PoliticsNation, Friday, July 24th, 2015
Read the transcript from the Friday show
Show: POLITICS NATION
Date: July 24, 2015
Guest: Erroll Southers; E.J. Dionne; Jim Craft; Mike Edmonds; Bobby
Jindal; Joey Durel, Paul Butler, Ed Rendell, Victoria DeFrancesco Soto
REV. AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on POLITICS NATION, why did he do
it? New details about the disturbing views held by the theater shooting
gunman. A police news conference moments away.
Also, missed clues. Could the jail have stopped Sandra Bland tragedy?
And Donald Trump talks about how his campaign could end, and makes a big
threat about what he`ll do if Republicans don`t give him enough respect.
We begin tonight with the Louisiana Theater shooting. Any moment, we`re
expecting an update from police and other officials in Lafayette. We`re
expecting more information on gunman John Houser, who stood up and opened
fire last night about 20 minutes into the showing of the movie
"Trainwreck." He killed two young women and injured nine others.
Police say the 59-year-old was a drifter, estranged from his family, and
had wigs and glasses in his motel room. Suggesting he was planning to
disguise himself for an escape. In a 2008 court filing, his wife and
daughter alleged Houser had a history of mental health issues. Exhibited
extreme erratic behavior. And scared his wife so much, she removed all
guns and weapons from their house. Earlier today, police said they`re
still trying to figure out a motive.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COL. MIKE EDMONSON, LAFAYETTE, LOUISIANA POLICE: Why did he walk in that
theater? Why did he fire at least 13 times? Why did he turn around and go
back in there? Why did he leave his car outside with his keys on top of
the tire, why did he live in a motel 8, with wigs in there and glasses and
all those types of things? We believe in talking to the family, talking to
the friends, trying to look at his writers on the Internet, and putting
some parts and pieces together, maybe we can try to figure out what caused
him do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Houser left a long trail online, with the southern poverty law
center reporting his posts show he was a fan of Hitler, neo-Nazis, and
antigovernment conspiracies. Again, we`re awaiting a press conference on
the shooting from police and Governor Bobby Jindal.
MSNBC`s Craig Melvin is live in Lafayette, Louisiana, also with me is Dr.
Erroll Southers, former FBI agent and author of "home-grown violent
extremism." Thank you both for being here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Craig, what do we expect to hear from police?
CRAIG MELVIN, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that since the last news
conference, law enforcement agents have been poring over part of what you
just mentioned, some of these writings, some of these postings that the
shooter apparently put online. We know that they`re doing that, and
they`re also continuing to review his history.
In the past hour or two, we learned that back in 1989, the shooter was
charged with trying to hire a third party to set fire to a local attorney`s
office. We know that there was the temporary restraining order that his
wife had out against him. We know that he was supposed to be taking
medication for some sort of mental illness, but didn`t always take that
medication, according to his wife. Also, didn`t eat while he was on the
medication all the time, which exacerbated the condition, we`re told.
So those are some of the things we expect to learn a little more about.
But again, Reverend Al, as you indicated off the top, the big question here
is why? What could the motivation be?
SHARPTON: Let me push you on that because the shooter posted quite a bit
online. What can you tell us about those posts?
MELVIN: Well, among the things, these internet messages, these postings,
these ramblings about Islamic fundamentalism, domestic terrorism, gay
rights, he had a particular beef with the U.S. government. Some of those
rants were anti-gay, they are anti-Semitic, they were anti -- again,
But he also spent a fair amount of time, we`re told, talking about lone
wolf acts of violence which is precisely what he carried out here last
night. Another big question here, Reverend Al, is whether that gun that
was used, that 40 caliber handgun, was it obtained legally or was it
SHARPTON: Dr. Southers, what do you make of these posts online?
DR. ERROLL SOUTHERS, FORMER FBI AGENT: Well, here we are, reverend, just
five weeks after the Charleston, South Carolina, shooting, with another
individual who is a self-starter, a lone wolf, and these online postings
are giving us a significant electronic fingerprint with regards to his
thinkings. The fact that he is anti-government, is particularly troubling.
The fact he`s anti-Semitic, he talks about Hitler.
