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Jared Kushner's meetings with Russian officials, including with a head of a bank under U.S. sanctions were an attempt to find the right person to engage with on Russia, a to open a back-channel to Vladimir Putin; federal judge in Hawaii has granted the state's request for a longer term halt of the President's revised travel ban; President Trump and first lady Melania Trump both talking about empowering women Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired March 29, 2017 - 23:00   ET



[23:00:22] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Breaking news, a source telling CNN that Jared Kushner's meetings with Russian officials, including with a head of a bank under U.S. sanctions were an attempt to find the right person to engage with on Russia, a to open a back-channel to Vladimir Putin.

This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

The source saying the meetings were not about sanctions on Russia. And in a just a few hours, the Senate opens its first public hearing on Russia's meddling in the election. Leaders of the Senate intelligence committee hoping to avoid the drama on the House side of the capital that stall the House intelligence committee's investigation.

We have got some other breaking news. We start with the President's travel ban in Hawaii, breaking news.

CNN's justice reporter Laura Jarrett. Hs is on the phone with details. This is just coming in.

What do you know, Laura?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER (on the phone): That's right, Don. So a federal judge in Hawaii has granted the state's request for a longer term halt of the President's revised travel ban. You will remember two weeks ago a district court judge there in Hawaii Derek Watson blocked the revised executive order but that was only a temporary halt as this used to something we called temporary restraining order which typically expires after around 14 days.

And so, the plaintiff asked it to be converted to longer term preliminary conjunction so it could last through trial and the judge agreed tonight saying on the record before him. The plans of have met their burden of establishing a strong likelihood of success on the merit of their establishment clause claim. And remember, that entire discussion from Judge Watson just two weeks ago describing what he view as a violation of the constitution because he viewed the revised travel ban discriminated against Muslims and (INAUDIBLE) is long gone.

LEMON: And so, it is interesting, again, this is another blow to the White House in this -- the travel ban, this executive order again.

And our Laura Jarrett is on the phone.

Laura, this is more not permanent but a longer I guess stay on this order until there's actually trial. Trial is set, do we know when trial is set? Or how long it will take before it goes on?

JARRETT: No. Yes. So this is -- what this will do is essentially place a pause on everything until either the department of justice appealed and in the event they would manage to get this decision over turned then that would obviously change the equation. But assuming nothing happened and department of justice didn't do anything right now it means they would have to go through and actually litigate the merits of the executive order. So what this does is place everything on hold so the parties could continue litigation.

But obviously, the justice department we haven't heard from yet and they could easily now appeal this ruling to the 9th circuit court of appeals out there on the west coast.

LEMON: OK. And again, if you are just joining us, a federal judge in Hawaii granted the state's request for longer term halt, a longer term halt on a revised travel ban executive order. I'm speaking now to CNN justice report Laura Jarrett.

Laura, I want you to standby because I want to bring in Carl Bernstein, CNN political analyst and journalist and also author.

Carl, how do you think is going to playing at the White House or is playing at the White House right now.

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think the President of the United States gets very angry every time a judicial body or judge says that he or his presidency has acted illegally or has not followed the necessary protocols and rules. But the President of the United States I think also recognizes that he has to follow the law and all he can do here is file a series of appeals and hope that he prevails.

LEMON: Here's what it reads, Carl, and tell me, the plaintiffs ask for it to be converted into longer term preliminary injunction and he agreed, the judge agreed Wednesday night. The court concludes that On the Record before it plaintiffs had met the burden of establishing a strong likelihood of success on the merits of establishment clause claim. What do you read into that? What does that mean?

BERNSTEIN: It means that those who want to see this policy halted have got a real argument in their favor based on the prior quote "legislative history" or the history of how this rule and travel ban came to be promulgated. If you will remember the President of the United States and those around him made a lot of inflammatory statements that indicated they wanted to keep Muslims out of America.

[23:05:05] LEMON: Yes.

