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PoliticsNation, Thursday, March 27, 2014

Read the transcript from the Thursday show

March 27, 2014

Guest: Karen Finney, Ryan Grim, Derrica Wilson, Petula Dvorak

REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening, Ed, and thanks to you
for tuning in. I`m live tonight from Chicago.

We have major news on the president`s health care law. It`s reached a big
milestone so we will have news on that.

But we begin tonight with breaking news on the Chris Christie bridge
scandal. A report conducted by a lawyer hired by the Christie
administration has found the governor played no role in the bridge


Christie had no knowledge beforehand of this George Washington bridge
realignment idea and that he played no role whatsoever in that decision or
the implementation of it.


SHARPTON: No role whatsoever? But buried deep inside the report is this
jaw-dropping news. Christie was allegedly told about the lane closures
while they were happening. If true, this account directly contradicts the
governor`s public statements on when he knew.

The report says that David Wildstein, the port authority official who
oversaw the closures informed Christie about it at a September 11th
memorial while the closings were under way. That seems like a big deal,
right, that the governor knew of the massive traffic?

Here is the answer. The report says the governor does not recall that
conversation. So when did the governor find out? Here is what he said
just last month.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who brought that to your attention? Was it staff?

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: No it was news accounts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you read them personally or did something bring to
it your attention?

CHRISTIE: No I read it. I read it in "the Wall Street Journal."


SHARPTON: He read it in "the Wall Street Journal?" Here is that article,
published October 1st, several weeks after the closings. So did he learn
about the bridge on the October 1st date or on September 11th as Wildstein
suggests? Either way, today`s report says it was just a traffic issue that
wouldn`t have raised any red flags.


MASTRO: The governor points out that a mention of a traffic issue in Fort
Lee would not have been memorable or meaningful to the governor. It`s a
common occurrence to have traffic issues, problems.


SHARPTON: A common occurrence? In fact, by September 11th, the day
Wildstein allegedly told Christie about the traffic, this was anything but
a common occurrence. Beginning on September 9th, emergency workers had
trouble responding to a missing child report and a cardiac arrest. Police
were calling the traffic a nightmare.

And on that same day, a key Christie official received an e-mail with the
subject line "phone call Fort Lee Sokolich regarding urgent matter of
safety in Fort Lee." This was not a common occurrence. And today`s report
leaves us with more questions than answers.

Joining me now are Steve Kornacki and Krystal Ball. Thank you both for
coming on the show tonight.

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC HOST, THE CYCLE: Thanks for having us, Rev.

SHARPTON: So Steve, Christie was apparently told about the lane closures
while they were happening but doesn`t remember it. Your reaction.

interested in is how they deal with it in this report. Because the way
I`ve read this thing is everything that is in this report maybe we will
find out when the U.S. attorney weighs in on this, when the legislative
committee weighs in on this. Many will find out that everything in here is
true. But the way the report is written it editorializes. It uses loaded
language. It`s constantly giving, with its language, it is constantly
giving the benefit of the doubt to Christie.

So, we are asking -- you`re talking about the claim, Wildstein`s claim that
he talked to Christie on September 11th about it. This is how the report
then deals with it. It says that is a reference that the governor does not
recall. And even if actually made would not have registered with the
governor in any event because he knew nothing about this decision in
advance and would not have considered another traffic issue at one of the
bridges or tunnels to be memorable.

An objective just the facts report is going to use some attribution here.
The governor claims this. The governor said.

BALL: Right.

KORNACKI: It`s going to attempt to substantiate the governor`s claims to
what the governor is saying. It just asserts, you know, the governor does
not recall this. It would not have registered with the governor because he
knew nothing about the decision.

This language is consistent throughout the report. So, it`s a kind of
thing that it may be in the end everything in here is true. But the way
it`s written, it makes you ask about the question and makes it a little

BALL: Yes.

SHARPTON: Krystal, I hear you saying yes, right. Does this undercut the
credibility of the report, the language that is the framed in the report?

