Transcript 1/28/18 Politics Nations
Show: POLITICS NATION
Date: January 28, 2018
Guest: Matt Welch, Karine Jean-Pierre, Steven Benjamin, Nan Whaley, Mark Burns, Eugene Scott
REV. AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST, POLITICSNATION WITH AL SHARPTON: Welcome to
Late last night, President Trump took to Twitter to shamelessly drag
Democrats on DACA on his border - his precious border wall and the race to
avoid another government shutdown, setting up a testy atmosphere just two
days out from his first State of the Union address.
Will we see the relatively presidential Trump we saw on his Davos trip this
week? Or will he revert to his Twitter type and come out all guns blazing?
Should the Congressional Black Caucus even attend just two weeks after the
alleged s-hole comments about mostly black nations? We`ll ask two members
that are in the black caucus. What are their plans?
And all of this as fallout mounts over reports that President Trump tried
to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller last June over his Russia collusion
But the president is pushing back, and so are we. Joining me now, Matt
Welch, editor-at-large at “Reason Magazine” and Karine Jean-Pierre, senior
advisor at “MoveOn.Org”.
Karine, let me go to you. Where I come from, when somebody wants to get
rid of the prosecutor, it`s usually that they are afraid of what the
investigation may unearth or reveal about their them or someone they care
So, when I`m hearing that the president, who had already fired the FBI
director, wanted to fire Mueller, my antennas goes up here. I mean, am I
out of line ear?
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, SENIOR ADVISOR AT “MOVEON.ORG”:
You are not out of line, reverend. Good morning, first of all.
Look, it definitely plays into the line of, what is he hiding? Why is it
that he keeps wanting to fire people? Or obstruct justice. He`s been
doing that from the moment that he stepped into office, and we keep
learning over and over again.
And not only that, he`s not behaving like an innocent person. Innocent
people don`t fire your first FBI director James Comey over the Russia
thing. And now, this report that we learned about seven - that happened
seven months ago, but we`re learning about it now, which I believe is only
the tip of the iceberg.
But, look, this is Donald Trump. He abuses power nearly every day. And it
is up - really, at this point, I do believe that it is up to Congress to
make sure that Mueller is protected.
SHARPTON: But, Matt, is there a logical reason - other than maybe he`s
trying to hide something or concerned about something, is there a logical
reason from the Trump defenders that he would even have the discussion that
he wanted to fire Mueller.
MATT WELCH, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, “REASON MAGAZINE”: Yes, the logic would work
like this. This investigation is an irritant. It`s going too far. It`s
going into the family business in a way that`s improper and it`s based on a
conspiracy theory that`s not true.
SHARPTON: Oh, they are worried about conspiracy theories?
WELCH: This has been a bad week for Republicans to talk about Democratic
conspiracy theories, for sure, what with secret societies and whatnot.
But that`s what the logic of the Trump defense would be. It`s hard to
imagine that logic obtaining precisely because we`ve had a week and a
season of secret societies. We have missed 50,000 text messages. This is
worse than Watergate.
The problem with the Republican attack, which has been not really in the
Trump legal defense, but more about the surrogates on the outside trying to
undermine the Mueller investigation is that they are doing it in such a way
to undermine that is undermining their ability to discredit this because
they`re picking up every available strand -
SHARPTON: But, Matt, let me ask you this. Does this not undermine - and I
want Karine to weigh in too because she implied it, but does this not
undermine people`s faith in government in terms of the judicial process
where you can sort of like pick and choose who is going to be the head of
the FBI based on whether or not you think they`re behaving properly about
you and your loved ones and special counsel.
I mean, how does this look to the public and to the rest of the world?
WELCH: Sure, this undermines that. I mean, I`m a libertarian. So, I
don`t mind people not having the most -
SHARPTON: Well, I`m a liberationist, but go ahead.
WELCH: There`s been more discussion about the deep state on “Fox News”
this week than there has been in like seasons on the “X-Files”. It`s
amazing the extent to which people are talking about secret cabals in here
trying to do this.
