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PoliticsNation, Wednesday, March 28

Read the transcript from the Wednesday show

Guests: Benjamin Crump; Joy-Ann Reid; Cheryl Brown; Alicia Adamson, Ryan
Vescio, Kendall Coffey, Jim McDermott, David Corn

REVEREND AL SHARPTON, HOST: Welcome to "Politics Nation." I`m Al
Sharpton. Live from Washington, D.C.

Tonight`s lead, startling new details and new questions about what
happened between the police and the prosecutors on the night Trayvon Martin
was shot and killed, just over a month ago.

Breaking news today. The Grio reports on February 26th, just hours
after Trayvon was killed, former police Chief Bill Lee and the man who
replaced him, Sanford police investigation supervisor captain Robert
O`Connor, met in person with state attorney Norman Wolfinger. Quote, "on a
typical case, police contact the state attorney`s office and speak with an
on duty assistant state attorney, rarely the state attorney, himself, or

So why would the state attorney meet face to face with police hours
after Trayvon`s murder? What was so important or different about this
case? The stunning news of the nighttime meeting comes a day after we
learned that the lead homicide investigator wanted to arrest George
Zimmerman for manslaughter. The "Miami Herald" reports that Sanford police
department requested an arrest warrant for Zimmerman from the state
attorney`s office, but the state attorney, Norman Wolfinger said no.
Quote, "pending further review."

But it seems that review went nowhere, even though the 911 tape shows
Zimmerman went after the high school student that night.


always get away.

911 DISPATCHER: Are you following him?


911 DISPATCHER: OK. We don`t need you to do that.



SHARPTON: Zimmerman was pursuing Trayvon, even after being told not
to. And Trayvon knew he was being followed by a strange man. Remember,
Trayvon`s girlfriend was on the phone with him in the minutes leading up to
his death.


UNIDENTIFIED TRAYVON`S GIRLFRIEND: Trayvon said the man was still
following him and then I asked Trayvon to run, then the man was just
walking fast. Following him comes up, walking to him like fast. Like he
was being cornered by him.


SHARPTON: We don`t yet know the full story of why George Zimmerman
was not arrested for pulling a trigger that night. Instead, news of this
meeting between the prosecutor and the police chief just raises more
questions about how this case was handled and who it was handle differently
than norm l procedures.

Joining me, from Sanford Florida is Joy-Ann Reid. She broke the story
for the Grio Today about that meeting in across town in here Washington,
with Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump.

Now Joy-Ann, let me start with you. You broke a big story today.
What makes this investigation different than most others? Why would the
head state prosecutor have to meet with police on this shooting?

important about this is that if what this source told me today is true,
then we`re seeing a much greater level of personal involvement by the
former state attorney in charge of this case, Mr. Wolfinger, than we
previously knew.

What we did learn today is, indeed, the police chief, the then police
Chief Bill Lee was on the scene along with his chief investigator, Bob
O`Connor, whose job it is to be on these scenes frankly because he`s the
chief of investigations.

But if you had chief Lee, his chief investigator, and the state
attorney conferring in person on this case, and then making the
determination on the night of the shooting that there was not enough
information, not enough evidence to arrest George Zimmerman, then that
raises a question as to why Wolfinger would not immediately recuse himself
once the police department cycled this up to the state attorney`s office.
He is the state attorney for this county and the adjacent county.

We also confirmed today, NBC news confirmed that there was what`s
called a copious request sent to Wolfinger`s office, which means that the
police department made a formal - on paper request to issue an arrest
warrant in the case. Wolfinger never got that far because of the course
his investigation was cut short when he recuse himself. He actually
recused himself the same day that Bill Lee stepped aside citing that he
didn`t want to have even the appearance of conflict of interest. That was
never explained at the time.

So, if this information turns out to be true, and of course Wolfinger
is not talking, the state attorney`s office is not talking, they`re issuing
us a new comment statement. But if true, that would explain why he would
recuse himself.

SHARPTON: Now, so you`re saying that the Sanford police did request a
warrant that was never executed, and that your sources are telling you
there was, in fact, a meeting that night. Well, how would they have known
that night what the evidence was when it had just happened that night?

