PoliticsNation, Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015
Read the transcript from the Tuesday show
Show: POLITICS NATION
Date: June 23, 2015
Guest: Seth Whipper; E.J. Dionne; Emanuel Cleaver; Areva Martin; Cyril
Wecht, Wade Henderson, Grover Norquist, Angela Rye
REV. AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on POLITICS NATION, the Freddie Gray
autopsy report. New details tonight on how he died and why his death was
ruled a homicide.
Also turning the page, a dramatic vote on the confederate flag as some of
America`s top companies take a stand against hate.
And death panels are back. Republicans on yet another vote on Obamacare,
trying to make sure nobody pulls the plug on grandma.
Welcome to "Politics Nation." This is a dramatic moment for America. A
potential turning point in dealing with the scars of the past.
Politicians, corporations, everyday citizens is are having a new
conversation about slavery, about getting confederate icons out of our
public spaces. Hillary Clinton addressed the issue just moments ago at an
event not far from Ferguson, Missouri.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We can`t hide from hard
truths about race and justice. We have to name them and own them and
change them. That`s why I appreciate the actions begun yesterday by the
governor and other leaders of South Carolina to remove the confederate
battle flag from the statehouse. It shouldn`t fly there. It shouldn`t fly
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: It shouldn`t fly anywhere. One hundred fifty years after the
civil war, we`re seeing a wave of calls to take it down all over the south.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Breaking news out of Richmond where Governor Terry
McAuliffe has ordered the confederate flag removed from Virginia state
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: State representative Earl Banks says it`s time for
Mississippi to remove the confederate flag.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People use this flag as a symbol of hatred. And that
should not be a part of the flag of Mississippi.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From the capitol in South Carolina to our own here in
Nashville where a bust of confederate general Nathan Beckford Forest is on
display. And tonight, many say that monument needs to go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We feel like starting from the top is the way to go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) says the statue should go, that Davis
belongs in history books and museums, not atop a pedestal on the way to the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: People are pushing to get these symbols off of state flags and
license plates and out of public parks and schools. Businesses are getting
in on it, too. Wal-Mart, Sears, e-bay and Amazon are among the companies
that will now ban sales of items featuring confederate flags.
Today, hundreds rallied at the South Carolina capitol pushing to take down
the flag. And the legislature agreed to take up the issue. Here`s a
picture of the citadel to move the flag off the statehouse grounds. One of
its sponsors Paul Thurmond, son of the notorious segregationist Strom
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE SEN. PAUL THURMOND (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I`m proud to be on the right
side of history regarding the removal of this symbol of racism and bigotry
from the statehouse. It is time to acknowledge our past, atone for our
sins and work towards a better future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Today, the statehouse parking spot for Senator Clementa Pinckney
was empty. We can start honoring the memory of him and the other eight
victims by moving past icons of hate. I thought today, as I watched the
proceedings, in 2007 a New York paper did a trace of my background and
found that the family of Strom Thurmond owned my family in slavery just two
generations ago in Edgefield, South Carolina.
Today, Strom Thurmond`s son stood up and voted against the confederate
flag. Something I`ve advocated for a long time. Old issues can be
resolved if we don`t turn around.
Joining me now from Columbia, South Carolina, is state representative Seth
Whipper, from Missouri, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver and E.J. Dionne of "the
Washington Post." Thank you all for being here.
Good to be with you, Reverend.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mr. Sharpton.
SHARPTON: Rep. Whipper, let me ask you what`s your sense on the ground?
Will the legislature vote to take the flag down?
STATE REP. SETH WHIPPER (D), SOUTH CAROLINA: I`m more than optimistic, Mr.
Sharpton, that that flag will be moved. With the consensus of so many
leaders as well as the consensus of so many grassroots folks, it looks like
revelation has occurred and the flag is on its way to another resting
place. You are hearing behind me the horns that are honking for support to
move the flag. And that`s here in downtown Columbia, South Carolina.
SHARPTON: So when we hear that honking, those honks are for supporting
taking down, take the flag down?
WHIPPER: That`s right. Move the flag to another place. Make it what it
is -- a part of our history and a part of our past.