So, yes, it is undermining that faith, but doing so in a ham-handed way, I
think. You can choose a narrative, a line of attack that is rich and mine
that one. But that`s not what they`re doing. They`re picking up every
This one single text proves it all, throwing the bat against the wall.
When that falls down, it doesn`t work, they take up the next one, and so
that, I think, makes it difficult for Republicans to discredit the Mueller
SHARPTON: And, Karine, not only does it make it difficult - I agree with
Matt - to discredit it, then they attack the media for even reporting that
they were trying to do things like fire Mueller. I mean, there were
multiple source in “The New York Times” article that revealed this. And
what does Trump do in Davos? Attack the media.
You attack the messenger when you can`t deal with the substance of the
JEAN-PIERRE: And I think that`s exactly right. I think what is happening
is that Robert Mueller`s clearly getting closer and closer to the Oval
Office. Heck, he`s knocking on the door of the Oval Office and Republicans
are seeing that.
Look just how the year ended for Donald Trump`s advisers. People who
worked closely with him. People who were on his campaign were indicted.
Two of them pleaded guilty. We know Flynn is talking to Robert Mueller,
someone who traveled with Donald Trump for almost two years. We know
Sessions sat down with Mueller.
There`s things that continue - that we continue to learn that`s leading
closer and closer to Donald Trump. And what Republicans are doing is
exactly what you guys were discussing, is that they want to undermine
Robert Mueller`s investigation because something is coming. Something is
going to happen. And when it does, they want to be able to say, oh, well,
you know what? You can`t trust the FBI. Look, they`ve been compromised.
Mueller has been compromised. So, this is what`s happening here.
And what`s the crazy thing about this, we`re talking about the Republican
Party, which is supposed to be a law and order party, right? They are
supposed to be about having the moral high ground.
SHARPTON: What happened to that? I mean, good luck finding the law and
order party. I mean, do you think, ultimately, that the president does go
in front of Mueller and does answer the questions voluntarily?
Or is this him just throwing it out there, playing to the crowd. Yes, I`m
willing to go, I`d love to go, I can`t wait to go even under oath, whatever
way you want, while he`s lawyered every way he can to try to avoid this -
or at least have it under the least difficult circumstances.
WELCH: The answer to that question will tell us - are his lawyers working
for him? Or is he working for his lawyers? I think he actually want to
go. He thinks, in his mind, that he can fix this, that he can do this.
But I think that he thinks he`s innocent here.
So, if he really believes that, any lawyer allowing Donald Trump to go in
front of any deposition or any kind of - is conducting malpractice, but
he`s the president -
SHARPTON: But, Karine, I have known Donald Trump 35 years, good days and
bad, more bad than good, he is a salesman. He sells at an overpriced - the
property, the condos, or whatever, and gets as much as he can for way over
the value of it. So, he thinks he can talk anybody into anything, so he
probably does think.
Let me at him, I can outtalk him. Let me at him, I can outthink him on my
JEAN-PIERRE: I think that`s exactly right.
SHARPTON: I`m talking about the Mueller people.
JEAN-PIERRE: No, I think that`s exactly right. I think what he believes,
he`s the only one that can fix this. He believes that he`s the best
salesman. He believes that only he knows how to talk about things on his
behalf. He kind of says that all the time when he wants to go out and talk
to press. He believes that he has this. He knows the secret sauce and
knows how to manipulate people.
The problem that Donald Trump has is he lies constantly and you cannot lie
to the FBI. You can`t. If you do, it`s a crime. And I just don`t know
how he does it. I just don`t know how he does it.
I think the only thing he`ll say that is true is that his name is Donald J.
SHARPTON: Well, I`m going to have to leave it there. Thank you both, to
Matt Welch and Karine Jean-Pierre.
Coming up, I`ll ask a member of Congress if he plans to boycott the State
of the Union over Trump`s race comments.
This is POLITICSNATION on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Some say no matter who the president is, members of Congress
ought to respect them and go.
