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QUEST MEANS BUSINESS
Police Officer Killed in Paris Shooting. Aired 3:54-6p ET
Aired April 20, 2017 - 15:54:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:54:00] RICHARD QUEST, CNN ANCHOR: And there we leave our colleagues at CNN in the United States from CNN as we continue to update you on the very
serious news that we're getting from Paris.
Now, CNN's French affiliate BFM-TV is reporting that a police officer has been killed in a shooting, and two other people have been injured. One of
the others is believed to be also a police officer. The assailant and the attacker has reportedly been shot dead in the crossfire.
It's all happening at the Champs-Elysees, which is, I mean, you'll be aware, is right in the center of Paris. You can see the picture there
which shows just the size and scale. You can see the Arc de Triomphe over in the distance.
I believe we have Melissa Bell -- no, Melissa's not with us yet, our correspondent in Paris.
[15:55:01] Now, the size and scale of this operation, as you will well understand, is absolutely enormous. This is the equivalent -- I mean, one
can put it as being an incident happening on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, Fifth Avenue in New York, Regent Street in London. You could pick
any major thoroughfare in any capital or major city in the world, and this gives you an idea of the seriousness.
But there is an added element here. France goes to the polls in the presidential election this Sunday for the first round in the election.
Now, you're seeing multiple pictures there of the scene.
We don't know what happened. We don't know the scenario that has led to this, other than, BFM-TV is reporting, a police officer has been injured
and another has been killed.
Cyril joins us from -- the CNN Anchor Cyril Vanier, right.
Cyril, you know this area very well indeed. Give us a feeling for what would have been happening at nearly 10:00 on a Thursday night in Paris.
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
QUEST: A touch of problem hearing you, Cyril. We will sort that out very quickly indeed, I'm hoping.
The concern will be, obviously, in all of this, whether, once again, this is the nature of a lone wolf attack, whether this is a random attack, or
whether this passage is something far more serious as being an organized full frontal attack. And let's remember why.
First of all, we have Charlie Hebdo, which happened in Paris, the attack. Then we have the ISIS attack or a terrorist at the Stade de France with
other multiple explosions that took place in Paris. Then you have the appalling truck that plowed through tourists in Nice in the south of
France. And you have a series of arrests, which have taken place in recent weeks, in Paris of those who are either ISIS or ISIS sympathizers or those
who are known to have had terrorist connections.
Putting all this together, and you start to see why what we are witnessing in Paris tonight is of the gravest seriousness. The attacker in Paris has
been shot dead. A policeman has also been killed. And the entire center of Paris, as you can see, is in a lockdown situation with one dead and one
On Sunday, the first round in the presidential election takes place. It is the most bitter election that has happened in many a year with more than a
dozen candidates. And crucially, neither of the two traditional parties look like they are going to win, or at least not win the first round.
That looks like it is going to be won possibly the independent Emmanuel Macron or possibly by Marine Le Pen, the far right wing National Front
candidate. Whoever, of course, the top two, whether it's Le Pen and Macron that are the top two, they both go on to the second round which is in May.
Olivier Royant is the editor-in-chief at Paris Match. Olivier, can you hear me?
OLIVIER ROYANT, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, PARIS MATCH (via phone): Yes, I can hear you.
QUEST: Right. Describe the scene. What is happening in Paris tonight?
ROYANT (via phone): Apparently, about one hour ago, two people were shot in the middle of the Champs-Elysees. They opened fire on a policeman.
It's very difficult to say right now if it is an act of terrorism or an organized crime attack. Apparently, there is still a police operation
going on. What happened, right now, one policeman is dead and one other policeman is very severely injured and one of the gunmen was killed.
What is not very clear right now is there is the possibility there is a second shooter, and the second gunman went somewhere. Maybe in the
parking. Maybe in the Marks and Spencer store in the middle of the Champs- Elysees because there are many policemen there. There are snipers on the roofs, and the police operation is still going on.
[16:00:11] QUEST: Olivier, of course, we do not know whether this is terror related or criminal. I know that's a fine distinction, arguably, but you
know what I mean, is this a crime that's gone wrong or is this a terrorist assault at a most sensitive time.
ROYANT: There was already an organized attack on the Champs-Elysees earlier this year. So, that's why they are not showing the option right
now. But the question is, is it the following operation as we saw in Marseille? We know there will be a very important vote in France three
days from now. What happens in Marseille, is there a second act of what happened in Marseille, they arrested two terrorists in Marseille, and maybe
the second half of this operation. We don't know yet.
QUEST: But the extraordinary thing, Olivier, is that bearing in mind the various attacks in France, including oh course as you say, the operation in
Marseille -- to which I referred to a moment ago -- Paris must have been on the highest alert tonight.