BERNSTEIN: And I think that the plaintiffs here are pursuing that as prejudicial. But I'm not a lawyer. At the same time, I think it's very clear from a series of rulings that the Trump presidency has got an awful lot of explaining to do here if it is going to prevail with these rules. It's going to go to the Supreme Court eventually, I would imagine. And there is no way of telling how this is going to be resolved.

LEMON: And speaking of where this is going to go, Laura Jarrett, if you are there this means the justice department can now appeal the ruling to the 9th circuit should they choose to do so. That's what it says.

JARRETT: Well, that's exactly right, Don. So before they only had that temporary order which typically is isn't appealable but now they have this preliminary injunction which s we mention is going to last longer which gives them something to actually appeal to those judges.

And as we know there is also now an appeal in the 4th circuit court of appeals out on the east coast because a Maryland judge also halted the travel ban two weeks ago. So it's potentially setting up a real and circuit court show down, if you will. If these two circuit courts come out any differently then it's certainly headed directly to the Supreme Court.

LEMON: OK. I want you to standby Laura and Carl as we continue with this breaking news, a federal judge in Hawaii granting the state's request for a longer term halt on the revised travel ban executive order. And I want to bring in now Douglas Chin, the Hawaii attorney general.

What do you make of this?

DOUGLAS CHIN, HAWAII ATTORNEY GENERAL (on the phone): Thank you very much for the opportunity. This is a great win for religious freedom. Judge Watson here is Hawaii made a ruling that uphold the first amendment rights against the sabering (INAUDIBLE) based upon their religion. And you now have a preliminary injunction.

LEMON: So this, you have a preliminary injunction, but this also until this goes to trial and also it means the justice department can now appeal this ruling to the 9th circuit should it choose to do so. So take us through what happens next with this.

CHIN: Right. Well, in all likelihood the U.S. government will be appealing this. Think that's pretty much expected. And I think what's significant about this order is that the federal judge here has also enjoined with what's known as exception six in the executive order and that's the part in the author that suspends refugee admission. So what that means is that judge Watson's order actually keeps those -- the refugee programs intact, it keeps the status quo the way it is. The judge in Maryland actually only has stopped section two but this order enjoined section two and section six. LEMON: So each time that they put this ban or try to get this ban put

into place someone puts a halt on it. What's it say to you about the under lying principle of this ban?

CHIN: Well, you know, ultimately I think what's happening time after time in the court they are pushing back and saying that the constitution is something that you have to look at and that's one of the points that we made in court today. There's a statement where Donald Trump talks about how Muslims are pouring into the country and Syrian refugees are converting our children to ISIS and to put a stop to that. And then one of the statements that he then made was what that I refuse to be politically correct. And the statement that we made is that we are not actually criticizing Mr. Trump for being politically incorrect but we are criticizing him for being constitutionally incorrect. He is just not making statements or in (INAUDIBLE) policy that is in line with the constitution of the U.S.

LEMON: You made a statement you said you talked about what the President said during the election, what about what his advisors? What about what they said?

CHIN: Well, you know, I mean, then you have his surrogates who were also talking about how the policy was designed or to be able to disguise a Muslim ban on pretext of the language and then of course two weeks ago, President Trump himself as the President spoke on national TV and we all heard it, he said this is a watered down version of the first version and if I had my way I would want to the go back to the first version (INAUDIBLE). If that doesn't sound like pretext than nothing else does. That's exactly what he was trying to accomplish.

LEMON: I will ask you a question I asked our justice reporter Laura Jarrett how long before do you think this is resolved because it is saying until this goes to trial. What do you think for a time line here?

CHIN: I have the impression that there has we're already in talks with the government so I have impression that we're going to be seeing an appeal fairly soon and of course as you mentioned there's the 4th circuit appeal going on. I think they will have to appeal our decision because it also impacts the refugee admission protest.

From the Trump side they keep saying it is not a Muslim ban and it appears the courts are finding they think is it is a Muslim ban. In your estimation you think is a ban on Muslims and that's why at the under lying thing is it is unconstitutional.

