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TODAY   |  July 15, 2013

Al Sharpton: We weren’t confident, but we were hopeful

Rev. Al Sharpton, host of MSNBC’s “Politics Nation,” and TODAY legal analyst Lisa Bloom discuss the results of the George Zimmerman trial and the possibility that criminal civil rights charges could be filed by the Justice Department.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> bloom is today's legal analyst and reverend al sharpton . good morning.

>> good morning.

>> i know you did not like this verdict. were you surprised by it.

>> i thought all along it was 50/50. you have to remember. we had to fight and demonstrate to even get a trial. people forget that the sanford police had said there was no probable cause. there will be no arrest. that's when the family called to action. we didn't have a lot of confidence in the area. we were hopeful, particularly when they had the option of going to manslaughter. at that time we also said let's open up a request to the federal government . so asking the justice department to come in is not new. the family and attorney crump and i met with the u.s. attorney down there over a year ago and made that request and the investigation was open i. was suspended during this trial.

>> are you optimistic that the federal government will pursue charges in connection with this case.

>> trayvon martin had the civil right to go home and in 100 cities this saturday there will be demonstrations in front of federal buildings led by ministers pressing the federal government to protect our right. at one level you dealt with the murder charges but now you have to deal with the civil rights violations. he had the right to go home and george zimmerman is not a policeman and had no authority to interfere at all.

>> this poses a legal question. one, how likely do you think sit the department of justice pursues charges across this line and is it a more difficult prosecution in the sense of the proof you have to have in a federal case.

>> i reviewed the department of justice policy. it's lengthy but it boils down to what elements of the federal crime would be different from the element of the state crime where he has been acquitted. he can't be prosecuted again for the same crime. so the question is whether the federal charges would be significantly different.

>> and they would have to, we assume, show there was racial animos. the prosecutors said repeatedly this is not about race. the protests were about race but in the courtroom it was not about race.

>> let me bring the reverend in on that. do you think the prosecutors missed an opportunity that they didn't make the case about racial profiling ?

>> they did it but it sets up a federal case because you can't say it's been tried because it wasn't tried. there is no double jeopardy because they specifically said this is not about race which opens the door for the federal government to now investigate what he meant when zimmerman said they always get away with this. who is they and get away with what when there was no crime being committed.

>> let me ask you point blank. she has been critical of the prosecution team. did they do a good job of putting on this case?

>> i think they could have done a lot more. lisa is a lawyer and can say mishandled. i can say they were not aggressive in many areas they should have been where i think the federal government can do which is why we'll be in the federal buildings this saturday.

>> and the rodney king , acquitted on the state level and successfully prosecuted on the federal level .

>> do you think they'll file a civil suit against george zimmerman .

>> i talked to attorney crump even moments ago. they'll keep their options open. i can tell you this is long from being over and we're going to be with them every step of the way because this puts every child at risk. any child can be interfered with going home for committing no crime. that's the bottom line here that must be answered.

>> reverend, lisa bloom , thank you for being here. appreciate it.