Show: POLITICS NATION Date: July 16, 2017 Guest: Jason Johnson, Matthew Miller, Yvette Clarke
AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Good morning and welcome to "PoliticsNation."
I went to Chicago this week, among other things, to meet with local leaders regarding the Trump administration`s decision to send federal agents to that city in order to stop the epidemic of gun crime. I`ll tell you more later in the show.
But also, we`ll talk to a former congresswoman who is pleading with her former colleagues not to take away her health care coverage after she`s been diagnosed with MS.
But we start with President Trump. This morning, a fresh new poll shows Americans give Trump the lowest six-month approval rating of any president dating back 70 years. Just 36 percent.
His White House is still dealing with the fallout from Don Trump, Jr.`s e- mails suggesting potential collusion with the Russian government during the 2016 election.
The president played defense and went as far as blaming the Obama administration, accusing former Attorney General Loretta Lynch of granting a visa to the Russian lawyer who met with Trump Junior. How twisted is that?
Joining me is Matthew Miller, the former chief spokesman for the justice department, and an MSNBC justice and security analyst. And Jason Johnson, politics editor at the root.com and MSNBC political contributor and a professor of politics and journalism at Morgan State University.
Let me go to you first, Jason. These poll numbers are devastating to anyone but Donald Trump. I mean, you and I know that he will probably have some way of dismissing them or pooh-poohing them.
But this is really, really a very bad sign for his party who is dealing with health care legislation after McCain`s recovery this coming weekend, other legislation as they faced the midterm election.
So these poll numbers have a lot of serious ramification for the White House.
JASON JOHNSON, MSNBC POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, they do, Rev. And one of the things I think everybody needs to pay attention to is, it is that Trump becomes a drag not necessarily just on congress but even locally.
You`ve seen at state level races in Oklahoma, Illinois, Delaware and Connecticut where republican seats are being flipped to democrat and those are state special elections.
So if these kind of low poll numbers continue, he will be a drag on his party next year. But I also have to caution people, you got to remember, if you actually look into this poll, it shows that the number of republicans who actually believe that Russia tried to meddle in the U.S. elections it dropped. Eighteen percent of republicans thought that that was the case in April, now only nine percent do.
So sometimes in the face of increased evidence, lots of people continue to support this president more. He`s really losing against democrats and independence.
SHARPTON: Yes. I mean, it`s like over 80 percent republicans still support him.
But the problem is that for him, he`s got a solid maybe 30, 35 percent. But can the democrats come up with a candidate that can really coalesce the other side?
SHARPTON: Let me go to you. Let me ask you this question. You are the expert, used to be a justice department. I want to deal with the whole question of the legal ramifications, if there are any, about the e-mail scandal with Donald Trump, Jr. When we talk about collusion, where does it become criminal, where is it just something that is inappropriate and embarrassing?
MATTHEW MILLER, MSNBC JUSTICE AND SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, I think there are two potential problems for Donald Trump, Jr. based on what we found out this week. One, is a potential violation of campaign finance law. You are not allowed to accept anything of value from a foreign national. Obviously taking opposition research would be a thing of value.
We learned over the last few days through interviews with Rinat Akhmetshin, the Russian-American lawyer who was in this meeting that the Russian lawyer who came over left a memo with the Trump campaign.
So we`re going to need to find out what that is. That`s one potential violation. The other potential --
SHARPTON: Left a memo. We heard this now from the other party that was in the meeting. We now know there were a couple other parties, but one of the parties that there was a memo left. This is the unknown here of what was in the memo, but there was a memo left with Donald Trump Jr. and other parties, Manafort and Jared Kushner.
So clearly, we don`t know what that was, but it appears that it was more than adoption being talked about.
MILLER: Yes, it`s clear that it was. So we need to find out what was in that memo and the answer that may go to the second potential criminal charge and that would be whether the Trump campaign or individuals on the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government to break laws and those could be a number of laws. It could be potentially hacking John Podesta`s e-mails, hacking the DNC e-mails.
