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PoliticsNation, Friday, March 14th, 2014

Read the transcript from the Friday show

March 14, 2014

Guests: Elijah Cummings, Angela Rye, Faith Jenkins, Michelle Suskauer, Jim
Tilmon, Jim Cavanaugh

REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening, Ed. And thanks to you
for tuning in.

Tonight`s lead, the GOP`s shameful assault on Obamacare with just over two
weeks left for Americans to sign up for insurance, Democrats are racing to
get people covered. And what are Republicans doing? Trying to roll back
the clock.

Today, the House held its 51st vote attacking the health care law. Think
about that, 51 votes, as if the first 50 weren`t bad enough. Republicans
need to face reality. Obamacare is here to stay. More than 4.2 million
people have enrolled in health care plans, and President Obama, Republicans
can`t stop it now, he said.


signed up is already large enough that I`m confident the program will be
stable. But we look forward to seeing more and more people take advantage
of it as some of the politics of the thing get drained away.


SHARPTON: More people will take advantage of the law. The president`s
making a huge final push to get people enrolled. Earlier this week, he
released a spoof interview with the star of "the hangover" movies. And
today he called into Ryan Seacrest`s radio show to talk about it.


OBAMA: I wasn`t familiar with this thing.


OBAMA: But when I was at the dinner table with the girls and I said well,
today I did something with Zach. It`s called Two Ferns, I think. Malia
was so excited. She had seen all the previous episodes. So I figured that
it was going to reach our target audience which is a lot of young people.
And it`s turned out we`ve now had close to 15 million hits.


SHARPTON: The president is also getting an assist from LeBron James, the
NBA superstar is recording a PSA on the health care law. They`ll play it
in the next few weeks. The first lady is on the case too. Making a new ad
with moms of celebrities like Alicia Keys and Jennifer Lopez, telling
people to get covered, to give their mothers some peace of mind.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Taking care of yourself so your mothers can sleep and
have a nice life after they`ll have done for you is not too much to ask in
my opinion.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So please get covered.

love you. So go to and enroll today.


SHARPTON: We are down to the wire in a fight to provide health care to
people who otherwise couldn`t afford it. And it really is the fight
because the right wing and their big money back us are waging in all out
assault on the poor, attacking the culture of inner cities, shaming kids
who get free school lunches, trying to gut the safety net.

The attacks on Obamacare are just another page out of the same old
playbook. And we must keep fighting.

Joining me now are E.J. Dionne and Angela Rye. Thank you both for being



SHARPTON: E.J., 51 votes against Obamacare, I mean, isn`t just part of
GOP`s love to attack on government and the safety net?

DIONNE: Well, I think they must be going for around 100. We can probably
one of these every other day. And they have got the idea that Obamacare is
their ticket to win this election and the result of the floor to raise the
special election is going to confirm them on that. I think they are making
a mistake. But because I don`t think that is why they won that election.
But I also think it is really important that people who would support
Obamacare and Democrats generally not run away from it. They shouldn`t run
-- in fact, they have to start talking about what benefits would people
lose if Obamacare disappeared? The seniors who get more help on their
prescription drugs, the kids who are on their parents` plan.

There are a lot of people besides the ones who signed up on the websites,
and besides the folks who are benefitting from the Medicaid expansion, a
lot of people are being helped by this. And I think people have to embrace
it rather than run away from it, or else it`s going to get defined by all
the votes in the Congress.

SHARPTON: Couldn`t that be part of what we see as the defining factor in
many districts in the midterm election, Angela, is those that will stand up
and embrace it and fight back or those that will run? Because I`ve learned
in my years out here in activism and politics, if you run, people will
chase you.

RYE: There is no question about it, Rev. And the other thing folks have
to pay attention to is the fact that people are still hurting economically.
Obamacare, for example, ensures that six of ten Americans get some type of
financial break on their health care insurance. The people that are aware
of that and members of Congress are candidates who are running and address
that are much more likely to get the support of their constituents.

The problem on the realistic side of this is, of course, we saw even in the
Alex Sink race that, of course, E.J. just brought up is the fact that these
districts are also very gerrymandered. So just because your gerrymandered
district supports what you`re doing to repeal Obamacare doesn`t mean the
rest of the country that is normal does support that.