Right. Absolutely. I think what the 9th circuit has said in the Washington case as well as what we're arguing in our case is that context matters. The government has repeatedly said they really think beyond the four quarters of the document. The Supreme Court in other cases have said you have a establishment clause of the violation of the first amendment can't simply close our eyes and look at neutral policy there's a discriminatory purpose behind it there's no way you don't look at that. Here you have statements over two years all the way to the time that he is the President where he is displaying anti- Muslim bias.

LEMON: All right stand by will you Mr. Attorney general Douglas Chin who is Hawaii -- the attorney general in Hawaii and also joining us Carl Bernstein, political analyst and also Laura Jarrett, our justice reporter.

Having listen, Carl, to Douglas Chin, what's your assessment of this and what's next for the administration.

BERNSTEIN: Well, obviously, an appeal is next and it is going to go to the Supreme Court. I don't think there is any question about it. I think it's very difficult to predict what the Supreme Court will do. But Donald Trump and his surrogates have laid down as the attorney general has said a record in which their statements have been prejudicial in way that one might supposed violates the constitution in terms of the intent of this travel ban. The intent of the travel ban, Trump and his associates have made clear time and time again was to single out people of a certain religion, a certain demographic that was not about merit but rather about origin of belief. And that's going to cause them great troubles in the courts as it has already.

And even with evenly divided Supreme Court which we have now it is difficult to see the court will rule, in fact, in favor of the travel ban. And at the same time, the supreme escort a mysterious institution and predicting what the Supreme Court is going to do is a very risky business and damn if I would do it.

LEMON: The Trump administration executive order Travel ban -- ban on travel halted once again.

Thank you everyone. Thank you, Douglas Chin. Thank you Laura. Thank you Carl Bernstein.

We will continue to follow this breaking news and also this new questions about President Trump's possible ties to Russia.


[23:17:01] LEMON: Our breaking news, a federal judge in Hawaii has granted the state's request for a longer term halt of the revised travel ban executive order. We are going to keep on top of that story and see if there's a response from the White House in the coming hours, in the coming moments.

Now to the questions about possible ties to Russia not going away for the President Donald Trump. Here to discuss Ken McCallion, a former federal prosecutor, Andrea Bernstein, the senior editor for politics and policy at WNYC, William Cohan, the author of "Why Wall Street Matters" and Carl Bernstein is back with us.

So in the segment, let's talk about what we know and what we don't know about financial connections between President Trump and his businesses, his current and former associates and Russia. So let's start with the president.

So Carl, this is what President Trump tweeted. This is what he said in January, on January 11th, 2017.

Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I had nothing to do with Russia. No deals, no loans, no nothing. And this is what he said in February, Carl. Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have nothing to with Russia. I told you, I have no deal there's. I don't know anything. You can talk all you want about Russia which is all, you know, fake news fabricated deal to try and make up the loss of Democrats.

I owned nothing in Russia. I have no loans in Russia. I don't have any deals in Russia.


LEMON: So Carl, at a real estate conference in 2008 Donald Trump Jr. said quote "we see a lot of money pouring in from Russia. Based on your own reporting do you believe President Trump's statements to be true.

BERNSTEIN: No. And I also think there might be an absolute literal thing he is trying to do.

Look. The real question here has to do with Russia, greater Russia, the countries of the former Soviet Union. It is surround the current Russians federation, Ethno-Russians and oligarchs around the world with whom we know Donald Trump and his family has had extensive dealings.

Look. What we are looking at in this whole story is cover up. The FBI believes there is a cover up. The intelligence community believes there's a cover up. What exactly is being covered up is unclear but it has something to do with the relationships between those in the Trump campaign at least and those who are ethno-Russians, Russians, Russia itself. We are trying to get to the bottom of that in the press, the other investigations, the FBI on Capitol Hill in trying to do the same thing. And what's so conspicuous is that the President of the United States his family, his associates and his business are trying to throw every possible impediment in front of the investigators rather than opening the door to the truth.

LEMON: And as I understand, because we have limited time, I understand that you have a question for Kenneth. What did you want to ask him?

In fact I think it was already answered by what you just presented so we can go ahead.