And what we found this week is we now have a smoking gun of what is usually the hardest thing to prove and that`s intent. Donald Trump Jr. got an e- mail from an intermediate who said -- I am bringing -- we have someone who wants to bring you information from the Russian government to help your campaign. They want to help elect your father and he said, great, I love it.
Now, we don`t know how that was consummated. We don`t know if there were further contacts that would show collusion and coordination, but that`s what this investigation will show you.
And I think based on what we know now, we have to look at everything different including the constant lies all last year and even as late as last Saturday when this meeting was first reported and they didn`t tell the truth about it.
SHARPTON: Jason, isn`t that the point, though? Regardless as to whatever was discussed or not in the meeting, the fact that it not only said on the e-mail that there are those in the Russian government and Russian people that want to help your father`s campaign, but that I`m bringing you information against Hillary Clinton, and the response says, I love it.
Isn`t that the point, the intent is established there, not only about receiving aid in your campaign for your father to be president, but in using information from a foreign enemy against a potential candidate, at that point a potential candidate who ended up being his opposing candidate.
JOHNSON: Right. The whole thing was problematic from the beginning. I mean, even him claiming that I only kind of knew a little something about the e- mail.
Look, we all know. If I got an e-mail from some deposed prince who said you won the lottery and you got to send the money to a foreign country, I`m not going to answer that, either.
So the fact that he got the invitation and it was from a foreign government and he decided that I guess I`ll explore this is a problem. As we all remember, it was what, almost 20 years ago, Al Gore magically got information during the debate about George Bush. He immediately called the FBI and that was from an American address.
So from the very beginning, it shows that this entire campaign is open to the idea of foreign influence in an election, there are multiple things that we still don`t know about this meeting and I suspect that we`re going to find out more because it seems like every other person in the White House and our current White House was in that room.
SHARPTON: All right. Thank you, Matthew Miller and Jason Johnson.
For more on this, I want to bring in democratic Congresswoman Yvette Clarke of New York, Brooklyn, New York, I might be specific since we`re both home folks her.
Congresswoman, how disturbing -- let`s put aside partisan politics, let`s put aside democrat, republican.
How disturbing is it that you see an e-mail that says, I will bring you people that will bring information to discredit your potential opponent in an American election from Russia, from what is supposed to be an enemy state and the answer is, I love it?
REP. YVETTE CLARKE (D), NEW YORK: Well, it`s extremely disturbing, Reverend Al. This is clearly a real violation of everything we believe in in this nation to have our foremost adversary reach out to a campaign and have that campaign respond in the way that the Trump campaign did.
It`s a disgrace. And we have to get to the bottom of it because, you know, everyone is toying around and playing footsie with the terminology treason.
But at the end of the day, it`s a sub version of our democracy aided and abetted by a campaign.
SHARPTON: Well, what amazes me, congresswoman, is some are saying, well, let`s wait and let Mueller do his job. But what about you and your colleagues doing your job regardless as to whether this ends up being criminal or not, isn`t there an obligation of the congress to protect the United States against this kind of activity, whether it crosses a criminal line or not, it clearly crosses the line in terms of the United States interest in regard to its elections and having foreign enemy powers influence those elections.
CLARKE: Absolutely. Every member of congress raises their hand and swears to protect the United States of America in its constitution.
Any members of congress at this time who is not ready to move with inquiry into this, not ready to look at articles of impeachment as far as I`m concerned are derelict in their duty.
Democrats in the house unfortunately are not in the majority, but we have stood firm in our belief that our government has been subverted and that there was a role of the Trump campaign in doing so and we have to get to the bottom of it.
We need to stop everything and make this a priority because indeed, we are about to go into another election cycle and there are many unanswered questions, there`s still concerns about intrusion into our networks by the Russian government and Donald Trump has been playing footsie with Vladimir Putin.
So we have some very legitimate concerns that need to be focused on at this point in time by the House of Representatives and the leadership of that body needs to step up and do their job to preserve our democracy.
SHARPTON: wow. So I`m hearing you saying we need to stop everything and deal with this.
CLARKE: That`s right.
