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PoliticsNation, Friday, April 20, 2012

Read the transcript from the Friday show

Guests: Catherine Crier; John Burris; Eugene O`Donnell; Benjamin Crump,
Michael Isikoff, Chris Hayes, Melissa Harris-Perry

REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Welcome to "Politics Nation," I`m
Al Sharpton.

Tonight`s lead, a dramatic day in the case of Florida versus George

Zimmerman apologized in open court to the parents of the teenager he
killed, Trayvon Martin. And a judge ordered him released on a $150,000
bond. His lawyer says that release will likely take several days to work
out. Trayvon`s parents were in the courtroom for that apology. We`ll get
reaction from their attorney in a few minutes.

We brought in a special legal panel to talk about today`s hearing,
though. With me here in New York is Catherine Crier, former district court
judge and prosecutor, as well as an award winning journalist and author.
And Eugene O`Donnell, professor at John Jay College of criminal justice and
a former New York city police officer and prosecutor, and from San
Francisco, criminal defense attorney John Burris.

The day began with Zimmerman walking into court shackled wearing a
suit and tie. The A.P. reports that he appeared to have a bullet-proof
vest on beneath his clothes. He sat quiet for most of the hearing until
the defense suddenly called him to the stand and he apologized directly to
Trayvon`s parents.


statement to the court, your honor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Raise your right hand. Do you solemn me promise
to tell the truth, the whole truth, so help you God?

say I am sorry for the loss of your son. I did not know how old he was. I
thought he was a little bit younger than I am and I did not know if he was
armed or not.

are not really addressing that to the court. You`re doing it here to the
victim`s family, is that correct?

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: They are here in the court, yes.

RIONDA: I understand. I thought you were going to address your
honor, Judge Lester, not -- that`s really addressed to the family, and
where the media happens to be, correct, Mr. Zimmerman?

ZIMMERMAN: No, to the mother and the father.

RIONDA: OK. And tell me, after you committed this crime and you
spoke to the police, did you ever make that statement to the police, sir?
That you were sorry for what you have done or of their lost?


RIONDA: You never said that, did you?

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: I don`t remember what I said. I believe I did say

RIONDA: You told that to the police?

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: In one of the statements I said I felt sorry for
the family.

RIONDA: You did?


RIONDA: So, that would be recorded because all of the conversations
were recorded, right?


RIONDA: You are saying you expressed that concern for the loss of Mr.
Martin, or that you had shot Mr. Martin, that you actually felt sorry for

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: I felt sorry that they lost their child, yes.

RIONDA: And so, you told the detectives that you wanted them to
convey that to the parents?

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: I don`t know if they were detectives or not.

RIONDA: Officers. I`m sorry.

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: I didn`t know if they were going to convey it or
not. I just made the statement.

RIONDA: OK. And then you said that you called them up or left a
message for them to tell them that?


RIONDA: Why did you wait 50 something days to tell them, that is the

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: I don`t understand the question.

RIONDA: Why did you wait so long to tell Mr. Martin and the victim`s
mother, the father and mother, why did you wait so long to tell them?

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: I was told not to communicate with them.

RIONDA: OK. So even through your attorney you didn`t ask to do it
right away, your former attorneys or anything?

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: I did ask them to express that to them and they
said that they were going to --


SHARPTON: Catherine, what`s your take on Zimmerman`s apology and the
follow-up questions by the prosecutor?

CATHERINE CRIER, FORMER JUDGE: Well, it was just one of those great
media confrontations. His lawyer is very good. He`s very smart. Yes,
this will be criticized as opportunistic but there are plenty of people out
there who go, well, it`s his first chance, he did make a statement. He
took the stand. So all in all, you know, points to O`Mara and Zimmerman
for doing it because he looks contrite. He is speaking softly.

SHARPTON: I don`t know that he looks contrite because he very
carefully kept saying, the loss of their son, not that I killed their son.

CRIER: But be clear, he`s --


SHARPTON: The other thing that I want to question is, does he put
himself in a bad position if those tapes come out and he never said that to
the police? Because if those tapes have to come out, and then he put
himself in a bad position if he does not go back on the stand at trial and
it looks like this was for bail because if you`re that transparent, and we
expect that you`ll get on the stand at trial.

CRIER: If the issue is relevant at the time of trial, which I doubt
it would be, it could become controversial. But he could always say, well
you know, I said it to an officer before the -- I`m not sure, confused. I
hate to say, it`s not a point of contention at the time of trial. So it
was definitely effective for the media. And that was the purpose.

SHARPTON: Well, I think you`re right.

