Skip navigation

PoliticsNation, Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

Read the transcript from the Tuesday show

  Most Popular
Most viewed

Date: March 31, 2015
Guest: Tim Lanane, Clarence Page, Faith Jenkins, Eric Guster, Angela Rye,
John Fugelsang, Alyona Minkovski

REV. AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Ed. And thanks to you for
tuning in. We start tonight with breaking news.

Indiana`s Republican governor backing down in the fight over his state`s
discriminatory religious freedom law.


GOV. MIKE PENCE, INDIANA: I`ve come to the conclusion that it would be
helpful to move legislation this week that makes it clear that this law
does not give businesses a right to deny services to anyone.

I`d like to see on my desk before the end of this week legislation that is
added to the religious freedom restoration act in Indiana that makes it
clear this law does not give businesses a right to deny services to anyone.


SHARPTON: Governor Mike Pence admitting this law has a problem but he
refused to say it would let businesses deny services to gay customers.


PENCE: I was proud to sign the religious freedom restoration act last
week. This law does not give anyone a license to discriminate. This law
does not give anyone a license to deny services to gay and lesbian couples.
The religious freedom restoration act was about religious liberty, not
about discrimination.


SHARPTON: Wait a minute. If there`s nothing wrong with the law, then why
fix it? If this law isn`t about discrimination, why change it? The
governor`s position makes no sense. He wants to have it both ways. Change
the law, but not admit it was wrong. Sorry, Governor, the whole country
knows this law was discriminatory. Big businesses from Gap to Apple said
so. Some of the biggest names in politics, entertainment and sports
slammed it. Other states and cities banned official travel to Indiana
because of it.

And just look at the front page of today`s "Indianapolis Star" "Fix this
now." Governor Pence couldn`t ignore this backlash, but this fight has
exposed how some of the biggest names on the right, including many GOP
presidential candidates, are standing on the wrong side of history and
public opinion.

Joining me now is Indiana`s Democratic leader in the State Senate, Tim
Lanane, and "Chicago Tribune" columnist Clarence Page. Thank you both for
being here.


STATE SEN. TIM LANANE (D), INDIANA: Thank you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Senator, you said today you`re still disappointed in the
governor. Why?

LANANE: Well, you know, he was supposed to be announcing a fix as I call
it for this bill but I didn`t hear a fix. This bill is completely flawed.
Our advice to him and to the Republicans on the other side of the aisle has
been we need to do two things. We need to repeal this bill and need to
move to protect the members of the LGBT community in the state of Indiana.
Because one thing we`ve learned throughout this whole process is that right
now there`s a vacuum in the law on the state of Indiana.

And I agreed with the governor in one respect. He said repeatedly that
Hoosiers do not want to discriminate, they do not believe in
discrimination, and he doesn`t support discriminating. Well, if you don`t
support discrimination, then you should support amending our Indiana civil
rights act to make that very clear that applies to members of the LGBT
community as well.

SHARPTON: You know, Clarence Page, I wrote yesterday in the "Huffington
Post" that there`s a long tradition of people using religion to
discriminate from Jim Crow laws to fighting women`s rights. I also talked
about it on the show last night.

PAGE: That`s right. I remember it well, too, Reverend. I remembered
better than you, in fact because I`m older than you, you know, but it`s --
I this think back to how it wasn`t that long good that the Southern Baptist
Church apologized for defending slavery for so long of a period, and then
not speaking up on the right side of the whole Jim Crow`s question.

And so I feel like d‚j… vu all over again hearing this religious arguments
for discriminating against gays and lesbians. And that`s also what has
turned public opinion now in recent years in favor of laws to protect their
rights, the same as everybody else`s. And why Governor Pence and other
Republicans across the country are feeling the heat now, feeling defensive
about supporting laws that allow people the right using religion as an
excuse to discriminate against gay and lesbian couples.


And that was my point. Because we`ve seen religion misused before,
Senator, and because I`ve mentioned that history of discrimination, FOX
News said I called the Indiana law racist and asked Governor Pence for his
response. I want to play that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just ran a sound by from Al Sharpton that suggested
that the law in addition to be discriminating against gays is racist as
well. What do you say to your critics who are interpreting your good
intentions this way.

