Return to Transcripts main page

CNN TONIGHT

Kushner Questioned by Mueller's Team; President Trump No Shortage of Insults; Lauer's 20 Years Shining Career Gone; Matt Lauer Was Tougher on Hillary Than Trump. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired November 29, 2017 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[22:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon. Thanks for joining us.

And we have breaking news on the Russia investigation. CNN learning exclusively that Jared Kushner has met with Robert Mueller's investigators to answer questions about Michael Flynn. We're going to have more on that in a moment.

Plus, new details on the stunning firing of Matt Lauer today in the wake of multiple accusations of sexual harassment. Also 36 hours of out of control behavior from President Trump, re-tweeting hateful anti-Muslim videos, attacking the free press, using a slur against Native Americans in the Oval Office. And behind closed doors, reviving his racist birther conspiracy theory against President Barack Obama.

Is President Trump fit to serve? We'll discuss all of that. But I want to get straight to our breaking news tonight on the Russia investigation. A CNN exclusive, we're learning tonight that senior White House adviser Jared Kushner has met with the special counsel's office as part of its investigation into Russia's meddling into the 2016 election.

Gloria Borger and Pamela Brown both here with details. Good evening to both of you. Gloria, what did Robert Mueller's team want to know from Jared Kushner?

GLORIA BORGER, CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: Well, it's very clear to us from our sources that the special counsel is kind of tightening the noose on former national security adviser Michael Flynn. And we know that they asked to meet with Jared Kushner, they met with him for about 90 minutes, earlier this month. And that the conversation was really focused on Flynn.

And as you know, there are questions, very serious questions about Michael Flynn, his conversations with Russians, his meeting with the former Russian Ambassador Kislyak which Jared Kushner was also present at. So there are a lot of places in which their schedules intersected and in which they were in meetings together.

And our sources are telling us along with our colleague Evan Perez that in fact, Jared Kushner was probably in this interview a witness more than anything else.

LEMON: Interesting. Pamela Brown, to you, now. Jared Kushner's lawyer, what is he saying about all of this? What does this mean for Michael Flynn by the way?

PAMELA BROWN, JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, Abbe Lowell, his attorney told us that his client, Mr. Kushner has voluntarily cooperated with all the relevant inquiries and will continue to do so. So, basically saying that he's cooperating momentarily with the Hill investigations as well as the Mueller investigation.

And it's worth pointing out, that typically a defense attorney would not let a client do an interview like this, an informational type interview about someone else to help in the investigation. If the lawyer thought that the client was in fact the target of the investigation.

So, by all appearances, he's a witness, and he was a witness in this interview about Michael Flynn. It certainly, you know, indicates that Michael Flynn could be in trouble as we've reported. There are indications that he's working on a plea deal with Robert Mueller's team.

And it's clear, as Gloria said, that the noose is tightening on Michael Flynn. That clearly they are trying to talk to people, interview people that were closest to him, Jared Kushner included to build a case here.

LEMON: Hey, Gloria, let's talk more about that. What do -- what is known about the relationship between Flynn and Kushner during the campaign?

BORGER: Well, what we know is that, I think Kushner at some point liked Michael Flynn as did the president. The president was a big fan of Flynn's as you know because he was the first person with brass on his shoulders to endorse the president.

I think Jared Kushner came to like him. I think that when Jared Kushner became sort of the person in charge of the foreign policy portfolio during the transition, kind of the man to see, I think he and Flynn intersected quite often whether it was dealing with the Russians or whether it was dealing with any other kind of foreign nationals who wanted to come and meet with the incoming administration.

So, it would -- and their schedules intersected in the White House as well. So it would make a lot of sense that if the special counsel is preparing a case against Flynn, they want to make sure that what they -- the information that they have is not contradicted by what Jared Kushner knows.

You know, clearly, they don't want to be surprised by anything so it made an awful lot of sense when we were learning this today, that they would want to talk to Kushner about this.

LEMON: Maybe Kushner has the information, they make sure that could exonerate Flynn. They just want to make sure of the information that they...

(CROSSTALK) BORGER: Exactly, yes.

LEMON: So, Pamela, what does this mean then? Does this mean that this is this over? That they're done with Jared Kushner?

[22:05:00] BROWN: No, not necessarily. This was an interview that happened earlier this month we're told. And Robert Mueller's team could certainly call Kushner back. Again, this was primarily about Michael Flynn.

But as we know, Don, Kushner was there for many parts of this investigation, including the firing of James Comey which we've reported. Witnesses in the investigation have been asked about Kushner's role in the firing of James Comey. So we know through that that Mueller's team is interested in that.

As you know, he oversaw the data analytics operation during the campaign. He had a meeting with a Russian banker during the transition. He had a close relationship with Flynn, have that meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. So it wouldn't be surprising to say the least, Don, if Kushner is called back for other aspects of this investigation beyond Michael Flynn.

