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tv   Politics Nation With Al Sharpton  MSNBC  May 5, 2019 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT

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good evening, and welcome to politics nation. tonight's lead, fault lines. as it's been for the last three years, america is fundamentally divided over whether donald trump should be in the oval office. and the latest msnbc news poll wall street journal poll bears that out with cold, hard numbers. 60% of americans say president trump has been dishonest in the russia investigation. that means even some republicans, trump voters. but that's not the kicker, folks. because while americans don't want congress to initiate impeachment proceedings, the other half is divided on if and win.
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17% say do it now. 32% want congress to continue the investigations to build a better case for impeachment. and they may get their wish starting tomorrow, monday, as attorney general william barr faces contempt proceedings if he doesn't turn over the unredacted mueller report. treasury secretary steve mnuchin has to decide whether to release president trump's tax returns and michael cohen begins his three-year prison sentence. but even with all those tremors from the white house, the big quake may come soon as several news organizations are reporting that special counsel robert mueller may testify before the house judiciary committee by the end of this month, possibly as early as next week. and the president is already flexing his twitter fingers,
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tweeting this afternoon, quote, bo bob mueller should not testify, no redos for the dems. joining me now correspondent for pbs. and campaign director for the center of american progress action fund. and sfeea nelson, a former g.o.p. committee council and now a contributor for think. so we are in the middle of some real drama here in washington. and the first question is whether or not you think this is really on the minds of american voters. we keep hearing voters are not talking about it, but in the beltway where we are tonight, it is the major and only issue that is being discussed. >> i think what we have to think
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about is the fact that inside the beltway, there are people thinking specifically donald trump details of this presidency and how president trump might be unqualifie448 pages. you have been very up to date about it. i think out in the country you see people saying the number one thing that is important to me is someone who can beat donald trump. they are not saying the mueller report is on their mind, they are saying their livelihoods are on their mind. if you are a sipgal mother or a truck driver you might not have had time to flip through all 448 pages. on the republican side, of course, there are people who legitimately think or think in their own minds that the president is being challenged by his lu -- republicans think the president is under attack. even though while they are not talking about the mueller report
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mueller report they are saying i voted for this person. >> the presidency is being defined. because if this president can go around checks and balances, he is redefining with all of his personality and bizarre behavior, he is redefining how this country is governed. >> and functioning. i think going even further back to the 2018 mid term election outcomes this oversight mandate is something congressional democrats ran on and won on. we saw 32% democrats responded said get more evidence. it wasn't about impeachment whether yes or no. it was if and when. so they are saying hold off which is the same sign we have been seeing from speaker pelosi and congressional leadership here. >> sophia, two ways i want you to answer this because you have a very sharp political mind.
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one is that should the democrats be making their case about how legislative branch, executive branch and judicial branch are supposed to be able to check and balance each other and if the president is saying i'm not turning over tax returns and evident and telling people don't testify, is he now breaking that up? secondly, is it a case that the presidential candidates on the democratic side should be making clearer or should they be kind of mentioning it but staying on the hard core issues and that will really reap the voters' attention in terms of who may vote for them? >> what she said is -- we were talking in the green room about this that there is a separation between what we think in washington, d.c. and how we're
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looking at this versus how the rest of the country is looking at it so the democrats in my opinion are doing a very bad job at messaging at the congressional level all the way down to the candidates of making clear in small sound bytes that the public can grasp that we are in a constitutional crisis when a president refuses to allow an article one branch, congress to have and to conduct it's proper function which is oversight subpoena power, investigatory power. he is not hiding it at all. today him tweeting about mueller saying he is not going to let mueller testify is a problem for me as an american because he is saying we don't have the right to hear from the man that spent $35 million of taxpayer money who put together the document. we know what a.g. barr thinks. and that's a problem because now he is going to be under whether or not they are going to put him
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under contempt of congress. that remains to be seen. rev, and to this panel, we are in a constitutional crisis right now. be clear, america, this is not a joke. this isn't partisan. we should be concerned when any president regardless of his or her party says i'm not going to abide by the constitution of the united states. he has to be checked by the article one branch. >> i think that's not getting out that trump is good at capturing phrases and getting it out there. as i travel, this is like my fifth city this week. people do not understand that the implications of this will go way beyond his presidency if we allow the scales to be tipped now and normalized. a president really being las veg vegas -- above the law. >> don't just threaten contempt
