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CNN TONIGHT

Not Guilty Verdict In Death Of Kate Steinle; Fate Of Senate GOP Tax Cut; ICE Say It Will Deport Garcia Zarate. Aired 11-Midnight ET

Aired November 30, 2017 - 23:00   ET

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


(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: No wonder the people of our country are so angry with illegal immigration. We got much more on that in just a moment.

Plus this, more breaking news on two huge stories. "The New York Times" reporting President Trump pressed Republicans to end the senate Russia inquiry. The White House denying that. And the GOP tax bill facing an uncertain fate in the face of reports that it would add a $1 trillion to the debt. There is a lot to discuss. Let's get right to CNN political commentator Charles Blow and Ed Martin and also Tara Setmayer, former communications Director for Congressman Dana Rohrabacher. Good evening, thank you all for joining us. Let's start with the breaking news, the President needs a win. The stumbling block on taxes here, with Bob Corker towards the end, what's your read on that?

TARA SETMAYER FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR CONGRESSMAN DANA ROHRABACHER: Well, I'm not surprised. Bob Corker and Jeff Flake, they had been deficit hawks their entire careers. The Republican Party, we used to be the Party of fiscal responsibility, so ballooning the deficit and these kinds of fiscal issues used to be at the heart of Republican policy. So, the fact that they're sticking to their guns on this isn't surprising. But this report now saying that, you know, we're talking another $1 trillion but a little bit of a damper into the plans here.

There's another issue here that I think people who are criticizing the process, they're actually right about that. When tax reform was passed in the 80s, there were like 30-plus hearings, it went on for ten months. When you have something of this magnitude, usually there's a hearing process where you have experts that talk about this and they can hammer these things out through the committee process. That is not happening here. So these kinds of discussions and these kinds of issues back and forth would have been hammered out through the committee process and the hearings and we wouldn't have this like 11th hour drama. The Republicans have set themselves up on this because of the timetable being so compact, because they're so desperate for a win.

LEMON: Is this all just about a win?

ED MARTIN, AUTHOR, THE CONSERVATIVE CASE FOR TRUMP: You know, Don, I was in St. Charles, Missouri, yesterday, when the President spoke. You know Missouri from your time out there. And when he spoke on it, I was really impressed. I've had my doubts about this tax reform bill, I thought it was swampy, filled with loopholes and junk, and it still is, in a way, but why you're getting some momentum, is not just cutting the rates but competitiveness with China and other places and I think --

LEMON: I don't disagree with that, but I'm talking about the stumbling block that happened on the floor tonight with --

MARTIN: I think it's a little bit of theater, to be honest. I think they're going to get it through. I think they're playing this out. I think Corker maybe made some noise. They're negotiating and they're going to get it through. I haven't heard anything that says they are not going to push it through.

LEMON: I want to move on now. This is a lot to talk about when it comes to what's happening now, because they're debating and we don't know how long this is going to go on. Let's start with the breaking news about the President reportedly pressuring top Republicans to end the senate Russia inquiry. The White House is pushing back on that saying, not so. What's your take on this?

CHARLES BLOW, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I obviously believe "The New York Times." and that said, it is part of a pattern. He keeps trying to intrude into this process rather than appearing to be, and in fact, being willing to answer any and all questions, give any and all information that he may have. And the idea that he doesn't want to do that is always, I think, appears to prosecutors as, problematic. The fact that they keep withholding information. Not only him, but Jared and people keep misremembering things or not remembering them. And then once somebody finds out, all of a sudden, oh, yes, I remember, we did that thing. We had that has meeting and all those Russians. It's problematic, because we keep catching them in lies and they keep withholding information. So if you didn't do anything, you should want this to exonerate you and you should believe fully in the process that it will exonerate you.

LEMON: Why bring this kind of pressure -- exert this kind of pressure on lawmakers, especially when the President is under so much scrutiny already?

MARTIN: The report in the New York Times is that he said to Senator Burr and to Roy Blunt, those were the two we had on the record, who say there is a conversation was, let's get this over with. Something like that. And Roy Blunt said it wasn't sinister, it was, let's get this over. I think the President -- and I don't think it's so much that someone said earlier on CNN, I don't think that he doesn't understand how the game is played. I think he wants his presidency to move past this. And I tend to think that he thinks that there's not anything to this and wants to get past it.

