Politics Nation with Al Sharpton, Transcript, 7/3/2016

Mark Hannah; Marvin Aspen; Terry O`Neill; Elise Jordan

Date: July 3, 2016
Guest: Mark Hannah; Marvin Aspen; Terry O`Neill; Elise Jordan



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could it be a cruel summer for Trump?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There`s something really good
going on. We are going to make America great again. Believe me.

Crooked Hillary.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or will Clinton melt as the campaign heats up?

Donald Trump bankrupt America the way he bankrupted his casinos.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will preview the road ahead for both candidates to
the conventions and beyond.

Also, the real Obama legacy. We will separate fact from fiction as the
president enters his final moments in office.

And our interview with the judge who sentenced a man to life in prison and
then thought to set him free.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a very cruel and unusual sentence. It was a
terrible mistake and injustice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From Rockefeller center in New York, this is a special
July 4th edition of politics nation with Al Sharpton.


REV. AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Good morning. I`m Al Sharpton.

Today a special July 4th weekend edition of “Politics Nation.” We will be
previewing the summer ahead and tackling the biggest questions of 2016
looking at the politics, the polling, and the policies.

We start with Donald Trump. Two weeks before the Republican convention, is
he finally ready to pivot to the general election? Change his tone and
scale back his rhetoric? In the past he has vowed to become more quote
“presidential,” but he also said he will never change.


TRUMP: I`m going to be so presidential. I`ll be so presidential that you
people will be screaming loosen up president. Loosen up. Why wouldn`t I
change? You have a football team and you are winning and then you get to
the super bowl you don`t change your quarterback, right. So I`m not

At some point I`m going to be so presidential that you people will be so

I promise you this, I swear to you this, President Trump will never change
his tune.


SHARPTON: One reason he may need to change, the math. Look at this chart.
Since Trump became the presumptive GOP nominee in May, general election
polls have shown him slipping farther and farther behind Hillary Clinton.
Leading Republicans are taking notice and getting blunt about the need for
Trump to change.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: Trump clearly needs to change
in my opinion to win the general election.

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: He is the nominee and we will have to deal
with that. I hope that he changes. We haven`t yet seen it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think that that guy is capable of projecting the
tone you have so carefully articulated?

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: Look I think anything is possible.


SHARPTON: Could a running mate help Trump pivot? Can he use the
convention to overhaul his image? Does he even want to change? Is he
capable of change? And if he does change will that turn off his base?

Joining me now is MSNBC`s Joy Reid. Host of “AM Joy” and NBC political
analyst Jonathan Alter and Elise Jordan. Thank you all for being here.

Elise, Trump has brought in staff, ramped up fund-raising and begun using
the teleprompter more often so he made changes, but has he changed?

And I think that it`s delusional to think that he`s going to change at this
point. And when you look at just this week on Monday when Elizabeth Warren
was out with Hillary Clinton. His campaign released a very disciplined
message that was anti-Clinton and anti-Warren based on the ground of free
trade and Trump`s policy of being anti-free trade. Then the candidate
himself gets on the phone about an hour later and starts calling Elizabeth
Warren Pocahontas. So he cannot change. He simply cannot help himself.
He has no self-control whatsoever. And I really think that the Republican
convention is heading into a disaster.

SHARPTON: Now, Jonathan, he says that if your game plan is working during
the primaries you don`t get to the super bowl and change quarterbacks. But
you may change your game plan because you`re up against a different team in
the super bowl than you were during the season. I don`t know if he gets
that. He is up against a well-oiled, well experienced political team in
terms of Hillary Clinton.

adjustments. He fired his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski. And, you
know, he is obviously taking some time before the convention to plan his
convention and try to do something exciting and turn into a fun reality

The question is whether it`s too late because he hasn`t really raised any
money and he is going to get out spent two or three to one. Even if he
doesn`t change, even if none of these things happen, he is still a very
serious contender. And I think the liberals are getting a little
complacent. He had a terrible June and he is within the margin of error in
some polls.