SHARPTON: Congressman, this is really a turning point in the national
conversation, not just in South Carolina. Are we moving forward,
REP. EMANUEL CLEAVER (D), MISSOURI: I actually believe we are taking a
step. You know, it`s one thing to -- to say that one is race-less and know
it. It`s another thing and much better to be race-less and show it. And I
think that people in South Carolina now are ready to show it. And this is
a tremendous step, and the flag was symbolism. And you remove is symbolism
and I think that provides space for progress. And this -- I can`t tell you
how joyful I am at least in this component of our existence right now that
South Carolina, Ft. Sumter, the heart of the confederacy almost right down
from Virginia, is saying that we`re ready to move on. The symbols of hate
are now behind us.
E.J., give me your take on everything we saw today.
E.J. DIONNE, WASHINGTON POST: Well, I think a revelation as the
representative said is exactly what`s going on here. And I think it`s
really important for us to understand and honor the fact that how we view
our history is very closely related to what happens in our politics. The
glorification of the confederate side in the civil war as a glorious cause,
the denigration of reconstruction, the one time before civil rights when
African-Americans had political power in the south, that all was happening
at a time when Jim Crow was imbedding itself in the south in the period,
say, 1880 to about 1910. And the fact that we are finally saying as a
country that the confederate flag was about white supremacy. It was about
slavery in the first instance. And it went up in all those southern states
basically to protest civil rights in the 1950s and 1960s.
And so I think the fact that this is happening in South Carolina and the
ripple effect all across the country says finally we are coming to terms
with this history, that doesn`t guarantee politics will be better going
forward, but I think it`s the beginning of something very, very important.
SHARPTON: And representative Whipper, I think none of us are naive enough
to think that just bringing the flag down changes the conditions and the
unfairness and the disproportionate impact on race in many areas. But the
symbol of many of the things that stand in the way of that has been this
flag and has been the use of the confederate emblem like it was acceptable.
So I think symbolically it can begin that process.
WHIPPER: That`s correct, Al. And what we`re saying now is that there`s
another way to live. There`s another kind of camaraderie available.
There`s another kind of understanding that`s available. What we`re saying
now is that instead of domination, we`re talking about cooperation, we`re
talking about equalization, we`re talking about the proper kinds of
representation. We`re talking about the comfort of all kinds of people in
this state. We`re talking about a better approach to voting, a better
approach to education because now we can have these conversations in
What we have found often is the folks and the parties and the
constituencies that supports the flag staying up are against most of the
progressive and really true answers to the problems that we have in
society. Equal employment, equal education, better wages, the whole nine
And so yes, this is the beginning of a new day. And now the good people
have an opportunity to stand up and say we want to live differently.
SHARPTON: And keep it going.
You know, Congressman, I think a lot of people don`t understand when people
talk about heritage and history like it`s far removed, but it is not that
removed. That`s why I shared when the "New York Daily News" told me that
Anna Thurmond married to Alexander Sharpton owned Coleman Sharpton who was
my grandfather`s daddy right there in South Carolina. This is something
that our parents and grandparents talked to us about. And that flag, that
emblem means something to us just two or three generations away. We`re not
talking about thousands of years ago with Moses and the Exodus. We`re
talking about people in our lives.
CLEVER: Absolutely. Captain Henry Cleaver owned -- when I said the word
"own," it turns an ugly way inside my stomach. But owned my great-
grandfather down in Cherokee county, Texas. So it`s not something in the
distant past that we can say is in our past so far back that we can forget
it. It`s real.
And you know, I feel really good, almost like I`m in church, when I hear
those cars honking. It`s almost like somebody`s saying amen. And they`re
saying amen to the fact that, you know, people are, I think at least in the
beginning stage of understanding what we have gone through and what we are
experiencing and the pain we still suffer from what happened years ago.
SHARPTON: E.J., we heard from Hillary Clinton, but we also heard some
strong words from Rand Paul after days of his silence. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, I think the flag is
inescapably a symbol of human bondage and slavery, and particularly when
people use it, you know, obviously for, you know, murder and to justify
hatred so vicious that you would kill somebody. I think that that
symbolism needs to end. And I think South Carolina is doing the right
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Now, those are good comments, but E.J., he didn`t say a word for
days, for days, and you wrote about the politics of evasion this week. Why
didn`t more Republicans speak out sooner?
DIONNE: I think we know that the Republican party, the conservative
coalition in the south, was formed in significant part in opposition to
civil rights. So when Barry Goldwater voted against the civil rights bill
and Lyndon Johnson pushed it, the whole political makeup of the south
changed. And so the Republicans have been reluctant on this flag issue for
a long time.
