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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Woman in "NY Times" Dive into Trump's Past with Women Disagrees with Story; "NY Times" Reporters Discuss Trump, Women Story; "NY Times" Piece on Trump with Women, "Washington Post" Piece on Trump Spokesman Who May be Trump, Possibly 3rd-Party Candidate; Rep. Jason Chaffetz Talks Ryan Reluctance to Endorse Trump. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired May 16, 2016 - 11:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:00:17] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm John Berman.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everybody. I'm Kate Bolduan.

Crossing the line or not? A "New York Times" special report takes a deep dive into Donald Trump's past, specifically with the women in his past. You're about to hear from one of them.

Now, resulting from more than 50 interviews over a period of six weeks, the piece outline what it describes as a pattern of unwelcome advances and unsettling workplace conduct over decades.

BERMAN: The presumptive nominee calls the article a dishonest and lame hit piece.

And new this morning, a woman prominently featured in that report more or less agrees with Donald Trump and is complaining about how she is portrayed in the story.

Rowanne Brewer Lane is a former girlfriend of Donald Trump and a model. She joins us live.

Rowanne, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate you joining us.

ROWANNE BREWER LANE, FORMER DONALD TRUMP GIRLFRIEND & MODEL: I appreciate being heard. Thank you.

BERMAN: So the story says that you first met Donald Trump in 1990 at a party in Mar-a-Lago in Florida. And the article goes on to say that Donald Trump had barely met Rowanne Brewer Lane when he asked her to change out of her clothes. That's the lead of the whole piece.

What don't you like about this story?

BREWER LANE: I don't like anything about the story. I'm very upset with "The New York Times" article because it was completely misleading. They misled me. They took parts of what I said in at least a two-hour interview that they did exclusively with me, and spun it and put a negative connotation on what I was saying. I'm very displeased with the way it came out. They promised me time and time over again that the piece would not be a hit piece, that it was just merely each person's explanation of how they had interactions with Donald, what I thought of him. And I made it very clear many times that I had a very pleasant relationship with Donald and that I never felt like I was being, you know, depicted as a piece of meat or anything like that. I was never offended by anything that he had said. He was never anything more than a gentleman, a very, very good guy. We had good times together. We had -- you know, he was very genuine. He was very gentlemanly. And if you were to read that article, you would think that I felt otherwise, and I don't think it's fair to me, and I don't think it's fair to him honestly.

BOLDUAN: You say misleading, and that they spun your words in a negative way. Did they get anything wrong or do you just not like the way it was depicted?

BREWER LANE: Well, they only took very small bits of my sentences and put them in a way -- like, for instance, when I said that Donald said, now that's a stunning Trump girl. My next sentence was, was very flattered by that comment, and that's not what it says in the article.

BERMAN: What about the entire lead of the piece where it says you had barely met when he asked you to change out of your clothes? The article quotes you, actually says, "He took me into a room, opened drawers, and asked me to put on a swimsuit." That is a direct quote, is it not?

BREWER LANE: No, it is not. What I said was, what I would say to anybody when they ask me how I met Donald Trump, would be at a pool party at Mar-a-Lago. You're going to get the story, and continue, that I went to a pool party there with my agency and Donald and I struck up a conversation. It was a very good conversation. We were walking around talking. He started showing me different parts of the Mar-a-Lago from the entrance. We started discussing architecture. We walked further inside, and I would ask questions, he would answer. He would show me things. We were just having a really great conversation. And we got to a point of the mansion where he had asked me if I brought a swimsuit because we were about to go back and join everybody outside. There were models swimming. I had a photo shoot that day and one the following day, so I didn't bring a swimsuit to go swimming at the party. He asked me if I had one and I said I did not, that I really hadn't intended on swimming. And he said, well, I have some and that's when he opened the drawer and pulled some out and said, do you want to put one on? I said sure. I went into the bathroom and changed into one and came out, and we joined everyone at the party. And when we went out there, he said, wow, now, that's a stunning Trump girl, and I was flattered by that. And one thing I don't like, too, is, you know, some of the anchors are starting to use the language of "The Times," starting to saying paraded her out there, and that's ugly, that's negative to me. He didn't parade me anywhere.