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of court for barr. really follow through on this because there is no way that they should be able to operate in this fashion. this will have long-term implications going forward. >> when we look at the fact that at first people would say why are republicans allowing him to get away with this bizarre behavior? those of us that know him in new york once we came to terms with he was the president were saying how could they allow this stuff, his tweets, his outrageous statements. when you look at how he is now restructuring how the president is dealing with congress, how he has confirmed this with 100 federal judges that will be there for a lifetime, he is doing exactly what a lot of them want to do while everybody is looking at the theatrics here, he is putting some very serious and long term things in place that it will take a generation or so to undo if he keeps going
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this way. >> that's what i hear from republicans who when i put the question to them, how do you back things that president trump is doing? they say if you look at it as a whole, our party is really accomplishing the goals we set out for. look at the supreme court. look at the courts. there is also the idea that the attorney general is saying once something is criminal i'm not here to talk about the things that might be unethical. this week the attorney general refused to talk about the fact or refused to answer the question is it wrong to instruct the white house counsel to lie and wrong to be talking about criminal investigations with you? has the president suggested you open criminal investigations into anyone. he gave vague answers and the reason is because the attorney general is saying if nothing crosses the line of criminality then i'm not here to talk about that. that has a lot of democrats worried.
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it's this idea that the culture of the presidency might completely be changing. >> senator kamala harris raises the question directly to barr. and he kind of fumbled and punted. >> he said i don't know. >> and we are looking at a report by the special counsel that says in plain language, i cannot exonerate him on obstruction. so what are you guessing about whether there is illegality? you have to dig in and say if he is not exonerated then that means congress has to look on whether or not there is obstruction which is criminal. >> 45 years ago if we were going to go back to a time machine we were in this place with a president named richard nixon. you are seeing the same thing, the attorney general is under question. one gets fired and special prosecutor. history tends to repeat itself. what was different then, the
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republicans is where my heart is broken as a life long moderal republican i am appalled and offended that no patriot that say they love the constitution won't stand up and say this is wrong, mr. president. the bar is not criminality. the bar is conduct that fits in with high crimes and misdemeanors. he has done a bunch of misdemeanors in this attorney's opinion. at the end of the day, the stuff with russia to me is the most impeachable of all. it borders on treez toon sit with the president of russia and make jokes about the report. >> he said at the end of the week that barr made these statements or nonstatements in front of the congress. he said he had a conversation with putin and putin laughed. i don't know how he saw it
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through the phone. >> that is telling. >> very telling. how do you have a cordial conversation, a laughing conversation or smiling conversation when the congress and the special counsel for your justice department said emphatically they interfered with the election. >> it shows he is willing to keep the relationship going. when the reporter followed up and said did you ask putin to not interfere in our next election, he said we didn't talk about that. he has no intention of defending our democracy. >> how does the people that work with him -- michael cohen is going to jail tomorrow morning. he is smiling with putin while people lives have been wrecked and on their way to prison and others convicted in part because they were investigated because of his stuff or doing things for
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his stuff. >> i was in helsinki when there was the historic press conference where the president said i don't know if i side with the intelligence agencies of my own government or vladimir putin. we have known there has been a problematic or questionable relationship there. there is this idea that the u.s. has been tough on russia when it comes to sanctions. the u.s. government apart from the president, it really is in addition to the president, they would say that we have made strides and have started organizations and started really looking at the idea of how to prevent 2020 from being impacted by russians. that being said, attorney general barr would not say whether or not it was criminal for a candidate to talk to a foreign national about dirt on their political opponent. >> they are putting things in place while the president is smiling through the phone with vladimir putin. before we go to break, senator
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chuck schumer tweeted first donald trump repeatedly tried to fire mueller and then refused to be interviewed by mueller and now trying to silence mueller for a man proclaiming his innocence, donald trump is acting awfully guilty. mueller must testify publically before congress, end of quote. more with our panel later in the hour. coming up, why did one big-named democrat decide to stay out of the growing 2020 field to fight donald trump down the ballot? former virginia governor joins me live when we come back. ♪ hoo
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with the news this week that we now have more than 20 democratic contenders in the 2020 race, candidates will be even harder pressed to land key endorsements and signs from party gate keepers ahead of next year's primary. that includes even the big names like former vice president joe biden who according to reports was already reaching out to high level fund raisers before he announced last month, among them, former virginia governor ter terry mccauliffe who focussed on
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helping virginia democrats beat the trump agenda at the state level. and he joins me now, former chair of the democratic national committee, former governor of virginia and author of the new book "beyond charlottesville". let me start with the over 20 candidates running. you were chair of the party when i ran in '04 and was very fair to all of us. how as a former chair do you look at all of these candidates. certainly everyone has the right to run. is this good for a party at this point? sg >> on the one hand you love all of the candidates running. what i do worry about with so many candidates and only so much time in the debate stage, you could be taking away from a very
