Guests: Jonathan Capehart, Eugene O`Donnell; Joe Madison, Joan Walsh, Jonathan Cohn, Benjamin
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Welcome to a special edition of
"Politics Nation." I`m Al Sharpton live in Alabama.
I`m here for personal reasons, the funeral of my mother. She was laid
it rest this morning. And I`ll have some reflections on her later in the
show. But I know my mother would have wanted me to do this show tonight
covering two developing stories of national importance.
Trayvon Martin and the fight over healthcare.
Protests swirled today at the Supreme Court as justices heard his
stark arguments about the central part of the president`s health care law.
The individual mandate. We`ll go inside the courtroom later in the show.
But we must start tonight with an ugly campaign being launched against
Trayvon Martin`s reputation. Just a month and a day after he was shot
dead, today the Miami Harold report about multiple suspensions, painted a
complicated portrait of Trayvon Martin. The paper obtained a Miami day`s
school`s police report with no names attached revealing last October a
school police investigator saw Trayvon on a surveillance camera, quote,
"hiding and being suspicious." The officer says Trayvon then marked a door
with a graffiti marker and found 12 pieces of jewelry with a large flat
head screw driver described as burglary tool, in his book bag. There are
reports Trayvon was suspended for graffiti.
Also, this headline from ABC news, Trayvon Martin`s shooter told cops,
teenager went for his gun. And an unnamed police source says Martin
knocked him down with a punch to the nose, repeatedly slammed his head on
the ground, and tried to take his gun. This information is being leaked by
an unnamed police source and is coming from what George Zimmerman said.
We cannot confirm any of this from fact. This comes a day an unnamed
police source leaked to the "Orlando Sentinel" that Zimmerman said Trayvon
decked him with one blow then began hammering his head. He also leaked
that Trayvon was suspended from school after being found with an empty
marijuana bag. All these, all this information comes from unnamed police
sources and from the shooter`s mouth. What does the acting Sanford police
chief have to say when asked about these leaks?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE POLICE CHIEF: As of right now, there`s nothing to
report on that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Nothing to report on that. The suspensions, the book bag,
the graffiti, none of that really matters. What really matters is what
happened that night. Trayvon was unarmed, walking home with skittles and
ice tea in his hand. And on the phone with his girlfriend and his
girlfriend said he was scared.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED TRAYVON`S GIRLFRIEND: Trayvon said the man was still
following him app and Trayvon asked Trayvon to run, and Trayvon said he
wasn`t going to run. He was going to walk fast then the man was just
following him comes up walking to him like fast, like he was being cornered
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: It`s not about who Trayvon Martin was before that fateful
night. It is about that one night alone and it`s ugly what they are doing.
We cannot and will not allow them to have this conversation their way.
This is about justice.
Joining me now is Eugene O`Donnell, professor at John J. College of
criminal justice. He is a former New York City police officer and
prosecutor. And Jonathan Capehart is an opinion writer for the "Washington
Post" and MSNBC contributor. He is writing about questions he has for the
Sanford police department he has today.
Let me thank you both of you for being here tonight.
EUGENE O`DONNELL, PROFESSOR, JOHN J. COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE:
JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks reverend.
SHARPTON: Now Eugene, let me start with you. I`ve been advocating
that we want justice here that I think probable cause was there. The
shooter should be arrested. Now, we are hearing these smear on Trayvon.
Is there any question that the police investigation has been botched
up from day one? Isn`t that the issue here?
O`DONNELL: Not only were there major questions about the police
investigation on day one but ever since that time, the selective disclosure
of information has been a problem. Obviously the police and prosecutors
have a duty to protect their victims. If you are going to set an
impossible standard, you can`t go into a police station and report yourself
as a victim of crime unless you have an absolute pristine background. The
criminal justice system would collapse if that`s the standard. That`s not
Every single day, we try to encourage people with problems way more
significant than Trayvon`s to come in to get justice. So they are
trivializing the justice system when you deal with school suspension and
try to make that a bar to a successful homicide prosecution.
SHARPTON: Well, let me ask you this because clearly, Eugene, there is
some really absurd things that would almost be funny to me if it wasn`t so
bizarre. Let me show you some right wing media smearing of Trayvon. And
you, as a farmer prosecutor as well as detective, I want you to tell me if
this has any bearing on the case.