BALL: Absolutely. I had the exact same response as Steve. The way that
Christie is described throughout. He is welling with tears of emotion upon
receiving the news. It says at one point he has conducted himself at every
turn has someone who has nothing to hide.

And when there is a question of he said-she said, as is the case with this
particular conversation that happened allegedly at the 9/11 memorial, the
report always sides with team Christie. And you can see this also in the
allegations that Steve reported on regarding Mayor Dawn Zimmer and the
allegation that sandy aid had been tied up in her approval of a development

They really go out of their way not just to rebut her claims, but to
thoroughly discredit her. And, again, that`s another instance where she is
saying these conversations happened. The people she is saying that the
conversations happened with are of course denying it. And in every
instance, they come down on the side of the people who are denying the

So, again, in the game of he said-she said or he said-he said, they always
come down in this report on the side of Christie in a way that undercuts
the credibility of the actual investigation that they claim went on here.

SHARPTON: Now, Steve, Dave Wildstein alleges that he personally told Chris
Christie about the lane closures, but just listen to what Christie said
about Wildstein earlier this year.


CHRISTIE: I have had no contact with David Wildstein in a long time. A
long time, well before the election. You know, I could probably count on
one hand the number of conversations I`ve had with David since he worked at
the port authority. I did not interact with David.


SHARPTON: Is this just something else that the governor forgot about,

KORNACKI: Well, this is where it gets interesting, where I think it`s
important to remember we keep calling it a report. That`s probably the
best shorthand we can use for this. But the way I really look at this is
basically, this is the Christie camp`s defense.

BALL: Yes.

KORNACKI: This was drawn up by his legal team. And these are also the
lawyers who are representing him as the U.S. attorney conducts an
investigation, as the state legislative committee conducts an
investigation. He is simultaneously being represented by the same law firm
that conducted this, you know, independent internal investigation. I think
you need to keep that in mind.

And so, you get to this question of, you know, Wildstein`s September 11th.
OK, Wildstein, obviously, was not interviewed for this report. Wildstein`s
lawyer put out a statement, you know, a month or two that got a lot of
attention where he said in the statement that he said evidence exists that
the governor knew at the time. Everybody has been wondering since what
does that mean.

This report suggests that that`s probably what Wildstein was referring to.
They haven`t talked to Wildstein, but Wildstein through his lawyer has made
it very clear he is interested in talking to the U.S. attorney. We know
the U.S. attorney has talked to a lot of people or could talk to a lot of
people whose Christie`s legal team were unable to reach.

You know, the Christie`s team mentioned Dawn Zimmer. Dawn Zimmer has not
interviewed for this. Everybody around Dawn Zimmer not interviewed for
this. Documents that the Christie`s team wanted from Dawn Zimmer, not
provided. Well, you know who has the documents? The U.S. attorney. You
know who has talked to Dawn Zimmer? The U.S. attorney. People around
here? The U.S. attorney.

So that`s where the ball game really is in terms of this figuring out what
is true, what isn`t true. I don`t read this as any kind of authoritative
report. I read this is Christie`s version of events. This is his defense.
Maybe it`s right, maybe it`s wrong, but he is not the judge of it.

SHARPTON: But Krystal, if this is just Christie`s lawyers and a Christie
report by those defending him, let`s remember the man heading up the
investigation himself has an interesting -- has interesting ties to

Randy Mastro is the former chief of staff to Rudy Giuliani, also happens to
be a major ally of Christie`s. But furthermore, at least $1 million in
legal fees for this report will be paid by state taxpayers in New Jersey.
So this is not an objective report, even appears to be. The taxpayers are
paying for this report.

BALL: It`s definitely not an objective report. It shouldn`t be viewed as
an objective report. It should not be viewed as an independent
investigation. It`s not. It`s an internal investigation by lawyers hired
by Chris Christie, and there are other independent investigation that are
actually occurring.

Maybe they`ll find the same thing. And I don`t think it`s absurd to think
that Christie didn`t know in advance what was going on, didn`t personally
orchestrate the bridge lane closures. But this supposed investigation is
very certain that he knew nothing, that he had absolutely no involvement
given the fact that they in this report cannot come to any conclusion about
what the motive behind the closures actually were.