ROYANT: I was there three hours ago. I was exactly at this place three hours ago. I must say there are many policemen in this area. I mean the
two gunmen, who were shooting in there, it's like the 32nd company of security. They are at this time, at any moment you have dozens of
policemen in the Champs-Elysees. These people were already on the highest alert. The Champs-Elysees is one of the most important area to protect in
France, because it is the most visible. You have people, you have tourists, you have thousands of tourists at any time of the day or night.
They're taking pictures of themselves in front of the Arc de Triomphe. And this is an area that is already on alert. There on the highest alert,
because I must say, it is one of the most protected area in France.
QUEST: Olivier, this is almost an impossible question, forgive me for asking it, but I've got to go there. Doesn't an event like this tonight so
close to Sunday's vote, does it have an effect, do you think?
ROYANT: There could be an effect, yes. One of the main themes of the election was about terrorism security. And you know that there are already
at this point, three days before the election, about 30 percent of the voters who don't know what will be, what kind of vote they will be casting
on Sunday. So, there's a tremendous amount of uncertainty around this election. And after what happened in Marseille two days ago and what's
going on today, yes, there may be a big debate.
And you have to understand that there are very few people -- policeman killed in France. In 2015, there were only six policemen killed in
mission. This is a very important event. And tomorrow the French people will wake up with one policeman killed. This is an emotion among the
QUEST: Olivier, we're very grateful that you've given us that perspective tonight, thank you, sir. I know you have other duties to attend to with
your own publication. Olivier Royant, the editor-in-chief of "Paris Match," putting that into perspective.
Our correspondent Melissa Bell is with me now. Melissa, I know that balcony where you're standing. I know it well. But for viewers who are
not as familiar with the CNN bureau, perhaps you might start off telling us where you are and put it into perspective for where the scene of the crime
MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: We are of course, Richard, on this balcony immediately looking over the Champs-Elysees. I'm just going to
show you the scene down there right now. Still a massive police operation under way. The helicopter continues to swirl overhead. You can see dozens
of police vans out there at the location of that incident. It was just over an hour and a half ago now.
[16:05:00] We heard what had sounded like gunshots, assumed it was fireworks. Very quickly of course, the Champs-Elysees was entirely closed
down. And we now know what's happened since we had it confirmed by France's interior ministry. We now though that a car pulled up outside one
of those police vans that patrol the Champs-Elysees, of course day in and day out. We still remain under a state of emergency in this country as a
result of the terrorist attacks. The Champs-Elysees, as you were hearing a moment ago, one of the most carefully, closely patrolled parts of France
and of Paris in particular. It is always full of hundreds of tourists and locals milling up and down the street, full of cars as well, pull of police
It was outside one of those police vans Park halfway up the Champs-Elysees there that this car pulled up and began shooting at the police. We now
have had confirmed the fact that one policeman was killed. Two others were wounded. And that assailant of course was taken down. Those are the facts
as they've been confirmed to us tonight. As I say, we heard the gunshots when they happened and assumed at the time it must be fireworks.
Of course, France on high alert, as close as we are to this presidential election. As you were hearing a moment ago, these images of the Champs-
Elysees, shutdown, lockdown with this massive police operation, are bound to play into that national dialogue that continues up until that vote on
QUEST: I mean, wherever way, and we can speculate to our hearts' content, whichever way this goes, if it becomes terrorism in the ISIS sense, that
has an effect on the election. If it's just sheer brute criminality, a robbery gone wrong, wanton violence, that has an effect. If there is an
immigration element to it, that has an effect. Whichever way this goes, Melissa, you know, one politician or other stands to gain.
BELL: And one politician in particular springs to mind, of course, Richard, the far right's Marine Le Pen, who has portrayed herself not only
as the one who would put an end to immigration, as the one who would take on Islamist extremism, but as the law and order candidate. So, you're
right, whichever way this plays out and whatever the nature of this attack here tonight that we now know to have happened on the Champs-Elysees, this
will almost certainly play into her hands in the last few days of campaigning. As we head into what was already looking like a crucial
election with huge amounts of French people still undecided about how they're going to vote.
We have yet to know which of the two it is. Was this was crime? Was this terror-related? The police have said as much, they say they are looking
into both possibilities and they have not ruled out either. But I just like to point out, that it had been a while since we had seen a major
attack here in France. What we have seen with startling regular regularity have been much smaller scale attacks. And the last two, both Orly attack
of just a couple of weeks ago, and the one in the Louvre when a man armed with machetes had attacked police -- the soldiers on patrol. The last --
QUEST: Melissa, forgive me, I'm interrupting you, I'm going to the White House where the President of the United States is with the Prime Minister
of Italy. Let's listen to see what they are saying.