Here`s an individual who was at least embracing a collection of ideologies
in order to move forward. Now, is he radicalized in the true academic
sense of the word? Did he identify and embrace and engage in furthering an
ideology? Well, that remain to be seen. But at least, this will paint a
picture of an individual who was moving forward along a pathway, and for
some reason yesterday, decided to act and decided that the theater is going
to be his place of action.
SHARPTON: Dr. Southers, the Georgia police chief says Houser used to own a
bar, but his liquor license was revoked. And to show his anger, he put up
a Nazi flag over the building. Quote "he had a Nazi flag attached to his
building. If it wasn`t the size of a sheet, it was pretty close. It could
have been seen from one of the main highways." So he hung a Nazi flag on
his building. What could law enforcement have done about that?
SOUTHERS: Well, there`s little they could do about that. We live in a
country where you are able to display those kinds of symbols on your
private property. You`re even able to be an extremist in the United
States, but you`re not able to move forward, this ideological thinking in a
violent way that these are threatens or victimizes others.
So in that respect, he summoned that was certainly worthier of monitoring,
but in terms of government or law enforcement action that could have been
taken against the removal of the flag, I doubt very seriously, they would
have been able to do anything.
SHARPTON: Now NBC spoke today to people who bought Houser`s home after it
was foreclosed on. And they said he booby-trapped it before they moved in.
Listen to what they had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The biggest thing that happened is when we walked in,
he dis --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Disconnected the gas alarms, turned the wire, turned
the gas up to the mantel piece, and it was lit. And had buckets of paint
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And gasoline, flammables in there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: What are you saying? What are you suggesting?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was not in the property, but obviously, he booby-
trapped it for us when we came in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: I mean, doc, isn`t this another sign that something is wrong
SOUTHERS: It is very much another sign that something is wrong. He
intended for that house to explode when whoever came in to check on the
status of the residency would find it. This is a person that in spite of
his history of mental illness and whole collection of things he`s had to
deal with psychologically, he had the presence of mind to plan, he had the
presence of mind to get the appropriate resources, and attempted to at
least put these items together in a way that he would have had an effective
attack on intruders to the home.
SHARPTON: Craig Melvin and Dr. Southers, please stay with me. Because I
want to talk about something President Obama said just hours before the
shooting in Louisiana. He spoke about his frustration over the fight for
better gun laws.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you ask me where has been
the one area where I feel that I have been most frustrated and most
stymied, it`s the fact that the United States of America is the one
advanced nation on earth in which we do not have sufficient commonsense gun
safety laws. Even in the face of repeated mass killings.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Let`s bring in E.J. Dionne of the "Washington Post." Thank you
for being here.
E.J. DIONNE, WASHINGTON POST: Good to be with you, Reverend.
SHARPTON: E.J., what explains this collective failure in America to deal
with this gun violence?
DIONNE: Well, I think there are a lot of things going on. We talk about
the power of the gun lobby and it`s real. The gun lobby is aligned with
other business groups that oppose any gun control. So opposing sane gun
measures has become part of the conservative catechism. Rural states are
way overrepresented compared to suburban and urban areas. So New York and
California have as many representatives as Idaho and Wyoming.
But I think it`s time we call out the hypocrisy of opponents of gun
control. As you know, you have to walk through a metal detector to get
into Congress or to get into the capitol or the office buildings. Yet
these opponents of gun control always say, but we would be much safer if
everyone were armed. Well, if they believe that, they would let people
walk around the house and the Senate packing whatever firearm they want.
They clearly don`t believe that. I think that we have to call them on the
fact that they want to deny protection to other Americans that they have
much more of every day. There is a bizarre view of why arming us all is a
good idea, and we clearly have evidence day after day after day that this
is not a good idea.