SHARPTON: How do your republican colleagues, how do they justify this? I mean, you and I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, you know, in public schools. We were taught Russia is the enemy, the great Russian threat, even after Russia fell and now you have in writing this kind of response.
How do they get away with not dealing with this as the priority?
CLARKE: They`re delusional right now. You know, they are so focused on an agenda that they want to get done. You know, whether it`s health care reform, whether it`s tax reform, whether it`s voter suppression. They are trying to move that agenda using this vehicle which is a flawed conflicted vehicle.
SHARPTON: As a distraction.
CLARKE: As a distraction.
SHARPTON: Now, let`s not re-distract it. Health care, it got through the house, it`s before the separate we`re told now because of Senator John McCain having the surgery that they`re going to delay until he recovers because they don`t have the votes.
SHARPTON: How devastating to people that are watching our viewers, how devastating will this really be? We keep hearing that, but explain to people what we mean when we talk about how devastating it is?
CLARKE: We cannot underestimate the number of Americans who will lose health insurance. They will be taken completely out of the system and will be left to go to emergency rooms for health care.
We can also talk about persons who may be in nursing homes, who will not be able to continue their care because of the cuts, the deep cuts to Medicaid. We can also talk about those with preexisting conditions whose deductibles will make it cost prohibitive for them to continue in their care. This is devastating.
From the oldest of us in our society to the youngest of us in our society, we are being left high and dry with respect to health care.
SHARPTON: And the other thing you`re talking about fake news, real fake news, is that Obama was not working. Insurers are saying now that it`s doubling back and it is viable and working.
CLARKE: It is extremely viable and working. There are some places where we can do some tweaking, particularly in the individual market, but that is such a small portion of those who are now having access to health care that never had access before. And I believe that -- you know, we just need to mend it. There`s no need to repeal or end it.
I think that there is, you know, a whole bunch of folks in Washington in the Republican Party that want to be able to extract dollars from health care to be able to reward their friends who are extremely wealthy and who have not asked idea for this type of financial support.
SHARPTON: Thank you, congresswoman, Yvette Clarke.
Coming up, a personal plea, what a former congresswoman is revealing publicly to convince republicans not to take away her health care. This is "PoliticsNation" on MSNBC.
SHARPTON: Welcome back. Last night, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced he will delay a vote on the GOP`s bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare.
The reason, republican Senator John McCain cannot cast his vote as he recovers from surgery to remove a blood clot. The announcement comes after a revised version of the plan was released last week. The intention was to apiece more senators to vote for the change.
So far little support has been shown to get the 60 votes needed to pass the legislation. In fact, a new poll released this morning shows Americans prefer ObamaCare over the republican plan 50 to 24 percent. That`s a margin of two to one. Another quarter of the people want something entirely different.
That concern is also shared by former Congresswoman Donna Edwards of Maryland. In a "Washington Post" editorial last week, she wrote about being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis last year.
Edwards wrote, quote, "If we return to a time when people with preexisting conditions can be charged more than healthy people, it will surely result in my never being able to afford insurance again."
Earlier, I had the chance to talk with Donna Edwards.
SHARPTON: You were diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and you have said in the editorial that I just quoted that if, in fact, this bill, the revised bill is passed, that you would be put in a situation that millions of others will be and that is you will never be able to afford insurance. Explain that.
DONNA EDWARDS, FORMER MARYLAND REPRESENTATIVE: Well, I mean, that`s exactly right. I mean, I was diagnosed with MS last year and in that time and the medication that I take costs about $73,000 a year, I have regular visits to get MRI scans and those run about $7,000 every time I get a set and now I have to have one done at least once a year.
And I look at the senate bill and when I see it, I see that I am written out because now I`m one of those people who has a chronic illness that needs to be treated, I need regular quality care and the senate bill is telling me I`m going to be put into a pool with a lot of sick people and that`s just going to make the rates go right through the roof.
I think this is a real disaster for millions of people who are just like I am and who have a preexisting condition and under this new approach to health care it`s not better care at all for us, it is really -- you know, it is life changing.