PENCE: With regard to that claim, let me say five years ago my wife, my
three children and I walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge with John Lewis
when I co-chaired the pilgrimage to mark the 45th anniversary of bloody
Sunday. I abhor discrimination. I can tell you from my heart, if I was in
a restaurant and saw a business owner deny services to someone because they
were gay, I wouldn`t eat there anymore.


SHARPTON: Now, Senator, first of all, I referred to where they use
religion and race, and with women and with other things. FOX, of course,
just cuts it down so they can make it look grace but -- and I`m glad the
governor marched in Selma. I`m glad he and his family went, but that does
not answer the fact, you have a law that allows people to discriminate and
if you`re allowed to discriminate against anyone you can discriminates
against everyone.

LANANE: Well, we certainly don`t want that in the state of Indiana. I can
tell you that. And you know, I take the governor at his word when he says
that he does not want to discriminate. And I don`t believe that anyone
were actually in the -- except in the very small minority of people
intentionally wanted to discriminate against people here in our state. But
we need to prove that. We need to send a bold message to the world now
that in Indiana, we do not abide by discrimination.

And we can do that by the two-step process I talked about, the repeal of
this law, which is so -- caused so many problems force, and then
protecting, making sure that we protect every person in the state. We have
a civil rights act now, which does cover, of course, race, religion, covers
other aspects, but it does not cover the LGBT community. So we need to
really show, make a bold statement that in Indiana we will not abide for
any person to be discriminated against.

SHARPTON: But Clarence, to have a law on the books that lets
discrimination go that is not checked by civil rights law as some
localities there have done around Indiana and others in different states.
This sets a dangerous precedent that anybody that believes in civil rights
and social justice has to take the position that Apple and many others have
taken in Indiana.

PAGE: And they`ve -- it could set a dangerous precedent, we certainly see
Arkansas just this week, their legislature moving towards passing the same
kind of bill, Indiana now is trying to tiptoe away from. But at the same
time, though, we`re seeing a more galvanized opposition than ever. And
from our business people, a liable state governors and mayors, Mayor Rahm
Emanuel in Chicago invited Indiana businesses, come up here, you want a
more tolerant environment, same thing with Terry McAuliffe in Virginia.

This is miles different from to back in 2004, you remember when Democrats
were so defensive about the gay marriage question and the Bush campaign
either position have benefits.

SHARPTON: I remember it well. I was in there in that campaign.

PAGE: Right.

SHARPTON: But let me ask you this, Clarence, talking about to 2004, and I
want to come back to you, Senator, before we run out of time. I mean, one
of the things that was very alarming to me, I have to say, was the number
of possible Republican presidential candidates that came out in support of
the law. Listen to this.


FMR. GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: I think Governor Pence has done the right
thing. I think, once the facts are established, people aren`t going to see
this as discriminatory at all.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: See that the issue we`re talking about here
is should someone who provides a professional service be punished by the
law, because they refuse to provide that professional service to a ceremony
that they believe is in violation of their faith. I think people have a
right to live out their religious faith in their own lives, they can`t
impose it on you in your life, but they have the right to live it out in
their own lives.


SHARPTON: I mean, Clarence, how could this be good politically for them?

PAGE: Well, they want to reach those conservative church folks, and the
same folks that George Bush was try and trying to reach back in 2004. But
it looks like they`re living in the past, because whoever gets the
nomination is going to have a lot of explaining to do in the November
campaign against the Democrats who probably will be led by Hillary Clinton,
so we`ll see what happens.

SHARPTON: Senator, how do you fix this? I mean, first of all, no one`s
talking about making anyone do something that their religion forbids.

LANANE: Right.

SHARPTON: But you can`t have a business and enjoy things like sanitation
from state workers and protection from police and all, enjoy all the
benefits of everybody but you can decide you do not want those people in
your business. You can`t have it both ways.

LANANE: Right.

SHARPTON: How do you fix this? The governor said this is like other
states, this is like what Bill Clinton signed. It is not. They signed
things that dealt with the state.


SHARPTON: They designed things that dealt with the state. This is the
first law that deals with letting a private business decide.

LANANE: Right. Right.

SHARPTON: Whether one is doing something against my religion. This is not
like what Bill Clinton and others signed.