But Eugene, I think that that purpose could also backfire on him in
the public if they felt it was for the media and it was cynical. Because
you have to remember, this is a guy that posted a facebook, never
apologized on the facebook, has had his father come out, his brother come
out. There`s never been an apology until the last 24 hour. A lot of
public - because I`m getting tweets and e-mails some people are saying, I`m
not necessarily on your side but 50 days before you say I`m sorry does look
a little contrite.

first that the world has heard from George Zimmerman essentially in a
courtroom under oath. And I don`t think it went off very well. There are
a lot of posturing invasion. And he`s thinking hard about questions that
it shouldn`t be that hard to think about. So, I wonder what they were
thinking. I assume the lawyer tried to veto him going on the stand.
Clearly the prosecution`s case is gunning for him in terms of using his
statements. This is a trial that is going to be used --

CRIER: I will bet if O`Mara wanted him off the stand, he never would
have gotten on that stand.

SHARPTON: I don`t know. He got rid of him first.

O`DONNELL: People can judge that this is a heart-felt story. But he
did say among other things. He did say he wasn`t sure on whether Trayvon
Martin was armed.


O`DONNELL: He is not sure. That`s not - I was a prosecutor. I have
been looking to use that.

SHARPTON: Well, let me ask you --

O`DONNELL: On what grounds would he have thought that he was armed?

SHARPTON: But Mr. Burris, let me ask you this. Not only the question
of being armed and why he would assume that he was armed. He also said
that the guy jumped on him and that he was on top of him. So where would
he have been armed? If his body is on you, he didn`t feel a gun. He said
he didn`t have an armed and he has skittles and ice iced tea, so why would
you not know if he was armed. In fact, one of the story he said that he
was all over your body.

But, let me also ask you this. Let me be clear. I`m all for
forgiveness. I forgave a guy that tried to kill me leading a march. But
50 days later I think when the family says it`s cynical that you have to
ask a question. It`s not a question of the family`s forgiveness, it`s a
question of we`ve never heard this in 50 days.

a right to feel cynical, of course. But, I also think that from the
defense point of view, it was a very smart thing to do and what he did was
let the world see him in a different light. They can see he`s not so
large. They can see that he`s sort of soft spoken. I didn`t take it as a
sincere apology but at the same time I don`t know how anyone else would say
it`s not necessarily so.

I think I thought what was most important to me, listening from a
defense point of view, is his comment that he didn`t know if he was armed
or not because that goes to his self-defense argument. And I think this is
all about what the judge -- the judge is looking at this himself and
saying, what is this evidence going to look like?

And so, I think he laid some more ground for his stand-alone defense
that is going to be utilized later. So the defense did a nice job in sort
of projecting out some of these defenses and did a nice job and sort of
analyzing the probable cause statement, I thought.

SHARPTON: All right. So let`s stay right there a minute. Let me
come back to you, Catherine. What does the stand-alone law say?

CRIER: Well, you know, you have a situation where if you are the
aggressor, stand-alone doesn`t apply.


CRIER: Now, the issue then comes - and we have the state investigator
who said, we don`t know who instigated this fight. The question is, did
Zimmerman retreat, back off, retreat and did Trayvon follow him, becoming
an aggressor after he backed off. These are all bits of information that
we don`t know.

SHARPTON: No, but we do know -- and this is where I think it`s
critical and let me come to you with this, Eugene. We do know there`s a
tape with someone yelling help that three people said was not Zimmerman,
which would kill him not being the aggressor.

We also know -- where I was trying to go with Mr. Burris and
Catherine, I think there is a flipside if you didn`t know that he had a
gun, because if he didn`t know if he had a gun, then you don`t know that
you are under threat.

O`DONNELL: He doesn`t have to speak at all. He has got to put him
and right to speak. Unfortunately, for him I think it`s going to turn out
unfortunate that he did speak. And now, we`re starting to see there are
several different accounts. And now, I think we`re starting to hear the
prosecution on the trail. Because I think the prosecution feels there`s a
certain amount of disassembling and a certain amount of dishonesty.

SHARPTON: Let me go to -- his past that he was raised. It`s very was
on display today. His parents testified on the phone, Zimmerman`s parents,
very different picture of his past and personality that we heard on the
prosecution. Listen to this.

SHARPTON: Particularly, let me read it. Particularly, in regards to
the 2005 incident is what I want to bring up, in which Zimmerman was
charged with resisting arrest and battery on a law enforcement officer.

Also that year Zimmerman and his ex-fiance filed restraining orders
against each other for domestic violence. Take a look at this.


O`MARA: Do you believe your son is a violent person?