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serious debate and everybody will have two mnds to talk about their vision for the country. that is what i worry about. we need to focus. we have to beat trump and put our best foot forward. i think the way the calendar will move very quickly. two weeks ago i was running for president. you have to make a decision where you can make the biggest mark in life. for me i decided virginia needs help. first time in 26 years since 1993 we could do. this is our opportunity. so i made the decision the best interest of the party and best interest for my state, that's where i can use my energy. i made what i thought was the right decision. i am now working in virginia. i have agreed to 63 events raising money and campaigning. i love it. you have to do where you think you can have the biggest impact. >> you have one of the bigger names in the party and you decided not to run because you want to work on what you believe
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is important and what you have achieved. as you say, you take up a lot of time if you have the candidates on the debate stage. and the fear is by many the only way you notice is if people start doing something bizarre and dramatic to get attention. people telling you al sharpton will show up and i wouldn't do that because i wanted to believe that i could get across some of what i believed in. but the temptation is somebody is going to cut up and that's going to take away from the goals of the party. >> remember, a lot of folks wanted me not to have you on the stage. you brought a lot of great excitement to it. i remember you kicking the donkey, one great phrase you had. i think all the candidates, some may be running for the senate. we have to focus on beating trump. we have to be organized. people have to make a decision where to make the biggest mark in life.
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that's where you ought to lean in. >> look at the numbers from the labor bureau that came out this week. national average 3.6% for african-american americans 6.7. for hispanic americans 4.2 and asian americans 2.1. when you look at that, i don't know anyone that didn't deal with the race gp moap more than did. when trump says that unemployment is lowest than it has ever been it is still double that to white. he has not addressed how we close the race gap. we are still doubly unemployed to white. >> until it is even it is unacceptable. what bothers me is that president obama got the ball down to the 1 yard line and he carried the ball in. you look at where african-american unemployment was when president obama took office and where left it off.
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i addressed this in my upcoming book, until we have equal schools and same quality teacher, we have schools in virginia and certain areas that are not the same as other schools. we have to make sure every school is equal. until we do that, we will not reduce african-american unemployment. we have to make sure they have the best teachers and training. workforce training is what we need early on. we have to make sure everybody has the same quality education in this country. we need infrastructure in this country. >> you have this book coming out beyond charlottesville. you take on the question of race and anti-semitism. i preached this morning and talked about how you really progressively would fight this in virginia. why was this so important to you after stepping out of the presidential race to come out with this book and why you think this is a defining moment for
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donald trump's presidency? >> first, i would say while i was governor, i restored more felon rights, reduced my juvenile detention population by two thirds, leaned in historic investment education. but with all that hard work, we have to deal with real issues that we still have in this country. in charlottesville we are thousand neonazis who came into our city screaming the most vial things against members of the african-american race and jewish faith and things i have never heard before. i talked to the president that day and explained to him what was going on. >> president trump. >> called the governor, wanted to know what i had to say, told them this rhetoric has to stop. he said he was going to do a press conference. i said i will wait until you go. he did a press conference and as you know he blamed both sides. there were good people on both
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sides. nay were neonazis, white spremests and thugs. i gave my speech. i told them go home and get the hell out of virginia. >> let me make sure i have this. so the day he made the speech saying they were fine people on both sides, you told him what the exact behavior was going on in your state in the street as you were governor. >> you bet. i opened my book with that paragraph on my conversation with him that day. i was shocked. as awful as charlottesville was, on the other hand, the one benefit was that i think for too long people felt that racism had been dealt with and racism was gone. it has never been gone. what charlottesville did is rip off that scab. to realize that people sit around and have their reconciliation commissions, a bunch of white people talking to each other, we got real
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institutional racism problems in this country. and when charlottesville happened, it brought that conversation back to the forefront. and john lewis, whom i love and admire, he called me the night i gave my speech. he said when you spoke, you brought tears to my eyes. you spoke for us telling these people to get the heck out of our country. we just got to continue this dialogue. racism is alive and well. we know that. we have to deal with it. we have to deal with the education inequalities that we have in this nation. we need sentencing reform. until we do this, people talk too much. people need to do action. as governor i loved taking action. they sued me remember when i did the restoration rights. that was my proudest moment. i'm going down fighting for things i believe in. >> thank you very much for coming and being with me tonight. don't forget the book and don't forget the challenge he just gave us.
