PoliticsNation, Thursday, May 14th, 2015
Read the transcript from the Thursday show
Show: POLITICS NATION
Date: May 14, 2015
Guest: Julia Edwards, Brian Katulis, Ryan Grim, Dana Jacobson
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: We`ve been watching President Obama`s
press conference at camp David. He took questions on a range of topics,
starting with the Iran nuclear deal to domestic issues like trade and his
relationship with Senator Elizabeth Warren.
The president`s comments follow his meeting with readers from six gulf
countries, where much of the focus was on Iran`s nuclear program.
Let`s bring in Julia Edwards, White House correspondent for Reuters, and
Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief for the "Huffington Post" and Brian
Kudilis, senior fellow at the center for American progress, Brian Kudulis.
Thank you all for being here.
Julia, this summit was about the Middle East, but the headline was probably
his comments on trade and Elizabeth Warren, am I right?
JULIA EDWARDS, REUTERS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You`re right, especially
considering the news today, which was really a victory for President Obama,
as the Senate decided to move forward on giving him the authority to work
on that trade deal, that senator warren has been pretty adamant against.
SHARPTON: What do you say to that, Ryan? Do you agree with Julia and I,
that that`s the headline?
RYAN GRIM, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, HUFFINGTON POST/MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: You
know, people who have been following this closely know that, you know, the
latest kind of dustup between them came when Sherrod Brown criticized the
president for using Warren`s first name. And he pointedly, you know,
called her Elizabeth today, and then he flashed his kind of signature grin
afterwards. And later, he referred to Mr. Lincoln, which was, I think he
was kind of having fun with the entire thing. He is like, you know, the
press loves to gin up, you know, a rivalry between people who are normally
You know, that aside, that`s almost a distraction at this point. The real
problem that he`s going to face is in the House of Representatives, where
you know, tea party Republicans there have spent their, you know, the last
several years telling voters that this is a lawless president who is
abusing his authority, which makes it very difficult for them to do what
the Chamber of commerce wants them to do, which is to vote to give them
more authority to write this trade deal. So the real problem is sort of
one of the Republican`s own making in the House of Representatives, and I
don`t think they`ll wind up having the votes over there.
SHARPTON: Julia, let me show the exact comment that the president made on
the question of Elizabeth Warren. Let me just play that back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The issue with respect to myself and Elizabeth, has never been
personal. I mean, I think it`s fun for, you know, the press to see if we
can poke around at it, when you see two close allies who have a
disagreement on a policy issue. But there are a whole bunch of some of my
best friends in the Senate, as well as in the house. Some of my earliest
supports, who disagree with me on this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Julia, is all this talk overblown, because it`s passed now. It
goes to the House. This is done in the Senate.
JULIA EDWARDS, REUTERS: Sure, but what`s important to look at here is that
the President is trying to disturb the narrative that has been created this
week, that there are people in the Senate, that there are democrats who are
further left than he is, and that they are more interested in fighting for
the middle class, fighting for environmental and labor protections, than he
is. And as we know this is just a step, one step in many, towards getting
the authority to even negotiate the deal, he wants to make sure that that
narrative stops now. It`s doubtful whether it will, because as we know,
the President has had to take unprecedented steps, even this week, to bring
in democrats to the White House and try to convince people in his own
party, these people he`s calling his close friends, that he can be trusted
to come up with what they say might be the most progressive trade deal that
SHARPTON: Brian, you`re the Middle East expert. What is your takeaway on
what he announced about the policies in terms of the Middle East and the
reasons that he is having this summit, in Camp David?
BRIAN KATULIS, SENIOR FELLOW, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Well, two big
points here, Al. First, the optics sound very good. The words, I think,
sound good. The key will be the follow-up. These countries came here to
get some sort of reassurance that the U.S. will have their back, if they
see some sort of threat, whether it`s a terrorist threat or cyber-threat,
and we`ve delivered that in word. And the question is, whether we`ll
actually follow up what the follow-up is. The second, I`d think, we need
to look at is how Iran reacts to this. Because I think President Obama,
quite rightly, pointed out the threats that Iran poses. And we`re in this
delicate negotiation process, to try to lock down their nuclear program
with tough diplomacy. And I hope it succeeds. But to be able to have
these two pieces work, you need to have a concerted follow-up with these
gulf partners and these countries in the region there.
