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CNN TONIGHT

The Battle for the Battleground States; Melania Trump Breaks Her Silence. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired October 17, 2016 - 23:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:01:09] DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Melania Trump breaks her silence.

This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

The candidate's wife standing by him in the wake of that lewd, crude tape, full of boasting about his own sexually aggressive behavior toward women.

Melania Trump telling our Anderson Cooper this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MELANIA TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S WIFE: But I was not surprised that the tape came out. I was not surprised about that.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Why?

M. TRUMP: Because, as I said, it's many people from the opposite side that they want to damage the campaign. And why now? Why after so many years? Why three weeks before the election?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: But will voters buy that? And what will it mean for the final presidential debate just two days away?

Let's get right to it now. CNN's politics editor -- executive editor Mark Preston is here to break all of this down for us.

So, Mark, let's talk about the polls and all of this stuff. There's a whole slew of polls that have come out in just the last 48 hours. They tell a pretty clear story, what's the state of this race right now?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Well, Don, let's use the polls as the road map for Donald Trump and quite for Hillary Clinton to try to win the nomination. CNN has three polls that have come out today. They are North Carolina, Nevada, and Ohio. And if you look at these numbers right here, it shows that Hillary Clinton is up two points in the state of Nevada where I stand right now. She is up one point in North Carolina and Donald Trump is up four points in Ohio. Now we know Donald Trump was talking up the polls today saying how

well he is doing. But it really is a tough road for him ahead. And let's just take a look at the battleground map right now. The electoral map to show you how difficult it is for him, Don.

If you look at this map right now Donald Trump would need to win Ohio, North Carolina and Florida. And that still doesn't get him to the 270 electoral votes that he would need to get. In order to get there to 270 he would either have to pick up the state of Virginia, the state of Michigan or the state of Pennsylvania. All three of those right now, Hillary Clinton is favored as we stand today. Or she would have to -- he would have to win the state of Nevada where I am right now and the state of Wisconsin or the state of Colorado.

Again, two states right now that are in Hillary Clinton's column. So when Donald Trump is talking up the polls today, and he should be happy what was going on in Ohio, it is still a very difficult road for him to get to 270, Don.

LEMON: So he's been saying this a lot. You know, it's rigged. It's rigged, folks. So when he continues to push this narrative, blaming the media and the Clintons on conspiring against him, saying that there will be widespread voter fraud, there's no evidence of any of this, but his supporters believe him, right?

PRESTON: They certainly do, and I tell you, it's very dangerous rhetoric that he's using right now, saying it is rigged. In fact we saw the Ohio secretary of state, a Republican, who is going to vote for him today on our air talk about how it's not rigged and how election officials are doing their best to make sure that there is not any malfeasance going on. But he continues to say this over and over again, and Don, by him saying it, you have to wonder, is he going to depress his own vote or is he riling up his supporters and looking for an excuse if he does lose in November.

LEMON: You just wonder if facts matter in this particular -- actually it doesn't matter to a lot of people, and why they keep continuing to push this.

Tonight I want you to look at this. This is at a Trump rally. This is a Wisconsin sheriff, David Clarke. He was trying to rev up the crowd with some controversial words. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHERIFF DAVID CLARKE: They want you to give up, folks. They want you to say the hell with it, it's fixed, it's rigged. And it is. But they just want you to just say, the hell with it, I'm not going to participate. That's what they're hoping for. It's not going to work. It is not going to work. Stay strong. Find new voters and get them to the polls.

[23:05:04] Like I said, and I'll continue to say, it is pitchfork and torches time in America.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: Pitchfork and torches time. And a lot of the things the sheriff says, and if you're fact checking, they're not true. But it's good red meat and then -- but is that dangerous speaking that way?

PRESTON: Well, as a law enforcement official, the fact that he says when he says, it's rigged, it is, meaning that he himself doesn't have any faith in the electoral system, as a law enforcement official, that is pretty explosive stuff. The idea that he's trying to get people revved up, look, we can all understand that, they want to try to get their voters to the polls but to go in with the premise that the electoral system right now and the election systems are absolutely rigged is really doing a disservice quite frankly to all the people who invest their time, they volunteer, to try to get these polls up and going.

So listen, there are some problems out there, we understand that. The fact that they have this explosive rhetoric three weeks out is a little concerning.

LEMON: You know, I think -- not think, I do, I agree with my colleagues Jeffrey Toobin earlier, and Drew Griffin saying, people need to read more and find the facts because that's just not true what the sheriff is saying and what Donald Trump is saying, it's just not true.

Thank you very much. I appreciate that, Mark Preston.

Melania Trump sat down with Anderson Cooper today and talked about the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape and what she thought when she heard what her husband said. Here's part of that interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: It was 10 days ago that "Access Hollywood" released that tape. I'm wondering when you first saw it, when you first heard it, what did you think?