REID: That`s the other question, rev, is what you have here is a case
where at least one officer on the scene, the only homicide detective who
actually was on the scene, this is the investigator, Mr. Serino. He
interviewed George Zimmerman. And based on the interview, he did not
believe Zimmerman`s story.

We also learned that there was an instance where Zimmerman was taken
back to the scene of the shooting. They did a re-enactment with him. But
after all of that, the re-enactment, apparently they did look at his
clothing and did take his clothing and his gun. But after the homicide
detective talked to him, he didn`t believe him. So, he proper an affidavit
- he actually did a written affidavit saying he didn`t believe him and he
should be arrested.

SHARPTON: Ben Crump, this could be a huge development if the source
is correct. I mean, isn`t this very unusual for the lead state attorney to
come, himself, and meet with the head of the police and the head
investigator the night of a murder -- of a killing?

BENJAMIN CRUMP, MARTIN FAMILY LAWYER: Reverend Sharpton, it suggests
to us what we`ve said all along. For whatever reasons, the police
department and people at the top made a decision to say that we`re going to
assist George Zimmerman in his self-defense claim.

And it`s so telling that the lead investigator did not believe what
George Zimmerman was saying. And when you add up these facts, it just
doesn`t seem to make sense. When you listen to the 911 tape from
Zimmerman, himself, and the phone records from Trayvon`s girlfriend, you
know, you have him on that 911 call saying he`s running. And you have that
young lady on the phone saying he`s following me. And you know it`s one of
those things that that makes sense, that Zimmerman pursued and stopped
Trayvon and he was the aggressive. Now, why the state attorney was saying
this is not enough makes absolutely no sense.

SHARPTON: Now, Ben, Tracy, the father of Trayvon said on a taping on
this show that something didn`t add up. Let me show it to you.


TRACY MARTIN, TRAYVON MARTIN`S FATHER: I just feel like it was a
cover-up from the beginning. Honestly, I feel like they`re hiding
something. What is it they`re hiding? I don`t know. Why they`re
protecting him so much, I have no idea. All I know is my kid is dead.
He`s not coming back.


SHARPTON: Now, what becomes of people feeling a father just talking?
Now you see with this information coming out, sources from the police
department, that there seems to be some real, real questions here.

Let me ask you this, something that doesn`t make sense to me. We`re
told that the Zimmerman side of the story was that he was beaten, his head
was being crashed by Trayvon and that his nose was broken.

Wouldn`t you think if the state prosecutor was there that night that
they would have made him go to the hospital to document that he had a
broken nose and these bruises? Isn`t it strange that if the prosecutor was
there, the police chief was there, chief investigator was there, that they
didn`t make this young man go to the hospital and document his wounds, or
document his injuries?

And also, if he had those amounts of injuries, how clearheaded was he
to give a statement that would convince them that it was all self-defense
and that he, in fact, had done no wrong? I mean, a lot of this just does
not add up to me.

CRUMP: And you`re right, Reverend Sharpton. It doesn`t add up. And
it`s one of those things that you would think if he was as injured as they
claimed in this second police report, because you remember in the first
police report, they didn`t put any of that in there. And --

SHARPTON: There were no injuries mentioned in the first police
report, am I correct?

CRUMP: None whatsoever, Reverend Sharpton. And everybody in all the
law enforcement community who reached out since this case started becoming
part of the national dialogue said, if a person killed an unarmed person
and they claim self-defense, if I was the police, I would want to document
all the evidence that either supported his claim for self-defense or
disputed his claim for self-defense. And that`s real important because we
want to hold it up to say we`re good police and we did our job.

Furthermore, when you look at the report, they said they didn`t
identify Trayvon`s body until the next morning with his father, but that
report -- that first report shows it`s been altered because you see at 3:07
a.m. they say they finished that report on February 27th. And on that
report, it has Trayvon`s name, his address, and his phone number. So they
had to change that report and maybe that was part of what was going on with
the high-up people, how we`re going to get the story right.

