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Sean Spice lashes out of the reporter over questions about Russia; Jared Kushner is going to testify in private to a Senate intelligence committee likely under oath; First lady Melania Trump appearing at the White House reception tonight; Bill O'Reilly mocked Congresswoman Waters' hair; Aired 11:00-12:00mn ET

Aired March 28, 2017 - 23:00   ET


[23:00:27] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: The Trump administration's intriguing ties to Russia. If there's nothing to hide, as the White House insists, why all the unanswered questions?

This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

Why did President Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, key White House advisor, meet with the head of a Russian bank who has ties to Vladimir Putin? American intelligence called the bank chief a spy. Kushner is now set to testify before the Senate intelligence committee.

Also tonight, defense secretary Sean Spice lashes out of the reporter over questions about Russia.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: If the President puts Russian salad dressing on his salad tonight, somehow that's a Russian connection.


LEMON: And first lady Melania Trump with the President at the White House reception tonight. What role can she play in a White House under siege?

Let's begin with this hour with Jared Kushner's meeting with the Russian bank who is tie to Putin. I want to bring in now CNN contributor Michael Weiss, a senior editor of "the Daily Beast," investigated reporter David Kay Johnson, author of "the making of Donald Trump" and Matthew Murray, a former deputy assistant secretary of commerce for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Good evening, gentlemen. Thank you so much for coming on.

Michael, we learned Jared Kushner is going to testify in private to a Senate intelligence committee likely under oath. The committee is going to want to ask him why he met with Sergey Gorkov. That's the head of the Russian bank, known as VEB when it was under U.S. economic sanctions. And what they talked about VEB, not just any bank, right.

MICHAEL WEISS, SENIOR EDITOR, THE DAILY BEAST: No. And Gorkov not just heading and chairman of any bank. He was personally selected by Vladimir Putin to head up at this bank because Putin said you wanted someone quote "with a law enforcement background."

Gorkov graduated in 1994 from the FSB academy which is the finishing school for all KGB agents. That is (INAUDIBLE) the domestic security on over Russian intelligence service. He has had a CV in personnel departments, in various banks that he has worked for. Prior to this, he worked for Spare bank (ph) which is headed by German Bret (ph), one of Putin's closest and most intimate associates from his days in same St. Petersburg.

More interesting than that actually is here in New York, the active, at least about the VEB website, the active deputy representative for New York for VEB, is a man who is currently serving 30 months in prison in Ohio because he was a Russian spy met by the FBI two years ago for trying to cultivate assets and agents here in the United States, running on Wall Street trying to hoover analysts and confidential information that might be in benefits to the Russian GDPs.

So it's not even that this bank, leaving aside that it is under sanctions regime, right. The head of the bank is KGB. One of those senior executives in New York was arrested for being KGB. And did Jared Kushner know about this before he went in? And we don't know if he met with them once or twice or many times because the bank is not forthcoming about the timing and the dates.

LEMON: But we don't know - like you said we don't know if he was knowledgeable of it or what they spoke about. I mean, wouldn't you think, David Kay Johnson, if you're going be in this, it is not a game, if you are going to do this, right, and you are going to be in the inner circle, the highest levels in government, shouldn't you know all these figures? Shouldn't you do your homework about these figures?

DAVID KAY JOHNSON, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Don, if it absolute most benign possible interpretation of this, Jared Kushner's behavior is so reckless, so thoughtless that it is inconceivable that he has access to the President and secrets there in the White House.

This is just beyond belief. This bank is a front for Russian efforts to undermine other countries' economics. It had a nest of spies in it, as Michael just pointed out and -- so Kushner's behavior here is beyond belief, moronic, even if you assume something benign and I think this is perfectly reasonable to assume. This is further evidence that there are questions about whether the President of the United States is loyal to the United States or has divided loyalties in all of his actions.


Matthew, you know Russia. You know Russia well. Are you surprised by this and by the extent of these contacts between the Trump team and Russia?

MATTHEW MURRAY, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF COMMERCE FOR EUROPE, THE MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA: Well, notwithstanding that I agree with both what Michael and David said. I actually think the White House's decision to allow Kushner to testify before the Senate select committee could be a very positive development. And Senator Warner put it very well when he said that if they have nothing to hide, then this is an opportunity to get it right. And if there's some intelligence there that needs to be followed, then they should follow it.

So the committee needs to ask three types of questions. First, how did Jared Kushner represent himself in this meeting with Mr. Gorkov? Did he represent himself as a member of the transition team or as an executive from Kushner companies? And if the latter, did they actually talk business?