REPORTER: Prime Minister, you talked just a moment ago about your commitment to NATO. President Trump would like to see all NATO members
contribute 2 percent of their GDP to NATO. Your contribution is slightly less than 1 percent. Will you commit to committing 2 percent of your GDP
to the alliance going forward? Thank you.
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: First of all, I love the question you asked the Prime Minister. I look forward to his answer. Because I'm going to be
asking him that same question very soon.
Well, first of all, our condolences from our country to the people of France. Again, it's happening, it seems. I just saw it as I was walking
in. So, it's a terrible thing. It's a very, very terrible thing that's going on in the world today. But it looks like another terrorist attack.
And what can you say? It just never end. We have to be strong and we have to be vigilant. I've been saying it for a long time.
As far as North Korea is concerned, we are in very good shape. We're building a military rapidly. A lot of things have happened over the last
short period of time. I've been here for approximately 91 days. We're doing a lot of work. We're in very good position. We're going to see what
happens. I can't ask -- answer your question on stability. I hope the answer is a positive one, not a negative one. But hopefully that will be
something that gets taken care of.
I have great respect for the President of China, as you know we had a great summit in Florida, in Palm Beach, and got to know each other. And I think
like each other. From my at some point, I liked him very much, I respect him very much, and I think he's working very hard. I can say that all of
the pundits out there are saying they never have seen China work like they're working right now. Many coal ships have sent back, many other
things have happened.
[16:10:00] Some very unusual moves have been made over the last two or three hours. And I really have confidence that the President will try very
hard. We don't know whether or not they're able to do that. But I have absolute confidence that he will be trying very, very hard. And one of the
reasons that we're talking about trade deals and we're talking about all of the different things, but we're slowing up a little bit, I actually told
him, I said, you'll make a much better deal on trade if you get rid of this menace or do something about the menace of North Korea. Because that's
what it is, it's a menace right now. So, we'll see what happens.
As far as Iran is concerned, I think they are doing a tremendous disservice to an agreement that was signed. It was a terrible agreement. It
shouldn't have been signed. It shouldn't have been negotiated the way it was negotiated. I'm all for agreements, but that was a bad one. As bad as
I've ever seen negotiated. They are not living up to the spirit of the agreement. I can tell you that. And we're analyzing it very, very
carefully. And we'll have something to say about it in the not too distant future. But Iran has not lived up to the spirit of the agreement. And
they have to do that. They have to do that. So, we will see what happens. Thank you very much.
PAOLO GENTILONI, PRIME MINISTER OF ITALY: Thank you, Mr. President.
(through translator): first of all, allow me to join president Trump's words about what happened in Paris, words of condolences and closeness to
the French people. And this is a very delicate period for them, it's just two days from the election. As far as the question is concerned, the
commitment has been made. It was made during a NATO summit. And we are used to respecting our commitments.
QUEST: So, as you can see, two major stories taking place at the moment. You've obviously got the Prime Minister of Italy along with President Trump
at the White House, a reminder, President Trump just said giving his condolences to the people of France, and then going on to say, looks like a
terror act. He said, what can you say, it never ends. Cyril Vanier joins me now the CNN center. Those words, when taken with what we know to be the
history of terror attacks in France at the moment. The President's right.
CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and I'll tell you a lot of French people, and I lived there my whole life until a couple of months ago, a lot
of French people agree with that. And in no small part due to the fact that all political leaders of all stripes recently have been saying it's
going to continue. At least to some extent. There is no zero-risk policy that we can implement. Now, of course, this has been one of the major
topics of the campaign, heading into this first round of voting in the French presidential election. That's something our viewers have got to
bear in mind, those two things are coinciding, the attack plus a heated moment in French politics. And a lot of people are thinking, Yes, it is
not going to end. As a result, some people have been adapting their style of life. The Champs-Elysees was believed, by many Parisians, to be one of
the obvious targets for would be terrorists.
QUEST: Stay with me, because you're watching CNN's coverage tonight of the events taking place in Paris. And of course, as you might expect from the
world's news leader, we have full coverage. Cyril Vanier, who has lived in Paris all his life is with me at the CNN center. Hala Gorani is also with
me to put it in context. Melissa Bell is in Paris overlooking the Champs- Elysees. Ladies and gentlemen, jump in when there is something you've learned to contribute. Don't necessarily wait to be asked. Hala, what are
you hearing from Paris? We'll come to you, Melissa, in a second. Hala, what are you hearing from your sources?
HALA GORANI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, what we're hearing is that a French interior ministry spokesperson is actually speaking to CNN and giving us
some sense of what happened. It appears as though someone in a car pulled up to a police van, emerged from the car, and fired at the police van with
a, quote, automatic weapon. We don't know if it's an AK or some other automatic weapon. And killing one police officer, wounding two police
officers, according to this source. This is at the 102 Champs-Elysees level, this is a part of Paris, obviously, anyone who's visited the city
knows it very well.