But I have to say this, Reverend Sharpton, before we go on. That`s an
excellent shot where you have Mr. Tracy Martin, his father, talking, in the
community where it happened. Those townhouses, you see that grass and that
sidewalk. That is a long way away from the street.

And remember, even though Zimmerman`s story keeps changing, this armed
vigilante, he said he attacked him at the car. The car`s a long way from
where that`s at. And so it is -- it just doesn`t add up. It doesn`t add
up --

SHARPTON: I tell you something else that doesn`t add up to me, Mr.
Crump, and Joy-Ann, is that if you just shot somebody that died, no matter
what the circumstance, I would think you`d be traumatized. I would think
you`d be rattled especially if you were beaten and bruised as he claims.

To say that he gave such a clear description that night -- I know
police that were involved in justified shootings that needed a couple of
days to talk. This man was so clear that night he could convince a state
prosecutor and police of that he did no wrong and it was self-defense?
That`s a whole lot to ask for somebody, given the circumstances they claim
he had faced.

CRUMP: Absolutely.

REID: Are you asking -- were you asking me? I was going to say,
initially, too, the first officer on the scene who spoke to -- didn`t
interrogate, but spoke to George Zimmerman was a narcotics officer. So,
the first person who really was qualified homicide detective to talk to him
was Serino. And that was done. He was put in the back of a patrol car,
handcuffed and taken down to the police station. The guy who did the
actual interrogation didn`t believe his story. I think that`s very
important in this case.

SHARPTON: That`s the point that we broke last night, with the ABC

Benjamin Crump and Joy-Ann Reid, thank you both for your time tonight.
This story keeps going and we`re going to keep with it.

Ahead, Trayvon Martin was shot dead in the middle of a neighborhood,
and there were witnesses, including a 13-year-old boy.


911 DISPATCHER: OK. Do you know the person who was shot or see the
person who had the gun?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE WITNESS: No, I just heard a loud gunshot sound and
then the screaming stopped.


SHARPTON: We`ll talk exclusively with that 13-year-old boy`s mom in a
live report and live interview next.

Plus, who is the state attorney, Norm Wolfinger, and why didn`t he
press charges?

And another huge day for the health care industry and decision at the
Supreme Court. We know Republicans don`t like Obama-care, so what`s their
plan? All right, they don`t have one.

You`re watching "Politics Nation" live from Washington on MSNBC.


SHARPTON: The mother of a 13-year-old eyewitness who called 911 that
fateful night talks to us exclusively next.


SHARPTON: We`re back with an exclusive interview.

When George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin on February 26th,
it didn`t happen in a dark alley. It happened in the middle of a
neighborhood. There were houses and witnesses all around. And Trayvon`s
father told us when he walked with us back through the crime scene last
week about that.


MARTIN: As you can see, you know, if someone`s here arguing, and your
window is open right there, you can clearly hear, you know, the argument.
One of these windows, I don`t know, which side, that they did actually hear
the cries for help.


SHARPTON: In fact, there was seven 911 calls from witnesses that
night. In one of the most dramatic calls, an 18-year-old girl called to
say that her 13-year-old brother had seen the shooting while he was out
walking their dog. Here`s that 911 call.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE CALLER: My brother said someone got shot behind
our house.

911 DISPATCHER: Is your brother there right now?


911 DISPATCHER: OK. Can you give him the phone? What exactly did
you see?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE CALLER: I saw a man lying on the ground that needed
help that was screaming and then I was going to go over there to try to
help him but my dog got off the leash so I went and got my dog and then I
heard a loud sound and then the screaming stopped.

911 DISPATCHER: OK. Then did you see the person get shot?


911 DISPATCHER: OK. Do you know the person who was shot or see the
person who had the gun?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE CALLER: No, I just heard a loud gunshot sound and
then the screaming stopped.


SHARPTON: I heard a gunshot and the screaming stopped. The screaming
stopped. And so did a young life.

Joining me now is Cheryl Brown, the mother of the witness you just
heard on that 911 call. She`s here with her lawyer, Alicia Adamson.

