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Trump Advisers Met With Russian Ambassador; Former Trump Adviser Speaks Out; Pres. Trump: 'Russia Is A Ruse'; Pres. Trump Spending Weekend In Florida; Pres. Praised For First Address To Congress; A Week of Ups And Downs For Trump White House; Sessions Recuses Himself From Russia Investigations; Trump Tweets Video Hailing 'American Spirit'. Aired 11p-12a ET.

Aired March 3, 2017 - 23:00   ET



[23:00:21] DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: What a week it's been for the President. This is "CNN Tonight". I'm Don Lemon.

Team Trump was expecting to take a victory lap after the President's first address to Congress, that victory lap turning into another political firestorm for the administration with revelations that multiple Trump advisers including, Michael Flynn, Jeff Sessions, even Jared Kushner met privately with Russia's ambassador before President Trump's inauguration.

Plus with a new travel ban waiting in the wings, reports that Homeland Security is considering a proposal to separate children from adults when they try to enter the country illegally at the southern border.

Let's get right Jonathan Sanders from Stony Brook University School of Journalism. He's the author of "The Russians Emerge", also CNN Political Analyst Kirsten Powers and CNN Global Affairs Analyst David Rohde.

I saw you shaking your head when I said that about separating children. What did you --

JONATHAN SANDERS, STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF JOURNALISM: It sounds like something Stalin would do in getting people ready to go to the gulag.

LEMON: Wow, that's a tough assessment

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah. I mean it's inhumane at a minimum. And I guess it's supposed to discourage people from coming here. But I don't think that people are going to be discouraged if they're trying to flee a terrible situation. And the idea of taking a child and putting them in detention, away from their mother is just un-American.

LEMON: We're going to talk about that later on the show. I want to get to Russia but as I was reading it, I saw you shaking your head because --

SANDERS: Well, Russia is always a good comparison --

LEMON: Yeah.

SANDERS: -- for the extreme actions that we sometimes see lurking as proposals in American politics.

LEMON: What do you mean? Explain that.

SANDERS: Well, we've seen -- Russia -- (inaudible), the 19th century philosopher said that the Russian people, Russian civilization was created as an experiment of the worst things, the most extreme things that can happen to humanity. And we sometimes get hints of it in the most extreme American policies taken to their vast extremism. I have friends who were separated because their parents were labeled enemies of the people. They were sent to special children's camp when their Mothers were sent to the gulags and their fathers were shot behind KGB Headquarters. So that's my comparative framework.

LEMON: That's an interesting one. So let's -- and a lesson to the American people.

So listen, I want to talk about how this is now playing out, this Russian situation now playing out here in U.S. politics. The Democrats, they are on a political witch hunt according to some and I think the President is saying that. They're learning about these contacts between the inner circle, the Russian officials after minority leader Nancy Pelosi claimed, right, that she had never met with the Russian ambassador.

The President tweeted this. She said -- he said, "I hereby demand a second investigation after Schumer of Pelosi for her close -- Schumer -- after Schumer of Pelosi for her close ties to Russia and lying about it.: With a picture of the two meeting. And then Pelosi responded by saying, "President Trump doesn't know the difference between official meeting photographed by press and closed secret meeting AG lied about under oath." I mean this is like school antics.

POWERS: Like in high school.

LEMON: It is.

POWERS: I mean it isn't even high school. It's like grade school.

LEMON: But this is very serious I mean considering --


LEMON: -- what our intelligence people have said about the election and Russia and then you have all of these contacts now. This is serious but it's playing out like --

POWERS: The Democrats should not have been tweeting out or claiming to not have had meetings if they had. Claire McCaskill did this as well, right? They shouldn't have done that. That was a forced -- you know, unforced error.

And, you know, I would say Claire McCaskill's meeting was four years ago. Chuck Schumer was in 2003. It's not quite the same thing as Jeff Sessions forgetting a meeting they had a few months prior, right? So it's slightly separate. It's also a different context. The context in which he forgot it was the context where the Russians were interfering in our election and it was pretty much all -- anybody was talking about in the news. So it makes a little strange.

SANDERS: How can you be an American leader and claim you haven't met with Russians? I mean with Russia falling apart in the 1990s, Russia reconstituting itself in a different way now, to say that you didn't meet with these people shows just complete disregard for one of the most important things going on in the world.