John McCain said he was against taking it down during the primary when he
ran down there for president, then apologized later for saying that.
I think we`re going to look back on this as an interesting test. Who stood
up before Governor Haley made her announcement. Hillary Clinton obviously
did. Mitt Romney did. I thought that was a powerful statement he made.
Jeb Bush issued a statement saying I took it down in Florida. I hope it
I think some of the other Republicans who were quiet or silent really have
to explain themselves. I doubt they will. But I think that said something
about who spoke out when it was not as easy and who didn`t speak out.
SHARPTON: You know, when I was in Charleston the day after this massacre
last Thursday and visited the church and talked about the last time I was
with our late friend, I think that many of us saw the coming together of
people across races. Some time you could say why did it take nine innocent
deaths in a bible study class in church, why did it take this long? Others
of us can say, yes, it took too long, but let`s not miss the moment now to
make things happen. Not just a flag but all of the other things, as
Representative Whipper said, that that flag has come to represent in this
generation. If we could stay together and seize the moment, I think we can
move this country forward.
Representative Whipper, Congressman Cleaver and E.J. Dionne, thank you all
for your time tonight.
DIONNE: Thank you.
WHIPPER: Thank you, too, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Breaking news ahead, the Freddie Gray autopsy. Reports say the
medical examiner thinks acts of omission may have led to his death.
Plus, President Obama`s push to end the crisis in our prisons. That fight
is getting a big boost tonight from both the left and the right.
Also, John Boehner is still trying to make sure we don`t pull the plug on
And this dancing police officer is going viral. And giving some tips on
SHARPTON: Ahead breaking news on the Freddie Gray case. The "Baltimore
Sun" just got its hands on the autopsy report. It`s a critical piece
revealing more about gray`s injuries. What may have caused them. And what
may have occurred during those final moments inside the police van. That`s
SHARPTON: Breaking news tonight in the death of Freddie Gray. "The
Baltimore Sun" has obtained a copy of the medical examiner`s autopsy
report. "The Sun" says this report concludes that Freddie Gray suffered a
single high-energy injury most likely caused when the police van in which
he was riding suddenly decelerated. "The Sun" goes on to say the state
medical examiner`s office conclude that gray`s death fit the medical and
legal definition of an accident but ruled it to be a homicide because
officers failed to follow safety procedures through acts of omission.
State`s attorney Marilyn Mosby released a statement saying, quote, "the
state`s attorney`s office did not release the Freddie Gray autopsy report.
I strongly condemn anyone with access to trial evidence who has leaked
information prior to the resolution of this case."
Six officers have been arrested in gray`s death with charges ranging from
second degree depraved heart murder to manslaughter. A trial has been set
for October 13th.
Joining me now is legal analyst Areva Martin and joining me on the phone is
Dr. Cyril Wecht, a former medical examiner and forensic pathologist. He`s
also a medical doctor and attorney.
Areva, the report rules Freddie Gray`s death a homicide based on, quote,
"acts of omission by the officers." What does this mean going forward?
AREVA MARTIN, LEGAL ANALYST: I think what we should expect going forward,
Reverend, is a big fight over what happened in that van and whether the
charges that the states` attorney brought are over-charges.
We know that one of the charges is second degree murder. And in second
degree murder there`s some intentionality that has to be proved by this
district attorney. The medical examiner is calling the death an accident.
He says what likely happened is Gray stood up in the van and as the van
decelerated he was thrown into the side of the van causing the serious
injury that led to his death. We should expect defense attorneys to seize
on this statement by the medical examiner to argue that there`s no
intentionality on the part of any of these officers and that the district
attorney overcharged in the case.
SHARPTON: But after Freddie Gray`s death, Areva, there was a lot of talk
about police rough rides or nickel rides. "The New York Times" wrote at
the time, it was when, quote, "suspects seated or lying face down and in
handcuffs in the back of a police wagon are jolted and battered by an
intentionally rough and bumpy ride. So is this not also a possibility of
what could have happened here?
MARTIN: Absolutely, Rev. And we should also point out that the medical
examiner said there were acts of omission by these police officers. He
faults the police officers nor not belting Gray or doing anything to him in
that vehicle that would have prevented him from being thrown about in the
vehicle in such a way that he would suffer such a severe injury.