Cheryl. That must have been a traumatic night for your children and
for you. What did your son see that night?

immediately following the shooting was pretty much what he said on the 911
tape. He was out walking the dog, and he was drawn to the back of the
house because he heard the screams for help. And he noticed someone lying
on the ground. It was dark, so he doesn`t have a lot of detail about that
person, but he, as he said, he wanted to go help and unfortunately he has a
lot of guilt about that, which is another tragic part of this whole story,
but --


BROWN: The dog pulled away from him in the opposite direction, and
when he turned around to get the dog, he headed back toward where he could
see the person laying down, but before he could get there is when he heard
the gunshot and then as you had stated, then the screaming stopped.

SHARPTON: The screaming stopped after he heard the gunshot. Now,
some media reports are claiming your son`s eyewitness account supports
Zimmerman`s claim. Does your son think this was self-defense?

BROWN: Not at all.

SHARPTON: He does not?


SHARPTON: So those media reports would be inaccurate and you`ve
talked to your son?

BROWN: Absolutely.

SHARPTON: I mean, what can you tell us -- I know your attorney`s
there, so she will stop you if I go over the line. But what can you tell
us of your son`s general impressions and feelings were?

BROWN: I mean, aside from what he -- the fact the of what he actually
saw, his feelings were that the cries for help that he heard were from, you
know, a young person and he only saw one person. He never saw two people,
so there was no struggle that he saw. I don`t know --

SHARPTON: He only saw one person when they were lying on the floor?

BROWN: Correct.

SHARPTON: So he never saw a struggle on the floor? He never saw
someone beating somebody`s head into the ground?

BROWN: No, he did not see anything like that.

SHARPTON: And this was only moments before he heard the gunshot?

BROWN: Correct. He -- he thinks that he`s -- he thinks that he
viewed the body laying there for about ten seconds before the dog pulled
away. He got the dog, turned back around, took a few steps back toward
where he would have been able to see the body laying there again, but
before he could get back there is when he heard the gunshot, but the entire
time he -- the screaming and the sounds continued until the gunshot.

SHARPTON: When did investigators talk to your son?

BROWN: They talked to him on March 5th, Monday March 5th.

SHARPTON: Monday march 5th.

BROWN: Correct.

SHARPTON: So from February 26th to Monday March 5th, the
investigators did not talk to your son?

BROWN: Correct. They did attempt -- they first came to the house and
I was not there on Friday March 2nd. And we scheduled for them to meet
with him that following Monday. So between the 26th and March 2nd, there
was absolutely no police contact, no one came to our house, no one called.

SHARPTON: Wait a minute. So your son and daughter had called 911,
made the report, said what they saw and heard, and from February 26th when
the call was made, to March 2nd, you never heard from police or

BROWN: Absolutely nothing. And I -- I just assumed that there was
other witnesses that saw the entire incident, so possibly what my son saw
was not of relevance. I thought maybe I was thinking, you know,
overreacting, but I thought that I was waiting every day for someone to
come knocking on the door, but it didn`t happen.

SHARPTON: Now, when they did start questioning your son after this
period of time that I`m saying is unusually long, given they were saying
there was no evidence and all, how did they question your son? Did they
question him, in your opinion, in a way that seemed like they were trying
to get to the truth, or did they seem like they were trying to connect dots
with other witnesses, or were they trying to direct your son to questions
that they wanted answered a certain way? I`m giving you three or four
different things, in my mind, but you tell me. How were they questioning
your son?

BROWN: I mean, honestly, I`m not an expert in how to question a
witness but --


BROWN: -- but I feel knowing my son and knowing -- I was present when
they questioned him. I just don`t feel that it was done properly. I think
there were some tactics used to maybe suggest some things to him that may
be some leading him to say certain things that weren`t exactly what he
would have told if he just were able to talk without them intervening or
suggesting anything.

SHARPTON: When you say leading things, can you give me an example?