[16:15:00] It's a central, obviously, tourism and tourist spot, you know, you have movie theaters and restaurants. All of that, by the way, sealed
off right now, Richard. Now, police responded and killed the attacker. So hopefully this is a contained incident. We're looking at --
QUEST: I'm told you've got to go, you may not know this yet, you've got a train to catch. You're on your way to Paris.
GORANI: Indeed, and in fact, because I want to put this in context before I head out. I also want to put this in context, there is an extremely
important, probably the most important European political event this year, and that is the French election, presidential election on Sunday. This
incident is going to heighten tension. It's going to make people more nervous. They already are extremely nervous in France. And this is going
to become once again a political issue. Most often embraced by the far- right candidate, Marine Le Pen, who is equating this general climate of insecurity with mass immigration and the radicalization of France's
Muslins. This is something she certainly will bring up. There's a big political event on television. And that's all happening within the context
of a very important political race on Sunday, and then two weeks later for the runoff, Richard.
QUEST: Off you go, and catch the last Eurostar, Hala, traffic will be dreadful in London tonight, travel safely to Paris. Melissa Bell, you are
already in Paris, overlooking the Champs-Elysees. I mean, I'm guessing at this moment, Melissa, nobody can -- I mean, it's tempting to say, look,
this is obviously terror. This is obviously a classic terror attack, but that might be naive of me to suggest that with such certitude.
BELL: What we tend to find in these moments, and we've seen these sorts of attacks continue with great regularity over the course of the last few
months, even if they've been smaller in their scale, that we saw over the course of the last couple of years, Richard, is that the authorities are
very careful about calling it terror. They've already said we are not ruling anything out, this could be terror, this could be criminal.
Now just to pick up on what Hala was saying a moment ago, we are of course, in this election period. We're really just a couple of days away from this
crucial vote, and already two of the candidates, you were talking earlier about the way this would play into the narrative of some of those who
portray themselves as the candidates of law and order, Marine Le Pen for the far-right, of course, but also the Republican candidate, Francois
Fillon, both are on stage tonight with all 11 candidates for a big candidate debate.
Both though have already found time to tweet about what's happened, paying respect to the dedication of the men and women who police France's streets,
and paying their condolences, of course, for the policeman who lost his life tonight. So already this is an issue that is being seized on by the
politicians. This is something that is going to be talked about a great deal over the next couple of days. We are talking, let me remind you,
Richard, about an election in which a third of French voters have yet to make up their minds.
What we're seeing on the Champs-Elysees tonight, and I just like to show you the latest pictures, you can see the police operations still under way
down there. A huge police presence. Not just at that end of the Champs- Elysees but also at the other, which you can't see there on those pictures. The police operation continues, very impressive images here tonight of a
Champs-Elysees completely deserted of anything other than police presence. This image is what's going to play into the election over the course of the
next couple of days, Richard.
QUEST: I'm going to let you make a few phone calls, Melissa, but don't go too far away, please. Will come back to you.
Sajjan Gohel is on Skype, the international security director of the Asia Pacific Foundation. Hopefully you are with me to talk about -- there you
are. So now I see you. Look, early days, but what do you think? Organized terror, or crime?
SAJJAN GOHEL, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY DIRECTOR, ASIA PACIFIC FOUNDATION: Certainly, when we see an incident in Paris, we're reminded about the
attack in 2015, the marauding plot that was orchestrated by ISIS. It's important to remember there have been a host of plots since then across
France, not just in Paris. ISIS has specifically mentioned the country. And there have been also, which is a worrying dynamic, is there have been a
lot of plots against the police in particular. In fact, ISIS has openly talked about making the police a target. And we've seen some that have
been disrupted by the French authorities, unfortunately there have been others that have succeeded. There are other groups in France. There are
other concerns, the far-right, for example. But we have to wait and see what this is. I am concerned it could be another ISIS plot.
QUEST: Right, but if you bear in mind that two days ago, the authorities arrested two men in Marseille, in what the authorities say was an imminent
and violent attack or planning an imminent and violent attack, do you see any connection with what might have been a frustrated attack elsewhere,
linking to what we're seeing in Paris tonight?
[16:20:00] GOHEL: Again, if it's connected to ISIS, then they're using this tactic called just terror. Which is nothing sophisticated or
elaborate. It is simply an opportunity to carry out an attack, one in a symbolic location, like the Champs-Elysees. One which would carry a lot of
media attention, and the oxygen of publicity. And one which involves targeting the police. We've seen so many plots recently. Most recently in
fact, the incident at Westminster where a British police officer, a farmer was killed. France itself has had plots where their officers have been
targeted. Unfortunately, this looks like another incident.