LEMON: Just a quick question, I'm not sure who can answer it. It's Pamela or Gloria. But is it -- has the White House stopped responding on these issues and said referred people to the council, whoever the attorney is?

BORGER: Look, I -- the White House has made it very clear, counsel inside the White House who are working on this, that they believe that Jared Kushner is not in any legal jeopardy.

LEMON: Got it.

BORGER: They really believe that he is very ancillary to all of this, that he's cooperated in answering all their questions. You see the statement from Kushner's attorney Abbe Lowell, saying he is cooperating. And they say that there's no there-there regarding the other issues that Pamela was just talking about. The person we haven't heard from is Bob Mueller. And we'll have to see how this progresses as their investigation continues.

LEMON: I appreciate the reporting. Thank you, Pamela. Thank you, Gloria. Now I want to bring in former prosecutor Renato Mariotti who is a candidate for Illinois attorney general.

Renato, thank you so much. So you heard of the conversation there, you know what the breaking news is, what does all this tell you about the investigation right now.

RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, one thing that everyone at home needs to mind, is that Mr. Mueller's investigation has many different aspects. I think that's what your reporters used, aspects of the investigation.

So, for example, you know, Mr. Kushner was asked questions about General Flynn and what his comments were and what he knew about Flynn's activities. And that makes sense, because everything that we've seen and heard lately has indicated that Mueller was building charges against Flynn and was trying to put pressure on Flynn to cooperate, which it appears that Flynn has done.

So that makes a lot of sense. But Mueller's also investigating other matters that the reporters, you know, they made some good points about, for example, how Mueller's investigating the firing of James Comey. Clearly Kushner was part of that. He's been investigating what was happening in the data side with Facebook. We know there's a search warrant executed. Kushner was involved in that.

What I -- what I think viewers at home need to realize, is that Mueller is not going to be issuing some grand indictment with charges against a whole lot of people in one -- in one fell swoop. What will happen is there is going to be separate indictment against separate people as we've already seen against Manafort and Papadopoulos, for example.

LEMON: OK. So, Renato, just to be clear, nothing about this suggests that Kushner did anything wrong here, correct?

MARIOTTI: Not as regards to Flynn, that's right. I mean, I agree with the reporters, that if his attorneys thought there was any significant criminal exposure for Kushner as to Flynn, they would not have let him go forward with the interview, that does not mean, however, that Kushner is clear and out of the woods as to other aspects like not reporting things on his disclosure form or the firing of James Comey or handling of data, et cetera.

LEMON: Is any of this and I don't know if it has to go to a court first. But in speaking, is there the possibility of perjury in anything that has taken place with Jared Kushner so far?

MARIOTTI: Wow, I think that's a really great question, Don. Because what viewers may not know is that when you are interviewed by an FBI agent even if it's not under oath, anything you say to the FBI agent is a crime if you're lying to the FBI agent. If you knowingly and willfully make a false claim to the FBI agent.

And I'll tell you a little secret. When federal prosecutors like Bob Mueller interview someone they always have an FBI agent sitting next to them. And that's one of the reasons why, is the FBI agent is taking careful notes.

And so, yes. If Mr. Kushner made a false statement to Mueller and his team during one of those interviews, that is a source of liability and that's why when you represent someone like Mr. Kushner, you know, in the orbit of a federal investigation you have to be very careful about permitting them to speak to prosecutors, because any misstatement could be used against them.

LEMON: And so here we are. Renato Mariotti, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

When we come back, 36 hours of un-presidential and out of control behavior from President Trump. As he continues to promote falsehoods and reject facts outright. Is he fit to serve? I'm going to talk to three people with decades of political experience.

[22:10:05] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: For the past 36 hours President Trump has said and done things that are not only unpresidential, they're really out of control. The president of the United States has used the firing of Matt Lauer to advance his false claims of fake news and to spread wildly inappropriate accusations against media figures including Joe Scarborough.

He has re-tweeted hateful anti-Muslim propaganda videos from a far- right and ultra nationalist political group in the U.K. Videos that are completely unverified.

He's attacked the free press. And, in particular, CNN attacks which literally puts lives at risk around the world. He used slur against Native Americans during an Oval Office event honoring Native Americans. He has defended an accused child molester, Roy Moore. He's reportedly tried to cast doubt on this Access Hollywood tape.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm automatically attacked to beautiful -- I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. I just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whatever you want.

TRUMP: Grab them by the pussy, you can do anything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: He reportedly continues to believe his racist and false conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was not born in this country even though he publicly repudiated it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[22:15:01] TRUMP: Barack Obama was born in the United States, period. Now, we all want to get back to making America strong and great again.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: A source telling CNN, the president believes he would have done better in the polls if he refused to back down on birtherism. And in the face of a worsening crisis with North Korea, President Trump said this today about Kim Jong-un.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: These massive tax cuts will be rocket fuel -- little rocket man. Rocket fuel for the American economy.