DAVID ROHDE, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I will just though, again, the context here is that there was a unanimous agreement among all 17 American intelligence agencies that Russia tried to influence our election and you know, we'll never know if they succeeded but this happened. This wasn't, you know, Obama appointees. I've talked to many intelligence officials. These are careers people who served the public as a Democrat. It happen.

[23:05:02] And we can't miss that context. And that's why it's very, very different, you know, with Trump campaign officials having contacts with Russians versus Chuck Schumer at a gas station, you know, many years ago.

LEMON: And one of which is reported -- that has been reported about is a former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page who was on with Anderson Cooper earlier tonight. His name is out there because he apparently met with the Russian ambassador during the campaign but I want to play what he said about Russia meddling in the elections.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: For that same reason, do you believe that Russia meddles in the internal political affairs of other countries?

CARTER PAGE, FORMER TRUMP ADVISER: I don't know anything about that. All I do know in reading that --

COOPER: You don't know anything about that?

PAGE: Listen, if I read that -- based on the intel report. it's all politics and I -- if you would --

COOPER: Wait a minute. I got to jump in here. I only have an undergraduate degree, so I'm not as educated as you are. But I studied Russia and the Soviet Union a fair amount of.

PAGE: Yeah.

COOPER: You honestly can say -- you have a PhD, right? You honestly can say you don't know anything about whether Russia meddles in the internal political affairs of other countries?

PAGE: I -- you know, in the context of my life which, you know, all this defamation approach by the Clinton campaign to drag my --

COOPER: Carter, you're not making sense. Yes or no? You can just tell me, "Yeah, I do not believe that Russia ever meddles in the internal political affairs of other countries," or, "Yes, I do believe they do."

PAGE: Listen, I mean, you know, they may -- I think all countries, you know, or certainly the U.S., if you look at what happened in Ukraine, right, on the --


COOPER: Yes, the U.S. meddles in the internal -- of course. The CIA has done this for decades.

PAGE: Yeah, exactly. So, yeah, I think that's a fair statement.


LEMON: I mean he could --

SANDERS: You know, I cannot think of a time when agents of the Kremlin did not try and meddle in American elections. At the same time, if you remember that famous cover of "Time Magazine" from July 1996, Americans to the rescue of Yeltsin, we've meddled in their elections. You know, nobody is a purist here. We're not dealing with choir boys. This is Russian/American stuff. This is the second cold war we're in. What do you expect?

ROHDE: But that doesn't make it right.

SANDERS: No it doesn't make it right of course.

ROHDE: Hacking thousands of embarrassing e-mails all released, you know, that hurt one candidate, the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. She had many other flaws. I don't know if this, you know, changed the election. I had one intelligence official say to me the Russians ran an op, you know, an information op and it worked beyond their wildest dreams.

SANDERS: No, I think we are running the op now --

ROHDE: We should investigate.

SANDERS: -- the more we talk about it because if you think about the real dynamic of the election, it's pretty clear Donald Trump won as fair and as square as the American elections are. And it was a legitimate election.

Now talking about the actions gives great attention and credence to the Russian campaign to interfere in all kinds of democracies to weaken them. And they were -- they started out trying to weaken Hillary Clinton for their own reasons that they didn't like what she represented. And they got this big surprise, they got the toy in the crackerjacker box and the toy is Donald Trump.

ROHDE: But we should ignore the fact that they intervened in this election and tried to hurt one candidate? They're trying to do this in Europe right now. The other candidates, we should respond to that.

SANDERS: Did Americans interfere in the 1996 election in Russia trying to get Boris Yeltsin reelected? I'm not saying that either one is good.

ROHDE: I'm not saying it's right either.


SANDERS: Oh my, there's gambling, gambling going on in this casino.

ROHDE: But these are criminal acts. I mean it was wrong if we intervened in Russia. We're not -- but we shouldn't sit back and.

SANDERS: Yeah. And so we should have a special committee to investigate and put the people in jail who can be found guilty if there's enough to find --

ROHDE: We don't have --

LEMON: You're saying there should be an investigation but we shouldn't be surprised that Russia tried to intervene? Is that what you said?

SANDERS: Yes, absolutely. Look --

LEMON: I'm trying to follow you here.

SANDERS: Look, in the same article in which he coined the term cold war, George Orwell said that it's common place that the history of civilization is the history of weaponry. The digital era gives all kinds of new weapons. Before they used to use communist party, Gus Hall for president, placards. It had no effect. Now, it's a different era and we need to talk to them to get rules of engagement about cyberwarfare.

LEMON: Go ahead, Kirsten.