Absolutely not.

O`MARA: And can you expound on that?

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN: Well, I`ve never known him to be violent at all
until he was provoked and then he would turn the other cheek.

RIONDA: You are aware of his other arrests involving violence, are
you not?

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN: I knew of an incident of alcohol beverage control
officers in plain clothes.

RIONDA: And did he tell you that he turned the other cheek?

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN: Well, he did. He did -- a friend of his was
grabbed and thrown up against the wall by some people in civilian clothes.

RIONDA: Yes, sir. And did they tell you that they asked him to leave
and he said I don`t care who you are, when the officer identified himself
as a law enforcement officer?


RIONDA: So you never read the actual arrest?


RIONDA: Were you ever wondering if your son told you the truth for
curiosity sake?

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN: I`ve never questioned whether my son was telling me
the truth?

RIONDA: So you just believe him because he`s your son?

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN: No, I believe him because he`s been honest his
whole life.


SHARPTON: John, what does that tell you about how both sides
approached Zimmerman`s record and temper meant?

BURRIS: Well, number one, obviously, the parents are going to be
character witness for him if it comes to that. But, I mean, the best point
-- from the prosecutor`s point of view, they are looking for other bad
acts, and that is other offenses that he`s been involved in that they can
then use into this case to go to this whole issue about this propensity of
violence, and to undercut this notion that he`s a choir-type person.

So, from the prosecution`s point of view, they know these statements
and they are going to be able to put on evidence, if the judge allows it.

My question is, is the judge going to allow it because this judge was
sort of dismissive, if you will, in terms of evaluating these prior acts
and so the question, whether he`ll see enough similarities in it to allow
it to come into evidence remains to be seen.

But the prosecution certainly wants to get these other acts in to
undercut this notion that he was not an aggressive person, that he was
really the choir boy, he turns the other cheek.

O`DONNELL: And furthermore, I am the law. I am the law. There`s an
image of this in head off that I am the law. And then plus that, I think
that you have to be on the lookout for is the possibility that is
dismissive feel in his -- even his testimony -- what`s the big deal?
What`s the big deal? I did what I had to do and I`m the law. So, I would
think that certainly - there are the kinds of things that prosecutors are
looking to --

CRIER: In terms of the pattern, I would be as interested in the
ongoing sort of 911 calls when he`s playing neighborhood watch cop, how he
describes people in the neighborhood, that sort of pattern of conduct even
more than what happened in 2005 with an undercover cop, I think that could
be more relevant to a jury about what his mindset was at the time that he
encountered --

SHARPTON: But it seems like they are trying to point out, the
prosecution that is, the inconsistencies in Zimmerman`s account. Because
when I was looking --


SHARPTON: When the father says he`s a guy that would turn the other
cheek, they went right in on --

CRIER: That opens the door. From his father -- he opened it.

SHARPTON: And I think that that`s where the judge may be forced to
use him as a character witness, John, to let them question that because
you`re saying something that they have very tangible evidence saying that
the evidence goes the other way.


BURRIS: And will tell you that -- let me just say, the defense is
going to work -- the lawyer is going to work very hard not to put this
character evidence in. What he did today was strictly for one purpose,
maybe to get that out. But I guarantee you. He`s never going to put this
character evidence in. He`s got to work hard very hard to make sure all
his other prior acts --

SHARPTON: Well, if he calls him as character witness, I don`t know
how you judge that. Here`s the prosecutor questioning --

BURRIS: He`s not going to put character witnesses in. He is not
going to do it.

CRIER: Not in the guilt or innocence phase. But, if you go beyond
that --

SHARPTON: Let me show the prosecutor questioning the state attorney
investigated Dale.


RIONDA: Would you agree that a lot of statements could be
contradicted by the evidence, either witnesses or what he says himself?


RIONDA: Did he, Mr. Zimmerman, the defendant, at one point claim to
the police that he was scared because Mr. Martin started circling his car?


RIONDA: But despite -- According to Mr. Zimmerman, he was so scared
he still got out of the car and chased Mr. Martin, correct?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He went after him, yes.

RIONDA: Isn`t it true that some of those statements, when confronted
about your inconsistencies, you started saying, I don`t remember?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Outside the scope of direct examination, I would
object, your honor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ll give him a little bit of leeway. Not a lot
but a little.

RIONDA: Isn`t it true when you were questioned about the
contradictions in your statements that the police didn`t believe it, that
you would say, I don`t remember.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, your honor.

RIONDA: Would you agree that you changed your story as it went along?

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: Absolutely not.


