PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton: 2/10/2017
Show: POLITICS NATION
Date: February 12, 2017
Guest: Hakeem Jeffries, Maria Hinojosa, Randi Weingarten, Will Jawando; Dave Zirin
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: They are mothers, daughters,
sisters, fathers, sons, and brothers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President? Mr. President?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The majority leader.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: Senator`s impugned the
motives and conduct of our colleague from Alabama, as warned by the chair.
Senator Warren said, “Senator Sessions has used the awesome power of his
office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens. “I call
the Senator to order under the provisions of rule 19.
WARREN: Mr. President, I am surprised that the words of Coretta Scott King
are not suitable for debate in the United States Senate. I ask leave of
the Senate to continue my remarks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there objection?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Object.
WARREN: I appeal the ruling –
UNIDENDTIFIED MALE: Objection is heard. The Senator will take her seat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Good morning and welcome to POLITICS NATION.
Those were dramatic scenes on the Senate floor earlier this week after
Senator Mitch McConnell and the Republicans in the Senate voted to silence
Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren. She was reading a letter from Coretta
Scott King, the widow of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.
That letter from 1986 was condemning Jeff Sessions, then the U.S. attorney
from the southern district of Alabama, for using what she said was the
power of his office to suppress votes by black citizens. And here`s how
Senator McConnell defended his action.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCONNELL: Senator Warren was giving a lengthy speech. She had appeared
to violate the rule. She was warned. She was giving an explanation.
Nevertheless, she persisted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: And she persisted, all right. And so, with this week`s
confirmation of Jeff Sessions to be our attorney general, all of that
happening, of course, during Black History Month. We ask ourselves, how
concerned should we be about Jeff Sessions?
Joining me now is New York Congressman Hakeem Jeffries. He`s a member of
the Congressional Black Caucus and sits on the House judiciary committee.
Congressman, thanks for being with me this morning.
REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D), NEW YORK: Good morning, Rev.
SHARPTON: We in the civil rights community oppose Jeff Sessions, though he
called a few of us, three of us Friday, and I`ll talk about that later in
But given his record, calling the voting rights act intrusive, being on
record dealing with some of the most controversial and in the opinion of
many of us, anti-civil rights measures. Mrs. Coretta Scott King, who you
know I worked with and was part of the generation she and others raised. I
grew up under them.
She writes a letter. Elizabeth Warren silenced from reading the letter.
It was not put in the record when she wrote it in `86. I mean, are we
overreacting? Or is there a real genuine concern? And as a member of the
House judiciary committee, what should be the legislative concerns?
JEFFRIES: Well, there`s a real concern here. First of all, Coretta Scott
King is an iconic national figure. Next to every great man is a great
woman, and Coretta Scott King partnered with Dr. King to help change this
SHARPTON: No doubt about it.
JEFFRIES: In a way that was phenomenal, and she sacrificed greatly.
SHARPTON: And continuing it after he was assassinated.
JEFFRIES: Absolutely, the legacy continued beyond Dr. King`s assassination
in 1968 and she continued to carry the torch forward. And so, the fact
that her words would be deemed offensive in any way, shape or form, is
The second problem is that Elizabeth Warren is clearly being held to a
double standard. Senator Ted Cruz on the floor of the United States Senate
called Mitch McConnell a liar.
SHARPTON: On the floor?
JEFFRIES: On the floor.
SHARPTON: Did they call rule 19 when he called Senator McConnell a liar?
JEFFRIES: Not at all. He wasn`t sanctioned, he wasn`t disciplined.
SHARPTON: Even McConnell didn`t call for rule 19 when he was himself
attacked as a liar on the floor?
JEFFRIES: Absolutely. Apparently, the word liar is not a dirty word in
the Republican dictionary, or there`s a double standard between Democrats
and Republicans. And the fact that Coretta Scott King`s words would be the
basis of Senator Warren being silenced when Ted Cruz can call the Senate
majority leader a liar shows what Washington Republicans are all about.
SHARPTON: And then the next day, three male Senators read the actual
letter that they silenced Elizabeth Warren for reading. I mean, the exact
letter, and no one silenced them. So, it`s almost like, you know, whether
we`re dealing with a different gender bias here, like you`re to be – you
can`t read a woman`s statement as a woman, but three men can. Nobody
But let me deal with the substance of Senator Sessions. How do you see he
in the justice department in terms of dealing with continuing any of the
moves that we saw under Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch as attorney generals
in the areas of civil rights, criminal justice and all? I mean, how do you
see this from where you sit in the Congress?