SHARPTON: So will the Iranian response and the follow-up, will that
determine the success or the lack of success for what he has achieved at
KATULIS: I think that will be a key part of it. The President often talks
about trying to achieve an equilibrium in the Middle East which is I think
a great goal but it`s easier said than done. And it also requires partners
in the region who want to work with us. And right now Iran by and large is
an adversary of the U.S. We`re dealing with them diplomatically, because a
war option with Iran would be horrific, to try to prevent them from getting
a nuclear weapon. That`s why we`re doing diplomacy, and we`ve got to see
that out. But a big part of what happens here is not even necessarily what
the Obama administration does, it`s what these countries in the region do.
Whether they decide they can live with one another. And we`ll see. It`s a
very difficult moment in certain places like Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. But I
hope we can at least rest and stop some of the violence that we`ve seen
SHARPTON: Ryan, he`s got to deal with some critics and opposition at home
on the Iran deal. Is that not still an issue that he has to deal with?
KATULIS: Well, absolutely. You just saw -- I`m sorry. I thought you said
me. You saw in the Senate --
SHARPTON: I said Ryan.
KATULIS: Oh, I`m sorry. I`m sorry, Ryan, I apologize.
RYAN GRIM, THE HUFFINGTON POST: That`s right.
KATULIS: Yes. Real quickly, just as we saw a few weeks ago, a couple of
the republican senators actually tried to scuttle the deal that Cardin and
Corker struck, and I`ll stop there.
GRIM: The key takeaway from Obama`s remarks there to me, or is it just how
far apart the GCC leaders and Obama are on Iran, still to this point. And
republicans on the hill are very close to the GCC. They kind of line up,
you know, politically, so if there`s a gap between Obama and the GCC, then
there`s a gap that remains between Obama and the republicans. And you saw
it in the way, you know, that he talked about Iran. He said, you know, a
lot of what they do is low-budget and we can handle this politically.
That`s not what the GCC wants to hear. The GCC wants to hear that, you
know, we`re going to bring the hammer down on Iran.
SHARPTON: Now, Brian, let me go back to you. The fact that some did not
attend the summit, does that seem now to be a non-issue if, in fact, he can
get around the two things that you pointed to, and managed how Iran may
respond or react to what has been put forward?
KATULIS: Yes, I thought that commentary in the media was much ado about
nothing, Al. These are countries, and I`ve been to nearly all of them,
these are countries that are ruled from the top down, right? They`re not
democracies. But the fact that the top leader didn`t come, it wasn`t as if
the second in command was going to do something different than the top
leader. So when I saw those stories, I felt like this was the sort of
thing that our media likes to jump on. And again, to me, the real measure
of success won`t come even in the next day or two, it will depend on
whether the Obama administration and then the Saudis, the Emiratis and
others, what we concretely do in the next couple of months, especially in
the run-up to the anticipated end of these Iran nuclear talks at the end of
June. What`s done tangibly, in follow-up to this summit, is more
important, in some ways, than even the summit itself.
EDWARDS: Yes, but I got to say --
EDWARDS: I think that the symbolism of these leaders not coming is greater
than that. The fact that only two out of six of these countries came
presents a problem for the White House and the fact that when President
Obama announced the framework of this deal, he announced it with the fact
that he would be inviting these countries to Camp David. It was supposed
to show that the White House was here, in solidarity with these countries,
to work toward a deal with Iran while simultaneously defending them. And I
think that`s why today they`ve made these commitments to work on fast
tracking arms. The President said he was going to start sending senior
officials over there to start looking at how they could fast track arms and
work on an early alert ballistic missile system.
But I think that the fact that the president of Bahrain did not come to the
GCC Summit and instead went to a horse race in England does speak something
here, especially when you look at how the President is trying to make this
such a part of his legacy, that he`s willing to take some of these blows.
He`s willing to take a little humiliation, as his own Congress tries to
undermine this deal, and as some of these leaders send people beneath them.
I may agree with you if it was one, but four out of the six seems like a
SHARPTON: But they did send representatives. It wasn`t the countries
didn`t come, it was maybe the number one person didn`t come.
KATULIS: Yes. That`s the main thing. And first, I mean, it`s Bahrain
doesn`t have a president, it`s a monarchy. And I actually think what Julia
just did, with all due respect, is the sort of thing. You know, you take
what is largely a symbolic and false story, and the real story is what she
said then later. The arms commitments and whether there`s follow-up. It`s
more actions than symbolism. I get, you know, how it works in our system
here, where we read into, oh, this is a big sign of disrespect. But the
simple fact is all these countries sent representatives and they`re going
to want to work with the U.S., in part because they`re not getting it from
China or from Russia or from other countries. We`re still the largest
power outside of the region. And to me it`s a little facile, just to focus
on which king didn`t come or not.