SETMAYER: I'm sure he does.

LEMON: What do you mean, he doesn't know how the game is played?

MARTIN: No, I'm saying he does. When people say, he is a new guy to town and doesn't know how politics works. I think he knows how politics work. By my point is also executive branches separate from the judiciary for legislative and this nothing about this is anyway other than the way this works.

[23:05:07] SETMAYER: No.

MARTIN: This is not contempt, this is not interference.

SETMAYER: This is not the way it works. Yes, the executive branch and legislative branch are supposed to be separate in these things, and the President is in trouble now because he tried to influence the FBI Director and asked him to back off Mike Flynn and the investigation there. And he is been obsessed with Russia for months, for the majority of his presidency, because there are a lot of very questionable interactions and meetings and things that went on there that warrant investigation. So why wouldn't he do this?

He is used to business where you go and rub elbows with so-and-so, and try to put pressure on this one and that one. So of course he is going to try to do that. Because he is never really faced any consequences otherwise. So why would he not try to do this? We already know he asked the FBI Director, could you see your way clear of this investigation? Why wouldn't he do it with members of the senate?

BLOW: It's not only what he said about why he got rid of Comey, it's what he said off his own mouth about why he is being upset with Jeff Sessions for recusing himself. It's what he is said out of his own mouth about a litany of situations --

SETMAYER: He called the Russian thing a hoax.

MARTIN: Quickly, the executive branch is headed by the President. Those people report to him. The Attorney General, Comey, they all report to him --

BLOW: Historically --

LEMON: No -- there's separation there when it comes investigations.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: No.

LEMON: Especially if there's --

SETMAYER: What are you talking about?

BLOW: The Attorney General is not taking direct orders from the President and should not be. Sorry, can I finish? He appoints, but we have set this system up, so the Attorney General should not be taking direct directions from the President. He should operate --

MARTIN: That is not America, Charles.

BLOW: That is America. What are you talking about? MARTIN: That is a banana republic, where somebody --

SETMAYER: No, it's a banana republic when the President tells his own guy?

BLOW: What are you talking about?

LEMON: Aren't the people in charge? The Attorney General works at the pleasure of the President. But the President works at the pleasure of the people.

MARTIN: Right, and we had an election and he won. And when they were done, they said, here's you're manual. You get to appoint this guy, this guy, this guy, and this guy.

BLOW: Your understanding is that the DOJ is the President's personal lawyers?

MARTIN: No, that is not what the constitution says.

BLOW: Exactly.

MARTIN: It says the executive branch enforces the law and the Attorney General in that constitution is appointed at the pleasure --

BLOW: Appointed. That doesn't mean he is taking daily orders from the President. That doesn't mean taking daily directions from the President.

MARTIN: Of course it does.

BLOW: Oh, my god. That is why we're in trouble. This is why we're in trouble. This is why we're in trouble.

MARTIN: Can the President fire the Attorney General?

BLOW: First of all, if you wanted me to answer a question, you've got to stop and give me a chance to answer. Yes, he can.

MARTIN: Ok, perfect.

BLOW: However, that does not mean -- I'm going to say this as clearly as I can. That does not mean that the Attorney General should be taking daily directions from the President of the United States.

MARTIN: May I respond?

BLOW: Yes, you may, sir.

MARTIN: Here is it will facts of life. We have a constitution. The executive branch is headed by as Don said, someone elected by the people. He gets to run that branch. The other branch, legislative and judicial run their way. And that is the way it has been on the deep state, as people describe it --

BLOW: Find in the constitution -- MARTIN: You need to let me finish. I let you finish.

BLOW: Go for it.

MARTIN: The constitution puts someone in charge of the executive branch, otherwise we have bureaucrats in charge of what, governing and they are not elected. That is the point and people know that, that is the problem.

LEMON: What does that have to do with the deep state?

MARTIN: If bureaucrats are in charge like Charles says and can't be accountable to the executive, it doesn't matter if we have an election. We have bureaucrats who are going sync or help the presidency.

BLOW: So you think there's no separation?

MARTIN: In the executive branch?

BLOW: You think there is no separation between the function of the DOJ and the President --

MARTIN: May I answer the question?

LEMON: That is a problem, if you think that daily --

BLOW: If he gets up in the morning and takes his order from the President about who he should prosecute, what cases he should take.

