IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

PoliticsNation, Friday, July 25th, 2014

Read the transcript from the Friday show

July 25, 2014

Guest: Eric Guster, Midwin Charles

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

I`m talking tonight some big news on the Eric Garner investigation.
Attorney General Eric Holder is speaking out. And I`m going to give you
the insight of my meeting with the garner family and the U.S. attorney.

But we start with tonight`s lead. And breaking news out of Washington.
One hundred sixteen House Democrats just signed a letter to House speaker
John Boehner and senate majority leader Harry Reid encouraging them to not
let Congress leave for the August recess before they finish work on a bill
to reform the veteran affairs department.

The letter says quote "let`s put our nation`s veterans who have sacrificed
so much for our freedoms first."

Yes, this should not be bipartisan, it should be something helping our
veterans. Our veterans shouldn`t take a threat to Congress member`s
vacation. It ought to be something they do. This comes after the Senate
addressed the bill addressing the problems at the VA last month. If passed
with bipartisan support, a whopping 93-3.

But this week, House Republicans effectively spiked the bill. They pundit
on helping our veterans and this is the pattern we continue to see from
House Republicans. Over two weeks ago, President Obama requested emergency
funding to deal with the humanitarian crisis at the border. No-brainer,

But today, when House Republicans finally met about it, here`s what


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the big issues is, very few people trust the

REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: The problem is you have a president, he`s
not following the 2008 law. If he`s not obeying the 2008 law, what good
does it do to change that law?

REP. JOHN FLEMING (R), LOUISIANA: Let`s say theoretically, it makes it all
the way to the president`s desk and he signs it, it will be yet another law
that the president will ignore, not enforce.


SHARPTON: Instead of coming together to solve a crisis, they`re attacking
the president. This is what happens after years of extremist rhetoric from
the right.

Today, impeachment mania is running wild in the GOP. A new poll shows 57
percent of Republicans actually support impeaching President Obama, along
with 56 percent of conservatives, it echoes the drum beat we`ve been
hearing from Republican leaders.


SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: Impeachment is a message that has
to be sent to our president, we`re not going to put up with this
lawlessness. You don`t bring a lawsuit to a gunfight. There`s no place
for lawyers on the front lines.

REP. STEVE STOCKMAN (R), TEXAS: We want all tools available to use
including that impeachment.

REP. KERRY BENTIVOLIO (R), MICHIGAN: So tell me how I can impeach the
president of the United States.

SEN. JIM INHOFE (R), OKLAHOMA: People may be starting to use I-word before
too long.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. I-word meaning impeachment?



SHARPTON: Yes, it`s absurd and is tempting to dismiss it as empty
rhetoric. But this hatred for President Obama has an effect. That`s
infecting our political system. Today, the do nothing Republican Congress
is preventing simple and popular things from getting done.

And the breaking news, 116 Democrats say enough is enough. Do something.

Joining me now are E.J. Dionne and Angela Rye.

Thank you both for being here.



SHARPTON: E.J., big news tonight, house Democrats urging action. Nobody
goes home until the VA is fixed. What does it say they have to be dragged
kicking and screaming on a bill that would help veterans?

DIONNE: Well, you know, it`s amazing, because they cannot say it`s not
bipartisan enough, there aren`t many bills that pass the Senate 93-3. And
I think what you`re seeing here is a weird form of nullification, which is
the idea that we can`t do anything with President Obama. We can`t solve
any problem as long as Barack Obama is president of the United States.

And I`ve been around a while, I`ve seen Democrats be very mad at Republican
presidents like President Bush or President Reagan. That didn`t stop
Democrats from reforming taxes under Reagan.

Nancy Pelosi was against the Iraq war, that didn`t stop her from voting,
you know, letting appropriations through for our troop troops and in this
case it`s outrageous. And in this case, it is outrage because everyone was
yelling this is an outrage. What`s happening to our veterans? It was
supposed to be a big scandal, it was supposed to be all Obama`s fault.