So we are going to hear a lot about what those police officers did, how
they place them in the van and whether they took the proper precautions to
avoid this kind of fatal injury from happening to him.
SHARPTON: And whether they intentionally omitted it even if they didn`t
know what the results would be.
Dr. Wecht, the report says Gray suffered a, quote, "high energy injury."
What does that mean to you?
DR. CYRIL WECHT, FORMER MEDICAL EXAMINER/ FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST (via phone):
It means that, as Mr. Gray lay on his abdomen face down in a prone position
with his wrist and ankles tied, that that van decelerated suddenly causing
his body to impact against the inner portion of the van producing a severe
injury to the head and neck causing cervical vertebral fractures and almost
completely transecting the cervical spinal cord. At that point in essence,
Mr. Gray was doomed to death. It would have required emergency medical
treatment right on the spot and possibly if there had been any conceivable
salvage ability, it would have required them to immobilized his neck
immediately, something that they failed to do.
You know, it`s incredible here when you think that police officers in 2015
in a major metropolitan area would treat a human being like this. Go back
and look at the training that they receive as police officers. I would be
willing to make a wager with anybody that that included some discussions by
paramedical people about how to treat individuals who had sustained
injuries. Go to any football game and see the way in which somebody who is
knocked down is handled. The first thing you do is you immobilize the neck
for the very reason that damage to the cervical spinal cord can result in
death, and if you survive, you`ll be quadriplegic paralysis of all four
arms -- I`m sorry, go ahead.
SHARPTON: Let me - but I want to follow up on this autopsy report. But
let me go to you on this one, Areva, I`ll come back to the doctor.
The autopsy report also describes the fourth stop of the police van that it
made. Quote, "the assisting officer open the doors and observed Mr. Gray
lying belly down on the floor with his head facing the cabin compartment
and reportedly he was asking for help saying he couldn`t breathe. Couldn`t
get up and needed a medic. The officer assisted Mr. Gray to the bench and
the van continued on its way."
Areva, this assisting officer has been charged with manslaughter. What
could this report mean for her legally?
MARTIN: This is a very damaging statement for this officer. It shows that
this officer had an opportunity to take precautions, to get the medical
attention that Mr. Gray needed and she failed to do so.
And I think it`s also interesting to note, Rev., that throughout the
report, the medical examiner talks about the multiple stops that were made.
These officers had numerous opportunities to get Mr. Gray medical help and
they failed to do so. So much so that they were callous because we also
know that as he was moaning and groaning, we hear a lot about the moans and
groans that he was making, obviously in severe pain and no effort made by
any of the officers involved to get him medical attention. I think that`s
going to be very damaging to the defendants and it is going to help the
prosecution prove at least those charges that don`t require the more
serious elements of murder.
SHARPTON: Now, doctor, the autopsy report does make note of drugs found in
Freddie Gray`s system, according to "the Baltimore Sun" Gray tested
positive for opiates and cannabinoid when he was admitted to the trauma
According to the autopsy, the report makes no further reference to the
drugs found in his system.
Dr. Wecht, what`s the medical significance of this to you, if any?
WECHT: There`s no significance or relevance of any kind about the presence
of opioids and cannabinoids in Mr. Gray and had nothing to do with his
injuries, either in causing them or enhancing them or diminishing any
opportunity for him to survive or be treated successfully. None
There was significant deceleration. Remember, Reverend, force equals one
half mass times velocity squared. So what we`re dealing here is a van that
decelerates abruptly and something that should be done. And I believe it
must have been done is to go over minute by minute, second by second that
route of the van, each of the five stops. What was it that caused that van
to decelerate with that kind of abruptness that produced the force required
to cause these injuries.
Remember, Mr. Gray is a young man with strong bones. We`re not talking
about a 75-year-old woman with osteoporosis that you look at her and knock
her down and she`ll break her hip and her knee. So it takes a lot of
So the drugs had nothing whatsoever to do with it. And I don`t believe, as
the medical examiner suggests that he was able to stand up, maybe Harry
Houdini and demonstrate how somebody with their wrists and ankles tied down
lying on the floor is able to get up. But that`s the distinction without a
difference. Doesn`t make any difference whether he did get up, whether he
was partially up. The point is that his body was hurled with great force
against the inside of the van producing those cervical vertebral injuries
almost transecting the spinal cord. That means that not only were there
fractures but there were significantly displaced fractures that cut across
So again, second degree murder, manslaughter, that`s a legal distinction
without a difference morally and ethically here. The point is that these
officers behaved abominably, the driver, there was somebody at least one
person among the five officers who were a superior rank if not two. Why
didn`t somebody intervene?