(APPLAUSE)

He is a sick puppy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: This is the President of the United States, the commander in chief who should be leading us now at a moment when we could be closer than ever before to war with North Korea. He has millions of lives in his hands here and around the world.

So it's frightening that his behavior, his own behavior raises questions about his fitness to serve and his grasp of reality.

Let's discuss all of this now with CNN political analyst Jonathan Martin is here, also political commentators Ana Navarro and Scott Jennings. Good evening. I'm looking forward to this conversation.

Ana, the re-tweets, the numerous conspiracy theories, everything we have seen and heard over the last few days, is this president, serious question, is he unraveling?

ANA NAVARRO, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: I don't know. You know, I can tell you from an untrained eye, it looks weird. It makes me recall people that have early onset dementia, it makes me recall people who are in the early stages of Alzheimer's. His constant repetition, he goes back to the same themes over and over again. He continues repeating the same lies, the same fabrications. Picking the same fights, he's been going on with the NFL now and the athletes for months.

I don't know what he's going to do when football season is over. Start picking on what? Kindergarten? Look, it is weird, his repeated lie on the number of -- on the electoral vote, on illegals voting, on the inaugural crowds. It is downright weird. And to look the other way and pretend that this is normal is to be in absolute denial. Our country deserves better.

LEMON: Yes. Jonathan, you colleague Maggie Haberman was on CNN earlier, and she said that she noticed a marked difference just for the last few days that seems, you know, unleashed to her. What this change? I mean, do you think it's the Russia investigation, what it could be, what is it?

JONATHAN MARTIN, POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: I think that there is something to the fact that he's down at Mar-a-Lago over Thanksgiving, and he's talking to friends and admirers who are saying a lot of nice things to him and they are suggesting that he is not getting the kind of credit that they -- he certainly thinks that he deserves for his administration so far.

Namely, the positive economic number. And I think that gets to his head. And he comes back and sees stories that are critical and he sort of dance. So I think that that's partly what it is. I think it's also the fact that here it is, we're almost in December. He has not signed a major piece of legislation yet. I think he really wants this tax bill to get the monkey off his back.

So, I think he is consumed by the press coverage, and he does not think that it is giving him the kind of credit that he's due.

LEMON: Yes. Well, I mean, listen, it's the press's job to report the facts. And he -- I mean, it looks like he's pretty close to at least one legislative victory and you would think in order to get that victory, he would stay on message.

MARTIN: Well, that's the striking thing, Don, is that here we are on the doorstep of him signing a major piece of legislation.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Major, it would be a major accomplishment for him.

MARTIN: Absolutely. The first big thing that he would have done this year, the Senate moved tonight to basically bring the bill to the floor Friday or Saturday. The votes appear to be there. This would be a big deal for him...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Yes.

NAVARRO: Don -- Don.

MARTIN: ... and first got friends in the Senate too. So why in the world is he spending this week on all manner of tangents on Twitter? It's hard to understand.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Scott, I'll get to you, but go ahead, Ana. Quickly.

NAVARRO: Has it occurred to you guys that maybe we're the crazy ones and maybe this is strategic in his part, and he is distracting us?

LEMON: I wonder that all the time, Ana.

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: But you know, by throwing out all the stuff.

LEMON: Yes.

NAVARRO: The re-tweeting of white supremacists, the NFL fights, the fights against CNN, and you know what we're not doing is spending the time scrutinizing every little bit of this tax bill, this enormous tax bill which is going to affect each and every American, a lot of us in very negative ways. Because he's got us chasing the shiny object.

[22:20:01] So part of me thinks he's crazy. Part of me thinks we're crazy.

LEMON: But you know what? We do spend a lot of time covering. We did a town hall last night which is more than an hour and a half here on CNN and we do talk about those issues. But we do have to talk about the others especially if you're a Muslim in this country.

NAVARRO: Absolutely.

LEMON: Especially if you're a journalist and you're in a war zone, especially if you're being demonized by this administration, I think that's important as well and by this president. If someone is tweeting unverified racist web sites, that's important to cover, as well.

And you know, speaking of the legislative accomplishment, Scott, let me bring you in here. Because I just want to read this from the Washington Post and I want to get your response to this.

"Despite the routine condemnations, the president is acting emboldened as if he were impervious to the uproar he causes. If there are consequences for his actions, Trump does not seem to feel their burden personally. The republican tax bill appears on track for passage. Trump himself remains the highest profile man accused of sexual improprieties to keep his job with no repercussions. Trump has internalized the belief that he can largely operate with impunity, people close to him."

So, Scott, is that -- is that what this is all about, the president is emboldened because the bottom line he knows that there are no consequences?

SCOTT JENNINGS, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Well, there haven't been that many consequences on his approval rating in the last several weeks. I mean, it's been a pretty stay high 30s, around 40 percent, a little bit better among likely voters. His numbers among republicans have stayed pretty high.