And then the Senate sits down, puts together with Barney Sunders taking a
lead there a very sensible bill and the house just won`t take it off. So I
would like to see what happens to them during the recess, if they do go
home. I would like to see veterans out there asking the question, why
didn`t you pass a bill that could help you fix this problem?

SHARPTON: Very interesting.

You know, Angela, I want to show you this chart. It shows bills passed by
every Congress since 1947. The current Congress is on track to set a
record of on obstruction. The fewest bills passed in history. Now, as we
saw, a lot of times we`re talking about noncontroversial issues. Things
like funding for the VA, why is this so different now, Angela.

RYE: Well, there are several things. I know E.J. emphasize the moment ago
the fact that they absolutely do not want to work with this president. And
of course, that is very, very clear, because as we know, the ball continues
to move.

First, Obama care was wrong overall, now they`re suing because he wasn`t
implementing Obama care. But there`s also another problem. E.J. and I we
were part of another conversation with Senator Reid, where he shed some
light on how much obstruction is happening within the Republican party,
even on the senate side. So, it`s not just the house. They can`t agree on
anything. They`re begging the Senate majority leader for an open rule,
because they can`t agree what their amendments should be on legislation.
So, it`s no wonder why they can`t appoint conferees and why they can`t come
to a meeting of the minds when it relates to VA funding.

This is a problem that extends far beyond just the president, but we
absolutely know where the problem initially began. And it is absolutely
when the president was sworn in to become the first black president of the
United States.

SHARPTON: But you know, E.J., these veterans are crying out for help.
These are our veterans, veterans that protected us, the citizens of this
country. And they`re trying out for help here.

DIONNE: One by one, sort of habits we have that were good habits, where
people would say, OK, we`ll disagree on a lot of stuff. But we`re not
going to do things that are going to hurt our veterans. We used to have
some kind of moral limits and those moral limits are just falling away.
And the day they voted the money to go to this war was the time I wish they
had appropriated the money to take care of the bets when they got home.
And it`s astonishing to hear people who did not care at all about
offsetting the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan suddenly say that
when it comes time to take care of the veterans you have to give us
offsetting spending, you got to make cuts somewhere else. Why didn`t they
ask that question when we went to war in the first place.

SHARPTON: You know, earlier this summer, you predicted E.J., another do
nothing summer for the GOP.

But Angela, I never thought that we would see Republicans, conservatives
actually pun the when it comes to veterans. I mean, one of the things that
was always in my mind sacred even in the body politics of how we play
politics in Washington was veterans.

RYE: Well, Rev., there`s no question about that. But we have seen
partisanship at insurmountable heights here. We have seen toxic rhetoric
from their talking heads, and the constant bickering that doesn`t even just
exist along party lines literally as I stated before. It is inside the
party, we`ve seen it impact now, their majority leader on the house side,
no one predicted that Eric Cantor will lose his election. But again, this
is about the extreme right fighting with the moderate right, and so much of
this has to do with the fact that, again, they don`t want any win under
this president. They`ve forgotten the fact that there were times when
Democrats were in charge under George W. Bush`s leadership, and before that
with Bill Clinton, where people come together to do what was best for the
country, even if it meant biting the bullet for some policies that you
don`t support, so that there can be a win for the American people. And
these folks don`t know how to do that. Everyone has sacrificed, whether
they`re children, whether they are veterans, whether they are the elderly,
whether it is the disenfranchised in this country, nobody is off the radar.
Everyone is susceptible to this particular Congress with these partisans.

SHARPTON: But E.J., the only way out of this do nothing Congress is maybe
the president issuing executive orders. I mean faced with this, executive
action where he can with gun safety, gay rights, minimum wage, immigration,
climate change, veterans, I mean.

And the president says more executive actions are on the way, he`s not
slowing down, is he? And I don`t think they`re giving him much of a reason

DIONNE: No, and -- but you can`t appropriate money through executive
action. And so you need the Congress to do that. You need the house to
pick up and pass this bill. And I think that you`ve got this real catch 22
on the Republican side, which is, they are saying the president is abusing
his power. And out of the same people you`re hearing them say, well, he
doesn`t need action from Congress on the border, he can act on his own.