MARTIN: Well, I don't think that is practical --

BLOW: It's ridiculous!

MARTIN: The powers that are in the executive branch.

LEMON: Hold on, let me ask you a question. If you think this is the way it's done, because it hasn't been done that way, why did the President say, I'm frustrated remember, because he could not interfere with the Justice Department and he wanted to have more influence when traditionally Presidents have not had that and they have separated --

MARTIN: May I answer? That there has been a policy that was put in place. It's a policy, not constitution or a requirement in the law that the White House does not work with the Department of Justice, except by checking with their counsel. The White House counsel.

[23:10:04] SETMAYER: And way do you think that was put there?

MARTIN: Can I finish?

SETMAYER: Why do you think that was put there?

MARTIN: It doesn't matter.

SETMAYER: Policy doesn't come from nothing. The policy was put there so we could avoid what's happening right now.

LEMON: Do you sit around and just figure out ways to defend anything the --

MARTIN: No. This is called the constitution.

LEMON: Let me finish my question. Even when it doesn't make sense? It seems like, no matter what, if I say the President is supposed to have five toes, you would say, no! No! This President has six toes.

MARTIN: I've never seen his feet.

LEMON: This President has six toes, because that is the new way it's done and no one has ever said that a person is supposed to have -- it seems like you make up these outlandish reasons to defend the indefensible every single time. I love having you on, but why do you do that? Is it fun for you?

MARTIN: May I answer? Because the constitution -- we are in danger of having people like Charles described, bureaucrats and others in charge instead of the elective.

LEMON: We're in danger of having a dictator --

MARTIN: No, we're not. Where's the dictation?

LEMON: Because people like you think that the President should be an authoritarian and have unlimited power in the United States. That is what you are saying.

SETMAYER: Why do you think there's a special prosecutor? Because there's a concern of obstruction of justice from the President of the United States?

MARTIN: What branch of the government is that in?

SETMAYER: It doesn't matter!

MARTIN: It doesn't matter?

SETMAYER: No, it doesn't matter, because there's mechanisms in place to check and balance those things.

LEMON: I think you have fun coming on to these shows and deliberately trying to confuse me.

MARTIN: It's not fun. I mean, I do have fun --

LEMON: But that is what you're doing. There's no way on earth that you can believe 80 percent of the things that you defend.

MARTIN: All I would say to Charles, if you think that the president can fire --

LEMON: You didn't answer my question.

MARTIN: What? How do I have fun in the show?

LEMON: 80 percent of the things or more, you cannot believe that. There is no way a rational, sane person can belief the things --

MARTIN: Don, don, I'm sitting here -- so you're saying I'm not rational or sane. That is a different thing.

BLOW: I think there's a method to your madness.

MARTIN: I just stick to the constitution.

LEMON: We'll be right back. We have a lot more to discuss. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:15:44] LEMON: Back now with my experts in the studio. We'll get to them in just a moment. I want to talk to this group about the President and race. But we have this breaking news on the topic tonight and it's out of San Francisco. A jury has found an undocumented immigrant not guilty in the July 2015 death of Kate Steinle. The case was a centerpiece of the Trump campaign and reignited the immigration debate and the President is reacting tonight. Let's get to CNN's Dan Simon he is live for us in San Francisco with the very latest on this. Dan, what can you tell us?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Don, first of all, the President just tweeted about this. I want to read you the tweet. He says, this is a disgraceful verdict in the Kate Steinle case. No wonder the people of our country are so angry with illegal immigration. Obviously, Don, people will see this as a controversial decision. Let me walk you through what happened here. This all began July 1st, 2015. That is when you had 32-year-old Kate Steinle taking a stroll along pier 14 in downtown San Francisco. That is a popular tourist spot. She is with her father and a shot rings out. The shot goes through her back and prosecutors immediately said that this was an intentional killing. That the suspect in this case, a 45-year-old undocumented immigrant by the name of Jose Zarate intentionally pointed the weapon and pulled the trigger.