I don`t see how you can be so confident saying Chris Christie, there is no
way he was involved when you still don`t know why the bridges were actually
-- why those lanes were actually shut down.

SHARPTON: All right, Steve. Let me ask this, then. If Christie didn`t
know anything in advance, then what could have been the motive of
Christie`s aides?

KORNACKI: Well, so, the one piece of new information here that is
interesting is they talk about how Bridget Kelly, they say in this that
Bridget Kelly checked in with the Christie campaign, who has got Matt
Mauers (ph) from the Christie campaign on August 12th, the day before she
sent out that e-mail we all know about, "time for some traffic for Fort
Lee." She checked in with him to make sure that it was correct, that Mark
Sokolich, the mayor of Fort Lee hadn`t endorsed Christie.

So it suggests some kind of connection there. But then they also point
out, and that is true, this has been in the record for a while now that
Wildstein had as far back as 2010-2011 talked about the idea of being
bothered by these lanes, wanting to -- Fort Lee shouldn`t get these special

A real interesting thing in here is so -- after Bill Baroni, you know, the
other appointee at the port authority testified before the state assembly
in November, he goes on and on about the injustice of Fort Lee having three
dedicated lanes. This report says that Baroni`s testimony took Christie`s
authority director Regina off guard. She didn`t expect him to be obsessed
with the lanes like this. She expected him to say something completely

So Christie, to this report is telling you Christie`s team was really
caught off guard by what Bill Baroni said and how sticks (INAUDIBLE). But
we also know that a week after Bill Baroni gave that testimony, Chris
Christie held a press conference where he said he was bothered by the
special lanes for Fort Lee. I think he said he was steamed by it. He used
some kind of term like that. So it was on his mind too at some point.

SHARPTON: Well, we`re going to continue, have a lot of questions on this.

Steve Kornacki and Krystal Ball, stay with us.

Coming up, Chris Christie`s camp blames former aide Bridget Kelly for the
bridge closings, but are they just looking for a scapegoat? More on the
latest revelations in the Bridgegate scandal.

And it`s been a month since this little girl disappeared from a homeless
shelter in Washington. Where is Relisha Rudd and who is the man who took

Plus, a huge milestone today for the affordable care act.

And what did the Pope and the president discuss today at the Vatican?
We`ll tell you, coming up.


SHARPTON: Governor Christie blames this woman for the Bridgegate scandal,
and his team`s new review is sharing some intimate details about her
private life. That`s next.


SHARPTON: I have terminated the employment of Bridget Kelly, effective
immediately. I`ve terminated her employment because she lied to me. There
is no justification for ever lying to a governor. Stunned by the abject
stupidity. That was obviously a lie, proved that that was a lie. Bridget
clearly did not tell me the truth.


SHARPTON: That was governor Christie on January 9th, announcing in very
personal terms that he fired Bridget Kelly for her alleged role in the
bridge scandal. Today the Christie review again put the blame on Kelly and
publicized new details about her private life.

The review says Kelly and Christie`s campaign manager Bill Stepien became,
quote, "personally involved last year." Why would that matter? Because
the review suggests that relationship have somehow led to the lane
closings. Quote, "events in Kelly`s personal life may have had some
bearing on her subjective motivations and state of mind," saying, quote
"her first known communication about the lane realignment in mid-August
2013 occurred around the time that a personal relationship with Stepien had
cooled, apparently at Stepien`s behest.

What exactly are they implying here about Bridget Kelly? They`re talking
about her state of mind after the end of a personal relationship? It
seemed Christie merely laying out the facts or are they trying to find a

Back with me now are Steve Kornacki and Krystal Ball.

Steve, you`ve been highlighting this angle in your reporting today. What
strikes you about this?

KORNACKI: A couple of things do. One is we know that they didn`t talk to
Bridget Kelly. We know that they didn`t talk to Bill Stepien. Now, if you
call around you know in New Jersey political world people, it`s sort of
common knowledge that everybody says yes, they had some kind of
relationship. But it`s one of those things that is hearsay. Nobody
actually knows. It`s a rumor. It`s speculation in New Jersey politics.