M. TRUMP: I said to my husband that, you know, the language is inappropriate, it's not acceptable. And I was surprised because that is not the man that I know. And as you can see from the tape, the cameras were not on. It was only a mic. And I wonder if they even knew that the mic was on because they were kind of a boy talk. And he was lead on like -- egged on from the host to say dirty and bad stuff.

COOPER: You feel the host, Billy Bush, was sort of egging him on?

M. TRUMP: Yes, yes.

COOPER: Is that language you had heard him use before?

M. TRUMP: No. No, that's why I was surprised because I said like, I don't know that person that would talk that way. And that he would say that kind of stuff in private. I heard many different stuff, boys talk. I -- the boys, the way they talk when they grow up, and they want to sometimes show each other, oh, this and that, and talking about the girls. And -- yes, I was surprised, of course. But I was not surprised that the tape came out. I was not surprised about that.

COOPER: Why?

M. TRUMP: Because as I said, it's many people from the opposite side that they want to damage the campaign. And why now? Why after so many years? Why three weeks before the election?

COOPER: Your husband has said maybe that he felt the Clintons had something to do with it or the media. What do you think?

M. TRUMP: Well, it was the media, it was NBC, it was "Access Hollywood," it was left wing. And left wing media. And you could see that, and the way it comes out, everything was organized, every Friday, every Friday, something comes out, so they play, they play, they play. And it was hour after hour. I watched TV, it was hour after hour. Bashing him. Because they want to influence the American people how to vote. And they're influencing in the wrong way.

COOPER: The information about your husband's 1995 taxes were released right before the debate -- the first debate, then this came out just days before the second debate. You're saying that's not a coincidence.

M. TRUMP: No, that was all organized. Yes. That they planned that way because they don't want to talk -- the opposition doesn't want to talk about WikiLeaks and the e-mails and Benghazi and all the rest of the stuff. They don't want to -- they don't want to talk about it, so they said, let's do something so we will hurt his campaign.

COOPER: The "Washington Post" was leaked the tape and they released the tape, NBC had it for -- they said they had it for several days and they were reviewing it, but you believe that it was -- that NBC could have released it, you think they knew about it long ago?

[23:10:09] M. TRUMP: Yes, they knew a long time ago. And I'm sure they did. And "Washington Post," when did we hear or read any great stories about my husband or about me? The true stuff. The facts, the real stuff. The "New York Times," we never read, they bashing, bashing, bashing.

COOPER: You feel they've been very unfair?

M. TRUMP: Yes.

COOPER: Your husband said that -- well, he said he apologized to you after the tape and that you accepted the apology. What was that conversation like? Can you talk about it?

M. TRUMP: Well, we talk in private, I will keep it private. And he apologized. I accept his apology. I hope the American people will accept it as well. And it was many, many years ago. He's not the man that I know. And as I many times said, and he said it as well, it's very hard. Especially for him when he decided to decide to run for presidency, because he did so many stuff in his life, he was on so many tapes, so many shows. And we knew that, that, you know, tapes will come out. People will want to go against him. But my husband is real, he's raw. He tells it as it is. He's kind,

he's a gentleman. He supports everybody. He supports women. He encourages them to go to the highest level, to achieve the dreams, to -- he employs many, many women. And as you can see, it's also a lot of backlash on the media, the way they treated him.

COOPER: He described it as locker room talk. To you -- I mean, you sort of alluded to that as well. Is that what it is to you, just locker room talk?

M. TRUMP: Yes, it's kind of two teenage boys -- actually, they should behave better, right? He was not --

COOPER: He was 59.

M. TRUMP: Correct. And sometimes I said, I have two boys at home, I have my young son and I have my husband.

(LAUGHTER)

M. TRUMP: So -- but I know how some men talk and that's how I saw it, yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Oh, and there's more with Melania Trump, the interview with Anderson Cooper. How she says women behave with her husband right in front of her.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:16:59] LEMON: So Melania Trump says she told her husband his language on the "Access Hollywood" tape was unacceptable. But she defends him against allegations of sexually predatory behavior. Even when the first lady blasts Trump's actions. So I want you to listen to more from Melania Trump's interview with Anderson Cooper.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Michelle Obama, who you I know have spoken positively of in the past, she said last week about what your husband said on that tape, she said, "This was not just a lewd conversation. This wasn't just locker room banter. This was a powerful individual speaking freely and openly about sexually predatory behavior. And actually bragging about kissing and groping women."

In terms of what he actually said on the tape, I'm not saying he did it, but what he said, the behavior he described, to you, is that sexual assault?

M. TRUMP: No, that's not sexual assault. He didn't say he did it. And I see many women coming to him and giving phone numbers, and, you know, want to work for him or inappropriate stuff from women, and they know he's married. So --

COOPER: You've seen that? M. TRUMP: Oh yes, of course. It was in front of me.