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for this week's gotcha, we
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go to florida where republicans think we don't know what a poll tax looks like. last fall floridians voted yes on an amendment which restored voting rights to 1.5 million former felons. and because it's florida it comes as no surprise that the state g.o.p. there has been trying to undo the will of the people. two days ago, a new bill approved by the republican-led state legislature imposed a series of harsh restrictions that could prevent many of those former inmates from ever reaching the ballot box. for example, the bill now requires former felons to pay any and all outstanding court fees before they're able to vote. statistics show that 80% of felons released from prison
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still owe debts meaning over a million people could still be disenfranchised. this is by design because florida believes in cash register justice. that's right. the florida court system is entirely funded by fines and fees. the only way the courts can stay open is by adding unnecessary and inflated administrative fees. that costs inmates hundreds of thousands of dollars. so let me be clear, florida's g.o.p., this is undoubtedly a poll tax and the fact that folks who have served their time and paid their debt to society are now barred from voting over court fees is immoral and an affront to voters. so florida republicans, before your governor signs the bill into law as expected, i say please don't embarrass
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i'm just resting my eyes. (dad vo) even though we're generations apart. what a day. i just love those kids. (avo) presenting the all-new three-row subaru ascent. wave to grandma, everybody. (avo) love is now bigger than ever. indeed, given my experience working for mr. trump, i fear that if he loses the election in 2020 that there will never be a
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peaceful transition of power. >> that was president trump's former long-time fixer, michael cohen, spending his last day as a free man today. tomorrow cohen will report to the federal correctional institute in otisville new york to begin serve ag three-year sentence for fraud and campaign finance violations. meanwhile, the house judiciary committee is inching closer to a firm date for robert mueller's testimony. house negotiators they say have reached a tentative date with mueller's team for may 15th. with me sophia nelson, a former g.o.p. congressional committee couns counsel. i had breakfast twice with michael cohen and he clearly is
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one that has to deal with what he did for donald trump and now he is going to jail for other things that came out of that investigation. and i remember the last breakfast we had i was saying to him be strong talking as a minister as you would to anyone. he says i'm going to jail. and the cold reality that i think a lot of people forget here is that people are going to do time as a result of some of their engagements with donald trump that brought other things to light. this is as serious as it can get in american politics. >> i want to remind everyone that he acted on all of these things at the direction of trump. i think the other question he is going into his prison term is why am i the only one going? he was his right hand man and fixer. now he is starting to serve his
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sentence. >> when you look at this and on the day this man is spending his last day with his family, you have donald trump talking about who should testify and who should not and what should the congress of the united states see as his former attorney and fixer is headed to federal jail. >> i am going to keep going back to what i have been saying since donald trump took office. what is wrong with us? we the people are at a place where we will have to make a decision. is this behavior where donald trump is redefining how the president can conduct himself and can or cannot impede the powers and then he will go to the supreme court. they can only get involved if there is a trial in the senate and the chief justice becomes the arbiter of the trial in the senate. so the question and the answer really to your question is that
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something is wrong with us that we're watching this. i'm talking about now the country and there seems to be a division here that is extreme on one side and the other. the republicans seem to be very much in line both those who voted and the president and those in congress regardless of the impact on the constitution. >> you are one of the sharpest reporters around, what are you hearing from the trump people that their reaction to someone like cohen going to jail and the flexibility from the president releasing documents including taxes and not having people testify? they are actually trying to stop mueller, we are told. i don't know what your sources tell you, but there are moves to stop mueller from being able to testify whoompt w
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testify. >> the white house and republicans have been saying this is over. ever since the mueller report came out, their line of messaging is that we all just need to move on, that congress needs to go away. then there is the white house lawyers' letter to attorney general barr and wrote i'm worried that robert mueller left a road map for congress. the attorneys in the white house are saying we read that same report and we are worried that this could be something. >> and obstruction in terms of the way he could not exonerate. >> the cases where the president is telling people to lie. then the idea of michael cohen going to jail, i know a lot of people who say the president hates the idea that people can't be loyal to him he looks at michael cohen as someone not loyal to him. there is the idea that he did this because he was making a lot