SHARPTON: John Boehner said that.

DIONNE: Yes. So pick one. You know, you can`t say both things at the
same time.

The silver ling here is, you know, the lawsuit and the impeachment are not
just unpopular with Democrats. At CNN poll you showed, moderates were
against impeachment, 72 percent of them were against impeachment, 62
percent are against the lawsuit. Similar numbers, a little lower among
independents, but they`re against it.

And I think if they keep talking like this, middle of the road swing voters
are going to say, you know, we don`t want these kind of guys in the
Congress. So I think they`re running a big electoral risk if they stay at
this just to satisfy their base.

SHARPTON: Well, I`m going to have to leave it there.

E.J. Dionne, Angela Rye, thank you for your time tonight. Both of you have
a great weekend.

DIONNE: Good to be with you.

RYE: You too.

SHARPTON: Coming up, Attorney General Eric Holder breaks his silence on
the Eric Garner choke hold investigation.

Plus, in bail outrage, the league suspends Ray Rice for just two games
after a violent fight that knocked his now wife unconscious. Did it go far

And later we finish the week off in style with the one and only, Audra
McDonald, the sixth-time Tony award-winning, is here joining us ahead.


SHARPTON: It`s a hot story with our facebook fans today. The NFL
suspended pro-football player Ray Rice for two games after he knocked his
fianc‚e unconscious in a fight.

Terry says, it`s not long enough. You called it disgraceful.

But Rene argued, why should the NFL care if she doesn`t? She didn`t even
give him a two-day suspension.

We`ll have much more on this story coming up.

But first, we want to know what you think. Please head over to our
facebook page and join the conversation that keeps going long after the
show ends.

SHARPTON: It was a hot day in Washington, D.C., today. But the hottest
spot may have been on the floor of congress, where Democrats slammed
disturbing new Republican tax bill.


REP. LLOYD DOGGETT, TEXAS: This bill does deserve a name. I think the
best one will be pushing more people in to poverty act.

REP. ALLYSON SCHWARTZ, PENNSYLVANIA: As a result of this legislation, six
million children will fall deeper or play into poverty.

REP. DANNY DAVIS, ILLINOIS: So you can really call it the reverse robin
hood child tax credit deal.

REP. JIM MCDERMOTT (D), WASHINGTON: The Republicans are offering a bill
that claims to help families. But actually does great harm to low income
families with children.


SHARPTON: They were debating a bill that changes tax credits for families
with children. Basically, the Republican bill ignored a tax credit for low
income families that`s set to expire in three years for creating a tax
break for families making six figures.

Here`s how the GOP bill leaves things. In 2018, a married couple with two
kids earning $160,000 a year will get a $2200 tax cut. But a single mother
earning the minimum wage will lose her tax credit of $1725.

Republicans say Democrats are getting ahead of themselves. They can always
extend the low income tax credit in the next few years. But if it was a
priority, they`d do it now. The truth is, all Republicans focus on are tax
cuts for the wealthy. Even though we saw under President Clinton that job
creation goes up when you raise taxes on the rich.

This week, Paul Ryan put out a big new plan to fight poverty. Mr. Ryan and
his party have a long way to go.

Joining me now are Jared Bernstein and Joe Madison. Thank you both for
being here.



SHARPTON: So Jared, if Republicans were already tweaking the job tax
credit, why wouldn`t they protect the tax break for working poor people?

BERNSTEIN: Because it`s not the priority, plain and simple. This is a
credit that actually means a lot to low income people. And by the way, it
pushes directly in the position you would want, that is it incentivizes
work, it helps to raise the after tax pay for low income people. Often
single parents, as you mentioned, who are trying to play by the rules. In
fact, they are doing many of the things that Republicans told them they are
supposed to do if they want to work their way out of poverty. And yet here
they are talking about lowering the post tax income of, say, a single mom
at the minimum wage by 1700 bucks while they give a break of 2200 to
someone making six digits.