REP. FREDERICA WILSON (D), FLORIDA: I cannot sit and watch the president
and give him that honor. I believe that the State of the Union message is
an honor that`s afforded the president by the speaker who invites him to
deliver the State of the Union. And I don`t want to give him that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: With President Trump`s first State of the Union address in two
days, just over two weeks after his alleged s-hole remarks about developing
Black and Latino-American nations, the Congressional Black Caucus is
unified in its outrage, but tactically split.
With members John Lewis, Maxine Waters and Frederica Wilson saying they
will not attend, while CBC chair, Congressman Cedric Richmond has called
for the president censor over the remarks, but is yet to signal whether his
caucus will boycott the address as a group.
Joining me now is New York Congressman Gregory Meeks, a member of the
Congressional Black Caucus.
SHARPTON: Congressman, first of all, thanks for joining me this morning.
REP. GREGORY MEEKS (D), NEW YORK: Good to be with you always, rev.
SHARPTON: Now, you and I have known each other a long time. We come
through the New York politics, national politics together, so we`ve always
respected our different roles. Mine, outside activist that existed inside;
you are a member of Congress.
So, there are two trains of thought here. One, how can you sit in a room
with this man who has said blatantly racist things? The other is, he is
the president, you`ve got to respect the presidency and we sent you down
there to engage and not put yourself in a situation where you couldn`t.
So, this is not an easy call for any member of Congress, black or
otherwise. Where are you?
MEEKS: That is correct. Now, I will tell you first that for members of
the Congressional Black Caucus, everybody has a deep personal conviction of
one way or the other.
The way I am is I come from the school where my mother taught me. If
someone does not give me respect, I cannot give them respect. I`m not
going to kowtow and buy into them.
This president, we have given him opportunity for respect.
MEEKS: He`s not given me or my constituents or my people any respect. He
can get on a script, which he will do, and read and people will say, oh,
maybe he is presidential. And then, the very next day, you will see who he
He did that with the television piece on immigration. You remember, he had
everything? And then the very next day, when people gave him proposals, he
reneged on it.
So, I cannot. I believe in the institution. I don`t want to go in there
and be disrespectful within the institution. The institution is very
So, the best thing for me to do, I will be in the building. I will be in
my office. I will be listening very attentively. I will go back to the
media and to my constituents thereafter to give my response to what the
president has to say.
But for the sake of the institution, I cannot give this man who does not
respect me the respect to be in that audience.
SHARPTON: OK. So, wait a minute. Let me understand this clearly.
Congressman Greg Meeks of Queens, where Donald Trump comes from, you are a
congressman in the borough that he was born in. You may, I think
MEEKS: He`s in my district.
SHARPTON: He`s in your district.
SHARPTON: So, his home congressman is saying he will not be in there when
he gives the State of the Union address.
MEEKS: That`s exactly right. I will not be there. He has not - let me
tell you -
SHARPTON: Better from home, Mr. President.
MEEKS: Listen, I`ve given him a chance. I was one, in the beginning, when
he was being inaugurated, I said he`s the president of the United States.
And so, therefore, I`m going to go for the office.
But since he`s been the president of the United States, if you judge his
words and his deeds in what regard - whether you talk about
Charlottesville, whether you talk about now the immigration, whether you
talk about his expressions towards Haiti and Africa, whether you talk about
the policy that he`s put forth and how he`s talked about former President
Obama, there is, at every opportunity, he has disrespected me and
individuals who look like me. I cannot respect him.
I am a member of Congress. I understand that I`ve got to do things for my
district. So, I will deal business-wise. I will look at and try to work
where I can to make sure that my district is getting and moving in the
direction that it should be in my city.
SHARPTON: A district that includes Jamaica Estates, where he comes from.
MEEKS: That`s exactly right.
SHARPTON: Let me bring in another member of the Congressional Black
Caucus, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. Congresswoman Jackson Lee,
Congressman Meeks, the congressman of where this president comes from, has
just announced here he`s not going inside of the State of the Union
address. He will not be in the hall that night. He will be in his office.
He will do his duties.
Other members of the Congressional Black Caucus have said they will protest
in different ways. What do you say, congresswoman? In fact, you have
roots in Queens as well. I have attended your mom`s funeral in Queens.
REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), TEXAS: Yes, you did.