But this report just asserts it as fact. And I wonder where a report like
this could -- how a report like this could have served something like that
as a fact without talking to Kelly and Stepien, the two people who are in
this relationship.

The other thing is yes, I mean, it`s a little surprising to me that the
language you just quoted really seems to be implying that, hey, you know,
Bridget Kelly was essentially dumped by Bill Stepien. And in her emotional
anguish, for some reason turned to David Wildstein and concocted this plan
for some purpose having to do with the breakup with Stepien.

All of these suggestions in here about Bridget Kelly throughout this, not
just in terms of this relationship supposedly, but throughout this report
suggests that she is unstable, emotional. And it`s a level of scrutiny
about her personality and character and emotions that they don`t subject
anybody else to in this report.

SHARPTON: You know, Krystal, this is troubling. I mean, this ugly stuff.

BALL: Yes.

SHARPTON: Because they`re talking about this lady`s personal life. And
we`re being told they knew when this alleged personal relationship began,
when it ended, and how and why it ended without talking to the two people
involved. I mean, that`s really, really outrageous.

BALL: This part actually makes me really angry, because to me it seems
like the report goes out of its way to paint Bridget Kelly as this erratic,
emotional woman who had been just scorned by Bill Stepien. And so she
would be in a condition to do anything.

She is described as nervous. She is described as weepy. That piece
really, really bothers me, because it`s an attack that many women will be
familiar with, an attempt to undermine their credibility. And the only
person that I would say comes close to the same sort of scrutiny in this
report is also mayor Dawn Zimmer, who they say her subjective perceptions
don`t match reality. And they go out of their way again to discredit her
claims and portray her as really unreliable and erratic.

So the treatment of the women in this report to me is very angering and
very troubling. They try to draw this connection in the report as you were
pointing out, Reverend, that maybe the lane closings had something to do
with the end of this personal relationship. They just assert that. They
have absolutely no evidence for that. And to me, there is no real reason
to include any details about her personal relationship with Bill Stepien in
this report without it being somehow directly linked with the subject of
their investigation. I think it`s inappropriate.

SHARPTON: You know, Steve, today the lawyer leading this review seemed to
be preemptively attacking the credibility of Bridget Kelly and David
Wildstein if they were to ever speak out. Listen to this.


MASTRO: Even if eventually they do come forward. You have to evaluate the
credibility of what they say under the circumstances at the time of when
they say it. We have an old maxim in investigations, we lawyers.
Witnesses lie, documents don`t.


SHARPTON: Now, so Steve, you`ve got them talking about her personal lives,
even though they never talked to them. You have them talking about two of
the main players in this, including Bridget Kelly, casting doubt on their
credibility if they were to come forward. All of this from an objective

KORNACKI: I think that moment right there illustrates perfectly the
weirdness of the situation here, the sort of two conflicting hats that
Randy Mastro is wearing in all this. Because we have known for a long time
that David Wildstein`s lawyer is looking to get some kind of a deal with
the U.S. attorney, with the federal prosecutors. He has made that clear,
if you give him a deal, he`ll talk. I might be quoting exactly there.

We presume that Bridget Kelly would like some kind of a deal too, although
it`s not been made clear like that. So potentially, now keep in mind this
is the law firm, Randy Mastro`s law firm that has already been retained by
the governor`s office to help facilitate cooperation in the investigation
that the U.S. attorney is conducting.

So potentially, this law firm, if Bridget Kelly or David Wildstein were to
cut some kind of a deal with federal prosecutors, were to provide some new
information to them that required a defense from Christie, this is the law
firm that will be involved in that. And this is the same law firm that is
doing the independent --

Quote, "independent, internal investigation." At a certain point, if
you`re investigating Christie`s office and you are investigating him, what
do you do if you`re his lawyer and you dig up something that is
embarrassing to your client?