COOPER: In front of you?

M. TRUMP: In front of me. And I said, like, why do you need to give your number to my husband? I'm very strong. People, they don't really know me, people think and talk about me, the -- like, "Oh Melania, oh poor Melania." Don't feel sorry for me. Don't feel sorry for me. I can handle everything. And for these -- for people talking like that, I see in the press a lot, almost like celebrities or people they think they're celebrities, I would suggest to them to look at themselves in the mirror and to look at their actions and to take care of their own families.

COOPER: In terms of what Michelle Obama was saying, she was saying that essentially any unwanted advance toward a woman, kissing a woman, touching a woman without consent, that is sexual assault, that's the definition.

M. TRUMP: Yes, I agree with that, but every assault should be taken care of in a court of law. And to accuse -- no matter who it is, a man or woman, without evidence, it's damaging and it's unfair.

COOPER: She went on to say, Michelle Obama, she talked about, "that feeling of terror and violation that too many women have felt when someone has grabbed them or forced himself on them, and they've said no, but he didn't listen."

M. TRUMP: Who didn't listen? My husband didn't do anything.

COOPER: No, no, she -- I think she was just talking general about --

M. TRUMP: Oh, I'm not surprised, I'm not surprised.

[23:20:01] I mean, she should also look maybe the people who supported her and what they're doing. So I'm not surprised she said that.

COOPER: I know you want your voice to be heard on this. So a number of women have come forward, they've made allegations against your husband, some of them go back more than 30 years. He has said they're lying. Do you believe him?

M. TRUMP: I believe my husband. I believe my husband. This was all organized from the opposition. And with the details that they go, did they ever -- did they ever check the background of these women? They don't have any facts and even the story that came out in "People" magazine, the writer that -- she said that my husband took her to the room and started kissing her. She wrote in the same story about me that she saw me on 5th Avenue, and I said to her, "Natasha, how come we don't see you anymore?" I was never friends with her. I would not recognize her.

COOPER: That never happened?

M. TRUMP: Never happened. That's why I sent them the letter because it discredited the story. COOPER: Right, your lawyer has sent a letter to "People" magazine

saying they have to retract.

M. TRUMP: Of course, yes. Because it was not true. So how we could -- how we could believe her? That never happened. I was never friends with me. I saw her -- she interviewed us twice, she came to the wedding, and for that story. That's it. I would not recognize her on the street or ask her why we don't see her anymore. So that was another thing, like, you know, people come out saying lies and not true stuff.

COOPER: In defending himself, and your husband has again categorically said these allegations are all false.

M. TRUMP: Yes.

COOPER: He's made some comments about the way some of the women who are accusing him look. What do you think about that?

M. TRUMP: Well, that's him. He's raw. He will say it as he feels it. So, you know, I know he respects women, but he's defending himself because they are lies.

COOPER: Right now the latest polls show, I think, 60 -- more than 60 percent of people believe your husband made some sort of unwanted advances. What do you want those people to know? What would you say to them?

M. TRUMP: That my husband is kind, and he's a gentleman, and he would never do that. That everything was organized and put together to hurt him, to hurt his candidacy.

COOPER: Organized by the --

M. TRUMP: The opposition. Yes.

COOPER: The media, Clintons.

M. TRUMP: Media, Clintons, yes.

COOPER: You think they're working together?

M. TRUMP: Yes, of course.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: When we come right back, the Trump campaign hoping that Melania's interview will change the conversation from that tape and all those allegations. Will it work?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:27:10] LEMON: Melania Trump defending her husband, the candidate, in her interview with Anderson Cooper today. We just played a lot of it. So here to discuss now is Betsy McCaughey, the former lieutenant governor of New York and a Trump supporter, Republican strategist Tara Setmayer, CNN political contributor, Hilary Rosen, a Clinton supporter, and Gina Loudon is back, the host of "America Trends with Dr. Gina," and she is Trump supporter.

So welcome for those who are coming back. And thank you all for joining us. So, Hilary, this is the first time that Melania Trump has spoken out since that tape, since all the allegations. Did she do what she needed to do to help her husband?

HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I thought she was lovely. But -- and I thought she was credible. But, you know, I think this now being more than a week later, I think it's kind of too late. This issue is really baked in in voter's minds, and there have been too many women, there's been too much conversation, there have been too many words in Donald Trump's own voice around these issues, and so I just don't really think it's going to matter much, but I think it probably gives some comfort to his supporters but I don't think it grows. I don't think it grows his vote which is really what he needs to be doing.

LEMON: Betsy, you are disagreeing when you said it's baked in because, I mean, the polls actually shows 64 percent of likely voters, this is --

BETSY MCCAUGHEY, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Exactly. It's not baked in.