The second fact that they have to establish at the committee is whether Jared Kushner was aware that the (INAUDIBLE) bank was under sanction. And if so, why did he go ahead and have that meeting? And did they actually talk about sanctions during the course of their discourse?

And then thirdly, if they did discuss sanctions or maybe even if they didn't discuss it explicitly, was there some signaling going on in this meeting about future economic cooperation between a Trump administration and the Russian government?

So these are the things that the intelligence committee needs to look at. And again, if the meeting was nothing, if it was just part of a road show, as (INAUDIBLE) bank was maintained, then we will know that. If on the on the other hand there was something that constituted an effort to sort of build a relationship around sanctions, then we need to be aware of that as well.

[23:05:22] LEMON: But Michael, all you have to do is Google Gorkov and it is pretty clear - I mean, you do a Google and the full background and the intelligence connection, I mean, that will tell people, you know, like Jared Kushner if they're looking who is around him.

WEISS: Look. I mean, I think I said the last time I was on the show it's not like Russian intelligence operatives go around with a post-it on their shoulder that says, hello, I'm an operative from Moscow center. Somehow it works. And the best way to conduct espionage, there is no such thing as ex-FSB officer.

Now Putin himself has said this at one point that the way it works is you get your mark. You get your target to disclose information unwittingly. So even if the context of a very surrounded by a conversation Kushner might have had about possibly developing his own real estate deals in Moscow or whatever, he might have left something slip about where the president-elect's mind was that or what Jared Kushner's future ties with respect to Russian they are going to be which would have been directed set back to Moscow center.

I mean, Gorkov, again, you know. All of the Russian state institutions, particularly the financial institutions, are arms of the Russian foreign ministry. They export corruption. They export influence. They try to engineer crises such as in the Ukraine which is why VEB is under sanctions. The idea that this is just - it is, you know, it is like head of Maryland city bank. It is completely factious. It is not true.

LEMON: Yes. And so, the White House says, you know, nothing of importance was discussed, but I mean, maybe, Matthew, maybe the White House didn't realize that something important actually was discussed. And as Michael says, and any information was fed right back to Russia.

MURRAY: Well, they may not have realized what they were stepping into with this meeting. And you know, we are all getting educated now at the nature and scope of the role of Russia's state-owned enterprises not only in their own economy, but in their foreign policy. And it's been clear for some time, as Michael mentioned, that Russia is exporting a model of economic growth which is based on state control of the economy. And, you know, under Putin, the role of the state has actually grown over the past 16 years. And you know, the Russian state now owns more than 50 percent of the market capitalization of the stock market in Russia.

And so, due to what is basically a failure to modernize, an inability to compete in global markets, and a desire to maintain a system of self-enrichment in the Kremlin, Russia has begun to use state-owned enterprises throughout the near abroad, throughout western Europe, and they may have started to bring them here to the United States as a way of, you know, potentially corrupting foreign elites. And this mechanism works for them. And you know, I think the White House must now be much more aware of the risks of just having any kind of business meeting because there is no such thing.

LEMON: I just wonder, David, if this is willful ignorance, you know. Because, you k know, it is all about deals, deals, deals instead of learning about foreign policy and players. Instead of tweeting, you know, during the election, he said, I never tried to use leverage over me. Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I have never had anything to do with Russia, obviously, both in all caps. You see if there are no deals, no loans, no nothing.

I mean, what do we know about the ties between the Trump family and Russia if any? Maybe they just think it is, you know, it is doing business like real estate deals and it is not a big deal. And we have to deal with these characters. But when you're running a government or you plan on running a government, it is not the same thing.

JOHNSON: No, it's not. And the careful thing to watch for, Don, is that Trump keeps saying I have nothing to do with Russia. He doesn't say Russians. Putin operates through the oligarchs who are essentially a network of government-sponsored international criminals who are out to loot and disrupt the west. They have done it through a (INAUDIBLE) bank deal. They have done these massive money laundering schemes that went on in New York and Cypress and Deutsche Bank.

The question I would add to the ones that Matthew raised were, what other bankers were you meeting with? Did other bankers come to you? Why were you conducting meetings with bankers during this period of time? And why did you want to meet at all with a bank that is under sanctions by the U.S. government? Did that ever occur to you that might not look good?

And this is just inexplicable on an innocent basis, it seems to me, but if there's an innocent explanation, I'm eager to hear it.

[23:10:56] LEMON: We all are.

Thank you. I appreciate it.

Up next, the first lady Melania Trump with the president at the White House reception tonight. What role can she play in a White House under siege?

And what President trump's son says there is a clear separation of church and state between the White House and the Trump organization. But is that really the case?


[23:14:48] LEMON: The first lady Melania Trump appearing at the White House reception tonight.