SHARPTON: So, we`re talking about folks that know the roots that Donald
Trump comes from? What do you think?
LEE: Well, first of all, let me say that the Congressional Black Caucus
really are a family. We are a family as it relates to how we represent our
constituents and they are broad based. They are very diverse. Our passion
and concern is for them.
And, therefore, when we have an administration that has consistently shown
ongoing disrespect or non-response, we have to respond ourselves. And so,
I will make a decision how I will handle this State of the Union because
the State of the Union is a time for the president to speak to all of
That has not occurred over the last year. The responses of the actions of
this president does not speak to all of America. And as I listen to my
colleague, he`s right about the issues.
We are not offended by this president personally. We have our own courage,
integrity and moral compass. We don`t need his affirmation.
But we do need a sense. For example, the suffering people in Houston and
Texas and all of those who suffered from disasters had his attention.
Right now, my community has yet to receive the supplemental disaster
And the fact that the submission came from Mulvaney, who does not like
government, that`s his OMB director, it is not even enough.
So, I start from that premise as to whether or not the president has made
his commitment to the American people. He has not.
And then, let me add to this. You know that I have those kinds of roots.
I am now certainly a well-seated Texan, but I`m also a daughter of
immigrants. My grandparents came from Jamaica. They came through Panama.
And I don`t know whether they would meet the merit test, but I tell you
they worked so hard, but they have a young woman who was able to go to Yale
University. I want that for all of those who come to do good in this
country or serve their nation in uniform, he doesn`t seem to see that.
And then, I would say this. I believe that the crucial part of this nation
is its underpinnings in democracy and social justice - voting rights, the
criminal justice system. We have not heard one positive word about the
importance of civil rights of our community.
SHARPTON: Well, we have heard a lot of words. But, congresswoman, they
are not supportive words.
Congressman Meeks, you`ve announced here exclusively that you`re not going
(INAUDIBLE 1:46), congressman. Do we also risk looking at this tweet this
morning, he`s coming after the Democrats, he may punk members of the caucus
- to use a hometown phrase since we talk about a hometown, though he`s on
the other side of the track?
You don`t know what he`s going to get up there and say. I mean, those that
do go risk getting their finger wagging by this president. You don`t know
which Donald Trump is going to show up?
MEEKS: You never know because he`s a conman. That`s what he`s done all
his life. You talked in the last segment about how he oversells, et
cetera, that`s what conmen do.
And if you look at even his policies, I use - before an audience I had
yesterday in Queens, we had over 800 people come out with like a three-
So, he makes - even with his tax cuts, he makes you think because people
are talking $1,000 that someone gets back. Well, the three-card molly,
they let you win the first game, but the long-term you don`t lose anything.
SHARPTON: Suck you into the game.
MEEKS: Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, in the end, you go lose
everything. So, I don`t want to be part of his con game. We know him.
He`s a con man.
SHARPTON: Well, we know him. And that`s why we don`t get too close when
But I`ve got to move on. Thank you, Congresswoman Jackson Lee. Thank you,
Coming up, the president claims business and the economy are doing great.
So, why are less tourists coming to see America. That`s next. Be right
SHARPTON: And now for this week`s “Gotcha.”
I love when we get to do an international edition because, earlier this
week, we saw new data from the Department of Commerce showing a 4 percent
decline in international tourism into the United States since the election
of President Trump.
It might not seem like much until you consider the $4.6 billion in lost
revenue and the 40,000 jobs lost in the downturn. Not exactly a winning
global strategy for a guy who made his name by plastering it all over
But the United States, long the second most popular destination for foreign
travel, is now down to number three, supplanted by Spain at the number two
position. And still behind, reigning champ France in the top spot. This,
even as international tourism has risen by 7 percent globally.
But before the apologists say, rev, your biased, let me hear from the
experts on this. OK, sure. Because for the past year, tourism experts and
insiders have criticized the president`s misguided travel ban, xenophobia,
language and, most recently, comments about s-hole country and sending the
wrong message to our fellow earthlings.