Within an hour of the shooting, police had arrested him. The defense in this trial, and I was covering the trial for most of it. They were able to effectively plant reasonable doubt in the minds of this jury. Let me explain how. First of all, the shot that rang out, it was a ricochet shot. It travelled are about 12 feet and then went another 78 feet after it struck the pavement and then killed Kate Steinle. They were also able to establish there was no motive in this case. Of course, Garcia Zarate had never met Kate Steinle and he had no history of violence despite the fact that he had been deported five times and had multiple drug felonies. They were also there is little gunshot residue on his hands, something that you might expect when you have a shooting like this. They are also able to get a defense expert to testify that this particular weapon that fired a 40-caliber pistol, a six-hour weapon, had a history of accidental discharges. So it all added up to reasonable doubt in the jury's mind and they only found him guilty on one charge, and that was being a felon in possession of a firearm.

LEMON: So Dan, the deputy Director of ICE, the Immigration and Customs enforcement says it will deport Jose Zarate. What more can you tell us about that?

SIMON: Well, that is going to depend on whether or not he receives any prison time in San Francisco for that last charge I talked about. He was found guilty of that lesser charge, he does carry a two to four-year prison sentence. Because he did serve time already, in jail here, he may get credit. And because of overcrowding, they may let him go. If that happens then ICE will deport him back to Mexico, but you would have some argue, he is already come into the country five times and perhaps may try to come in another time, Don.

LEMON: Dan Simon thank you very much for that. Let us get back to the group here, Charles, this case was central to the Trump campaign, his presidential campaign. Turns out the jury saw the set of facts very differently with this verdict than most people thought it would turn out.

BLOW: First of all, I want to say this, it's a tragedy either way for her family, for her family who's still here and mourning her. But I do believe that the President was using him as a way to project a pathology on to all Mexicans or all immigrants or even all Mexican immigrants who might even be criminal. And I see that happen over and over and over again, but only happen among people of color. It happened with him and Mexico and black people and Willie Horton, it happens with Muslim people and every Muslim who commits an act of violence or terror. It never happens with white people. That guy can shoot however hundreds of people he shot in Vegas and we will never say this is proof of white pathology. We will never say that, but we will hone in on this guy, right or wrong, whatever he did, and project on to the rest of the immigrant population that this is the reason that we have to do something about the rest of them. Him, he epitomizes their pathology. That at its core is what racism looks like, when you don't use the slur, but you project on to a population.

[23:20:27] LEMON: There are a number of different articles that have been written, have we been lied to about the Kate Steinle case. And it is a tragedy. Nothing going to sadly bring her back, I'm sure everyone wishes they could. But here's the bottom line with the jury. The jury believed what the evidence, whatever evidence was presented in court that it was an accidental shooting from a gun that was left behind by someone else. That is what the jury made their verdict on.

MARTIN: Right. I didn't see the evidence. But I agree with your description and take it as true. But here's the facts. Five times, the guy is taken out of the country. We're supposed to have a system that works.

LEMON: That is true.

MARTIN: If we had somebody that was, you know, shoplifting five times or pick another crime. And I know someone's going to say, it's not a crime, it's a violation, five times. I think when tapping into a broader point, Charles, if I can move carefully away from the question of race, if we can't get our immigration system enforced, a lot of people are frustrated by that. Where I live in Missouri, we have more legal immigrants that are Bosnian and Vietnamese than Hispanic, maybe. We have big populations. So the faces are sometimes different, but people -- what Trump tapped into as a candidate was, we want a wall -- and people, I don't think, understood what that meant. They just knew, the system is so broken and Kate Steinle's dead. And today Kate Steinle dead and her family is looking up, he is a felon in possession of a gun and gets only a crime on possession, it's --

LEMON: Listen, that is true. He did have different stories about it. I wasn't in the jury room, I wasn't in the courtroom, and I don't know how they came up with this particular verdict. But can you bring what you said to the fore? And there is some legitimacy to what you said about our immigration process, without politicizing it or odorizing it. Listen, when you say the legal people or undocumented people, yeah, they're undocumented or whatever term you want to use, illegal. They are undocumented, but can want you bring a spotlight to it without politicizing it?

SETMAYER: So as someone who worked on this direct issue for many years in Capitol Hill, it is -- a lot of what Ed said is correct. And this is very frustrating for the American people. And as someone who grew up in New Jersey, I grew up in this area where there was a melting pot of everybody. I didn't really think about illegal immigration and border crossings until I worked for a member of congress from southern California, and became an advocate for border patrol, two Hispanic border patrol agents in Texas who were unjustly convicted of shooting an illegal alien drug smuggler, and were sent to prison unjustly and we got them out on a Presidential commutation. But my work on that case introduced me to all of the dysfunctions of our immigration system. And the Kate Steinle case optimized that on a number of levels. Jurors don't always get it right. Unfortunately in this case, we weren't in the room, but it seems on the face of it a little tough to swallow because a life was lost and it was taken at the hands of someone who should not have been in this country.