SHARPTON: That`s going to be a question they`re going to have to answer at
Thank you, Dr. Cyril Wecht. And thank you, Areva Martin, both of you for
WECHT: Thank you, Reverend.
MARTIN: Thanks, Rev.
SHARPTON: Ahead, strange bedfellows on criminal justice reform. I`ll talk
to a progressive and a conservative teaming up to transform a broken
Plus, the death panels myth returns. It`s part of a GOP assault on
Obamacare. And tonight they`re even holding a vote on it.
SHARPTON: Millions of Americans have been caught up in the criminal
justice system. They`ve seen their lives destroyed even after they`ve done
their time. And it`s been a huge strain on society. Tonight, we`re seeing
some strange bedfellows from the Left and the Right working together on
solutions. That`s next.
SHARPTON: Welcome back. There`s a big move on criminal justice this week,
and it has everything to do with this chart. These are the ten countries
with the most people in prison. And guess where America falls? Right at
the front of the line. We have more inmates than any other country in the
world. In fact, America has 25 percent of the world`s entire prison
population. That`s 2.3 million adults in prison at this minute. It`s
outrageous. And now it`s having an unexpected impact. A new group of
unlikely partners is teaming up asking why so many Americans are in prison.
Groups like the Koch Brothers and the ACLU. This week, this new coalition
revealed its goals. They`re calling for cuts to mandatory minimum
sentencing, for more alternatives to incarceration, more access to mental
health care and more use of early release programs.
Joining me now are two unlikely partners in this fight, Wade Henderson, the
president and CEO of the progressive group the Leadership Conference on
Civil and Human Rights, and Grover Norquist, the president of the
conservative Americans for Tax Reform. First, thank you both for being
WADE HENDERSON, LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE ON CIVIL AND HUMAN RIGHTS: Thank
GROVER NORQUIST, AMERICANS FOR TAX REFORM: Thank you.
SHARPTON: Grover, you know, you and I have been on just about the opposite
side of every political issue I can think of. It`s almost funny to be on
the same side with you and Senator Rand Paul and many Republicans. I even
toured the country with Newt Gingrich for education. Why is this so
important to you?
NORQUIST: Well, I think it`s extremely important because we should look at
all things the government does and ask are you helping or are you causing
more problems, can this be done less expensively to taxpayers and less
expensively to the families of inmates, the families of felons, when
somebody`s done with prison, they should be done with the punishment. You
shouldn`t be following them after and making it difficult or impossible for
them to get work. We want people, when they`re done paying their debt to
society, to be able to work, to be able to get back together with their
families and their communities. And right now the present judicial system,
the criminal justice system does a great deal of damage. It does some
important things. Some people should be in prison for a very long time.
But not everybody in prison should be in prison, not everybody in prison
should be there for a long period of time.
SHARPTON: Wade, why is this so important to you?
HENDERSON: Well, Grover is absolutely right, Reverend Al. Our criminal
justice system is inhumane, immoral and in many ways a massive waste of
taxpayer expenditures. We believe that the way in which our country
incarcerates more individuals, as you pointed out, than any other
industrialized nation on earth, really speaks to the wrong-headed
priorities of our federal government and state government and the way in
which it handles criminal just issues. Now, as Grover pointed out, there
are many instances when the criminal justice system responds as it should.
There are some individuals who need to be in prison for long periods of
But having said that, we should evaluate the way in which our country
applies its criminal justice laws to make sure that we`re not taking people
into prison who don`t need to be there, that we`re not keeping them longer
than necessary and that we`re not spending more on incarcerating people
than we are on the rehabilitation side of the criminal justice system. And
so the leadership conference on civil and human rights has joined forces
with groups like Americans for taxpayers` reform to form a coalition on
public safety. And it`s a group that includes the ACLU and the Center for
American Progress. It`s funded as well by the Ford Foundation but also by
the Koch Brothers, and we have joined forces with conservative
organizations like Grover`s and Freedom Works and others to try to promote
sound and rational policies.