So he may not feel the consequences on that metric. The metric I look at in the polling that worries me, is that a vast majority of the country does not believe he is fit to hold the office. Now that did not sink his campaign in 2016, because they didn't think Hillary Clinton was fit either, and they didn't like her.

But if you were running against someone in 2020 that scored better on fitness to hold the office, this would really hurt. And so, when I see these tweets, when I see the Pocahontas thing, I'm viewing it through the lens of political strategy, and I don't want these kinds of moments to drag that number down, because once it gets down really low, it is hard to recover it.

LEMON: And you think at this moment, he and republicans should be concerned about that?

JENNINGS: Well, I would be concerned about it if I were the president's political adviser and thinking about his own re-election prospects. I would be very worried about that. Look, job approval can go up if the economy continues to hum along. I think this tax bill is going to cause more economic growth. His job approval could go up, but when your fitness number is so low, it puts an effective ceiling on how high you can go.

And so, you know, I go back to the event this week, with the Navajo code talkers. These heroes, that's one of those moments that no one can mess up, right? That's a presidential moment in the White House, with American heroes, and that's where you look like the president. And then he managed to mess it up.

And so, I look at these events and I think, we've got to get this guy's fitness scores back where you want them to be heading for a midterm...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: He's not helping you, is he, Jonathan?

MARTIN: And, Don, that's the challenge for Scott's friends in Congress, is that even if you move this tax bill, the president is not going to stop being the president, he is who he is, he's going to do the tweets, he's going to step on otherwise innocuous politically safe White House ceremonies like the code talkers. That's not going to change.

Look, if you glimpse at what happened in Virginia earlier this month I'm not sure that having a tax bill by Election Day would have changed anything in the election earlier this month. And the reason for that is because there's a segment of the electoral that just wants to come to the polls and send a message that they're exhausted by this president.

They've have enough and they want to register their displeasure at him. And I think the war that the GOP has is that the tax bill might help with your donors, it might help sort of revive your hardcore base. But there's a lot of voters out there who are going to show up next year to vote against Trump and take it out on the GOP no matter they passed.

LEMON: Well, and even if the -- listen, and if the tax bill, if it does pass, and it doesn't go as planned, and it causes the debt and it causes the deficit and all of that, then this president and the republicans will own that.

But Ana, I just want to get you in, because this is some new reporting and I want to get your response to it. It's from CNN's Jim Acosta. A source close to the White House says President Trump has questioned the politics of his decision to finally acknowledge that President Barack Obama was born in the U.S.

That is according to a source who told aids after the statement, that he would have done better in the polls. Had he stuck his ground about birtherism. Are you surprised by this?

NAVARRO: It goes back to what I said in the beginning. He keeps going back to the same crazy lies and the crazy themes like a broken record. It is not normal, folks. I'm not surprised that he's doing it, he's been doing it all along with other issues.

[22:25:02] And look, you know, at that point you have to say, well, then he's saying, I either lied then or I lied afterwards.

LEMON: Yes.

NAVARRO: At some point he lied about this birtherism thing. And by continuing to dig that hole he only makes that more -- emphasizes that.

LEMON: Scott.

NAVARRO: I also think, Don, you know, you brought up the question to Scott, about what this means for republicans. Today I've seen several republican lawmakers on TV. And when they get asked about Donald Trump's tweets, frankly, they play dumb. It is not a good look for legislators, for people making laws and crafting laws that affect us all to look like idiots and buffoons on national TV. Because they are pretending not to know, because they don't want to answer the truth and say that the president of the United States of their party is acting absolutely crazy.

LEMON: Yes.

NAVARRO: It is crazy for somebody to go on TV, a legislator and to claim that he or she does not know that our allies in England are mad as hell about his re-tweeting of white supremacists in England. They look like fools. And who wants to vote for somebody who looks like a buffoon.

LEMON: Interesting. Listen, and I think people will say -- you know people will talk about, well, you know, the news is questioning this president's fitness.

Scott, who was a presidential reporter and republican has said, this president has to get his fitness numbers up. What does that mean? That means the American public, his own supporters are questioning his fitness as well.

Thank you, all. I appreciate it.

When we come back, new bombshell allegations of sexual harassment against Matt Lauer. More women coming out tonight with their stories. Why the accusations of just one former co-worker, why was it enough to force NBC to fire him within hours?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:30:00] DON LEMON, HOST, CNN: The fall of Matt Lauer was sudden and shocking. On Tuesday, the network opened an investigation of his behavior. On Wednesday, he was gone.

So let's discuss now with two reporters who have been running down the story for months is Variety's New York bureau chief, Ramin Setoodeh, and also Elizabeth Wagmeister also from Variety as well. And also joining us is CNN political -- politics and media business reporter and that's Hadas Gold.

Thank you for joining us.

RAMIN SETOODEH, NEW YORK BUREAU CHIEF, VARIETY: Thank you for having me.