LEMON: I think most people feel it should be a harsher punishment.

SETMAYER: Yes. It should. And the reason why this guy was able to come back in the country and why he is back on the street has a lot to do with what happens in sanctuary cities with local government not cooperating with the federal law enforcement agency like ICE. That has got to stop and I think what Kate's law was trying to do was trying to make the illegal crossings multiple times more harsh penalties for that, to deter people from doing it and also to encourage (inaudible) work with our federal agents to stop this.

LEMON: I think everyone here has a point, but the only question that I ask is, and we know the facts, yes, he -- he was sent back --

SETMAYER: Trump coming down the escalator saying the rapists and Mexicans and stuff --

LEMON: I'm saying undocumented people commit crimes on -- fewer number of crimes than native -- born America. It's saying that being an undocumented person is right or wrong, I'm not casting judgment. But by politicizing it and saying these people commit more crimes, they don't. Those are the facts and people should understand that. And that is nothing to say about Kate Steinle. It's tragic, it should not have happened. It's awful and most people want a harsher punishment.

MARTIN: Let me say that will make Charles excited and get mad at me. The guy that did the shooting in Las Vegas, he was an American citizen with certain protections under the law. Someone who's here illegally don't have the same protections.

[23:25:13] SETMAYER: They do have the same protections. There are case laws about that.

MARTIN: Not the same.

SETMAYER: They are --

LEMON: Charles, this is part of your op-ed. You say the Trump doctrine is white supremacy. He is also diplomatic enough, overwhelmed by avarice, thoroughly corrupt and a pathological liar. But it is to white supremacy and to hostility for everyone not white that he always returns. Do you think he is fit for office or not? What are you saying?

BLOW: I've never thought he was fit for office. But this is a particular point about the way in which he engages with people who are non-white actors. People who get under his skin. And looking at how he responds to that, who he covers for. When you go out and say, among these white Nazis were some good guys. And then every time you turn around, and before he was in office, there was a black lives Matter protest, he was on it. Every time that there is any act of terror, he is on it, even before he even knows there's an act of terror. When you look at how he behaved in Texas, compared to how he behaved in Puerto Rico and how he treated the mayor of San Juan, you look at how he talked about Mexican Judges, you look at how he talked about the athletes that kneeled during the anthem, you look at how he behaves and he constantly comes back to that honey pot. And you have to ask yourself, well, what is that? Why them? Why is, when the screws are being tightened on you, and your tongue gets loose, why are they always the targets?

LEMON: And maybe, you think he knows that that is the only group that will support him no matter what?

BLOW: Which group?

LEMON: The people who think like that?

MARTIN: Think like what?

LEMON: The people who don't call the guy --

SETMAYER: Racists, bigots --

BLOW: You said it.

LEMON: The people who think its ok to say that there are good people on both sides.

MARTIN: And if you look at the record of the guy --

LEMON: I've got to go.

MARTIN: Oh, you have got to go now.

LEMON: We have gone over about ten minutes on this segment. They have been in my ears.

SETMAYER: Look at Trump's record on race. All of those issues. It's not a great one.

MARTIN: He already lost the election once. Let's go forward.

LEMON: Look at my Caucasian American.

MARTIN: I know, the one guy.

LEMON: When we come back, a subtle shift in the statement from NBC over the firing of Matt Lauer that is raising new questions about who and what and when.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:32:20] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: Matt Lauer breaking his silence today on the sexual misconduct allegations that cost him his job, but the fired "today" show host is claiming some of what's being said about him is untrue or has been mischaracterized. Joining me now, CNN's senior media correspondent, Mr. Brian Stelter and media and business reporter, Miss Hadas Gold. Good evening to both of you. Hadas, let's put Matt Lauer's statement up. I'll read part of it. But basically he said, there are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others, my words and actions and the people I had hurt, I am truly sorry, whatever. And listen, it's a pretty long statement. I just want to have time to talk here. Lauer says some of what is being said about him is being mischaracterized and that is untrue. What do you make of his apology, Hadas?