SHARPTON: Well, another point the president made is that the U.S. invests
millions in protecting us from other kinds of threats besides guns. Let me
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: If you look at the number of Americans killed since 9/11 by
terrorism, it`s less than 100. If you look at the number that have been
killed by gun violence, it`s in the tens of thousands. And for us not to
be able to resolve that issue has been something that is distressing. But
it is not something that I intend to stop working on in the remaining 18
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: E.J., how do you respond to how do we, and we`re moments away
from this press conference starting. Quickly, how do we address this
DIONNE: Well, I think we have to do with guns what we --
SHARPTON: E.J., I`m going to have to hold you right there. I see the
press conference has started. Let`s go live to the press conference in
CHIEF JIM CRAFT, LAFAYETTE POLICE DEPARTMENT: As I said earlier, it was
very slow and deliberate. And as a result, stated information -- result on
the crime scene after it was finished being processed, and the work the
investigators did. The shooter did not enter the front lobby of the
theater. He actually exited out a side door where his car was parked in an
apparent attempt to get to his vehicle. At that same time, a police unit
was pulling into the parking lot. He re-entered the theater, fired some
more rounds. We think three more rounds, and the fourth round, he took his
This is a result of crime scene investigation process. And interview, we
were able to talk to one of the victims who is in the hospital. So as a
result of that, we now know that he tried to exit through that door. Re-
entered into the crowd. He fired some more shots and took his own life.
Another important thing is some time after our officers with first
responder kits, emergency medical aid kits, they are actually for when a
police officer is shot in the line of duty, the officers who responded to
this last night entered the theater with the kits. And used them on the
civilians who were wounded. A number of kits resulted in blood stopped and
-- so they could be transported to the hospital.
The victims, five are still hospitalized. Treated and released from the
hospital. Three are deceased. We have confirmed through the alcohol,
tobacco, and firearms unit, the weapon is a .40 caliber automatic handgun.
The weapon was purchased at a pawnshop in Phoenix, Alabama in 2014. They
have informed us that the purchase was legal.
We are going to continue to hold this scene throughout the weekend. We
want to make sure that we have gathered every piece of evidence that we
could. We have an update on evidence confiscated inside the scene, a total
of 15 shell casings were recovered in the theater in various areas.
Our investigators were able to determine which seats people were in when
they were shot. Once we were able to interview witnesses regarding where
they were seated in the theater, we`ll be able to re-create the setting of
that theater just seconds before the shooting took place.
Today, a number of people have reached out to us regarding counseling
services. Not only for our police officers but the victims, their
families, and the citizens of our community. And so on Monday, we hope to
open a counseling shelter in Lafayette that will offer services to anyone
who feels the need to discuss this incident or to discuss what they went
through or simply just to have someone to have a conversation with.
And so as a result of the FBI, Lafayette consolidated government, the
department of health and human resources, we are going to have those
services available for those victims.
I want to turn it over to Mike Edmonds in a minute to discuss a fusion
center and some of the leads we have been following up to date.
COL. MIKE EDMONDS, LOUISIANA STATE POLICE: Thank you, chief. I want to
paint a picture real quick just so you can understand. I followed the
chief in there earlier this afternoon. I think you saw us walking across
the parking lot. This was the first time for him to go into that
particular theater. And this is his town. He`s a police chief. I know
him well as a friend and a father, but I watched his emotion. That was a
horrific scene in there. To see where the trajectiles were, the sticks
coming out of the seats, to see the blood on the floor, to actually smell
it in that room. I watched his reaction. I watched him take it all in.
This is a small town. Right near a university. And that`s why it`s so
important we`ve got to sit there and do everything we can to bring closure
to these families. I mean, you heard the chief throughout the night,
you`re going to hear the governor in a couple minutes. But it`s important
from a fusion center perspective and state police, we have been combing
through the blogs that individuals have been putting together. He makes
rants about the government, he makes rants about different situations
around the United States, around the world. But we`re going to pull each
one of those out. We`re trying to interview as many people as possible.
We had troopers and investigators in Lake Charles along with the FBI here
in the Lafayette area, in Baton Rouge. Every single place that you,
because if you`re getting the information out, it allowed us to take that
and follow up. Why was he there? Who was he talking to? What can we get
out of that as we try to put this puzzle which has many, many pieces, back
We traveled to different parts of this country with the FBI to talk to his
mother, talking to his daughter, talking his estranged wife, trying to get
some information that will lead us. They have painted a picture, but as I
told you earlier, we have to deal in facts. A lot of heresy, a lot of
innuendos on the Internet. We are trying to take those and put some facts
to it to try to determine what causes this guy on this particular evening
to buy that ticket to go into that movie theater?