LANANE: And that`s exactly right. That`s a very important decision --
very distinction. Our law is so broad. It`s overly broad. As you pointed
out, that basically applies to - it defines a person as being almost any
business entity, so that does raise the specter of now, can businesses
assert some right to religious freedom to discriminate against somebody?
Well, we don`t want that.

Indiana is a great state, we have friendly people, we want everyone to be
welcomed in our state. So we need to -- certainly I think the best way to
proceed is to simply repeal the law. But to clarify, if you`re going to do
that, fine, you have to make it crystal clear exactly that it`s not too
broad, and that it will not allow for discrimination. But it is essential
that you then amend your Indiana civil rights act to include protection for
the members of the LGBT community, and reaffirm our belief here in Indiana.
We have that discrimination is wrong, no matter who it is against. That`s
the way to send a bold message to the world about Indiana.

SHARPTON: Indiana State Senator Tim Lanane, and Clarence Page, thank you

LANANE: Thank you.

PAGE: Thank you, Revered.

LANANE: Thank you, Revered.

SHARPTON: Straight ahead, down to the wire. What can we expect from those
11th hour talks on the future of Iran`s nuclear program?

Also tonight, high drama in court, as the Patriots` owner Robert Kraft
testify in the Aaron Hernandez murder trial.

Plus, the new "Daily Show" host under fire for controversial Tweets. And
he just responded.

What is Bill Clinton saying about the "House of Cards"? We`ll talk about
it all ahead, please stay with us.


SHARPTON: Breaking news from Washington. Two Secret Service agents have
been subpoenaed to testify before a House panel about that alleged drinking
and driving incident last month. Those subpoenas were issued by
Republicans on the oversight committee. They also want the agents to talk
about how the Secret Service is quote "broken." No response yet from the

We`ll be right back.


SHARPTON: Now to breaking news. The race against the clock in the Iran
nuclear talks. Late today the deadline for an agreement originally
scheduled for tonight got extended until tomorrow. Now negotiators from
the U.S. and five other countries are pushing forward, trying to hammer out
a deal with Iran.

A big question now -- how much time do they have? Tonight`s deadline was
self-imposed, but with negotiators hoping for a framework for final
agreement in June. That`s when the current agreement with Iran expires.
The stakes are high. A deal could mean new long-term limits on Iran`s
nuclear program in return for lifted sanctions and hopefully a more stable
Middle East.

Now let`s bring in Ambassador John Limbert. Mr. Ambassador Limbert served
as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iran in the Obama
administration. And in 1979, he was among the 52 Americans held captives
in the Iranian hostage crisis. Thank you for being here, Ambassador.

AMB. JOHN LIMBERT, FMR. U.S. DIPLOMAT TO IRAN: Thank you for inviting me,

SHARPTON: Ambassador, what do you make of this extension? Is that a good
sign at that they`re still talking?

LIMBERT: Well, they`ve been talking since November 2003, and actually long
before that. I mean, what it tells me is that we need to step back a
little bit, take a deep breath and remember these negotiation is going to
be hard. We`re overcoming 36 years of hostility between our two -- between
our two countries. This is not easy to do. There`s a lot of distrust.
There`s a lot of hostility. If it takes another day, another week to get
to an agreement to break down this hostility somewhat, so be it.

SHARPTON: Ambassador, the remaining sticking points reportedly include how
to store Iran`s stockpiles, enriched uranium, the future of Iran`s Nuclear
Research and Development Program, and the speed and scope that sanctions
would be lifted on Iran. How difficult could these issues be to work out?

LIMBERT: They are complicated. But that`s what negotiation is about. I
mean, negotiation means that you reach sometimes imperfect deals with
dubious partners whom you neither like or mistrust or trust completely.
That`s what this is about. And the people doing this, there`s some very
smart, very well-educated technical people on both sides. If it were
purely a technical problem, Revered, this probably would have been solved
months ago. But obviously it`s the politics that have made this things so
very complicated.

SHARPTON: Now talking about the politics, a new poll shows Americans would
support a deal that lived sanctions while imposing new restrictions on
Iran`s nuclear program. Fifty-nine percent support that idea, 31 percent
oppose it. How does domestic opinion here at home figure into the high-
level talks over there?