HADAS GOLD, CNN POLITICS, MEDIA AND BUSINESS REPORTER: Well, it's clear that he acknowledges that some of what he did was not exactly appropriate, but he is trying to say that not everything that is being written about him is completely true. But clearly NBC saw enough evidence and enough damning evidence to fire him so quickly, within really 24 hours, they turned this around, but we're going to see this continue to play out, we might see more statement from Matt Lauer probably and probably more action when it comes to his contract with NBC.

LEMON: And can we talk about the contract? Because I hear that page six is reporting that his attorneys are trying to get him a $30 million payout.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Good luck. I think, certainly, NBC is not officially commented on this yet, but the sense I'm getting is, he is not going to be paid the tens of millions of dollars that his contract technically owes. You know how --

LEMON: Didn't say he was fired for cause, so he doesn't get that money?

STELTER: Exactly. Because of these allegations against him, because NBC apparently had compelling evidence of this misbehavior, the lawyers at NBC will be able to negotiate with Lauer's lawyers and make sure he doesn't get paid tens of millions. But we will see about that. What he says in his statements about some of the allegations are untrue, I think that is for legal reasons. He is saying that because he may face legal liability. If he were to admit all of it that would open him up to lawsuits and things like that. Certainly, it's notable, we have not seen new accusers come forward today. There are chilling allegations in this morning's "New York Times" story, but we have not heard about new complains since then. So there is a little bit of quiet, maybe that is because there are more stories than they were.

LEMON: There was a citing today on another program of him in the Hamptons, which is where his family lives, but he has not publicly said anything except for releasing a statement. Hadas, the original statement from NBC Chairman Andy said there had been no complaints in the 20 years that Lauer had worked at NBC. And a second statement released later in the day by NBC said this. We can say, unequivocally that prior to Monday night that current NBC news management was never made aware of any complaints about Matt Lauer's conduct. What do you think of the shift to current news management?

[23:35:18] GOLD: The "current" word is what a lot of people I've talked to are taking interest in. They see it as maybe possible wiggle room. They say current management, the current President would have only been in place for a few years, who would have known perhaps before. But we don't know. We're starting to see these stories coming out saying, everybody knew about Matt Lauer's behavior. Everybody knew that he was maybe engaging in some extra marital affairs. Brian even addresses this in his book, "Top of the morning," but it's one of those situations, where now the question is, what did management know? Did management know anything about it? And if they did know something act it, why didn't they do anything about it until someone came forward with a formal complaint. Because maybe we should start to get involved, even if there's no formal H.R. complaint. Because as we know it is really difficult and I think a lot of courage to conform to a formal complaint against somebody like Matt Lauer.

LEMON: Having written about this and you've been doing this for a while, do you believe management didn't know, as they say?

STELTER: I think it's possible, you know, these companies have lots of different ranks of supervisors. I think, it is possible maybe some supervisors might have heard whispers of this in the past and maybe looked in the other way. Whether it reached the top, top levels, that is another question entirely. These companies are hierarchical in nature.

We saw the same thing at vice today, they're facing sexual harassment claims, "New York Times" story in the work. Similar situation here. Vice is a company that is been growing. It doesn't have the right H.R. situation in place. And so they are having to take action against employees. We're seeing this all across corporate America, Don. All these companies taking action when confronted by complaints. And I think a lot of the repetition in the stories is about how there aren't the proper -- in the past, there haven't been the proper channels for people to come forward. So we're judging complaints against Matt Lauer that might be from 10, 15, 20 years ago. We're in a much different environment now. Frankly, we're in a much better culture now where this cases are being taken seriously.

LEMON: And it's interesting to watch, because when you see some playful things that even ran on the network between the anchors, joking and talking about things that may not have been uncomfortable then and people thought it was funny, it is not funny now.

STELTER: Now those clips are very different.