SHARPTON: And key states.

ALTER: Yes. And he is much closer than other candidates have been who
have actually then gotten back into the lead. So he is far from being out
of this.

SHARPTON: But even looking at that, Joy, let me quote this NBC poll. It
shows that 45 percent of Republicans voters are satisfied with Trump. But
52 percent, this is an NBC poll, 52 percent would have preferred someone
else. I mean, where does the never Trump effort stand and will it make one
last push to stop him this summer when you have over half the Republicans
polled seeming like they`re having voters remorse.

never Trump because, you know, I have said several times. You can`t beat
something with nothing. And the problem with never Trump is they have
always said people don`t vote for him but they don`t have alternative.
They have don`t have something to substitute for him. I think the big risk
to Donald Trump in those numbers, not only the number that you cited, Rev.,
but also the number on white college educated voters being essentially tied
with Hillary Clinton so the Democrats have not managed to win. They have
won since the Eisenhower era. Harry Truman I think was the last Democrat
to win any bank of white voters to college educated be one of them. I
think that`s one of the big risks for him.

And even though Jonathan is right, he is polling pretty well because he is
Republican. At any generic Republican, you look at a generic republican
versus generic Democratic poll you are going to give any Republican about
four in ten voters, really no matter who they are.

I think the problem for Donald Trump is whether or not he is going to have
motivation on his side and whether Democrats will be able to actually
increase the motivation of their voters.

SHARPTON: Their motivation on the Democratic side is –.

ALTER: Also is micro-targeting. The Democrats have a very sophisticated
voter outreach program. The RNC which is –.

SHARPTON: But you need an infrastructure for that. And we have not seen
that on the Trump`s side.

ALTER: Right.

SHARPTON: But Elise, I want to get back to something you said about the
convention, the Republican convention could be a disaster. Do you see the
possibilities of a last ditch effort at the convention establishment?

JORDAN: Well, I think certainly there are people who are trying. And they
are still as the Stop Trump movement. And they are working from within the
rules committee. They are trying to persuade delegates to the convention
rules committee unbind delegates so that they can vote their conscience.
How that goes, who knows. I do know though that this committee of 112
people is stacked with a lot of Cruz people, a lot of people who are
establishment Republicans and who aren`t necessarily allies of Donald
Trump. And he didn`t do the leg work quite frankly to make sure that his
people would be on that important committee.

SHARPTON: Jonathan, you mentioned the one big show, a reality show. And
Trump has said that the GOP convention may be where he actually launches
his campaign. Listen to this.


TRUMP: It`s going to be a tremendous success. The convention, so many
people want to speak.

I`m just literally just starting. And I view the convention as probably a
real starting point.

We are going to have a great convention in Cleveland. And we are going to
– I think have a winners night. There aren`t many winners but you take
these winners and we`re going to have them speak.


SHARPTON: I mean, what should we expect? We are seeing reports that he is
having problems even giving people with real gravitas to even agree to
speak at the convention.

ALTER: Well, I don`t think he cares whether it gravitas because their
instruction just members of the establishment. Now, he wants entertainers.
And don`t underestimate his ability to put on an entertaining show even
though he`s likely to have a lot of B or C list celebrities at the
convention. It will make people like you and me think what the hell is
this because we are used to conventions going a certain way. But the
American public might see it as an entertaining TV show. And he got what
he is after.


SHARPTON: But then let me ask you, Joy. If he is having problems getting
speakers with gravitas, whether he cares or not, will he have a problem
getting a vice presidential candidate with gravitas and will that not
impact on his vote or not?

REID: No. I think the biggest risk to Donald Trump right now is the Trump
brand. It is actually really been deteriorated badly by this campaign.
You have corporate sponsors who don`t want to get involved. That`s a real
problem for the convention. You got to pay for it. And they are having
trouble getting any sort of A-list political leaders to speak at the
convention. OK, so he can get, you know, Ted Nugent and John Boyd. OK.