SHARPTON: You know, the other thing I find interesting, Krystal, in the
review it also talks about Christie`s meetings with top aides in early
January after the scandal really exploded in public. And it says it was an
emotional session in which the governor welling up with tears expressed
shock at the revelations, directed Kelly`s immediate firing for lying to
him, and also decided to sever ties with Stepien.

I mean, from what all of us have seen of Chris Christie, can you imagine
him welling up with tears, Krystal?

BALL: Well, you know, Reverend, he is the real victim in all of this,
obviously. And I think that language speaks to the way the whole report is
colored. He is presented in this very favorable light. He is shocked. He
is victimized by his staff who took advantage of him and did these things
that he had no knowledge of, and then lied to him. So he is welling up
with tears.

There is nothing in the report that gets to what would have given Bridget
Kelly and David Wildstein the idea that this would be an acceptable thing
to do. And I think that`s one of the questions that is still outstanding.
The culture in that office that would lead those two individuals to believe
that this was something they should go ahead and do.

SHARPTON: Steve Kornacki and Krystal Ball, thank you both for your time.

BALL: Thanks, Reverend.

SHARPTON: And be sure to watch "Up with Steve Kornacki weekends" at 8:00
a.m. eastern, and you can catch Krystal on "the cycle" weekdays at 3:00
p.m. eastern, both right here on MSNBC.

Still ahead, Governor Scott Walker says he wants to make it easy to vote in
Wisconsin. So why is he back to trying to cut back the voting hours?

Plus, the desperate search for a little girl who may be in the hands of a
suspected murderer.

Stay with us.

SHARPTON: Scott Walker strikes again. Today the Republican governor of
Wisconsin signed into law a bill restricting early voting in the state. No
voting past 7:00 p.m. on weekdays, and no weekend voting at all. Here is
what he said about the bill earlier this week.


GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: I want to mention that it`s easy to
vote, but also hard to cheat. That`s why I spend my off any time talk
about voter ID, not early voting.


SHARPTON: He wants to make sure it`s easy to vote? Eliminating early
voting does the exact opposite, because voters with full-time jobs and
families to support with those jobs don`t always have the time to come out
and wait in line on Election day. They lead busy lives. But maybe Scott
Walker is too busy with his own presidential ambitions to care about that.
He is getting ready to jet off to Las Vegas to kiss the ring of casino
billionaire and GOP mega donor Sheldon Adelson. So it seems like Scott
Walker is one of those republicans who care more about people who spend
millions of dollars on elections than the millions of people who actually
vote in those elections. Did Governor Walker think we`d ignore how he is
betting against his own voters? Nice try but what happens in Vegas won`t
stay in Vegas because we gotcha.


SHARPTON: Breaking news. We`re four days away from the deadline to sign
up for health care. But today the country hit a huge milestone. President
Obama announced six million people have enrolled in the health care
exchanges. Six million more Americans are covered. And the demand is
still high. Yesterday 1.5 million people visited, 1.2
million logged on Tuesday, and another million on Monday. More and more
people looking for better care. But what do we hear from the right? Just
listen to this audio that buzz feed obtained of Republican Congressman Bill


REP. BILL CASSIDY (R), LOUISIANA: That I actually think reflects the
reality of who the uninsured are, relatively less sophisticated, less
comfortable with forms, less educated.


SHARPTON: He thinks uninsured people aren`t educated? Can`t figure out
how to sign up for health care? Let me educate Congressman Cassidy. All
kinds of people don`t have health insurance. In fact, 40 percent of
uninsured Americans have some college education, and 34 percent graduated
from high school. Being uninsured isn`t about education, it`s about
affordability and the Affordable Care Act is changing that.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: In what looks like some new age health coverage conga,
Candace Mcrae (ph) celebrates her enrollment under the Affordable Care Act.
It`s been more than a year since she`s had health insurance because her
employer doesn`t provide it.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I`ve been without health insurance as of may -- it
will be five years.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: As of today, Sue Fraser will not have to go another
year without it because she just found out --

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I`m eligible for free health insurance.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I haven`t had insurance before since I can remember. So
this is really a godsend.