Let's discuss. CNN White House reporter Kate Bennett joins us and Richard Painter, who was chief White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush.

Good evening to both of you.

Kate, you first. Tonight the President and the first lady hosted a reception for senators and their spouses. I mean, to many this is a rare sighting but you done think that is fair. Why?

[23:15:09] KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: I mean, I think we have to take the first lady at her word. She hasn't done anything that - I mean, she said she is going to be private. She said she is living in Manhattan with her son until he finishes school. That she is splitting her time between here and New York and Washington. So in many cases - I mean, it is sort of like seeing a unicorn when she does appear. That really one goes Melania Trump.

But at the same time, she has sort of stuck to what she said she was going to do. She is a private person. She puts her son and her family first. She will make it here when she can. But you know, again we shouldn't - we are coming off of Michelle Obama, right, who everyone saw all the time, was very vocal, very boisterous, had a strong message. Everyone felt like we knew her. This is a very different situation, especially right now before a full-time move to Washington.

LEMON: Well, the question is do you think we are going to begin to see more of her because it's been said that she is going to move to Washington. I say that because tomorrow she is going to be the special guest at the international women of courage award ceremony at the state department. And so, you said, as you just said, unlike her husband, the first lady has actually done everything that she has said she is going to do. BENNETT: I mean, giving the benefit of the doubt, it is very unusual,

unconventional to have a first lady who is not in the White House, is not making regular appearances. We haven't seen her in Washington since March 17th. We haven't heard her speak I think March 8th. I mean, all of the stuff a sort of unusual. However, I think she is dipping her toe in. She hired a communications director just yesterday. She's building her staff. We will probably see her for sure at the big Easter egg roll next month on April 17th. They unveiled the official White House Easter eggs today too. So -- and they are gold naturally.

LEMON: Yes, shocking.

BENNETT: But I think we are going to see a little bit more as things progress here.

LEMON: So Richard, the first lady has not been a central part of this administration so far, but let's talk about the other members of the first family that have been played a big role, or playing a big role specifically Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner.

As we have been talking about, there is a spotlight on Jared Kushner tonight for meeting with the Russian banker Sergei Gorkov. We just had a conversation in the segment before you guys.

The Senate intelligence committee chair, Richard Burr, says Jared Kushner's testimony about this meeting will be a private interview likely under oath. What do you think of that?

RICHARD PAINTER, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE ETHICS LAWYER UNDER GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, I am very much hoping he is going to answer the questions and answer them truthfully. I don't understand why he is meeting with this bank. It's not the type of bank you go down to get a mortgage or even a regular commercial loan. Everybody knows these Russian banks are very closely aligned with the Russian government.

And if the Trump transition team and now the President say if they are trying to distance themselves with Russia, I think the last thing in the world you want to do is have a meeting with this Russian bank. So I think there are going to be some and I hope there's some honest answers. I also hope there's some honest --

LEMON: Go on.

PAINTER: -- honest answers about what Ivanka's role is going to be. She is in the west wing of the White House. She is going to get a security clearance, and she is going to be doing government work.

She is a government employee. The White House is taking a ridiculous position when they say that she is not a government employee, not subject to the ethics rules and the conflict of interest statutes. I believe her lawyers are telling her that she is subject to the conflict of interest statutes and she better observe them. I hope they are because that's the law. And the White House want to come clean on this. LEMON: But even if she doesn't think she is, you said she is. And so

if she does something that is unethical or that has a conflict then she has to face the music for it.

PAINTER: Absolutely. That's why the White House ought to come clean on this right now and say she is a government employee and stop playing games with Ivanka. It's not worth it.

LEMON: I want you to hear what the former secretary of defense and former CIA director Leon Panetta told my colleague Wolf Blitzer earlier today. Watch this.


LEON PANETTA, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Well, I have no idea what that was about, and it doesn't sound like it was something that was done pursuant to the normal duties that somebody in a transition position would engage in. I have a feeling that it related to financial issues since it involved a Russian bank.


LEMON: So he is talking about the meeting. He is talking about Jared Kushner during a transition period. Would intelligence or law enforcement officials brief Kushner about taking a meeting like this? The bank has been under U.S. sanctions for almost three years, Richard.

PAINTER: I would think so. As they say, everybody knows that the Russian banks, a lot of them, are very closely aligned with the Russian government. And I cannot imagine how anyone high up in the transition team for the new President with go and meet with one of these Russian banks without finding out everything out of that bank before they walk (INAUDIBLE). Just makes absolutely no sense. And I say, this is not the place you go for routine financing and a cocktails on River State New York.