I think that to the extent that it makes Trump voters feel like they`re
more in a bunker they will be more passionate about him because they feel,
again, the culture is turning on us. Big corporations are turning on us.
No one is with us. But that doesn`t grow his base enough to win a
presidential election. The problem for Trump is he now needs to find some
VP candidate who is willing to marry their brand to his. What A-lister is
going to want to do that? I think he is going to end up with a sort of c-
list candidate. I don`t think it will matter in the end to his core
voters. But it isn`t moving new people.

ALTER: And real quick, politics is about addition not subtraction. And
it`s also about, as Nixon said, the mobilization and resentment. But when
you are mobilizing these resentments, you want to be adding and not
subtracting and he doesn`t get that.

JORDAN: What he doesn`t get, he can`t beat up with his natural allies also
known as the Republican Party. He can`t be beating up on a significant
portion of the party and expect them to fall in –

SHARPTON: That his natural allies who are the Republican Party were the
ones he ran against. Everybody stay with me. Lots more ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Next. Deal them in. Fifty years after the founding of
the national organization for women, their president joins us to talk about
this historic year.

And later, our bending toward justice series. Meet the judge that wrote to
President Obama urging clemency for the man he sentenced to life in prison.



TRUMP: She is playing the woman card.

She is playing the women`s card.

She plays the woman card.

CLINTON: Deal me in.


SHARPTON: I don`t know about all this talk of playing the woman card, but
I do put a lot of stock in the views of our moms, daughters, and sisters.
And 96 years after winning the right to vote, women voters, women`s issues
and a woman nominee are dominating the 2016 race.

This past week the Supreme Court made the most important abortion rights
decision in a generation and women will be the biggest voting bloc in this
election. In 2012, women voters outnumbered men by nearly 10 million. And
turn out among women has seeded male turn out in every presidential
election since 1980.

In other words, women matter. Women along with minorities will decide the
election. And apparently just the site of two powerful outspoken women on
stage together is enough to send the right into a tail spin.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you see the matching pan suit? I mentioned the
matching suit and the need for maybe a color wheel.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not only that they have a matching suits, they have
the matching hair.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They look ludicrous.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ladies, can I just start with the obvious there?
Those blue suits. The matching blue suits and they call Donald Trump

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They`re Thelma and Louis at the end of the movie.


SHARPTON: Joining me now Terry O`Neill, president of the national
organization of women which is by the way celebrating its 50th anniversary
this year.

Thanks for being here.

having me, Reverend.

SHARPTON: So Terry, Thelma and Louis, I mean, did you expect this kind of
anti-woman backlash we are seeing with Clinton as the nominee?

O`NEILL: I think that kind of anti-woman backlash is to be expected from
anti-woman conservatives but they really are the dream team, right.
Hillary Clinton is an unapologetic feminist progressive. And to have her
in the White House would be absolutely amazing. And Elizabeth Warren is
truly, she is the leader of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, I
think, both certainly, in the United States Senate but in the Congress as a

So yes, they would be powerful, they would be fabulous for our country and
they would really help move our country forward.

SHARPTON: You know, when you look at Secretary Clinton`s edge over Donald
Trump in the poll among women voters in recent polls, the Quinnipiac Polls
has her up 17 points. “Washington Post” poll has her up 23 points, NBC up
17 percentage points over Donald Trump with women voters. I mean, that`s
not a gender gap. It`s a canyon. I mean, can the GOP appeal to women
voters with Trump as the nominee, Terry?

O`NEILL: Honestly, it cannot. Rev., look. Donald Trump is a racist,
xenophobic misogynist. And he now has the endorsement of Paul Ryan speaker
of the house and Mitch McConnell the leader in the Senate, the Republican
leader in the Senate. That makes the entire Republican Party the party for
racist xenophobic misogynistic policies. I don`t see how the Republican
Party gets around that in any kind of way. And honestly, it`s not just the
misogyny that turns off women voters, it is the racism. It is the
xenophobia. It is the homophobia.