QUEST: Right, but professor, look, I mean, on this point, and let's just develop it a fraction further if we may. And I accept that we don't know
and there's an element of speculation in what we're talking about, but that's the nature of the beast here. Charlie Hebdo was a well-planned,
horrifically but well-executed attack. The same could be said for the statue at Place and the Jewish supermarket that also is in France. And
then you end up with the Nice truck, the Berlin truck, the Westminster truck. And if we look at what's happened here, there couldn't have been
much option other than death for the assailant who got out a gun, got out of a car, got out with a gun and started shooting at the police.
GOHEL: Right. And that's what's being described as what they call an Inghimasi attack. That's not a suicide attack. Inghimasi technically
means to plunge into the enemy, to kill as many people as possible. That is an ISIS trait. They don't believe in necessarily acting as suicide
bombers but to kill as many people, preferably police officers, and then die in a hail of bullets.
Some of the plots you mention, sometimes the actors were different. Charlie Hebdo involved Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The Paris
marauding attack was certainly ISIS itself. But that was a directed plot. Sometimes what you're seeing is encouraged, assisted plots, where you have
individuals online communicating with those that are inspired by ISIS or heed the call. Give them encouragement, direction as to what kind of
targets to go after. Sometimes it's the simpler target that's harder for the authorities to disrupt. Because it's just one or two individuals, less
leakage of information.
QUEST: Stay with me, professor. I do need you with me. We've also got Melissa Bell. But I want to go to Cyril who's at the CNN center.
Marine Le Pen has tweeted, "My sentiments and solidarity to our armed forces, targeted again." Now look, Frenchman that you are, you know Paris,
it's your home, it's like the back of your hand. What will the French people be thinking tonight? Mass generalization, but you know what I'm
VANIER: Yes, Richard, I'm going to get to your question in a second, but first of all an answer to your previous question of whether this was a
criminal attack or a terrorist attack, we now know that the French counterterrorism prosecutor's office is opening an investigation into this.
This is at least the beginning of an answer coming from the French authorities. That means --
QUEST: Cyril, stop there. Stop there, sir. I'm going straight back to Melissa Bell in Paris. This is breaking news. Melissa, what do you know
that you need to tell us?
BELL: What we now know, and this is a question that we've been asking ourselves ever since this began, Richard. Was this terror related? Did
the man who pull his car up outside that police van and began shooting before he himself was shot by the police, although not before he killed a
policeman, was it terror-related? Was this a criminal act? We now know that it was terror-related, France has opened a terror investigation, which
is in the French legal system how they confirm to us that that is their belief, that this was terror-related. We now have that answer, which adds
another layer of course to this narrative that's going to play into the French presidential election in just a couple of days. As I was saying to
you earlier, we've heard from Marine Le Pen, from the Republican candidate Francois Fillon. Paying tribute to the authorities. This was always going
to be about law and order. It's now become about terrorism once again.
QUEST: All right, Melissa, thank you, stay there. Stay with me. When you've got more. So, you were just alluding to what Melissa has just
reported. That this is because of the way the French prosecutor has opened a terror-related investigation. So, the question still remains, what will
the, for want of a better word, the man and woman on the Leon omnibus make of what's happening in Paris tonight?
VANIER: France is a very -- a lot of the candidates running right now are very polarizing. Marine Le Pen is the candidate who has positioned herself
to gain politically from this kind of event.
[16:25:00] She will go on radio and TV and has been doing so incessantly four months saying, "If I had been president over the last few years, not
all but a number if not many of these terrorist attacks would have been averted thanks to my policies."
She has an array of policies she says would cut down the number of terrorist attacks, linked to the fact that she wouldn't allow a certain
number in certain categories of immigrants into the country. Link to the fact that she would have stripped people who have a dual French and other
nationality of their French nationality. Linked also to the fact that she would have deported some foreign -- some immigrants who have a criminal
background. She would have deported those people. She goes and looks at the history of the last 2 1/2 years of terror attacks in France and she
sort of picks out some of the cases where she says those would have been avoided because those individuals would not have been under the country
under my policies, had I been president.
QUEST: Cyril, stay with me. Perhaps stating the obvious here, but the U.S. State Department has advised Americans to avoid the Champs-Elysees,
tweeting, "If you're in #Paris, monitor local news, #Champs-Elysees has been closed, authorities are telling people to avoid the area after a
shooting." Somewhat after the horse has bolted, one might suggest. Thierry Arnaud is anchor and correspondent for BFMTV. He joins me on the
line. Can you hear me, sir?
THIERRY AMAUD, ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT, BFMTV: Yes, I can, Richard, how are you?