[11:05:07] BOLDUAN: Another part in the piece, it cites an encounter you had with Trump, and when he asked you to rate the attractiveness of both Marla Maples and Ivana Trump on a scale of one to 10, you know, this is part of your interview, and clearly they see it as an oddity that he would ask you to do that. What do you remember of that?

BREWER LANE: I remember these happening in passing. They were in general conversation where we were just chitchatting, getting to know each other better. The reason that I brought that up is because -- and I said this to "The Times," -- I thought that it articulated some of his boyish charm, asking, you know, well, what did you think of -- and I didn't know Marla, so I didn't have an opinion. And I said that I said, Ivana was your wife, so absolutely I think she was a 10, I think you have great taste. And I just thought it was a boyish charm of his and I thought it was kind of attractive, because you see this stellar businessman, I expected a little bit more of a harsh attitude from him, and he was very genuine.

BERMAN: So the article, you say you feel it depicts you as a piece of meat. You can read the article and there is a suggestion in the article that somehow Donald Trump objectifies women. You do not think that is the case. You do not think there is anything questionable about the way Donald Trump treats women?

BREWER LANE: I have never seen him treat women anything other than respectfully. I have never seen him do or say anything that has offended a woman or myself. So I have to say, no, I have never seen him -- no, I have not witnessed that myself. I have never had that experience with Donald.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Now, Rowanne --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Hold on just a sec. This, of course, happened in the '90s. That's where your stories are coming from. When was the last time you spoke with Donald Trump or saw him?

BREWER LANE: I spoke with him -- the last time was probably 1991.

BERMAN: That far back ago. That's a long time.

BREWER LANE: Yeah, I haven't spoken to him in a long time. If I know Donald Trump, I'll probably hear from his camp at some point, you know, just to say thank you for the honesty.

I honestly think that the way that the article was depicted, and as many times as they promised me they weren't going to do exactly what they did, they probably owe me an apology and probably him.

BOLDUAN: And you haven't sense all of this happened or in the course of all this happening, you haven't spoken with anyone from Donald Trump's campaign at all?

BREWER LANE: No, no, not yet.

BERMAN: Just to be clear, you are supporting Donald Trump? You're going to vote for him in November? BREWER LANE: I am supporting Donald Trump, I am. I think that he has

done very well. And I think that he will be good for women. I think he'll be good for the middle class. I think that he will support -- surround himself with people that he always has. He's been a brilliant businessman. He's been a good leader. He has a beautiful family, an intelligent family. He's got -- let's face it, he's got a lot going for him. Yes, I support him, I do.

BOLDUAN: Rowanne, thanks so much for coming on and sharing your story with us. We appreciate it.

BREWER LANE: Thank you. Thank you very much for letting me.

BOLDUAN: Of course.

Now let's bring in the two "New York Times" reporters who did this investigation, wrote this special report, Michael Barbaro and Megan Twohey.

Thank you so much for being here.

You heard this entire interview.

Michael, I saw you taking notes. Tell us what -- just give you an opportunity to respond to what you heard there from Rowanne.

MICHAEL BARBARO, REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, first of all, thanks for having us.

And I want to first thank Rowanne Brewer Lane. She was exceedingly generous to "The Times." I spoke to her on two different occasions. Megan and I are grateful to the dozens of women who spoke to us. It took a lot of courage. A number of women were scared. They were intimidated. We're in the middle of a campaign.

I think we should talk for a minute about the scene at Mar-a-Lago that Rowanne referred to, and that's at the beginning of the story, because none of the facts are in dispute. She didn't have a bathing suit. He asked her to put on a bathing suit. She put it on, he expressed admiration for her appearance and brought her back out to a predominantly male group out by the pool and said she was a stunning- looking Trump woman. I think that story speaks for itself. We thought it was a powerful anecdote. That's why we put it in the story. And there are some key contexts. Ms. Brewer lane went on to date Donald Trump for several months, which is something we explained in the story.