Women really do tend to be much more interested in (INAUDIBLE) shared
prosperity policies. And Donald Trump is simply a huge turn off for the
vast majority of women.

SHARPTON: You know, I couldn`t help but to notice that even when he is not
talking about women, Donald Trump manages to be offensive. Let me show you
when he was talking about the trade agreement this week. Watch this.


TRUMP: The transpacific partnership is another disaster. Done and pushed
by special interests who want to rape our country, just a continuing rape
of our country. That`s what it is do. It`s a harsh word. It`s a rape of
our country.


SHARPTON: I mean, can you imagine a woman politician discussing or
describing a trade deal that way?

O`NEILL: No, I mean it`s completely offensive. This is another way that
he is misogynistic just honestly in the way that he thinks.

You`re right, Reverend. It`s absolutely ridiculous. And I say that as
the leader of an organization that does oppose the TPP as Hillary Clinton
oppose the TPP. But to talk about it many those terms is offensive.

SHARPTON: I`m out of time but I need to ask you, quick answer, is America
ready for two women at the head of the table?

O`NEILL: I think we are.

SHARPTON: All right, Terry O`Neill, thanks for your time. Enjoy the rest
of your holiday weekend.

O`NEILL: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coming up, the best-worst president, a new book on the
real Obama legacy and why the right got him so wrong.



TRUMP: What I always thought about Obama - look, obviously, he has been
horrible president. He will go down as one of the worst presidents in
history, but he will be truly one of the worst presidents in history.


SHARPTON: Donald Trump saying President Obama has been the worst. It`s
extreme but it fits a chorus of voices on the right who have long taken aim
at the president.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: One of the most disturbing aspects of the Obama
presidency is the willingness of this president to disregard the law.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Now this president wants to act as if
he is a king, as if he is a dictator.

President Obama may have this king complex developing.

RYAN: We have an increasingly lawless presidency.


SHARPTON: Or how about the claim that President Obama is destroying the


have made income inequality worse.

RYAN: Obamanomics, economy is even worse.

CRUZ: Policies that are hurting apart working Americans.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: We have a president asking us to abandon
our economic heritage.


SHARPTON: Interesting, except for one thing, the numbers. President Obama
has presided over 75 straight months of private sector job growth. Since
he took office the nation has added nearly 10 million new jobs, 10 million
and unemployment is down to 4.7 percent. You could write an entire book
debunking the attacks against the president. Luckily, you don`t have to.
Because someone else has done that for us.

Joining me now is Democratic political analyst Mark Hannah. He is the
author of the new book, “the best worst president, what the right gets
wrong about Barack Obama.”

Just about every week I do a got you debunking right wing myths. Your
whole book is one giant I got you. Why did you decide to write it?

conservative movement has been trying to delegitimize President Obama ever
since he took office. Too many of my liberal friends just sort of block
that out and drowned that out and stick cotton in their ear and don`t want
to hear it. But I grew up sort of listening to conservative talk radio.
My dad had Rush Limbaugh on at his job site. And so, I was exposed to
this. And you know, I think it`s important that we actually engage with
the conservative world view on some level. We actually take what they are
saying at face value and actually systematically try to debunk this with
reality. And I legitimately and maybe somewhat naively hope that this will
change some minds. I think that this entire republic, our country was
founded on this idea of a sort of competition of ideas and the truth will
win out ultimately. Unfortunately, with Donald Trump and you have seen
what he has introduced to the 2016 campaign which is just an abundance of
false information and the media needs to end it. And you are doing a great
job on your show of holding him accountable for that information but we
need to make sure that the truth that reality is actually winning out at
the end of the day.