SHARPTON: Now, E.J., a lot of things we talked about this week. But the
right`s attack on the poor has been really, really, in my opinion, at high
pitch this week. And one of the attacks was by Congressman Paul Ryan who
made a comment that has gotten a lot of attention this week. Let`s listen.


tailspin of culture in our inner cities in particular of men not working
and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the
value and the culture of work. So there is a real culture problem here
that has to be dealt with.


SHARPTON: Now, last night on our show, Congresswoman Marcia Fudge,
chairman -- chairperson of the congressional black caucus invited Ryan to
attend a meeting with the caucus. Ryan`s office then released this

Congressman Ryan appreciates the invitation from the congressional black
caucus. He has said he would welcome a productive conversation on how to
better fight poverty, and he looks forward to meeting with the CBC in the
near future. What is your reaction to that, E.J.?

DIONNE: Well, I`m glad he did that. I think he realizes that what he
said, when you just look at the words, what he said is outrageous. I know
what he was trying to do. What he was trying to do is to say we need a
broad or a discussion about poverty, and that includes the circumstances in
which kids grow up that are very difficult and all that. There were a lot
of ways he could have said what he seemed to be trying to say that would
not have been offensive and would have been constructive.

But to argue that people in the inner city, the implication of what he was
saying is that these are all people who just walk away from working. And
as anybody who is been in inner cities know, these folks work really hard
and don`t get compensated very well for the work they do. And so he got
himself a terrible -- I`m sorry?

SHARPTON: I`m going push you. He went a little further, because he said
it was from generation to generation, and he said we read books like people
by Charles Murray, who is author of "the bell curve" that said
scientifically that blacks were less intelligent. So I don`t know if he
didn`t intend to say what he said.

DIONNE: Well, I guess I am giving him a benefit of the doubt on this
Murray. I was critical of "the bell curve` when it came out. The irony is
the book he cited by Charles Murray didn`t even talk about inner cities at
all. He was talking about white Americans, including rural whites. And
so, and that inner city is a code word for -- is a code word. And it sort
of made you say, come on, why did he do this?

SHARPTON: Exactly.

DIONNE: And that, you know, I think his problem is this goes in tandem
with what he said about that story that we`ve already talk about on the air
about the school lunch program. So, I hope he goes to that black caucus
meeting, because he`s got a lot of explaining to do.

SHARPTON: Well Angela, your reaction to that as well as another disturbing
comment this week. An Arizona congressional candidate wrote on his
facebook, basically, this is a quote.

"Basically, slave owners took pretty good care of their slaves. It is my
sincere belief that entitlements are a means of enslaving the people of
robbing opportunity while taking care of basic needs."

Now comparing entitlements to slavery, and he is not the first Republican
we`ve seen this from. Listen.

RYE: Right.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: With regard to the idea of whether or not
you have a right to health care, you have to realize what that implies.
It`s not an abstraction. I`m a physician. That means you have a right to
come to my House and conscript me. It means you believe in slavery.

ALLAN WEST, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Now they`re looking toward going on
Social Security or disability, which to me is a form of modern 21st century

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is Obamacare? It is a law as destructive to
personal and individual liberty as a fugitive slave act of 1850 that
allowed slave owners to come to New Hampshire and seize African-Americans.


SHARPTON: So this over and over usage by various Republicans about
slavery, Ryan talking about generational laziness, really, and the culture
of the inner city and quoting Murray, I mean, what are we looking at here,

RYE: Well, certainly, Rev., the opposite of the conscience of the
Congress, which as you know is what the congressional black caucus is
called for this very reason. Paul Ryan needs far more than just a meeting
with the CBC. He probably also needs to be introduced to cultural
sensitivity training as does the rest of the party, which is what the GOP
autopsy report was supposed to address.

So, all this is to say that they have a whole lot more work to do. They
have a whole lot more understanding to do about what it means to be inner
city and thugs and all these other terms that they throw around so lightly.
This is entirely too problematic, particularly when entitles and
entitlement reform is just fine when it goes to big corporations.

DIONNE: And can I say on that, Reverend? I mean, the slavery thing is
really atrocious because they`re saying government helping folks out, in
many cases giving them benefits that they paid for is the same as slavery,
suggesting that slaves were well treated by their masters as if this was a
social welfare program? I mean, this is astonishing.