LEMON: This is an important conversation, I've been saying since these allegations have come out. It's important, it's uncomfortable but we have to talk about these issues. And then maybe, you know, one of the biggest figures to fall, especially in front of the camera, is Matt Lauer in the news business.

Ramin, your -- it's a two month investigation. You turned up, you've been working on this. You turned up three women with allegations as that Matt Lauer sexually harassed them. What would -- what did the women share with you?

SETOODEH: The stories they shared with us were disturbing, in one story he gave a fellow colleague, a sex toy, and with a note describing what he wanted to do with the toy to her. There was another story that we uncovered where he asked a colleague to come into his office and exposed himself to her.

And there are other allegations in our story which is on Variety.com about his conduct. The discussions he had in the office. His interest in women, their body parts, comments about them and their physical appearances. And there was a pattern in the way he treated women. That extended on for years at NBC.

LEMON: And it's different than what you hear from in front of the camera, and it's very possible that the people who are in front of the camera who sit next to him don't know about these issues.

Before I talk about that I just want to -- has he responded?

SETOODEH: He has not responded.

LEMON: He's not responded. He has not denied.

SETOODEH: These are allegations.

LEMON: These are allegations, OK. So tell me about the women who came forward to NBC with her attorney, the woman, filed a complaint on Monday night, and then hours later, how many hours later was Matt Lauer gone?

ELIZABETH WAGMEISTER, REPORTER, VARIETY: She went to human resources at NBC Monday night around 6 p.m. And this morning, on Wednesday at 7 a.m. it was announced that he was fired. But Lauer got word of that word that last night, so on Tuesday night. So pretty much a bit after 24 hours he was fired.

LEMON: Why so quickly? WAGMEISTER: I think you can take away from that the severity of the

allegations and the claims that she brought to human resources, that woman has not come forward, and she has not released her name. But clearly, whatever she spoke with to human resources, it was serious enough that NBC's biggest star, Matt Lauer, the face of the Today Show within 24 hours was fired.

Not even an investigation. What we've seen with other people, Charlie Rose and Kevin Spacey, they were suspended from their projects, from their TV shows. Matt Lauer was fired.

LEMON: Isn't The Today Show one of the most profitable shows in television? And its star who makes upwards of $20 million a year gone in just matter of hours.

So, Variety had been working on this, Hadas, the two folks who are here with me in the studio. But then there are also some new shocking details out tonight in the New York Times about what went on in Matt Lauer's office, can you tell us about this?

HADAS GOLD, POLITICS, MEDIA AND BUSINESS REPORTER, CNN: Sure. So there are separate reporting from the New York Times which in addition to this woman that went with her lawyer to NBC, which the New York Times also says they spoke to.

The New York Times also has reporting on two other women that have allegedly come forward to NBC. And CNN has not independently confirmed these allegations. But one of them in the New York Times story includes a woman who says that she was asked to go to Matt Lauer's office in the early 2000s. Then she said that they had sex, and at some point she passed out during that experience and with had to be -- had to get some medical attention, but that she did not come forward because she was nervous for her job, and worried and she was ashamed.

And that's just a stunning allegation right there. And that is separate from the great reporting that Variety has already done.

LEMON: My God -- wow. So, listen, I want to talk a little more about what's in these articles. And before -- before I put up the quote here let me ask.

[22:35:03] The people who, the ladies who were on camera this morning, Savannah and Hoda were, you know, I think they did a magnificent job in talking about their experience.

WAGMEISTER: Yes.

LEMON: But he was loved there, and still is, they didn't know about it, but there are people who say that they believe some people did know about these things?

SETOODEH: I think what we're seeing and we've seen this going back to Bill Cosby. There are some entertainers and news personalities that have a public persona, and so people think they know one version of who they are. And then they have a private persona that is completely different from that public persona. And I think we've come to this understanding that it's possible to

have a public persona that's one thing and a private persona that's completely different, darker, dangerous, frightening to women who may work with these public figures. And this is part of a tipping point in the conversation that we're having about sexual harassment in the workplace and how it cannot be tolerated.

LEMON: Let me part of the -- which is, sort of corroborates what you're saying here. It says, "Despite being married, Lauer, was fixated on women, especially their bodies and looks, according to more than 10 accounts from current and former employees. He was known for making lewd comments verbally over text messages or over text messages. He once made a suggestive reference to a colleague's performance in bed, and compared it to how she was able to complete her job. According to witnesses to the exchange, for Lauer, work and sex were intertwined."

How long did this go unchecked? Allegedly?

WAGMEISTER: We, with all of the sources and the women that we spoke to. He's been there 20 years, and these stories range over the course of many years. So a lot of the people that we spoke to they explain the culture there as a boy's club. But also as you said, some people didn't know and he was loved.

This morning, though, after he was fired, I will tell you this, Don, that I had one of the sources who we were speaking with for the story call me, and they just said, I cannot believe it, we are so shocked. We knew that you were investigating this, we knew you were reporting it. We knew there were rumbling but cannot believe a, that it's fully true, and b, that somebody as powerful as Matt Lauer was pushed out so swiftly.