BROWN: Well, for example, they asked Austin if he could tell the race
of the person lying on the ground. He said he could not see the color of
their skin. They then proceed to ask if he knew the color of the shirt
that the person was wearing. And then they proceed to give him options of
what color that shirt could have been. I don`t feel that they should have
done that. I think they should have just let him tell the story with as
much detail as he could remember. They suggested maybe it was black, maybe
it was white, maybe it was red. I don`t think that that is information he
would have been able to provide, especially since he said it was so dark
that he couldn`t see the color of the skin. I don`t see how he could see
the color of the shirt if he couldn`t see the color of the skin.

SHARPTON: Now, as the investigators came at you and arranging and
talking to you around the interview of your son, did they tell you whether
they felt this was self-defense or not?

BROWN: The lead investigator from the Sanford police department stood
in my family room and told me this was absolutely not self-defense and they
need to prove it. He told me, and I`m paraphrasing this quote, but read
between the lines. There are some stereotyping going on here.

SHARPTON: Wait a minute. Let me get this again right. The lead
investigator stood in your family room in your house and told you this was
not self-defense? And this was stereotyping and you should read between
the lines?

BROWN: Correct.

SHARPTON: Meaning what? That, I mean, what did you take from that?

BROWN: I took it to mean that -- he even mentioned I have kids,
myself. And he seemed upset and angered by it, and that he needed to prove
that this wasn`t self-defense.

SHARPTON: This was the lead investigator?

BROWN: Correct. From the Sanford police department.

SHARPTON: Wow. So he felt there was stereotyping, as I would call

BROWN: Correct. I would also.

SHARPTON: And he said that he did not believe this was self-defense?
The lead investigator?

BROWN: Correct.

SHARPTON: Cheryl Brown, I really appreciate you coming on tonight
with this exclusive interview. Thank you, Alicia Adamson, attorney for
allowing her to come. Thank you both for your time tonight.

BROWN: Thank you.


Ahead, who is state attorney norm Wolfinger? And what was he thinking
the night of Trayvon`s shooting?

SHARPTON: Ahead, who is state attorney Norm Wolfinger? And what was
he thinking the night at Trayvon`s shooting.

And smearing the victim. I`ve seen this playbook before, and I won`t
stand for it.


SHARPTON: You just heard stunning news from the mother of an
eyewitness saying the lead investigator told her he did not believe the
case of Trayvon Martin was self-defense and it was stereotyping. We`ll
talk about that more, next.


SHARPTON: Welcome back. The mother of a witness on the night Trayvon
Martin was killed says, the lead investigator told her self-defense was not
applicable here. And a meeting later that night between the state`s
attorney and the chief of police, we have a lot to talk about. On this

Joining me now is Ryan Vescio, a democrat running to replace Norman
Wolfinger as state attorney for the 18th district when he retires this
fall. Also, with me is criminal defense lawyer and former U.S. attorney,
Kendall Coffey. Thank you for both being here tonight.


SHARPTON: Now, Kendall, let me go to you. You were listening to the
interview with the mother of the witness that I just did. What is your

trying to absorb it. You have an extremely credible woman. And I would by
the way applaud her courage in coming on your show. Her son`s courage at
13-year-old made the 911 call. But what she said could be explosive. She
said that the lead investigator did not believe self-defense. And
remember, we`ve been hearing weeks about how the Police Department didn`t
think there was probable cause.

Well, the guy that knew the most and was on the scene thought there
should have been an arrest. That`s pretty clear. And his comment about
stereotyping is going to send off shockwaves in some places. So this was
really important. I think that you`re going to see a lot of things
happening, not the least of which I hope, I hope the lead investigator
doesn`t get all kinds of heat from his own department because apparently he
had for that moment in time, at least the courage to speak his mind, and
your interviewee, that mother had important and impressive courage in
telling the truth.

SHARPTON: Now, let me say this, Kendall. You must remember, now,
last night we reported that there was an affidavit filed saying that he
felt that there was enough to arrest, and he wanted an arrest. Now, we
hear a witness saying the same person, independent of this affidavit, told
her this in a house. Let me play it one more time. It just happened here
on POLITICS NATION, this is her, the mother of an eyewitness that called
911 that night.


SHARPTON: Now, as the investigator communicating with you and
arranging and talking to you around the interview of your son, did they
tell you whether they felt this was self-defense or not?

the Sanford Police Department stood in my family room and told me this was
absolutely not self-defense and they needed to prove it. He told me, and
I`m paraphrasing this quote, but read between the lines, there`s some
stereotyping going on here.