I think the president has done a phenomenal job. I think his record comes
out crystal clear in the book you see the way in which he is restored
America`s prestige on the global stage, stabilize the economy. I go point
by point. And it`s not just, I want to be clear, it is not just sort of a
tedious fact checking process here. There`s some interesting stories
there. There`s some sort of fabrications and hypocrisies to the right that
I try to expose as well.

SHARPTON: Let me show you something the president said in this year`s
state of the union. That one of the things he regretted was that
Washington D.C. is still very much partisan and divided among party lines.
Watch this.


of my presidency that (INAUDIBLE) and suspicion between the parties has
gotten worse instead of better. It`s not enough just to change a
congressman or change a senator or even change a president. We have to
change the system to reflect our better selves.


SHARPTON: One of the things president Obama came into office wanting to do
was work across the aisle.

HANNAH: Right.

SHARPTON: Was there ever a chance for him to really achieve that? Because
it seems like from day one that they were determined not to do that. Am I
missing something? Was there ever an opportunity that was there and he
blew it or –

HANNAH: I don`t think so. This president showed from the very beginning
from that DNC speech in 2004 where he said there is no red America. There
is no, you know, red states and blue states. We are all Americans. He has
gestured toward bipartisanship since the start of his presidency but he has
been obstructed at every term by the most sort of do nothing Congress that
has existed going back to Harry Truman`s era. So I think that there has
been a disingenuousness on the part of Republicans when they just - they
see compromise as a dirty word. They see any kind of working with this
president as, you know, their strategy has been absolutely, has been
extremist and it`s been unfortunate. My book is basically trying to answer
the call to be more bipartisan. If I didn`t respect the conservative
argument on some level, I wouldn`t have the right to spent - all this time
writing a book about it.

SHARPTON: Well, the book is “the Best-Worst President.”

Mark Hannah, congratulations. Thank you for your time this morning.

HANNAH: Thank you. Thank you, Rev.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Next, our July 4th special edition continues with a
look at the fireworks Hillary Clinton could face this summer on the
campaign trail.


world headquarters in New York.

Break news in Baghdad. A bombing at a market killed 167 people. Many of
the victims are children, 185 people are also injured. The bombing hit as
families and young people were out on the street after breaking their
Ramada fast. ISIS claimed responsibility for the bombing in a statement
posted online. That statement could not be independently verified. The
attacks come after forces retook the city of Fallujah from ISIS earlier.

Hillary Clinton has given her first interview since meeting with the FBI.
That discussion was about her private email server. She talked exclusively
to “Meet the Press`” moderator Chuck Todd and he asked her how that
discussion went.


CLINTON: It was something I had offered to do since last August. I have
been eager to do it and I was pleased to have the opportunity to assist the
department in bringing its review to a conclusion.


MOHEYDIN (ph): Chuck also asked her about reports about a potential final
decision in the case already surfacing.


CHUCK TODD, HOST, MEET THE PRESS: Are you confident no charges will be

CLINTON: Chuck, I am not going to comment on the process. I have no
knowledge of any time line. This is entirely up to the department.


MOHEYDIN (ph): Much more of that interview on “Meet the Press” later this

Right now it`s back to “politics nation.”


OBAMA: I`m proud to call her a friend and I know how much we need Bill and
Hillary Clinton as a party and as a country in the months and years to

CLINTON: And today and every day going forward we stand shoulder to
shoulder for the ideals we share the values we would cherish and the
country we love.


SHARPTON: That was 2008. In 2016 the roles are reversed. Just look at
the front page of Clinton`s campaign Web site which features a photo of
President Obama with the words he is with her. The president approval
rating is at 56 percent, the highest number since Osama bin Laden was
killed. They make their debut together on the campaign trail this Tuesday
in the battleground state of North Carolina which helped propel the
president to his first term in 2008.

Let`s bring back our panel. Joy Reid, Jonathan Alter and Elise Jordan.

Joy, there`s been a lot of talk about the power of Elizabeth Warren but
what about the power of President Obama.

REID: Yes.

SHARPTON: We see two days from now.