JEFFRIES: Well, it`s very deeply troubling. House Democrats on the
judiciary committee are concerned. Members of the Congressional Black
Caucus are concerned. Loretta Lynch and Eric Holder did a tremendous job
in moving this country forward over the last eight years.
It`s clear that Donald Trump and his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, would
like to turn back the clock. We can be hopeful that he will change course,
but Jeff Sessions is a product of his environment. He`s a good old boy
from the segregated south. And throughout his entire career, he`s been
hostile to civil rights as a U.S. attorney in Alabama, as the Alabama
attorney general, and subsequently as a United States Senator.
And if you think about, for instance, the area of criminal justice reform,
where there has been a bipartisan effort – Democrats, Republicans,
progressives, conservatives – you`ve been part of this movement, Reverend
Sharpton, to deal with our broken criminal justice system. Jeff sessions
has been an obstacle in that regard.
In some ways even opposing his own Republican Senators, like Rand Paul and
Mike Lee from Utah. He supports mass incarceration. He supports
unconstitutional practice of stop and frisk. He supports the failed war on
drugs, which has resulted in the United States becoming the country that
incarcerates more individuals than any other country in the nation.
And it appears that he wants to continue these lock them up and throw away
the key policies that have been bad not just for African-Americans but bad
for the economic productivity of the entire nation.
SHARPTON: These are the concerns that were raised when we had the civil
rights march January 14th leading into the inauguration because he`d
already been nominated. These are the concerns I know I raised with him on
the phone on Friday.
The fact is, we`re talking about an actual seat change in terms of where
criminal justice goes in this country. President Obama commuted more low-
level, nonviolent drug offenders than the last 11 presidents. He said it
on this show.
We certainly see the reverse of that being proposed now. Police reform.
The president`s 21st-century police recommendations, what`s going to happen
to that? I mean, aside from the slogan and the protesting and all that I
and others do, substantive issues that will be 180-degree turn is at stake
JEFFRIES: That`s correct. Here`s what we plan to do in the House, and I
think there`ll be a parallel effort in the Senate – on dealing with our
mass incarcerations problem in the United States of America and we`re going
to reach out to our Republican colleagues.
SHARPTON: What can you do?
JEFFRIES: Well, we can introduce legislation that is similar to the bills
that passed the House judiciary committee last year on sentencing reform,
reducing mandatory minimums, trying to give judges more discretion and
improve the compassion within the criminal justice system.
Where`s the criminal justice reform act? What`s the progress or lack of
progress on that? We`ve been talking about that for over a year now.
JEFFRIES: We were hopeful that we could get some bills to the president`s
desk, our President Barack Obama, in the last session. That got derailed
as a result of politics connected to the election, but there are Democrats
and Republicans who are committed to continuing that effort. We`re going
to jump start it in the next few months, and hopefully, we`ll get something
to the president`s desk.
SHARPTON: Will he sign it? If you get the criminal justice reform act,
which is a bipartisan act, but it deals with some of the issues you and I
discussed this morning, will Donald Trump sign that bill?
JEFFRIES: That`s the open question. And we`re concerned that Jeff
Sessions wouldn`t be a positive influence on the president. He may be an
obstacle. That`s why we`re going to continue to keep the pressure on him
as we move forward.
SHARPTON: Well, thank you, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries of New York. I
know him as Hakeem from Brooklyn. Grew up around the National Action
Network, and I know you`ll keep the pressure on.
Coming up, President Trump is not backing down from his controversial
immigration order even after a court order against it. What will he do
next? We don`t know. We`ll tell you, though, what we think when
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You spoke about you`re going to win this court battle
against the immigration and travel ban –
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`ll win that battle. The
unfortunate part is it`s non-statutorily, so they takes time. We`ll win
that battle. But we have lots of other options, include just filing a
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)
TRUMP: Could very well be, but I like to keep you – I`d like to surprise
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: That was President Trump hinting at what`s next for his
controversial immigration order. The White House said several options,
including the case to the Supreme Court, was still on the table.
Meanwhile, U.S. immigration authorities arrested hundreds of undocumented
immigrants in at least a half dozen states this week in a series of raids.
