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President Trump versus the polls; Drama on Capitol Hill tonight; Growing reports of anti-Semitic incidents across the country; President Trump equates Vladimir Putin's government with the U.S.; Aired 11:00p-12:00mn ET

Aired February 6, 2017 - 23:00   ET



[23:00:08] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: President Trump versus the polls.

This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

The president tweeting today that polls, including their own, showing the majority of Americans oppose his immigration ban are nothing but fake news. But the numbers, well, they just don't lie.

And the legal battle over the ban is heating up when they are hearings schedule for tomorrow.

Plus, New York commuters band together to erase subway swastikas. Their secret weapons, hand sanitizer. But is anti-Semitism on the rise in this country? We will discuss that.

But I want to get right to CNN's justice correspondent Pamela Brown.

Pamela, good evening to you. Thank you so much.

Tonight justice department lawyers filed documents in federal court defending the president's controversial travel ban. What's the latest in the legal showdown?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: So there were a few arguments in his brief filed by the justice department. One of the arguments essentially was that the district judge in Washington State overstepped his bounds saying that his halt on that travel ban was vastly overbroad. And the lawyers argued once again, that the president has wide discretion under the constitution and under the law to deal with immigration matters, particularly when it comes to national security.

What's interesting, though, is that they argued that if the court decided to keep this injunction to the ban, it should be limited to people who have already been in the U.S. with valid visas from those seven countries, not from the people in those countries listed on that travel ban who were hoping to come for the first time.

The lawyers argue that those people who have never been here should not be granted constitutional protection. The state, as we know on the other hand, have argued that travel ban hurts their citizens, breaking up families and hurting businesses. And of course, tomorrow both sides will have a chance to share their arguments.

LEMON: So Pamela, will the public be able to listen on these series if they are conducted by telephone?

BROWN: Actually, the public will. So it's going to be live streamed on the public website for the ninth circuit. The Ninth circuit is known to be more transparent compared to other circuit courts across the country. So for a broader view, this is somewhat unusual. But it is going to be live streamed. We learned it is going to over the phone, these oral arguments because the ninth circuit covers most of the western states and the judges are spread out. As it pointed out, each side will get its turn, so 30 minutes each, and then we expect a decision from the ninth circuit whether to reinstate the ban during the appeal's process. Sometime after that, probably shortly after the oral arguments tomorrow. And then, of course, we expect this to make it up to the Supreme Court, Don.

LEMON: We will be listening and watching.

Thank you, Pamela Brown. I appreciate that.

I want to bring in now CNN senior media correspond Brian Stelter and Larry Sabato of the center for politics at the University of Virginia.

Long time no see, Larry. Welcome back to the program.

Good evening to both of you.

Today, the president weighed in on the polls showing the majority of people aren't behind his travel ban. He said this. He tweet. He said any negative polls or fake news just like the CNN, in in the election, sorry, people want border security and extreme vetting. So what do you think of this?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Polls are not conducted for political purposes. These professional pollsters at CNN and all the other networks, all these big polling outlet, they're scientists essentially. They do this scientifically, trying to get accurate information about what the country really thinks.

Sometimes the polls are positive for Donald Trump. Not right now, however.

LEMON: He didn't say positive polls are fake.

STELTER: That's right. He said only negative polls are fake.

And it is funny on one hand, it is troubling on the other hand because it makes you wonder what he is going to say if his numbers his side. (INAUDIBLE). The last part of the tweet is really interesting. He said, sorry, people want this security. They want these security measures. If he's talking about his voters only, he is absolutely right. His voters support his travel ban. But the rest of the country is deeply divided about it.

LEMON: Well, he said sorry, people want boarder security and extreme vetting. I think most people do want a secure border, doesn't mean they are in favor of the wall. Most people want extreme vetting, but it doesn't mean that they are in favor of a ban.

STELTER: Of what Trump is proposing.

LEMON: Nothing specific about it. You are right.

OK, Larry, today, President Trump visited U.S. central command, talk about the media coverage of terror attacks. Take a listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You have seen what happened in Paris and Nice. All over Europe, it's happening. It's gotten to a point where it's not even being reported. And in many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn't want to report it. They have their reasons and you understand that.


LEMON: So Larry, the White House followed up on that tonight putting on a list of 78 major terrorist attacks since September 2014 claiming, most didn't receive the media attention they deserved. However, that was not part of his initial statement. But I just want you to look at the coverage from this show.


LEMON: Our breaking news tonight, the man hunt in France for two brothers wanted in the deadly shooting at Charlie Hebdo magazine.

The White House confirms the attack in Texas this weekend was also terror.

There are some chilling new information tonight about the crash of a Russian passenger jet with 224 people on board.