SHARPTON: Eugene, does that line of questioning suggest that the
prosecution thinks that they can poke holes in Zimmerman`s narrative? They
have tapes.

O`DONNELL: More than that at first. They are going to use their
statements directly in the case and chief case against him. It is going to
be a major part of their case. Why would somebody who is not righteously
using self-defense have to (INAUDIBLE) or tell different story?

CRIER: Well, three different that we know of. We`ve heard the
prosecution say that there were at least three different stories given to
law enforcement in a very short period of time. So of course they will use

SHARPTON: John, I don`t think -- go ahead, John.

BURRIS: I was going to say, I don`t think the prosecution thought
that the hearing was going to go in the direction that they were, because
typically you don`t have this kind of bond hearing where you challenge the
evidence. You only put on evidence about the guy`s commitment to the area
and things of that nature.

So, the prosecution was a little surprised. But then when they had
to, they did show that they have real evidence that is going to contradict
this guy`s story and that this statement, this presentation is really going
to be taken apart when it`s time to do so in the trial.

CRIER: This was like a mini preliminary hearing. That`s what shocked
me about it. This was not a bond hearing.

SHARPTON: I think that was done by the defense putting Zimmerman --

O`DONNELL: Absolutely, right.

SHARPTON: Do you think though, John -- I mean, Eugene, many people
are saying that they felt he would get bond but 150,000, which is only
$15,000, was low?

O`DONNELL: I would argue this is one thing Florida does right. It
kind of presumes that people should get bond and I think that`s maybe
replicated in other states.

SHARPTON: So this is normal in Florida?

O`DONNELL: There`s a strong presumption that he should get bond.
It`s too often a case in America that people who are presumed innocent are
left around and jail for a year until the case is adjudicated.

SHARPTON: Well, the conditions are his bail is $150,000 bond, GPS
monitoring, no contact with the victim`s family, no possession of firearms,
no alcohol, no use of controls substances 7:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. curfew,
check in every three days and no contact with witnesses. That`s the terms
of --

O`DONNELL: Florida statute is pretty strong and almost preordaining
as result.

SHARPTON: Well Catherine Crier, thank you for joining me, as always.
Your book is "Patriot X."

And, Eugene O`Donnell, and John Burris, thank you as well. I hope you
all have a great weekend.

BURRIS: Thank you.

SHARPTON: We will have much more on today`s hearing coming up. I`ll
talk to the lawyer for Trayvon Martin`s family, Ben Crump, about their
reaction to today`s hearing and to Zimmerman`s apology.

You`re watching "Politics Nation" on MSNBC.


SHARPTON: To call it an emotional day would be an understatement.
Trayvon Martin`s parents come face to face with George Zimmerman in court
today. Ben Crump, Martin family attorney is live with reaction, next.


SHARPTON: Today`s bond hearing marks the first time Trayvon Martin`s
family and George Zimmerman were in the same room together. Trayvon`s
parents, Tracy and Sybrina sat on the right side of the courtroom along
with their lawyers and other family members. There was no physical contact
with George Zimmerman, but they did try -- but he did try to talk to them.


GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: I am sorry for the loss of your son. I did not
know how old he was. I thought he was a little bit younger than I am and I
did not know if he was armed or not.


SHARPTON: Joining me now, Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump, who
was with Trayvon`s parents in that courtroom today.

Attorney Crump, thank you for your time tonight.


SHARPTON: How does the family feel now? Do they feel that the wheels
of justice are moving forward? How do they feel about that?

CRUMP: Well, it was an extremely emotional day for them, Reverend
Sharpton, to be in the same room with the killer of their child. In fact,
what struck me as very peculiar today, was that Tracy Martin is usually not
as emotional as his mother, Sybrina, but she had to comfort Tracy today,
who visibly had tears running down his eyes pretty much the whole time he
sat in that courtroom. He was really emotional, being a few feet away from
the killer of his son.

SHARPTON: Now, what was their response for seeing him the first time
when they first saw him? Do you remember their response?

CRUMP: Well, it wasn`t as much as I remember their response as when
they sat there. I saw both of them looking over at him as -- I can only
imagine they were thinking about Trayvon and saying, you know, why would he
do this to our son?

SHARPTON: You know, you were in court with the parents today when
they heard this apology. What was their reaction to the apology?

CRUMP: They felt, Reverend Sharpton, that it was very insincere.
They felt that it had a lot of ulterior motives that were beneficial and
self-serving to George Zimmerman, to make this apology 50 days later at a
bond hearing when you`re called to address the court which I want to get on
in a later point, but he doesn`t address the court. He tries to slip an
apology in to the parents and we think that`s to carry favor with the court
and the public so he can be bonded out. They thought that it was very
insincere and it was offensive to them.