LIMBERT: I think it matters, because people realize look we`ve had 30, 34,
35 years of trading insults, of a threats, of accusations, and it hasn`t
changed much. There`s been no outcome. So remember the president himself,
when he was still a candidate back in 2008, suggested we need to do
something different, something better. The issue isn`t, do you like the
Islamic Republic? Do you trust the Islamic republic? The question is what
is in the interests of the American? And I think what this poll shows is
that the American people see that very clearly.

SHARPTON: What`s going to happen tomorrow? I mean, you were a foreign
service officer stationed in Iran when you were taken hostage with 51
others. Now you have really tried to see this make some progress, it
hasn`t been there. What`s going to happen tomorrow? What are you
thinking, Ambassador?

LIMBERT: Yes. That`s always the hardest question, trying to make this
(INAUDIBLE), trying to make this predictions.

Revered, every time I`ve made a prediction about Iran over the last 34
years, I`ve usually been wrong about -- I`ve usually been wrong about it.
But they have to keep at it. I mean, as I mentioned, this is difficult
stuff. The key is patience and persistence. You`re not going to overcome
this legacy of mistrust with one meeting, two meetings, one handshake, one
telephone call. But perhaps the best sign is that they signed this interim
agreement back in November of 2013, and it`s held. Both sides have held to

So if they don`t reach an agreement today, then they`re going to have to
work tomorrow, but they`re going to have to keep working on it. And I
think the people realize that how -- not only how difficult this is, but
how importance this is. If it`s important, it`s worth doing and worth
having both the patience and persistence to do it right.

SHARPTON: Ambassador John Limbert, thank you for your time tonight and
your service.

LIMBERT: My pleasure, Revered.

SHARPTON: Still ahead. The owner of the New England Patriots takes the
stand in a dramatic day at the Aaron Hernandez murder trial.

And will public pressure cause Elizabeth Warren to change her mind about
running for president?

But first, look at Senator Cruz, we`re taking attendance in tonight`s "got


SHARPTON: Lights, camera, Cruz? The Texas senator has been in the
spotlight ever since he officially became the first candidate to throw his
hat in the 2016 ring. His platform hinges in part on criticizing the Obama
administration`s foreign policy.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Imagine a president who says I will honor the
constitution and under no circumstances will Iran be allowed to acquire a
nuclear weapon.

Imagine a president who says we will stand up and defeat radical Islamic
terrorism. We will defend the United States of America.


SHARPTON: Just imagine President Cruz will actually defend the United
States. But that spotlight Cruz has been basking in must be starting to
feel pretty hot. "Politico" reports today that Ted Cruz has been M.I.A. at
Senate Armed Services hearings, a key committee that deals with foreign

He has the committee`s worst attendance record by far. Appearing at just
three of 16 public hearings through mid March. And he`s the only senator
on the panel with an attendance rate below 50 percent. Aides told
"Politico" that Senator Cruz`s deeply involved in the committee, but Cruz
is running for president by criticizing foreign policy, and he`s skipping
meetings about foreign policy.

It`s time he stop grandstanding and started showing up. Did you think we
wouldn`t notice your empty seats speak volumes? Nice try, but we`ve got


SHARPTON: It`s time 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.



SHARPTON: We start with drama in the Aaron Hernandez murder trial.
Hernandez and two other American are accused of killing semipro-athlete
Odin Lloyd in 2013. Hernandez pleaded not guilty. Today, his former boss
Patriots owner Robert Kraft took the stand talking about their relationship
and what happened after he found on the Hernandez may be a suspect.


incident that had transpired. And I wanted to know whether he was involved
and if he was, you know, I wanted to make sure -- he`s part -- any player
who comes into our system I consider part of our extended family, and I
wanted to get him help.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: When you and Aaron see each other, you would have a
special greeting, didn`t you?


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: And what is that, sir?

KRAFT: He would always hug and kiss me.


SHARPTON: Kraft went on to reveal details of a private conversation he had
had with Fernandez near the waiting room two days after Lloyd died.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You asked Aaron to look you in the eye, didn`t you?


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: And he did, didn`t he?


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: And you asked him if he was involved, and he said no.

KRAFT: That`s correct.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: And you wanted him to be straight with you, didn`t you?


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: And you wanted to be straight with him, correct?


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: And you told him you would support him, didn`t you?


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: And Aaron told you he had nothing to do with this, isn`t
that right?

KRAFT: He said he was innocent.