Conservative "Daily Caller" obtained Trayvon`s tweets and pointed out
his gold teeth in the picture. I guess you really ought to put out a
bulletin to shoot someone with gold teeth that you need to defend yourself
against that. The judge reports also post the photo of t Trayvon from his
twitter account showing him with gold teeth.
And earlier today they report, a story with a photo of hoodies that
Obama campaign is selling. When you click on that you get to another page
and that coincidence when Obama camp announced via twitter yesterday that
it was putting 2012 hoodies on sale and got some thinking is the president
trying to capitalize on the death of Trayvon Martin?
I mean, isn`t this desperate? I mean, first of all, whatever
Trayvon`s background is, and I`m told that much of this is totally wrong.
But let`s say if it all was right, how does any way this remotely justify
Zimmerman, who is on tape saying he was following him, shooting him?
I mean, let`s say he had something in his locker, he went to school in
Miami, hundreds of miles away from where he was in Sanford. He was near
his father`s girlfriend`s house. He was going to watch the game. I mean,
what are we talking about here? Is this absolutely an attempt to distract
O`DONNELL: I do honestly believe that overwhelming majority of the
American public that is tuning into this cares deeply about justice for the
family in this case and will ultimately care, I do believe, ultimately care
if criminal charges are preferred that Mr. Zimmerman get a fair trial.
But that kind of crazy smearing after victim should be condemned by
anyone who cares about justice. Again, if you are in law enforcement you
know victims comes to you, some of them are alive and some are dead, most
are imperfect and you have to make sure that particularly in homicide their
lives are vindicated by the justice system. They can`t speak for
themselves. That`s the fundamental tentative homicide prosecution, so you
have to protect them. They are no longer alive. You have to protect their
reputation. And not allow it to be smeared and allow the case to be made
based on the evidence and based on the facts.
SHARPTON: Now Jonathan Capehart, you raised today some questions for
the Sanford police department. You said several things that were strange
and the fact that you hadn`t gotten answers yet. Trayvon`s father, one
question, tried to call his cell phone. Why didn`t the police answer it?
He`s there, medical examiner`s office, dead. Cell phone ringing, never
Police, officer who put Zimmerman in handcuffs reported, quote, "At no
point did I question Zimmerman about the incident that had taken place."
Well, why didn`t he? Why not?
Third question, was there blood splatter from Trayvon on Zimmerman`s
clothing? Were any photographs taken on Zimmerman`s cloning? Was the
clothing taken into evidence? And were there any signs of struggle on
It seems to me, Jonathan, after reading your article, if they are now
saying even one saying that Trayvon was reaching for the gun, another
saying he was banging this guy`s head on the ground and there was blood,
then why didn`t they keep Zimmerman`s clothes. It would seem to me that
would be the first thing you would do is keep all the evidence because
there would have had to have been blood on Zimmerman`s clothes.
CAPEHART: Right. Exactly. You have you a dead person lying on the
ground. You have the shooter, who admits that he shot him. You have him
in custody, in handcuffs, in the back after car. You bring him to the
police station. At no point are any tests done. Not gun powder. Not DNA
testing. No photographs. Nothing.
George Zimmerman`s clothes are done. And on the flip side, we know
that a toxicology test was done on Trayvon Martin. But was one done on
George Zimmerman? These are questions you don`t know.
SHARPTON: And I want to -- and the thing that I would add to that, is
if one was done on the deceased, on the victim, then why wasn`t one done on
the shooter? And who decided that?
SHARPTON: And if you want it talk about background, the shooter, we
know, had been charged with assaulting a police officer. There had been
accusations of beating up girlfriend. I mean, you are talking about
whether or not there was some school suspension with Trayvon. You are
talking about a guy charged with violence and charged with decking a police
But let me interrupt you a minute. We have breaking news. We have
breaking news. According to ABC news, this breaking right now, the lead
homicide investigator in the shooting of Trayvon Martin recommended that
George Zimmerman be charged with manslaughter on the night of the shooting.
But authorities said there wasn`t enough evidence to get a conviction.