SHARPTON: It is demeaning.

DIONNE: It is.

SHARPTON: I mean, the fact as though being treated as chattel is being
well treated.

DIONNE: Exactly. And that, you know, back after the 2012 elections,
Republican consultants were saying we`re going to write memos to our
candidates saying please never bring up the word "rape." I think
Republicans, some of these guys need to get a word memo that says unless
you`re going to honor the memory of Abraham Lincoln, just don`t talk about
slavery, because if you`re going to talk about it like this, it shows you
really have to go back to high school and study what slavery was.

SHARPTON: Maybe even pre-k. They need to go back.

E.J. Dionne and Angela Rye, thank you for your time tonight.

RYE: Thank you, Rev.

SHARPTON: And have a great weekend.

DIONNE: And you too, Reverend. Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, an explosive new report on the mystery of that
Malaysia airlines plane. Was there an intentional diversion by a pilot or
a hijacker?

And should chairman Issa publicly apologize for what Democrats say is a
repeated history of abuse? We`ll ask the man who got into that heated
altercation last week, Congressman Elijah Cummings is here live.

Plus, over a year after the mysterious death of a Georgia teenager, his
classmates are subpoenaed, and it`s been a while, but nice try, Mitt
Romney. We got you ahead. Stay with us.


SHARPTON: He should apologize publicly for cutting off a congressman`s
microphone. But wait until you hear what Congressman Issa is saying today,


SHARPTON: Democrats are vowing to hold Darrell Issa responsible for his
epic made for TV meltdown. This was the dramatic scene on the House floor.
Late yesterday, Democrats holding up iPads with the photo from Issa`s
notorious IRS hearing when he didn`t let a single Democrat speak. The ipad
showed his image. It`s the throat-slashing motion that Issa made when he
cut off the mic of ranking member Elijah Cummings in a stung act of


adjourned. Close it down.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: Illusion directly -- before a single

ISSA: Thank you.

CUMMINGS: He continued to --

ISSA: Where is your question?

CUMMINGS: If you will sit down and allow me to ask the question, I am a
member of the Congress of the United States of America. I am tired of

ISSA: Well --

CUMMINGS: We have members over here each who represent 700,000 people.
You not just have a one-sided investigation. There is absolutely something
wrong with that, and it`s absolutely un-American.


SHARPTON: Democrats are now demanding that Issa publicly apologize for
that behavior. But instead of apologizing, he is lashing out. Today he
sent this letter to congressman Cummings saying, quote, "your tactics
undermines the committee`s investigative prerogatives and harm the
institutional interests of the House of Representatives. I`ve encouraged
and continue to encourage you to subordinate your political loyalties to
the institutional interests of the committee and the House."

Joining me now is the congressman that was sent to -- Congressman Elijah
Cummings, ranking democrat on the House oversight committee.

Thank you for being here, Congressman.

CUMMINGS: It`s good to be with you.

SHARPTON: What is your reaction to this letter from Chairman Issa?

CUMMINGS: I thought it was a very, very sad letter. He was supposed to
basically what he had done, Reverend, is that he had botched our efforts to
get information from a witness, Ms. Lerner, who had taken the fifth. And
that letter was supposed to be a response to my allegations -- not my
allegations, but the allegations of two experts who said that he had
wrongfully adjourned -- when he adjourned the meeting as he did, he failed
to do certain things with regard to Ms. Lerner`s rights. And so, he was
really supposed to be answering my contentions, but instead he went off on
some tangent that is just made no sense to me.

SHARPTON: Now, when the House Democrats stood yesterday on the floor and
demanded an apology in front of the House, he had already called you and
talked privately. But you have said, and I think admirably bigger than
you, let us remember, Congressman, chairman Issa has cut off mics on
democratic lawmakers before.

CUMMINGS: That`s right.

SHARPTON: Watch what he did to congressman John Tierney during a hearing
about Obamacare in December. Watch this.


REP. JOHN TIERNEY, MASSACHUSETTS: Now, if you want to ask a new question,
go in a different direction.

ISSA: The gentleman is not in order, please.