Also this week, an internal document from the department of homeland
security shows the wall that President Trump has promised to build along
the Mexican border will cost as much as $21.6 billion. Much higher than
the $12 billion Trump suggested.
With me here to discuss this is Attorney Raul Reyes, an MSNBC contributor,
and Maria Hinojosa, host of “Latino USA” on National Public Radio. Thank
you both for being here.
RAUL REYES, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Good morning.
MARIA HINOJOSA, NPR: Good morning.
SHARPTON: All options are on the table, Maria. The president not showing
his hand. He could do a new executive order to get around the courts, but
basically saying in substance the same things, they could go to the Supreme
Court. What do you think?
HINOJOSA: I think that the question that the American people really need
to be looking at is, should there be a next step in terms of this ban?
If the people have taken to the streets, if the courts have responded and
said this is unconstitutional, this is not –this is not what we do, then I
think the real question for the administration is are you going to continue
to push this? Because for someone who says that he is only a winner, I
mean, he`s losing here. And if everything goes forward, of course, with a
divided supreme court, he will probably lose there. It will be tight, and
back to the appeals court. Why does Donald Trump want to keep losing on
something like this?
SHARPTON: Well, I think Maria raises the question that for me, anyway, is
not what will be the next step. It`s why are we even having a next step
SHARPTON: Because if you`ve already had the ruling is unconstitutional, if
a lot of the nations around the world are saying this is certainly
something that they question, why won`t the president just say, OK, fine?
REYES: Because that`s, unfortunately, who this president is. And I would
add to what you`re mentioning, is that we`ve had polling out this past week
from PPP that shows I believe 53 percent of Americans call it a Muslim ban
and are also against it.
So, it`s not supported by the public either. But I think the way this
administration rolls with Donald Trump and his Rasputin, Steve Bannon, they
don`t play by the normal rules. They don`t care, necessarily, about public
opinion. They don`t care, as you touched on, the un-justice of this order.
I think they`re going to probably try and rewrite it. The problem they
will have with rewriting it is that it can be crafted in a way perhaps to
get around the Muslim ban.
But yet, they can`t erase the history that`s there of Donald Trump calling
it a Muslim ban, of Donald Trump making the campaign speeches about a
Muslim ban, of Rudy Giuliani referring to it that way.
So all of that history will still be brought in. And there was one key
finding in the court ruling in the 9th circuit where they found that the
states did have standing. Ordinarily, when you go forward with a court
case, that`s a big hurdle to get through.
SHARPTON: The standings in the court.
REYES: Right, the right to bring this to the states. They have already
cleared that. The 9th circuit quite said they are likely to succeed on the
merits. So, for Donald Trump and his DOJ, which is grossly understaffed,
they`re facing a very uphill climb at this point.
SHARPTON: Maria, that touches on and goes back to the segment I just had
with Congressman Jefferies – I have to try to make – as I speak around
We`re not just talking about some kind of charity act to people that are
trying to come in the country. We`re talking about the violation of due
process. Which becomes a threat to everybody whether you were born here or
not, and if you allow for that to happen, it becomes that threat.
Explain to us as an attorney about – and what`s going on right now with
REYES: Right. Well, what people very often forget is that they think the
protections of our constitution, such as due process, equal protection,
only apply to U.S. citizens. That`s not true. Our constitution is written
so that it applies to all persons.
REYES: So, when I.C.E. comes pounding on your door, you do not have to let
them in without a warrant from a judge. Usually what I.C.E. does is they
get a warrant, an administrative warrant. It`s not the same, but they take
advantage of the fact that most undocumented people are scared, they don`t
know all of the legal intricacies involved, so they let them in. They
conduct these house-to-house, what they call targeted individual
enforcement actions. That is a raid.
Now, on these raids, there`s been a lot of confusion about the scope of
them, the scale of them, how many people are being swept up, and there is a
reason for that. The reason for that is the government, this
administration`s I.C.E., DHS, has been very – they have been very
secretive about it, because I think that they know, the more that the
public knows how counterproductive these raids are, the more the public is
aware of the waste of resources, the more that the public is aware how
inhumane this is to be breaking down people`s doors and separating parents
from their children, that people will not like it.
And just on a broader scope, when you look – when we look at polling,
aside from the polling that shows people consistently want immigration
reform, when you poll different people on different options for the
undocumented, 79 percent of the public wants either a path to citizenship
or some path to legalization.