QUEST: Well, obviously, that's more of a question to ask yourself tonight. What do you make of what's happening? Terror? So, according to the
prosecutor's office, an investigation into terror. Please, how does this play into what is the bitterest, most hard fought presidential election in
AMAUD: Well, first of all, the timetable being what it is, Richard, if it is indeed terrorism, it would have been also clear to assume that the
alleged terrorist would have the presidential election in mind. The first round of the presidential election is coming this Sunday. Tomorrow is the
last official day for campaigning. And obviously, the Champs-Elysees is the symbol of France known worldwide.
So, it is clearly the intention of whoever committed these attacks, if indeed they are terror attacks, to try and bring terrorism back to the
front page. I should add also that a couple of threats were made on Tuesday. A couple of individual alleged terrorists as well, were on the
verge of committing several imminent attacks, and with presidential candidates as targets.
Yesterday evening I was in Marseille attending the rally of Marine Le Pen. I can tell you I've never seen such security around a political candidate
in France. There were tens of police vehicles, hundreds of police around this particular rally. It was already before this attack there was already
a tense atmosphere around this presidential election.
QUEST: We've just seen a picture -- we've just been looking at a picture, I don't know if we've still got it, of the Champs-Elysees. Which is --
which I'm calling up again from our director, because it shows -- I mean, this picture of the Champs-Elysees, with the Arc de Triomphe in the
distance -- there we go. Fill of police vehicles. Four days or two or three days -- 96 hours or whatever it is before an election -- this is
absolutely devastating for the national psyche in France tonight, isn't it, Thierry?
AMAUD: It is certainly very worrying. We're at the peak of the presidential campaign, as you rightly point out. As we speak, Richard,
which makes the whole event even more surreal to some extent, there is a television broadcast tonight on the French public television where every
presidential candidate, and there is 11 of them, is being interviewed live for 15 minutes, one after the other. And they are basically asked to
comment on the ongoing events. It is obviously not a very comfortable situation for them to be in. But it was certainly the purpose of what
happened tonight, to put them in this very difficult position, and to put fear into the French electorate as well.
QUEST: Thierry, thanks for joining us from BFNTV. I know you have duties to attend to for your own for your network covering what is obviously the
largest story. I'm grateful you took the time to talk to us tonight.
[16:30:00] Christine Ockrent, is with me. A French journalist, is also on the line with me. Christine, you're making the point tonight that Paris
isn't under siege. And I take your point. But at the same time, surely you can't deny the very serious images that we're seeing tonight.
CHRISTINE OCKRENT, JOURNALIST: Of course, Richard, and I'm watching them as you're commenting on them. Obviously, as my friend just said, the apex
of the presidential campaign. And you have all our presidential candidates having to comment upon this latest attack, which is supposedly a terrorist
attack, and quite obviously one as well. But the strange mood in the country, having been under the state of emergency for more than 16 months
now, people have somehow gotten used to seeing the military with machine guns in the street. And obviously, there's a great deal of concern about
security. But it is not as if the whole country is under siege. That's the point I'm trying to make. Remarkably, people are keeping very cool.
It's an important point to stress.
QUEST: They're keeping their cool in the face of a series of attacks of which tonight is one, where they seemingly have little ability to prevent.
And that's really the issue tonight, isn't it?
OCKRENT: Yes, indeed. But there was -- they have been obviously many terrorist attacks which have been prevented, and one such attack was
prevented days ago in Marseille, which the conservative candidate was having a meeting. And so, the investigation has been opened on what just
happened at the Champs-Elysees tonight. Is it related to what these two guys in Marseille were actively preparing? Is it another individual acting
on his own? It's too early to tell. But obviously, this latest event in the Champs-Elysees tonight is indeed adding to the extreme tension
surrounding this forthcoming presidential election.
QUEST: Christine, thanks for joining us in Paris. It is just after half past the hour. Allow me to remind you of the main news this evening. One
policeman has been killed, another seriously injured, and several more people have been injured, in an attack in the French capital, Paris,
tonight. According to the authorities, the Champs-Elysees in Paris is closed, as they work out exactly the details of what has taken place. The
American embassy in Paris is warning Americans to stay away from the Champs-Elysees at the moment. At the same time, the candidates for the
presidential election have been tweeting their reaction to this attack, reacting to the Paris shooting, Marine Le Pen has tweeted, "My sentiments
and solidarity to our armed forces, targeted again."
We have full coverage of this as it's continuing tonight. Cyril Vanier is with me from the CNN center, and professor Gohel, joining me by Skype.
Professor, the announcement by the prosecutor, that they are investigating the potential for this to be terror, obviously doesn't mean it is terror.
But it is giving -- but to an expert like yourself, what does it tell you?