SHARPTON: Maybe that will help educate Republicans. This law is helping
millions of real people, and he is here to stay.

Joining me now are Karen Finney and Ryan Grim. Thank you both for being



SHARPTON: Karen, we know enrollment in these exchanges started slow. But
it really picked up speed in December and has really taken off this month.
1.8 million Signups in March. And we`re still going. What does this law
do to the law`s critics?

FINNEY: I think if we remember back to the beginning of this process,
despite the glitches with the website, this was exactly what President
Obama and so many others predicted based on the experience that they had
from looking at the Massachusetts model, that the closer you got to the
deadline, the more you saw that number going up. And I think it also says
to the critics something else that we have known all along, that the more
people that learn about the Affordable Care Act and what`s in it and what
it can do for them and their families, the more they like it. That doesn`t
mean there still doesn`t need to be changes made here and there. But the
point is fundamentally, I think it`s very clear Americans want this to go

SHARPTON: Ryan, let`s go back to Congressman Cassidy a minute. He said
that the uninsured were, quote, "less educated." He has walked that back
with this statement, quote, "the uninsured from all segments of society,
this includes the more and the less educated, our policies must meet people
where they are. Obamacare is one size fits all model lacks the basic
measure of compassion." The President`s law lacks compassion. I mean,
what`s your reaction to that, Ryan?

GRIM: Well, it`s just false. It`s not a one size fits all policy. I
don`t know if he doesn`t know what is actually in the law. I mean, I know
that there was a lot of talking about everybody needs to read the bill.
Maybe Representative Cassidy hasn`t read it. But, you know, there are
these exchanges that now six million people have sign upped for, and there
will be another enrollment period coming up in October. But there is also
a Medicaid expansion that the Louisiana governor is blocking.

But that`s a different size for a different population that would have
allowed millions of people to sign up who can`t now. And it`s true.
Louisiana`s illiteracy rate among adults is something between 15 and 20
percent. So it`s true, there are a lot of people in Louisiana who can`t
read. But I don`t know what proposal Cassidy has to deliver health care or
health insurance to those people. It`s just a pretty confusing series of
statements coming out of him.

SHARPTON: Karen, let`s go back to this six million people that have signed
up. This is huge because it means that the Obama administration has
reached its goal and still going up. So this is big. What will this do to
the opposition and the adversaries of the law? And what does it mean that
they have reached six million?

FINNEY: Yes. I think what you`re going see from the opposition is what
we`ve seen all along, Rev. They are probably gathered somewhere here in
Washington now in some back room planning, you know, their next step and
how they`re going try to take this, you know, take the law, repeal it,
replace it, you know, all of that. I mean, and I`m being a little bit
funny. But in all seriousness, I mean, that has been their agenda time and
time again. You`re seeing the kind of spending that they`re doing against
candidates at the local level both for the House and the Senate, trying to
use the Affordable Care Act as a wedge issue against people, which says to
me that, you know, Democrats need to stand up for this legislation and
stand up for six million people who now have access to health insurance who
didn`t. And why wouldn`t we want more people in the system? So it`s huge.
It is a win for this president. It is a win for the administration. But
the fight continues because you and I both know they are sitting in a room
somewhere, those who oppose it, planning their next step.

SHARPTON: Well, it`s also a big win for the American people, Ryan. But as
Karen says planning their next step because they went into wild attacks
this week, I mean, they went crazy. We had one candidate in Alabama for
Congress put on this ad where he actually shoots a copy of the health care
law. I mean, you have to see this Ryan.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Looks like we`ll have to resort to more extreme measures
to get rid of ObamaCare.


SHARPTON: So when you have this kind of political venom, and now it
achieved this goal and still going up, because you still have four days,
Ryan, it gives you the kind of climate, political climate that we`re
dealing with.

GRIM: Right. And it`s also deeply unoriginal. You know, Democrat Joe
Manchin might sue him for plagiarism for that. He famously shot the
climate change bill when he was running for Senate. But that`s West
Virginia. That`s coal country. But, you know, six million people, that`s
an awful lot of people who have coverage through the exchanges. And one of
the rights` critiques is that, they`ve been throwing around this number
that only 14 percent of those people didn`t have insurance before they sign
up for this. Let`s assume that that is true. Fourteen percent of six
million, that`s roughly a million people.