TIERNEY: There is the chair. And I think we have an issue here -- and now
you`re going to shut the microphone off?

ISSA: Yes.

TIERNEY: You are just a model of (INAUDIBLE).

ISSA: Thank you.


SHARPTON: So, and he cut the mic off. Congressman Tierney said now you`re
going cut the microphone off on me. He said yes. So this seems to be a
pattern, Congressman Cummings, that he just operates in his own kind of way
like if I don`t want to hear what you have to say, cut the mic off.

CUMMINGS: Yes. We`ve had other incidents were witnesses were about to
testify on certain things, for example, and next thing you know, he shuts
them down and says I don`t want to hear it.

And basically, unless people are saying what he wants to hear, he won`t
allow it. Another example, Reverend, you talk about this on your show is
the IRS transcripts that he refused to submit to the public. On the one
hand, he was blaming the president for the problems that were going on at
IRS with regard to use of certain criteria. But then when there was
exculpatory evidence in some of the transcripts, he refused to put those
forward. And if you recall, I went on and did it. So, I don`t know who is
trying to --

SHARPTON: But he seems to be running this committee like a political
operation from the IRS to Benghazi, to Fast and Furious, to anything
against this president, anything against the attorney general. This
committee on oversight is not supposed to be a political operation against
those he opposes. And to silence people that would bring balance to an
inquiry if it was a legitimately based inquiry is to me only makes it more
transparent what is going on.

CUMMINGS: It`s very sad. And you know, the other thing, Reverend, is that
when these things happen, when say for example Chairman Issa puts out
allegations that cannot be proved and are never proved, it only goes
against the credibility of the committee and of the congress.

So, you know, reporters will come up to me and say, I heard you`re having a
hearing today, but I`m not going show up. I`ll say why. They say well, we
know nothing is going to come out of it anyway. And so, therefore, a
committee that should be dealing with the very, very serious matters and
should have the utmost of credibility, suddenly we have lost it.

SHARPTON: Now, do you expect him to publicly apologize in front of the

CUMMINGS: I doubt it. But it would be a good idea for him to do that,
reverend. Basically, I think he -- the public needs to -- they saw him
shut my mic off and now Tierney`s in public. They thought it was a public
display. And perhaps he needs to do something in public to show everybody
that he is indeed remorseful, if he is.

SHARPTON: You know, according to House Republican rules, Issa is supposed
to step down from the oversight committee chair at the end of this year.
But political reports quote Issa says he doesn`t want to let go of the
committee. He is leaning toward asking leadership to waive Republican
rules so he can serve two more years.

I mean, I`ve got to go, but I have to ask you quickly, are we facing
possibly two more years as him as chairman, even though it`s against their
own party rules?

CUMMINGS: Reverend, I really don`t know. That`s up to the Republicans.
They can do what they want. But I`m always going to be seeking the truth.

SHARPTON: Well, we`re going to be watching to see if they break the rules
and give them two more years, or if they cut off his mic.

Congressman Elijah Cummings, thank you for your time tonight.

CUMMINGS: Thank you.

SHARPTON: And have a good weekend.

CUMMINGS: Same to you, now.

SHARPTON: Ahead, a dramatic twist in the case of a student athlete found
dead in a rolled up gym mat. Why have law enforcement waited so long to
talk to Kendrick Johnson`s former classmates?

Plus, sabotage, even piracy. Investigators are looking at a wide range of
possibilities tonight with dramatic new clues in the worldwide search for
that missing plane. Stay with us.


SHARPTON: Tonight, we have something a little unusual for you, an update
on a classic got you from the 2012 election. It was late in the race, and
the Romney campaign was so terrified of losing Ohio that they trotted out a
new attack on the president`s job record.


one of the great manufacturers in this state, jeep, now owned by the
Italians, is thinking of moving all production to China. I will fight for
every good job in America.


SHARPTON: And then the Romney campaign doubled down with an ad saying the
same thing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obama took gm and Chrysler into bankruptcy and sold
Chrysler to Italians who are going to build jeeps in China.

Mitt Romney will fight for every American job.


SHARPTON: But that attack was totally untrue. Chrysler said it had,
quote, "no intention of shifting production of its jeep models out of north
America to China. "The Washington Post" fact checker said the ad earned
four pinocchios. And even after Romney lost, Romney`s top adviser, Stewart
Stevens begged the post to reconsider those four pinocchios. In response,
the fact checker reaffirmed them.