SHARPTON: Consistently we`ve seen this.
REYES: Right. There`s only a minority percentage, 19 percent in favors
mass deportation, and that includes Republicans. Only a minority of
Republicans want what Trump is doing.
HINOJOSA: Because ultimately, Reverend, you`re exactly right, when due
process is denied to anyone in our country, it opens the door for due
process to be denied to everyone in our country. And that`s what we`re
So, to see people now out there looking at – I mean, this is what Donald
Trump has done. He has, for example, a story that some of us have been
reporting for many, many, many years he has put it front and center. And
so now people are watching about when they`re going to come to the raids,
because by the way, they come at 5:00 in the morning, 6:00 in the morning,
when you`re sleeping.
REYES: 4:00 in the morning, correct.
HINOJOSA: When you`re sleeping, you hear the banging on the door. And
what you do is just see somebody saying “police” and you open the door.
Again, immigrants are not opening the door to anyone, which is dangerous,
because if there`s a fire, somebody`s knocking on your door, you need to
open that door. They will not.
REYES: And the other danger in terms of civil rights violations, it`s not
just the due process say of undocumented people, of people caught up in
these raids, it`s actually on a widespread basis of Latinos because this
type of targeted enforcement actions, they`re going to predominantly Latino
SHARPTON: Which is profiling.
REYES: That means – exactly, it opens the door to profiling.
SHARPTON: And once you open the door to profiling, those who have fought
profiling for many years it opens the door –
REYES: exactly. We have seen not only undocumented immigrants swept up in
these raids, lawful permanent residents. In fact even U.S. citizens.
Maybe they`re senior citizens –
SHARPTON: No problem about it. We`ve got to go, but I`m really going to
stay on this. Thank you, Raul.
REYES: Thank you, sir.
SHARPTON: Thank you, Maria.
Coming up, President Trump is blaming Democrats for an historic
obstruction. Could he possibly be right? That`s next.
SHARPTON: This week, President Donald Trump complained that he did not
have his full cabinet appointments confirmed by the U.S. Senate and he was
also very clear who was to blame.
He tweeted, “It is a disgrace that my full cabinet is still not in place,
the longest such delay in the history of our country. Obstruction by
Well, let`s have a reality check. Democrats have, indeed, slowed many of
Mr. Trump`s presidential nominations, but the main reason for the hold were
lateness of a few nominations and delays in submitting background check
As for his claim, we checked it and found it to be absolutely false. Bill
Clinton didn`t have his final spot filled until March 11. George H.W. Bush
took until March 17. Barack Obama holds the modern record as his last pick
didn`t get her Senate vote until April 28. Only George W. Bush had his
full team in place within a few days of his inauguration on January 30.
As of the day of the tweet, Trump has had six of his 15 Cabinet selections
comfirmed by the Senate, with several more awaiting final Senate approval.
So, yes, he has a ways to go before his full Cabinet is confirmed, but the
longest wait in history? Please, Mr. President.
We got you.
SHARPTON: Another historic moment at the United States Senate this week
when Vice President Mike Pence was called on to break the tie to confirm
President Trump`s pick for education secretary, Betsy DeVos.
The first time that`s happened for a cabinet confirmation. Two Republicans
voted against DeVos, causing a 50-50 tie and requiring Pence to put DeVos
over the top. She was eventually confirmed, and we are left with the
questions, what is her nomination and what does it mean for the future of
public education and America`s diverse student population?
With me here to talk about that is Randi Weingarten, labor leader and
president of the American Federation of Teachers. And Will Jawando, a
former aide at the Obama White House, previously worked as an official in
the education department.
First of all, thank you both for joining me.
WILL JAWANDO, FORMER AIDE AT THE OBAMA WHITE HOUSE: Good to be here.
RANDI WEINGARTEN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS: Thanks. Hi,
JAWANDO: Hi, Randi.
SHARPTON: You and I have worked together for many years around these
issues, and the nomination of DeVos, you know, similar to what I talked to
Congressman Jeffries about with Sessions, is almost the direct affront at a
lot of the things that many in the civil rights community, the labor
community all fought for, for the last 25 years.
WEINGARTEN: It`s as if you would have a pediatrician and kids walking into
a pediatrician and the pediatrician putting a sign up saying, no, I`m not
doing anything, or yes, you have a fever? Just go home and deal with it.