Breaking news tonight, Paris reeling from a night of brutal coordinated terror attacks.

It is 11:00 p.m. on the east coast, 8:00 p.m. in San Bernardino where investigators are desperately trying to piece together clues to yesterday's deadly mass shooting.

The bomb maker may have been killed on one of the blasts at Brussels airport.

Our breaking news here at CNN, the worst mass shooting in American history. Fifty people are dead, 53 other injured at the Pulse Gay night club.

More questions and answers about the man investigators believe planted multiple deadly bomb attacks in New York and New Jersey. Was he acting alone?

(END VIDEO CLIP) [23:05:35] LEMON: And that was just a few, Larry. Just a very few. So the tape shows the White House is wrong on this, why bring it up?

LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: Because the president is determined to win every argument, and he never lets anything go.

His assertion is laughable. It's just laughable. And everybody out there knows it's laughable, because they watch the networks cover every terrorist event extensively if not excessively. Sometimes I think there's way too much of it, because it gives the terrorists what they really want.

But what can you say? He has been in office for, you know, two weeks and we have already got a book's worth of misstatements. If you wrote down everything that he misstates and will mistake during his term, it will be as long as war and peace.

STELTER: Which makes me wonder, what is this president going to say when there is a terrorist attack? What is he going to tell the American people when there is a terrorist attack?

I think, Larry, your point is so important. It is laughable. But what he is saying is illogical in some cases. It's not that he is wrong or that he is misled or reading something stupid on twitter. It's that what he's saying is illogical, that the press would cover up terrorist attacks, which is what he implied. Well, "the New York Times" makes up sources. No evidence for that at all. It just doesn't add up logically. And I think that's where this is really curious now, two-and-a-half weeks into this presidency.

LEMON: Well, some may call it logical, and others may call it delusional, or at my big question is, Larry, you said, that he just won't let anything go. He has to win everything. Or is there a strategy behind this, that while we are off covering the shiny objects, he is putting executive orders in place, and laws that most Americans don't agree with, and wear off, you know, looking at the shining -- covering the shiny object.

SABATO: I think everything is covered. You know, at first, and even during the campaign, at first, I thought there might be a logic behind it. That there might be a strategy or at least some tactics. Now, I just really have come to the conclusion, it's Trump, it's just Trump, it's the way he is, his staff can't control him, even his family members can't control him. If they would have been able to control him, someone would have grabbed the iPhone.

LEMON: All right. But let's -- to that effect. He often mentions how important his vice president Mike Pence is to his administration. He has become the go to explainer of what the president meant to say. This weekend, seriously, he tried to spin the president's slamming the judge who blocked his immigration ban. Take a listen to this.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think people find it very refreshing that they not only understand this president's mind but they understand how he feels about things.

This was more about the president simply expressing a frustration with a judge who is --


PENCE: Involving himself in the clear prerogatives of the president of the United States.


LEMON: So Larry, he is trying to clean up after the president. Is it working?

SABATO: No, of course not. Look, I feel sorry for Mike Pence in a way. He -- whether you agree or disagree with him, his career has more or less been associated with certain principles pretty consistently. All vice presidents have to be sycophants.

But I got to tell you, Mike Pence is setting a record here. He is becoming the vie sycophant in chief. It's not going to help him in the future when he runs on his own as he will be one day.

LEMON: Interesting.

Brian, let's move on and talk about Steve Bannon, his influence over President Trump. "Saturday Night Live" depicted it. Watch this.

STELTER: All right.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, Donald, that's enough fun for tonight. Can I have my desk back?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, of course, Mr. President. I'll go sit at my desk.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is so much fun. I love it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, this is fun.


LEMON: I just -- I was watching that going hold on, hold on, that's got to hurt. Because I mean, I would be hurt by that.

Before you respond. He tweeted this. He said, like we saw, he says I call my own shots, largely based an accumulation of data and everyone knows it. Some fake news media in order to marginalize lies. So what do you think?

STELTER: I call my own shots. I mean, that is the takeaway from this sketch. It's as if the "SNL" writers are writing the show for just one person, just for President Trump, just to get as deeply under his skin as they can. Whether it works or not, we can judge based on the tweets. Everyone can decide.

But this has been a popular liberal me for the last few days. To say president Bannon is really in-charge. President Trump is just a figure head. Of course, that's in some ways an offensive thing to say. It is an outrageous thing in some ways. You can understand why liberals are saying it, trying to tick off the president. But you think with "SNL," showing that to 10 million people, then many more on shows like this, maybe it does have an effect.

[23:10:34] LEMON: But maybe it's right, and that's what's gotten to him.