[16:35:00] GOHEL: Well, it's a significant development, that they've been able to announce this so quickly. The thing is they will now want to look
at was this connected to the plot that was disrupted in Marseille recently. And they will also perhaps want to look at, is this now part of a series of
plots designed to hit France, especially at this very sensitive time politically with the upcoming presidential elections? Because it does
appear that the aim is to create panic, fear, uncertainty, and we have seen terrorism in the past actually decide the outcome of elections. I'm
thinking of the 2004 Madrid train bombings in which those in the government at the time were expected to win and they ended up losing the election
because of the way they handled that particular attack.
QUEST: Stay with me, professor. Let me remind you what the French spokesmen say. Jim Bittermann is with me. Jim, the police say a car
stopped in front of a police van. A man emerged from the car, opened fire with an automatic weapon. One policeman was killed, two injured. The
police returned fire and killed the attacker. We're looking at a map of the scene of the crime. No word if the attacker was a man or a woman.
Tell me where you are and what you are seeing.
JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Richard, we've just been pushed off the Champs-Elysees. The Champs-Elysees is right
behind me. I'm on a perpendicular street here which gives on to the Champs-Elysees. We're expecting that perhaps a government minister or two
may be headed this direction, and for that reason they may be providing plenty of security. As you reported, there were three police officers
involved in this, one who was killed and two who were injured. And the attacker apparently stopped parallel to this police van. It's not unusual
to see police vans along the Champs-Elysees, they're here all the time. At 102 Champs-Elysees, which would be up the street here. And in fact, the
gunman got out and shot. We talked to a couple of eyewitnesses, one of whom said he heard several shots fired and that everybody panicked and ran
for cover, as did he. And more than that, he didn't really know. So, the fact is, until the police give us some more information -- what's
interesting of course is that the prosecutor's office, the terrorism prosecutor's office, has opened an investigation, they're classing this as
a terrorism incident. And from that I think we can deduce that this was some kind of a targeted attack on the police officers.
QUEST: OK. So, this nature of the attack, and our guest from the BFN TV was saying earlier, the timing, when you have all the candidates with 15-
minute presentations on national television tonight, 90-odd hours, as you were telling me earlier today, before the first round, Jim, it beggars
belief perhaps to assume that it is anything other than an attack on the presidential election.
BITTERMANN: I think that's correct. And, you know, one of the things that we heard earlier this week was the thwarted attack down in Marseille. And
that was directed, apparently, at the political campaigns. The political campaigns were warned just under a week ago, it was actually last Friday,
the political campaigns were warned that there might be people out and about wanting to attack the candidates themselves. And photos of the two
men who were arrested in Marseille were circulated among the security forces of the various candidates. There certainly was suspicion here that
somebody was trying to disrupt the presidential campaign. This could be part of that plot. Certainly, that's what the police will be looking into,
QUEST: All right, Jim Bittermann, who is in Paris, he's just on the side of the Champs-Elysees. The pictures tonight are absolutely -- I suppose
they are devastating on one level, bearing in mind there is an election taking place. Just look at the magnitude of that picture that we're
showing you tonight. The Champs-Elysees, a sea of flashing blue lights, as thousands of security forces, police and military and the like, deal with
what is seemingly an attack on the democratic process, a policeman being shot in cold blooded murder, let's call it for what it is, it's cold
blooded murder. The guy got out of a car, went up to the police, shot several of them, shot one of them dead, injured another, and then was
killed himself in return fire. So, having just put it in such stark terms to you, who benefits politically? I don't mean they make hay from this.
I'm just talking about the natural order of the political process where one party versus another will have policies that the electorate will find more
appealing as a result of tonight.
[16:40:00] VANIER: You're absolutely right to ask it, Richard. To what extent do French people believe that it is possible to prevent all these
terror attacks? Insofar as they believe it's possible to prevent these attacks, they will want to go for the candidate who is the law and order
candidate, and Melissa Bell was telling us that's very much Marine Le Pen, and that's true. But there are a lot of French people, and I lived there
all my life until a few months ago, who just see this as something that's very, very difficult indeed to prevent. Whether it's the center left, the
center right, or pretty much anyone across the political spectrum, those attacks are going to happen, because it's not an outside force that you can
prevent just by putting soldiers at the border of France and its neighboring countries.
That's what makes it so difficult to protect, police, prevent. The other question is to what extent the French people believe this is preventable.
There is a lot of criticism heaped on President Hollande, but it doesn't have a lot to do with terrorism, it has to do with the economic conditions
in the country.
QUEST: Professor, please answer Cyril's question. To what extent is this preventable? I know we don't know who is responsible, who the assailant
was, is this immigrant related, or as we've seen on many occasions, to use the rather unfortunate phrase, home ground terror?