LEMON: Yes.

WAGMEISTER: So people there are really shocked.

LEMON: Hadas, I want to put up Andy Lack's statement, he's the chairman of NBC News and I just had people read it. He talked about Matt's sexual behavior. He talked about the reasons why they fired him. There are some things he didn't talk about here as who to replace him, and on and on and on here.

But there had been rumblings about this for a while. No one knew the extent of it, that maybe Matt was a player, and on and on and on. Do you think that this was in some circles an open secret, or do you think people, most people are completely shocked by it?

GOLD: I think that there have been rumblings for sure, that Variety and the New York Times were working on stories, and as you said, there have been mentions of -- in some reports about his alleged extra marital affairs, but not necessarily to this extent.

And I think that's what we're seeing in a lot of these stories, that sometimes people will talk, there will be rumors, but oftentimes we don't hear the full extent of the stories, until these women come forward. These are -- for a lot of these women, it's embarrassing, they feel sometimes ashamed of what happened even if it's not their fault.

What we're seeing now is the sort of this change, where women are feeling emboldened that it's not their fault, and if these things did happen, they should come forward, they should report them.

And I think most importantly what we're seeing, is we're seeing private companies acting incredibly quickly. This happened with Charlie Rose, this happened with just now with Matt Lauer, clearly the evidence was so compelling and having a formal H.R. complaint probably really helped that process along.

But if you think about just a year ago when we had a lot of similar issues happening at Fox News, it took a few weeks and it took a lot of investigations before real action started happening.

LEMON: Yes, listen, this is fascinating what's happening, not only in this business, but in other businesses. I think we're going to see it. I'll be interested to see when it trickles down to the person, you know, the cashier and the store or the waitress or you know, someone who works in an office. Because I think it's going to have that effect. But amazing reporting. Thank you all for coming on and talking about this very important topic.

And when we come back, we're going to talk about Matt Lauer, this story, how it relates to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, when we come back.

[22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: In light of the shocking ouster of Matt Lauer from The Today Show, there are new questions about his treatment of women on the air. I want you to look again at this exchange with Hillary Clinton during a presidential forum, it was in September of 2016.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, (D) FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: None of the e-mails sent or received by me had such a header.

MATT LAUER, FORMER NBC HOST: Were some of the e-mails sent or received by you referring to our drone program, our covert drone program.

CLINTON: There are ways of talking about the drone program.

(CROSSTALK)

LAUER: And you said you thought your communications on that were fairly routine?

CLINTON: The FBI just released their report about their investigation. They discussed drone matters in the unclassified section.

LAUER: But Director Comey also said this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So I want to talk about this with CNN political commentators Ben Ferguson and Angela Rye. Good evening both of you. I appreciate you coming on.

Angela, you heard the way that Matt Lauer interviewed Hillary Clinton. Neera Tanden who worked on the Clinton campaign tweeted this. You know Neera at the Today Show, the Today's announcement.

ANGELA RYE, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Yes.

LEMON: She said, "Another person who's interviewed -- who's interview with Trump was ridiculously soft and Hillary -- and interview with Hillary was incredibly tough." And then she said "Matt Lauer." Looking back now, what are your thoughts on that?

[22:45:02] RYE: Well, I remember many of us commenting on that both online and in this conversation, that it seemed that Matt Lauer was a little tough on Hillary Clinton. To me, I just thought that initially at that time that he was dishing it to people who could take it.

But now, you know, looking back at some of the other highlights that they pulled. Not with Hillary Clinton but also with some of his co- hosts on the Today Show, I think it is kind interesting.

I would say, Don, even on this program, some of the other programs on CNN, some of the commentators, some of the things they say back to women, like me, whether it's questioning my qualifications or questioning my substance or cutting me off. It happens quite often, and I think, frankly, the culture needs to take a real shift in boardrooms, in meetings, in regular conversations, and we have to get used to not talking over people just because they may look different or because they are women.

LEMON: Yes. In contrast, here's how Matt Lauer treated Donald Trump, when he talked about his support for getting out of Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I happened to hear Hillary Clinton say that I was not against the war in Iraq. I was totally against the war in Iraq, you can look at Esquire magazine from '04, you can look at before that, I was against the war in Iraq, because I said, it's going to totally destabilize the Middle East, which it has, it has absolutely been a disastrous war, and by the way, perhaps almost as bad was the way Barack Obama got out. That was a disaster.

LAUER: People talk about you and commander and chief, and not just Secretary Clinton but some of your republican opponents in the primary season. And they wonder about your temperament. They say, does Donald Trump have the temperament to be commander in chief.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: So here's initially when I saw that...

BEN FERGUSON, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Yes.

LEMON: ... I said I was watching it live. I said this about, not only about Matt, because Matt is a smart man and knowledgeable, and there were others, what I said was that, they don't cover it as much as we do here on cable news.