LEMON: That the tape made no difference to them?

MCCAUGHEY: It's not baked in because if you look at the polls, including the Gallup poll, the Pew polls, that ask voters, what's most important, the most important issue to women voters is the economy. No matter how many times you played the tape, they are listening to the candidates and saying, who's going to improve my take home pay? Who's going to give me job security? And they are responding to Donald Trump's message when he can get it out.

LEMON: That's the most important probably to all voters.

MCCAUGHEY: Of course.

LEMON: But that doesn't mean it's the only -- it's the only.

TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. Listen --

ROSEN: Right. And I --

SETMAYER: All the polls show that Donald Trump is losing women. The Pew poll in Florida shows Donald Trump is down by 15 -- 51-39. CBS shows that Trump is down 51-36 in battleground states. It's a problem for Donald Trump. He's losing women. Trump himself acknowledged it in one of his tweet storms yesterday. That he's losing women. According to him it's because of made-up allegations. Even he acknowledges that he's losing women.

Women could be the deciders in this election. Women have voted overwhelmingly more than men since 1984. They voted for Republicans usually, except for two elections, since 1976. So the fact that Donald Trump has a women problem with votes this large, it's considerable particularly in battleground states.

LEMON: Before we get to Gina, Hilary, you were saying and you got -- you got cut off?

ROSEN: Well, I was saying that I think it's baked into the extent that people who care about this issue a lot have decided how they feel about Donald Trump, and as Betsy said, people who don't care about it aren't going to be persuaded one way or another.

[23:30:06] But let's be clear about the women's vote. Women obviously are the majority of all voters. Mitt Romney won a non-college educated women by over 20 points over Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton is about tied right now with Donald Trump in this.

SETMAYER: Right. 40-40.

ROSEN: And -- and she's ahead, though, with college educated women, which means overall ahead.

LEMON: Yes.

ROSEN: So if Donald Trump can't make it up in non-college educated white women, there's no way he can catch up, and that's absolutely right. So he's lost a natural constituency here and there's really, you know --

LEMON: And Gina --

ROSEN: The way that people feel about this, how he gets it back is beyond me.

LEMON: Gina, but he seems to be, you know, digging himself in even more because Melania Trump says that those remarks caught on tape, it's not the man that she knows, but at the same time, her husband is out on the campaign trail saying that he wouldn't touch these women based on their looks. Isn't he digging a bigger hole for himself?

GINA LOUDON, TRUMP SUPPORTER, BEHAVIORAL AND PSYCHOLOGY EXPERT: I've heard Mr. Trump today talking about other things and I'm glad that he's on the campaign trail as opposed to Hillary Clinton who's not. But he is winning with married women, for example. The "L.A. Times" daily tracking poll --

LEMON: But Gina, before you -- Gina. Gina, stand by.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Hold on. Hold on. Hold on. Hold on. Hang on. Gina, I will let you pivot. But just answer my question directly when --

MCCAUGHEY: She's not pivoting.

LEMON: Is he not -- is he not digging himself a bigger hole by responding to women that way, saying, these are the women -- they're not attractive, look at her. She wouldn't be my first choice. LOUDON: No. I don't think so. I don't think so, Don, and here's

why. I'm glad that Mr. Trump is answering these allegations, as opposed to Hillary Clinton who isn't answering any of the allegations. She's not even calling down her own campaign workers who said they're using union members, they use homeless people, they have gays in their back pockets? I mean, these are major demographics of hers that I would think she would want to be out there defending. I would think that these allegations against her would be hurting her far worse. These are proven. These are on tape, these are in e-mails.

The allegations against Mr. Trump are not proven. And so I'm glad that he's standing up and saying, hey, this is not true. For supporters of both candidates, I hope that they will answer --

LEMON: OK.

LOUDON: You know, all of the questions asked.

LEMON: OK.

LOUDON: But especially the ones that are actually proven like those against Hillary.

LEMON: Quickly, Betsy. Go ahead.

MCCAUGHEY: Yes. I wanted to point out that married women are supporting Trump for two reasons. First of all, in general, they agree with more traditional values. But secondly, they hear the constant rhetoric that when a woman charges a man with some sort of sexually related crime the woman is always to be believed. But married women understand, they not only are mothers with daughters and granddaughters, they also have sons and husbands and fathers, and they don't like the idea that in our society now on college campuses and the workplace, increasingly everywhere, men are not to be believed.

The burden of proof is always on the man, when in fact in a fair society anyone is innocent until proven guilty, whether they're a man or a woman.

LEMON: Tara, it sounds like she's saying it's a rigged system when it comes to that.

SETMAYER: Yes.

MCCAUGHEY: I know it is. Take a look at college campuses.

SETMAYER: There are arguments to be made --

LOUDON: All right, Tara, you go for it.