REID: Absolutely. I think the smartest decision that Hillary Clinton made
she made it early on in her campaign was to associate and marry herself to
the Obama brand because it is the most popular brand in Democratic
politics. It enables her to bring in his base of voters which she needs
particularly African-American voters, the kind of voters who love Barack
Obama and who are giving him those 56 percent approval ratings. And that
by the way does include a temptation for the very kind of white suburban
voters who look at that Obama brand and compare that to a Donald Trump
brand. Very smart on her part.

SHARPTON: Elise, let me show you how dynamic a campaign appearance we have
seen. And that was Elizabeth Warren and Secretary Clinton this week. Let
me show this to you.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: What kind of a man roots for
people to lose their jobs, to lose their homes, to lose their life savings?
I will tell you what kind of a man, a small insecure money grubber who
fights for no one but himself.

CLINTON: I must say I do just love to see how she gets under Donald
Trump`s thin skin.


SHARPTON: Elise, is that one of the strengths of Elizabeth Warren that she
gets under Donald Trump`s skin? You mentioned earlier about how he came
out calling her a name after this very kind of reasonable position policy
attack by his campaign. He just went straight for the name calling.

JORDAN: Well, this week actually that`s what my column was about. How
Elizabeth Warren tactically is so great for the Clinton campaign because
she really does manage to get on Donald Trump`s skin. And really, the only
attribute that she brings to the ticket is that ability to really just
drive Donald Trump crazy. And I don`t think that Hillary Clinton would
risks that seat being up for - her senate seat being up for grabs in
Massachusetts. But she is a really effective surrogate and she is able to
attack. And Trump just looks like a pathetic bully coming back at her.

SHARPTON: Does she fix the Bernie problem?

JORDAN: I think, yes. I mean, it is going to take time. But I think that
certainly having her wholehearted support behind Hillary really helps bring
in the Bernie campaign.

SHARPTON: Jonathan, you know, Trump`s kitchen sink approach when it comes
to going after Clinton is – well look at this.


TRUMP: This is crooked Hillary Clinton.

She ran the state department like her own personal hedge fund doing favors
for oppressive regimes and many others and really many, many others in
exchange for cash.

We call her crooked Hillary because she is a crooked person.

She`s a world class liar.

Hillary Clinton may be the most corrupt person ever to seek the presidency
of the United States.


SHARPTON: The question, Jonathan, do these kind of attacks stick? You
know, the name calling? The sloganing? And then you said the Brexit vote
in England takes away one of his key policies attack.

ALTER: Yes. So this is where Trump is at is most effective when he plays
(INAUDIBLE), in this case, her around Republicans. When he is on the
attack, there a lot of Americans who like to see him in that mode. I think
it is not politically correct. And it has been - they love everything
about it. And it does put Hillary on the defensive. So in those debates,
she is going to have to find a way to deal with this kind of Donald Trump.
And just not assume that everybody will go, you know, he is over the top.
We are against him. She is going to have to put him in his place because a
lot of presidential politics is king of the hill. Who is the strongest?
That`s what people want from a president. So she has to be very strong in
the teeth of a very intense attack, but on Brexit she got a huge break.
Because if the economy went in decline, economists say there is about a 30
percent chance of a recessions this fall, before Brexit Trump could say
it`s the Obama-Clinton economy. Blame her if you are suffering in your
pocket book. It is Hillary`s fault.

Now Hillary can say no. Donald, it`s your fault. You supported Brexit.
Brexit is what sent these markets tumbling. Brexit is Elizabeth Warren
just mentioned, taking a lot of money away from ordinary people while
you`re helping your golf course. It`s the Trump recession. And so, she is
kind of check mated Trump on this question of the economy. It is always

SHARPTON: Joy, taken that and taken other things, the Democrats are
feeling pretty good this week. Is there anything that can see that would
derail it?