SHARPTON: Now, as you know, I had a guy once try to kill me and I for
gave him. I take forgiveness and apology seriously. But 50 days later, as
you and the parents raised, and the fact that he`s had a facebook and any
number of public out and we never heard this before, you have to raise a
question of whether it`s sincere. His attorney did, after the hearing,
explain why his client wanted to apologize. Listen.


O`MARA: He had always wanted to acknowledge what happened that day in
the death of Trayvon Martin. And I was hopeful that that could be
accomplished in more private ways and that was -- we weren`t afforded that


SHARPTON: How do you respond to him saying that and the fact that he
wanted to meet your clients and what do you make of that?

CRUMP: Reverend Sharpton, you brought up the fact that he had this
facebook page, the real George Zimmerman, where he said he authored and you
all recall he said that he was going to be responsible for the content and
he was going to tell everything that was important and relevant to this

There was nowhere on that facebook page where he ever said I`m sorry
for taking the life of Trayvon Martin. He never showed any remorse. The
fact that when he did interviews with the police, he never showed his
remorse to them.

You know, we told his attorney after the reporters addressed us saying
that he wanted to apologize. We told them that that wasn`t the appropriate
time. So George Zimmerman just disregarded what the family`s desires were
and said I`m going to force this apology on you while I`m doing my bond
hearing and, oh, by the way, it might look real good to the court if I
apologize at my bond hearing.

We thought that was very self-serving. The parents thought it was
very self-serving and it was one of those things they felt it was not

SHARPTON: What about the court? Are you comfortable with the terms
of his release and are you comfortable with the fact that how they
conducted the hearing today?

CRUMP: Well, Reverend Sharpton, in American clients, they accept the
rule of law and they understand that in U.S. constitution affords anybody
accused the right to a bond hearing and the judge listens to both sides of
the parties and he makes a decision whether bond is appropriate at this
time for whatever reasons. The judge did that.

So the family, even though they would rather the killer of their son
not be out of jail, they understand they have to live with it.

One of the things that was interesting during the hearing, Reverend
Sharpton, was George Zimmerman volunteered to take the stand.


CRUMP: And once he brought him to the stand, that`s his choice. He`s
waived his rights and he took the stand and we don`t understand why the
court didn`t let the prosecutor just attack his credibility because the
defendant`s credibility is always an issue.

SHARPTON: Correct.

CRUMP: So when he took that stand that was open season that the
prosecutor could ask him any question they wanted because nobody could
force you to take the stand.


CRUMP: But once you do it, you`re the defendant.

SHARPTON: Wide open.

CRUMP: Wide open.

SHARPTON: All right. Attorney Benjamin Crump, thank you for your
time tonight and we will certainly be staying in touch with you as this
case goes forward.

CRUMP: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, breaking news in the secret service sex scandal,
more resignation. We`re learning details. That`s coming up.


SHARPTON: Breaking news on the Secret Service sex scandal. A new
agent has been caught up in the scandal as three others have decided to
resign. We`ll have the very latest ahead.


SHARPTON: We`re back on POLITICS NATION with breaking news in the
Secret Service sex scandal. The Secret Service says, three more employees
have resigned and a 12th employee has been implicated. He has been placed
on administrative leave. Meanwhile, an Associated Press says, President
Obama was briefed by the Secret Service director and investigators are
trying to find the woman allegedly hired by the Secret Service workers,
like this woman whose Facebook pictures have been published in news reports
saying she`s someone officials are hoping to talk to because there is no
official confirmation of that. We are blurring her face and not revealing
her identity. This investigation is getting deeper and this scandal is
only getting bigger.

Joining me now is Michael Isikoff, the national investigative
correspondent for NBC News. Michael, thank you for being here with me

to be with you.

SHARPTON: What can you tell us about the new resignations that
another agent being involved?

ISIKOFF: Well, new damage control by the Secret Service. We have the
announcement tonight that three more of the original 11 implicated have
chosen to resign. That comes on top of the three other agents who were
removed earlier in the week. Two of them senior supervisors. One has been
proposed for removal. That`s proposed for firing, the other chose to
resign. So, we have six of the seven, plus, the disclosure that a 12 agent
is now under investigation as part of this. One of the now 12 has been
cleared of any serious misconduct but remains subject to administrative
action. So clearly Director Sullivan and the Secret Service are moving
very quickly to try to tamp this down, to wrap up this investigation.
We`re told Sullivan himself has been pushing to get rid of as many of the
agents and offices involved as possible and has been restrained somewhat by
the lawyers saying that there are still legal implications to let the
investigation run its course.