But the big picture here is that we're talking about a pattern of behavior, the way Donald Trump interacts privately with women. The world knows how Donald Trump talks about a woman from a stage or a podium or Twitter or "The Howard Stern Show." Our goal was to pull back and say, how does he interact in the office with someone, who he's dating or trying to date? And that was the purpose of our story, and that is why Megan and I spoke to dozens of women who walked us through those interactions. And frequently that was a power dynamic at play here, which we think is worth understanding as well. This is a very wealthy man with a lot of connections and influence, and it's something that I think hovered over a lot of these interactions.

[11:10:20] BERMAN: You did use the word debase" in the piece, again, right up close to where that anecdote is. Is that a word that Rowanne used or is that a word that the women you spoke to used?

MEGAN TWOHEY, REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: So we heard a variety -- I mean, the descriptions of Rowanne was one of many voices we included in the story. And we really value the fact that -- and as you will see, like I think one of the things that readers noted with our story was that we kind of changed the format a little bit. We wanted to be -- have this be an opportunity to hear these women in their own words as much as possible, and so that's why you had large chunks of excerpts from our interviews. And so, you know, we thought that that was a really powerful way to kind of capture the experiences of a variety of women inside and outside the workplace.

BOLDUAN: Guys, she very clearly uses the words, "it was misleading," "you took her words out of context," "you didn't fully quote her," is what she suggests. She said she called something flattering right after one of these anecdotes. As a journalist, that's concerning. What do you guys think happened?

BARBARO: You know, when I interviewed Rowanne, she was very clearly -- she used the word taken aback about that example. I think it's pretty clear from the facts that she went on to date him that she had a big experience with him. It was an encompassing one. It started off with her being asked to put on a bathing suit and taken out to the pool, and by with end, she was traveling with him in Atlantic City in a helicopter, and we quoted her warmly and at length.

TWOHEY: Yeah. And we pointed out that she went on to have a whirlwind romance with him.

BERMAN: You talked to a lot of people here, right? Significant reporting here. Did you find any allegations of harassment or illegal behavior by Donald Trump?

TWOHEY: Well, so, you know, once again, a variety of voices painting a pretty complicated picture of this man. And one of the reasons we went into the story was because, I think because of the controversial comments he's me about women in public, we wanted to go back and say, OK, people now are starting to make kind of blanket assumptions about this man based on comments he's made. Let's go behind the scenes and let's go back decades, back to military school, when he was a ladies man --

(CROSSTALK)

TWOHEY: Right. Exactly. So I think, you know, so -- and once again, there are people in the story who talked about having very good experiences with him in the workplace, and that's in the story.

You know, there is a portion of the story, a section of the story that does say that, you know, as his first marriage with Ivana was falling apart, that there were some serious allegations against him. You know, Ivana herself in a deposition as they were getting divorced made a claim that he had raped her, and she's backed off of that claim, but it was there. And she's acknowledged that, and she said now that, you know -- that, you know, that that story is not true.

There was another allegation that was made in sort of a dispute, a legal dispute, where a woman who had done business with him in the beauty pageant world, made accusations there had been unwanted sexual advances on her including groping. So there are -- and those were allegations that were made at the time and we included those in the story, as we did the voices of people who had great experiences with him in the workplace.

BOLDUAN: So, guys, this was six weeks, more than 50 interviews. You have this special report. And at one point, this one quote kept coming back to me. You describe it, "What emerges from the interviews is a complex and at times contradictory portrait of Donald Trump." So after all of this, what is your verdict?

BARBARO: He is a paradoxical figure. And I'll give you the example of a woman named Barbara Res, who worked for him. She was in charge of the construction of Trump Tower.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Which is unusual --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: -- to be involved in construction for a woman at that time. Very unusual.