Or worse, you know, maybe I`ll give you a medicine that`s the opposite of
what you need.
And then it is the exact – it is as if Donald Trump wants to prove to
Americans that government doesn`t work. It is destroying, undermining the
mission of what they are supposed to do.
It`s really unfathomable. There`s not ever been a Republican or Democratic
president who has done this. I`m sorry to wear the social studies hat, but
it`s just there`s – you know, they want to destroy and destruct.
And frankly, what we need to do is what Elizabeth Warren did, it is resist
and, to borrow a word from Mitch McConnell, persist.
WEINGARTEN: It is resist and persist, because it will become the will of
the people being that check and balance. And then when they do things that
are so antithetical to what our values are, whether the values are public
education, fighting bigotry and hate, pluralism democracy, or frankly,
lifting up all Americans economically, we`re going to have to do that.
SHARPTON: When we talk about public education, where we`re talking about
the public, not just a select few, I think part of the concerns is that
Betsy DeVos has said vouchers, has said charter schools, has campaigned on
my allies in Michigan, she was the champion of campaigning against it.
How do you have someone over public education that has advocated policies
that would at best – and this is only at best – educate a selective group
of the public?
JAWANDO: Well, you`re exactly right, Rev. And hi, Randi. This
appointment is a disaster for at least two reasons, right? One, you have
someone who spent their whole professional career in their money working to
divert, change laws and divert money away from public education. Again,
where 90 percent of our kids attend, right?
And then also, you combine that with the fact that she doesn`t know
anything about education policy.
JAWANDO: I mean, if you watched the hearing, it was an embarrassment. She
was talking about growth versus proficiency. Senator Franken, which is a
major debate in the education world for 10, 15 years, and she didn`t even
know what it was about. So, you know, it`s a combination of intentionality
She knows what she wants to do – defund public education, so that`s her
intention, and she`s ignorant of the education policy. And so, what that
means for our black and brown children, our low-income children across the
country, it means that instead of investing billions of dollars in turning
around and improving low-performing schools, which we did in the Obama
administration, she wants to take $20 billion out of the public education
system and put it into a voucher program.
So, it`s a historic failure and probably the worst pick of many bad picks
from President Trump.
SHARPTON: You know, and I really want a lot of our viewers to understand
how really radical a change this is, because many did not agree with the
Obama administration, but there were ways that everybody got a rule worked
toward what will just talked about.
WEINGARTEN: Right. So, this is –
SHARPTON: I would put Dr. Rudy Crew, one of the former chancellors who
worked with your predecessor, they didn`t agree, but this is outside of the
pail. This is not even close to dealing with public education.
WEINGARTEN: And in fact, what Rudy and I did when he was –
SHARPTON: You`re talking about Rudy Crew.
WEINGARTEN: Rudy Crew, not Rudy Giuliani. What Crew and I did when we
were in New York was we actually fixed schools that were struggling.
We actually put the investments in. We changed the contract for those
schools. We put the investments in. We extended time for professional
development and for tutoring, and those schools turned around. Because as
Will said, it takes an investment.
So, this is what –
SHARPTON: But here we`re talking about somebody that`s saying let`s take
public funds, put them into charter schools, have vouchers.
WEINGARTEN: It`s even worse.
SHARPTON: Use public schools to do it.
WEINGARTEN: It`s even worse. This is why she`s so out of the mainstream.
And Will touched on this.
Her whole record in Michigan was about defunding, destabilizing and
eliminating public schools. She used to say about the Detroit public
schools and DPS, there was a group of people, Republicans and Democrats
alike, who had a plan to rescue the schools, including making sure that
charters had some accountability to children, meaning you couldn`t have a
charter operator get the state money of which they got $1 billion, pocket
that money and then close the school the next day, leaving parents
And she refused to go along with it and she had the same power in the
national government, meaning she gave $200 million to Republicans. That
was worth more than the five million people who called the switchboard to
say don`t support her. And what was the effect, Rev? Michigan schools
went from 27th in reading proficiency in 2003 to 41st –
SHARPTON: 27th to 41st.
WEINGARTEN: That`s her policies.
SHARPTON: Will, this is the fear that you and others that worked in the
Obama administration in education have, I would imagine, is that it`s not
just the politics of it, it is the achievement and the move toward really
educating kids in basic things like reading, math and all, are now
threatened if the investment is not there from the top in terms of
Washington and the education department moving these states forward.