SHARPTON: So, you have the affidavit, Kendall, and now you have this
young lady whose13-year-old son called with his sister that night, really
saying the same thing and clearly we had no way of knowing what she was
going to say in this exclusive interview. This could be a real bombshell
on all of those that were arguing that night it was just a feeling of
police there, this was self-defense, and that those that were raising the
question of racial profiling were just race baiting here, when she said
the lead investigator said, there`s stereotyping, read between the lines.

COFFEY: Yes, I mean, that`s why it was so compelling, and you and I
know, we listened to her. I believe everything she said. I think that`s
exactly what was said inside her home. And I think we have to begin to
look at this case in a more serious way about what happened inside the
investigation. What was the police chief doing? Where did the state
attorney go in terms of apparently deciding fairly early on before a
complete investigation was done that he wasn`t going to make a charging
decision? Because remember, in the State of Florida, the prosecutor, the
reason they get the big bucks, is they`re supposed to make the difficult
decisions on whether to bring charges. Instead, apparently the State
Attorney`s office decided we`re not going to allow a probable cause arrest
to be made in the short term, and by the way, we`re not going to make the
decision here, we`re going to hand it off to a grand jury. Those are the
kind of things that, frankly, invite a lot of second guessing, legitimate
questions to be raised and some questions to be answered.

SHARPTON: Now, Ryan, you`re running to replace the outgoing state
prosecutor here. What do you think -- and you`re not running against him,
I understand, he`s retiring. But what do you think of him meeting that
night with the police chief and him really denying, as we are told in
reports if sources are correct, the request of the lead investigator to
arrest this man and charge him with manslaughter?

VESCIO: Well, I think the biggest thing that we`ve seen so far in
this case is that the state attorney, over three weeks after that initial
night, sought to claim this case as a conflict of interest and really pass
the buck. Because as Kendall said, he didn`t want to make the tough
decision. But you know, Reverend, incompetence is not a conflict of
interest. And when the person in charge in seeking equal justice in our
community goes into an investigation, the very moment with colored glasses
on already, he`s not going to see the full picture. He`s not going to
communicate. And that`s what we`ve seen in this case. And that`s why not
only this community, but this nation is so broken in such a lack of trust
of our criminal justice system because of the actions of this state

SHARPTON: Now, Ryan, I`ve met a lot of people, obviously I`ve been to
Sanford a few times now. I`ve met a lot of people, white and black, who
are decent people that just want to see the truth out, whether it`s the
truth as I believe it or the truth as others on the other side of this
debate believe it. There`s only going to be one truth. But don`t you
think when you hear an affidavit from the lead investigator, we`re
reporting, and now you hear a witness` mother from the lead investigator,
saying what he told her, isn`t this disturbing and at least doesn`t it make
a lot of the residents of Sanford understand why so many of us are
outraged, saying that this should have been handled differently? No matter
where it led, clearly there`s something wrong going on here.

VESCIO: Well, not only is a violent crimes prosecutor, but as a
resident in this community, I was born and raised in this community. It
troubles me deeply that we can`t trust that there is competent people
running our prosecutor`s office, and that this community questions whether
every single person is getting the same equal justice. And the worst part
about this whole situation is that all of this has occurred due to a
blatant lack of communication. If the state attorney is going to claim
that this was a self-defense claim, which by law he would have to find
George Zimmerman`s account more credible than that of Trayvon Martin and
what the evidence has shown thus far, then we owe it -- the community is
owed that the state attorney explain why he is siding on Zimmerman`s side.
He`s failed to do that.

SHARPTON: Ryan Vescio and Kendall Coffey, thank you both for your
time tonight.

COFFEY: Thanks, Reverend.

VESCIO: Thank you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Ahead, I`ve seen this playbook over and over again. The
plan to smear Trayvon is one of the old tricks, and we won`t let them get
away with it.