SHARPTON: So in this revised bill, to be very clear, the Affordable Care Act had it where you who has been diagnosed with MS could be covered. In the revised bill, this new form that they are looking at, you are completely cut out as well as people that are similarly situated as you are, are cut out of being insured because of a preexisting condition.
Because people need to understand this doesn`t even give wiggle room. This means you will not have the ability to afford to keep the insurance that you now have under the Affordable Care Act.
EDWARDS: It is really and it will be unaffordable. You know, particularly the amendment that Senator Ted Cruz from Texas has tried to strike where you basically allow a two-tier system of health care delivery. One system for really healthy people and another system for people like me who have preexisting condition.
Well, inevitably, it`s going to make the insurance markets completely unstable. And I never thought that I would be the one to say it, but I actually agree with the insurers on this one, that this is a system that would be completely unsustainable because you would have one pool of people like me who would bear all of the risk and pay all of the cost and then you`d have all the healthy people in another pool.
It would be the American two-tier system of healthcare and I think it would be a disaster for me and I know I wouldn`t be able to afford it.
Look, I was a member of congress but I am not by any stretch of the imagination wealthy. And so, you know, as it is now I pay about $800 a month because I`ve had to COBRA my care.
In June 2018, I lose that COBRA protection and I had planned to go into the Affordable Care Act to transition so that I could actually afford my healthcare.
Look, this is my story. I only told it, frankly, Al, because I really wanted to humanize for members of congress, for senators -- many of these senators who are on the fence know me, they`ve played softball with me and football with me, we`ve done legislation together, we`ve sat on committees together and I want them to understand that my voice represents the voice of millions of people across this country who are so afraid of losing their health care.
People who are in nursing homes, people who are on Medicaid and who work every single day as well are not going to be able to afford health care under the senate bill. It is just that simple.
And so this is not better care at all, and I think what Americans across the country have to do in these next several days is burn up the phone lines to your senators and tell them to stop this insanity.
SHARPTON: Well, we thank you for also putting a human face on it to our viewers. A human face in your particular case that members of the senate know personally. This two-tier plan that they are proposing is really something that is devastating for a lot of people like Donna Edwards, one of their former colleagues, is now facing if this bill passes.
Thank you very much former Congresswoman Donna Edwards.
EDWARDS: Thank you, Reverend Al.
SHARPTON: Up next, a congressman with a great idea on how to fund President Trump`s beloved border wall. And, no, it`s not Mexico. That`s next, coming up.
SHARPTON: Now for this week`s gotcha. This one fit for a king.
On Tuesday, the house appropriations committee unveiled a bill to fund President Trump`s beloved border wall to the tune of $1.6 billion. Apparently spending nearly $2 billion on a dumb idea wasn`t enough for Iowa republican Congressman Steve King who wants an additional $5 billion, and he told CNN exactly where he`d get -- I mean, take it from.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STEVE KING (R), IOWA: I`d throw another $5 billion on the pile and I would find a half of a billion dollars of that right out of Planned Parenthood`s budget. And the rest could come out of food stamps and the entitlements that are being spread out for people that haven`t worked in three generations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Just in case you`re not evil and this sounds like unmitigated racially tinged cruelty to you the congressman elaborated on why he`s for this, along with job growth, it would save America`s waist lines.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: I wouldn`t impose anything more strict on anybody in America than what Michelle Obama did with her school lunch program.
We built a program because to solve the problem of malnutrition in America and now we have a problem of obesity. And when you match up the EBT card with what the scales say on some of the folks, I think it`s worth looking at.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Congressman, if I were a dog I`d be going crazy from all the whistles, but I guess with Iowa having the 12th highest obesity rate in the nation you have good reason to be concerned. You might want to pump your brakes, though, because according to federal data, seven of the 10 states most reliant on food assistance went for President Trump in 2016. And nearly two third of individual recipients are children, the elderly, or disabled citizens.
They can`t eat your precious wall. And as Planned Parenthood pointed out in response, the organization is funded through Medicaid reimbursement. Playing with that to fund your wall would literally endanger lives.