(CROSSTALK)

BARBARO: It's an extraordianry opportunity for a woman in that time in a very male industry to be put in that position. But Barbara Res inhabits all the contradictions of Donald Trump, someone whose career was nurtured by him, yet observed him about her own weight, telling her, "You like your candy." And she said that was a reference to her own heaviness. She had gained a lot of weight. That did not make her comfortable. And she watched him pull back a woman from going into a meeting where she was going to be taking lunch orders and she described him as not thinking that woman was beautiful enough and he wanted to put somebody else in that position to go into that room so everybody in that room would think Donald Trump, in her words, "employed beautiful women." So what a complicated woman and experience this is.

There's no single dimension to Donald Trump and women, and I think our story, makes it clear, and I think it makes it clear through the voices of the people we interviewed.

BERMAN: What's your response to the reaction from Donald Trump so far?

[11:15:09] TWOHEY: We spoke to Donald Trump for an hour and included his voice in our story, and really value the time we got to spend with him on the phone. And we believe that at every opportunity in the story we gave him a chance to give his side of the story, and we'd be happy to continue talking to him about this. If he wants to get back on the phone with us and chat more about his experiences with women, we'd welcome that.

BOLDUAN: I believe Rowanne has asked for an apology. I mean, what do you say?

BARBARO: I think we really stand by our story. We believe we quoted her fairly and accurately and that the story really speaks for itself.

BERMAN: Michael Barbaro, Megan Twohey, thank you for coming in.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Really appreciate it. Thank you very, very much.

BERMAN: The head of the RNC says people just don't care about Donald Trump's past. He was talking about this very article. So what will the affect be heading in the general election?

BOLDUAN: Also ahead, he's calling it a David-and-Goliath story. This tattooed motorcycle-riding man thinks he can beat the powerful House Speaker Paul Ryan in his re-election. We'll talk to Paul Ryan's challenger ahead.

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BERMAN: A lot going on in the campaign, with "The New York Times" piece that talks about Donald Trump's past with women, to "The Washington Post" story talking about Donald Trump's past with a spokesman who may or may not be Donald Trump.

BOLDUAN: And don't worry about the third-party candidate that may or may never happen.

BERMAN: Joining us to discuss all of this, a senior adviser to the Trump, Barry Bennett; Republican political consultant Russ Schriefer, in his AT THIS HOUR debut; Washington bureau chief for "The Daily Beast, Jackie Kucinich; and CNN political commentator, Angela Rye, and she's also former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Russ, I want to start with you.

A lot going on with Donald Trump. There was a "New York Times" piece, "The Washington Post" piece talking about Donald Trump's past. The question is, is Donald Trump past the point where his past will hurt him?

RUSS SCHRIEFER, REPUBLICAN POLITICAL CONSULTANT: I don't know if he's at the point where his past will hurt him. I think the question is how much ground does he have to make up with certain groups over the next six months? If you just look specifically at the question about women, Mitt Romney won white women by 14 percentage points, which -- and still lost the race. Donald Trump is starting the race off at a disadvantage, even further back than Mitt Romney. So however is the nominee -- and we assume it's going to be -- of course, it's going to be Donald Trump -- he's going to have to win white women by more than 14 points. Stories like "The New York Times" story aren't particularly helpful in that narrative if you're trying to do better with white women and ultimately win the election.

BOLDUAN: You know what's so interesting is there was an entire field of Republicans who tried to take down Trump, often in a lot of these same topics, who did not.

So, Angela, as a Democrat looking at this, how do you make any of this stick when the entire primary field could not?

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's an interesting point in part because truth hasn't mattered that much this cycle so far. So this story, you know, to the point that the reporters just raised, I thought it was phenomenal and balanced because I was like, he's a womanizer, reading this piece, but they still tried to give a fair shot to Donald Trump. I didn't even know -- I don't remember him being quoted in the piece, but even hearing they talked to him for over an hour, it's interesting. The fact that people can look at someone who is very clearly a bully, and by that I'm saying I remember kids at school who had folks who would just ride or die for them, and even when they were dead wrong, and you see that same situation here where this woman comes on and says, well, you know that's not - they misquoted me. And you go through the line of questioning, and it's clear they didn't misquote her. She just doesn't like how the general public reads it. And that's the textbook version of what happens with a bully. Someone pushes off their will on another person and they begin to back them, even if, again, grade school or middle school, things that happen.

