmother, we already know she`s smart, we
already know what she`s capable of doing. Right? We`ve seen her in so
many different positions at this point. I think the biggest thing for her
is being who she is and being real. That moment back when she ran last
time when she had emotion, when she cried. I think, you know, she was hit
for that, but I think a lot of people also were like, you are a real
person, you are human and I like you more for that.

SHARPTON: But Noah, don`t you get from Axelrod`s advice she`s got to also
show some hunger and some drive and some I want this?

MICHELSON: Yes. Definitely. She can`t rest on the name Clinton. And I
think that some people think that she really has been so far, that she`s
just kind of resting on her laurels and that`s going to get her, you know,
into the White House. I think that she has to come out hungry, she has
come out strong and she has a lot of people to still.

SHARPTON: Joy, she can`t play a rose garden strategy if she runs as an
insurgent.

REID: Yes. Exactly. And the challenge for Hillary Clinton is,
inevitability is both her best friend and her worst enemy. Because it can
breed a sense of complacency and an appearance of entitlement to the office
and she has to give people an affirmative reason to want to vote for her
and not just presume that she`s going to assume the office because she`s
next in line.

SHARPTON: Everyone, please stay with me. When we come back, we have to
talk Kanye. He almost did it again last night. And it drew a big reaction
from Jay-Z. The panel reacts, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back with our panel, Joy, Noah, and Abby. Now to some big
statements at the Grammys. Ferrell performing his hit song "Happy" while
he and his backup dancers dressed in hoodies posed with their hands up and
in a rare appearance, prince chose to make a statement as well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Albums. Remember those? Albums. Still matter. Like
books and black lives. Albums still matter. Tonight --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Beyonce sung a beautiful rendition of "Take My Hand Precious
Lord." A favorite of Dr. Martin Luther King. And Common and John Legend
closed the show with a moving version of "Glory" from the movie "Selma."
Joy, I saw James Brown make statements through his music. What`s your
reaction to that last night?

REID: I think it was important, and, you know, there has been a fair
amount of criticism of black artists, particularly hip hop artists for not
getting out ahead further on things like the black lives matter movement.
I think it does show that these artists are willing to use their celebrity.
I especially thought prince`s words were poignant to put that in. To show
that they are part of this movement.

SHARPTON: And the hoodies obviously coming out of Trayvon.

REID: Obviously, exactly, coming out of Trayvon Martin. And it is
important to people that artists make a stand on these issues that are so
important to substantial shares of their fans.

HUNTSMAN: Domestic violence was a big issue last night as well. And you
hear people that you are fans of speaking out about it or even talking
about their own personal experiences and it really relates to people. But
to your point, Joy, I think sometimes it can be so controversial that they
think about the timing. Sometimes they`re nervous about getting too out in
front of it but I think sometimes it`s smart to get out in front to show
you have --

SHARPTON: But doesn`t that also give a connection even if your fans may
not agree that you feel and that you have -- you`re more than something
that is not involved and doesn`t have a heartbeat as to what`s going on?

MICHELSON: Definitely. I think especially with music becoming so
depoliticized nowadays, that they have people speaking up and talking out,
that I think that really resonates with viewers and they like it one way or
another.

SHARPTON: All right. Now, we can`t talk about the Grammys without talking
about Kanye`s moment. Beat out Beyonce for album of the year and then it
almost happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I need some help. Come back. Oh, my god.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Kanye almost taking over the mic again in protest. Years ago,
Kanye had this infamous moment protesting Taylor Swift`s MTV win over
Beyonce. Here -- here might be the best part, though. The reaction from
Jay-Z and Beyonce is absolutely priceless. The horror quickly turned into
delight. Kanye played it off as a joke, but after he said this --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KANYE WEST, RAPPER: The Grammys if they want real artists to keep coming
back, they need to stop playing with us. Beck needs to respect artistry
and he should have given his award to Beyonce.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Abby, what`s your take? Funny or disrespectful?

HUNTSMAN: I don`t even know what to make of this guy at this point. I
think this whole thing was planned out. I mean, we were talking in the
commercial break, Rev, about how he`s married to the biggest self-promoter
there is as well. You wonder what those two talk about at night. It was
clear he had planned to go up there.

MICHELSON: Yes.

HUNTSMAN: But then when you hear what he said after, something that struck
me, he said, you know, the awards are not going to artists that incite
people or that get people into music.

SHARPTON: No.

HUNTSMAN: And I disagree. Because I think it depends on the artist. I
mean, I like Taylor Swift. Blame me for that. I like Beck, so who is he
to say --

MICHELSON: I think it`s tacky for him to attack another artist and say
that, you know, Beyonce should have won over Beck. But as we were saying
earlier too, he`s launching his new Adidas collection this week, he has an
album coming out soon, he has a Rihanna album coming out soon. This is a
brilliant tactical movement to get in front of people.

REID: And by the way, the most tweeted about person or moment from the
Grammys last night was Kanye West.

MICHELSON: There you go.

REID: His name was the top --

MICHELSON: He didn`t win anything, you know? And he`s --

SHARPTON: And he even got Noah to announce his Adidas line and his --

MICHELSON: We`re talking about him. Here we go.

SHARPTON: Tonight on POLITICS NATION.

MICHELSON: We`re talking about him.

SHARPTON: Who would have thought? Joy, Noah, and Abby, thank you for
joining me tonight and for joining "Conversation Nation." And make sure
you watch the "Reid Report" weekdays at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. And Abby on
"THE CYCLE" weekdays at 3:00 p.m. Eastern. Both right here on MSNBC.

When we come back, remembering legendary basketball Coach Dean Smith and
his winning ways off the court.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: Finally tonight, remembering legendary basketball coach Dean
Smith. After 36 years at North Carolina, Smith retired as the winningest
head coach in Division 1 history. Coaching the likes of Michael Jordan and
James Worthy. He won two national championships and an Olympic gold medal.
A remarkable 96 percent of his players graduated. But he also was a legend
off the court. President Obama talked about that when awarding Smith the
Medal of Freedom in 2013.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: We also honor his courage in helping to change our country. He
recruited the first black scholarship athlete to North Carolina and helped
to integrate a restaurant and neighborhood in Chapel Hill. That`s the kind
of character that he represented on and off the court.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That character had a lasting influence on generations of
basketball fans and players.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLIE SCOTT, IST UNC BLACK SCHOLARSHIP PLAYER: Coach Smith made me feel
like I was like every other athlete on their team. And I say, again, for a
black person in the South to feel like he was the equal of a white person
means more than anything else.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Coach Smith supported civil rights and gay rights. He opposed
the death penalty and the Iraq war. He stood by his beliefs which he said
were rooted in his religious faith. Coach Smith died on Sunday at the age
of 83. He not only made champions on the court, he was a champion off the
court.

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


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

<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2015 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Transcription Copyright 2015 ASC LLC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is
granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not
reproduce or redistribute the material except for user`s personal or
internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall
user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may
infringe upon MSNBC and ASC LLC`s copyright or other proprietary rights or
interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of
litigation.>






Sponsored links

Resource guide