And to turn the knife, purely for reference, of course. Just after
President Obama`s 2012 reelection, incoming tourism was up more than 6
percent. Guess the rest of the world wasn`t so hung up on that birth
President Trump, you promote yourself as being the consummate businessman,
multiple bankruptcies notwithstanding. So, I think if there is one bridge
too far, even for you, it will be messing with the bookings at one of your
overpriced, but under-visited hotels.
But if you keep this up, you might just look up and see those international
flights bypassing New York for Nigeria with an extended layover in Haiti.
In the meantime, I`ve got a travel deal just for you. A one-way ticket to
the land of “I gotcha.”
RAHM EMANUEL (D), MAYOR OF CHICAGO: The idea that the president of the
United States and the Justice Department would arrest any one of us for
believing in our ideals and carrying out the law of our city is wrong -
ERIC GARCETTI (D), MAYOR OF LOS ANGELES: You can threaten subpoenas. You
can threaten arrests and we will keep abiding by the constitution and
keeping our people safe.
MITCH LANDRIEU (D), MAYOR OF NEW ORLEANS: The attack on one of our cities,
mayors who have followed the constitution is an attack on all of us. I
will not be attending the meeting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: As I said last week, the best examples of political courage and
resistance to the Trump agenda continue to be at the local level. And this
week, more than 200 mayors from across the country met in Washington for
the United States Conference of Mayors, went to meeting, with several of
them publicly declining a White House invitation to meet with the president
on Wednesday, citing his Justice Department`s recent threat to subpoena
more than 20 so-called sanctuary cities.
Joining me now is Steven K. Benjamin, mayor of Columbia, South Carolina and
Mayor Nan Whaley of Dayton, Ohio. Both went to Washington to participate
in the mayors` conference this week.
Mayor Whaley, the president invited the conference of mayors` participants,
mayors around the country over, but then the same day, dropped this attack
with the Justice Department on sanctuary cities. Was it to really send a
signal that I`m the boss, I`m in charge and, as the mayors, they understand
that I`m not taking any nonsense for those that don`t go along with my
policies. Or was it just they are so inept that it was bad timing?
NAN WHALEY (D), MAYOR OF DAYTON, OHIO: Well, I think really, they only
know that at the White House, reverend. But for us, coming together,
really trying to solve the problems in our communities, working together to
do that, and seeing how even this invite was questionable even before the
drop from Sessions on Wednesday really showed us that we are not in a
normal kind of relationship with the federal government.
This is not how the Obama, the Clinton and the Bush administrations have
ever behaved with the conference of mayors or the mayors from across the
country. And certainly, as Mayor Benjamin, who is the first vice
president, I`ve been - continue to be impressed with his great leadership
as we`ve continued to really speak with one voice, when you attack one
mayor, you attack all of us, and really making sure that we protect our
citizens and our communities.
Now, let me go to you, Mayor Benjamin. This is not - because I know many
of the mayors that didn`t go. I know you. You and I worked in your fine
city on several issues, including fighting crime.
It`s not that you as mayor and your colleagues disrespect the presidency or
the White House, or Congressman Meeks, the president`s hometown
congressman, from where he was born, who just announced on this show, he
won`t be going to his State of the Union address, it`s that this president
has really stepped outside of the boundaries of where anyone can respect
the office without looking like they`re really in effect complicit with
what he`s done with the office.
STEVEN BENJAMIN (D), MAYOR OF COLUMBIA: Sure. Rev, thank you for having
me and thank you for also having Nan Whaley on. She`s a great leader not
just in Ohio, but also nationally and in our organization.
What you saw in Washington this past week as we gather in Washington every
January is over 200 local leaders from cities large and small from New York
City all the way down to the smallest cities in America, they come together
to solve the problems of America.
It`s so important to recognize what we`re talking about here. Eighty-five
percent of our citizens live in cities and metropolitan economies. Eighty-
nine percent of the jobs, ninety-one percent of America`s gross domestic
product is created in cities and metropolitan economies.
You have some of the most creative men and women from all across the
country on both sides of the aisle coming together to address the opioid
epidemic, talk about how we put young people back to work how we get our
unsheltered citizens back inside.