SETMAYER: Yes. There are arguments to be made about whether men are treated fairly in certain environment but I think that that is a really weak argument at this point, considering that Trump supporters are trying to say, we should believe the accusers against Bill Clinton. So you can't have it both ways. Either sexual assault victims are to be believed or they're not. MCCAUGHEY: I think it depends on whether there are the facts.

SETMAYER: Well, in the case -- in the case of Donald Trump, Donald Trump has come forward and boasted. That's what we saw on the tapes. He boasted about what he likes to do to women. And then you have women who came out now, up to 10 or 11 women, who have come out and said --

(CROSSTALK)

LOUDON: But there's zero proof of it.

MCCAUGHEY: The "New York Times" woman, it's been dismissed. It's one person against another. There is no proof that assault ever happened.

LEMON: It's always -- it's always one person against the other.

MCCAUGHEY: No, it isn't, you can have witnesses. You can have --

(CROSSTALK)

SETMAYER: Donald Trump unlike others has bragged about this more than once apparently, and that he's done it.

MCCAUGHEY: Bragging doesn't mean you're a criminal.

SETMAYER: That he's done it and then when --

LOUDON: And he has now apologized, which is more than Hillary has done for the things that her own people have called her own supporters.

(CROSSTALK)

SETMAYER: You guys can't be doing this. You either believe them all or you don't believe any of them.

MCCAUGHEY: It's not just the (INAUDIBLE), what I'm saying is, married women are looking at their sons.

ROSEN: Don.

MCCAUGHEY: Their husbands and saying they're unfairly accused whether it's on a college campus.

SETMAYER: Do you really think that Donald Trump is playing the victim? I'm sorry, but Donald Trump isn't playing the victim --

MCCAUGHEY: I'm saying we can't lose sight of due process in our society.

ROSEN: Betsy, Betsy, you know what?

LEMON: Go ahead, Hilary.

ROSEN: There's an old -- SETMAYER: That is such a weak argument that Donald Trump is --

MCCAUGHEY: It is not a weak argument.

ROSEN: There's an old adage --

MCCAUGHEY: Do you remember the Salem witch trials, it's taught in every --

(CROSSTALK)

SETMAYER: Now it's the Salem witch trial. This is so outrageous.

MCCAUGHEY: Hey, it was the same thing.

SETMAYER: This is asinine. This is asinine.

[23:35:01] MCCAUGHEY: False accusations. Lack of due process, these are fundamental issues in our society.

LEMON: I want Hillary Rosen to weigh in before we go break. Hilary, go for it.

ROSEN: I'll just say one thing, Betsy, which is shouting louder and over people doesn't actually make you right.

MCCAUGHEY: You're so right.

ROSEN: And it doesn't change facts. So --

MCCAUGHEY: There are no facts, that's the problem.

ROSEN: We can --

LOUDON: I would agree with you --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Let Hilary finish her statement. Please.

LOUDON: On the videotape regarding Hillary, there is nothing, no proof about --

LEMON: Go ahead. Hillary Clinton has never been charged with sexually assaulting anyone or accused of -- but go ahead, Hilary.

ROSEN: The more hysterical that Trump surrogates sound around this stuff, the less convincing it is to women who are really just looking for answers. Now Donald Trump's own words, like this isn't about accusations about other women, just play the tapes over and over again. It is his own words. It is his own attitude. That is what women are hearing in their head.

LOUDON: So that bothers you --

(CROSSTALK) LEMON: We'll have more right after the break. I got to get to a break. We'll continue right after this. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:40:01] LEMON: All right. Back now with my panel, and I know we have a delay for some of the guests who are not in studio so please try not to talk over each other. I want you guys to have a robust conversation. I will interject as little as possible. But try not to talk over each other.

So, Tara, let's pick up where we left off. As a Republican who doesn't support Donald Trump, what do you make of Melania saying that the leak of the tax returns, the timing of the tape release, it's all part of a coordinated left-wing media conspiracy?

SETMAYER: I think that's part of what she's supposed to say, right? I mean, these -- all that may be true and you could say the same thing about the WikiLeaks leaks, that's a coordinated attack against Hillary Clinton. That's why they call them October surprises. This is what happens in October. This is the final stretch of the campaign, this is really not abnormal. Maybe the amount of what we're seeing and just how unbelievable a lot of it is, but the October surprise is not new to electoral politics.

But I thought something else that Melania said bothered me considerably is when she kept trying to cast aside what Donald Trump was saying on the "Access Hollywood" as just boy talk.

LEMON: Boy talk.

SETMAYER: You know, this idea of boy talk. He was a 59-year-old grown man. And that's -- that he was somehow egged on by Billy Bush. So now Billy Bush is the scapegoat. I mean, Donald Trump is incapable of ever taking responsibility for his own action. And that's --

LEMON: But what about the idea --

(CROSSTALK)

SETMAYER: It's very immature.