Larry, I got to get to this one. I heard you laughing about it. And I know you feel a certain way on that. But I have to ask you about this and this is about Kellyanne Conway. She faced a huge backlash when she mentioned what happened -- something that never happened. She is saying that it was a massacre, it wasn't. It was people who were thought to be terrorists or at least thought to be plotting against the U.S. were arrested. They were never charged with it. But it turns out she referred to this fictional Bowling Green massacre twice before. How can she defend that?

SABATO: Well, she can't. She didn't apologize for it, but she did admit that she made a mistake.

You know, I actually watched her say that live. And I have to tell you, I thought I was having a senior moment. I couldn't remember the Bowling Green massacre either. And I was, you know, in a way relieved to learn it never happened.

But you just read a tweet from Trump talking about how he makes his decisions based on the accumulation of data. The problem is he makes his decisions on the basis of accumulated alternative facts.


So, I just want to make sure that I got it right. The bowling green massacre defense was, she misspoke the one word. She meant to say terrorist and not massacre. And as it turns out she referred to this twice. But again there were two people who were involved in that.

STELTER: Last week she was repeatedly talking about it. That's right. These men were charged with trying to send weapons to Iraq, where they had come from. They were Iraqi refugees. That is a crime. They are in prison for that crime. Kellyanne Conway is trying to draw attention to it as a justification for the travel ban.

But by going so much further, talking about a bowling green massacre, she has a lot more explaining to do that is the bottom line. Whether she's on CNN explaining it or other networks, when she was interviewed in the coming days. She has a lot to explaining to do about this case.

LEMON: Thank you.

And there it is. We have it op-ed. Thank you very much to help me out.

A drama on Capitol Hill tonight, where are senators are staging a 24 hour talk-a-thon promising to stay up all night debating education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos, just a matter of hours before her confirmation vote.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Given a chance not just to speak to the issue but to talk to that --


LEMON: And CNN congressional correspondent Phil Mattingly is live for us -- Phil.


LEMON: They're in the middle of holding the Senate floor for 24 hours and it last its effort to stop the president's pick for education secretary. What do Democrats hope to accomplish with this?

MATTINGLY: Well, at best, a sense of drama is pretty much the best they can secure out of what they are doing right now. The reality is this. According to senior Republican officials I have been speaking to throughout the day, Betsy Devos' confirmation is still on track early tomorrow afternoon. It's going to be as close as it could possibly get, 50 to 50 as it currently stands vice president Mike Pence coming up to Capitol Hill, deciding or casting the deciding vote.

And Don, it will be the first the history of cabinet confirmation and sin, it will be the first this nomination. But what we are seeing could have greater longer tem effect and that is exactly why senate Democrats are still on the senate floor at this hour. Will still be on the senate floor hours from now.

When you talk to senate officers, thousands upon thousands of calls have been received opposing this nomination. I just spoke to Senator Al Franken, a Minnesota Democrat. He said his office on got 3,000 calls, 12 of them were in support of Betsy DeVos' nomination.

So what you are seeing right now for Democrats is the recognition. They need to fight, they need to show that fight. And even if they can't block it, they can at least hope to try to harness the energy that they are seeing right now. Maybe for longer term battles, maybe for a Supreme Court nomination, something going-forward. If they can't undercut or circumvent this nomination, try to reach out to these activists, see if they figure out a way to kind of harness this energy for the fights that are most certainly going to happen in the future, Don.

LEMON: All right, Phil. Thank you very much.

And you see New Jersey senator Cory Booker there now on the floor of the house. We'll continue to follow this. When we come right back, New Yorkers take the fight against anti-

Semitism into their own hands, they're erasing swastika graffiti with hand sanitizer. But is hate on the rise across the country?


[23:18:12] LEMON: These are disturbing rise in anti-Semitism incidents around the country.

This weekend, right here in New York, swastikas and anti-Jewish graffiti found inside a subway car. Passengers scrubbed it off using hand sanitizer.

In Chicago police searching for a person who smashed windows at the synagogue and posted swastika (INAUDIBLE). And federal authorities are investigating dozens of bomb threats called into Jewish community centers in 26 states over the past month.

I want to bring in now rabbi Rachel Gartner through the rabbinic call for human rights. Sorry for getting that, for messing it up.

Thank you so much. The important reason that you hear those, you had a big march tonight in New York City. What motivated you to do this?

RACHEL GARTNER, T'RUAH, THE RABBINIC CALL FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: Well, you know, just connecting to your statement about the on (INAUDIBLE), it was sort of amazing for us who have clear an organization that represents 1800 rabbis n our congregants. But 200 of us gathered here in the same place on the same line where these anti-Semitic slurs were written on the subway. We were up on the streets marching down that same path but for another reason. We are -- you may think why are rabbis marching in the streets, right? Well, that's kind of odd or extraordinary times require extraordinary measures.