SHARPTON: The lawyers for the Secret Service?

ISIKOFF: Right. The Secret Service lawyers. But this does seem to
be on a very fast track.

SHARPTON: Now, what can you tell me about this woman in the picture?

ISIKOFF: Well, that`s -- you know, she`s clearly giving interviews to
the news media but we`re told hasn`t talked to U.S. investigators yet. So
there`s a lot we don`t know. A lot that hasn`t been confirmed. We`re also
told she`s got a lawyer and has been selling her story. So that does -- or
seeking to sell her story. So that`s going to raise some questions about
her credibility right there. You know, I think that from everything we
know, while this has been a very aggressive and rapid investigation, the
Secret Service has not been able to talk to any of the women involved.
They do have the hotel video from the Hotel Caribe which might be able to
confirm the identities of the women eight agents might shed some light on
what they were doing together but it`s not clear how much at this point.
But I think there`s -- you know, at the end of the day there`s going to be
a lot of murkiness about precisely what happened, especially if they can`t
find these women.

SHARPTON: Let me ask you, Michael, there`s all kinds of reports --
there was a report that the secret servicemen had rented out a big room
before they went out that night. So this was pre-planned. I mean, can you
give us any more evidence that may have been established already on what
happened that night?

ISIKOFF: Look, there`s been a lot of conflicting reports,
contradictory reports. We`ve had no confirmation about that room being
retained by the agents. We have no confirmation of any drugs involved at
all. There were reports of that. We have no evidence to substantiate
that. What we do know is that this all happened Wednesday night, early
Thursday morning and recent information, you know, that they went out, the
agents went out that night, not all to the same club, not all together, but
at least 11 and now possibly 12 did bring back women to their hotel rooms.

SHARPTON: So, they were not all together but they all ended up coming
back to do the same thing? I don`t know if that makes it better or worse,

ISIKOFF: Well, I think that does raise the more serious question of,
if 11 or 12 engaged in this spontaneously the first night they were there,
was that the first time they`ve done this? And was that the first time
this has happened? And we are told that is now a central part of the
investigation, the CIA is trying to find out.


SHARPTON: Guys, spread out doing that, it starts raising serious
questions. Michael Isikoff, thank you for your time. Have a good weekend.

ISIKOFF: You, too. Thank you.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, Mitt Romney, big problem for the election, his
full embrace of the GOP`s extreme attack on the poor. We`ll talk about it
with Chris Hayes and Melissa Harris Perry, next.


SHARPTON: Welcome back. The Republicans talk a lot about values.
Now, we take a look at this chart. It shows cuts in Congressman Paul
Ryan`s budget plan. The same plan praised by Willard Romney. Sixty two
percent of the cuts come from programs that helped low income Americans.
Programs like Medicaid, food stamps, pell-grants, jobs training. These are
the GOP`s priorities. The U.S. conference of Catholic Bishop saying, the
GOP budget should protect the poor and that it, quote, "fails to meet the
moral criteria." Congressman Ryan, what`s your response?


MARTHA MACCALLUM, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: The Catholic bishops conference
has also come out and said that they don`t like what the plan entails when
it comes to cutting food stamps and also a child credit for illegal
immigrants. What do you think about that?

REP. RYAN PAUL (R), WISCONSIN: These aren`t all the Catholic bishops,
and we just respectfully disagree. We think that quadrupling spending in
this area has not succeeded to get people out of poverty.


SHARPTON: Not all the Catholic bishops? What about you Speaker
Boehner, what is your response?


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Do they have a moral argument though?

a bigger look.


SHARPTON: Just brushing it off. Oh, sure, who cares what those pesky
bishops have to say. But that`s not what we heard a month ago during the
birth control debate back then. The GOP seemed to think disagreeing with
the bishop was, or all of the bishops was an attack on religion.


BOEHNER: The rule put forward by the Obama administration that
constitutes an ambiguous attack on religious freedom in our country.

RYAN: It`s about violating our first-amendment rights to religious
freedom and conscience.

President`s administration, there is an assault on religion, an assault on
the conviction and the beliefs of members of our society.


SHARPTON: Folks, on this night, POLITICS NATION hypocrisy media is

Joining me now is Chris Hayes, host of "Up with Chris Hayes" here in
MSNBC. And Melissa Harris Perry, host of MSNBC`s Melissa Harris Perry.
Great to have both of you tonight. I hope you brought your media from your
show. Chris, the bishop`s opinion don`t matter now?