Every night we're in it. I mean, for two hours, sometimes three, four, five, or six hours. The Today Show you do the first 20 minutes or whatever, and then you go on you do cooking segments and fun. And maybe...

(CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: Interesting (Ph).

LEMON: Maybe that I thought maybe that just slipped by him. So I gave him the benefit of the doubt. But looking back, he did seem harsher on Hillary Clinton than he was on Trump.

(CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: I think that...

LEMON: And he didn't catch that whole thing that was not true.

FERGUSON: I don't, look, I think there's a lot you can criticize Matt Lauer for. I think this is stretching. I think there's a lot of questions that had to be asked about Hillary Clinton, because Hillary Clinton did a lot more things in government compared to Donald Trump. Donald Trump took a lot of heat for things that he had said and done and takes a lot of heat every day.

But I never watched Matt Lauer and thought, man, he's giving a conservative and easy day or giving Donald Trump an easy day. I've never, now to be honest, I've never watched Matt Lauer and thought he was necessarily being easy on a democrat either.

I thought, and look, I look for that stuff to see what's there. I think this is now people saying, I'm going to pile on, because it's appropriate to rip on Matt Lauer today.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: But it was talked about...

FERGUSON: I don't think...

LEMON: It was talked about that.

FERGUSON: Right. But I don't think -- maybe from people that were truly supporters of Hillary Clinton, because if you talk to supporters of Donald Trump...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: No, not just -- no, no, no.

FERGUSON: But let me finish my point here.

LEMON: That's not true though.

FERGUSON: If you talk to people that watch that are obsessed or love their candidate. They're always going to think if anyone is tough on them that they were being unfair to them. I just don't see that. I think people are stretching on this one.

LEMON: No, I don't think people thought it was unfair. I just think they thought that the treatment was different, that he was harder on Hillary Clinton and maybe to Angela's point, maybe he thought that Hillary Clinton was a stronger candidate or...

(CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: Of course, she had a much bigger resume politically.

RYE: Stronger person.

LEMON: Stronger person.

FERGUSON: I mean, she had a much bigger resume politically. She had been in a lot more tough interviews before, she'd been in the realm. She had a lot of tough questions she had to answer, but ultimately lost to the election.

(CROSSTALK)

RYE: But Ben...

FERGUSON: I mean, remember...

LEMON: You don't think Trump had a lot of tough questions?

FERGUSON: I think Trump took a lot of tough questions from a lot of people. Maybe not what you wanted Matt Lauer to ask him. But again, I think we're stretching to say somehow, Matt Lauer was hard on Hillary Clinton. I think Matt Lauer in The Today Show and NBC was pretty nice to Hillary.

LEMON: I've got to get to a break. We're going to talk about this and we're also going to talk about his re-tweet of this anti-Muslim unverified videos, coming up. We'll be right back.

[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: We've heard the same excuses over and over from the White House President Trump the election and the voters are OK with what he does but is that really true?

I'm back now with Ben Ferguson and Angela Rye. Listen, I have a lot to get to, so. Angela, but I want to you respond, too, You didn't get a chance to respond what we were talking about, Matt Lauer's some feel that he treated Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump different during that presidential forum in 2016.

RYE: Just quickly, I think the difference is to Ben's point Donald Trump hadn't had as much political experience and so her questions were, by nature, hardball questions. He was asking her detailed questions even in the segment you played about what information was classified that she shared, what wasn't classified, what was for official use only. Like very clear cut hardball questions about her behavior.

FERGUSON: Tough.

RYE: Yes.

LEMON: Yes.

RYE: And I think the reality of it is Donald Trump couldn't really answer any of those questions. He didn't have that to talk about.

LEMON: OK.

RYE: But they certainly could have asked him about his housing discrimination or the other things he's been accuse of.

LEMON: So, Ben, in the past 48 hours we've seen President Trump re- tweet anti-Muslim videos, refer to Senator Elizabeth Warren as Pocahontas in the event honoring Native Americans, we've also -- he's also embracing conspiracy theories including denying that it's him on the Access Hollywood bus tape reportedly and that he wanted investigators to figure it out. How is any of that...

(CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: Well, let's start first with the videos showing and people say well, we're not sure this is a real video. You can go to plenty of ISIS' sites and see the exact same videos doing the exact same things to people that are gay because they're gay, to Christians because they're Christians.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: That's fine I'm sure you can do that. But these videos...

FERGUSON: No. But my point is, you're saying...

LEMON: ... but these videos are not verified.

FERGUSON: Well.

LEMON: So if you're going to -- if you're going to tweet something.

FERGUSON: Let me finish, how do you verify a video if the other ones -- only if ISIS puts them...

(CROSSTALK) LEMON: So then don't tweet them.

FERGUSON: No, this is....

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: That's the whole point. If you're going to -- no, no, no, no.