LEMON: What message are you trying to send to the Trump administration?

GARTNER: As people who know that flight could be ban and to run and to be refugees and whose religious imagination tells us to stay sensitized to the place of the refugee and whose history help up to save vigilant, against, drips by drips by drips against democracy that start with refugees, and start with the marginalized. We are saying we cannot tolerate the type of executive orders that that we are seeing these days.

[23:20:02] LEMON: Yes. It's interesting to me, because I would be thinking, you know, New York City which is a city that is embraces all kinds of people. We can put some of the things in the subway up. The city sources of things when the subways were swastikas words that were saying, like Jews belong in the oven. Astronomies subway car. That was really shocking to me.

I have to play devil's advocate, though because the president's daughter converted, is married to a Jewish man, they are raising their children as Jews. You said you want to send a message to the administration, but is it fair to sort of paint the administration or the president or the first family that way?

GARTNER: So, Anti-Semitism shares a lot of contours with other forms of bigotry that has unique feet tours, some of that relies on the semblance of power, the token, the momentary power that Jews sometimes have or made brother or made to believe that we have. And at the same time, all of these messages that are being dog whistled that are quiet. They are only really if you're tuned in and sensitized to them can you see happen at the same time, as we are saying, on the one hand we have these very visual instances of small instances of Jews with some power. So it's eerie the way it works. And it is different than from other repressions that we see.

LEMON: So you think even in a family that is that way, that those sort of dog whistles can get by them?

GARTNER: I think they are getting by. I mean, if we look at the advertisement from the week before, right before the election. And you know, I showed that advertisement to a group of students of all different faiths (INAUDIBLE) where I work. And all the Jews in the room saw --

LEMON: The advertisement?

GARTNER: The advertisement that talked, that was right at the end of the campaign, it featured Yellin and Soros. And when it used those names, those folks, it had images of money and power, and the Jews in the room saw it, and were struck and pained by it. The non-Jewish students didn't even see it.


It can't be denied that, too, with what happened. My question is also, to remember the holocaust remembrance statement that was put out last week by the administration. They didn't explicitly mention Jewish people, even though so many Jewish people died during the holocaust. Do you think that was intentional?

GARTNER: I think we know it was intentional.

LEMON: Why so.

GARTNER: Well, we heard it was in the statement and then taken out of the statement. We also -- you know, people talk about messaging, we talk about messaging, the administration. But this is deeper than messaging. This is something that you can't sanitize by a simple swipe away, this is a deep seeded orientation that is repeatedly in subtle in overt ways making these kinds of statements that are trying to erase our history. That was extremely bitterly painful.

And I have to tell you, I went to a Catholic girls school a few days later, and they did a holocaust remembrance ceremony, and they featured Jews along with everybody else, and it was so healing for me to see that -- the messages that we may be getting from certain places are not being echoed across the country.

LEMON: As I understand the state department did mention Jews in their statement and the White House later did not or maybe took that out.

GARTNER: That's how I understand it.

LEMON: Yes. There are a couple things that I want to talk to you about because you have the support of Israel from this president who says, you know, Israel is our number one ally and we must protect Israel. But then in this country you are seeing things like this and you are saying it is because things are getting by, and in some ways you do find the Trump administration at fault for some of it. So what does this administration need to do to make sure Jews feel safe in this country here at home?

GARTNER: I think first and foremost is to stop the dog whistling and stop the subtle messages and the leaving out. But also the opposite of that is to make some strong statements, nothing that administration has been really clearly supportive and positive, and it's - but the messaging is all negative. So some of it is messaging and some of it is digging deep and really examining itself and saying, we're not just here, you know. In Judaism we teach -- if I'm not for myself, who will be. We're hearing that a lot from the Trump administration. If I am only for myself, who am I? What have I become? And our fear is, what are we becoming? What are we becoming?

LEMON: What's next after this march?

GARTNER: Well, that's the million dollar question. You know, we have 18 rabbis of the 18,000 rabbis that we represent with T'ruah that have -- that are -- were arrested for this action, for a peaceful action. I think we're going to be - you are going to see more standing up in the streets, more pushing back, more resistance, more staying alert, but also being smart about using the tools of our democracy that we have to make -- to push them to do what they are supposed to do.

[23:25:13] LEMON: Yes. T'ruah a call for equal rights. Thank you, Rabbi Rachel Gartner. We appreciate it.

GARTNER: Thank you. Thank you very much.

LEMON: Straight ahead, is the White House being influenced by white supremacists? We are going to talk about that.


[23:29:19] LEMON: Growing reports of anti-Semitic incidents across the country.