POWERS: Yeah. Well, that may be the reality but sill I think what we should expect from a president of the United States to be offended by it, right? I mean do not -- and I don't think we've really seen that from Donald Trump or seen it really from the people around Donald Trump. First of all, they keep denying that it happened in the first place. They're claiming the intelligence community is out to get them and Barack Obama is behind it, you know, versus actually, you know, condemning it, right? I mean this is something -- whether it's something that happens or not, like we should not be -- you know, this is something that it's not a partisan issue. It should go beyond like what partisan --

SANDERS: But have you seen Donald Trump ever be offended by anything other than something he sees as a slight on his own greatness and magnificentness? I haven't.

[23:10:05] LEMON: Well, if the Russians interfere in the election --

POWERS: That isn't even right.

LEMON: -- and possibly tilted the election towards him, wouldn't that be a slight against him that he didn't win fair and square? Wouldn't he want that to be investigated because I won fair and square, let's have this investigation to show just how big and how big my win was? No? With your logic, that's what it sounds like to me with, that's what he should be saying that.

POWERS: I mean you also have General Flynn basically, you know, indicating to the Russians that they were, just hold on, we'll lift the sanctions that -- you know, that Barack Obama put on you for interfering in the election. Like that's just not --

SANDERS: That's a really interesting piece of business, you know?


LEMON: I've got to get David, David sitting by patiently. I want you to give the last word. What happens? Where do we go now? Do you think there will be an independent investigation of this?

ROHDE: I think the Republicans will hold tight now and just want to be in, you know, the Senate Intelligence Committee because that's less public hearings, les bad visuals and this kind of stuff. I can tell you, we're not done. Reuters were looking -- we're following money, we're looking at business interactions. And I think the press isn't done. This is going to continue. But think for now, the Republicans will sit tight, defend Sessions and try to just make it an Intelligence Committee investigation.

LEMON: David, Jonathan, Kirsten, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

When we come right back, a week of ups and downs for the Trump White House.


[23:10:57] LEMON: President Trump getting some R&R this weekend in Florida following a busy week in Washington. I want to bring in now syndicated talk radio host John Fredericks and Joe Madison SiriusXM.

Good to have both of you on. Joe, I'm going to start with you this time. Let's talk about highs and the lows of the week. President was widely praised for his speech to Congress on Tuesday night. That seemed like -- you know, that was three or four nights ago. It seemed like four years ago now. What do you think?

JOE MADISON, SIRIUSXM HOST: Well, it was widely praised because he behaved himself. What I did and told my audience to do is to not look at optics which were great. There's no if, ands, buts about it. But then to print out the speech. And once I printed out the speech and I read the text of it like any good political science student would, the reality is, it was the same old Donald Trump. So for his supporters like John and others, it was a great day.

But this administration is amazing. It's like a yo-yo, it's up, it's down. He should have been able to ride this week out and then on a high, everybody expected a bump and then, bam, here we go with Jeff Sessions and it's now a low.

LEMON: John?

JOHN FREDERICKS, SYNDICATED TALK RADIO HOST: Well, this is the job as president. And the speech in the week is about, jobs, jobs, jobs. This is like the 1917 American workers revolution in reverse. He has the speech, he lays out his jobs agenda. He starts out by saying, look, I'm going to do increase in defense spending of 10 percent, $54 billion. I'm going to make America great again by rebuilding the military with the American workers.

Then he goes to Newport new shipyard in Virginia. I was there. There were 2500 workers. They're going to get better hours, they're going to get better jobs. He's for that. Then he lays out an immigration reform plan and says for legal immigration I'm going to look to restrict legal immigration coming into the United States so I can increase job opportunities for Americans and I can increase wages. This is -- and then he says, I'm going to have $1 trillion infrastructure plan to rebuild the United States and put Americans back to work. This is the jobs, President. I think his knowledge (ph).

LEMON: OK. But --

FREDERICKS: And so if you look at the speech --

LEMON: John --

FREDERICKS: -- there it is.

LEMON: OK. So that's a speech and those are, you know, that's proposals, what he would like to hat has not to fruition yet. But what did happen and what's taken over the news cycle not only on this network but every other network and on front pages are these Russian connections. As Joe Madison said, they thought it was in the rear- view mirror and then all of a sudden you have Jeff Sessions. Why can't they seem to get this behind them?

MADISON: OK. And as you properly noted, John laid out what were really headlines. The devil is in the details. And the question is, where do you get $1 trillion from? And those details weren't there.