SHARPTON: This testimony comes right after Hernandez`s fiancee took the
stand after striking a deal with prosecutors for immunity. Faith, pretty
dramatic with Bob Kraft on the stand. The prosecution called him, but
could the testimony help the defense?

JENKINS: Yes, I think both the prosecutor and the defense scored point
with Bob Kraft`s testimony. For the defense, they used the testimony to
really paint a different picture there with Hernandez. He`s not this cold
blooded killer. The prosecutor saying he is. Robert Kraft is respected
member of the community. Most people on the jury knows, they know who he
is. He`s saying he considered Aaron Hernandez to be a part of his extended
family. Every time he saw him he was greeted with a hug, with a kiss. And
this is someone he trusted with a $40 million contract. So the defense is
using his testimony to paint a very different picture of him, but the
prosecutor also scored the points here, when Hernandez, when Mr. Kraft
testified about Hernandez offering an alibi, saying that he was not there,
he was at the club at the time Odin Lloyd was killed. The jury now knows
that is not true.

SHARPTON: Well, let me play this sound bite.


KRAFT: He said he was not involved, that he was innocent, and that he
hoped that the time of the murder incident came out, because I believe he
said he was in the club.


SHARPTON: Now, Eric, the prosecutor`s got to attack this, because he has
Kraft saying that one thing, and the facts are the surveillance tape proves
that Hernandez was not where he told Kraft he was.

GUSTER: Exactly. And beyond that Reverend Al, trials are just like chess,
you put up different pieces in order to get what you want. When Robert
Kraft testified, he said Aaron said I wish, I hope I was at the club. So,
Erin is setting up his alibi at that point. If your friend was killed, why
are you trying to justify why you weren`t involved in it? That doesn`t
make any sense.

JENKINS: Well, no it makes perfect sense. He`s telling him -- he wants to
keep his job. He has a $40 million contract. He`s telling the owner of
this team that he was at the club. Therefore, he wasn`t involved.

GUSTER: He said I hoped I was at the club, but then that shows that he`s
trying to come up with a defense already.

SHARPTON: Let me move on to another part of the drama. There`s an image
of his fiancee Shayanna Jenkins that`s really critical to prosecutors.
They think the murder weapon is inside this bag you see her throwing away.
But listen to what she said when her fiance`s lawyers asked about the bag.
Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: As you were taking that box out. Did you smell


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: What did you smell?

SHAYANNA JENKINS: Sort of like a skunky smell.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: And did you recognize it?


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: What did you recognize that smell to be?



SHARPTON: Eric, prosecutors immediately jumped in to say she did not did
not see what was in the bag, but will this create serious doubt in the jury
there wasn`t a gun in there, maybe they were getting rid of this because he
want a drug out in the house.

GUSTER: It`s going to create doubt. And Shayanna Jenkins, she did not
tell the prosecution her previous statements or previous testimony that it
smelled like drugs or anything like that. So, it was almost a bombshell
that was dropped by the defense with the prosecution witness.

SHARPTON: And it had to have caused some kind of I`m sure tension on the
prosecutor`s table.

JENKINS: Well, I think it could be a plausible explanation, right?
They`ve already established -- the prosecutors are the one that put forth
that Aaron Hernandez and his friend smoked a lot of marijuana together that
Odin Lloyd provided him with a lot of marijuana, here he has his contract,
and he knows if he`s caught smoking weed, he could lose his contract, so it
could be that he`s telling her, hey, if the police are going to search my
house, get rid of this marijuana. The problem is, this woman has no
credibility. She`s testified, I didn`t ask what was in the bag or box, I
didn`t know, and then she said I dumped it in a dumpster, but I don`t
remember where. Who believes that? Does anyone actually believe that?

GUSTER: I`ve had cases where women have done things to cover for someone,
and they didn`t ask any questions. Someone people would be so much in love
that they would do whatever their partner wants them to do.

JENKINS: The part about the dumpster, though, bothers me. Because she
knows where she dumped that bag. She said, she went, she dumped it in the
dumpster but now she can`t remember where in the world that dumpster is.

GUSTER: But she was smart. Because she got immunity from the beginning,
so she was extremely smart in how she played it, even if she`s trying to
help Aaron Hernandez by saying I think this is marijuana, and maybe not a
gun, sure she has immunity.

JENKINS: By the way, that bag weighed about 30 pounds.