Let me go to you on that, Eugene. First of all, if the lead
investigator had recommended to arrest him and charge him with
manslaughter, then why wasn`t he arrested and let a prosecutor decide
whether to indict him and whether it was enough to convict him?
O`DONNELL: That`s a compelling piece of news to find out the
investigator thought that. I think the state`s attorney has a lot of
explaining to do here. If the police were confused about the law, I would
really like to know where the state`s attorney was because both should have
been joined at the hip.
And as Jonathan says, it should have been a full-court press from the
beginning. And a lot of this is just check list stuff. This is not really
terribly sophisticated investigation. If there`s a whole long list of the
things that should have been done, a lot of which apparently were done.
SHARPTON: Jonathan, I think the last ABC news flash is significant
because here is why.
SHARPTON: If the lead investigator on the homicide, recommended
manslaughter, then either there was never said that night that Zimmerman
was beaten and that Zimmerman`s gone was gone after. Or if it was said the
lead investigator apparently didn`t believe him.
CAPEHART: Right. Apparently he didn`t. And this gets back to one of
the questions I ask, with 16 other questions last week. And, one question
that I had was, what was the relationship between George Zimmerman and the
Sanford police department? And I keep coming back to that because of all
of the questions I asked then, all of the questions I asked today, all lead
back to the Sanford police department. Why weren`t things at any viewer of
law and order or CSI or any of these detectives shows that are so popular,
why are all of the questions that we can come up with off the top of our
head, we don`t have answers to them one month and one day after Trayvon
Martin was killed. The fact that we don`t have the answers to these
questions is quite frankly alarming.
SHARPTON: Yes. It is very alarming. And I think the more you
getting these unnamed police leaks, the more you feel somebody there are
trying to cover their tracks. And somebody is doing a bad job because some
of this stuff is ludicrous. I mean, a gold tooth and a guy going for the
gun that a guy didn`t know he had. I mean, all of this is stuff is
But Eugene, this is a compelling new piece of information. If it is
true, would ABC is reporting, that the lead investigator wanted
manslaughter, then it is also one must believe the lead investigator felt
that Zimmerman was guilty of at least, or appeared enough guilt, for
probable cause to make an arrest which leads us right back to Jonathan`s
point about the Sanford police. Who vetoed that? Who said no?
O`DONNELL: It remains to be seen. But there clearly was a
determination, if that is what ABC news is reporting, that there was
probable cause which would also suggest that detective read the evidence as
other people are reading it, which is pointing at Zimmerman and that
Zimmerman`s story did not hold water. That is what it appears to mean.
SHARPTON: Let me take a break. Jonathan Capehart, thanks for your
CAPEHART: Thanks rev.
SHARPTON: Eugene O`Donnell, stay with me. This is pretty big news.
Coming up, we will have much more on this breaking news in the Trayvon
Martin case. The top investigator wanted manslaughter charges the night of
Plus, historic battle in the Supreme Court. The healthcare case that
could affect every living American and define President Obama`s legacy.
Our experts will weigh in on that and what happened inside the court today.
And, the human side of healthcare debate, Republicans wants it repeal
a law that is literally saving lives. How is that the right agenda for
You`re watching "Politics Nation" from Dothan, Alabama on MSNBC.
SHARPTON: Break news in the Trayvon Martin case. New reports that
lead investigator wanted manslaughter charges against George Zimmerman the
night of the shooting that investigator actually filed an affidavit saying
he was unconvinced by Zimmerman`s version of events. More on that, next.
SHARPTON: We`re back on "Politics Nation" with more on breaking news
in the Trayvon Martin case.
A stunning development, the lead investigator wanted manslaughter
charges against George Zimmerman the night of the shooting. That night,
the investigator actually filed an affidavit saying he was unconvinced by
Zimmerman`s version of events.
Joining me now, is in from Washington, is Joe Madison, nationally
syndicated host of "Mornings with Madison" on Sirius XM radio. He was at
the briefing today on the federal government`s role in racial profiling and
Let me thank you, first of all, for being here tonight.
JOE MADISON, SIRIUS XM RADIO HOST, MORNINGS WITH MADISON: Let me
thank you, sir.
SHARPTON: And staying with me, Eugene O`Donnell, former New York City
police officer and prosecutor.