REID: Turn out. I think that what you saw in England was essentially our
midterm electorate is what (INAUDIBLE). It was an older whiter electorate.
Britain`s electorate is already about 90 percent white. It is more like on
midterm electorates are. But the other thing you saw in the Brexit vote
was very (INAUDIBLE), about 36 percent. If the U.S. electorate on November
looks more like a midterm, meaning that people of color are not energized.
Even having Elizabeth Warren out there does not energize African-Americans.
Does not energize Latinos. It just keeps Donald Trump –.

SHARPTON: And don`t forget you have new laws in 17 states by Boyle that I
think people are not talking about. The new laws and I think three states
even say proof of citizenship.

REID: Correct. And Wisconsin`s voter I.D. law has already prevented those
that have not been able to register in Wisconsin, 85 percent people of
color. North Carolina, their redistricting is going to the Supreme Court.
You had really aggressive voter suppressions in state like Texas. Even
places like Pennsylvania. So if voter`s oppression works as it is intended
to work and you also have a lack of excitement among voters of color, you
could have an electorate that actually looks more like a midterm, actually
looks more like the Brexit vote. That`s how Donald Trump wins. Making the
electorate older and wider.

SHARPTON: What role should Bill Clinton play or not play?

JORDAN: I think for now Bill Clinton is doing what he needs do and that`s
staying quite quiet. Because he really can`t stay on message and he
becomes somewhat of a distraction. I think he is definitely an advantage,
but I think as little he can be seen but not heard I think that is probably
the best role for him. Because after all, at the end of the day it`s
Hillary Clinton`s campaign and it is about her.

SHARPTON: But Bill Clinton is popular among some Democrats in some voters.
Does he have to stay all the way off the scene, Jonathan? I mean, doesn`t
he look a less out of what she would say you can`t control? Does he look a
lot more contained when you have a Donald Trump on the other side?

ALTER: Yes, absolutely. Also there are some states where he remains very
popular. It would be crazy not to go to Arkansas and New Hampshire to
campaign. But the real asset to bring the conversation full circle for her
is going to be President Obama. And he has indicated that he will be out
there campaigning very hard in the fall. He knows his whole legacy is on
the line. Everything he tried to do as president the last seven years is
all on the line right now. If Hillary loses, history has a totally
different view of Barack Obama.

SHARPTON: Joy Reid, Jonathan Alter and Elise Jordan, thank you. Enjoy the
rest of your holiday weekend.

And remember you can catch “AM Joy” coming up at 10:00 a.m. eastern right
here on MSNBC.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just ahead, our one-on-one with the federal judge who
urged President Obama to commute the life sentence of the man he sent to


SHARPTON: We turn now to our special series, bending towards justice in
the fight for criminal justice reform. More than two million people are
behind bars in America. And when they released, many don`t have the
support they need to give back on their feet. This issue has been a
priority for the president. And I have been in many White House meetings
focused on this fight.

Now with legislation stalled in Congress the president is taking action.
The White House unveiled several programs to help inmates find work after
prison. A major hurdle for those who have spent decades in jail. People
like Alton Mills whose story we have been covering here at “Politics
Nation.” At age 25 Alton was sentenced to life in prison for a nonviolent
drug offense.


ALTON MILLS, SENTENCED TO LIFE IN PRISON: I knew that one day I was going
to be going to jail. But I didn`t have a thought in my mind that I was
going to going to jail for the rest of my life.

At the time the sentenced hearing, I clearly expressed my discomfort with
what the law required me to do and I had no option. He has never been in
prison in his life and he is going to, presumably, he is going to die


SHARPTON: The judge who sentenced him wrote a letter asking for clemency.
And last year President Obama commuted Alton`s life sentence after 22 years
in prison.

Joining me now is Judge Marvin Aspen who originally sentenced Alton Mills
to life in prison and later wrote the letter asking for him to be set free.

Judge, first of all, thank you for being here.

JUDGE MARVIN ASPEN, U.S. FEDERAL JUDGE: Happy to be here, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Now, tell us what moved you to fight for his release?