BERNSTEIN: No, no. In fact I think that it was already being answered by what you just presented so we can go ahead.

[23:15:04] LEMON: So we are good. OK. I just want to make sure you get that in. So Williams let's talk about this meeting with Jared Kushner met with

head of Russian bank with ties to Putin and the FSB. And my colleague Gloria Borger here, and there is a source saying that meeting was said that quote a relationship meeting meant to establish a back channel to Putin. Do you think meeting was about money or about politics or both? Kenneth, sorry.


Well, probably about both. It was a very significant meeting because the person he was meeting with is very close and part of the inner circle of Putin and he is a banker. And they were talking about money. Money goes to the heart of it. If you follow the money. Well Donald Trump never built a hotel in Moscow and doesn't have investments over there. Correspondingly, the Russian oligarchs and investors, oligarchs from the former Soviet Union, basically bailed out the Trump organization a number of years ago after the four bankruptcies by the casinos. And if they pull the plug on the Trump organization and its various real estate projects at any point in time, the organization could collapse. So while literally he doesn't have investments over there in a very real financial sense the Russians in a broader sense own Trump.

LEMON: What do you think, was this about politics, money or both?

WILLIAM COHAN, AUTHOR, WHY WALL STREET MATTERS: It seems to me with Jared Kushner it is usually about money. Usually about money. It has been historically about money. Now that he has got this exalted role in the Trump administration which seems to be growing all the time and now, of course, his wife and Trump's daughter has her exalted role now, Don, officially in the Trump administration. I think it is increasingly about power, too.

I can't really reconcile Donald Trump's statements with what Donald Trump Jr. said that we see lots of deals and opportunities.

LEMON: You see money pouring in.

COHAN: Money pouring in. You know, lots of deals. Lots of money pouring in. I just don't understand how the two are reconciled. And you know, again, whether it's Paul Manafort being an advisor to Russian interests in Ukraine and laundering that money has been (INAUDIBLE). You know, buying real estate. I mean, I think Carl -- what Carl said is so interesting to me because, you know, he is the expert on where pulling strings take you and where things lead and we are beginning to see this slowly unravel and it's fascinating.

LEMON: You mentioned Manafort, Andrea, and you have some reporting on the former campaign official Paul Manafort's real estate transaction in New York including one property at Trump tower. What do you know?

ANDREA BERNSTEIN, SENIOR EDITOR FOR POLITICS & POLICY, WNYC: Right. Well, one the things that we found with Paul Manafort beginning with the property at Trump tower where there was a pattern in which an LLC associated with Manafort purchased a property -- all cash, meaning no financing. And then many years later or years later transferred it into Manafort's name and the he borrowed quite a bit of money against it.

This is not necessarily unusual thing in New York, the real estate is so valuable. But what we found is that federal regulators have become increasingly concerned because as the New York market blows up it becomes an increasingly attractive place to store money, sometimes ill-got.

And what law enforcements have said to us is because of all the other allegations and scrutiny looking at Paul Manafort and his dealings with the Russian oligarchs, his dealings with the Ukrainians, now new information about -- he is under scrutiny by a bank in Cyprus for possible money laundering. When you put all of that together, with these heels in New York, (INAUDIBLE) is just one of them. There were three that we found it raises flag or investigators.

LEMON: So Ken, I want to ask you this because CNN has been able to confirm some of the real estate transactions that Andrea wrote about. This is Paul's Manafort's response into her WNYC, OK.

He says I'm sorry to disappoint the conspiracy theorists and anonymous experts out there but my personal investment in real estate are all ordinary business transactions. It is common practice in New York City and elsewhere to use an LLC to purchase real estate. These transactions were execute in a transparent, fashion and my identity disclosed. In fact, my name is right on the documents in one of today's news reports.

So the concerns raised by Andrea's reporting, and I got others have looked at, is that this could be some type of transaction used to launder money. And I say could be. So explain these transactions. And are they potentially suspicious or is it, as he said, these are normal transactions?