Let's discussion now, Rabbi Shimuley Boteach is the author of "Israel warrior," and CNN political commentator Peter Beinart, a contributor to the "Atlantic." Thank you both for coming on.

This is a very serious subject that I want to talk about.

Rabbi Shimuley, I appreciate it. Just a few minutes ago, we discussed this recent displays of anti-Sematic incidents in our country, New York City, Chicago, Rice University and Texas. We are talking about the major university -- two major cities, does it seem to you that anti-Semitism is on the rise?

RABBI SHIMULEY BOTEACH, AUTHOR, ISRAEL WARRIOR: Well, if you just attended any synagogue around the United States, you will know that is on the rise because it has never security like there is today in front of your these schools, in front of Jewish houses of worship.

But a lot is not just connected with the rise of white supremacists which of course is concerning and no one needs to teach the Jewish community about how we can suffer under white supremacists. The holocaust was just 70 years ago. But it's also connected with the hatred of Israel. And when you have countries like Iran that are allowed to threaten a second holocaust with impunity and they are not called out for their genocidal intent or their (INAUDIBLE) of the 1948 U.N. an-genocide convention which expressly forbids genocidal intent. If you can speak about the Jewish people in a form of anilatory (ph) intent without paying a penalty, then Jewish life is the (INAUDIBLE). So I don't think we can just discuss the rise of white supremacist and how that affects anti-Semitism in America. We have to also speak about the assault on the state of Israel as a Jewish entity and how at least to hatred of Jews.

[23:30:45] LEMON: OK. But let's talk about maybe the rise here in the United States because some are saying, and if you heard the rabbi who was on before, is saying that she believes that part of it is the rise of Trump and the Trump administration. I know you have been friends with Donald Trump and Steve Bannon for a while, but they believe that Bannon's Breitbart inflammatory comments that you see on Breitbart and so on, that it may be influencing White House policy and thusly so, anti-Semitism, are they wrong?

BOTEACH: Well, no one would decry and deplore white supremacists more than me as a Jew. Having said that, I'm not here as a spokesperson for Breitbart or the administration. But Breitbart has been very strongly pro-Israel. They have a Jerusalem bureau. They have gone against the DBS boycott against Israel.

So I don't know if you can attributed to that to be perfectly honest. And Trump has at least taken on Iran who are testing ballistic missiles. Yesterday they said it would take seven minutes to destroy Tel Aviv. These are very serious things. And not to give the administration any credit for standing up for Israel when we saw the U.N. condemn Israeli settlements while Arab children were being blown to smithereens in Aleppo, and there was no U.N. Security Council resolutions against that. The administration, in the last weeks of the Obama administration were far more focused on Jews building condominiums in the west bank and Samara (ph), an Arab children dying. That seems to be a form of prejudice and bigotry, and I think the administration is kind of reversing some of that.

LEMON: Peter?

PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look. I'm not here to say that Breitbart is anti-Semitic. I actually think that Breitbart has been much, much more bigoted toward Muslims than it has been towards Jews. But I do think it is important to recognize that it's entirely possible to both be anti-Semitic and pro-Israel. In fact, you know, many people throughout the last 100 years have been anti-Semitic and pro-Israel for very simple reason. They didn't want the Jews in their country. They wanted the Jews to go somewhere else.

So I think this cane - this need to be discussed this separate topic.

I think that Donald Trump has done several things over the last few years that are disturbing. I'm not saying he is anti-Sematic. I don't know his soul, but things that have encouraged anti-Semi. It is going back a few years ago when he referred to Jon Stewart repeatedly as John (INAUDIBLE). Why did he do that? His final ad - the final ad of his campaign where he showed three Jews, Soros, Yellin and Blankbind (ph) and spoke very classically anti-Semitic terms about global power, structure, and global power interest.

I don't think -- I'm not saying Trump is anti-Semitic. I'm not saying Bannon is an anti-Semi. I'm not saying Breitbart is anti-Semitic, but I do think that there are anti-Semites who have taken aid and comfort from some of the things that Trump has done.

LEMON: Do you think that website Breitbart is, you know, the platform for the alt right as Bannon --?

BEINART: Yes. What the alt right means - I do - what I feel-so I think Breitbart has peddled hatred against Muslims I think is no question about it. I think it actually has been much, much softer on Jews. But I think Donald Trump has done some things, retweeting an anti-Semitic image that at the very least suggests that he is not been careful on this subject.


BOTEACH: Well, I mean, but we have to be honest about what constitutes the real threat, Peter. And the final analysis, Iran or Hamas or Hezbollah that threaten genocides against the Jewish people on a regular basis and were not called out by the previous administration.