There is something going on here. I have no idea what it is. And I just hope he answers the questions truthfully and we can get to the bottom of it and move on.

[23:20:27] LEMON: This is your beat, Kate. What do you make of the conflicting explanations we're getting for this meeting? I mean, the White House says the meeting was part of Jared Kushner's transition duties. Nothing of substance was discussed according to them while the bank says he was representing his family's real estate business as part of a series of meetings here in the U.S.

BENNETT: I mean, I think the role of Jared and Ivanka Trump continue to be the most nebulous. And to some concerning and definitely most curious roles in the Trump administration and Jared Kushner is not someone who speaks publicly a lot. We haven't really even heard his voice since he has joined the President's team. He is a guy who at 24 took over his family's real estate company. At 25, he was buying the New York Observer. He is extremely ambitious. He has a plan. He is just been appointed to this new office of American innovation. I mean, there are lots of sort of - there are lots of things going on with him. And I think he has now stepped into something that he is going to have to answer for. And it seems like he is going to do so. We will just have to wait and see how this plays out because he is involved in so many different aspects of this administration.

LEMON: Richard, I want to turn to the topic now of Donald Trump's son, Eric, a passage of a recent "Forbes" article here. And it is lengthy passage. And I wanted to share with our viewers.

Eric Trump now manages the Trump organization with his brother Don Jr., wants to emphasize that the Trump business is separate from the Trump presidency. There's a kind of clear separation of church and state that we maintain. And I am deadly serious about the exercise, he says, echoing previous statements from his father. I do not talk about the government with him and he does not talk about the business with us. That's the kind of steadfast pact we made and it's something that we honor. But less than two minutes later he concedes that he will continue to update his father on the business while he is in the presidency. Yes, on the bottom line profitability reports and stuff like that, but, you know, that's about it. How often will those reports be? Every quarter. The question while depending, yes, depending could be more, could be less. Yes, probably quarterly. One thing is clear, my father and I are very close, Eric Trump says. I talk to him a lot. We are pretty inseparable.

Richard, I mean, it seems like he is contradicting himself there. How can there be a separation of church and state or business and government if Eric Trump is going to update his father, his dad, the President, quarterly?

PAINTER: Well, there is no separation of business and government in the President's mind. He is very much committed to his businesses. He spent much of his life building those businesses. He has refused to sell off the businesses or put them in a blind trust even though that's what all the government ethics lawyers have been recommended. He continually refers to the businesses in tweets and in public comments. For example, about Ivanka's dispute with Nordstrom's.

We know that he is not separating himself from his businesses psychologically, financially, or any other way. And of course he is going to be talking about those businesses with his sons as well as other people. And this is a facade if we think for a moment that this administration is separating the President from the management of his businesses. That's not what's happening.

LEMON: And he's getting away with it. Thank you, Richard.

PAINTER: Well, absolutely. Absolutely he is getting away with it. And this Congress wants to tell him that he has got to focus on this job or move along and let someone else do the job. But the Congress is going to have to start taking this situation seriously because at this point he is getting away with whatever he wants to do.

LEMON: Yes. Thank you, Kate. Thank you, Richard. Appreciate it.

Up next, White House press Secretary Sean Spicer's line of the day. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SPICER: If the President puts Russian salad dressing on his salad tonight, somehow that's a Russian connection.


LEMON: And Hillary Clinton is weighing in on it tonight.


[23:28:12] LEMON: Tonight Hillary Clinton slamming the White House for cutting off a veteran reporter during today's briefing. Clinton says press secretary Sean Spicer was patronizing. Is she right?

Let's discuss. CNN political commentators Ben Ferguson, Angela Rye, Paris Dennard and Symone Sanders. Good evening.



LEMON: Well, let's get to it.

So Angela, at today's White House press briefing Sean Spicer got into a heated exchange with April Ryan. We had her on earlier. She explained what she thought about it. By the way April is from the American radio urban network. Listen.


APRIL RYAN, AMERICAN RADIO URBAN NETWORK: You have got Russia. You have got wiretapping.

SPICER: No, we don't have that. I don't.

RYAN: You're on Capitol Hill.

SPICER: No, no, no. I have said it from the day that I got here until whenever that there is no connection. You have got Russia. If the President puts Russian salad dressing on his salad tonight, somehow that's a Russian connection. No, at some point report the facts. The facts are that every single person who has been briefed on this subject has come away with the same conclusion, Republican, Democrat. So I'm sorry that disgusts you. You are shaking your head. I appreciate it. At some point, April, you are going to have take no for an answer with respect to whether or not there was collusion.