Joe, before I go to you in the hearing, Eugene, there is breaking news and
we are literally getting it from ABC as I`m giving this, is startling. If
this lead investigator wanted to file a manslaughter charge, so by the
state`s attorneys, that night, this is the night of the shooting, it wasn`t
enough to get a conviction. I don`t know how they would know that. How
would they know within hours of a shooting how much evidence there was and
let a man walk out with his clothes and evidence?
I mean, maybe we not only be investigating Zimmerman and the police
and the prosecutor`s office. And maybe that`s why the first thing they did
when we started marching is moved the state prosecutor and come with a new
special prosecutor. Something doesn`t smell right here.
MADISON: You got it there.
O`DONNELL: Whatever happened that night, which is obviously very much
in question, subsequent at that night, day-to-day as this has been going
on, neither the police nor the prosecutor`s office have covered themselves
in glory by these kinds of selective leaks and this partial information and
really it would be much preferable if they had put this all at the table
early on. And said we had an internal debate and this was what happened.
It is shame and it does hurt public confidence when there is seems to be
such a slow and paralyzed process to get this matter resolved.
SHARPTON: Well, let me ask you this, if this lead investigator - lead
investigator actually filed an affidavit, it would seem to me he was trying
to cover himself or make a record there was such debate. Something we
haven`t heard of until tonight. How do you handle that, Eugene? You were
O`DONNELL: Well, I mean. There are disagreements between
prosecutor`s officers. Although in this case, again, I think this - and I
believe since the beginning, this is at the end of the day a very
relatively straight forward case. This is a case in which somebody servile
someone. Tracked them down and shot them. And I don`t think this -- and
there is a unique set of tapes and other evidence that kind of shows you
that. So I don`t think this is a terrifically tortured case.
It is the nature of the prosecutor`s office sometimes to be unwilling
to take cases they deem weak. And of course by the nature of self-defense,
those cases are inherently problematic cases. Florida makes them even more
problematic. But for heaven sakes, when you look at fact of the case, it
is pretty straight forward. You have a young person be a so far as anyone
can tell, is as close to being totally innocent of anything, being killed,
I don`t see what so much agonizing was done over it. I don`t understand
why this became such a complicated matter.
SHARPTON: Joe Madison, you covered this a lot on Sirius. You
marched. You helped us organize. How do you read this breaking news?
MADISON: I have read it. I think the same way you did in terms of
the question you posed.
Look. I -- clearly when you sign and an affidavit, you`re making a
statement that in essence stand on this. I`m covering my rear end. And I
would suggest, Al, again not being a police officer, not being there, it`s
not just the state`s attorney or the prosecutor, this goes to the chief of
police. Because this kind of disagreement, with the lead detective,
signing an affidavit, has to be reviewed by the chief of police who
remember now, when we were there on Thursday with you, he half stepped
down. Remember that? So this is a very, very serious development. But
most importantly, it just kicks all that right wing conservative
demonization of Trayvon out the window.
SHARPTON: Well. And also, Joe, I think that is important, is that
not only Thursday did the police chief half step down, right before the
rally, the governor moved the prosecutor and appointed a special
So that may mean, it may not mean, but maybe it means there was some
question on what was going on in the special prosecutor`s office and this
policeman - I mean, this investigator filed in his affidavit there may be
MADISON: And we have to keep our eye even if there is a grand jury,
we have to keep our eye on the special prosecutor, keep our eye on the
grand jury. Because remember, we won`t know who the members are. We won`t
know where they came from. It`s one of the reasons that after I left you
on Thursday here in D.C., I announced that April 10th, when the grand jury
is supposed to be convened and didn`t realize Geraldo was going to make
such a ridiculous statement about hoodies, we said that April 10 should be
national hoodie day.
Look. I want the president, everybody to wear hoodies to be a
statement of solidarity that we are watching, watching the special
prosecutor. We`re watching the grand jury.
SHARPTON: Now Eugene, you are getting ready to weigh in, but let me
ask you something. All these leaks, unnamed leaks against Trayvon, now the
leak of the reported affidavit by ABC on the lead prosecutor, could this
come from Sanford police to get the heat off them?
O`DONNELL: Hopefully not. But obviously, I think they acknowledge
that some of this is coming from their department and I think there are
some sorts of privacy laws people are behind from.