Thank God that the police got there in less than a minute. When we walked
out, he dropped the ten-round clip and reloaded, he walked out the door,
who knows who he would have encountered in the parking lot. He encountered
a police car coming up, responding to the scene. He turns around and goes
back in, and apparently fires a different shots inside that particular time
before he turns it on himself. And he turned it on himself because coming
up the hallway in that small theater were police officers coming into it.
Thank God for those first responders who didn`t think about what was
probably happening where the gunshots were taking place. They responded to
it, and then the triage of the ambulances and the first responders who got
there that no doubt saved human life. We have no doubt about it, by
walking in the room and seeing that thing.
You know, as a head of state police, as a father, walking in there and
taking picturing my kids in there, picturing me in there, I know that`s
what the chief was doing. We`re going to continue working closely with him
like I said earlier. This is a marathon, not a 100-yard dash. We`re
trying to bring closure, we are trying to get to the point. It`s easy to
say. You know what, we`re just not going to figure out what happened.
We`re not at that point yet. We`re far from it. We`re going to pull all
the information, keep supplying it to the police department here, to the
chief, working with our detectives and intelligence in the fusion center to
try to figure out what caused the guy to be here, what caused his motives
and try find out why he bought that ticket, why he stood up and fired
directly into two people sitting in front of him.
At this time I want to turn it over to the governor and we`ll take some
questions from you all.
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: Thank you, Mike. You know, last night,
when I got to call FROM Col. Edmonson, I was having dinner with my wife.
Got into a car, came over with the colonel to see for ourselves. I`ve got
to tell you that my emotions over these last several hours including just
now walking into the theater for the first time and seeing the blood on the
floor, seeing the discarded snacks and debris that victims just left hardly
behind. And I`m alternating between deep, deep grief and sorrow over the
loss of innocent human life as well as intense anger. Anger at the
senseless, evil and random violence in our corner of the world, right here
in Louisiana, in Lafayette.
This could have been our families. This could have been your family. The
reality is these were just folks, regular folks like you and me, out to see
a summer movie in the last few days of summer break. You know, in talking
to some of the victims and their families, our law enforcement officials
have learned things like for example, one of the surviving wounded victims
played dead to stay alive. What we have learned from inside is that it
appears that the shooter actually took his time. And was somewhat
methodical as he shot folks from the top, from the back of the theater.
It appears more and more that he was planning his escape. Literally had
the keys on the tire of his car, parked near the exit. It appears more and
more that he had thought about how to get away. I, too, like the colonel,
want to thank the chief and his men and the women of the first responders,
Lafayette police department, the other police agencies, did such a
phenomenal job, running towards danger, not away from it.
I had a chance to talk to some of the folks, the families of those who were
wounded. I talked to the father of one woman who tragically lost her life.
It is a family of faith. I told him, no parent should have to bury a
daughter, to bury a child. I first actually met him last night when he was
desperately trying to find out what had happened to his child. I was so
amazed by, in this most awful moment that any father, any parents can
imagine, he was trying to be strong for his wife, for his other children.
And relying on his strong faith, his Christian faith.
Lafayette, we will get through this. It`s going to be tough. There are
going to be tears. We need time to grieve, and we will grieve, but this is
a resilient community. I do want to remind folks there were incredible
heroic acts. You heard of the police officers who ran toward the sound of
gunfire, very likely saving many lives. You heard about the teachers, one
who jumped in front of her friend, a second who pulled the fire alarm even
though she was shot. Today, we learned about a couple who took a wounded
victim in their own car to the hospital, they even wait to make sure that
person got treatment as quickly as possible.
I met with the doctors and nurses who provided treatment to the families,
to the individuals that had been hurt. You know, the FBI agent on the
scene made it -- he said it so well this morning. He said we`re trying to
make sense out of a senseless act.