SHARPTON: Welcome back to POLITICS NATION. The healthcare of
millions rests in the hands of the Supreme Court. Today, the arguments was
whether the law could survive even if the core individual mandate gets
struck down. Liberal justices argue that there`s too much good at stake to
simply write the whole thing off, but conservatives on the court are bent
at taking the ax to the whole thing.


if you take the heart out of this statute, the statute`s gone.

end of that process is just sort of a hollow shell.


SHARPTON: A hollow shell. Millions are already being helped by this
law, and you want to strike the whole thing? Sounds like your friends in
the Republican Party.


agenda of a new Senate republican majority would be the repeal of Obama-

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: The full-scale repeal of this
abomination known as Obama-care.


SHARPTON: Repeal, repeal, repeal. What about a solution? What about
people denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions? Well, last
night, Willard told Jay Leno too bad, they`re out of luck.


JAY LENO, COMEDIAN: You would make the law stand for children and
people with pre-existing conditions?

conditions as long as they`ve been insured before, they`re going to be able
to continue to have insurance.

LENO: Well, suppose they were never insured?

ROMNEY: Well, if they`re 45-years-old and they show up and they say,
I want insurance because I`ve got a heart disease, it`s like, hey, guys, we
can`t play the game like that. You have to get insurance when you`re well.


SHARPTON: Wow, can`t play a game like that. This isn`t a game.
Lives have been saved by this law. This isn`t a game. I just wish
Republicans knew this really isn`t a game.

Joining me now is Congressman Jim McDermott, democrat from Washington,
and a vocal supporter of the healthcare law. And David Corn, Washington
Bureau Chief of "Mother Jones." He`s also the author of "Showdown: The
Inside Story of How Obama Fought Against Boehner, Cantor, and the Tea
Party." Thanks to both of you for being here.

REP. JIM MCDERMOTT (D), WASHINGTON: It`s good to be here.

SHARPTON: Congressman, let me start with you. Republicans want to
trash this law, but what is their solution?

MCDERMOTT: Well, you know, I asked one of them, one of the leaders
this morning, where have you been for the last 15 months in terms of
bringing out an alternative? Now, they have talked about repeal, and
they`ve tried to slash pieces off it one at a time and take it down
altogether, but they have never put a comprehensive plan out there to deal
with what is the number one worry of most Americans, domestically. If you
get sick in this country, you worry about will you have insurance? Will it
cover what you need? And they have no interest in taking care of what the
people`s number one concern is. So, I don`t -- they have no place to go
because they`ll be back at ground zero and we`ll have millions more people
without health insurance. We went from two million in 2002, to nine
million now, and we`re getting worse.

SHARPTON: Now, David, when you look at the facts, 2.5 million young
adults now are covered under their parents` plan.


SHARPTON: 5.1 million seniors saved $3.2 billion on prescriptions.
17.6 million children with pre-existing conditions no longer denied
coverage. They`re willing to hurt all these people?

CORN: In essence, yes. You just heard Mitt Romney say, we don`t want
to play that game. You know, people forget, and I reported it in my book,
"Showdown," the first bill that the House Republicans passed, one of the
first, I think it was their first, when they came into power over a year
ago was to repeal the healthcare law. In the house. And it passed. The
Tea Party Republicans under John Boehner passed a repeal of the healthcare
law, and they had nothing. Remember, they used to say repeal and replace?
They had nothing to replace it with.

They are on record already as saying we don`t want any of this, and
then when you hear the arguments, as you just played them, of the Supreme
Court, 16 million people will be covered by the expansion of Medicaid,
which is not connected to the individual mandate. So there you have people
like Scalia and Clement who`s arguing against this who are saying, it will
just be a shell. It won`t be a shell for those 16 million people. Again
and again and again, Republicans have had their chances, as the Congressman
said, to tell us what replace would mean.


CORN: But they`re not serious about replacing.

SHARPTON: No, but Congressman, it`s this kind of your way, you`re on
your own mentality. When I heard what Willard Mitt Romney said last night
on Jay Leno, it reminded me of that mentality of you`re on your own when
the GOP had the debate. Remember this moment back in September in the
debate when it came up about people could actually suffer from this? Look
at the attitude of that crowd in this GOP debate.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: A healthy 30-year-old young man has a good
job, makes a good living, but decides, you know what, I`m not going to
spend $200 or $300 a month for health insurance because I`m healthy, I
don`t need it. But, you know, something terrible happens. All of a sudden
he needs it.