LEMON: Thank you both I appreciate it. When we come back, Matt Lauer and other media and business figures facing swift justice, after allegations of sexual harassment, but politicians, well they are still running for office, they are still in congress and in the White House are still there. Why?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:42:10] LEMON: Congressman John Conyers hospitalized for stress tonight as calls grow for him to resign amid sexual harassment allegations. Here to discuss now Nadeam Elshami he is a former chief of staff in Nancy Pelosi. Alice Stewart is here, she is a foremost communications Director for Ted Cruz and Angela Rye, the former executive Director of the congressional black caucus. All three are CNN political commentators. Angela, knowing the Congressman and the congressional black caucus, as I just read your former title there, Congressman Conyers was hospitalized today amid these allegations of sexual harassment. I got to ask you, do you think he'll resign?

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I do think that Mr. Conyers will, in fact, resign. And I hate the way that this process has played out for someone who has dedicated his life, not only to service, but also to justice. Of course, his latest stint of leadership is not only serving as the dean of the house of representatives, the dean of the CBC and also one of the founders of the congressional black caucus, it's also the ranking member of the judiciary committee, of which he was just pushed out of. Not just by Republican leadership, but also Democratic leadership, starting with the calls from Nancy Pelosi.

LEMON: But Angela, he is accused of doing some really horrible things. And I know he is done all of those -- he is had all of those accomplishments. But all of the people who were accused and have lost their jobs have had major accomplishments, as well.

RYE: Well, I can't speak to the people who have lost their jobs who have major accomplishments. What I can say is, while I feel terribly for those people who have accused Mr. Conyers, I firmly believe in due process. I firmly believe that this should have allowed -- this process should have allowed the ethics committee to undergo an investigation and see what happens. And that is not what was allowed for someone. And I started with judiciary, because that is what that committee is all about. What it's supposed to be all about. And now here we are. He is not had due process. It has stretched to the point where he is hospitalized. He is going to be forces to resign. And yes, maybe --

LEMON: Angela, with all due respect, though, I have to say, that is what defenders of Roy Moore say. That is what defenders of Donald Trump say --

RYE: I'm sorry, Mr. Conyers is not a pedophile, and I'm sorry, yes, with Donald Trump has 16 accusers and they still elected him to be the President of the United States. I'm not defending Mr. Conyers' actions, Don, I'm defending what we should all be defending, which is the constitutional right to due process. And let me finish that one point, Alice and that was not allowed. Meanwhile, Democrats are silent on Al Franken, who has been accused of groping six women. Meanwhile, Republicans are silent about Republican Congressman Fahrenthold, who settled a sexual harassment claim in 2015. Money is the word on that and I am saying I'm tired of the disparities that exist in this particular situation.

LEMON: Go ahead, Alice.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Don, I think it is unfortunate that Conyers was pushed out, because he should have had the decency to step aside. The same goes for Al Franken. Any of these people who have a number of accusations of sexual harassment against them should have the decency to step aside. We should believe these women. We should believe what they're saying about Roy Moore. He should have the decency to step aside. And the people of Alabama should have the opportunity to have a write-in candidate and have a senate candidate and someone that will represent them, someone they can be proud of. And I think it's important to keep in mind --

[23:45:32] RYE: (Inaudible) Alice.

STEWART: I think it's important to keep in mind sexual harassment is nonpartisan, it is not racial, it is not her gender, it is wrong, it should not be tolerated and there should be a standard across the board that all of these people in congress, and here in Washington, should meet the same standard as those in corporate America and on television and in the music industry that there is a zero tolerance policy when it comes to sexual harassment.

LEMON: Listen, the house minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, now says Conyers should go. And this is just days after Pelosi defended Conyers, calling him an icon. You're the former chief of staff for Nancy Pelosi. Why the flip-flop now?

NADEAM ELSHAMI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It takes a bit of time to get through this process. And that is very true. But, you know, this is a simple proposition. This should be a universal zero tolerance, period. LEMON: But Democrats were quick to call out Roy Moore, but not --

listen, if you have these allegations against you and -- listen, I have the utmost respect for Mr. Conyers, as well, but sometimes you need an intervention or you need some tough talk and say, listen --

ELSHAMI: And I think that is what was taking place. And I think, you know, after those comments that leader Pelosi made, I think an hour or two later, Mr. Conyers had stepped down from judiciary committee. And then when more allegations came across, and more credible allegations came across and more women's stories became public, I think the discussions were taking place with members of the CBC and others and the leadership to figure out a way for Mr. Conyers to resign. And I think the ultimatum was given. Resign or I will be calling on you to (inaudible).