And today, over a year later, we learned that Ohio jeep plant is thriving.
The Toledo blade says it`s hiring a thousand new workers. And "Bloomberg
Business News" reports, quote, "it`s going gangbusters. Demand for jeeps
is so high, the workers are clocking 60 hours a week and still can`t keep

So the plant that Romney claimed was being sent to China under President
Obama is a great American success story. Did Governor Romney think we
wouldn`t notice? Nice try, but we got you again.


AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST, "POLITICS NATION": It`s time for the justice
files. The big criminal justice story is making headlines today.

Joining me now, MSNBC legal analyst Faith Jenkins and Defense Attorney
Michelle Suskauer. Thank you both for being here tonight.



SHARPTON: We start tonight with the investigation into Kendrick Johnson`s
mysterious death, and a federal grand jury subpoenaing the teen`s former
schoolmates and their parents. The 17-year-old was found dead inside of a
rolled up wrestling mat at his Georgia high school gym in January of 2013.
Surveillance video captured Kendrick walking into the gym and never coming
out. His death was ruled an accident. But his parents say he was
murdered. A second autopsy report says Johnson died of, quote,
"Unexplained apparent non-accidental blunt force his trauma." This week,
over a year later, former students were reportedly seen entering the
federal courthouse. Faith, should we see charges on this?

JENKINS: It depends on the outcome of this investigation. When the U.S.
attorney started this investigation, he said there were a few questions he
wanted answered, the cause of death, was there a crime committed, and who
committed that crime. And now you`re seeing significant steps being taken
in this investigation. It`s interesting, because the FBI can go out and
interview witnesses. Prosecutors can interview witnesses, but now you`re
seeing witnesses being subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury.

That means they`re giving sworn testimony under the penalty of perjury
before a grand jury that could mean that they`re witnesses that were
uncooperative, didn`t want to talk to an FBI investigators, so they were
subpoenaed and they have to come to court, or they want to lock people into
their testimony. They want to lock people into their statements. So
they`re using the grand jury to do that.

SHARPTON: Michelle, what do you think? And what could bring the fall
charges in a case like this?

SUSKAUER: You know, I think it`s interesting that it`s taken this long to
get to that point. But I think it`s very encouraging that this is going to
happen. And I think potentially we`re going to probably see the medical
examiner coming forth before the grand jury as well. And the local
authorities did not do the job that they needed to do. That`s why the
federal authorities stepped in.

SHARPTON: Now to Florida. The new documentary revealed in that popcorn
shooting case getting national attention. Curtis Reeves is charged with
second-degree murder for shooting Chad Oulson to death in a movie theater,
allegedly because he was texting. But court documents just released reveal
Reeves himself sent a text message right before the shooting. The dramatic
surveillance video appears to show Oulson throw popcorn at Reeves. Then
Reeves takes out his gun and fires it, killing Olson. Reeves told police
that Mr. Oulson punched him. But witnesses say that he simply tossed some
popcorn at him. And today we know Reeves sent his own text message before
the shooting. Faith, will this new revelation hurt his case?

JENKINS: I think it`s underscores the outrageousness of everything that
took place in the movie theater that night. If this case goes to trial,
which I still think is unlikely. I think if there is a plea possibility
here. Mr. Reeves should talk to his attorney. Because when you have this
kind of video evidence, it`s really difficult for you to go and assert the
kind of defense that he is asserting right now. But every fact there was
against him, including the fact that he was texting is going to be used
against him in trial.

SHARPTON: Michelle, if you were defending him, how do you beat the video,
and how do you explain he was texting when he was supposed to be outraged
at his victim texting?

SUSKAUER: Listen, it`s a tough case. I think this case is going to go to
trial, especially with the type of defendant this is and this law
enforcement background, I think he is the type of guy who wants to go to
trial and have his say in court. And I think in terms of the videotape
evidence, he wants to bring in as many live witnesses that were there who
obviously is going to build up his own credibility. And in terms of the
texts that he sent, he could then say in terms of the timing, it was before
the movie even started. It was way before the victim was texting in the
case when he asked him not to do it. So, again, he is using self-defense.
He is using stand your ground. We`ll see what happens. I think this case
is going to trial.