I'm listening to the gentleman that went before me talk about Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney got in trouble for saying he had binders full of women. Trump has women trying on bikinis. He has them trying to get his approval on a Miss Universe stage. And again, Mitt Romney just had binders full of women. He had area codes. I mean, it's two totally different things. It's so hard to believe this is just another election. It's really hard to believe this is where we are.

[11:21:08] Barry, I want to give you a chance to respond to the bully comment Angela made, but I also want your response to Reince Priebus, who is facing questions. He's the chairman of the RNC. He's come out and said, "Donald Trump is the presumptive nominee, we are unified, we are going forward." You got a taste of what it's like to be unified going forward with Trump as the presumptive nominee this weekend when Reince Priebus was asked questions about this "New York Times" article, asked questions about spokesperson, John Miller, in quotation marks and this is what Reince Priebus said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REINCE PRIEBUS, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: These are things he's going to have to answer for but I also think they're things from many that, you know, as Christians judging each other I think is problematic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: He goes on to talk about Hillary Clinton and says how their lives will be affected, too, and how things need to be discussed. Again, you can look at Reince Priebus and he did not look particularly comfortable, so your response to that, and also what Angela said about Donald Trump being a bully.

BARRY BENNETT, SENIOR ADVISOR, DONALD TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: There's no evidence there. But she can say whatever she wants.

My problem with the "The New York Times" story, OK, was they used the word "debased," she was "debates." She clearly doesn't feel like she was debased. So they have inserted their own opinion of how she felt, which is crazy. First of all, this is the 1980s. We all have a lot of things we regret about the '80s. I do particularly. Some of the clothes were hideous. I was 18 in 1982. I'm 52 now, so a lot has changed. But, I mean, this is ridiculous. They talked to 50 women and managed to put seven or eight in the story. Over half of them had great things to say. The ones that had great things to say, they twisted it and called her "debased," which is not how she feels. You saw that.

BOLDUAN: But we want to get your take also on the position that Reince Priebus is in though. He says Donald Trump will have to answer to this. He looked visibly uncomfortable.

(CROSSTALK)

BENNETT: They printed what they wanted to print. But he talked to them for over an hour about this. He's not hiding from it. But what they did I think was pretty bad journalism. They had this woman, they said that -- they made it sound like she felt like she was "debased," their word, not hers. And she clearly doesn't feel that way. And she's the lead in the article.

BERMAN: Jackie, you know, you saw Reince Priebus this weekend. You've seen now other Republicans face questions, being asked about Donald Trump. Again, did Reince Priebus look comfortable to you?

JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: You know, Reince Priebus seemed to have a pretty cruel Sunday. Because one of the things --

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Every Sunday has been like that for him.

KUCINICH: Yeah, Bailey's on cereal, I'm telling you. He jokes about it but I feel like we're getting closer to that point. Because even as he was defending Trump and answering questions about him, what he wasn't talking about was Hillary Clinton. And I know the RNC has spent years putting together talking points about how they want to talk about Hillary Clinton. And yet, he spent the lion's share of his time, on no matter what Sunday show he was on, talking about Donald Trump, talking about Donald Trump and women, a group of people that the RNC has been trying to make inroads with and get back for ages. So, you know, it really -- he's in a pretty tough position, and you're right, John, he didn't look like he was enjoying it.

BOLDUAN: Russ, I want to get your take on a different "New York Times" article that came out today by Patrick Healy. It was talking about kind of the plan of attack Hillary here is very interesting element of it. Donald Trump saying being a bully and insulting Hillary Clinton is not the way to win. He says this, "Just getting nasty with Hillary won't work. You really have to get people to look hard at her character and to get women to ask if she is sincere and authentic." Then he goes on to say, "Because she's been really ugly in trying to destroy Bill's mistresses, and she's pandering to women so obviously when she is only interested in getting power."