LEMON: Here's what the Democratic Congressman, Kathleen Rice, release a statement saying of Nancy Pelosi's comments on Sunday set women back and quite frankly, our Party back for decades. What's your response to that?

ELSHAMI: Look, I think what happened with Mr. Conyers that day when he stepped off the judiciary committee was the first action. The leader had asked for an ethics hearing. Look, you know were some of the comments -- I understand some of the members of the caucus did not like those comments, but after more women came and started talking about this issue with Mr. Conyers, he -- that the process was put in place to try to get him to step aside. I think you saw leader Pelosi and Mr. Clyburn telling him that he should step down as well.

LEMON: It did take more time for them to say he should step down and there are still people out there today saying Nancy Pelosi should not decide whether John Conyers should step down. She is the head of the party. And by dragging this out, you cannot take the moral high ground on Republicans who do bad things if you do not give the same treatment to Democrats who have done bad things, regardless of their age, regardless of how much they had accomplished. What's fair is fair. What is equal is equal. If you're going to say Roy Moore shouldn't run and the President is not fit for office because of women, you have to say the same thing about John Conyers.

RYE: And Al Franken. So my point is not -- I'm not saying that there shouldn't be punishment for someone who has engaged in sexual harassment, assault, or any other type of behavior. What I'm saying is that I would like to see the same type of condemnation, the same type of swift action, even when it comes to Al Franken. But the reason you're not seeing that, Don, is for political expediency. They're afraid they won't win that senate seat in Minnesota. That is what that's about.

LEMON: I've got to go, guys. I'm sorry, that is got to be the last word. Thank you. When we come back, a campaign ad that has a lot of people shock the candidate is here with me next. Here is a preview of it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who can you trust most not to show you their

penis in a professional setting? Is it the candidate who doesn't have a penis? I'd say so.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:57:58] LEMON: Tonight a Michigan candidate says she has an idea to end sexual harassment, both for women. Her campaign ad definitely has people talking.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANA NESSEL, CANDIDATE FOR MICHIGAN ATTORNEY GENERAL: If the last few weeks has taught us anything, is that we need more women in position in power, not less. So when choosing Michigan next Attorney General, ask yourself this. Who can you trust most not to show your their penis in a professional setting? Is it the candidate that doesn't have a penis? I think so. Pundits and insiders are asking, can we afford to have a female governor? A female Attorney General, and a female Secretary of State? Well, I read the news and I bet you do, too. And it has me wondering, can we afford not to? Right now, I want to tell you what you can expect me not to do. I will not sexually harass my staff. And I won't tolerate it in your workplace, either. I won't walk around in a half-open bathrobe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Joining me now, the candidate in that ad, Dana Nessel. She is the Democrat running to be Michigan's next Attorney General. Listen that is quite an ad, I think it is effective. How did you come up with that concept?

NESSEL: I think it was a combination of factors. Day after day, I'm waking up every morning to news of someone else -- some other famous person who is accused of sexual misconduct or sexual harassment or even sexual assault. So I thought that was topical and an important issue that be raised. I'm in a peculiar set of circumstances here in Michigan, because for 2018, all of the Democratic front-runners for all the major offices are women. For United States senate, governor, Attorney General, and Secretary of State. And there's a lot of pushback. There's a lot of people saying, well, we can't have all women and the Democratic ticket for these offices. And my point is, why not? Why can't we?

[23:55:03] LEMON: There's a lot of men who are running cities and governments and municipalities. The last election showed, we don't have a woman yet running the country. What's the response been? Have you experienced any backlash?

NESSEL: I have received a little bit of backlash. But it is really odd to me, because I can't believe that people seem to be so offended, by my use of an anatomically correct body part, when I think what people should find disturbing are the stories that we are hearing of sexual harassment day in and day out. I think that is the real story. That is what we need to be focused on. I live in a state where only 20 percent of our elected officials are women. And my thought is this, if we have a more equal society, if we have more women elected to the highest of offices, whether it's the halls of congress or the board room or the newsroom, you'll just have a more equal structure in place and there's going to be less sexual harassment as a result.

LEMON: If there's a time now to push the envelope and be provocative, what happened with the 2016 election? And how provocative the leader of the United States is. Good job on the ad. Good luck in the election. Thank you for joining us.

NESSEL: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: that is it for us tonight. Thanks for watching. I'll see you right back here tomorrow.