Lafayette, I`ve got to say, evil, we see evil in our midst, but good and
love will triumph over evil. We will get through this. It`s going to be
tough. But right now is a time for us to shower these families with love,
with prayers, with our thoughts. What they need right now, we need time to
grieve over two lost women. And their families` loss, but now is a time to
shower their families and the other victims and their families with all the
love and prayers and thoughts we can provide. In the end, love will
triumph over evil. I want to ask the mayor to come up here and offer a few
thoughts as well.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Couple of things. We have prayer services going on
right now. We have prayer services that will happen tomorrow. The
cathedral will have something on Sunday morning at 7:30. But I guess what
I want to get across more than anything is Lafayette, yesterday at this
time, was a safe city. And today, at 5:23, we`re still a safe city. What
happened last night was an anomaly. The shooter didn`t have any real
motive that we know of. It was all random. It`s a very strange thing. It
hasn`t changed how safe this community is. It`s a horrible, tragic
situation. Again, we`re going to continue to work with the victims and
their families and reach out to them. But don`t forget, Lafayette was a
safe city yesterday. It`s a safe city today. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any questions?
MAYOR JOEY DUREL, LAFAYETTE, LOUISIANA: What do you think he`s been doing
since he came here? Why do you think he chose --?
SHARPTON: That is the mayor of Lafayette, Louisiana, where this shooting
occurred in a movie theater on yesterday, last evening. You heard from the
governor as well as police officials.
Let me go back to Craig Melvin, who is in Lafayette.
Craig, what jumps out at you from the press conference that we have just
MELVIN: Well, one question was answered, Reverend Al. We talked about it
at the top of the broadcast, whether this gun was purchased legally. And
we heard there at the beginning of the news conference, that according to
the ATF, it was in fact purchased legally back in 2014, in Alabama.
Now, what`s interesting about that, as we heard from a sheriff earlier,
sheriff here in Alabama, who said that back in 2006, the shooter was denied
a concealed carry permit because of a criminal domestic violence complaint
and an arson charge? So that struck me.
We also learned that there are five victims who are still in the hospital.
And we also found out that there were two more shell casings that were
found in the past few hours. Originally, it was thought to be 13. He said
there were 15 shell casings found. And according to the police chief
there, based on what he saw, based on some of the smells inside the
theater, he described the stench of blood. It`s also striking, Reverend
Al, that this wasn`t far worse.
SHARPTON: Well, he made that clear.
Let me go back to you, E.J., because here we are. We`ve been -- we`ve been
seeing these kinds of press conferences, officials, and political leaders
having to explain mass killings to where we`re at a point where some of us
have begun getting numb to the impact. The human toll on this. In fact,
"USA Today" put together this map since 2006, there`s been 211 mass
shootings in the United States. That`s when four more people were killed.
How do we stop these things from reoccurring so, to the point where it`s
almost looked upon as this is the price we pay for freedom?
DIONNE: You know, Reverend, I had exactly the same thought while I was
watching that, the thought that we keep seeing these things over and over
again. And you know, you sort of shake your head in sorrow and say, if
what happened at Newtown with all of those kids killed couldn`t move the
political system to act on guns, then it really does seem like we`re numb.
And we sort of accept the idea that this is normal.
But this is not normal. There is no other country in the developed world
that has this number of mass shootings. There`s no other country in the
developed world where it is so easy to put your hands on firearms. And you
know, I`m glad the president spoke out because a lot of people are saying,
well, he`ll never get anything through congress, so why is he saying this?
We`ve got to keep saying it and finding new ways of organizing.
And what I was going to say before the break is, we need to have the same
attitude toward guns, develop the same attitude toward guns that we have
towards smoking or drunk driving. Guns don`t make a home safe. Guns don`t
make us safer. And we`ve got to start changing the public view on this in
order eventually to change the laws so we don`t have maps like that in ten
SHARPTON: I think you hit the key points that I feel. You know, I heard
you said earlier that some on the right have said everybody has a gun, this
stops. If everyone had a gun in the movie house last night, it possibly
could have caused more deaths. I mean, how do you defend yourself against
a guy operating lone Wolf that you don`t expect to do anything?
Guns, I don`t feel, is the answer. I happen to deep down feel that they
are really the problem. We`ve got to get on top of this. This is another
great, huge tragedy. No matter how often it happens, it is still huge.
And it`s not normal. And it should not be accepted by any of us. We`re
going to keep covering this story.
Craig Melvin, Dr. Southers, E.J. Dionne, thank you for your time tonight.
DIONNE: Thank you, Reverend.