Hold on. No, no, no. But April - hold on. It seems like your hell bent on trying to make sure that whatever image you want to tell about this White House stays because at the end of the day - OK. But you know what, you are asking me a question and I'm going to answer it, which is the President -- I'm sorry. Please stop shaking your head again.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: So, I mean, he was clearly exasperated with her line of questioning. How do you think he dealt with her?

RYE: I hope that Sean Spicy see this right here because I'm shaking my head, too. He was disrespectful. He was condescending. He doesn't like when people don't agree with him. And he should get used to it because he gets up there and spins himself, not just through live but into (INAUDIBLE) almost every single day. He embarrasses himself almost every single day.

April Ryan is a gold star standard of a journalist in our community. And it was overtly disrespectful. Now, should we expect anything else from this White House, probably not. We saw how Donald Trump himself treated April Ryan. We saw Omara Rose to her alleged friend, at least at one point, how she treated April Ryan. This is a running theme. And I think it is highly problematic and it needs to be addressed.

LEMON: Paris.

RYE: Don.

LEMON: No comment. I just ask the question.

So Paris, I mean, I know you want to jump in. He became annoyed for asking the administration on how it is going to revamp its image giving a rocky start this administrations had. Is that an unreasonable question for her to ask?

PARIS DENNARD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, I don't think it was an unreasonable question to ask if that had been the only question. I think it was a series of questions back to back to back and that she was not giving him a chance to answer the question. And oftentimes what happen is when you give an answer that these journalists do not like, they continue to press and press until they try to get you to answer the way they want you to answer.

LEMON: That's what a reporter does. That is the job of a reporter.

DENNARD: No, the job of a reporter --

LEMON: Danny --


LEMON: Play the first question, Danny. Let's play the first question of the tape and then stop it. And then we will play the rest of it and then stop it.


APRIL: You have got Russia. You have got wiretapping.

SPICER: No, we don't have that.

APRIL: There are allegations on Capitol Hill -- SPICER: No, no, no. I get it, but you keep - I have said it from the

day that I got here until whenever that there is no connection. You have got Russia. If the President puts Russian salad dressing on his salad tonight, somehow that's a Russian connection. No, at some point --


LEMON: OK. Stop. So Paris --

FERGUSON: I love the line, by the way.

LEMON: Yes. She asked the question --.

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You called that Joni Ernst, by the way.

LEMON: She wasn't like asking a series of questions of barraging him with questions or being rude.

DENNARD: I didn't say she was being rude. I said that she was going back and kept pressing him on trying to get the answer that she was looking for. And that is what journalist do. You say that's what journalists supposed to do. I'm saying that's what journalist do.

But the other point I made was, when you don't give them the answer that you want to hear, then they continue to press. And he just flat out said I'm not going to give you the answer that you are looking for. Sometimes you are going to have to accept no. And I will hope that you report the facts because the facts I have laid out you for whatever reason don't agree with, don't accept, and don't want to report on.

LEMON: But the facts he laid out were absolutely wrong though. But go on, Ben.

FERGUSON: Don, first off he didn't lash out at her. He defended the White House. And I think there is one thing that the press --.

SANDERS: Were you watching the same interview?

FERGUSON: They act as if somehow they are above the average American person or they are somehow better than other people or they are elitist or they are special. You are a reporter. You are not special. And when you go after a White House press secretary --

LEMON: You don't think he jumped down her throat? He was very defensive. No, we don't have that. We don't have that.

RYE: Russian salad dressing.

FERGUSON: Don, if you look at her questioning day after day after day, if you watch the White House briefings, which I watch most days for my show, she has been pretty consistent of a negative person toward the White House.


RYE: My God. Come on, Ryan.

FERGUSON: Yes, April Ryan. You shouldn't be shocked by this. She is not a conservative, Don.


LEMON: So wait, wait, wait. What it sounds like and I know you are not saying that. I don't think you are saying this, but in order for her to be credible she has to be a conservative?

FERGUSON: No. What I'm saying is it is very clear to me that she does have an agenda and it's very clear her agenda is very much anti this White House.

RYE: How dare you. How dare you.

LEMON: One at a time. One at a time.


FERGUSON: Show me a story that she has done since January 20th that has put the President or this White House in a positive light. I would love to see it.

LEMON: Hold on. That's not her job. That's not her job. Go ahead, Symone. It is not her job to put - her job is not to put the one in a positive light. Her job is to report --.

Angela, hold on. Symone, go ahead.

SANDERS: Pardon me. Let me just help educate some of my CNN political commentator or friends of the people at home for the folks who don't understand the relationship between the press secretary and communication folks and the press.