Now to be honest, you don't expect details in that kind of speech. And I've been around long enough to understand that. But notice what John just did. He didn't even touch the Jeff Sessions thing. And this is what they do. They sit there and talk about all the good things but then everybody and their grandmother knows they screwed up big time at end of the week.

And quite candidly, I think Republicans right now are very nervous because they have to decide, do we have an independent counsel, does Jeff Sessions stay, does he recuse himself? Let me tell you, it's very serious --

LEMON: John?

MADISON: -- when an attorney general has to stand up there and has selective memory. He can remember Christians going into Moscow but he can't even remember what an ambassador said in reference to a very serious issue?

LEMON: John, how do you respond to that?

FREDERICKS: Well, you know, Don, Jeff Sessions -- Attorney General Jeff Sessions gave a very narrow answer to a very narrow question that technically if you analyze it through lawyers' eyes, it was a technically correct question. But he was not forthcoming with the entire truth. And I think he said that by saying, "Look, saying, I need to go back and correct the record because three words of the statement were missing." Those three words were as a surrogate I didn't meet with anybody. He did meet with them in his job as U.S. -- a senator on the armed services committee and he should have been more effusive in the confirmation hearing. I think he did a right thing by recusing himself without a doubt.

[23:15:03] LEMON: Yeah. You're joking, John.



FREDERICKS: He's got to be more effusive. This thing is not going to go away though.

LEMON: You realized that one of those meetings when he went to then convention that he used campaign funds to go to the convention. He was acting as an adviser and a surrogate on behalf of the Trump campaign at convention when he met with the Russian ambassador, yet that meeting was meeting as a senator and not as Trump adviser?

FREDERICKS: In all fairness, that was --

LEMON: And also keep in mind, there is a -- they asked an oral question and there was a written question and he responded similarly in both of -- with his answers.

FREDERICKS: Well, Don, in all fairness, the meeting at RNC as we understand it, he had made a speech and they came up to him. That was not a scheduled meeting. But look, there is no doubt that the scheduled meeting in his office although he had his aides there, that should have been within his response to Al Franken in the meeting. And look, he lawyered up. It was a very narrow answer to a very narrow question.

LEMON: So if he answered the question truthfully, why recuse himself?

FREDERICKS: Well, I think he is recusing himself now because he was part of the campaign, he was a surrogate in the campaign. So if you're investigating the campaign and you were part of it, I don't think that makes any sense. I think that Jeff Sessions should have recused himself even if this hadn't come up. it didn't make any sense to me.

Look, the only way you're going to get to the bottom of this is if you have an independent commission, an independent prosecutor looking at this just like they did in the 9/11 commission. I had congressman, conservative congressman from North Carolina, Walter Jones on my show today who said that that's what they ought to do. That's the only way you're going to get to the bottom of it.

LEMON: Do you agree with that, Joe?

FREDERICKS: I don't think they did anything wrong.

MADISON: Oh, man, mark this -- look, mark this as a moment --

FREDERICKS: You have to prosecute. You do the investigation. There's nothing there. It's over.

MADISON: Mark this as moment of agreement. He is absolutely 100 percent correct. And basically, it's good for the country. This has to go beyond partisan politics. This is -- you know, this is interesting and I heard somebody say it's like the second cold war. I have never seen an incoming administration spend so much time with so many freaking Russians in my political life. And man, something is going on --


MADISON: -- that we need to get to the bottom of this and quit thinking that Russia is an ally. It is not an ally. They are adversarial government and we need to understand that. And this administration needs to come clean.

LEMON: The trump campaign and President himself trying to get back on message. They released a new video. We'll play and get your reaction right after the break.


[23:27:04] LEMON: And we're back now. John Fredericks is here with Joe Madison as well. So President Trump tweeted a video today with the words "make America great again". Let's watch part of this video.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A new chapter of American greatness is now beginning. A new national pride is sweeping across our nation. And a new surge of optimism is placing impossible dreams firmly within our grasp. What we are witnessing today is the renewal of the American spirit.


LEMON: So now President but private citizen Trump has always been about branding. What did you make of the video, john? FREDERICKS: It's like I said at the beginning of the show, it's about renewing a revival of jobs in America. And as I've said over and over and over, jobs, a growing economy, economic prosperity makes everybody happy and it is the great equalizer. That's really what he needs to be focusing on is bringing jobs back to the United States, getting people back to work, keeping them working, raising wages, creating opportunity, expanding the economy for everybody. If he can do that, he's going to get reelected in 2020 by a bigger margin than you can imagine. And that's what he's trying to work on.