SHARPTON: Do you think he can win? I mean, as a great defense, the movie
has started so he should have stopped texting so I killed him?

SUSKAUER: I think this is a very, very tough case. But again, look at the
cases that have used the not stand your ground, but have used stealth
defense in Florida. So far it seems to be working. Whether right or
wrong, it seems to be working. And juries seem to be buying self-defense
in Florida, at least in those two particular cases.

JENKINS: Most cases you don`t have video. In most cases you don`t have
video like this. And for him to assert the kind of self-defense claim that
he was in fear for his life, it`s not supported by the video. It`s not
corroborated by the video evidence.

SHARPTON: Obviously, we`ll watch this one.

Finally, 18-year-old Rachel Canning is back at home with her parents in New
Jersey. It`s a case that has the world talking. Rachel, a high school
cheerleader and honor student sued her parents, Shawn and Elizabeth for
money to go to college. Rachel claimed physical and verbal abuse, but the
parents say it was just discipline. Last week`s court session was the
first time they saw each other since October. The judge ruled with the
parents on some of the lawsuit`s provisions, and now Rachel has moved back
in with her parents.


ANGELO SARNO, RACHEL`S PARENTS ATTORNEY: There is a long road ahead. This
is not something that is going to happen overnight. The point of this
process, healing needs to begin. It began last night, and the less
involvement with the court and with attorneys and with the media, the


SHARPTON: But the lawsuit is still pending and hasn`t been withdrawn.
Michelle, can she win if this lawsuit moves forward?

SUSKAUER: No. You know, I really don`t think so. This is a lawsuit that
was driven by her best friend`s father. She moved in with her best friend.
And her best friend`s father really I think may have been driving this.
She is back home. And I can see that probably there is some reconciliation
here. Hopefully the judge wants this case dismissed. I can`t say that
this is going to see the light of day. But if she were successful, this
would set a very bad precedent. I don`t think she has the grounds to be
successful here.

SHARPTON: Do you think they would withdraw the lawsuit at some point since
she is back home or does it go to trial, Faith?

JENKINS: No, I think it`s going to be withdrawn. And one of the reasons
is I don`t think she could win the lawsuit. This is not a divorce case.
In New Jersey, there are cases where parents are required to pay tuition of
their children, but they have divorce cases. This is not a child support
case. So this is really a new president, a new kind of lawsuit that I
don`t think that she could succeed on.

SHARPTON: This is not separation of parents.


SUSKAUER: And that`s why the --

JENKINS: It`s about -- whether she`s an un-emancipated minor or whether
she is emancipated minor. I mean, it`s really, it`s a new type of case, I
agree with Faith. Just like New Jersey is not going to go in this

SHARPTON: And do you agree with Michelle it would set a very bad

JENKINS: Well, yes. And I think even when you step away from the legal
aspect of whether she is an emancipated minor or not, you`re just looking
at really a cultural, that we`ve seen with Ethan Couch, the affluenza
defense in Texas. And now, with this young woman coming forward and
saying, I don`t like my parents` rules and I left the house, but they
should still be required to pay for me." It`s sort of a generational
thing, right, that young people think that they should be given certain
things without having to follow certain guidelines and certain rules. And
then you`re seeing cases like this as a result.

SHARPTON: Faith Jenkins and Michelle Suskauer, thank you both for being
here tonight.

SUSKAUER: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, dramatic new information about that missing plane.
And what that missing plane did in the moments after it disappeared. The
international search for the jet is reaching a critical point.

Also, the stunning words that Americans heard from a U.S. president nearly
50 years ago. Stay with us.


SHARPTON: Tonight, an explosive new report that could help solve the
mystery of what happened to missing Malaysian Flight 370. "The New York
Times" reports the flight experienced significant changes in altitude after
it lost contact with ground control and altered its course more than once
as if under the command of a pilot. What could have caused it? "The
Times" says, an intentional diversion by a pilot or a hijacker or uneven
flying because a disabled crew. And according to this latest report,
investigators have dismissed the idea that the plane was landed for use in
a later terror attack. The data, a senior American official said, leads
them to believe that it either ran out of fuel or crashed right before it
ran out of fuel. But many questions remain in this mystery.