But with this case being of public urgency, the time is now, to the
greatest extent possible, the time is 30 days ago, but it certainly past
time now that all of this evidence laid on the table so people can see it.
If there was an internal debate, if the police debated with the
prosecutor`s office, tell people that particularly in that community, they
deserve to have confidence in the system. And this is just undermining
What I was going to say is that, it is my experience that sometimes
front line police people do get it right and are courageous and get
overruled and cases are politicized. So it is encouraging that at least
one police person, if ABC is to be believed, saw this in the clear way that
I think it is seeable, which is that this was an unjustified killing. It
certainly merited an arrest and probable cause on the basis of the evidence
that`s come to light.
MADISON: And Al.
SHARPTON: NBC news is working to confirm this. And we will see what
ABC news is saying. And clearly, I agree with you Eugene, this is
certainly some very serious new developments if it proves to be right
especially the affidavit.
I would also like to know how the special prosecutor could have that
night, truly wasn`t enough evidence, and let Zimmerman walk out of it there
with clothes and evidence. That really would spell to serious concerns.
Got to move on.
Joe Madison and Eugene O`Donnell, thank you for your time tonight.
MADISON: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Reverend, condolences on your mom.
MADISON: Yes. Our love to you and the family.
SHARPTON: Thank you.
We`ll stay on top of this breaking news, potentially crucial twist in
the Trayvon Martin case. We`ll bring you any new developments as we get
But coming up, what`s today`s historic argument in the Supreme Court
meeting for the president`s healthcare law and his legacy? We`ll be right
SHARPTON: We`ll continue to monitor the breaking news with the
Trayvon Martin case. But next, we`ll turn our attention to the other major
news of today. The Supreme Court arguments over the healthcare law.
SHARPTON: We`re back on POLITICS NATION live from Dothan, Alabama.
We`re moving on to our other big story. This start day at the Supreme
Court. At the court this morning, the center piece of the President`s
healthcare law was on trial. The individual mandate requiring Americans to
buy health insurance. Supporters of the law were out in full force.
Rallying to preserve the most significant piece of social legislation since
the great society. But conservatives were also protesting the day. Bent
on tearing down the President`s crowning achievement. Congresswoman
Michele Bachmann summed up the beliefs of the Tea Party`s side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes,
government has the power to tell you to buy vegetables. They believe that
government has the power to tell you to buy a gym club membership. What
kind of a country is this?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Really? The healthcare law will force us to buy vegetables
and join a gym? That right wing talking point is ludicrous. Is far
removed from reality. But today we saw it repeated by conservative
justices on the nation`s highest court.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONIN SCALIA, JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT: You define the market
as food. Therefore everybody`s in the market. Therefore you can make
people buy broccoli. So the federal government says, everybody has to join
an exercise club.
JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE UNITED STATES: Can the government
require to buy a cell phone because that would facilitate responding when
you need emergency services?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Folks, healthcare is not broccoli or cell phones or the
gym. It`s a fundamental right of every American. And our government has
the power to protect that right. But conservatives simply don`t believe
that. Even the so-called moderate Justice Kennedy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY KENNEDY, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE UNITED STATES: Assume for
the moment that this is unprecedented, that this is a step beyond what our
cases have allowed. The affirmative duty to act to go into commerce. If
that is so, did you not have a heavy burden of justification?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: What Justice Kennedy calls a heavy burden, the rest of us
call common sense. Today, the progressives on the court, like justice
Kagan, argue that health care is unique.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELENA KAGAN, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT: It`s different
because of the nature of the healthcare service that you are entitled to
healthcare when you go to an emergency room, when you go to a doctor, even
if you can`t pay for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Joining me now is Joan Walsh, editor at large at Salon.com.
Also an MSNBC political analyst. And Jonathan Cohn, senior editor at the
New Republic. He had a front row seat in court today. Thank you both for
coming on the show.
JOAN WALSH, EDITOR AT LARGE, SALON.COM: Thanks, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Jonathan, let me start with you. You were there today.
What did you make of today`s argument?