SHARPTON: Now, let me be clear so that viewers don`t get confused.
Grover, you are saying be tough on crime. You`re not saying don`t be tough
on crime. But you`re saying be smart about it. In fact, it`s not just
Hillary Clinton pushing this issue. Several of the 2016 GOP candidates are
talking about prison reform as well. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let`s show compassion. Let`s reform our criminal
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The idea that we lock people up, throw them away, never
give them a chance at redemption is not what America`s about.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: We should not live in a world of "Les
Miserables" where a young man finds his entire future taken away by
excessive mandatory minimums.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Why, Grover, do you think we`re hearing this from republican
candidates for the 2016 race?
NORQUIST: Well, this has been building for some time. You have the
Christian fellowship which has been out in the prisons working with people
and coming back and talking about some of the challenges that they`ve seen.
The cost, the numbers of people being incarcerated have jumped over the
last 20 years rather dramatically. And as we`ve seen some reforms in
states like Texas, Governor Rick Perry is taking the leading role in
getting some of the state laws changed to reduce mandatory minimums, make
it easier to get people who should be out of prison out of prison. We`ve
seen crime fall fast and faster in reforming states. And so locking people
up and throwing away the key does not necessarily get you less crime and
safer communities. You can keep safety, you can punish crime without some
of these mandatory minimums, very long sentences that a number of laws have
mandated. We can be smart in how we fight crime.
SHARPTON: Wade, you know, pushing on that point right now in the United
States, one out of every 31 adults are either behind bars, on parole or on
probation. That`s a lot of families directly affected by our prison system
HENDERSON: Absolutely, absolutely. And many of those families, of course,
are families of color. The system has had a disproportionately negative
impact on African-American families and has destroyed many communities not
through intent but because of the way in which our laws are carried out.
You know, we had a breakthrough a few years ago, thanks to you and Grover
and others who worked on this issue along with the leadership conference
and the ACLU. And that was to change our crack and powder cocaine laws so
that they were more equitable in how they were applied. President Obama
signed the fair sentencing act in 2010, and it made a huge impact on the
prison population related to incarceration for cocaine use.
We wanted to take the momentum, which was generated by that breakthrough
and apply it to areas of sentencing reform, to fair chance hiring, to make
sure that when individuals return to their communities having served their
time, they are not dogged by a continuous recognition that they served time
and, therefore, making it increasingly difficult for them to find
legitimate work. And we want to make certain that our system is balanced.
Not that we ease up, but that we are smarter on crime than we`ve been in
SHARPTON: Well, I`m going to have to leave it there, Wade Henderson and
Grover Norquist. This is a very positive step. I thank you both for
coming on the show. I thank you, Grover, for coming on. Pigs are not
flying and hell is not freezing over. We all can civilly believe in what
we believe in and agree to disagree but also be adult enough to stand
together on what we agree on.
Thanks for coming and we`ll talk, I`m sure, in the future.
HENDERSON: Thanks, Reverend Al.
NORQUIST: We`ll be right back, absolutely.
HENDERSON: Thank you, appreciate it.
SHARPTON: You`re looking at live pictures of the House floor where
Republicans are voting to eliminate the independent payment advisory board.
Better known by some as death panels. It`s just one of the GOP`s debunked
attacks on ObamaCare. All part of their desperate attempt to get rid of
it. And as early as this week, the Supreme Court could rule to gut the law
in a case that has been pushed by conservatives. It`s an all-out assault
built on distortions, and that`s why today as a public service we`ve
created a helpful video to once and for all put the GOP myths to rest.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They said it would be full of death panels. They said
it would be a job killer. A government takeover. But five years later --
things are looking sunny. Coverage is up. Costs are down. And the
country is seeing record job growth. No death panels but seniors are
saving billions on prescription drugs. Yes, ObamaCare, five years later.
Still not pulling the plug on grandma. This public service announcement
brought to you by the POLITICS NATION coalition for common sense.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Here`s hoping the right takes that message to heart.
Joining me now is political strategist Angela Rye. Angela, this was the
political lie of the year in 2009. Will this talking point ever die?
ANGELA RYE, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: It won`t especially now with that video,
Rev. We have to send that out. It`s absolutely amazing. I think the one
thing that for me is kind of newer knowledge is what is happening with this
case and the plaintiff of the case, David King, who despises Obama,
despises ObamaCare --
SHARPTON: This is the Supreme Court case.