FERGUSON: You care more about the validity of something than you do about the reality of it happening.

(CROSSTALK)

[22:54:58] LEMON: Absolutely especially if you rail against people, fake news and things are wrong and facts.

FERGUSON: You're saying that you believe in your heart of hearts that these videos are fake?

LEMON: But there's a way -- Ben.

FERGUSON: No, they're real.

LEMON: There's a...

FERGUSON: They're ISIS killing Christians and gays and throwing them off buildings and they put it on their own propaganda.

RYE: That's not what he tweeted.

FERGUSON: They're real.

LEMON: The British embassy said that there was -- there was not -- one of them there was not even a Muslim in there. But here's the thing.

RYE: That's right.

(CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: I didn't say...

LEMON: If you're not sure, why do you, as the president of the United States, you can put out a press release, you can go stand in front of podium and have the world look at you and say we have got to stop this horrible treatment by if you -- whatever -- if you want to call it -- if you want to call it will Jihadist or if you want to call radicalism or whatever, you're the president of the United States, you can stand in front of a podium.

FERGUSON: And he does that but he does it sometimes through Twitter.

LEMON: You don't have to tweet -- you don't have to tweet unverified.

(CROSSTALK) FERGUSON: I understand you don't like -- I understand you don't like his style. But here's how...

LEMON: It's not even style, that's not point, Ben. Ben, you're missing the point. How do you have the moral high ground to call things fake and say that you are the orbiter of truth when you're tweeting fake things? How do you that?

FERGUSON: You're now declaring that the videos of Muslims, throwing people off buildings you're actually saying now is fake? You're saying it's not real?

LEMON: You're missing -- you're missing the point.

RYE: Ben, but you're making an argument that's not before us right now.

LEMON: That's a strong argument.

(CROSSTALK)

RYE: Wait.

LEMON: Please go ahead.

FERGUSON: No, you just -- let me go back to the point real quick that's important here. We shouldn't...

RYE: No, wait, Ben. Ben.

LEMON: It's not important...

RYE: Ben, wait. You've already argued...

LEMON: It's not important that you showed...

RYE: Excuse me.

LEMON: ... someone who is attacking someone or someone...

(CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: You don't think it should be brought to light that they're actually doing this?

LEMON: Will you let me finish.

(CROSSTALK)

RYE: Can it not be the national empire's version?

LEMON: I'll just explain to you that there are ways to do it that are truthful ways of doing it rather than a fake false way that has nothing to do with the truth.

(CROSSTALK) FERGUSON: So if he does it from the podium then you'd be cool with it.

LEMON: Of course.

RYE: No. No. But wait. No.

LEMON: Go ahead, Angela.

RYE: No, excuse me.

FERGUSON: Muslims and gays being thrown off buildings and then it's official to you.

LEMON: You're arguing something that's not even arguing. You're not making sense, Ben.

RYE: So, listen -- I'm not even going to...

LEMON: You don't know. You're not making sense. It has nothing to do with it.

RYE: Ben.

LEMON: Hold on, Angela. Hold on. Hold on. Producers, hold on. If you -- you cannot argue that something is real if you're tweeting something out that's fake. If you're putting out fake information, you can't argue that it's real.

FERGUSON: We can see what's fake.

LEMON: None of them are verified. The one of the two teenage boys, that is a fake video.

FERGUSON: So you're saying that was a fake fight, it never happened? It was staged?

RYE: No, what he's saying is that...

LEMON: It wasn't a Muslim.

RYE: They're not Muslim people.

LEMON: It was a Dutch kid attacking a Dutch kid. Go ahead, Angela.

RYE: They're not Muslim people, number one. Number two, at some point this man has to be responsible for the way in which he talks about Muslim people. Folks who are God fearing and don't attack anyone.

Every single Muslim person is not responsible for every act of violence by...

(CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: I agree. And that's not what he was saying. I'm fine. RYE: ... someone who happens to say they pray to Allah. Hold on, Ben. Because you talked for five minutes in circles about this. The other issue that we have, is you're saying just like Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that it doesn't matter if the video that he shared is not real or is not about Muslims when the problem exists. That is not OK. Particularly, to Don's, when you're talking about someone who's regularly talking about fake news.

(CROSSTALK)

FERGUSON: Let me say this.

LEMON: I can't let you finish. I can't. I've to go.

RYE: Hold on. One more point. One more point.

LEMON: Angela, go ahead. No, Angela. Go ahead.

RYE: The hateful, the terms of service that Twitter has, he consistently violates them. This is exhibit a, of that violation. They have a policy called the hateful policy.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Quickly, Angela.

RYE: This is what he violated today.

FERGUSON: You want to be...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: All right. I got to go. When we come back, breaking news and it's a CNN exclusive. New details about the meeting between Robert Mueller's investigators and Jared Kushner. Much more on that meeting and why -- and what it has to do with Michael Flynn and what else we're learning about what went down.

We'll be right back.

[23:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)