Oh, and while first lady Obama still cares about the health of our nation`s youth, I think she`s too busy living her best life to worry about what grown up children think.
So, Mr. King, why don`t you try putting this on the scale, the scale of justice? Because I`m confident it`ll read I gotcha.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The Feds need to talk to ministers, grass root leaders and others that will say there are two sides to this. One, we`ve got to deal with the violence, but we must deal with how law enforcement deals with the violence because there`s a law enforcement issue in the city.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: On Thursday, I was in Chicago meeting with several faith leaders to do two things, first, to announce their participation in the minister`s march for justice next month in Washington, D.C., marking the 54th anniversary of Dr. King`s "I Have a Dream" speech and taking the Trump administration to task for endangering that dream.
But secondly to address the administration`s recent decision to send federal agents into Chicago to address its epidemic of gun crime without actually talking to the activists and community leaders that have been fighting that fight in some cases all of their lives.
This in the face of a justice department report released earlier this year that found Chicago police routinely violated the civil rights of minority residents.
Chicago`s crime problem fits right into a conservative tactic that undermines any focusing on policing by contending the sole threat to urban black America is from within. A threat that somehow only conservatives are doing anything about.
On behalf of the activist community, I have to ask, where were you at the last rally?
Joining me now is Reverend Ira Acree, pastor of Chicago`s Greatest St. John Bible Church and Charlene Carruthers, the national director of Black Youth Project 100. Thank you both for being with me this morning.
IRA ACREE, PASTOR, GREATEST ST. JOHN BIBLE CHURCH IN CHICAGO: Glad to be here,
CHARLENE CARRUTHERS, NATIONAL DIRECTOR, BLACK YOUTH PROJECT 100: Thank you for having us.
SHARPTON: Charlene, let me go to you. I met with a lot of faith leaders and those that we call legacy organizations like National Action Network, but there are young activist groups like yours that are doing effective concrete work dealing with violence, but also pressing on there must be police accountability because they act like that is not going to continue to exacerbate the problem.
How do you respond of this whole notion of sending in federal troops and ignoring the findings of the DOJ around policing in Chicago?
CARRUTHERS: So I`m clear that Mr. Trump doesn`t know Chicago like I know Chicago. I was born and raised on the south side. I attended Chicago public schools my entire life.
And just from the work we`ve done in the past four years alone, we`ve changed the conversation in Chicago. One that says, hey, look, we -- our communities need resources to actually invest in things that create real safety like social services, mental health care and quality public schools and not more resources that invest in things that perpetuate criminalization, policing, or harassment and that`s what not only Mr. Trump is advocating for, but also the people in city hall are advocating for.
And they show that to us every single day by investing nearly 40 percent of our public service budget in the Chicago Police Department. That makes no sense to me. Where we spend nearly $4 million a day on the police department while families are struggling, while our unemployment rates are high, and people frankly don`t have what they need. And that`s what we`ve been calling for, divestments from policing and things that don`t create real safety and real investments in our communities.
SHARPTON: Reverend Acree, in the meeting we had with clergymen we heard some of these same concerns, as well as the concern of what the national administration is doing, not only in Chicago but in cities around the country, and clearly, which is why ministers -- 1,000 ministers are following this march we call on Dr. King`s "I Have a Dream Day."
In fact, Congressman John Lewis, let me show you what he said about the president, which he`s about a generation ahead of me and Charlene`s probably a generation or more behind you and I, but it shows we`re all saying the same thing.
Listen to John Lewis here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: We have come a distance. We made progress, but there are forces in America trying to slow us down or take us back. I think the person we have in Washington today is uncaring, know very, very little about the struggle and the history of the civil rights movement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: When you hear John Lewis and earlier this week when I was in Chicago we went and visited with Reverend Jesse Jackson and Andrew Young, when you hear these people saying this about Donald Trump, then you and I, then or Charlene, different generation and sometimes different approaches, but everyone saying the same thing, doesn`t that heighten your concern that he`s talking about bringing in the feds without talking to anyone and dealing with the issues that Charlene has laid out here this morning?