LEMON: And Joe?

FREDERICKS: This other stuff is for distraction. That's why I'm for an independent prosecutor in order to get this truth out. They didn't do anything. Let's put the whole thing to bed. Stop the constant drip and get back to getting people back to work.

LEMON: OK. Go ahead, Joe.

MADISON: Well, real quick, look, you can't disagree with the goal of what John just laid out. I mean who would do that. Of course, that's what everybody wants. But it's a question of how do you get there? You don't get there when you don't invest in public education. You don't get there when student loans are more than credit card loans. You don't get there when you allow Flint, Michigan to die because haven't dealt with the lead in water yet you cry about the importance of urban cities. You don't get there by demeaning people who happen to look different than you. If you're going to get there, you get there with everybody and you have to deal with the issues that all of us are dealing with.

So I don't disagree with what john says, but we've got to quit this demonizing of people because they look different. Because when I hear again that term, "make America great again", then I've got to say, where do you go back to? Because the reality is this, he proof isn't going to be in the budget. You don't get there when 20 million people need health insurance and you take it away from them because good health means that you can go to work with these jobs that he supposed to create.

[23:30:08] LEMON: I got to let you respond to that, John, because your reaction is priceless.

FREDERICKS: Joe, I love you man, I really do.

[23:30:02] MADISON: -- because good health means you can go to work with the jobs he's supposed to create.

LEMON: I got to let you respond to that John, because your reaction is priceless.

FREDERICKS: Joe, I love you man, I really do. But nobody is taken 20 million off insurance. President Trump has said over and over and over --

MADISON: Yes they are. FREDERICKS: No, no he said, he has said that he's not going to go with repeal of Obamacare until there is a legitimate replacement, and he said, whatever the number is 50 million people that have insurance today that didn't have insurance before Obamacare are not going to be simply tossed up the rolls. They going to have to find a way in order to keep those people covered in some period of time.

So he hasn't ever said that. So we don't have a plan, originate a consensus plan that has come out and until the president gets behind a plan and says this is the plan to replace Obamacare that I'm in favor of, it's all conjecture. And he's said over and over he's not in favor ever kicking off people who have insurance today that didn't having in the past --

MADISON: He better tell his colleagues in the Republican Congress that because they obviously haven't gotten the memo.


FREDERICKS: Joe, we have President Trump because of the ineffectiveness of the Republican Congress. If they had been so effective, he wouldn't have been the nominee. He doesn't care what they say is going to be his plan.

MADISON: Well excuse me, he better care. They're going to be looking at his budget real soon. Are you kidding me? Come on John this is America, we have a three tiered government.

FREDERICKS: You know, what -- President Trump is going to drive this plan Joe.

MADISON: He can't sign (ph) --


FREDERICKS: Is not going to be Paul Ryan, it's not going to be McConnell. President Trump is going to drive the plan. And then we'll see what

happens. But right now there is even a consensus plan.


FREDERICKS: So we have to wait and see.

LEMON: All right, I want to put this up, because this is also soon I mean drawing controversy. Let's put this photo has been circulating among the right-wing outlets when Trump tweeted this photo, it was already on the home page of the drudge report. The president has also praised info wars, a French website operated by far-right wing conspiracy theorist, Alex Jones who claims that 9/11 was an inside job and at the Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax.

What do you make of a president getting his information from these sites? First Joe Madison.

MADISON: Oh, I wouldn't dignify it with an answer. Alex Jones is a fraud. Shouldn't even be in the business to be quite candid. And the reality is the only controversy in the video is they're eating Krispy Kreme doughnuts. That's about it.

LEMON: Joe. John?

FREDERICKS: Joe, I think you're being way too kind to Alex Jones. That stuff is so ridiculous. 50 percent his stuff on that show they just make up. I don't have time for that. I want real news and real information. That is absolute nonsense, anybody going to the sites --

LEMON: But the question is, are you concerned that president is using that as a source?

MADISON: That's the point. Yes. He's using it as a source.

FREDERICKS: I think anything that has to do with the ridiculous fake news sites that make up stuff in order to gain advertisers, so that they can sell something, I mean that is ridiculous and a complete waste of time.

MADISON: Well tell the president then.

LEMON: Thank you gentlemen.

FREDERICKS: Well if I see him I will, but, you know, I mean --

LEMON: You can tell him now maybe, he might watch --

MADISON: Maybe he listens.