Joining me now are Jim Tilmon, an aviation expert and former American
Airlines pilot, and Jim Cavanaugh, an NBC law enforcement analyst who`s
been deeply involved in many high profile investigations, including the
Unabomber case. Thank you both for coming on the show tonight.

JIM TILMON, AVIATION EXPERT: My pleasure, Reverend.


SHARPTON: This new report certainly bolsters the theory that the plane was
either sabotaged or hijacked. One portion sticks out and says, quote, "An
ascent above the plane`s service limit of 43,100 feet, along with the
depressurized cabin could have rendered the passengers and crew unconscious
and could be a deliberate maneuver by a pilot or a hijacker." Jim Tilmon,
as a former pilot, what do you make of this?

TILMON: Well, it`s just one more item that we have to try to make sense
with. We`re talking about all of that radical up and down. One theory was
that there may have been a fight in the cockpit, and the struggle that took
place caused the airplane to do some very strange things. And I do think
that`s pretty strange. Climbing up to 45,000 feet, no pilot in his right
mind would try to do that knowing that fulfilling the service altitude
you`re allowed to operator that airport. It`s 2,000 feet above where it
should be.

And then all of the sudden descending to 23,000 feet. That`s far. I mean,
if you want to buy into that theory, then you got to say OK, what happened
afterwards. Were they able to settle the airplane down and fly it in some
kind of a reasonable fashion afterwards? And where did they get the
training to do all of these crazy things? I mean, lots of questions,
Reverend Al.

SHARPTON: Jim Cavanaugh, what do you make of this latest report?

CAVANAUGH: You know I`ve been back and forth with the POLITICS NATION team
on this data today, Reverend Al. Here is what I see. In the "New York
Times" reporting story, there is a paragraph in there that is very
significant. As a commander, it`s the one I went right to. And what it
says is "New York Times" reporter talked directly to a person, and I
believe it was an American, but I may be wrong about that.

But they talked directly to a person who personally examined the Malaysian
military radar. And that person said that it left little doubt that the
plane went across the Malaysian Peninsula and toward the Straits of
Malacca. Little doubt. And that was based on two different Malaysian
military radar sites.

SHARPTON: Now why is that important?

CAVANAUGH: Because that absolutely establishes that the plane did not
explode back over at the initial spot or completely disintegrate as, you
know, earlier beliefs. And of course we have no debris found there, and we
have nothing on the satellites indicating explosion there. And now we have
this person telling the "New York Times" reporter, it`s very good reporting
that they saw and they believe it leaves little doubt. That`s from two
military radar stations. So back to your question to Jim is what happened?
I think a struggle in the cockpit is real. I still think pilot control
suicide is real. Remember, if one of the pilots decides to do this,
they`re going to have to disable, kill, or lockout the other guy if it`s a
suicide. And if you don`t do a suicide with your copilot, you know.
That`s not the way it works.


CAVANAUGH: So you`re going to have to get him out of the cockpit, disable
him somehow or have a struggle. Now, if it`s not the pilots, it could be
somebody who has invaded the cockpit.


CAVANAUGH: And has acquired just rudimentary knowledge that you need to
turn off the transponders, the radios and might have developed that
knowledge. And then is, you know, could have killed one pilot and hold the
knife to the other`s throat and force them the other way. Of course, the
third possibility is disabled. Somehow they were disabled through oxygen

SHARPTON: Jim Tilmon, let me go back to you because there has been a lot
of talk today about pings that showed the plane continued to fly four or
five more hours. Could the plane have kept flying without pilot intent?

TILMON: To a certain extent, it could. But Reverend Al, one of the things
I hope you`ll help us get from somewhere is the timeline. Exactly
establishing what happened here in so many minutes or seconds later that
happened there. I don`t think we ever really saw a nice timeline, whether
the things we can really count on really did happen at that time. It might
reveal to us a whole lot more information than we have right now.

SHARPTON: No, but we`re definitely working trying to get that. Let me go
back to something you said, Jim Cavanaugh there is a lot of questions about
the two pilots on board the flight. One even had a flight simulator at
home. Does that raise any red flags to you?