[23:25:11] MCCALLION: No. These transactions have all the classic ear marks of money laundering. And as Andrea's reporting showed the purchase of the Trump tower properties were right around the time that we now know that Paul Manafort entered into $10 million a year deal with one of the Russian oligarchs (INAUDIBLE) who is one of the two or three closest to Putin.

So you have all-cash deal. You have a transfer of the ownership in that or other properties. You would have him then cashing out of the deal by taking large mortgages out and then mortgages out and then buying other properties.

And other points and that money, a lot of money flowed through the Cyprus banks. So what you have is really tens of millions of dollars and this is just one person, Manafort, acting like much Russian oligarch moving a lot of their money and using the loopholes in our money laundering -- anti-money laundering laws to buy a lot of real estate.

LEMON: And we need to point out that we know how much there is to be made in New York real estate. I mean, these could be just good investments, correct? A good investment. COHAN: It could very well be, just savvy investments by Paul Manafort

who got paid this money and he decided to turn it into Manhattan real estate and a lot of people do make good investment in Manhattan real state that is paid off. But this happened, to your point, I mean, this is a guy who was an advisor or paid consultant to Russian oligarchs who then becomes Donald Trump's campaign manager. And you know, this is a guy Donald Trump who cannot say a bad word about Vladimir Putin. He is probably the only person in the world who has never said a bad word about him. What does Vladimir Putin have on this guy? Our President of the United States it's deeply troubling. Is this another string that needs to be pull on to see how this whole puzzle of Russia fits together?

LEMON: Go ahead.

A. BERNSTEIN: And if I may, I mean, yes, we just don't know whether any legal lines were crossed based on what is publicly available. But there are some quite a few flags here. For example, in addition to the Manhattan property, there's a townhouse in Brooklyn in which Manafort took out $7 million worth of loans on a house that valued at $4 or $5 million from a banker who is a Trump fundraiser and advisor or was an advisor during the campaign.

So the transactions are maybe fine but they is certainly something that has looked odd. And you know, as to the transparency, I mean, yes, we found them. It wasn't super easy to find them. And for example the Trump tower apartment was purchased in the year 2006 same time as he made signed the contract with the Russian oligarch under a company named John Hannah LLC. And it turns out John is Manafort's middle name and Hannah was his business partner's middle name. So it was not easy to put together. Although, yes, if you dug down through the layers documents, you could find it trace back to Manafort.


C. BERNSTEIN: Can we have one thing, it is very important here. And that is that the Associated Press did remarkable piece of reporting in which they found a document in which Manafort made a proposal on behalf of his consulting firm in which he actually stated that he wanted to further the policy of Vladimir Putin in the United States and with officials here.

What we are seeing is a President of the United States promised to drain the swamp. Instead of draining the swamp and telling those people around him in his campaign and in his family, hey, let's open all our books, let's open up the records in the campaign, let's and be an open transparent organization here and get past this. He instead, has got a sewer backing up into the White House.

This is not draining the swamp. This is not cooperating with investigators and this is why there's a belief among those in the FBI and intelligence community that some kind of cover up is ongoing though it is not clear yet exactly what is being covered up. But certainly some of the things we are talking about here tonight appear to be part of it, not to mention General Flynn who was in-charge of national security policy for the Trump campaign and who is integral to what we have seen in these policy decisions made by Donald Trump as a candidate.

[23:30:02] LEMON: Ken, last word on this.

MCCALLION: Sure. The evidence has shown that not only was Manafort moving tens of millions of dollars that he obtained from (INAUDIBLE) but also Dmitri (INAUDIBLE) in the Ukraine and other Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs. And a lot of the money he got was for lobbying efforts for these foreign nationals and governments in Washington without registering. So you have a combination of money laundering and lobbying.

LEMON: Possibility of it. Because this is getting outside the scope of the reporting that we have here on CNN. But, go ahead and finish your thought.

MCCALLION: Well, it really has all the classic earmarks of money laundering which he did not only with (INAUDIBLE) and other actively went as Carl said to solicit hundreds of millions of dollars from these foreigners to bring it into American real estate with the sales pitch that this is a way to move dirty or tainted money in, sell the apartments, keep them. It really doesn't make much difference whether you make money or not, when you sell it then it is going to be cleansed.