MELVIN: Thank you, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Ahead, new questions in the Sandra Bland case. Did the jail
miss critical warning signs?
Also, Trump`s new threat will make a third party run is out there. He says
it`s all about respect.
SHARPTON: -- Another set of forms had the opposite information. The
prosecutor says it`s because she changed her answers. But those forms also
say she was taking a medication called Kepra. According to the FDA, Kepra
may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior. And people on it
should be alert for the emergence of worsening symptoms of depression. And
inside the jail, a fellow inmate just revealed that she heard Bland crying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was crying and saying that she got beat up. She
was crying, and I could barely understand her. And I just, I was like, it
will be okay. It`s okay. Don`t cry. It will be all right. You can`t be
in here forever. She just was crying. Like I said, I could barely
understand it. I was like it`s okay. Don`t cry, you know, it can`t rain
all the time. It will be all right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: It`s not clear that inmate told jailers about the crying. But
tonight, many are pointing to similarities between this case and an earlier
suicide at the same jail in 2012. Police arrested James Hoffell Howell
(ph) for assault on a public servant, the same charge as Sandra Bland.
Officials say, he hanged himself with a bedsheet. Afterwards, the jail was
cited for not observing inmates face-to-face at least once an hour. The
same issue found in the Bland case.
Joining me now are former federal prosecutor Paul Butler. Thank you for
being here, Paul.
PAUL BUTLER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: It`s great to be here, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Giving the crying, the notes on her intake form, all that should
the jail have been watching Sandra Bland more closely, Paul?
BUTLER: Absolutely. Reverend, when you`re in jail, you are a ward of the
state. You can`t take care of yourself, so the government, the state, the
jail assumes responsibilities for your necessities, including your health
care. If there`s any issue of mental health problems, a couple of things
kick in immediately. One, frequent rounds by the guards, more often than
an hour. Often 30 minutes, 15 minutes. Some prisons, if they know you`re
at risk for suicide, you`re constantly monitored. That didn`t happen here.
It`s likely when Miss Bland was arrested, she was arrested for being
perceived by the cop as an uppity black woman in jail. Whether she died by
suicide or by some more sinister means, she`s treated by the jailer like a
black woman whose live doesn`t matter.
SHARPTON: You know, just three years ago, someone committed suicide at the
same cell. How can they have the same violation in checking on inmates
twice, resulting in two deaths -- Paul.
BUTLER: Because they`re not adequately trained. Texas has 245 county
jails. The requirement for mental health evaluations by the staff, they
get two hours a year. And guess what. We don`t even know if these jail
officials have those two hours.
BUTLER: So this is just fundamental negligence. It`s a human rights
SHARPTON: Well, it is that at best. You know, last night, I spoke
exclusively to Sandra Bland`s mother, and I asked her whether she was
confident in the investigation. Listen to her answer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GENEVA READ-VEL, SANDRA BLAND`S MOTHER: I have confidence in God. And
knowing that he is in control, and he is going to reveal the real truth.
Confidence in man I do not have at this point. I have confidence in what
he`s going to allow to come to pass.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Paul, what`s your take on the investigation so far?
BUTLER: At this point, Reverend, I have confidence in God and Loretta
Lynch. We need the federal government to come in. We need the full forces
of the Department of Justice because I just don`t trust the integrity of
this local investigation. We know the police report is a big lie. They`re
concerned about whether the dash cam video has been doctored. And then
we`ve got ten minutes missing from the video in the jail, including the ten
minutes in which she died. So do we need an independent outside
investigator? Absolutely, yes.
SHARPTON: Well, we`ll be certainly staying on this story. She`ll be laid
to rest tomorrow by her family. Paul Butler, thank you for your time.
BUTLER: Thank you for having me.
SHARPTON: Still to come, Trump`s new threat at a third party run. He says
it`s all a matter of respect.
And President Obama lands in Kenya, his first time in his father`s homeland
since entering the White House.
SHARPTON: It`s the summer of Trump. He`s leading the GOP field in the
polls, and he`s giving Jon Stewart a lot of material.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW": Donald Trump. The patron saint of
topical comedians who are just running out the clock.
Imagine if he was there when they were there. John Hancock, he`s a loser.