GUSTER: Oh yes, that is a big bag.

SHARPTON: We`re going to be watching this one. This is a lot of drama,
talking about getting out of trouble, men and women do crazy things for

GUSTER: They sure do. Keeps us in business.

SHARPTON: Eric, I want to keep your business. Don`t do that sitting next
to Faith.


Eric Guster and Faith Jenkins, thank you for your time tonight.


GUSTER: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Straight ahead, "Conversation Nation." And there`s a lot to
talk about, including Elizabeth Warren. What impact is she already having
on the 2016 raise?

Plus, how true to life is "How of Cards"? Wait until you hear what Bill
Clinton told Kevin Space.

And a new "Daily Show" host Trevor Noah under fire for tweets he sent in
the past. We`ll talk about it all, next.


SHARPTON: Time for "Conversation Nation." Joining me tonight, political
strategist Angela Rye. Political comedian and Sirius XM radio host, John
Fugelsang. And HuffPost Live host Alyona Minkovski. Thank you all for
being here tonight.



SHARPTON: We go back to the controversial religious freedom law in
Indiana. In many potential 2016 republican contenders supporting the law.


FMR. GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: I think Governor Pence has done the right
thing. I think once the facts are established people aren`t going to see
this as discriminatory at all.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: The issue we`re talking about here is,
should someone who provides a professional service be punished by the law,
because they refuse to provide that professional service to a ceremony that
they believe is in violation of their faith. I think people have a right
to live out their religious faith in their own lives, they can oppose on
you and your life but they have a right to live it out on their own lives.


SHARPTON: Ted Cruz said he was, quote, "Proud to stand with Pence."
Angela, what can this mean politically for 2016?

RYE: It sounds like we have regressed several years, Rev. I think when
you think about how Rand Paul answered Rachel Maddow with this question
just a few years back, it sounds like those answers all over again, you
know, whether or not a private business should be able to discriminate.
Whether you`re talking about people of color, or you`re talking about
people who have a different sexual orientation, discrimination is
discrimination, and we have to put our feet down. I think that there are
probably even folks in the Republican Party that wouldn`t support this type
of rhetoric at this time in our nation`s history. And so, it`s really
unfortunate that so many of the 2016 candidates and potential contenders
would even be on this base. Again, we constantly refer back to that GOP
autopsy report, and again they`re way off message and again their policies
are way off base.


JOHN FUGELSANG, SIRIUS XM RADIO HOST: Well, it means the best these guys
can hope for in presidential season 2016 is redistribute the Koch brothers`
wealth, Reverend. The fact of the matter is this is not the same bill Bill
Clinton signed in 1993, it`s not remotely Christian. There is nothing in
the gospels to justify declining services to gay people. Jesus never
mentioned that. He was against the death penalty, never mentioned gay
folks. And really the best thing about it is, it shows how far we have
come as a species and as a society in the past 30 years that the
overwhelming numbers of Americans, including our conservative brothers and
sisters are kind of disgusted by this law. And it`s great to know that Jeb
Bush supports this bill that already Mike Pence is walking backing on.

SHARPTON: But Alyona, even if Jesus did mention gay people, aren`t we
fighting theocracies around the world? How do we now come to Indiana and
decide we`re going to have a theocracy.

MINKOVSKI: Well, that`s always the greatest hypocrisy here Al with the
Republican Party, right? Is that they say that they support freedom, but
they really just want to give businesses the freedom to discriminate on
people. And once you start making these exceptions for religions, anybody
can claim any kind of recent discriminate against someone and say that it`s
a part of their religious beliefs. It just doesn`t make sense. And as
some of the other panelist pointed out here, if you look at public opinion
polls out there overwhelmingly now, the majority of Americans are actually
getting on board with gay marriage. And so, while republicans at the
moment might be trying to pander to the more conservative elements of their
base, it`s not going to work in a general election for 2016.

SHARPTON: Let`s move on to a question people are asking all over. And
that is, will Elizabeth Warren run for president in 2016? This morning she
tried to put that question to bed, again.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Are you going to run for president?

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: No. I`m not running, and I`m
not going to run.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Unequivocally and categorically saying I`m not running
for president in 2016.

WARREN: I`m not running. I`m not running.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Possibly I`m beating a dead horse here. But did you
ever even consider, entertain the possibility of running for president?