LEMON: This is why we need a reliable credible investigation as Carl has pointed out and so many others as well.

Thank you all. I appreciate it.

Coming up President Trump speaking about empowering women today but do his policies support his words?


[23:35:03] LEMON: President Trump and first lady Melania Trump both talking about empowering women today.

Here to discuss CNN political commentator Angela Rye, Republican strategist Tara Setmayer, Kerna Mayo, a senior vice president of Interactive One and political commentator c.

So good to have all you on. Thank you ladies. I really appreciate and looking forward to this.

The President spoke at a women's empowerment panel today. Let's listen.


[23:35:26] TRUMP: My administration will work every day to ensure that our economy is a place where women can work, succeed and thrive like never before. That includes fighting to make sure all mothers and all families have access to affordable child care.

(APPLAUSE) TRUMP: We want every daughter in America to grow up in a country where she can believe in herself, believe in her future and follow her heart and realize her dreams.


TRUMP: And we want a country that celebrates family that celebrates community and that creates a safe and loving home for every child, every child. That's what we want.



LEMON: So I'm going to start with Kerna. Do you give him credit for those sentiments?


LEMON: Given the history of the campaign and, you know, the "Access Hollywood" and what he said in the campaign trail about women to you.

MAYO: This is one time when I need him to not read. This is a space right here as a father of daughters where if you are going to be extemporaneous, if you are going to be Donald Trump at his best which is when he is not reading for his base where is the natural sentiment. Where is what come it's to you naturally when you're talking about the uplift of women? Because if we go by your record, if we are to go by what you just tried to do with the affordable care act, there is no congruent line. I can't make it match.

So at this point if you want me to believe you I got to hear something that doesn't feel like someone just gave you a card five minutes before you went live. He misses me on this one.

TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: We know what he sounds like when he doesn't read. We have seen the history of his demeaning comments about women, about, you know, his comments on Howard Stern, his comment on "Access Hollywood" comments, those were off the cuff remarks. So they have to script him on this because we know what he is capable of saying how he really feels, you know. He was talking about women having look, not a ten unless you are big chested. I mean, all those things.

You know I heard that, I thought to myself, you know, I would like a world in America where my daughter and daughters and girls grow up where you don't have to explain to them that the President of the United States got elected after he admitted grabbing women by their genitals. That's what I want because this is an embarrassment thus far if he was able to get away with those things and still get elected.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: This was a great day for the President. We started honoring females here at the state department, ended with the scene on (INAUDIBLE) panel. And I know it agitated the left so much that they have to default to bringing up his past, a past that he apologized for with regards to "Access Hollywood" tape.

So I understand that's the natural reaction. But I like to look at actions. I like to look at records. I like to look at the fact that the first female Presidential campaign manager who brought a President to fruition was Kellyanne Conway under the tutelage of President Donald Trump. I like to look at how he empowered women in the construction industry. I like to look at the fact that there's many female executives in the Trump organization. But those are things the left wants to overlook because they want to find the negative with regard to Donald Trump.

ANGELA RYE, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: You know, he has a pattern now of doing things to honor people at the end of months. So we know last month for black history month HBCU Presidents went to the White House to meet with him for a very uncomfortable picture not because Kellyanne Conway was kneeling in the middle of it, but also because there were a gazillion HBCU Presidents and one of us crazy where he also didn't follow through on where he any of us promises to --.

LEMON: They weren't very happy about the meeting.

RYE: Well, there were several who were fine with it and there were several who didn't think that he hit the standards. But my point is, that was the end of black history month. And here we are at the end of women's history month him reading from prompter, him not sounding genuine, when he does sound genuine, he is talking about Tara is saying, when he is not reading from a prompter, he has asked April Ryan which is going to set up a the meeting with the CBC.


RYE: I'm not going to high five you right now. But the point is this is someone who doesn't come across. But when is genuine at all when he is reading the prompter.

LEMON: Well, you mentioned April Ryan and also we are going to talk about the first lady as well speaking about women's empowerment. We will be right back.