SHARPTON: Joe, today`s debate on tax credits came just a day after Paul
Ryan said the GOP would focus on poverty. Now, Congressman Chris van
Hollen took talked about that disconnect. Take a listen.


REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND: It`s really ironic that just
yesterday, the chairman of the budget committee gave a big talk in
Washington about how he wanted to quote "start a conversation about poverty
and help families get ahead." That was yesterday. Those were words.

Here we are on the floor of the house today with an actual deed, an actual
act, a vote that will put 12 million more Americans into poverty or deeper
into poverty.


SHARPTON: Well, Joe, is the GOP`s talk bigger than their action?

MADISON: Well, what they really are saying for the average person to
understand is clearly this. Let`s break it down, the rich pay too much tax
and poor people don`t pay enough taxes. And the other factor is, that with
this summer being over, what do you think this dollar for dollar tax credit
means? It means that the poor families will buy new shoes, they`ll buy all
the equipment, school equipment they need. That money goes right back into
our economy and improves the situation.

But then as I was talking to Jared earlier today, you know, the -- you want
to mess with the poverty program, which is helping people survive, but then
you don`t want to deal with corporations that should be creating jobs in
which people can make a livable income.

You`ve talked about that, Reverend Sharpton, where the tax policies allow
corporations to go to places like Switzerland and the Caribbean, just
change address. And then end up getting tremendous tax benefits while the
rest of us have to sit up here and pay more taxes.

SHARPTON: Well, we have a great example about what`s going on Jared, right
now, in California. I mean, we`re seeing great news come out of there.
Paul Kraugman wrote today in "The New York Times" about it, calling it the
left coast rising. California raised taxes on millionaires. And
employment went up 3.6 percent in the last year and a half, higher than the
national average. In fact, the state created 17.5 percent of all new jobs
in the United States last year. It`s a real success story. How can
Republicans pretend that doesn`t exist?

BERNSTEIN: Well, we`ve talked about this before. If the facts don`t fit
your story, you change the facts so that they will.

SHARPTON: They`re no longer facts?

BERNSTEIN: Exactly. So good for Paul Kraugman or shining some light on
that. And it really does strike right at the heart of this trickle down
supply side fairy dust that continues to obsess a lot of Republicans on tax
writing committees. And there`s just page after page of evidence much like
the evidence you just cited that shows in fact there are many cases where
if you raise more revenue, not only do you support your state in a fiscal
sense, but it doesn`t hurt your job creation functional all.

Quickly, let me add one thing to what Joe just said. When you asked, which
Paul Ryan should we believe, yesterday or today? There`s a saying I like
very much. It goes like this. Don`t tell me what you believe. Show me
what you believe. Yesterday, he told us what he believed in a think tank
here on the floor of the house today, Republicans showed us what they

MADISON: That`s right.

SHARPTON: Joe, we have to go, but I have to ask you. It seems to be a new
Republican orthodoxy about impeachment, impeachment, we`re hearing it more
and more. What do you say to this?

MADISON: Well, first of all, let me say, I thank you for giving all of us
an opportunity to discuss this when most people absolutely ignored that
this was going to be a possibility. And now I think people realize how
important this Senate race is going to be. It`s very clear that if the
Republicans get control of the Senate, then they will impeach the president
of the United States and tie him up for two years, where he won`t be able
to do anything. Executive orders won`t even count.

That`s exactly what this is all about, the solution is very simple. It
must be a major voter registration and get out the vote campaign, and I
think quite honestly we can, in fact, control the Senate. And I believe
you might even be able to change the arithmetic in the house.

SHARPTON: Well, whatever your beliefs are, voting is extremely important.
We`re going to be dealing with protecting that vote.

Jared Bernstein, Joe Madison, thank you both for your time tonight.

BERNSTEIN: Thank you, Rev.

MADISON: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, the NFL under fire for its suspension against Ray
Rice. TMZ sports obtained a video of Rice dragging his then fianc‚e out of
an elevate after a violent fight. He`ll serve a two-day suspension, is
that fair?

And that Yankee fan caught on camera snoozing breaks his silence. Why is
he suing for $10 million? That`s next.