JONATHAN COHN, SENIOR EDITOR, THE NEW REPUBLIC: Well, you know, it
was a pretty rough day for both sides. I thought the justices asked tough
questions on both sides. I thought in general, the questions seemed a
little tougher to Don Verrilli who was there to make the government`s
argument. And like you said, it was a little disturbing to hear the
conservative justices. And not just, you know, Scalia Alito but Anthony
Kennedy picking up this line that, you know, if the government can ask you
to pay for your healthcare, healthcare which everybody is going to need,
that if they can do that, then somehow the next thing you know they`ll
going to make you buy broccoli or they`ll going to make you buy a car. I
think most people can see the difference between healthcare and a car. I
think most mainstream legal experts can see the difference. And it was
alarming, frankly, to see Roberts and Kennedy along with Alito and Scalia
picking up on this very right wing talking point.
SHARPTON: Now, Joan, Justice Ginsburg today argued that there was a
similar uproar about Social Security when it was enacted but it was upheld.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BADER GINSBURG, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT: It was a big
fuss about that in the beginning because a lot of people said, maybe some
people still do today, I could do much better if the government left me
alone. I`m going to the private market. I buy an annuity. I make a great
investment and they are forcing me to pay for this Social Security that I
don`t want. But that`s constitutional.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Joan, we`re like half way through. We`ve got more hearings
tomorrow. But sadly, this was a powerful day. What is your read? And is
this just uproar like we heard with Social Security but it doesn`t mean
that we will in anyway not be upheld or does this mean that this is a
forecast problems especially with the swing vote of Justice Kennedy seeming
to ask some troubling questions for the progressive side of this debate?
WALSH: Well as Jonathan said, Reverend Al, there were tough questions
for both sides. And if you are reading the tea leaves today, it does look
a little tougher for the government but I don`t think you can ever really
predict what the court is going to do. There are so many different ways we
could do. I think that Justice Ginsburg example is very interesting. And
the irony here is that, you know, had the people who argued for a public
option or single pay or Medicare for all, one, we wouldn`t be having this
debate because that would clearly be legal. Now I`m not arguing for that.
I think the Obama administration did the job it could. It got the deal it
could. But I find it so ironic that every time Democrats reach across the
aisle, borrow an idea from the Republican Party, because the mandate was a
republican idea, it doesn`t always go so well. And so we are in a
situation where this is going to be compared to Social Security and yet we
have not necessarily found the perfect mechanism to pay for it. I think
whatever they do, we will continue to argue about this and we will continue
to experiment. But this is a right and we`re moving forward.
SHARPTON: Now, Jonathan, we also are disturbed that there are still
has the questions, and I have raised them on the show before, about whether
Justice Thomas has a conflict of interest and whether we can even get a
fair trial, especially when you hear in this arguments now. I mean, his
wife works as a conservative lobbyist. He didn`t report his wife`s salary
from the Heritage Foundation. Honored by law firm, arguing against the
healthcare case. This is disturbing as you have a vote than maybe narrow,
that we still have the questions of conflict of interest with Justice
COHN: Well, I mean, I`ll be honest. You know, I have personally not
as worried about that. I think, you know, there`s the chance that, you
know, Kagan should have recused herself. To me, the big question here, is
you know, are these conservative judges, are they going to reach back to
ideas that, you know, we haven`t considered part of the law for a century.
You know, Ginsburg example is totally on point. We believe in this country
that we should protect everybody. That there are certain things that
happened in our lives and we should all be contributing to these games.
That`s the idea of Social Security. And what Joan was just talking about,
I mean, here the great irony is, that we tried to sort of graft to that
idea onto a conservative idea in saying, all right, let`s make this more
market friendly. Let`s use -- health insurance. And now the conservatives
are saying, oh, no, no, no, we can`t do that. Because yes, we like that
idea for 10, 20 years but now that the Democrats like it, we want no part
of it. And it is really very ironic. And it will be a sad day if this
conservative Supreme Court decides to use these arguments to throw out what
I think is the most important piece of social legislation in 30 or 40
SHARPTON: Now, Joan, you know, it is interesting to me in the
politics of this, McConnell, Mitch McConnell said today that no matter what
the Supreme Court decides, the GOP is determined to kill it. To kill the
health care law. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: Regardless of how the
Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of what I believe is the
single worst piece of legislation been passed in the time I`ve been in
Congress, it is still a bad idea. And if Senate Republicans become the
majority next year, the first item on the agenda of a new Senate republican
majority would be to repeal of Obama-care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: So it seems, Joan and Jonathan, we are in for a fight at
the court and a political fight. Thanks for coming on the show tonight.