Hey, what kind of a loser needs to put his name in giant letters on
everything? Hey, what? John Hancock, what a loser.
What`s the harm in a little summer fling? Summer trumping had me a blast
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: But now, he`s making a big threat against the GOP. We`ll talk
more about it, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When it comes to great steaks,
I`ve just raised the stakes. Trump steaks are by far the best tasting,
most flavorful beef you`ve ever had. Truly in a league of their own. And
believe me, I understand steaks. It`s my favorite food.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Some vintage Trump from back in the day. Selling steaks. These
days, of course, Trump is selling Trump. And the right-wing base is
biting. But today on "Morning Joe," a surprise. Trump admitted his run
for the White House might have an expiration date.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I`m just chugging along. I mean, maybe people will get tired of
me. Who knows? I mean, this press is crazy. I don`t know, maybe people
get burned out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: But so far, he`s not fading at all. Trump is leading in the
polls. And look at this. Half of all the national conversation yesterday
about 2016 focused on Trump. He dwarfs the other candidates. And if
republican voters stop buying what he`s selling, Trump is dropping new
hints today that he might run as a third-party candidate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The best way to win is to win as a republican. I do not want to do
independent at all. Now, if I`m treated poorly, that`s one thing. If I`m
treated well with great respect and don`t win, is would not do that but if
I`m treated poorly I would do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: If the GOP isn`t nice to him, Trump just might run as a third-
party candidate. It`s the second time he said that.
Joining me now is MSNBC contributor Victoria De-Francesca Soto, and
Governor Ed Rendell. First of all, Governor, let me go to you. This is
the second time we`ve heard Mr. Trump threaten a third-party run. Do you
think he`s serious?
FMR. GOV. ED RENDELL (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Well, he could be. You know, it`s
a decision for him to make. It depends, I think, how well the debate goes
August 6th. If Trump is ganged up on, if he feels he`s disrespected, he
might just blow the whistle on this thing and say I`m running an as
SHARPTON: Well, how do you think he defined respect? What does that
really mean in a Trump world?
RENDELL: Trump world, respect means that he do well. If he does well in
the debate and continues to rise in the polls, I think he`s in it for a
while. For a long while. And you`ll see the talk of running as a third
party candidate fade in the background. In fact, he`s walked it back a
little bit since this morning. So is think it`s a question of whether he
does well. Now, whether he does well depends a little bit on how the other
nine candidates in that debate react to him. If they go after him, and he
fires back, tit for tat, he`ll do well. The best strategy is to ignore
him. But if you`re one of the candidates who gets in at two or three
percent and you want to make a name for yourself, what do you do?
RENDELL: Yes. You go after him.
SHARPTON: Victoria, do you think the third-party threat is real? And what
do you interpret Trump`s meaning of respect?
VICTORIA DE-FRANCESCA SOTO, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: So, is actually differ a
little bit from the governor. I think that Trump has nothing to lose as
running as a third-party candidate. I think that as we get closer to the
election, as we see a number of debates, not just this first debate, but
other debates where we`re forced to deal with the issues, Trump is not
going to be able to sustain himself at the big boy`s table when we`re
talking about real issues. And at that point, he`s going to say, how do I
stay in the political game? It`s going to be as a third-party candidate,
and Reverend, he has all of the money in the world to do it. And we know
he likes the fame and the glitz and the glamour, so I say, why not?
SHARPTON: You know, you talk about him walking back some things. On
"Morning Joe" today, Donald Trump even questioned the facts surrounding the
number of undocumented immigrants in this country. Watch this, Governor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do we handle the 11 million already here?
TRUMP: I don`t think that`s an accurate number anymore, because I`m now
hearing it`s 30 million, it could even be 34 million, which is a much
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who are you hearing that from?
TRUMP: I`m hearing that from other people, and I have seen it written in
various newspapers. And nope, the truth is the government has no idea how
many illegals are here. I have no idea.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: You know, what Victoria said, she called it the big boys` table,
at the big table, and you know when I ran in `04, how do you debate
somebody that just makes up his own facts? I mean, where he got these
numbers from, this is bizarre if you`re in a debate, Governor, and you`ve
handling some of the most memorable debates in your career as mayor,
governor, and all. How do you debate someone that just triples the number
that everyone knows to be the number?