SHARPTON: It`s a time honored Republican tradition, being totally against
disaster relief until the folks had need of help are the ones back home.

Senator John McCain voted against emergency relief after super storm Sandy,
but demanded federal aid for wildfires in Arizona.

Congressman Paul Ryan sais, yes to federal money after flood in Wisconsin,
but he said no to Sandy aide.

And tonight, there`s a new member of the hypocrisy club, Tom Kite. He is
the tea party congressman from Arkansas, currently challenging incumbent
senator Mark Prior. For the last two years, Congressman Cotton had voted
against the farm bill. And here`s how he explained that vote.


REP. TOM COTTON (R), ARKANSAS: Some of you think I was wrong, because I
didn`t support the farm bill. That bill was a bad bill for farmers. It is
bad bill for taxpayers. It was bad bill for Arkansas.


SHARPTON: It is a bad bill Arkansas. Terrible for farmers. Well, that
was then. Now he`s singing a different tune.

At the devastating flooding last month in Arkansas, this week disaster aid
was announced to affected farmers and ranchers. Congressman Cotton praised
the epic (ph) saying quote "I look forward to working with our friends in
Arkansas to make sure farmers are able to assess the emergency funds they

Here`s the problem. Those emergency funds are only possible because of the
farm bill. They are saying farm bill that Mr. Cotton said would be
terrible for Arkansas farmers. I think that earns him a coveted spot in
this not so exclusive republican club. Did Congressman Cotton think we
would ignore this flood of hypocrisy? Nice try. But here`s some relief,
because we got you.


SHARPTON: We`re back with the talk of the nation. The big stories
everyone is talking about today.

Joining me now are criminal defense Attorney Eric Guster and attorney
and radio host Midwin Charles. Thank you both for being here tonight.



SHARPTON: Now, we start tonight with questions for the NFL, after
Baltimore Ravens Running Back Ray Rice received just a two-day suspension
for a violent fight with his wife who was his fiancee at the time. The
incident was caught on camera in February. TMZ Sports posted this video on
their website showing Rice dragging his then fiancee Janay Palmer out of an
elevator in Atlantic City. She appears unconscious as he drags her out.
Rice was arrested and charged with aggravated assault. Rice pleads not
guilty and avoided trial by entering a program for first time offenders
that could clear him of any jail time or prosecution. He and Janay Palmer
married in March, they will held a press conference together in May to
discuss how they were moving forward.


RAY RICE, RAVENS RUNNING BACK: I am working every day to be a better
father, a better husband. You know, just a better role model.

JANAY PALMER, WIFE OF RAY RICE: I love Ray, and I know he will
continue to prove himself.


SHARPTON: Rice said in a statement that is disappointing that he will
miss the first two games, but many fans and critics say the punishment
doesn`t go far enough. Midwin, does the punishment fit the crime?

CHARLES: It doesn`t. If the NFL wants to send a message where they
are serious about domestic violence or domestic abuse, then what they will
do is punish him accordingly. In the NFL right now, if you were tested
positive for steroids you get an automatic four-game suspension. So,
essentially what the NFL is saying here is that they don`t think that what
happened to this woman is as serious as if a player had tested positive for

SHARPTON: You know, Eric, she mentions NFL rules. Right now for the
first substance abuse violation players get a four-week suspension. For
their second substance abuse violation, they get an eight week suspension.
The Minnesota Vikings coach made a homophobic remark in 2012 he got a
three-week suspension handed down to him yesterday. A lot of people say in
light of this, he gets two games?

GUSTER: Two games is simply not enough. This wasn`t a simple
argument between two people. He knocked this lady completely out, Reverend
Al. That is beyond a simple assault. That is something much more sinister
than an assault. This should have been much higher than what he received.
He received a misdemeanor and got literally off with a program. This
should have been a felony. Because when a man hits a woman at all, ever --
but knocks her out with that type of power, he should be reprimanded beyond
two games.