ACREE: She has laid out the issues quite eloquently. It`s rather insensitive and arrogant of the president to address the symptoms and not address the cause.
Why not send resources here to open up some of those 50 schools that the mayor of this city closed just a couple years ago? Why not send in workforce development, opportunities and send some funds here to build the economic infrastructure so people can have job opportunities?
Also, this current mayor right now is sitting on nearly a billion dollars in federal money, in HUD money, for housing. People are homeless, people have financial challenges. Why don`t we have the president preside and lead, if he really wants to turn things around?
We`re tired of this let`s make America great again. The reality is we all need to work together to make America greater than it is and for it to be great for everyone.
SHARPTON: Charlene, you know, we often hear about the whole question of gun control as part of this argument when we see the headlines, over 100 people shot at last weekend fourth of July weekend in Chicago, 15 dead, but what is strange to me is the same people that don`t want to see gun control, they want all of the data, social security number, who you would vote for and all in order for you to vote, but they don`t want background checks in order for you to get a gun.
I mean, this kind of contradiction while you`re dealing with the contradictions of closing schools and tearing down housing and the whole question of gentrification, all of that feeds what you`re dealing with on the street every day in Chicago.
CARRUTHERS: Absolutely. So between city hall and the White House, we see a number of contradictions. What I`m clear about, though, is that there are families on the south and west sides who are in pain and are hurt by the things that happen in our community every single day.
And, you know, that was actually backed up by a study we just did with center for popular democracy and law for black lives, it`s a 12-city and county study and a lot of alarming things came out. It showed us time and time again city across city and especially in Chicago that our local elected officials are saying we`re going to prioritize things like building sports stadiums like we`ve done here in Chicago over things like public schools. We`re going to prioritize funding the Chicago Police Department over mental health services.
And to me that`s not only alarming, it`s absurd. And so we can`t turn around and wonder why when we put people in a situation where they have to survive that they`re not thriving and the work that we do in BYP 100, Black Lives Matter Chicago, organizations across the city, we`re saying, hey, we are clear about the vision that we have for our city and we all want to stop the pain and the suffering that`s happening in our communities, the difference is the solutions that are coming out of city hall and the solutions that are coming out of the White House are completely different from what we believe in.
You know, we`re committed to doing that work and carrying on that legacy, Reverend, that you`ve spoken about and continuing to innovate and push, push, push in this moment because we know that not only can things be better, but they have to get better for our people and for the sake of our lives.
SHARPTON: Reverend Acree, this is the same spirit the ministers said in our meeting at Reverend Hatcher`s this weekend, we saw in the convention. This we have no choice but to move forward and to really challenge the administration and city hall in Chicago and city halls around the country about what needs to happen here.
ACREE: Reverend Sharpton, I just want to thank you for challenging the ministers because it`s going to take every institution and it`s certainly going to take the faith leaders to come outside of their churches. I`ve been outside of my church and I need to get outside even more.
When we look back at the accomplishments of the civil rights movement in the `60s, ministers played an integral and pivotal role. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a minister, Andrew Young was a minister. Shuttlesworth was a minister, Joe Lowery, James. These were ministers.
We must use the moral voice that we had to kind of duplicate what they did back in the `60s. They pressured presidents to enforce equality and that`s the only way we got things done when we pressured them.
So we will be meeting you in Washington and we`re excited that we are bringing some moral voices back, putting them in the right place, because restorative justice is putting the power back or restoring power back to the just.
SHARPTON: I`m going to have to leave it there and, Charlene Carruthers is not a minister, but she`s doing the Lord`s work. Thank you, Charlene.
ACREE: She`s doing great work.
SHARPTON: Thank you, Reverend Ira Acree.
Up next, changing how parole works in this country. What one state is doing differently and is it making a difference? Don`t go anywhere. This is "PoliticsNation" on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Released from prison.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freedom at last.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some people think being on parole is you`re free.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m better off sometimes in jail.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Frontline examines how one state is trying to change the way parole works.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The parole system needs to be completely reimagined.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And whether it`s making a difference.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sending them out and expecting them to be perfect to abide by standards that don`t apply to the rest of us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My life is pretty much ruined for the next two or three years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: The physical and psychological dangers of prison life have been thoroughly illustrated by film and television. Perhaps less commonly depicted are the dangers that parolees face when they return to civilian life.