REP. RON PAUL (R), TEXAS: That`s what freedom is all about. Taking
your own risk. This whole idea that you have to prepare and take care of


BLITZER: But congressman, are you saying that society should just let
him die?



SHARPTON: I mean, are we becoming a country where people are just
openly and very arrogantly saying, just let them die?

MCDERMOTT: It is the most scary thing about this, Al, that if you
look at the situation, the direction they`re going is to say that this is
social Darwinism. If you don`t have the money to have insurance and you
show up at the Emergency Room, well, we`re going to let you die out on the
gurney in the parking lot because we`re not going to bring you in because
you don`t have insurance and you can`t pay for it. That is the direction
we`re moving. And it is very -- it`s not American. It`s not the America I
know. We take care of each other. And if I were to stand here and say,
why don`t we get rid of fire departments and fire insurance? Why should I
have to pay taxes for that? My house never caught on fire, why should I
pay? You would think I was crazy.

SHARPTON: Yes, you`re right. David, the looking even at it
politically, they don`t care about human feelings and human sensitivity.
If you take this law piece by piece, it`s really popular. I mean, 85
percent of people support ban on discrimination for pre-existing
conditions. Sixty eight percent support allowing young adults to stay on
parents` insurance. Seventy seven percent support reduced Medicare costs,
drug costs. Forty five percent support the individual mandate.
Politically, the popular opinion is when you break it down piece by piece,
and I think that that is what has to be done in the political world is
they`ve got to really break this down, so that people understand what`s at
stake here.

CORN: And I hate to reference my book, you know that, but --

SHARPTON: It`s all right. I`m going to get down with "Showdown." Go

CORN: OK. But in talking to the Obama campaign strategists who
devising the campaign ahead, that they`ve started, they believe that if you
look at that list that you just put up on the screen, and you fight that
fight, while the Democrats lost the messaging war over the healthcare bill
going into the 2010 midterm elections, they think they can win by making
the point that it does all these things that are wildly popular. Obama
advisers tell me again and again and again, in the first two years they
realized they didn`t pay the time they needed to do figuring out how to
outmaneuver the Republicans on the rhetoric.


CORN: They thought that the accomplishments would speak for
themselves, but with death panels, government takeover of healthcare, all
these extreme rhetorical devices, they got caught. They think they can
come back and win that fight.

SHARPTON: Well, according to the polls, they can. Congressman Jim
McDermott and David Corn, thanks to both of you for joining me tonight.


SHARPTON: We`ll be right back with the same old playbook.


SHARPTON: Finally tonight, the right wing playbook is coming out in
the tragic death of Trayvon Martin. This 17-year-old boy was doing nothing
wrong when he was killed. He was walking with skittles and an iced tea
when he was shot dead. But now we`re seeing new pictures of Trayvon, and
they`re trying to portray him as a thug. They`re trying to make him look
dangerous. Like he was asking for trouble. The conservative "Daily
Caller" and other media used that picture of him with gold teeth, and the
"Drudge Report" used the same picture linked to an article about an alleged
twitter handle belonging to Trayvon that used the "N" word. Trayvon`s
family has denied the twitter account is his. But we`ve seen this before.
The right did the same thing to Michael Griffith, Yusuf Hawkins, and Abner

I was involved in the leadership of those cases. I`ve won some cases,
lost some cases. But they always try and smear the victim because they try
to distract us from the events that we are supposed to be looking at.
Nobody`s an angel, but it does not give you the right to maim them, harm
them, or kill them. So all this smearing is a distraction. All we want is
the facts. Whether they fall our way or the other way. But when you have
to smear, it means that you already know the facts will not end up going
your way. Otherwise, you`d let the facts stay and stand for itself. Just
remember, some of us have seen this playbook before. We didn`t blink then,
and we won`t blink now.

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


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