As a press person, as I am a resident communications professional, it is my job to go out there and interface with the press, to answer their questions. Sometimes their questions are tough. Yes, reporters come with an angle, if you will, or an agenda because they are trying to unmask something. They want the truth, so they are doing -- I think reporters are doing their job in asking questions. Clearly there are some things that April Ryan and the American people would like to know about.

[23:35:24] FERGUSON: Here's my thing though. I'm fine with that.

LEMON: Let her finish, Ben.

SANDERS: April Ryan's only crime today, if you will, is being a black woman at work.

FERGUSON: Please. Give me a break. That's absurd. That's insanity.

LEMON: Paris, why don't you believe that? RYE: You guys are delusional if you don't think that is a problem.

This is the same person - Ben, I'm not done. I'm just getting started.

FERGUSON: And you never done.

RYE: This is the problem. That's fine. Neither are you, buddy. Here's the issue. April Ryan is the same person who Donald Trump said to her, well, why don't you set up this meeting with the CBC. Those are your friends, right? They have an issue. Their agenda is with April Ryan, the fact she is a credible, notable journalist in the black community.

Her only angle is ensuring that this particular White House and this administration and the policies they push forth are reported in a fair way to our community. I know you don't like it, but it is true.

FERGUSON: I'm not saying she is not creditable. Let me finish. I'm not saying she is not creditable. What I'm saying is let's be intellectually honest and not lie about her viewpoint. Her viewpoint has been consistently since January 20th very antagonistic and not covering this White House in a decent way.

SANDERS: The White House isn't decent. If the White House was decent --


LEMON: Hold on. Hold on. She is following the story about the leaks. And if you say she has an agenda, wouldn't you think a reporter who identifies him or herself as a conservative, don't you think that reporter would have an agenda as well? It seems like a reporter should not identify themselves by ideology.

FERGUSON: Yes. But my point is when you get pushback, when you get push back, look at the conservative reporters from conservative organizations that had to deal with the Obama administration and they were basically iced out by the Obama administration. They never gave them interviews. They rarely called them for questions. You should be glad you have a White House that's willing to have a back and forth with people that disagree with them. But when they do pushback --

LEMON: OK. Stand by. Stand by. We'll be right back.


[23:41:23] LEMON: Back now with my panel. Hi, panel. Welcome back.

Someone on twitter said, Don, get control of your panel. That is easier said than done, especially when you are dealing with this group. Just so you know. The only thing I can do is sometimes say, we have got to go or cut the mike. And then people go you won't let them talk. Well, that's the only control I have because they yell over me.

OK. So I'm going to continue talk about April. I don't mind it. Come on, you know. I'm thick skin.

So April Ryan, we are going to continue, but I want to expand this and talk about Bill O'Reilly on FOX coming under fire for this comment on "FOX and Friend" where he mocked Representative Maxine Waters' hair while she was delivering a speech on the floor of House of Representatives. Here it is.


REP. MAXINE WATERS (D), CALIFORNIA: We are saying to those who say they are patriotic but they turned a blind eye to the destruction that he is about to cause this country you're not nearly as patriotic as you are.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So what does that mean? Though, we have been listening all morning.

BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: I didn't hear a word she said. I was looking at the James Brown wig. If we have a picture of James -- it's the same.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. OK. I have to defend her on that.

O'REILLY: You're all wrong about this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have to defend her on that. She is -- you can't go after a woman's looks. I think she's very attractive.

O'REILLY: I didn't say she wasn't attractive. I love James Brown.


LEMON: So he did apologize.

RYE: So?

LEMON: An extremely intelligent accomplished, respected woman, why reduce her to that, Paris, and talk about her hair? Because Symone brought up the, you know, the disrespecting for woman of color. Here is another woman of color. Why do that?

DENNARD: I think, Don, we should first start -- we always go to the race card. And I don't think that's relevant. I don't think this is a racial thing at all. There are plenty of racists in this world.


DENNARD: And we should be sure that when we call somebody a racist or we say that that they are, that they actually are. So I just think that we need to stop that. Now, let me finish.

LEMON: Paris, let me say this. I got to say this. I'm going to let you finish. But even all the white guys in the studio are side eyeing you right now. They are all like --.

RYE: He needs to be side eyed. LEMON: But go ahead, Paris. Let him finish. Let him finish.

DENNARD: No, let me finish. I think what it is, is he did. Bill O'Reilly said what he said was in jest and he said it was damn. He apologized for it. And if you play the rest of the clip, he did go on to say that he likes Congressman Waters.

LEMON: Said she was old school and she believes what she says.

DENNARD: And it is old school because the title of his book is "old school." So the whole segment was about that. But he is also said she's a woman who isn't a phony. She believes what she says. And she is someone who is genuine.