LEMON: Tara -- hold on, Betsy. And Tara, what about the idea that it's honorable for Melania Trump to come out and stand by her man, but it's dishonorable for Hillary Clinton to do the same thing? Is there a degree of hypocrisy here?

SETMAYER: Absolutely. I've said this from the very beginning. I've said that, you know, as conservatives, a lot of us went after the Clintons in the '90s, went after Bill Clinton, justifiably for his transgressions, and then criticized Hillary to a certain degree. But her approval rating went up -- went up 20 plus percent during that scandal in 1998. So attacking the wives doesn't really work there because people feel sympathy for the wife because she didn't do it.

So why Donald Trump is insisting on using this strategy is beyond me because it didn't work before. And it is absolutely hypocritical for those of us who went after Clinton to now say that, you know, say that Donald -- what's going on with Donald Trump, well, that shouldn't be believed.

LEMON: You mentioned the egging on. But here it is. Let's listen. This is what Melania talked about.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've got to use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know, I'm automatically attracted to beautiful -- I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it, you can do anything.

BILLY BUSH, FORMER "ACCESS HOLLYWOOD" HOST: Whatever you want.

D. TRUMP: Grab them by the pussy. I can do anything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Betsy, was Billy Bush egging him on?

MCCAUGHEY: Well --

SETMAYER: Where is that?

MCCAUGHEY: No, probably not. But here's the point. When you're married to someone you're supposed to see them through rose colored glasses. Of course we would want Melania Trump to view the incident that way. That's why they don't put wives on juries when they're husband is accused of a crime because spouses and lovers are supposed to view their partner in that very favorable way.

(CROSSTALK)

SETMAYER: Why her --

LEMON: So you put them on television to use them as a campaign surrogate?

MCCAUGHEY: No, I think she did this of her own volition because she wanted to. But she did point out something else in this --

LEMON: So hold on then. If you're saying that's what the -- so are we supposed to believe her or not supposed to believe her? What are you saying?

MCCAUGHEY: I think we're supposed to believe her as a character witness to her husband. That is what she said.

LEMON: But you wouldn't put her on the jury as a character witness for her husband?

(CROSSTALK)

MCCAUGHEY: It never worked.

SETMAYER: But you can't testify to the fact.

LEMON: OK.

(CROSSTALK)

SETMAYER: I'm sorry but look. I'm sorry --

LEMON: Let Hilary get in.

SETMAYER: She's married to a billionaire. You think that she's going to come out -- what is she supposed to do? She going to come out -- of course she's going to support her husband. What did you think, she's going to say, I've had enough, I'm walking away?

(CROSSTALK)

SETMAYER: Let's be honest here.

ROSEN: She said something --

MCCAUGHEY: She's said so many things about her husband, the marriage is over.

SETMAYER: Well, I mean, if he's a serial groper.

ROSEN: She said something else, though, that --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Hilary and then Gina. Go ahead, Hilary, and then Gina.

ROSEN: First of all I agree with Tara that -- you know, blaming this on Billy Bush is just immature of the Trump family to take this on and, you know, this guy's getting fired for his job, but Donald Trump still gets to run for president.

LEMON: It's interesting that there are higher standards to be the third hour host of the "Today" show than for --

SETMAYER: Right.

ROSEN: Isn't it? Isn't it?

LEMON: Yes.

SETMAYER: Says a lot.

ROSEN: Melania said something else, though, when Anderson asked her if it was legitimate to go after Bill Clinton, and she said, well, they've gone after my past. And, you know, with the pictures of the modeling and the like. And it is very important for the record that people not -- that be fact-checked because Hillary Clinton's campaign never went after Melania Trump. Hillary Clinton wouldn't go after Melania Trump. She has been the spouse of a political candidate, and she knows better, and for character reasons wouldn't do that.

It was the Republicans in the primary that went after Melania Trump. So this idea that any -- all holds barred, anything is fair game because that's what the Clinton campaign is doing is just nonsense.

LEMON: Gina?

ROSEN: So, you know, they're justifying this over and over again with no basis.

LOUDON: There's a key difference here between words and actions.

[23:45:02] MCCAUGHEY: Yes.

LOUDON: What Mr. Trump did was words. He's apologized, I didn't like it either. Melania, obviously, didn't like it. We can all agree, we didn't like it, America has moved on. Most Americans don't care about this. What they do care about is the fact that Mrs. Clinton has taken hundreds of millions of dollars from governments that oppress and stone women to death. Where is the defense of that? They throw gays off of buildings. Where is the defense of that?

LEMON: You mean, the Clinton Foundation, not Hillary Clinton?

ROSEN: What are you talking about?