LEMON: He can listen to your radio show, I' m sure he can --


FREDERICKS: President Trump if you're listening to me, half the stuff on Alex Jones is made up. It's not that ridiculous. Who has time for that? I have to decipher what's true and what isn't true. I don't know about you, I don't have a time for that.


LEMON: Boy oh boy oh boy, you guys are always -- it's interesting when you're here. I got to John. Joe, thank you. John, thank you.

MADISON: Have a great weekend.

LEMON: We'll be right back.


[23:38:01] LEMON: Kellyanne Conway has been under fire for controversial Oval Office picture but some people may be taking it too far. Let's discuss now with Joseph Borelli the Councilman for the 51st district of New York City. Charmaine Yoest, American Value senior fellow, CNN political contributor Hilary Rosen and CNN political commentator Bakari Sellers.

Good evening to all of you. So Charmaine --


LEMON: -- I'm going to start with you. Representative Cedric Richmond made a cringe worthy joke about this picture of Kellyanne Conway kneeling on the Oval Office couch and he said in part, "I really just want to know what was going on there because I won't tell anybody and you can just explain it to me that circumstance because she really looked familiar there in that position there, but don't understand I don't want you to refer back to the '90s."

What's your reaction to that?

YOEST: Don that's just absolutely appalling and there's no excuse for it. And the thing that's really troubling to me is there's been so little commentary coming from the left there. Where is Nancy Pelosi condemning this?

You know, he really should have by now come out with an apology and instead he start to dancing around and trying to say that it was just a southern expression. Well look, I'm from the south and that dog won't hunt. This is just a really, really appalling undermining of a woman in power that should be being condemned across the board.

You know, I have to say, I saw that Hilary had condemned it right before we came on air. I appreciate that. But we need to see that a whole lot more coming from the left.

LEMON: Hilary, go ahead.

HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I thought it was a stupid thing to say. You know, kind of shocking from congressman but, look I don't think it's -- I thought the whole picture story got a little bit too much attention anyway. You know, Kellyanne Conway sort of kneeling on the couch was an internet meme for two days.

Really it was more interesting that the HBCU College presidents who met with President Trump actually were kind of unsatisfied with the results of the meeting and disappointed at sort of his lack of support for the education.

[23:40:07] That to me was a story instead everyone talked about Kellyanne kneeling on the couch for today.

LEMON: And then we --

ROSEN: So I thought it was stupid and I thought that Congressman Richmond was obnoxious for making a joke about it.

LEMON: We didn't do the story on this particular program, because a picture -- the photo you see there was taken out of context who's trying to get a picture of --

ROSEN: Right.

LEMON: -- the people. And then maybe she was, you know, sitting back down looking at camera, whatever. We didn't think it was story, was it become -- see there she's taking picture. What has become the story now is really the response to the picture.

So Bakari a few minutes before that comment and at same event Senator Tim Scott jokingly said, "Has anyone seen the controversy around Kellyanne Conway and the couch in the Oval Office? Come on people, you remember the '90s, that couch has had a lot worse things. Come on now." And you say both men crossed the line between comedy and offensive. Explain that.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well I think that it was inappropriate anytime you're talking about a woman who is of that stature, regardless of how you feel about Kellyanne Conway and her shall I say lack of affinity for the truth or propensity just to tell falsehoods. I think that was disrespectful and a crossed line for both of them.


SELLERS: I think I can say this and I will say this to both of their faces, because I'm actually friends with Senator Scott and friends with Congressman Richmond. And I think that both of them will tell you that in a hindsight is probably something that should not have said. It's a conversation that should not have been even in a joking manner.

But I don't think that I'm not any better than them. I've made the same mistakes before and my goal is to make sure that my daughter and wife look at me proudly every time I come in. And I think that this is a moment that we can all earn (ph) and say this sexism against anyone no matter --


SELLERS: -- difference is untolerated.

LEMON: I'm glad you said sexism, because I don't think that comment would have been made about a man. Go ahead Joseph.

YOEST: Exactly.

JOSEPH BORELLI, COUNCILMAN NEW YORK: And that's what I was going to say, you know, had that been Steve Bannon or Jared Kushner or anyone else in the administration, no one would had been making a comment like that.

It was inappropriate for both of them frankly to make such a thing. This is not late night shtick comedy. You know, "SNL" can have their way with Kellyanne, that's part of being in government. That's part of the culture we live. Senator -- members of Congress are not late night comedians and shouldn't be making sexual comment, sexual innuendoes about a woman who is in the highest level of our government and rightfully is one of the most successful women of our generation.