Not least of which being the struggle to secure employment with a criminal record, or finding treatment for a drug addiction nursed while incarcerated. "Life on Parole" a new PBS documentary is a collaboration by Frontline and "The New York Times" and it follows four recently released Connecticut prisoners as they navigate their new lives on the outside.
Joining me now is the director of "Life on Parole," Emmy Award winning documentarian, Matt O`Neill. Thanks for being with us again, Matt.
MATT O`NEILL, FILMMAKER: Thanks for having me.
SHARPTON: Tell us about this documentary and why -- and why you did it and what you hope people will get from it.
O`NEILL: Well, we`ve had a lot of conversations and you talk on your show all the time about the huge population that`s incarcerated in the United States, almost two million people.
If you look at the number of people who are then supervised in the community, it`s almost twice that, 4.5 million people are on probation or parole.
It`s something that hasn`t been looked at before. We wanted to understand what happens to people when they reenter society after a period of incarceration, how this supervision helps them or hinders them, what the obstacles are and what the opportunities are.
SHARPTON: And the obstacles are very formidable.
O`NEILL: There are so many different obstacles. When you`re on parole, your parole officer and the parole board decide what stipulations that you might have to obey.
You could have to check in with your parole officer weekly, monthly, every three months, not drink alcohol, not have contact with the police officer. It`s a very complicated process for people who are just getting out and need a lot of structure and support.
SHARPTON: So people outside of the whole area of this or that on that term is, have no idea you could be out but you`re not really out because you have so many traps that you can have to deal with even outside of the incarcerated space that life is nowhere near normal and as easily productive as other citizens.
O`NEILL: Over and over you hear in this film about the parole officers and the parolee say, free but not free, because that`s the reality on parole. You may have freedom, but there are still be strict rules that you have to live under. Some people call them trip wires because they`re so easy to set off and then find yourself re-incarcerated.
What interesting in Connecticut is that they`re trying to change that dynamic and give people more second chances and help them integrate.
SHARPTON: Well, I think that`s good, but Connecticut is different than many parts of the country that those trip wires are very much alive and very much returning people back to prison.
But, Matt, I`ve to go. Thank you for being with us.
You can watch "Life on Parole," a documentary by Frontline and "The New York Times" this coming Tuesday, July 18th, at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.
Up next for my final thoughts, what`s wrong with this picture? Stay with us.
SHARPTON: This picture that I showed was a photo taken last Monday of evangelical ministers in the oval office laying hands and praying on President Donald Trump.
Now let me be clear, I`ve been a menace to all of my life just about, and I don`t find anything wrong or inappropriate about praying for the president whoever that might be. And I think it`s appropriate they do that.
But what I also challenge ministers is who`s going to lay hands on those that are losing their Medicaid? Who`s going to reach their hands out to those that can`t get jobs, that are living in communities that are closing schools? Don`t just lay hands on the mighty and the powerful. Lay hands on those that need an uplifting.
This weekend is the 3rd year anniversary of the choking death by a New York City policeman of Eric Gardner. Who`s going to lay hands on those that feel that those that they entrusted to protect them harm them?
That`s why on the 54th anniversary of the march on Washington of `63 where a menace, I think million, told the world about a dream he had, we call for thousand ministers, whether you are Jewish, Muslim, or Christian, white or black to join us in Washington so we could remind the world of that menace`s call about a dream.
That dream is at stake now because when you talk about taking away healthcare and voting rights, and police reform, all of which was in that speech. When you`re talking about that, you become a dream buster and we`ve got to lay hands on those that need that dream.
That does it for me. Thanks for watching, I`ll see you back here next Sunday.
ALEX WITT, MSNBC HOST: Good morning, everyone, I`m Alex Witt here at MSNBC headquarters in New York. It is 9:00 in the East, 6:00 our west.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END