It`s amazing how while we are sitting there focusing on major issues that
we can get distracted by just downright silly politics. I`ve had the
opportunity to sit across the table from our Attorney General Jeff
Sessions, across from General Kelly when he was at Homeland Security.
This whole dustup about sanctuary cities is nothing but that. It`s meant
just to confuse people. The reality is that there is no city in America
right now that`s in violation of the US Constitution.
And it`s just clear. The White House, the Department of Homeland Security,
the Justice Department can`t get constitutional clarity or any consistency
and determine what they think a sanctuary city is, but they know it`s a
great wedge issue that drives people apart.
We are about getting the work done, getting the job done.
SHARPTON: You said it right. A great wedge issue. And Mayor Whaley, they
are playing politics, but this is affecting hundreds of thousands, millions
of people`s lives because we do need to deal with opioid problem, we do
need to deal with infrastructure and jobs.
And to be throwing in wedge issues to play to a base when we have people in
real need is about as cynical and, in my opinion, insensitive as you can
WHALEY: I agree, Reverend Sharpton. I think what Mayor Benjamin talked
about, we were talking about issues that really affecting our communities,
having panels and discussions about the opioid epidemic that is ravaging
the State of Ohio and states across the country, working to figure out ways
that we can deal with automation in our communities that is changing the
definition of work.
This is the kind of things that the mayors conference talks about. And
instead, the president decides, instead of trying to meet with us and bring
us all together like three former presidents have done, they throw a wedge
issue like sanctuary cities in on Wednesday morning.
It shows they`re playing politics, though, that`s hardest, and they`re
really not interested in what`s going on in local communities.
SHARPTON: Mayor Benjamin, I`ve got to ask you this. Seconds ago,
President Trump tweeted, “Somebody please inform Jay-Z that because of my
policies, Black Unemployment has just been reported to be at the LOWEST
RATE EVER RECORDED!”
Now, I know the President Trump from New York. I know Jay-Z from Brooklyn,
where I`m from. And Jay-Z has been many things, stupid is one of them.
If you are in an ocean, in a storm, and you guide the boat around the storm
and finally bring it toward the shore, and the last wave, a new captain
takes the ship, he can`t take credit for taking you around the storm. And
he can`t take credit for the wave.
President Obama started that steering the ship around the storm. And the
waves toward low black unemployment. It had nothing to do with Trump.
In your city of Columbia, where you`ve had to deal with unemployment, that
started going down under Obama. Can you think of any policy that Donald
Trump has put in that helped to bring black unemployment down?
BENJAMIN: Well, I`ll tell you what, rev, I know thunk is not a word, who`d
ever thunk that I`d be sitting here on POLITICSNATION with Reverend Al,
debating over a tweet between President Trump and Jay-Z on a Sunday
SHARPTON: It`s a different kind of world. Three New York guys, what you
BENJAMIN: In our city, we work diligently over several years, and
certainly starting in the Obama administration, to get unemployment down.
It`s below the national average.
We`ve finished five of our last seven years with a budget surplus. We`ve
created an environment where private sector capital comes to our city and
we leverage it for public sector good. We put records amount of kids back
to work, putting kids in our parks, participating for free, all these
wonderful things are happening because of policies and trends that started
It`s great to want to take credit for everything, but I`ll tell you what,
that is not the case.
SHARPTON: All right. Well, thank you both mayors Benjamin and Whaley.
Up next, a double standard for evangelical leaders and their continued
support for the president after reports of alleged harassment and affairs.
Be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. FRANKLIN GRAHAM, PRESIDENT OF SAMARITAN`S PURSE: He`s not a perfect
person, no. And neither am I. And we certainly don`t hold him up as the
pastor of this country and he`s not. But I appreciate the fact that the
president does have a concern for Christian values. He does have a concern
to protect Christians, whether it`s here at home or around the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Each week, we learn - every day, we learn more about the
president`s alleged extramarital affair with pornographic actress Stormy
Daniels in 2006.