I mean, President Obama gave $200 million to the Palestinian authority as he left office. This as they used that money giving $300 million a year to terrorists that really do kill Jews. They don't write things about Jews. They don't defend Jews. They actually murder them, slaughter them and kill them. That money was given without congressional authority. That money was sent already.

So you have to distinguish between threats that are very uncomfortable and they should condemn versus real threats. You published an article few days ago condemning all of (INAUDIBLE) for producing Jared Kushner. You condemned your own religion and your own people.

LEMON: Let him answer. Let him answer.

BEINART: OK. I happen to go to a modern Orthodox synagogue myself.

BOTEACH: That's no excuse.

BEINART: I think that - I think that as the T'ruah says 36 times more that we as Jews are a member of the heart of the stranger. Because we were strangers in the land of Egypt. Said that more of the Jews should maintain the Sabbath. For the high ranking Jew in the Trump administration, to do nothing while Trump --.

BOTEACH: While letting Jews.

BEINART: To do nothing and stand by, when you have influence in this administration, when the United States turns its back on refugees when we are a community that made up of immigrants and refugees I believe that's shameful.

[23:35:05] BOTEACH: You're blaming Judaism.

BEINART: No. You're interrupting me. If a particular mosque had produced a large number of people who were peddling anti-Semitic filth, I would say they needed to do some self- --


BEINART: The institutions that produce the moral indifference of Jared Kushner need to ask themselves hard questions. That was my point.

BOTEACH: You know, I will let you speak but you can't filibuster. With all due respect, you can't hold Judaism accountable. I find that astonishing.

BEINART: That wasn't what I was doing.

BOTEACH: Well, people who wrongly blame Islam for terrorists and say that Islam is a militant religion are bigoted against Islam. And what you said about Judaism is bigotry against your own faith.


LEMON: Hold on. Hold on. One at a time.

BEINART: From the conversation we were supposed to be having.

BOTEACH: Don, what is critical is that while President Obama was president, we begged him to do something in Syria.

LEMON: OK. Hold on. Rabbi, rabbi, rabbi, rabbi. Hold on. Hold on, Peter.

The default is to go back to the Obama administration, the Obama administration is over. I'm asking you about the Trump administration.

BOTEACH: No. The default is to put values ahead of partisanship and politics. Those --.

LEMON: No, I'm asking you about a conversation - I am asking you about a conversation that is taking place in the president. And the reality is, not in all reality, the reality is that the Trump administration, every time someone comes on, they speak for Donald Trump, and it is something that they don't like it, they go, well the Obama administration did this as a deflective, shiny thing. Let's talk about the Trump administration's responsibility.

BOTEACH: I will criticize the former administration.

LEMON: The former administration that you cannot go back and change history.

BOTEACH: Correct. I will criticize the Trump administration on refugees. I'm a Jew. Peter is right, we must welcome in the stranger.

The point I'm making is that reason why our country is so divided is all of us are guilty of putting partisanship and politics before values. What are the values? Human life is of intimate value. And that means that every administration from the previous one to the present one, must welcome in refugees.

But the people who are now faulting only this administration, Syria has been a problem for years. We must do something about it. We have to create safe zone. I think there should be no fly zones. President Trump should pick up the phone right now to Vladimir Putin and say, you want a relationship with me? You are the master of Syria. You control Bashar al-Assad, is Putin's puppet. He should order the end the carnage in Syria immediately. It's not just about welcoming refugees. It is stopping genocide, stopping genocide, stopping genocide.

LEMON: All right, rabbi. Let me just give you a response on the -- I'll give you the last word on the current --

BEINART: Look. I agree that the Obama administration did not do enough. And that this is one of the signature stains on Obama's presidency. I agree with that.

But now we have a situation, unprecedented situation, where a president is saying we are not going to allow in any refugees. It seems this is a moral crisis for Americans and especially for Jews given our history. It's a time for us to stand up.

LEMON: Thank you, rabbi. Thank you, Peter. Fascinating conversation. I will see you soon.

Coming up, President Trump defends Vladimir Putin again and even members of his own party are angry.


[23:41:53] LEMON: President Trump equates Vladimir Putin's government with the U.S. and it's not just Democrats criticizing him for it.

Here to discuss now CNN political commentator Kayleigh McEnany, CNN political commentator Maria Cardona and political commentators Paris Dennard and Bakari Sellers.

Good evening to all of you. Paris, how are you doing?

PARIS DENNARD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm doing great. Glad to be here.

LEMON: Good. Good to have you.

The president again defended Vladimir Putin in an interview with Bill O'Reilly. And a lot of people are furious about his comments. I want you to listen on what he said.


TRUMP: I say it's better to get along with Russia than not. And if Russia helps us in the fight against ISIS, which is a major fight, and Islamic terrorism all over the world. Major fight, that's a good thing. Will I get along with him, I have no idea.

BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: He is a killer, though. Putin is a killer.

TRUMP: There's a lot of killers. We have a lot of killers. What, you think our country is so innocent. You think our country is so innocent?

O'REILLY: I don't know of any government leaders that are killers.

TRUMP: Take a look at what we've done too. I mean, we have made a lot of mistakes. I mean, against the war in the Iraq from the beginning.

O'REILLY: Yes. Mistakes are different than --

TRUMP: A lot of people were killed, OK. But a lot of people were killed. So a lot of killers around, believe me.


LEMON: So Bill O'Reilly was trying to give a distinction to, you know, the difference. It's the kind of thing that comes out of Russia propaganda, Paris. Should the president put the United States on par with Russia from a moral standpoint?

DENNARD: I don't believe, Don, that's what the president was trying to do. As I watched the interview, I see a person who is the president of the United States trying his best to establish a new relationship with Vladimir Putin, someone who he feels can be an ally on the war on terrorism, especially as it relates to ISIS.

So I think that what he is trying to do is to maintain this diplomacy that he is engaging with him, so that he can either overtly or behind the scenes work with this man who in the past has not had positive relationships with the United States of America. So, I think he was trying his best to be respectful of the leader of Russia, but at the same time, calls the American people to reflect on what we have done so that -- LEMON: How is he being respectful by calling America killers?

DENNARD: Well, he didn't call America killers. It was a question posed to him by Bill O'Reilly. And he responded in kind.

LEMON: All right. Can we play it again please?



TRUMP: I say it's better to get along with Russia than not. And if Russia helps us in the fight against ISIS, which is a major fight, and Islamic terrorism all over the world. Major fight, that's a good thing. Will I get along with him, I have no idea.

O'REILLY: He is a killer, though. Putin is a killer.

TRUMP: There's a lot of killers. We have a lot of killers. What, you think our country is so innocent. You think our country is so innocent?

O'REILLY: I don't know of any government leaders that are killers.

TRUMP: Take a look at what we have done too. I mean, we have made a lot of mistakes. I mean, against the war in the Iraq from the beginning.

O'REILLY: Yes. Mistakes are different than --

TRUMP: A lot of people were killed, OK. But a lot of people were killed. So a lot of killers around, believe me.


[23:45:03] LEMON: Paris?

DENNARD: What President Trump is saying is that when you look at some of the mistakes we have made as a nation, especially at a time of war. War is ugly. War is not an easy thing. we sent over bombs and drones and --

LEMON: That's different from killing people who disagree with you, and that's different than trying to run a democracy or keep a democracy --

DENNARD: You're absolutely right, Don.

LEMON: It's a whole different thing.

DENNARD: You are absolutely right. But what the president was talking about was the mistakes that this country has made during the time of war. And during the time of war, people have died and some of those people have been innocent. And he is making the contrast that he was against such actions such as the war in Iraq.

LEMON: OK. All right. Maria, here is what Republican leader Mitch McConnell had to say.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: Putin is a former KGB agent. He is a thug. He was not elected in it a way that most people would considering a credible election. The Russians annexed Crimea, and invaded Ukraine and messed around in in our elections. No, I don't think there's any equivalency between the way the Russians, they conducts itself, and the way the United States does.


MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: At least he said it like it is as oppose to other Trump supporters who are trying to bob and weave and trying to make excuses or something. That is inexcusable.

There is no question that Donald Trump was trying to equate the horrific actions of a strong man dictator to -- for some bizarre reason to what the United States has done. And this is actually vintage Trump. This is nothing new. This is something he has done, you know, from back in the 1990s, when he has always said that he admires Putin.

He admires these strong men dictators like Putin, like Kim-Yung-on, like, you know, China's president, authoritarian figures. And you know, this I think really feeds into this narrative that President Trump actually respects these strong man dictators more than he does a democracy like the United States.

LEMON: Kayleigh, Senator Marco Rubio did react to the president's tweet that was on he said when is a Democratic political activist been poisoned by the GOP or vise verse. We are not the same as #Putin. MR, that means he wrote himself. That's from Marco Rubio.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure. I agree with Senator Rubio. I think it was worded poorly and I was very critical of President Obama for apologizing for America's mistakes on the world stage and acting as if America had committed all these wrongs. I would be remiss to not say here that I didn't like the way that was worded.

I do understand Paris' point entirely, though. That President Trump is just imminently frustrated that he has not given the same sort of leeway that President Obama was given when he said president Putin has done great work in Russia. And President Bush was given when he said he wanted to make Russia a strategic partner. So I do understand his frustration, but I don't like the way that was said or worded.