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Thanks for answering the question. I guess we put the
speculation to a rest this morning.


SHARPTON: But there are a lot of people who are still pushing hard for her
to get in. A poll on shows 54 percent would like Warren to run.
Alyona, she might not be running, but what impact can she have?

MINKOVSKI: I think, you know, there`s been a lot of discussion about this.
Elizabeth Warren might actually have a lot more impact staying put exactly
where she is as a member of the Senate, as a member of the Senate Banking
Committee. Then she can actually have a say over the type of legislation
that then makes it to the full Senate floor to get voted on. You know, she
keeps saying that she doesn`t want to run. And I think people should maybe
just back off a little bit. A lot of her supporters, only like the more
populous angle of what she stands for when it comes to taking on the big
banks, taking on Wall Street, but they don`t really know where she stands
on a lot of other issues like foreign policy. So, does she have what it
takes to make it on a national level? I think that she could really use
this populous message, can carry it home in the Senate without having to
dilute it in a larger national election.


FUGELSANG: Well, you know, I would like Harrison Ford to make another good
Indiana Jones film. I would like the talking head to get back together and
tour. But for some reason, America has a hard time understanding no means
no. I do think Senator Warren campaign would only help Mrs. Clinton, it
would force her to established some policy views, it would move her a bit
more to the Left. Elizabeth Warren is the only major political figure who
has said the game is rigged and that`s the sort of honesty that would bring
republicans over but she`ll give Hillary a great convention speech, no
matter what.

SHARPTON: Angela, you know, that is part of the challenges, can Hillary
Clinton win progressives? I asked Elizabeth Warren that on this show.
Watch this.


SHARPTON: A lot of progressives have questions about whether she`ll be a
progressive warrior. What would you say to them?

WARREN: You know, I think that`s what we`ve got to see. I want to hear
what she wants to run on and what she says she wants to do. That`s what
campaigns are supposed to be about.


SHARPTON: Not a resounding endorsement of Hillary`s credibility with
progressives, Angela. Does Hillary have work to do there?

RYE: I absolutely think she has work to do there, Rev, but I think that we
can look at a number of steps that she`s made initially, some of the folks
that she`s bringing on to run her campaign, Rev. This is a much more
diverse campaign. These are people who ran progressive campaigns at the
DCCC, and she`s engaged Elizabeth Warren, so I think that she has a lot of
ground to make up here, but she hasn`t even launched her campaign. As for
Elizabeth Warren, I think that people should probably urge her for Senate
leadership because there`s an opening now with the retirement of Senator

SHARPTON: Everybody, stay with me. We`ll be right back with the
controversy over Jon Stewart`s replacement.

And Frank Underwood`s biggest fan. What President Clinton is saying about
"House of Cards?"


SHARPTON: We`re back with our panel, Angela, John and Alyona, the new
"Daily Show" host is under fire just hours after the announcement that
South African-born comedian Trevor Noah would take over for Jon Stewart
later this year. Noah is facing major backlash over tweets he sent in the
past, making jokes about Jews and women, including one that read, quote,
"Behind every successful rap billionaire is a double as rich Jewish man."
Late this afternoon, Comedy Central released a statement standing by Noah
and Trevor Noah himself just spoke out saying, quote, "To reduce my views
to a handful of jokes that didn`t land is not a true reflection of my
character not my evolution as a comedian." John, your reaction to this?

FUGELSANG: If they`re going to crucify this guy for a couple jokes on
Twitter that didn`t work, then I deserve the electric chair, Reverend. The
fact is you cannot judge a comedian`s career or their views or morality or
soul in totality based on a few randomly selected tweets. They were lame
jokes, they were bad jokes, they weren`t jokes I would have told, but it`s
unfair --

SHARPTON: But many people have found them offensive.

FUGELSANG: Well, sure, a lot of folks out there are anti-Semitic but Jon
Stewart, the Jewish gay from a job didn`t have a problem with it. And I
think a lot of them -- I think the ones about women are much more
problematic, to be honest with you. But again, you know, you kind of have
to walk a mile in a comedian`s shoes to know what the life is like. And
it`s very, very sad if some of the jokes offended people, but it`s not a
comedian, and especially not a political comedian`s job to make people feel

SHARPTON: Angela, we haven`t heard from Jon Stewart since this came out
today, but where is the line where people are offended and where you just
kind of pooh-pooh it?