SHARPTON: And let`s be clear, the NFL conduct policy says persons who
engage in criminal activity will be subject to discipline. And they
specifically point to criminal offenses including but not limited to those
involving the use or threat of violence, domestic violence and other forms
of partner abuse. But a lot of people are defending him saying, she didn`t
press charges. The victim didn`t press charges.

CHARLES: But sometimes if a victim doesn`t press charges, that
doesn`t necessarily mean that the offender didn`t commit a crime. A lot of
times women don`t press charges for a variety of reasons. They`re either
afraid of the aggressor or they have been, you know, beaten for like of a
better word into submission. In other words, they are scared for their
lives. So, the fact that she didn`t press charges to me is insignificant.
The video speaks for itself, this woman who was lying lifeless on the floor
and we`re lucky, she`s lucky that she didn`t suffer any severe injuries
from whatever beating she took in his hand.

SHARPTON: Does the fact that now we have this kind of precedent that
many consider a low bar also disturb a lot of the critics that this is more
than just this particular victim. Because you now you have a precedent
that two games is the bar now for knocking out a woman.

GUSTER: Right. And this shows that the NFL simply does not care
about women. Now, it cares if you smoke weed. It cares if you use
steroids, but it doesn`t care about you knocking a woman completely out.
That shows the good ole boy network within the NFL, the top Boy Network,
you can hit your woman, you can slap her around, but don`t smoke weeds and
don`t use steroids which may devalue the integrity of the game as they say.
And NFL needs to take a sticky stabbed on this. Because this sends a
message to young men and boys, it`s OK to do this.

SHARPTON: Let me go real quick to another topic, we just have a
minute. But we move uptown to the Bronx and that sleeping Yankee fans that
broke their silence today. You remember Andrew Rector was caught on camera
early this month taking a snooze in the middle of the Yankee game. The
announcers on ESPN had some fun ribbing him in the 7th inning siesta he was


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Not the place you come to sleep. I tell you what,
how comfortable is that? Probably won`t have any neck problems tomorrow.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I mean, does that guy to, his left his body which
is letting him sleep of is he here alone?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Maybe that`s his buddy, and he likes him a lot
better when he`s asleep.


SHARPTON: Now, when he woke up, Rector decided to sue ESPN, the
announcers, major league baseball and the Yankees for $10 million for,
quote, "an avalanche of disparaging words against him." This morning, he
sat down with Matt Lauer and explained why he thinks his suit holds water.


ANDREW RECTOR, SUE ESPN: Are there other things to focus on at the
game? I mean, is that what these guys are getting paid for? I`m a fan, I
paid to go to that game. You know, I brought friends over there, I have a
reputation as well. I mean, for them to sit there and make fun of
somebody, I don`t see how that`s acceptable.


SHARPTON: You know, Eric, does he have a leg to stand on with this

GUSTER: None. When you go to a Yankees game, you`re aware that there
are cameras, you`re aware that you`re in the public view and public eye and
nothing disparaging was actually said about him. Because in order for a
case like that to survive, it has to be disparaging remarks that are not
true. And even in the lawsuit Reverend Al, they listed that he said, they
called him fatty and different things like that and that`s simply was not
the case. They said the man fell asleep and joked about his friend which I
think was fair a game.

SHARPTON: I mean, but let`s face it, the man fell asleep. I mean,
we`ve seen cookie lawsuits before. Is there any way he can get anything
out of here? Maybe get a settlement, maybe it`s about making them, give
them something?

CHARLES: No, the only thing he`s going to get out of this, is a
laugh. I mean, Eric is right. All the points that he made about this is
just not going to fly are great. But most importantly, he just needs to
get over himself. I am surprised that any attorney would sign on the
dotted line to this complaint because attorneys have certain rules and
regulations that they must abide by as to whether or not they think a claim
or a complaint is truthful or accurate. He`s not getting anything with

SHARPTON: Well, he got me nervous, I don`t tease people that go to
sleep during my speech anymore. Finally, an update to a story we told you
about earlier this year. Back in March, 18-year-old Rachel Canning, a high
school cheerleader and honor student sued her parents John and Elizabeth
for money to go to college. Rachel claimed physical and verbal abuse, but
the parents say it was just discipline. They didn`t approve of her
boyfriend who refused to break up with at times. She wouldn`t break up
with him. The suit was dropped. But maybe Rachel should have listened to
her parents. This week she got a restraining order against that boyfriend
accusing him of choking her during an argument at the midnight last
Saturday night. Midwin, here`s the question. Should teenagers be able to
sue their parents?