JAWANDO: You`re exactly right. And there`s reason for everyone to be
fearful. You have not only does she want to move this historic amount of
money, over $20 billion, again, with a “b,” out of the public education
system to a national voucher program, she also wants to have different
rules for charter schools. Randi alluded to this.
If you`re going to have charters, and charters can be good and bad, just
like any other school, you`ve got to have the same set of rules. You have
to have accountability for charters. They have to be meeting the same
standards that our public schools and our great teachers that Randi
represents, have to meet.
But then on the other side, you have to make sure you`re ensuring civil
rights protections. And when she was asked in her hearings about does she
see an expanded role or an important role for the U.S. Department of
Education civil rights department, she punted and wouldn`t answer that
And so, there`s a lot of concerns for our children, not just the money, but
is she going to have an equal playing field for all types of schools, and
is she going to enforce civil rights laws?
SHARPTON: I`m going to have to take my break. Thank you, Randi Weingarten
for being here. I know you will persist on this issue.
I`m going to ask you, Will, to stay with us for a bit more. I want to deal
with an issue up next.
After one of the most political Super Bowls in recent history, some members
of the winning team, the New England Patriots, are taking a strong
political stand. We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Elaborate just a little bit more about your decision
not to go to the White House?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, I`m just trying to enjoy it. Right now I
haven`t even thought about it. But like I said, it is what it is. People
know how I feel about it. Just follow me on Twitter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Super Bowl 51 has been called one of the best in NFL history,
but now six New England Patriot players say they will skip the traditional
post-win meeting with President Trump at the White House, citing his stance
on a range of issues.
It is not just football. In the last month, NBA stars LeBron James and
Steph Curry have voiced their concerns about Trump administration policies
And this week, an Olympic fencer, the first Muslim athlete to win a medal
for the U.S., said that she was detained by customs officials for no
apparent reason while traveling a few weeks ago.
Yes, athletes everywhere are speaking out.
Joining me now is Dave Zirin, sports writer for “The Nation” magazine. And
back with us is Will Jawando, former White House aide under President Obama
and a former college basketball player.
Let me go to you first, Dave. The fact is, before people started reacting
when now six players from the Patriots said they weren`t going, Tom Brady
did not go with the team when they won and President Obama was in, and it
was not a tact.
He was the big quarterback at the time. He said, ah, I have a family
matter, and he was photographed in New York shopping at an Apple store.
So I mean, what they are doing in this regard Brady did to President Obama.
What`s the outrage here?
DAVE ZIRIN, SPORTS WRITER, THE NATION: Well, the outrage and the
difference is that the Patriots players are operating on a much higher
level of political principle than Tom Brady.
Tom Brady clearly had problems with President Obama but did not stand on
the political grounds for why he was not going to the White House. And
honestly, that`s been the pattern for athletes over the last 25 years,
athletes who were not fans of who was in the White House just said no and
did not show up.
What makes this instance so exceptional, and it reminds you of Craig Hodges
in 1992, who showed up to the White House in a dashiki with a letter of
protest when he played for the Chicago Bulls and handed it to George H.W.
Bush about racism in the United States. This is much more in that
tradition as opposed to the Brady, oh, I`m going to the computer store
This is the tradition of six athletes, five of whom have made explicit
political statements saying this is not my president, this is not my White
House, this is my act of dissent, and I will not shame myself by being on a
stage and being photographed with this man.
SHARPTON: You know, Will, going back, using sports, or your sports
platform to make a statement, I remember when I was 14 in `68 when at the
Olympics the famous picture now that has become iconic of Tommie Smith and
raising their hands, their fists up.
And as Dave just said, the letter of protest around racism to George bush,
here we see in the year of Colin Kaepernick and others that people again
coming out in that tradition, affirming a political stand.
JAWANDO: Yes. There`s a long tradition, and you mentioned part of it, of
athletes, in particular black athletes, but all athletes standing up for
what they believe is right politically.
One thing that`s often not known about that picture you`ve just shown is
that the Australian athlete in that picture was wearing a button also
speaking to the protest in solidarity with them.
SHARPTON: That`s right.