SHARPTON: And it`s a lot of angles on this and we`re certainly going to
keep following this story. I`m going to have to leave it there. Julia,
Ryan, and Brian, thank you for your time tonight.
KATULIS: Thank you.
GRIM: Thank you.
EDWARDS: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Still ahead, what happened on Amtrak Train 188? The NTSB says
it was speeding up as it neared a curve. But the engineer`s lawyer says he
doesn`t even remember the accident. We`ll go live to Philadelphia.
Also, Tom Brady appeals his suspension by the NFL. Can he win? Will he
play on opening day? Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I want to again to express my deepest condolences to the families
of those who died in Tuesday`s terrible train derailment outside of
Philadelphia. I want to express my gratitude for the first responders who
raced to save lives and for the many passengers who, despite their own
injuries, made heroic efforts to get fellow passengers to safety.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: That was President Obama this hour, speaking about the tragedy
of Amtrak 188. And just moments ago, the National Transportation Safety
board held a press conference, revealing data that showed the train was
accelerating right before it derailed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT SUMWALT, NTSB BOARD MEMBER: Sixty five seconds before the end of
the recording, the train speed went above 70 miles per hour. Forty three
seconds before the end of the recording, the train speed exceed 80 miles
per hour. Thirty one seconds before the end of the recording, the train
speed was going through 90 miles per hour. Sixteen seconds before the end
of the recording, the train speed was going through 100 miles per hour.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The focus of the investigation is now on the engineer, 32-year-
old Brandon Bostian. He has hired a lawyer who claims his client does not
remember the crash and that he suffered a head injury.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT GOGGIN, ATTORNEY FOR BRANDON BOSTIAN: He remembers driving the
train, he remembers going through that area, generally. Has absolutely no
recollection of the incident or anything unusual. The next thing he
recalls is being thrown around, coming to, finding his bags, getting his
cell phone, and dialing 911.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Let`s go first to NBC`s Ron Allen, live at the crash scene.
Ron, what are investigators looking at right now.
RON ALLEN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, clearly, Reverend Al, as you just
said, the driver. This is a very significant and disturbing development
that we would learn that the train was actually accelerating for about a
minute or so before the crash at a time when it should have been slowing
down. Also, interestingly, the NTSB investigator said that there are no
posted signs to tell a driver what the speed limit is. He or she is
supposed to know the route and control the train in that matter. Also, he
was asked whether the train was accelerating because of something that the
engineer was doing manually or because of something that the train was
doing automatically or because of a malfunction.
And he said he couldn`t tell based on the data that they have been able to
recover so far, or from the wreckage. So, that`s the key question. Why
was this train going so fast and will the NTSB and the other investigators
here be able to determine why it went so. The driver, as you said, is
saying through his attorney that he just doesn`t remember, which is what
you might expect someone to say, perhaps, I hate to be cynical, who is at
the center of such an investigation at this point. But a lot of questions,
certainly. The engineer, as I understand it, is going to have a session
with the NTSB in the days to come. He has apparently agreed to do that.
We`ve also learned today that there was a victim, remains pulled from the
wreckage early this morning, and that that would happen so many hours after
the crash tells you and gives you some sense to the extent of the damage.
The eighth victims was found in one of the forward cars as we understand,
days, hours, after this happened. Discovered by a cadaver dog, we
understand. So there`s that also. And we understand that now, much of the
wreckage has been cleared away. There`s not a lot of activity down in that
area now. It`s a train yard, and earlier in the day, we saw some freight
trains pulling through the area. So, they`ve made a lot of progress trying
to clear away the area, but of course it`s going to take a lot of time,
perhaps, to determine exactly why and what happened back there -- Reverend.
NBC`s Ron Allen, thank you for your reporting tonight. We`ll be right
SHARPTON: Coming up, will Tom Brady really miss four games next season.
He`s appealing his suspension over deflate-gate. Will it work? Stay with
SHARPTON: Breaking news, Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady is appealing his four-
game suspension for his role in the deflate-gate scandal. The NFL Players`
Association filed the appeal for him and in a statement slams the league
harshly. Saying, quote, "given the NFL`s history of inconsistency and
arbitrary decisions in disciplinary matters, it is only fair that a neutral
arbitrator hear this appeal." They demand someone independent to handle
Brady`s appeal. As part of the punishment, the league also fined the
Patriots and took away two draft picks. Today the Patriots fired back at
the deflate-gate report, calling it incomplete, incorrect, and saying there
is no evidence for its claims.