LEMON: You're talking about the Clinton Foundation donation from foreign countries.

(CROSSTALK)

ROSEN: None of that is true. Nothing you're saying is true.

LOUDON: It's 100 percent true.

ROSEN: In fact, nobody was tougher on countries that oppressed women --

(CROSSTALK)

LOUDON: It's 100 percent true. No one is even disputing it.

ROSEN: No, no, no.

LOUDON: In fact, Mrs. Clinton --

ROSEN: You need to understand facts.

LOUDON: I let you talk. If I could --

LEMON: Hold on, one at a time. One a time.

ROSEN: Nobody was tougher to these countries that oppressed women.

LEMON: One at a time. Gina, Gina, hold on. Let Hilary -- let Hilary make her point and I'll let you finish. LOUDON: Mrs. Clinton is --

ROSEN: That oppressed gays and lesbians than Hillary Clinton. Nobody was tougher as a secretary of state in history on countries that attack women's rights, that attack --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Gina?

LOUDON: Then why is she taking money, hundreds of millions of dollars from Saudi Arabia, from Qatar.

ROSEN: So you can't trace anything for the foundation.

LOUDON: These are governments under Sharia law and they abuse women royally, and there's proof of that. And all you're talking about with Donald Trump is words, this is words.

SETMAYER: No.

LEMON: Let Gina finish.

LOUDON: So we need to look at where the actual proof and the actual proof --

ROSEN: That's such a nonsense argument. Nonsense.

LOUDON: The tape recording of her saying that a little 12-year-old girl brought a rape on herself. That's one thing. Then we're looking at the money that she's taken --

ROSEN: She did not do that.

LOUDON: -- from governments that abuse and stone women to death. I mean --

LEMON: Gina, Gina, that's not what happened in the tape. You should read -- you should read the fact-check on that.

LOUDON: Why didn't she give that money back?

ROSEN: Nothing you're saying makes sense.

SETMAYER: Well, I'm not going to defend --

ROSEN: Nothing you're saying is true.

SETMAYER: -- Hillary Clinton on that but that is -- you're right, Don. That's not exactly what happened. I mean, she was -- first of all, that's like 30 years ago or 40 years ago, so how come it's OK to bring up what --

ROSEN: Even then it wasn't true.

SETMAYER: -- Hillary Clinton did 40 years ago but it's not OK to bring up what Donald Trump --

LEMON: But, Tara, that has become a -- that has become a talking point on the right about Hillary Clinton and that case.

SETMAYER: Right.

LEMON: If you read the fact checks, none of what they're asserting is true. Yes, it is Hillary Clinton on the tape, she does laugh, but she's not laughing at the victim. She's laughing at --

SETMAYER: Right. She's laughing at the case.

LEMON: At the case.

(CROSSTALK)

SETMAYER: She tried to get off it. I'm not going to defend her on that. This is the problem. Donald Trump is not prosecuting this case very well against Hillary Clinton. Instead, what he's doing is, he's going off on this tit-for-tat, I have to defend myself in, like, a tabloid, "National Enquirer" type fashion three weeks before an election.

LEMON: Yes.

SETMAYER: You're right, most women, they care about the economy, they care about national security. That's not what Donald Trump is talking about. And that's what makes him unfit.

LEMON: And what will Betsy McCaughey say after the break.

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: Because she's ready to jump in. And we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:51:33] LEMON: Back with me now, and as you can see, they were arguing through the commercial break.

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: I'm back now with my panel. What will Betsy McCaughey say after the break?

Betsy, your point was?

MCCAUGHEY: One of the most important thing Melania Trump said in that interview is she's asking for her husband to be given the same right to fact-checking, to due process as anybody else accused of a crime like sexual assault would be. And when Jessica Leeds went to the "New York Times," complaining that on a flight seated next to Donald Trump he groped her so horrifically that even the man across the aisle was bug-eyed at the sight of this assault. The "New York Times" 48 hours later printed that story despite being warned by Donald Trump that it was untrue. Printed that story without being able to ascertain the flight, the year that it occurred, whether Mr. Trump and --

LEMON: So what's the point, Betsy?

MCCAUGHEY: -- and Mrs. Leeds were even on a flight together. Two days later a man came forward and said, I was the man across the aisle, and what I witnessed was exactly the opposite of what Mrs. Leeds contends.

SETMAYER: That man was discredited.

LEMON: There's also --

MCCAUGHEY: It doesn't discredit it. I know --

LEMON: He has no corroborating evidence for his account as well so issues --

(CROSSTALK)

MCCAUGHEY: So all I'm saying is at this point --

SETMAYER: And lied before.

MCCAUGHEY: At this point, that is not a credible --

ROSEN: There is evidence, Don.

MCCAUGHEY: Let me finish.