RYE: That`s right. And in part because he thinks that our president came
up with ObamaCare himself not realizing that that was the ObamaCare haters
that coined that term. This guy signed a declaration early on stating that
he was not eligible for any federally provided health care and that was not
true, Rev. He`s a Vietnam vet. So, I think when you have a case that`s
built on a lie, you have a faulty foundation. Of course, we don`t know
what`s going to happen yet. But the reality of this is, this is the
Republicans doing anything and everything they could to destroy this bill.
They tried case after case and as you know, repeal after repeal vote. And
now they`re struggling to figure out if the repeal vote was even worth it.
There are some that are saying, well now, what are we going to do with
subsidies? Do we scramble and provide emergency subsidies after, you know,
the Supreme Court potentially rules that these subsidies are not
constitutional or do we try to repeal everything? And they can`t afford to
do that because they`ve been accusing us of taxing and spending and, of
course, now, that`s the method that they would be taking if they try to
repeal everything. That`s a very costly proposition.
SHARPTON: Now, new polls show, Angela, that most like the health care law.
Sixty four percent say, they want to keep the law as it is now or keep it
with some changes. Thirty one percent want to repeal it. The politics of
this are pretty darn clear, aren`t they?
RYE: They`re very clear and moreover, Rev, as you know, from the very,
very beginning here, people have always been confused about ObamaCare
versus affordable care. And what we also know is that if the GOP continues
to go down this particular path, they`re targeting the very people that
this law was designed to help. That`s young people, that`s people of color
and those are the people -- and low-income folks. Those are the people
that they also continue to say that they need to reach out to. This is a
hell of a way to reach out to a group of people that by targeting them who
have traditionally been hit the hardest with health care access
SHARPTON: Now, the number Angela of insured adult Americans is dropping at
a record rate.
SHARPTON: It dropped by more than four percent in 2014th, the largest
decline since 1997. And the number of poor Americans who were uninsured
dropped by seven percentage points. If it`s working, doesn`t that make it
harder for Republicans to repeal this law?
RYE: Yes, but I guess ego is in the way. They`ve been trying to repeal
and we`ve seen that health care coverage has continued to go up every year.
We know again that for African-American people, the numbers are dropping
the highest there in our community. And so, there`s no rational rhyme or
reason for the desire to continue to repeal ObamaCare except for they made
these campaign promises that they`ve just not been able to fulfill since
from day one of ACA.
SHARPTON: Angela Rye, thank you for your time tonight.
RYE: Thank you, Rev.
SHARPTON: Straight ahead, on the beat. A video of a police officer
dancing at a block party goes viral.
SHARPTON: A cell phone video of a dancing North Carolina police officer
has gone viral. The Hickory Police Department put on a block party last
week with a local frat where Officer David Lee was caught on tape busting a
SHARPTON: The video has already been viewed by over five million times on
Facebook. The frat president said, quote, "Normally the only time the
African-American community and the police interact is when something is
wrong." The whole concept for this event was to come together when nothing
is wrong. We can actually coexist. We can have fun and just be people.
This is the kind of engagement we need to see more often between officers
and the community. Great job to all involved. And some great moves, too.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: What greater form of patriotism is
there than the belief that America is not yet finished, that we are strong
enough to be self-critical, that each successive generation can look upon
our imperfections and decide that it is in our power to remake this nation
to more closely align with our highest ideals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: President Obama earlier this year in Selma talking about the
need to move the country forward. Tonight cities and states across the
south are debating the legacy of the confederacy. This could be a major
moment for the country to come together, to deal with the scars of the
past, but some on the right are using it as an excuse to divide us further.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: It`s not going to stop with the
confederate flag because it`s not about the confederate flag. It is about
destroying the south as a political force. I`ll make another prediction to
you. The next flag that will come under assault, and it will not be long,
is the American flag.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The next flag to come under assault, Rush, is the American flag?
Hundred fifty years ago, that`s what the confederates did. They tried to
assault the American flag. They tried to destroy this union. The ones
that are anti-American are the ones that flag stand for, the confederates.
Don`t get it twisted. We stood for the union. They tried to break and
destroy the union. They are the ones that trampled on the American flag
and raised a new flag. We`re saying let one flag stand and let it stand
for all and take the rebels that tried to destroy the American flag, take
it down all over this country.
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
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