[23:43:54] LEMON: Sorry. They're making fun of me for the other night when I said --.

SETMAYER: You made fun of yourself.

LEMON: Bad Andre.

RYE: Bad Andre.

RYE: Shot out to Andre Bauer. He's a bad Andre sometimes.

LEMON: So I'm back with my panel now. Angela Rye, Kerna Mayo, Kayleigh McEnany, and the very tan Tara Setmayer.

All right. So Tara, the first lady Melania Trump gave the keynote speech today at 2017 international women of courage awards and she said in her speech this.


MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: We must continue to work towards gender empowerment and respect for people for people from all back grounds and ethnicities remembering always we are all ultimately members of one race, the human race.


LEMON: Do you think she can be an asset to her husband when it comes to women issues?

SETMAYER: I think that she needs to grow into the position of first lady. She is clearly uncomfortable in this position.

LEMON: She didn't sign up for that.

[23:45:01] SETMAYER: No she didn't. But she should be honored to be in this position. I really don't have sympathy for her, you know. But always so hard to be first lady. And didn't sign up for this. I mean, you were a billionaire's wife before this and now have the honor and distinction of being the first lady of the United States. She should really embrace this. So I have tough time singing the blues for Melania Trump because she didn't sign up for that or guess what.

LEMON: You don't think it's hard to be the first lady.

SETMAYER: Sure, it is.

RYE: By the way you don't live there.

SETMAYER: Yes. But she should -- again --.


SETMAYER: She's embracing it.

MCENANY: I have had conversations with her about this and she is excited to be first lady.

SETMAYER: Can't talk.

MCENANY: She's got a deep heart and passion for children. I understand because liberals are never see Melania --

SETMAYER: Well, I'm not a liberal. I'm a conservative my whole life. So I'm not a liberal. I'm trying to fix the table.


RYE: She is not a Trump supporter.

SETMAYER: Have you tried many times?

MCENANY: OK. Never Trump, fine. It is anonymous equivalent --. (CROSSTALK)

MCENANY: In any event, it's unfair to say Melania Trump is uncomfortable. You have not spoken with her about this.

SETMAYER: I'm watching this.

MCENANY: You just said she is robotic. This is just hyper criticism of someone who is doing her best, someone who does have a vision for children. I have spoken to her about it. A clear vision, and she is going to do a great job. And I think to sit here and lambast the first lady, she's a mother. Give her a break and she's done a great job.


RYE: I think, you know, frankly she is traveling with the President. She got her office in the west wing. She is taking her voluntary job, you know. She is closer to the White House than even Melania is. And frankly, you know, more power to her, raise her kids where she wants. But the reality is she is not embracing it.

To Tara's point like I do think it's an honor and privilege when you won't even say, you know what, this is a sacrifice that are fairly made. I'm going to move my family into the White House so it is not costing taxpayers all this money.

SETMAYER: Millions.

RYE: Like to me that is kind of -- it is disrespectful.

LEMON: But listen -- OK. So I know the money is a big thing.

RYE: Yes.

LEMON: Especially if you're fiscally conservative ad you need to fiscally conservative, do it all the way. But you don't know what's happening. You don't know what goes on in people's relationships or what's happening in their home or what kind of commitment she's making to her child.

RYE: Not at all.

LEMON: So I think we should give her at least some leeway with that.

OK. So listen. Kerna, I want to say yesterday black woman at work again, #blackwomenwork, I mean, after the congresswoman Maxine Waters, before April Ryan who disrespected. Many felt that FOX and at the White House briefing that people, that women were disrespected to even Hillary Clinton even spoke about it. Why do you think it struck such a cord?

MAYO: Because Spicer, first of all, Ryan is so clever. At this point he is playing himself by himself. He is really all of the actors.

LEMON: He's playing the role. MAYO: He is playing the role of someone who is qualified to do his

job when in fact he is not. He is playing the role of someone who extensively is not supposed to be a built-in racist sexist who is. And so, by way of body language, by way of the fact he is singling out April Ryan and in very specific ways to kind of cue the superiority that I think is really -- I think you ask me what people read. People read the intangibles. It is not even so much about the language which was insane. He is demeaning.