I found that fascinating. You have been a Republican for years. Republican over years have failed in this regard, attacking Hillary Clinton in this way. Is what Donald Trump laying out right here, is that the right way to go about it?

[11:25:12] SCHRIEFER: Well, first of all, Hillary Clinton is a target-rich environment when it comes to attacking her in a general election. There's no question about that. And I think that there's plenty of opportunities for the Republican nominee and the Republican Party to dissect her very long record, both at a personal level and at an issues level. And people are going to find a lot to be desired with that.

I think that there's a question of who these attacks are effective with and which parts of the coalitions. I think there are going to be people who are going to be very disturbed by some of the things that Hillary Clinton has done over the last 30 years in defending her husband.

And I think that the interesting thing is, Kate, is that when "The New York Times" runs a front-page story like this, it gives the Trump campaign even more permission to go after these types of stories. So I think it's going to be something you're going to be hearing a lot over the next five months.

BERMAN: All right. Russ Schriefer, Barry Bennett, Jackie Kucinich, Angela Rye, thanks for coming in. Great discussion. Appreciate it.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Thanks, guys.

So he threw his support behind Marco Rubio for president. He now says he'll support the Republican nominee, but will he support Donald Trump?

BERMAN: Say his name.

BOLDUAN: Congressman Jason Chaffetz.

BERMAN: Plus, the man who is trying to unseat House Speaker Paul Ryan. He just challenged the speaker to an arm-wrestling match. He'll join us, next.

Back in 90 seconds. .

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: So you can't hurry love, just ask the Supremes. And it seems you can't hurry party unity either. House Speaker Paul Ryan still holding out on his endorsement of Donald Trump, saying that it will take more than just one meet-and-greet to work through their differences.

BERMAN: Ryan says another meeting with Team Trump is in the work for this week. On the agenda, deeper meaning of politics and the principles shared universally by Republicans.

Joining us now is Republican congressman from Utah and chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Jason Chaffetz, here with us in studio

REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: Thanks so much for being here with us.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

BERMAN: So you have said -- first of all, you supported Marco Rubio.

CHAFFETZ: Yes, I did.

BERMAN: He did not win.

CHAFFETZ: Clearly.

BERMAN: You knew that already.

(LAUGHTER)

CHAFFETZ: Yes.

BOLDUAN: Breaking news.

BERMAN: You have said recently that you will support the republican nominee. I have not read you saying the name of Donald Trump. Will you state clearly and definitively right now you support Donald Trump?

CHAFFETZ: If Donald Trump is the nominee, which it looks like he probably will be, then I will be supporting the nominee, Donald Trump, yes.

I come from the ABC of politics. First of all, the voters are always right. I wanted somebody who was more conservative, but it's not to be. And number two, anybody but Clinton is the one that is the thing that unites Republicans that I think we can all get behind. And when you look at the appointments to the Supreme Court, to put that decision in Hillary Clinton's hands, that's just -- I will do, I will fight, I will argue, I will engage to try to convince my fellow citizens that anybody but Clinton is the right choice.

BOLDUAN: It did not seem so painful for you to say the word Donald Trump. I only say that kind of facetiously because Marco Rubio, when he was speaking with Jake Tapper, it seemed very painful for him to come out and say a similar thing. I am sure you have seen the clip or maybe even talked to Marco Rubio about it. What did you make of that moment?

CHAFFETZ: Well, I think it's all the dust is settling down a little bit and, at the end of the day, there will be two people on the ballot, and it's going to be Hillary Clinton and, in this case, Donald Trump. And to me, that's crystal clear. You got to pick. They didn't get the person I wanted. I want Mitt Romney to be the president of the United States, for goodness sake, but that didn't happen either, so.