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of money doing this. there is a real sadness for michael cohen. the president in the mueller report was accused of trying to say to paul manafort mainly through the media that he should not cooperate because he can take care of him and have a party. that's in the mueller report. you have robert mueller saying he could be trying to influence people not to follow the foot steps of michael cohen and come to the congress. >> isn't that also bordering on obstruction to be waiving pardons and promising benefits to a potential witness or someone who has evidence that directly deals with what is being investigated? >> he is like wink, wink, don't snitch, don't say anything because i have your back with a pardon. just hold tight. one thing that i think is interesting here is the pivot point that cohen said did change his mind and have him recognize he made a mistake.
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helsinki and charlottesville where cohen was like i have to speak up and do something. >> now, where are the republicans that are sworn to uphold the country, not their own self-interest and not protect their party? >> mitt romney by my account is really the only republican who has stood up to this degree and said he is troubled by what he sees in the report and troubled by the president's behavior. i don't have an answer to your question. i am troubled because if this was a president obama, i think if it were a president bush i think republicans would be screaming about this. i don't know what hold president trump has on these people. i fundamentally don't understand because people who say they love the constitution have to be troubled when it is being trampled on regardless of your party. a blind man can see that president trump is not doing what he is supposed to do in
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terms of the constitution and being responsive to congress. congress has a role and a co-equal role. if we allow this to go unchallenged here the next president or the one after that can take us down a road that we may never recover from. >> thank you very much. coming up, conservatives are trying to make sure that white power is preserved for at least the next decade. i'll explain when we come back. . i'll explain when we come back. hold my pouch.
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the u.s. supreme court is right now considering possibly the most controversial case of this term, whether to allow the trump administration to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. the court's conservative majority seem ready to give trump the win he's looking for and the decision expected in june will have consequences. by the census bureau's own estimates, more than 6 million people might not be counted if the citizenship question is added. most of them hispanic or immigrants, meaning states like
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california, new york, arizona and texas could risk losing congressional seats and federal funding come 2021. joining me now is dana millbank, columnist for the "washington post." you wrote about the impact of this decision that i don't think many americans understand. if this question is on the census question and you eliminate 6 million people, mostly hispanic, mostly of color, this dramatically changes the numbers of congressional people and it changes funding in many states. >> it's stunning, reverend. the likelihood based on the arguments at least is that the conservative justices are going to do this. now, i like a line that you said that is no longer jim crow, it's james crow jr. esquire. this is exactly that kind of thing, of course, it is latinos
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being discriminated against. it's done in a subtle way that we will just put this question. surely we can ask whether you are a citizen or not. everybody knows is going to be 5% of the noncitizen house holds are not going to answer it. those are citizens and noncitizens, latinos, because heck, maybe they don't want the government to come after my cousin or my friend or whatever else. >> even citizens. >> absolutely. the citizens are not doing it. so, it's disenfranchising american citizens because they just happen to be la tee know. there's no reason to do it. it hasn't been done in 70 years. wilbert ross essentially lied to congress saying he needs it to enforce the voting rights act. that wasn't the fact. the fact is they want to put this in because it's a deterrent and it will help them
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politically. >> because function nallely wale population is down in a state, then you bring down the number of congressal districts because they are determined by the number of people in a state. >> right. >> so, if you have a significant less people counted in a state, you eliminate one or two congressional seats which impacts more than hispanics. it impacts everyone in the state as well as federal resources. >> you can see this. california loses, new york, texas. but it's not just representation. it's $900 billion at stake that are given out and now not going to be given to the states because these people are not being counted. >> and those people are there. they're just not counted. it's not as if they evaporated. they're still there. it's less resources with the same amount of people, less congressional representation with the same amount of people. >> it's a good old fashioned