RENDELL: Well, it`s very hard because he`ll just say it over and over
again and loudly and more aggressively than anybody else. And to the
people who are angry and disaffected, that`s exactly what they want to
hear. So, Donald Trump can keep his 20 percent in the republican primary.
By just being the angry guy who talks to the disaffected. If he`s really
serious, and Victoria may be right. He may not be serious, he may not want
to put in the work to deal with real issues. If in fact he`s really
serious, he starts saying some things that are reliable, that are true, and
that have, you know, a policy towards it. What are you going to do about
this, other than build a fence? He`s got to answer that question.
RENDELL: Now, in a ten-person debate, he doesn`t have to answer that
question because each candidate gets about six, seven minutes. So, he can
just rant and rave.
SHARPTON: Yes. He`ll soundbite around it.
SHARPTON: You know, Victoria, the GOP is fretting over Trump`s impact in
the debate. And everyone has an opinion on how to deal with it. Here`s
some opinions. Quote, "Do not try to match him in anger and in
aggressiveness. He`ll run over you." Another, "just try to ignore him. I
wouldn`t even look at him." Another, "Treat him like any other candidate."
Another, "Focus on his record." Another, "Play your own game." And my
favorite is, pick a fight. What is your advice on how to handle Donald
Trump in a debate?
SOTO: So here I agree with the governor that it depends on the candidate.
If you are a frontrunner here, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, you want to stay
above the fray because you don`t want to get down to Trump`s level. But if
you`re Rick Perry or you`re Lindsey Graham, you want some notoriety, so
buddying up with Trump or picking a fight with him is going to get you that
notoriety. So, I think the debate strategy is going to depend where you
are in the polls as you enter the debate.
SHARPTON: But most of the people lower in the polls won`t be on the debate
stage with Trump because of how this is set up, Governor.
RENDELL: No, they`ll still be some people who are at three or four
percent, they`ll just be a little higher than some of the others. Take
Chris Christie, who is down at three or four percent nationally. He may
want to show people that he`s tougher than Donald Trump. And he may really
go after Donald Trump, and that would be a brawl worth watching.
RENDELL: The one good thing for the republican is a lot of people are
going to watch this debate. The bad thing is if it turns into a fiasco
around Donald Trump, that`s a bad thing for the Republican Party.
SHARPTON: Well, you know, I think that either way, the Democrats are going
to have a night that they are going to sit back and watch all the fun.
Victoria Defrancesco Soto and Governor Ed Rendell, thank you both for your
time tonight, and have a good weekend.
RENDELL: You too, Rev.
SHARPTON: Ahead, President Obama makes his first trip to Kenya since
entering the White House. A historic and emotional visit. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: Coming up, President Obama travels to Kenya. His father`s
homeland making the trip for the first time since becoming president.
SHARPTON: Celebrations in Kenya in the days leading up to President
Obama`s arrival. And today, he landed in Kenya, the ancestral home of his
father. Making his first visit as president. He`ll be there for two days
meeting with Kenya`s president and other officials. And also reuniting
with relatives. As he got off the plane, the President was greeted by his
half-sister, with a warm embrace. They posed for pictures. Later at his
hotel, he had dinner with her and Mama Sarah, who he calls granny. It`s
the first time visiting Kenya since 2006, when he was a senator. He had
been there before, too. Searching for his roots and for a connection to a
father he barely knew. He wrote about that search in his book "Dreams From
My Father." At a 1995 book reading, he talked about the pain of growing up
without a father.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I`m a very angry man right -- young man at the time that this
passage takes place. Partly because my father is absent, partly because
I`m trying to struggle, what does it mean exactly to be a black man in
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The President said that struggle was a driving force behind his
My Brother`s Keeper Initiative. And today, people in Kenya were happy to
welcome him. I know as one growing up in a single-parent home, the
struggle for fulfillment and connection and completeness. I learned that
you`re not responsible for how you found yourself as a child. But you have
a whole lot to do with what you do with your life as an adult. And that`s
where your completion and fulfillment is really going to be challenged, and
you can`t bring anyone else into that level of blame.
Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.
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