And thank you for sharing your views.
WALSH: Thanks, Reverend Al.
SHARPTON: Up next, the lawyer for the Martin family, Trayvon Martin
family, responds to us exclusively tonight about this major breaking news
in the case. Martin family Attorney Benjamin Crump responds exclusively,
SHARPTON: Up next, we`ll turn back to a potentially major development
in the Trayvon Martin case. Reports that the lead investigator wanted
manslaughter charges against the shooter, George Zimmerman. The lawyer for
Trayvon Martin`s family, Benjamin Crump, responds to this possible
development, exclusively, next.
SHARPTON: We`re back on POLITICS NATION with a potentially stunning
development in the Trayvon Martin case. ABC News reports the lead
investigator wanted manslaughter charges against George Zimmerman the night
of the shooting. That investigator reportedly filed an affidavit saying he
was unconvinced by Zimmerman`s version of events. But the state attorney,
Norman Wolfinger said he didn`t have enough evidence to lead to a
convention. Wolfinger has since been replaced in the case by a special
prosecutor Angela Corey.
NBC News is working to confirm the details in this report. Joining me
now is Martin family Attorney Benjamin Crump. Ben, what is your reaction
to this news?
BENJAMIN CRUMP, MARTIN FAMILY ATTORNEY: Well, Reverend Al, first let
me say on behalf of the parents, Sybrina and Tracy, they offer their
heartfelt condolences to you on burying your mother and they wanted me to
express that to you, Reverend.
SHARPTON: Thank you.
CRUMP: Reverend Sharpton, it is as we have said all along, for
whatever reason the powers that be have been conspiring to not do the right
thing on behalf of this investigation. For whatever reason they never
wanted to arrest George Zimmerman and they continue to manifest this
conspiracy, not to arrest George Zimmerman for whatever reason. And this
is a major development. Because when you think about it, everybody who
looks at this case, says, with at least probable cause to arrest him,
Reverend Sharpton. But what he said went further than that. He said he
was unconvinced of George Zimmerman`s, you know, testimony. And that is
telling when the investigator first on the scene, Attorney Parks and I were
talking all morning here in Washington, about this conspiracy and why they
are leaking information. And I think this is because of the essence of it
SHARPTON: Now, did you ever meet with Wolfinger? Has there been any
inner face or any kind of dialogue between you representing the victim`s
family and Wolfinger before he was removed from this case?
CRUMP: No, sir, Reverend Al. It was a situation where the buck got
past by the police chief to the state Attorney Wolfinger. The student had
a protest. Got to meet with his top chief but never him. The only thing
we got from his office is when we sued for the 911 tapes. They filed a
plea to say that they wanted to join the defense of releasing the 911
tapes. But that`s as much contact as we`ve had with them.
SHARPTON: Now so, it is interesting that the governor moves
Wolfinger, there clearly was some conflict between the investigators and
Wolfinger. And it seems almost amazing to me, now you are the lawyer, you
know better than me, how Wolfinger or a representative of his office, if
this report is true, could have determined that night there wasn`t enough
evidence, hours after it happened, and didn`t let the accused walk out of
the police station with his clothes and evidence.
CRUMP: It just goes to the very essence of this investigation. It
was tragic what George Zimmerman did, profiling Trayvon Benjamin Martin.
But Reverend Al, as you have said before, the true tragedy is when our
institutions of justice and that institutions of law enforcement profiles a
young minority. And I think clearly, if this case stands for anything
else, it is that racial profiling is still alive and well and our
institutions and we gather, we just gather work to eradicate that. Because
if not, Reverend Sharpton, we will be back here again with you leading the
charge when it happens to the next young minority.
SHARPTON: Now, if this report proves to be true, what does this mean
to the case, in your opinion?