CHRIS HAYES, HOST, "UP WITH CHRIS HAYES": You know, there is this
game that`s get played all the time with the U.S. conference of Catholic
bishops. Because their politics do not track along the ideological
politics as the rest of us.


HAYES: So, I mean, the right loves to celebrate the Catholic Church
on all manners, social issues, opposition of gay to marriage equality,
opposition to women`s right to choose. But, you know, the previous pope
was hosting a spokesperson for Saddam Hussein on the eve of the Iraq war
urging there not to be a war. I mean, the church have been very, the
Catholic Church, the institutional church has been very progressive on
issues of war and peace and on issues of poverty. And the Republicans just
looked the other way for that. And in some ways, that cuts both ways, too.
Because I think Democrats like to champion the Catholic bishops when they
are agreeing with them on something like food stamps but obviously don`t
want to listen to them on social issues.

SHARPTON: Yes, well, but Melissa, the moral criteria statements by
the bishop and I had one on, the fact about food stamps, let`s take that.
Nearly 75 percent of the participants are families with children. There is
a clear moral dimension to all of this legislative and policy talk and I
think that`s what the bishops are in this case right fully pointing out
which many of us that in the clergy are not Catholic bishops have been

I think part of what Chris is saying here is so important as we look at
sort of what is the Catholic vote or what is the role of the Catholic
Church, what are the most fun segments that I had an opportunity to do on
my show was a conversation with Matt Wilson, who is a scholar of
Catholicism and religion and politics, and he`s making exactly this point,
it doesn`t track perfectly. Because if you have, as the Catholic church
has, at its most consistent, a kind of natural birth to natural death
perception of our social responsibility to each other, then it means, yes,
we may disagree on questions of contraception but we don`t disagree that
once a child is born that there is a social, moral, ethical, and communal
responsibility to make sure that poor children have as much nutrition, as
much life opportunity, as much education as a wealthy child. And I think
the other thing we have to really take, even take in the religion out of
it, just the pure empirics of it, for Ryan to say that food stamps don`t
helped people not be hungry.

SHARPTON: Yes, that`s right.

PERRY: It`s just.


SHARPTON: In 2009, food stumps has actually helped lower the poverty
rate by about eight percent, I believe. So, I mean, it`s been documented,
the impact of food stamps on poor people and poverty in this country.

HAYES: Hugely effective. The single most effective anti-poverty
measure we have left. And what`s -- about this attack on food stamps. And
we`re actually going to talk about this on our show tomorrow. Is that the
Republicans in the right have gone about demonizing every bit of the social
safety net that helps people who are poor. And what they`ve really done is
squeezed everything into food stamps, which is the only program sort of
laugh that is functioning and it`s doing a good job. And now, they`re
going after that.

SHARPTON: But the problem is not just Ryan. Ryan is not running for
President. Their candidate Willard Mitt Romney has not embraced this. I
want people to understand when I`m talking about Ryan, I`m talking about
the Romney Ryan plan now. Because this is his economic policy running
against President Obama.

PERRY: And I think as we saw this in the 1980s, we saw this with
Thatcherism and with Great Britain and with Reaganism here in the U.S., the
idea that somehow like feeding hungry children, providing educational
opportunities for poor kids helping our seniors, to make sure that our
seniors have food and have medicine, when you say that on that way, kind of
very basic and Americans agree on them. But that idea that the budget
should be balance on the back of the most vulnerable we`ve seen it before.

SHARPTON: Now, let me ask you this, Chris. Let me ask you a little
about the politics. Romney supports the Ryan plan, as I`ve said. Let`s
take a look at some new polling that just came from a recently NBC, Wall
Street Journal. It has Obama ahead of Romney nationally. If the election
were held today, President Obama, 49, Romney 43. But Romney`s ahead when
it comes to the economy, when same people were asked the question, who has
the good ideas to improve the economy, Romney 40, Obama, 34. How?

HAYES: I think it`s the exact same dynamic although slightly weaker
than we saw in 2010. Which is the roughest characteristic that the voters
uses when they go to the poll. They say, are things good or are they not.
And if they think things are not good and they aren`t good with the
economy, they continue to be bad. There are signs of improvement. We`ve
had some good numbers out lately. But most people don`t feel like the
economy is in a very good place.


HAYES: There`s a rough sense that maybe we should try someone knew.
So, I just think, that is going to be the basic dynamic and what the
challenge for the Obama campaign is to explicitly make known what the
actual policy prescriptions are. Because most voters, frankly, couldn`t
tell you what Mitt Romney`s policy agenda is. They just know he`s
different and maybe some sort of change is going to make the economy be


SHARPTON: Well, many in the Romney camp can`t tell you if you ask the
question. They put you on hold for a few minutes.