CHARLES: No. At least not for the claims that she has. Which is,
she wants her parents to pay all her bills. She`s 18, she needs to, again,
get over herself.


CHARLES: Absolutely not. Unless the parents were abusive or
something, no, they should not be able to sue. That`s what parenting is.
You shouldn`t be dating this boy, get over it. And obviously they were

SHARPTON: Eric Guster, Midwin Charles, thank you both for your time
tonight. Have a good weekend.

GUSTER: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Coming up, she`s a six-time Tony Award winner and she`s
here, the one and only Audra McDonald, next.


SHARPTON: A jazz legend from the 50s brought back to life. Billie
holiday was a true artist, a soulful singer who rose to stardom in the
1950s. In a time of segregation and racial violence. She emerged not only
as a star but a voice for civil rights until her untimely death at the age
of 44. Now she`s been brought back to life on Broadway in the musical play
Lady Day at Emerson`s Bar and Grill.




SHARPTON: The incomparable Audra McDonald plays holiday in the last
months of her life, performing some of the jazz legends most popular and
moving songs like "What a Little Moonlight Can Do" and "God Bless the
Child." Her performance has garnered her a record breaking six Tony
Awards. She not only captures Billie Holiday`s unique and dramatic style.
She`s following a Billie Holiday`s footsteps and other ways too. Lending
her voice to the fight for equal rights. She`s a passionate supporter of
marriage equate. She`s a shining star. Recently she visited POLITICS


SHARPTON: Joining me now, six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald.
It`s really an honor to have you on the show.

AUDRA MCDONALD, MUSICIAN: Thank you so much. Thank you.

SHARPTON: First of all, congratulations on your Tony for Lady Day.
And you`re the only one that has ever won six Tonys, what did winning that
award mean to you?

MCDONALD: Well, you know, being on Broadway sort of one of the only
things I`ve ever wanted to do, Reverend. And so, for me, the honor was
overwhelming. But I have to say, there`s a part of me that sort of felt
like given the shoulders of a lot of the incredible women that I`m standing
on in history, you know, like the people I named that night, Ruby Dee, and
Lena Horne, and Maya Angelou and Billie Holiday, sort of hope that, you
know, there`s maybe some little cute little girl looking out there that
says, OK, I want to do that too. And they can take that, you know, that
achievement even further and they can do more with it, and go bigger.

SHARPTON: You know, in the show, you sang many of Billie Holiday`s
iconic songs. I want to play a clip of you performing "God Bless the
Child." Listen to this.


SHARPTON: Well, you know, Billie Holiday was also -- she was one of
the first black women to sing with a white orchestra.

MCDONALD: That`s right.

SHARPTON: Was told she couldn`t perform on the same stage -- on the
same band stand.


SHARPTON: She was forced to take a service elevator and enter through
the kitchen to get to her shows. Is that something you ever think about
when you play her on Broadway?

MCDONALD: Well, we speak about that in the show. We can certainly
look at the show as not only a history of her life, but a little bit of
history of African-American culture, during the first half of last century,
you know, and the racism and the misogyny that existed.

SHARPTON: In the show, you also saying Holiday`s devastating song
about lynching in the south, strange fruit.


SHARPTON: Here`s a clip.


SHARPTON: So powerful and emotional. I mean, what is it like to sing
that song night after night?