ROSEN: By the way is the time, you know, I said that the "Saturday Night Live" skit was out of bounds as well and sexist.

YOEST: Well that's exactly -- I was going to say exactly the same thing that "SNL" really kind of started this hyper sexualization of critiquing Kellyanne and in doing in such a misogynistic way. And the fact that she's a conservative pro-life woman in such a position of power has made her a real target in a way that is unprecedented hostility to a woman in position --

SELLERS: That's not rue either.

YOEST: I don't know about that.

SELLER: That's sexist, but (inaudible). But that's not true, because what we didn't hear --

YOEST: I mean come on.

SELLERS: -- you coming to the rescue. We didn't hear you coming to the rescue of Michelle Obama when Republicans were criticizing her arms out. And look I mean the criticisms went above --

YOEST: Did you don't know what I said about Michelle Obama.

SELLERS: -- for the -- well just point it out and prove me wrong. For the former first lady. And the fact is that this is not a partisan issue at all. I mean you have me and Joe who -- that I think the only thing we like politically in common is style of New York pizza. We don't really like anything else.

But we're sitting here telling you that this sexist and misogynistic, but please do not make it something it's not. And if you were someone who came to the rescue of Michelle Obama during these attacks when people called her butt fat, for people called her looking like a gorilla, where people went up and down chastising the way --

YOEST: Whenever I have not --

SELLERS: -- she looked because her arms were out, then please correct me if I'm wrong, because I would like to be corrected.


BORELLI: Bakari I agree with you.

YOEST: I can say right that those kind of comments about Michelle Obama were out of bounds, but I'm saying that Kellyanne Conway has been attacked.

SELLERS: When did you come to her rescue when this was going on? I mean cannot be hypocritical and say that, oh my god now Kellyanne Conway is some type feminist hero because she's being criticized but yet you didn't come to the rescue of Michelle Obama. All I'm saying what is good for the goose, is good for the gander.


YOEST: You're a completely doing a straw man here about bring up a record that has nothing to do with the current situation. Kellyanne -- the way that Kellyanne is coming under attack right now is so out of bounds and is over the top, you know, the "SNL" and opened the door, but this kind of thing from a sitting congressman to attack a woman of power in the White House, it's really -- it should have been condemned really strongly.


YOEST: I feel like you bringing that back around is really a complete straw man.

LEMON: I got to get to break, but we'll discuss on the other side. We'll be right back.



[23:48:48] LEMON: And we're back. Now, a cell phone video captures a very disturbing scene when a customer in a Texas Walmart goes on a racist tirade.

Back with me now, Joseph Borelli, Charmaine Yoest, Hilary Rosen, and Bakari Sellers. I want to play everyone, this is a shocking video that was originally posted on Facebook showing a man at the Texas Walmart berating an employee who he believes to be an immigrant.

The employee says the man in the video couldn't see well with the glasses he just picked up at a vision center and when she referred him to a doctor, she says he requested to see a white employee instead and she began filming after she called for her supervisor to come over.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So my supervisor a few minutes, she's by two minutes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at that. Who do you think pays for her hospital bills?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- at your point.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm paying her hospital bills. She's a foreigner, she comes over here to get sick and fat and obese and she can't do anything, she can't work but I have to pay her bills. Do you see what I mean? Am I fat and obese? I go to work every day. I pay taxes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Me too. I pay my own taxes too.

[23:50:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All these foreigners are living off us good working white people.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I'm just telling you the truth. It's all right. I mean, I know you ain't leaving. I know you're here to stay. You all should go to your own countries and fix up your own countries and try to get your own factory to the city (inaudible).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. OK, sir. I don't want to hear that anymore. That's it. OK, and she's going to help you. OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is worst. I brought up to you're --


LEMON: So Hilary, CNN has reached out to the person we think is the man in the video and have not heard back yet. What's your reaction?

ROSEN: Well, honestly my reaction is, you know, finally this guy has a president who understands him. You know, that there's a coarsening today that we have seen time and time again across this country, where more people are feeling engaged and privileged enough to speak out in that way.

And I find it nauseating. And I think that the constant incidence whether anti-Semitism or racism. Or you know, the high school principal this week who had to apologize for his basketball team screaming "Trump, Trump, Trump" at a opposing school filled African- American kids on their team.

It's just -- It's enough. We have a divider in chief as president here.

LEMON: In fairness, the man never in the part of the video that he never said Trump. No, he never said a thing.