Evangelical Christian leaders who`ve embraced and defended Trump despite
his multiple marriages, sexually explicit statements and generally
libertine past find themselves facing charges of hypocrisy, as the public
questions, how can they give Trump a pass on impropriety, while past
Democratic presidents like Bill Clinton and even a scandal-free Barack
Obama caught - to use church parlance - holly hell. That`s what they gave
Joining me now is pastor Mark Burns over the Harvest Praise and Worship
Center. Also, a member of President Trump`s evangelical advisory council
and “Washington Post” national reporter Eugene Scott.
Let me go to you first, Rev. Burns. You and I have debated on this show
and debated on “Morning Joe” and others. We disagree politically, though
we respect each other as ministers.
How can evangelical ministers condemn some behavior of a Bill Clinton or
others and just keep on giving a pass, not even discussing the behavior of
President Trump? I mean, how do you have it both ways?
REV. MARK BURNS, PASTOR, HARVEST PRAISE AND WORSHIP CENTER: Well, Rev.
Al, again, you`re right, we disagree politically, but I`m truly honored
being on your show as a forerunner for our people and our nation.
But let me just say this. I just think Rev. Al, and as you and I can both
agree, grace abounds. Even for the Clintons, grace abounds.
SHARPTON: But where was the grace when Clinton was being impeached? Where
was the grace then? It seems like grace abounds starting with Trump,
according to some.
BURNS: No, that`s not true. That`s not true because, obviously, President
Nixon was also - President Nixon was also forced to resign and it was by
also members of his own party.
And so, I don`t think it has to do anything with
SHARPTON: But it was not on moral issues like this. It was not on - I
mean, Eugene, I think that the problem is, me and other clergy may disagree
on what we consider as sin, but I`m saying the things that they condemn
Clinton on and others on, that they condemn is the very exact same thing
they pardon this president on.
I`m not talking about things that - I may say there`s nothing wrong with
certain things, things that they condemn is, I think, what`s being raised
EUGENE SCOTT, “THE WASHINGTON POST” NATIONAL REPORTER: Absolutely. And I
think the perfect example to look at is Pat Robertson who said that Bill
Clinton turned the Oval Office into a sex pen, reminiscent of the 1960s.
This is the same televangelist who has gone on to say that he`s proud of
Trump and that evangelicals overwhelmingly support him. I think it`s
really important to realize, though, that it is white evangelicals that
overwhelmingly support the president.
The majority of black, brown and people of color who practice the Christian
faith were not on the Trump train and remain critical of his presidency,
not primarily because of economic issues, but because of character and
SHARPTON: But Rev. Burns, you`ve been on the Trump train - I mean, the
majority of black ministers are not, but you`ve been on the Trump train,
even rung the bell going choo-choo a couple of times. You`re there. Do
you see anything wrong with the president`s behavior?
Let`s take it out of the sex scandals. With him calling African countries
s-holes and Haiti s-hole, to with him saying there`s some fine people among
neo-Nazis, I mean, do you find anything as a minister who`s about to preach
this morning that you can condemn this president on? Anything?
BURNS: Reverend Al, I think it`s sad that the majority of African-
American, black Christians in America are not focusing more on their faith
and they focus more on the race. Because, in fact, I don`t see how any
preacher of the gospel can support anyone or any party that will support
the abortion of the death of babies.
I mean, we talk about love thou neighbor, how about love thou unborn baby.
SHARPTON: OK, whoa, whoa, whoa. I think the question that I asked you - I
think that I asked you -
BURNS: We`re talking about immorality, Rev. Al.
SHARPTON: It`s a good attempt to duck a question, but I`m not going to let
you do it. We both speak and do it well. So, I asked you whether you
found anything that you could condemn the president and you go condemning
BURNS: We`re talking allegedly, Rev. Al.
SHARPTON: No, I`m not talking allegedly. I`m talking about what we know.
Forget the allegations, I`m talking about what we know he said about
African nations, about what we know he said about Haiti, what we know he
said about Charlottesville.
BURNS: There`s a complete difference from what Bill Clinton went through -
SHARPTON: OK. You`re just going to try to outtalk, it`s not going to
happen. Eugene, let me go to you. The problem is that they cannot defend
the inconsistency and hypocrisy. And over-talking doesn`t work with me
because I`ve been over-talking interviewers all my life.