MCDONALD: You know, what I find interesting about that, is obviously
that`s one of the first sort of protest songs ever written. And Billie
Holiday, you know, gained a lot of fame singing that song, but would also
encounter a lot of issues with authorities for singing it. Because a lot
of people still, you know, it was the very first song of its kind. But the
audience grows hopefully as hushed, it seems to me. And they`re very
almost sort of reverent and religious about that song I find night after
night in the audience. There`s a definite hush that comes over the crowd
and people absolutely respect that song and respect the history that it

SHARPTON: You`ve also raised your voice and been public in support of
marriage equality and issues of LGBT rights. Why do you think a public
voice is important and a response. I know when I first started speaking
out on it, I got a lot of flack, and it seems to have changed a little now.
Not as much as we would like.

MCDONALD: Not as much as we would like, but I think there have been
incredible strides made even in the past, you know, four years. I think
what`s happening, is when you make, you know, a statement -- if you`re a
celebrity or someone who has, you know, a platform where you can make a
statement like that and be heard, it raises more awareness.

SHARPTON: In your speech accepting the Tony, you talked about Ruby
Dee, Lena Horne, Maya Angelou. How important are those women who came
before you?

MCDONALD: They`re everything. All of the trials and tribulations
that they had to go through which they get to where they got to and to pave
the path in a way that could make it easier for future generation. And
that can`t be forgotten or taken for granted. That`s why those women mean
so much to me, because without them, I would not be where I am today.

SHARPTON: Well, I can assure you, you bring more than a tiny little
path. Audra McDonald, thank you for your time tonight.

MCDONALD: Thank you, Rev.


SHARPTON: And you catch Audra`s Tony Award winning performance as
Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson`s bar and grill at New York City`s
circle in the square theater.

Coming up, Eric Garner`s family meets with the U.S. attorney today,
stay with us.


SHARPTON: Attorney General Eric Holder speaks out on the
investigation into Eric Garner`s death, that`s next.


SHARPTON: Finally tonight, justice for Eric Garner. Garner was the
43-year-old father of six who died after being placed in a chokehold by an
NYPD officer last week. Late this afternoon, Attorney General Eric Holder
said the federal government is now closely monitoring the case. Earlier in
my role as president of the National Action Network, I accompanied Eric
Garner`s widow, mother and daughter to meet with the U.S. Attorney to
discuss the next possible steps in the case.

Once again, we stand at a crossroads for community police relations in
New York City. We`ve been down this road too many times before. Eleanor
Bumpers, a 66-year-old grandmother on October 29th, 1984, police came to
evict her from a Bronx apartment for being late with her rent. She was
emotionally disturbed and holding a kitchen knife. Police officers shot
and killed her with a 12 gauge shotgun.

Anthony Baez, on December 22nd, 1994, Baez and his brother were
tossing around a football. It accidentally hit a police car and Baez was
arrested for disorderly conduct, he died after being placed in a chokehold
by police.

Abner Louima on August 9th, 1997, the Haitian immigrant was arrested
in Brooklyn, a police officer said later he mistakenly thought Louima had
punched him. Louima was taken into a restroom at the police station where
an officer violated him with a broom handle. He spent two months in the
hospital recovering.

Amadou Diallo on February 4th, 1999, the immigrant from Guinea was in
the doorway of his Bronx apartment building, he was unarmed. But police
said, they thought they saw a gun, they fired 41 shots and he died at

Sean Bell on November 26th, 2006, the morning of his wedding, he was
leaving a club in Queens with two friends. Police say they believed his
friend had a gun. And here`s -- as the group tried to drive away, police
fired 50 bullets at the three men killing Sean Bell.

And now Eric Garner on tape, he can be heard 11 times saying he
couldn`t breathe. There`s a history in New York City between police and
minority communities.

Let`s be clear, most police officers are doing their job. Hardworking
men and women, keeping communities safe. But the history here been
disputable, indisputable. And it`s a history we cannot keep repeating.
Too often we`ve seen a political culture of some officers who believe they
are above the law, that they can do whatever they want to do, that`s wrong.
Whether someone wearing a blue uniform or blue jeans, everyone must be
under the law, and all must respect that.

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


Transcription Copyright 2014 ASC LLC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is
granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not
reproduce or redistribute the material except for user`s personal or
internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall
user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may
infringe upon MSNBC and ASC LLC`s copyright or other proprietary rights or
interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of