CRUMP: Reverend Sharpton, we think, as we stand before as his parents
have been demanding, arrest George Zimmerman. He will have his day in
court but we need to arrest George Zimmerman for shooting an unarmed
teenager who only had a bag of skittles and a can of iced tea. The whole
world is watching. How long is it going to take to arrest George
Zimmerman? With this startling revelation, absolutely, we should go ahead
and arrest him today, the special prosecutor hopefully has taken note of
this and will arrest him. How many days does the family have to go to bed
with their heart in pain because this man is still free?
SHARPTON: The fact that the lead investigator, according to this
report, filed an affidavit, to me as a lay person, not a lawyer, says that
maybe they wanted to make a record, maybe they wanted to cover themselves.
It is interesting that he wanted to make sure that he documented that he
disagreed with the decision.
CRUMP: Yes. It certainly is something that you don`t normally see,
as I understand it. But the fact that he made his documentation I think,
it means that there are forces greater than even the state attorney staff,
as Attorney Jackson always said, God is working in this matter and the
truth will be revealed. No matter what they do to try to cover it up. It
keeps coming out that no matter what Trayvon Martin was the victim here and
George Zimmerman was the aggressor. And that`s going to be important over
and over again, Reverend Sharpton. Because if they try to profess their
so-called stand your ground law, everybody has agreed that you cannot
assert the stand your ground law if you are the aggressor. And I got one
more thing to tell you, Reverend Sharpton. Witnesses have been coming
forward left and right, questioning the way the police investigated them.
A mother of the 14-year-old, everybody has been talking to, has said
Attorney Crump, I have some things to tell you. And so hopefully we can
share that with you real soon. Because it`s evident what she says, how the
investigation occurred of her side.
SHARPTON: Well, I certainly, I`m going to meet you in Washington.
I`m certainly wanting to hear her and probably bring her on. Because I
think America needs to hear what is going on, just so we can protect
Americans. Obviously, this case is a very important case. And I thank you
for taking time, running over on short notice, once this broke, and you had
hearings in Washington, D.C.
CRUMP: Yes, sir.
SHARPTON: Once again, NBC is working to confirm this developing
report. Martin family Attorney Benjamin Crump, one of the best out there,
I might say. Thank you for your time tonight.
CRUMP: Thank you. Thank you, Rev.
SHARPTON: When we come back, a tribute to my hero. My mom.
SHARPTON: Finally tonight, I want to take some time to remember my
hero, my mother, Ada Sharpton. She passed away last Thursday at the age of
87. And today, she was laid to rest here in Alabama, where she was born.
My mother raised me in part with my father and then when I was nine years
old, they separated. We went from a comfortable middle class existence to
back in the depths of what we call the hood. She raised me as a single
parent. She raised me against great odds. But I never knew or knew I was
under privileged because she never raised me as to what I wasn`t. She
raised me as to what I was. And as you can look at pictures of her and I,
my daughters, I tried to help to raise my daughters the same way. But to
tonight, we are not broken.
Though we`re saddened. Because she lived a full and complete life, as
we watched her casket being removed and we watched her placed on the grave
today. We knew that she lived a full life, a life of great achievement and
great resolve. When she was born in this state, in 1925, she didn`t have
the right to vote. She had to sit in backs of busses growing up. She
couldn`t use a water fountain. Couldn`t stay in a hotel we stayed in here
last night. When she passed, today we read a letter, at her funeral, to
the family, from the President of the United States who happened to be an
African-American. We`ve come a long way in 87 years. But we came because
people fought, black and white. From all races and all parts.
They did not expect things to change on some automatic way. They felt
they had to fight for change. And they had to keep fighting. That`s what
my mother taught me. That`s why I was in Florida and have been everywhere
else. I was called and asked to come for the last three decades. I told
you when I started on POLITICS NATION, my mother taught me something I
didn`t know as a kid growing up in Brooklyn. She is from here. I grew up
in the city. She told me, son, if you throw a rock in a pile of hogs, the
one that hollers is the one you hit. Last few days, all over the country,
coming from what we`ve been doing in Sanford, I`ve been hearing a lot of
hollering. Because of my mother, my arms are not tired. I`m going to keep
helping to do a lot of hitting.
Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.
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Guests: Jonathan Capehart, Eugene O`Donnell; Joe Madison, Joan Walsh, Jonathan Cohn, Benjamin