ROSEN: Never says the president's name. No, that's right. I understand that.

LEMON: Not only does this man insult the Walmart employee for appearing to be an immigrant. He also verbally attacks a black woman who is in a wheelchair.

Frankly, this is what a lot of people worry that has happened as a result of our polarized political climate. What do you think?

BORELLI: Don, the man we just saw in that video is vile. He is a racist. But that in no way means that everyone who supports Donald Trump is somehow of the same skin. And this is the problem that democrats are having.

ROSEN: It does not. I didn't say that.

BORELLI: But you are implying that.


BORELLI: You're implying that because if you -- because people support Donald Trump, because people may have different opinions of whether they see him as inspiration or anything.

ROSEN: No, no, no. I'm saying that Donald Trump encourages that behavior. I don't think everybody that supports Donald Trump feels that way.

BORELLI: But -- so how does Donald Trump encourage the behavior when it's leftists doing the acts of violence against the people on the right for having different opinions?

Look, you have someone like Milo, who's a provocateur. He is offensive, I get that.

But you have other right wing speakers who can't even speak on college campuses because they are the victims of assault. They're supporters get assaulted and they get assaulted.

So it's wrong to sort of blame this on President Trump. It's wrong to assume that this only happens from people on the right attacking those on the left. And I think this is a dangerous road the Democrats are going down and may they lose moderate voters as a result.

LEMON: Bakari?

SELLERS: I kind of want to piggy back on what Joe said just briefly. Donald Trump didn't cause the divide that we have in our country. He preyed upon the divide and he enhanced it as if it was on steroids, I will say that, but he didn't cause the divide that we're having in this country.

I'm actually glad that we have cell phone video. I'm glad people get to see that because before too long people thought racism didn't exist because we no longer have called it above water fountains on bathrooms.

I mean, that's the type of abuse that immigrants, that gays, that African-Americans have been going through for a long period of time. And say, Hilary's point, I'm kind of glad that Donald Trump is president.

So now, the scab is pulled off and people get to see it and people are involved in. And now, maybe we can have a conversation.

I mean, I would chastise Joe, just briefly, to not make this a partisan issue. Yes, it's college campuses have to be more in the vain of having free speech. But yes, people also have to understand that they are African Americans and they're immigrants and they're Hispanics and they're gay people who feel as if they're being persecuted by the president of the United States.

(CROSSTALK) SELLERS: This was a discussion that has to be had on both sides. And Donald Trump has an opportunity to be a leader, but the problem is Donald Trump is afraid of his own greatness.

LEMON: Charmaine, I have a minute. Quickly, can you please, I want to get your response?

YOEST: You know, I think one of the big moments from the speech on Tuesday with the president's speech to Congress that he started out by celebrating Black History Month and he went on to round the condemned racism. And I think that was a high moment. It was important.

It started showing leadership of trying to bring everybody together. And I'm going to predict that we're going to see more of that.

This is a president who is married to an immigrant. I think that they're going to build on that. I think that'll be an opportunity to show leadership and start bringing people together.

And frankly, you know, I'm sorry that this guy got 15 seconds of fame from this because what he was saying was despicable.

LEMON: Thank you all, I appreciate it.

OK, so before we leave you tonight, I want to take a moment to say goodbye to our executive producer, Mr. Jonathan Wald. Anybody who's ever worked for Jonathan, where is he?

Jonathan, come in here.

JONATHAN WALD, CNN EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: I don't think I should be (inaudible).

[23:54:58] LEMON: There he is. I'll tell you, he never runs out of great ideas. I know he's embarrassed. He doesn't want to be in here, but often comes in the studio at this hour and so he has inspired us to make the show the best it can be night after night.

And now, he is moving on. Every one of us is going to miss you, Jonathan. We're better for knowing you. So for our entire CNN staff, the "CNN Tonight" staff -- CNN Tonight with Don Lemon which you helped rename, we say good night and good luck Jonathan Wald. What do you have to say for yourself young man?

JONATHAN WALD: Thank you, Don Lemon.

LEMON: That's it?

WALD: That's it. And so there is. Say goodnight.

LEMON: See how he bosses me around. Don't they have your I.D. yet?

WALD: Not yet.

WALD: I still have two minutes. LEMON: All right come here, Jonathan. I'm going to miss you, buddy. Thank you for doing this. I'm losing an executive producer and a friend.

WALD: You're not losing a friend.

LEMON: Thank you. Well done. Good night. He's so embarrassed.


[00:00:13] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Thanks for joining us.