LEMON: Bakari Sellers, I'm going to let you sum this all up for us. OK? But not until we get a break here and I'm sorry.

We will be right back.


[23:52:01] LEMON: So I'm back now with my panel. So let's go straight to Bakari Sellers. Paris said that the president

is trying to forge a new relationship with Vladimir Putin. Bakari?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No. I just have to disagree with my friend Paris here. I think that by putting Russia on the same equivalence as the United States, we are going back down this dangerous path. I mean, I think I can. If I were to just give myself a nickel for every time we say if Barack Obama has done this, then I probably be a millionaire before the end of this term.

But the fact is, as Kayleigh brought up, Barack Obama wasn't own an apology to. He went to foreign country and he talked about the darker periods of our country, slavery, segregation, and the treatment of Native Americans. And so, when we look at that apology tour, or whatever you want to call it, he even got criticized for asking for Dijon mustard.

But here you have the president of the United States who is equating our character, our fiber, our being in the United States to someone who jails journalists, who kills and poisons his enemies, someone who annexed Crimea, invaded Ukraine, the list goes on and on and on.

And so, I would challenge the talking like myself and Paris and Kayleigh and Maria and everyone. I mean, this is a time when as Democrats and Republicans, we can come together and literally say that this president actually did something wrong. This is it about saying and putting America before party politics. That's what I thought this was about. That's why I actually give my praise to Mitch McConnell and Marco Rubio.

LEMON: Yes. OK. So let's talk about what is happening the palace intrigue, shall we, on this new administration.

"The New York Times" has a story filled with powerful details about the president's daily schedule and habits, including un-flattery description, that is unflattering, but it is a description of the president retiring at 6:30 p.m., sitting around in his bath robe, and watching television. Listen to press secretary Sean Spicer:


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: That story was so riddled with inaccuracies and lies that they owe the president an apology for the way that that thing was -- there were just literally blatant factual errors. And it's unacceptable to see that kind of reporting, or so-called reporting. That's literally the epitome of fake news.


SPICER: I mean, they were -- start at the top. I don't think the president owns a bath robe, definitely doesn't wear one.


LEMON: So, again, I should say. I don't think that's unflattering at all. Because I actually love to sit around in my bath robe. And it would be great if I could get room service or some White House staffer to bring me food or do whatever. But within minutes, social media showed the pictures of the president in a bath robe in the past. Anyone can google them.

But the bigger picture of all of this is that the information coming out, leaked to the White House, the leaks from the White House, why is this happening? Do you think the president's style is creating some backlash here, Kayleigh?

MCENANY: Look, I think it's unfortunate. We see leakers all the time in campaigns, you know. To be a politician or not have some sort leaker, I think, is rare. And it's sad to me to not be able to trust the people around you. I'm not sure who is doing this, but I think it's very sad. It's to me, a betrayal. And they need to be found and eradicated.

[23:55:03] CARDONA: I actually think on silly things like this, because I do think it's silly. I mean, who cares? Like you said I would love to be hanging out in a bath robe. We should have all worn bath robes tonight, by the way.

But for something as unserious as that story, there are so many things that are facing this president. Instead of paying attention to the bath robe story, why don't you go read about what real diplomacy is? Why don't you go read about who our allies really are and how to treat them well? I mean, there is so much of this president needs to read up on and so many briefings that I'm sure even his own people would want him to get. That's the time to do it.

LEMON: Paris, you were at the White House. Do you know if the bath robe thing is true? I'm kidding. What are you going to do, #bathrobegate?

DENNARD: I will say I have stayed at the Trump hotel here in D.C., and they do have very nice bath robes.

CARDONA: I would imagine!

LEMON: Which is my point earlier, if I owned a bunch of hotels, I would have a lot of bath robes. But go on.

DENNARD: The question we have to add on is, you know, I think Kayleigh was absolutely right. Why are the leaks happening? And these leaks do they need to be plugged up. And they need to be eradicated. I think she is absolutely right.

But the other thing is, why does "The New York Times" feel the need to report this? What is the point? And if the point is to merely report facts because this is something that the American people need to know, it's helpful for us to learn more about the presidency, that's fine. But if it's somehow this negative reinforcing --

LEMON: The only people who thought it was negative was the president and -- I got to go.

SELLERS: Don, what I need to say while Paris and Kayleigh are focused on the leaks, I'm more concerned with the fact that the White House has proven itself not to be able to tell the truth. I'm not caught up in the bath robes and all that stuff, I just want the White House to tell me the truth.

LEMON: All right. Thanks, everyone. I'm going home to get in my bath robe now. I hope you will too.

CARDONA: Absolutely.

LEMON: Goodnight. I will see you back here tomorrow.