You know, that`s just one signup period. A million people who were living
with the anxiety of not having health insurance now have health insurance.
Now have health insurance. And the other five million have a much better
regulated set of policies that can`t be canceled when they get sick, et
cetera, et cetera. So, you know, I think that as time goes on in this law
continues to be implemented, they`re going have to keep evolving their
critiques of it because more and more people are seeing the benefits of it.

SHARPTON: A lot of Americans. A lot of Americans that are in a better
place. Karen, we`ll have to leave it here. Karen Finney and Ryan Grim,
thank you both for your time tonight. And be sure to watch "Disrupt with
Karen Finney" weekends at 4:00 p.m. Eastern right here on MSNBC.

Still ahead, the desperate search for eight-year-old missing girl. Who are
police trying to find in this mishap? And did the system, the question is
did the system let her down.

Plus, segregation has taken root in our schools again. You won`t believe
where. Stay with us.


SHARPTON: We`re back with the desperate search for a little girl who may
be in the hands of an accused murderer. Eight-year-old Relisha Rudd has
been missing for over a month. She was living with her mother and
stepfather at a homeless shelter in Washington, D.C. The prime suspect in
her disappearance is this man, 51-year-old Kahlil Tatum, the janitor at the
homeless shelter. Late last month, Relisha`s mother asked Tatum to take
the little girl home with him. That same day, surveillance video from a
hotel show Relisha walking down a hallway with Tatum, carrying bags and
entering a room.

There have been no confirmed sightings of Relisha since March 1st. But
last week police did find Tatum`s wife dead at a Maryland hotel, killed by
a single gunshot to the head. It`s been a month. Relisha has not been
found and Kahlil Tatum is at large with a $70,000 reward attached to his
name. But even as the search continues, there are troubling questions
about how authorities handled the case and whether they missed
opportunities to save her.

Joining me now is Derrica Wilson who founded the Black and Missing
Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps minority families find
missing loved ones, and Petula Dvorak, columnist for "The Washington Post"
who has been writing about this story. Thank you for both being here.

PETULA DVORAK, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Thank you for having us.


SHARPTON: Derrica, you are a former police officer. What are officials
doing right now to try to find this little girl?

WILSON: This is such a very tragic and such a bizarre case. But today
this case has taken yet another twist. They`re no longer searching for
missing Relisha. They`re now changing it over to a recovery operation.
They have reason to believe that this young girl was murdered. Chief
Lanier held a press conference today and out of that press conference, they
are assuming that she is presumed deceased. We are not giving up hope on
the fact that Relisha is not alive, and we`re going to keep searching.
Every day time is of the essence. But it`s getting slimmer and slimmer
with us not knowing where she is and the vehicles that was associated in
her disappearance have been recovered.

SHARPTON: Wow. Now Petula, you know, today said police were searching
Washington Park where they revealed some really chilling details about the
investigation. Watch this.


CATHY L. LANIER, DC POLICE CHIEF: On March 2nd, we know that Mr. Tatum
purchased among other items a carton of black 42 gallon self-tie contractor
trash bags within the District of Columbia. Not long after that purchase,
Mr. Tatum was in the area of the aquatic gardens for a period of time. We
cannot ignore the possibility that he may have killed her.


SHARPTON: Now, these are chilling details. And you have been on this
story, you wrote some very compelling pieces to your credit. And you wrote
in your column that, quote, "Relisha Rudd deserved better. She deserved a
social safety net that recognized her life was chaotic, unstable and
dangerous and caught her." What could they have done to help this little

DVORAK: Absolutely you`re right. She had so many -- there were so many
opportunities to help this little girl. Social workers knew that she was
abused when she was two. The school knew that she had a spotty attendance
record, 30 days missed. The workers at the homeless shelter knew that this
janitor was giving gifts to lots of little girls. They weren`t supposed to
do that. He wasn`t supposed to do that. There were lots of signs. But
I`ll tell you, this story goes back to the very beginning about their
situation, and that is homelessness. If this family had a home, they would
have had that social safety net that would have noticed she wasn`t in
school, that would have noticed she wasn`t at home, she wasn`t at the
places she was playing. That`s where we ultimately failed this family, a
lack of affordable housing.