BURNS: Well, you`ve got to let me answer the question, Rev. Al.
SHARPTON: When you`re in a position that you can`t answer. Straight up,
is there anything that you could condemn? If you want to get back in, Rev.
Burns, will you say there`s anything you can condemn this president?
I`m not talking about your opinion of other black clergy. That wasn`t the
question. Is there anything, yes or no, that you can condemn this
BURNS: If President Trump, and we`re talking allegedly because you`re
speaking as though you know because you were not in the room, nor was I.
SHARPTON: I`m not talking about the room. I`m talking about any - I`m
talking about things that he has said and done. I`m talking about things
that he`s said and done publicly. He publicly, Rev. Burns, said that there
fine people among the neo-Nazis. Do you condemn that?
BURNS: Absolutely, condemn that. Absolutely. And I`ve said it openly
over and over and over again. But President Trump wasn`t talking about the
KKK or the white supremacist people. There were other people in those
groups. It wasn`t just white supremacists -
SHARPTON: So, you don`t condemn him saying that. I don`t understand, you
do or don`t condemn him saying that?
BURNS: I love you too much to try to over-talk you.
SHARPTON: I love you as much as you love me, but do you - are you
condemning what he said or not?
BURNS: I`m condemning the fact that we`re not giving the president the
same respect that we`ve given other presidents, who is, obviously, changing
our nation. That`s what I condemn. I condemn the mainstream media is
making about black and white and not about red, white and blue, green, so
that we as a people can -
SHARPTON: Red, white, blue, green. Eugene, I think that this is a classic
example of what we`re talking about. And that is that we - there`s got to
be some kind of moral consistency. And I think -
SHARPTON: And I think that we can disagree, but we`ve got to at least
agree with ourselves, Eugene. (INAUDIBLE) you disagree with yourself.
BURNS: There is a moral standard. And if it -
SHARPTON: Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait. I`m talking to Eugene. Reverend,
reverend, calm down and let Eugene respond. I know the hard loads you`ve
got to carry, but let him talk a little bit.
SCOTT: So, when we talk about moral standards, when I speak with voters, I
think something that evangelical leaders have to be very mindful of is the
impact that their support for the president has on their witness beyond the
White House and beyond this administration.
Many evangelical leaders have praised President Trump for opening the White
House to them and giving them access to top leaders in ways that they`ve
never seen before.
But this could seriously cause the evangelical faith popularity and support
from people outside of its tribe and that should be the priority of
SHARPTON: I`m out of time, but I thank both of you. Pastor Mark Burns,
you fought a good fight; you lost. But you fought a good fight. And
Eugene Scott -
BURNS: I didn`t lose. I didn`t get to talk.
SHARPTON: My final thoughts. Stay with us.
SHARPTON: Tuesday night, President Trump will make his first State of the
Union address. I don`t know what he`s going to say. I don`t know what
attitude, style or mindset he will have.
Congressman Meeks is congressman from where he was born in Queens,
announced on this show earlier, he`s not going to attend as others won`t.
I support that.
But the president has an opportunity to really turn all of this around. I
remember when I ran for President, Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker, who passed this
past Monday, he was the executive director for Martin Luther King`s
Organization as chief of staff and he was the first chairman of the board
of my group, National Action Network some generation later.
He told me, when you walk on that stage, you can either confirm or dispel
what everyone has been told about you. Take the high road and define
Well, Mr. Trump, if we`re wrong in our text, if we`re miscasting you, you
have the opportunity in front of the world to define not only the state of
the nation, but the state of the president of the nation and bring us to a
place where we can all come together and solve the problems.
You have the big stage now, Mr. Trump. It`s up to you how you perform on
That does it for me. Thanks for watching. I`ll see you back here next
Sunday. Now, to my colleague, Alex Witt.
ALEX WITT, MSNBC HOST, “MSNBC LIVE”: To which I say, (INAUDIBLE), here`s
hoping, Rev. Thanks so much.
SHARPTON: All right.
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