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power grab, and that's the same thing happening with the volter suppression. >> why haven't we heard more in the media about this? you wrote a very, very, in my opinion, wake-up piece. why don't people understand this? >> i think it's the subtly. it's a little hard to grasp what they're going for here. but i suspect there will be some alarm if and when the decision comes down. but at that point it's going to be too late. so, they're not seeing -- we're not seeing riots in the street because it's a question in the census. people aren't aware of just what a huge impact. >> but the decision comes down next month. >> absolutely. it's coming this spring, and it's likely to be on the 2020 census. >> from the sessions during the supreme court hearing, it looked like, as you said, the right wing -- my term, not yours -- part is going that way. if they win this in june, it will be on the 2020 census next
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year. and that would not change for ten years because you take the census every ten years. all these people will be eliminated for at least a decade. >> right. it would essentially be a shift of three to five seats, giving those to republicans by undercounting, essentially taking away these hundreds of billions of dollars in resources. and after that happens, there's nothing to be done about it. there's a chance that, i think, chief justice roberts will be looking at the long term credibility of the court and might do what he did on obamacare. but i think the smart money says this question is going to be returned to the census for the main purpose of deterring latinos from cooperating. >> and the effects of that is devastating in many areas. >> for a decade. >> dana willbank from "the
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washington post." thank you.
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i can customize each line for each family member? yup. and since it comes with your internet, you can switch wireless carriers, and save hundreds of dollars a year. are you pullin' my leg? nope. you sure you're not pullin' my leg? i think it's your dog. oh it's him. good call. get the data options you need and still save hundreds of dollars... do you guys sell other dogs? now that's simple, easy, awesome. customize each line by paying for data by the gig or get unlimited. and now get $100 back when you buy a new lg. click, call, or visit a store today. >> it's graduation time, and all over the country, college and high school and secondary schools are holding graduations. i was honored this week since returning from london, england wednesday to speak at the commencement of the tennessee state university where the president also, of that college,
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glenda glover gave me an honorary doctorate of humane letters. also in south carolina, i was given an honorary doctorate of divinity degree. i'm on my way tomorrow morning to do the same at fisk university. my real honor is to challenge students, to say that you have, despite whatever self-doubt you have, despite whatever you went through, you've made a mark on life because you've graduated from college. you are not college graduate. you have a degree. and you have a road ahead of you. and despite whatever you went through, you made this mark, and they're going to call your name when i get finished speaking and you're going to walk across the stage. but don't just use your degree to get a job. use your knowledge to do a job,
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a job to restore dignity and restore and protect rights and restore and protect the future for those that come behind you like those of us that have gone on in our lives, had to try and hand you a country better than the country we know. we are in very serious times. we're a polarized nation. and those young students must use the same determination they used to go and get that degree in many cases against great odds, to also put a portion of their life into fighting for a better nation and a better world. yes, the world is not always fair, and sometimes you get knocked down. but even if you're not responsible for being knocked down, you're responsible for getting up. get up and make the world better and make your life better. that's what graduation's all about. that does it for me. thanks for watching.
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i'll see you back here next saturday at 5:00 p.m. eastern. until then, keep the conversation going. like us on and follow us on twitter @politicsnation. up next, "meet the press" with chuck todd. >> this sunday, the democrats dilemma, some say it's time to start impeachment hearings. >> we must get behind the house of representatives as they pursue impeachment for this president. >> it's not a point of politics. it's a point of principle. >> but speaker nancy pelosi is arguing for pragmatism. >> if you go down that path, you have to have a prospect for success. >> with democrats divided, i'll talk to the newest entrant into the presidential race, senator michael bennet of colorado. >> i'm not going to say there's a simple solution to a problem if i don't believe there is one. >> plus barr and


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