CAVANAUGH: Yes, it absolutely does, Reverend Al. And I think it also
raised them with Jim Tilmon the other day. Look, they should be into the
computer at the pilot`s flight simulator examining everything that he did
on that simulator. I mean, was he practicing turning off equipment and
making a hard turn. Was he practicing this route that is a flight route
that maneuvers itself through the islands towards India? I mean, he might
have been practicing that route on the simulator. I mean, that would be a
big answer.


CAVANAUGH: But it may not be so. I mean, he may just be a guy who is so
enthused with flying and he loves flying and, you know, there is nothing
nefarious about it.

SHARPTON: Well, Jim Tilmon, is it odd Jim Tilmon, for a pilot to have this
type of equipment at home?

TILMON: I won`t call it odd, but most pilots don`t. I mean, I know that
it is done and some pilots do have it. They like to tinker around. Some
pilots want to be able to simulate going into an airport they`re unfamiliar
with and be able to go into there for the first time knowledgeable about
it. But somebody else might decide to practice flying at a very low level
underneath the radar or doing something else that is not normally done and
practice that over and over until they got that to the point of being a
flight plan.

SHARPTON: Well, in 30 seconds, because I really have to go, Jim Tilmon,
where are you on this? What do you think happened?

TILMON: Well, I`m just as puzzled as the last time we talked, Reverend Al.

SHARPTON: All right.

TILMON: I mean some of these things make sense and some of them don`t.

SHARPTON: Jim Tilmon and Jim Cavanaugh, thank you both for your time

TILMON: Thank, Reverend Al.

CAVANAUGH: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, Scott Walker`s Republican allies launch a new
attack on voting rights in a critical swing state. But Democrats are
fighting back.

Also, we`re celebrating Pi day in a unique POLITICS NATION kind of way.
Stay with us.


SHARPTON: Let me wish everyone in POLITICS NATION a very happy Pi today.
It`s about Pi, you know, this mathematical symbol, the one that equals
3.14. And we celebrate the day because today is 3.14, March 14th. And
math learners across America are celebrating. The Buffalo bills football
tweeted team tweeted out this clever picture. Jersey numbers lined up to
equal Pi. In Austin, Texas, five planes wrote the number out in midair.
It`s literally Pi in the sky. And as you can imagine, the students at MIT
take this holiday very seriously.

But some just couldn`t resist partisan attacks today. Leave it to Senator
Ted Cruz. He tweeted, "Happy Pi Day." Hopefully there is still a few
digits in the national debt that in Pi when the debt limit suspension ends
a year from now." Really, Senator Cruz? You had to go bring partisan
politics into Pi day? Do you really want to remind people about the debt
ceiling fight, the one your party caused? So for that, we`ve got our own
POLITICS NATION way to celebrate Pi day, with blueberry pie. And senator,
you earned this one. We hope you enjoy it.


SHARPTON: They got the blueberry pie all over their face. They were the
ones eating the pie.



SHARPTON: Forty nine years ago tomorrow, President Johnson delivered a
historic speech on civil rights to Congress and the nation as a hole. He
said it was an issue for all Americans, not just black.


FMR. PRES. LYNDON JOHNSON, UNITED STATES: Their cause must be our cause
too. Because it`s not just negroes, but really, it`s all of us who must
overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we shall


SHARPTON: We shall overcome. Just weeks after that speech, President
Johnson signed a voting rights act into law, shaking hands with Reverend
Dr. Martin Luther King. Nearly 50 years later, those gains are under
attack. In Wisconsin, Republican lawmakers just passed a bill to get rid
of weekend voting. The state`s Governor Scott Walker is fighting to keep
his state`s voter ID law. And in Ohio, the GOP governor also recently
signed bills that could make voting more difficult. So far this year
lawmakers in 19 states have introduced bills to scale back voting rights.
It`s remarkable that 50 years after the great triumphs of the civil rights
movement, we`re still fighting some of the same battles. But we won`t get

We`ll continue to fight, because we shall overcome. Those 50 years ago had
to overcome the fear of death and jail and all kinds of danger. What we
face today is far less, but we must be equally determined and let them know
no matter what games were played, Lyndon Johnson was right as he echoed
those marches in the South. We shall overcome.

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


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