RYE: Well, a couple of things, one is I think traditionally in the black
community, Rev, whether you`re talking about Dick Gregory or Richard Pryor,
right? Comedy had been used to push the buck on issues, whether it`s with
their own personal lives or using words like the n-words to try to get
people uncomfortable to deal with harsh truths about prejudice and racism.
And I think that if there`s a platform that can be used -- if there`s any
platform that can be used it`s comedy. Whether or not those things were
culturally insensitive or not. You know, I think that sometimes you have
to push the bug just a little bit to get your message across and I
hopefully he`ll have a great to do that with --


MINKOVSKI: I agree. I think the people are overreacting here. I mean,
that`s the entire point of political comedy and satire, is to really try to
take it as far as you can, and to push people`s buttons, and make them
uncomfortable at times. If anything it just says that perhaps Noah is
using some really tired stereotypes in his jokes and he`s not the best
comedian, so I think that he still has a lot to prove here as to whether or
not he can kill Jon Stewart`s shoes, but I think all the people are
reacting or overreacting rather in saying, that this in anyway disqualifies

SHARPTON: All right. Let`s move on. Finally, how true to life is the
Netflix series "House of Cards"? In a new interview with Gotham Magazine,
"House of Cards" star Kevin Spacey says former President Bill Clinton told
him, quote, "I love that House of Cards. Kevin, 99 percent of what you do
on that show is real. The one percent you get wrong is you could never get
an education bill passed that fast." For those who don`t watch "House of
Cards," "House of Cards" is a political drama set in Washington, chock-full
of sex, violence, manipulation, even murder. So Angela, what does this say
about our politics?

RYE: First, it says I`m sitting in front of the capital just for this
part, Rev, but in addition to that, it says that Billy Jeff had it wrong, I
love him to death, but that is dead wrong. Like this doesn`t happen.
People don`t get pushed in front of metros. And I mean, it`s really
salacious, and it`s great TV and maybe he was just politicking, but I don`t
think this is anywhere near 99 percent accurate.

SHARPTON: All right. Angela, you get the last word. We`re out of time.

RYE: Sorry.

SHARPTON: Angela, John and Alyona, thank you all for your time tonight.

MINKOVSKI: Thank you.

RYE: Thanks, Rev.

SHARPTON: When we come back, Senator Rand Paul working across the aisle
for criminal justice reform. That`s next.


SHARPTON: Tonight there`s growing momentum to fix our broken criminal
justice system. Late today President Obama reduced the sentences of 22
people convicted under -- drug laws. Many of these people served years, or
even decades, longer than people convicted today of the same crime. It`s
just another sign of how we need to reform our prisons in our courts. And
now, it`s bipartisan issue. This week, Senator Rand Paul teamed up with
democratic Senator Brian Schatz to unveil a bill to help police get body
cameras. Lawmakers crossing the aisle to work on better policing. I`m
glad to see it. It`s the kind of thing I was hoping for when I met with
Senator Paul last year. I disagree with him on virtually everything, but
we have common ground on this issue.

This is part of a pattern, a new bipartisan approach to criminal reform and
criminal justice reform. Senators Booker and Paul reintroduced a mandatory
minimum sentencing bill earlier this months. Senators Durbin and Lee are
trying to fix federal drug sentencing laws, and Senator Whitehouse and
Cornyn are working on prison reform. Last week President Obama talked
about how democrats and republicans realize we have to address this


PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: There is an increasing realization
on the Left, but also on the right politically, that what we`re doing is
counterproductive. Either from a libertarian perspective, the way we treat
nonviolent drug crimes is problematic. And from a fiscal perspective, it`s
breaking the bank, we`re all response for at least finding a solution to
this. And the encouraging thing is, I think awareness is increasing, in
part because violent crime has gone down in a lot of big cities. People
are more open to having a decision about this.


SHARPTON: Our criminal justice system is broken, and is going to take
leaders from all sides, to get out of their comfort zone and do what is
right for all of their constituents. The real test of leadership is not
what you do with an environment and a crowd that you`re comfortable with.
It`s when you have to bend and really stretch and do something hard that we
know you`re a leader of the highest magnitude.

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


<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

Sponsored links

Resource guide