Joining me now is CBS Sports Network`s Dana Jacobson. Thank you for being
DANA JACOBSON, CBS SPORTS NETWORK: Thanks, Rev.
SHARPTON: I don`t think anyone is surprised by the appeal, but what
JACOBSON: Well, now we wait to see a date for when that appeal will be
held. And that`s in under two weeks, we`ll know that even with Memorial
Day holiday. And I think a lot of people are expecting when that appeal is
heard to see at least some of the punishment taken away. A couple of games
for Brady. I`ve heard the suggestion that maybe with this great legal
team, that he has put together with Kessler and Yee on his side, that
they`ll be able to knock away the entire thing, especially if they do get
that independent arbitrator, and that`s really the important thing to
watch, because they probably want to argue against this idea that Roger
Goodell wasn`t the one, necessarily, handing down the punishment. And
that`s what the collective bargaining agreement calls for. That, instead,
it was Troy Vincent. So, that`s one of the things they can go at. And the
Patriots obviously as you`ve mentioned, they have already started their
media campaign by going against the Ted Wells report, point by point today.
SHARPTON: Now, a new ESPN poll says 63 percent of Americans support the
deflate-gate punishment. Twenty six percent oppose it, and 85 percent
think the same thing has happened with other teams. What do you think of
this reaction, Dana?
JACOBSON: I`m actually surprised that 85 percent isn`t even higher. That
it isn`t almost 99 percent of people think it happens with other teams.
I`m sure that 26 percent is a very heavy, New England feel to it. This was
almost like this no-win situation for the commissioner. Or maybe it was a
win-win. I`m not certain. You hand down a punishment to this team that so
many people love to hate, and to Tom Brady, a quarterback that you love or
hate, depending on who you root for, so the people that wanted to see a
really strong punishment, they`re completely in support of it. And I guess
some other people, even, who don`t support the punishment, but this at
least validates their idea that, see, the commissioner even hates the
Patriots and hates Tom Brady.
So none of those numbers surprise me. My biggest surprise today, Rev,
truly came from the Patriots, in trying to say that in this Ted Wells
report, that one of the personnel member that was calling himself the
deflator was saying that because he needed to lose weight and was joking
around. You and I both, together, have lost a lot of weight in our lives
and I have never once been referred to as the deflator. So that`s the
obvious pr move by the Patriots, in just trying to get people on their
SHARPTON: I`ve never been called the deflator either.
JACOBSON: Yes, exactly. And we deserve that.
SHARPTON: Dana Jacobson, thank you for your time tonight.
SHARPTON: We`ll be right back with a push for change. I`m here in
SHARPTON: I close tonight here in Baltimore, where my civil rights
organization, the National Action Network, is holding a youth summit in the
city. Local leaders and activists are talking about how to address the
recent crisis in the community. And giving those most affected a chance to
be heard. We need our youth energized. I started at an early age, and I
know the more we invest in our youth now, the more engaged they`ll be in
the future, because they are the ones that are most affected by this
crisis. Today, we learned that the family of Tamir Rice had the 12-year-
old`s body cremated, six months after he was fatally shot by a police
officer in Cleveland. There`s still no resolution on that investigation.
But as we talk about community, we also have to think about those sworn to
protect and serve. Today was the funeral for 34-year-old Benjamin Dean,
one of the two Mississippi police officers who was killed last week during
a traffic stop. And last night in D.C., thousands gathered to honor
officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty. Already more than
20,000 names were inscribed on the walls of the National Law Enforcement
Memorial. Yesterday, another 273 names were added. And Attorney General
Loretta Lynch talked about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LORETTA LYNCH, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: This year, we pay tribute to 273
extraordinary individuals, whose stories are a testament to the braver,
patriotism, and valor of America`s law enforcement officers, at every
level, and whose names are now permanently carved into this memorial as a
reminder of their supreme sacrifice. And they were both members and
guardians of the community, like Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos gun downed as
they work on an anti-crime patrol in New York City.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Both police officers and the young people in our community have
a common interest in finding peaceful solutions together. There is no
contradiction in calling for change and accountability and memorializing
and standing for those that protect and serve and do what is right in the
community. In fact, we must find ways, despite whatever passions we may
have, to find the solutions together. That is what both sides really are
after. And that is what will make this country come together for what it
really needs to do. And that is stand for the safety of all, including law
enforcement and its citizens.
Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.
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