JAWANDO: And his life was ruined after that. And I think in this
situation, you have five black Patriots and one white Patriot who`s saying
I`m not coming, and I think that`s a good thing, because you don`t check
your first amendment rights when you put on your cleats or you put on your
You have a duty and responsibility as a person who`s known and people who
look up to you to speak your mind, and I think that`s what you`re seeing
here. And I would agree with Dave 100 percent that this is much more
honorable and respectful of the office of the president when you say why
you`re not coming as opposed to just kind of going to the Apple store like
SHARPTON: And again, when the controversies around all the way back from
`68 to Craig day to Kaepernick, all of this I think does not really, really
speak to the fact that a lot of people just want people to either be an
entertainer or sports person and not a full person, and they`re saying I
have the right to make my positions known. I`m a full human being and I am
a good athlete or and I`m a good entertainer.
ZIRIN: Yes, the days of shut up and play are in the trash heap of history
now with the betamax and disco music. You can`t shut up and play anymore
with all the things happening in this world, and athletes are acknowledging
And one thing I would say to folks out there who wish athletes would just
entertain and be a vehicle for escape, I would say please think of this –
athletes are role models, whether we want them to be or not. You can
disagree with an athlete being a role model, but that`s like disagreeing
with gravity when you fall out of an airplane. It`s just is what it is.
So you have to ask yourself a question, what do you want athletes to model?
Do you want them to model, hey, you can be cool like me if you buy the
right product or drink the right energy drink? Or do you want them to
model civic and political engagements?
SHARPTON: Each on that point, Will, if you`re going to use athletes in
commercials, you`re accepting that they`re role models. Only reason that
you would want them to endorse a product is they`re role models.
So when I see a Kaepernick – I think I mispronounced it before – but when
I see him bowing and others joining him, when I see what they`re doing in
terms of the Super Bowl, they are standing up for justice, fairness, anti-
immigration bans, whatever the case, just as if they were selling a
You can`t say they have the right to sell a product but they don`t have a
right to stand up for a cause.
JAWANDO: That`s right. And actually, what you`re seeing happen is the
flipping of the old paradigm. The old thought of don`t speak out because
we`re going to take your endorsement deal, we`re going to take your money
financially, you`re not going to get the contract – even when Kaepernick
started kneeling down, that was part of the discussion.
But this week when the Under Armour CEO made a statement, Steph Curry
couldn`t get on Twitter quick enough to quote him and say take the take the
EET off of that asset and that`s what Trump is, and he`s going to change
the way that the company operates.
And so you`re seeing athletes with the power to change economically. And
that`s a paradigm shift that I think is a good one in addition to them
being full people and be able to speak their mind.
SHARPTON: Dave, I think that this era of speaking their mind, particularly
now, is warranted because we`re in a very, very serious sea change in
American politics with the leaving of Barack Obama and the coming in of
Donald Trump. It is clear that we are looking at a sea change and the
people that are on those seas need to take a stand one way or another.
Thank you, Dave Zirin and Will Jawando.
Coming up, my final thoughts. I got a call from newly confirmed Attorney
General Jeff Sessions. What I told him, next.
SHARPTON: Let me say that I received a call from the Attorney General,
Jeff Sessions, on Friday. He had also called individually the president of
the National Urban League, president of the NAACP. And he called reaching
out to the three of us who had opposed his confirmation based on our
concerns about his record and about his past.
For me, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, the letter that we referred to earlier in
the show that Elizabeth Warren couldn`t read – I knew Mrs. King. I knew
her well. I was at 13 years old a youth director in New York of the
organization her husband had founded and he had been killed that year. And
I worked with her as head of National Action Network, and she supported it,
came to a lot of our events and worked with us along with her son, Martin
She was a very deliberate woman. She was a very careful woman. She would
not have written a letter to the U.S. Senate because she was just some
passionate, out-of-control activist. She thought about what she did. And
I told Attorney General Sessions on the phone the gravity of our concern –
voting rights – the gravity of our concern around voter I.D., around
criminal justice reform, around President Obama`s 21st-century police
commission recommendations, around the cases that are still before us from
Walter Scott in North Charleston and Eric Garner`s investigation in New
We`re not just partisan people. There`s a real problem. I`m glad he
called. I`m thinking it`s the mature thing to reach out to people that be
vehemently opposed to you. But now what are we going to do? And what we
do is deeper than the politics of the moment.
That does it for me. Thanks for watching. Keep the conversation going.
Like us at facebook.com/politicsnation, and follow us on Twitter,
twitter@politicsnation. I`ll see you back here next Sunday.
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Transcription Copyright 2017 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