LEMON: Yes. He did say that. He's right.

DENNARD: He said it was damn and he apologized for it.

LEMON: Go ahead, Angela.

RYE: OK. So let me help you. In case you got this, this was Bill O'Reilly's first racist moment, he has a record of saying racist comments. Let me bring you back to July. Slaves that worked there were well fed and had decent lodgings provided by the government which stopped hiring slave labor in 1802. That is in response to Michelle Obama saying that her kids are playing on the White House lawn which was built by - at the hands of slaves. This man has a pattern in practice of calling black men thugs, of making fun of Congresswoman Waters' hair? He's intimidated by her. Don't do it, Paris. Don't do it today. Don't do it today. The Bottom line is --.

DENNARD: Does President Obama call us thugs.

RYE: Bill O'Reilly is a racist.

FERGUSON: President Obama did call people thugs.

LEMON: All right. We are talking about Bill O'Reilly. Go on.

RYE: You guys, stay going down a rabbit hole that is irrelevant. Your boy is a racist. He needs to be fired. His apology isn't sufficient. Race baiting is when you continue to utilize -- why can't you ever just hush?

RYE: Race baiting.

[23:45:00] LEMON: Let them get in.

OK. But here's the thing. I have not listen to my knowledge -- and I could be wrong. I have never heard Bill O'Reilly talk about anybody else there. Because I'm sure there are a lot of people there. And maybe the lady, I don't know if she does, she may have some hair extensions on "FOX and Friends." There are sure a lot of women who are on that very network that have some wigs or some --. That's what ladies do.

RYE: I don't have a wig.

SANDERS: Not all of us.

LEMON: I'm just saying.


LEMON: There's absolutely nothing wrong with it. Why bring that up? I've never seen him bring that up about a white woman. That's all I'm saying.

FERGUSON: Here is what I will say. If you're going to say that Maxine Waters these comments that Bill O'Reilly made -- and they were damn comments. And I'm glad he apologized for it. They were stupid. Obviously, they were off the cuff. And obviously, he realizing that a mistake. But if you're going to throw out the race card every single time and say he should be fired and everything else, then should Maxine Waters resign for demanding that we impeached Donald Trump before he would ever done anything when he was elected president? Isn't she a racist for saying at the white guy that was elected president who had done nothing wrong but get elected should be impeached? If you want to be taken seriously, as Maxine Waters saying still credible, she is not very credible when you are calling for the impeachment because you didn't get your way of the president of the United States of America when you are --. (CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Listen, that if fine. That's another conversation, though, about her creditability.

FERGUSON: No, but it is part of this conversation, Don.

SANDERS: Why are we questioning Main Waters' credibility who is a former --.

FERGUSON: She called for the President to be impeached when he had done nothing.

SANDERS: That's a whole another question. Donald Trump has some questionable things. Why did you automatically go to question the creditability of a black woman?

FERGUSON: It is a double standard. That's my point.

If you're going to hold Bill O'Reilly -- let me explain this. If you're going to hold Bill O'Reilly here, you have at least to hold Maxine Waters at the same level.

DENNARD: Ben, stop talking. You don't want to be labeled a racist.

FERGUSON: That's a double standard.

FERGUSON: I'm used to that here.

SANDERS: I didn't say anything about Bill O'Reilly being a racist today. RYE: He is.

SANDERS: Actually my point that I was going to make is and he has definitely done some very racist things, but what I was going to say was is that he automatically went to what Maxine Waters, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, a woman, what she looked like. And how many women in their jobs in their personal lives and professional lives can identify with being talked about for what they look like and not the creditability of things they're saying? And my point to you is that it is not only just dumb. It is sexist. It is incorrect.

FERGUSON: I said it was dumb.

SANDERS: It is unacceptable, and it should not be tolerated.

FERGUSON: But you can't if you - this is a double standard I'm talking about.

SANDERS: No, you can't tell me what I can do. That's the crazy thing.

FERGUSON: If you are going to hold people to describe moral ground, then, how do you not hold Maxine Waters to the same standard?

RYE: Because she was the victim. She was the victim. She was the victim today and moreover there was another FOX analyst that said she needed to put the crack pipe down.


LEMON: All right. Listen. Ben, the president has called for people to be locked up. He has called for people to step down. He has called for people to be fired. OK. So, that's a different thing. Maxine Waters called for the President to be impeached. That's politics.

FERGUSON: You don't just brush that off.

LEMON: If she said Donald Trump's wig looked like howdy dudey, that would be a different thing because she is talking about - Ben, will you let me finish? Let me finish. Let me finish.