SHARPTON: Derrica, you`re shaking your head. And when I look at the facts
in 2007, social workers concluded Relisha may have been physically abused.
They also found evidence of neglect in 2010, saying the home was filthy and
littered with trash and cigarette butts, the children were left
unsupervised at the shelter, and Relisha had more than 30 school absences
that officials say were excused because the mother said Relisha was ill. I
mean, why did nobody respond to these red flags?

WILSON: Well, not only did the system fail Relisha, child protective
services, but the parents failed Relisha as well.


WILSON: The mother and the grandmother, they were in on this. They
allowed this man to pose as Relisha`s doctor, allowing him to send letters
to the school to get her out of school. That is a failure right there, to
allow a complete stranger to take your daughter. I mean, human
trafficking, and we talk about this so often.


WILSON: Human trafficking is very prevalent in the United States. And I
went on record today to say that honestly, I think she sold her daughter.
I really think she sold her daughter to this predator. And what we`re also
not talking about is the fact that Kahlil Tatum has a very extensive
criminal history in Virginia. Under his government-issued name, you know,
if you run Kahlil Tatum, you`re not going to come up with anything. But
under his government-issued name, he has a criminal record and he should
have never been working at that shelter around those children.

SHARPTON: Well, Petula, we`re out of time. And we do not know whether in
fact she was sold or not. But we certainly are going to follow this story,
and we certainly thank you for your compelling journalism in this case,
Petula Dvorak and Derrica Wilson who does great work in this area. Thank
you both for your time tonight. And let`s all pray for this little girl.
We`ll be right back.


SHARPTON: Breaking news. Just moments ago, Governor Christie defended the
new report, which cleared him of any wrongdoing in the George Washington
Bridge scandal.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Why should the taxpayers be paying for this report?

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Well, a few things. First off, these
are not my lawyers.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: But it`s a law firm that you`ve been affiliated with
in the past, you know one of the partners, it`s chosen by the office.

CHRISTIE: Sure there is probably hardly a law firm in this area that I
haven`t had some interaction with after being the United States attorney.
But the bottom line is that these people have their own professional and
personal reputations. Six of them are former federal prosecutors. They`re
not going to whitewash anything for me.


SHARPTON: When asked why someone would close the bridge, Christie said
sometimes people just do inexplicable things. One thing is for sure, right
now there is a lot that is inexplicable about this story.


SHARPTON: It`s been 60 years since the Supreme Court ruled that segregated
public schools were unconstitutional. But a startling new study shows
segregation is still alive and well in American schools. And not
necessarily where you would expect. A new study from the UCLA civil rights
project reveals that New York has the most segregated schools in the
country. Almost 30 percent of New York schools have fewer than 10 percent
white students. And the typical Black or Latino student in New York
attends a school where nearly 70 percent of their classmates are from low-
income families.

Here in Chicago, school segregation is alive and well too. In 2012, nearly
half the city`s black students attended so-called apartheid schools, with
few if any white students. It`s hard to imagine that this can still be an
issue today. In 1954, Linda Brown`s family fought racial separation in
Topeka public schools, all the way to the Supreme Court. And they won,
clearing the way for school integration nationwide. And in the `70s and
`80s, school districts helped integrate schools by bussing students in
areas with heavy segregation.

But now we`re fighting some of the same battles. Today predominantly
minority schools spend an average of $733 less on each student than
majority white schools. Education is supposed to be the great equalizer,
but there is nothing equal about the state of public education today.
That`s why we must continue to fight, even if the battleground is not in
Little Rock, but in Chicago or in my hometown of New York, often called the
big apple. It doesn`t look like kids are getting the same bite.

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


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