ASPEN: Well, I remember the sentence very well. It happened in 1994. And
at that time, I stated On the Record that I thought that the whole sentence
was (INAUDIBLE), was a very cruel and unusual sentence. And I had no
recourse at that time because the law was what it was. That if somebody
had a third narcotics offense no matter how minor the first two were, that
person would get a mandatory life sentence. And when I heard that the
president was being petitioned for clemency, I wrote the president also and
told him my thoughts about the law and the terrible unfairness that Alton
was subjected to and had been subjected to.

SHARPTON: If you, Judge, could talk to Mr. Mills, if you could talk to
Alton Mills, what would you say to him?

ASPEN: I would say to him that I hope that he has left prison with a
positive attitude. I know it`s difficult after what he has gone through.
But so many people were concerned about him. His lawyer, people today like
you, people in the community, and that I hope he can be a positive example
to show that not only was a terrible mistake and injustice done to him, but
that he can prove by the rest of his life that he was a worthwhile person
and justified the confidence that all the people had in him including

SHARPTON: You know, we talked recently to Alton Mills. And we, of course,
he knows the mandatory sentencing and all, but we asked him did he have any
ill will toward you. And let me play what he told us by phone to you.


MILLS: I have no anger toward the judge Aspen at all. He wrote a
beautiful letter to for me to the president of the United States. That
meant a whole lot to me that letting me know that he was giving me the
opportunity that he couldn`t have gave me the first time this time. I
would actually thank him for giving me a second chance at life.


SHARPTON: What`s your response to hearing Alton`s words to you?

ASPEN: Well it`s a very moving letter. And it just reinforces my
confidence in the goodness of humanity that there are people who make
mistakes, who have done bad things in their life, but really basically
should not be just thrown away and discarded the way Alton was initially in
the 90s.

SHARPTON: Now, let me ask you. You have seen the toll that these
sentences have taken on families, on people`s lives. How would you,
looking at this as a judge, how would you feel that the criminal justice
system should be changed to deal with this where we protect ourselves from
crime but at the same time not continue to do situations like this that go
far beyond what is necessary toward reformation or toward protecting the

ASPEN: I think we are in the process of reforming our system. There
should be a way for the judge to consider all the factors even with a
suggested guideline range. And then have that available for review. So
every sentence could be tailored to the crime to the best we can do in an
imperfect system. That`s something we still have to work on.

SHARPTON: We have a ways to go. Thank you for being us this morning.
U.S. federal judge Marvin Aspen. Thank you again for your time. And thank
you for speaking with us today.

ASPEN: You are welcome.

SHARPTON: Stay tuned in the coming weeks. We will air part two of our
special series on Alton Mills and his path to redemption as a freeman.


SHARPTON: Tomorrow, Americans will celebrate our nation`s birthday and the
declaration of independence. We hold these truths to be self-evident that
all men are created equal. But of course back then that didn`t really
include all men and it didn`t include women. American history is the
record of our fight to live up to the true meaning of those words as
President Obama said at Selma last year.


OBAMA: These are not just words. They are a living thing. A call to
action. It`s the idea held by generations of citizens who believe that
America is a constant work in progress. We know the march is not yet over.
We know the race is not yet won.


SHARPTON: Now once again in this election year, we are hearing debate
about what it means to be American. And who gets to be an American. And
we are hearing talk about how America used to be great but isn`t anymore.

Last year at Selma, President Obama seemed to predict this debate and urged
us to embrace our new more diverse and more tolerant country.


OBAMA: That`s what America is. Not stock photos or air brushed history or
feeble attempts to define some of us as more American than others. We
respect the past but we don`t pine for the past. We don`t fear the future.
We grab for it.


SHARPTON: We grab for a future that will make America live up to those
words. Think about this as we celebrate this 4th of July weekend.

That does it for me. Thanks for watching. Enjoy the rest of your holiday
weekend. I`ll see you back here next Sunday.



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