PERRY: Well, they are still in the process of pivoting, right? So,
he is the presumptive nominee. He writes about 15 more seconds before you
see actual nominee. But as they make that pivot, they have to stop moving
as far to the right as they possibly can, start trying to make claims
towards the broad American middle and the fact is, you know, as Chris
points out, they will have to see some specifics on policy but the far
bigger question for both the Romney camp and Obama campaign is who can
control the narrative.


PERRY: Who can control the feeling about where the economy is and who
is likely to get left behind in any sort of new administration.

SHARPTON: Now, let me ask, the poll asked people why they thought
about various -- what they thought about various economic messages when you
talk about the narratives, and without revealing who had spoken the line,
one line they actually brought was this, from President Obama but of course
they did not identify it. Quote, "America`s better off when everyone gets
a fair shot, does their fair share, and plays by the same rules." Seventy
percent of the respondents said, they are more likely to vote for a
candidate with that message. Now, 70 percent, even though he`s behind on
the economics, or the economy poll which is your point, Chris, his message,
controlling the narrative, his message is very popular. They just blame
him for however they may feel about the economy.

HAYES: That`s exactly right. And the question is, and Melissa would
speak to this better than I would, because she`s actually a professional in
the area of political science. But, you know, my sense of the literature
on this is that it`s unclear just how much a message can override the
economic fundamentals. I think the bigger place, where you see, where
there is room, is in the personal appeal. I mean, ultimately what it
comes, the biggest gap right now that the Obama people have working in
their favor is how liked President Obama is by the broad, you know, vote.

SHARPTON: Melissa, the same people when this quote, "What drags-down
our entire economy is an every widening gap between the ultra rich and
everybody else." And that line just got 45 percent approval.

PERRY: Yes. I mean, it doesn`t surprise me. And my bet is because
they know that that comment did not come from Mitt Romney. And so, if we
go back to that first comment, as much as that message resonates, my bet is
that that message, when it comes out of Mitt Romney, people assume that
fair share means that the wealthy get more and when that message comes out
of President Obama, many people will assume that means that people of color
and poor people get more.

SHARPTON: Oh, so you think even though they didn`t identify it, they
think the second quote was President Obama?


SHARPTON: Because they know Romney would never --

PERRY: Would never say that.

HAYES: Never say that, right.

SHARPTON: You think they heard about the Kyle (ph) of Vegas.


HAYES: They`re going to at the end of this campaign.

PERRY: Yes, no doubt.

SHARPTON: Melissa Harris-Perry and Chris Hayes. Thank you both for
your time. Have a great weekend and we`ll be watching. Please plan to
watch this show this weekend. I`ll be watching. "Up with Chris Hayes" is
on 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., Saturdays and Sundays and Melissa Harris-Perry
follows from 10:00 a.m. to noon. As we say it, might spot. Up with Chris
and then down with Melissa. This weekend is here. Time to hang out with
our friends unless you`re Willard. Wait until you hear what his friend is
saying about him next.


SHARPTON: Friday. Friday. Friday. Friday folks, that weekend is
here. Time with friends, maybe a little barbecue for some, a little fun
dinner. Things you do with your good friends. But Mitt Romney`s friends,
you won`t believe what some of them are saying about they`re dear friend
Willard. Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels who finally endorsed Willard this
week told the Indianapolis Star, quote, "You have to campaign to govern,
not just to win. Look at everything through the lens of the folks who have
yet to achieve. Romney doesn`t talk that way." Ouch. Sounds like he`s
saying that Willard is out of touch. But get this, some of Romney`s other
friends in the party, seems to be counting on him to lose. They`re already
talking about running in 2016. Friends like Chris Christie, who says,
quote, "He will be much more ready to run in 2016 for president." And
Romney`s former rival Rick Perry who says, he will examine a run in 2016


country. As long as my health stays good which it is and my family is
supportive, then I certainly going to give it a good examination.


SHARPTON: It doesn`t say much for their confidence in Willard. But
you know things are bad when your own party is making fun of you. Listen
to what republican Congressman Louie Gohmert said earlier this week.


REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: If you`re not sure about wanting to
support Mitt Romney, whether you`re liberal, whether your very
conservative, you ought to be excited because he`s been on your side at one
time or another.


SHARPTON: But don`t worry, Willard, cheer up. You know, I`m the
ultimate optimist, I`ll find the silver lining. Everybody`s talking about
you, Willard. You might just not like what they are saying. Thanks for
watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.


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