Bill O'Reilly, I don't know if he is racist or not. I have no idea. I don't know what the comments. I will let you guys decide to that. But he was talking about her personal appearance. Even he has said it was dumb. And to say that you cannot say that it didn't come off as sexist because he didn't -- I don't know if he's ever said that about a man. I don't know if anybody would say that about a man.

FERGUSON: Don, let's be honest. Have you ever done a segment about all of the people that have made fun of Donald Trump's hair? Did any of them --?

LEMON: Donald Trump had made fun of his own hair. Donald Trump has made fun of his own hair.

FERGUSON: My point is it is a double standard.

LEMON: Ben, it's not a double standard.

FERGUSON: Sure, it is.


LEMON: He goes on television and makes fun of his own hair. He lets Jimmy Fallon rustle through his hair. He talks about how real his hair is. His doctors showed that he has propecia for his hair.

FERGUSON: Again, double standard.

LEMON: So I mean, he talks about his own hair. Why is that a double standard? He is making fun. If Maxine Waters had said I talked about her own wig and that would be different story, but she doesn't. I do that. He brought something into the conversation that shouldn't be brought there.

We will take a break. We will be right back.

DENNARD: We don't even know if it's a wig.


[23:53:21] LEMON: Back now with my panel which I'm sure you guys are going to love to hear this. Here's Hillary Clinton.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: April Ryan, a respected journalist with unrivalled integrity was doing her job just this afternoon in a White House press room when she was patronized and cut off trying to ask a question. Maxine Waters was taunted with a racist joke about her hair.


LEMON: She went on to say these are the things that women have to live with that some people see as normal but it's not so normal. Do you agree with that, Angela?

RYE: Absolutely. I think every time we are on air, right, there are comments made about our looks either or you look tired or baby you fine with heart eyes. Like those things happen every single day. So we are talking about looks. We are talking about intelligence. We are questioning --.

LEMON: I get sick when people say that to me all the time.

RYE: I believe it. But I also think even April Ryan, on this very segment, on this very show, we had to defend the integrity of someone who has like indisputable record as a journalist. So it is frustrating that constantly have to defend your record, your credibility when in the instances you are the victim. LEMON: Yes. I just think it's interesting that when you really got

my attention, Ben, when you said that we should look at this differently because she is calling for the President to be impeached. And just I thought about all the times that this current President called for the former President to be impeached. I mean, it is just --.

RYE: or he wasn't even born here.

LEMON: Yes. It just seems like it doesn't - it is not media. You're not making sense, man. I love you, but you're not making sense.

FERGUSON: No. I'm making sense. You just don't like what I'm saying.

LEMON: No, that's not true.


[23:45:00] FERGUSON: Don, if you are going --

LEMON: Ben, we can come on air and argue - hold on. Let me give you an example. And you were a never Trumper, by the way, too. So listen. Let me give you an example. You and I can argue ideologically about a lot of things. But if I come on air and say Ben, your hair is stupid or you're fat or you are dumb or whatever, that is a whole different level of something not warranted. Now, I can say I don't think you should be a radio host or I don't think you are doing a good job with that. That's a different thing. But to call someone out on a personal attack, you don't see the difference in that?

FERGUSON: Don, I was one of those that for example criticized people when they did the birther. I said it was out of play. It was stupid. It was moronic of anybody who said in the conservative. I have been very consistent in that. My point is this. You - don't look at my twitter feeds and see what liberals say to me all day long about my appearance.


FERGUSON: But my point is this. If you are going to hold someone to a high standard and say what Bill O'Reilly did was so terrible, then you cannot overlook the comments coming from an elected official, a congresswoman or Donald Trump for that matter.

LEMON: No, no. Listen, Bill O'Reilly apologized. He is the one that said it was dumb. I'm talking about - I am arguing with you about the way you argued your particular that the statement you made about this and how you argued the case. That's what I am saying. Bill O'Reilly apologized. People make mistakes. That's fine.

FERGUSON: Don, do you think Maxine Waters should apologize for calling there for the impeachment of the new president --.

LEMON: No, I do not. (CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: I'm not surprised but I think it is ridiculous.

LEMON: No. Because that's her -- if she wants to do as lawmaker - if she had said something personal and (INAUDIBLE) personal attack about the President, that would be something different or about the President's wife.

FERGUSON: That's the biggest attack you can have on a president.

LEMON: She's a politician and that's a political argument. That's a political statement.

FERGUSON: You telling me you think we should be throwing around impeachment like it's no big deal.

LEMON: I don't know if you guys should be but that's her prerogative to do so as a lawmaker of she wants to. I got to go.

Don't say I'm cutting you off early. It is time. We are over past time for this show to end. Thank you. Good night.