LEMON: It was a very different tune today, I want you to watch, listen and respond.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: With that we would like to take questions. April?


SEAN: How are you today?

RYAN: I'm fine. And how are you?

SEAN: Fantastic.


RYAN: Well Sean, going back to something I heard in the news, thing is not going to recuse self in the midst of back and forth. What's the White House have to say about that?

SEAN: Well, April, the White House as I -- I think I mentioned this yesterday. I mean, he is conducting an investigation.


LEMON: So, I mean, a typical April is relentless. In a typical fashion she got her follow up but shouldn't he relate to people that way every single day instead of like well, April like tonight. That's the way you should interact.

RYE: Don, if you had to get up and lie like that every day, you would be mad as hell too. Let's call it what it is.

But I just want to go back to this hashtag. Brittany (INAUDIBLE) who is one of the co-founders of campaign zero started this hashtag and you asked why it took off. It took off because April Ryan for a moment was a glimpse of what every black and brown woman has experienced at some point in their career. And it was powerful to say, wow, this woman that stands for us in this way (ph), and occupies this wonderful seat of power as a journalist, a black woman who has been there as April for so long even experience what's I experience. I think that it resonated whether you're a millennial on twitter or you are an older woman on space but it resonated with s lot of people.

[23:50:04] LEMON: Right. You guys can weigh in right after this. We'll be right back.


[23:53:56] LEMON: All right. Back, now, with my panel.

Ms. McEnany, Congresswoman Maxine Waters feed her own #blackewomanatwork tweet. She said, I am a strong black woman. I cannot be intimidated and I'm not going anywhere. #blackwomenatwork. Do you think it was a mistake for Bill O'Reilly to go after a congresswoman about her hair? He did apologized.

MCENANY: Yes. Definitely, that was mistake. And he called a damn, he apologized and I think everyone should be gracious and recognize that and forgive him for that. He acknowledged the good parts of Maxine Waters. She is a strong woman. Her authenticity. I disagree with her. But there's no doubt she's a strong woman.

MAYO: Why would he be petty like that? I just -- I really take issue with those kind of below-the-belt punches that are so often shot out at black women. First of all, there's not a black person that I know personally that doesn't understand that she has -- her hair is thick. He had hair is healthy. It is what we are looking to have.

So you're wrong on that count. But really, more seriously, it is just really disheartening when someone of his stature. Someone that begs for the level of respect and accolade that is that he seeks, really daily. To steep that low, to stoop that low, Bill O'Reilly.

SETMAYER: Yes. Hell, look well. It is not the first time.

MAYO: In that case, to me, it just strikes a chord that is beneath him, even.

[23:55:27] SETMAYER: Yes. It felt -- from unnecessary. And you know --.

MAYO: Clearly.

SETMAYER: It seems that on that show, it seems like it was a pre- pubesant ranging with him. And Brian kill me (INAUDIBLE) about making fun of a women. And I don't agree with Maxim Waters on and I don't think anything.

But I mean, I worked at Capitol Hill. There was a congressman who is a good friends of my boss. Every time he saw me, he would say, hey girlfriend, and would just lot at it. And would --


RYE: #blackwomanatwork.

SETMAYER: I would just look at him and go, excuse me? And I just -- that kind of stuff happens. And it is -- you all need to handle that.

LEMON: I thought it was funny that he would say that about -- it was interesting to me. Because what if she did wear a wig? Who cares? That's a woman's prerogative.

RYE: What did it have to do on the floor?

SETMAYER: He should have taken her on the merits of that. There is plenty to go after her.

LEMON: And people say that -- everyone makes fun of Donald Trump's hair. He makes fun of his own hair.

SETMAYER: He talks about other people, too. She never went after anybody's looks.

LEMON: I have to go.

SETMAYER: It was obnoxious.

LEMON: Bye. Thank you.

RYE: Bye.

LEMON: Always a pleasure.