(CROSSTALK)

LOUDON: Where there is evidence --

MCCAUGHEY: This is not a credible allegation.

LEMON: Gina, hold on. Let her finish.

MCCAUGHEY: It's he said, she said.

LEMON: Yes.

MCCAUGHEY: And I would ask "The New York Times" or any media outlet before they smear something on the front page --

(CROSSTALK)

MCCAUGHEY: That turn a presidential election --

LEMON: OK, Betsy.

MCCAUGHEY: That they have some evidence when --

LEMON: Betsy, you're filibustering now. Go ahead, Gina.

ROSEN: It's worth pointing out that there were two women in that story. LOUDON: This is where the (INAUDIBLE) information is, that her own

level staffers tried to bribe the FBI. When you look at the WikiLeaks, which again, the WikiLeaks e-mails --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: What are you talking about?

LOUDON: She has not even denied. She's not even addressing those.

ROSEN: You're just a --

LEMON: Gina, we're talking about --

ROSEN: You're just a robot of right-wing talking points tonight. Jesus.

LEMON: Gina, we're not talking that right now. We're talking about something else.

LOUDON: When America has moved on from this --

ROSEN: Rata-tat-tat.

LOUDON: Why we're not looking at, and why we're not asking Hillary to --

SETMAYER: Donald Trump hasn't moved on from this.

(CROSSTALK)

MCCAUGHEY: That's the problem. He would have moved on.

SETMAYER: The surrogates are, like, defending a different candidate because Donald Trump has not moved on from this. He continues to bring it up. He brought it up again today at a rally. He brought it up yesterday. He tweeted about it.

ROSEN: This is the point.

SETMAYER: He's the one that's keeping it out there because he wants to put out this sad story of it's a rigged election, which is terribly irresponsible on his part.

LOUDON: Sixty seconds and that's what they focused on.

LEMON: But guess what, Gina, if he didn't talk about it --

ROSEN: Gina, stop talking.

LEMON: Yes, if -- if he didn't talk about it then we'd say Donald Trump held a rally today and talked about this.

LOUDON: That's true, but the media has covered this story, again, with zero facts. Four to one, four to one, over the amount of time that they've given these -- ROSEN: You know why -- you know why we're not talking about it right

now?

(CROSSTALK)

SETMAYER: If Donald Trump acted like an adult candidate, he wouldn't have to blame everybody else about his problems and why he's losing in the polls. I mean, if you watch --

ROSEN: All day long.

(CROSSTALK)

SETMAYER: And more seriously. Enough with the blaming.

LOUDON: He's not a professional politician. We've all known that from the beginning. He also doesn't collude with government agencies.

LEMON: But there's also --

SETMAYER: We don't know that.

LEMON: There's not also a false equivalency. There's not parody in these two stories. One is about, you know, allegations of sexual assault against women which is, you know, eye-popping for most people, and the other is about how --

[23:55:04] MCCAUGHEY: Corrupt government.

LEMON: You know and how government runs and both of them deserve to be covered. If they're not going to be covered --

ROSEN: And by the way, Don --

(CROSSTALK)

LOUDON: This is not how government runs, Don.

ROSEN: Sorry. Whoa, whoa, whoa, stop.

LOUDON: Collusions are not how governments run. Felonious bribes to the FBI? That's not how governments run.

LEMON: I didn't say it was right. I didn't say it was right. I'm just -- I'm talking about the process.

LOUDON: I agree --

ROSEN: And you know what --

LOUDON: And that's precisely why Donald Trump ran. As an outsider, as somebody to come in and take on the establishment and the elite who have acted this way and disregarded people forever, and I would submit to you, Don.

LEMON: OK. LOUDON: That most women out there are so much more concerned with

having a candidate who is going to be honest and who's going to break up the Washington cartel.

LEMON: OK. Hilary, I've got --

SETMAYER: Oh my gosh.

LEMON: Hilary, I've got 20 seconds. I know a lot of women who are concerned about sexual assault. But Hilary, I'll give you the last 20 seconds.

ROSEN: Here's the basic point. And Gina has just been a font of right-wing talking points tonight. It's hurting my ears, it's so crazy. But here's the issue, which is -- and I've been on TV three times today talking about Hillary Clinton's WikiLeaks. So it has been covered all day long. The reason we are still on these issues --

LOUDON: But where's Hillary?

ROSEN: -- is because Donald Trump himself, stop it. Donald Trump himself all day long cannot stop being a victim.

LEMON: OK. I got to go.

ROSEN: If he was out there talking about the economy, talking about other things.

LEMON: Thank you. I got to go, Hilary.

ROSEN: Maybe we would be, too.

SETMAYER: That's right.

LEMON: Every night, everyone, I get a front row seat. Can you believe it? 21 days.

ROSEN: Good night --

LEMON: Tomorrow will be 20. Good night.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)