GOEHL: It's a multifaceted problem. I was hearing some of the French commentators that you were talking to earlier, they were giving important
analysis. What was particularly sad about it is they were describing this as effectively the new normal, this is something that France has got used
to. One of the problems has been that the attacks and the plots are more simple. They're not necessarily very sophisticated. And therefore, the
ability to execute them rapidly has become easier for the terrorists. It's uphill treadmill for the authorities. The other problem is that a lot of
these terrorists are going through the Schengen zone, going through various countries unhindered, without any restrictions.
That makes it really hard to try and get a picture as to how they're communicating, how they're traveling, and also the other expect is they're
using encrypted data to get a message out from one individual to another. And unfortunately, the other aspect is that France and Belgium have very
much become the hub for ISIS operations. Many of the plots we've seen that get a lot of attention like the marauding attack in Paris, but there are
other incidents that don't get a lot of attention. But there is a continuing terrorist activity going on in France, most are disrupted, one
or two get through, like what happened today.
QUEST: Thank you, professor. Cyril, did you have something to tell us?
VANIER: Richard, pursuant to that conversation, I think a lot of the political impact of this is going to depend on who the assailant turns out
to be, and what his specific or her specific circumstance turns out to be. Why do I say this? If the person was for instance a first generation
immigrant or a dual national or the person is somebody from another European country who just crossed the border undetected into Paris to carry
out this attack, then marine le pen is going to be able to point to her policy platform that she has been touting for month s in no uncertain terms
and say, look, that person would have been deported under my policies, or wouldn't have been able to get into France in the first place because I
would have had more effective border patrol, or would have been stripped of his or her nationality and wouldn't have become French. If that is the
case, that can definitely help Marine Le Pen.
QUEST: Cyril, stay with me. The editor in chief of "Paris Match," you were telling me that you were in this part of Paris earlier this evening.
What are your sources telling you now about what the latest thinking is of what's taken place tonight?
ROYANT: I think what we are witnessing tonight is what happened at the Louvre museum a month ago, which means one of the main messages and ISIS
was to target uniformed forces and to make people act on their own, with a knife or with a gun or with a rifle gun or with a Kalashnikov.
[16:45:00] We've known for months now the uniformed forces, policemen, the military, are being targeted. The media were targeted by ISIS earlier with
"Charlie Hebdo." we had police protection for a year. Now the first target was a policeman, the scenario tonight looks like what happened at
the Louvre a month ago. This seems to be unpreventable. I was at the Champs-Elysees at 6:00 p.m. tonight. Now everybody, when they enter a
store, they're sick.
QUEST: The prime minister has just tweeted, paying homage to the policeman killed on the Champs-Elysees, thoughts are with his family, solidarity with
his injured colleagues, and those close to him. Remember, of course, with London, Westminster, the murder of a police officer is an eternally grave
matter. It hits people very hard. And I think, as you were telling me earlier, this is a very rare occurrence in France at the moment. I'm not
sure Olivier is still with me.
ROYANT: Yes. Richard, I was telling you in 2015 there were only six policemen being killed. Every time a policeman is being killed, it's a
major event. You have to understand that all these policemen, they know under tremendous pressure over the last year and a half because of the
state of emergency. They didn't take holidays, it didn't go on vacation. These people have been working almost uninterrupted for all these months.
They are tired, and of course being the target of terrorists is a major situation now.
QUEST: Right. Another tweet has been coming from a presidential candidate tonight. The leftist candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon tweeted, "my thoughts
are with the policemen dead and injured and their families." This is interesting because Melenchon comes off the fence here. "Terrorist acts
will never remain unpunished, accomplices not forgotten." Coming from Melenchon who has stormed in from the left, managed to rail his way to
potential victory or at least getting into the next round. What do you make of that tweet tonight?
ROYANT: I think that you have two kinds of candidates in this election. You have the candidates who have experience, for example Francois Fillon is
able to present himself as a former prime minister. He has been mandating the army and the police. On the other side, Macron is a former policeman.
People outside of the system, like Marine Le Pen or Melenchon, the populist forces in this campaign, they have no experience of dealing with terrorism.
So, their position is to say we -- from Marine Le Pen, we should reduce immigration. The moment she's elected, she says she will stop illegal
immigration. I think for Jean-Luc Melenchon, it is a difficult problem because he has no experience in government. It will be an obvious point to
QUEST: The only thing I would say on that point, here in the United States, no experience in government has clearly not been a bar to reaching
the top position. But your point is very well-taken, Olivier, thank you. Stay with us if you can. I do understand you have your own reporting to do
for "Paris Match," we are very grateful. Jim Bittermann is with us. Jim, you're just off the Champs-Elysees. Tell us exactly where you are and who
you've got with you.
BITTERMANN: We're just off the Champs-Elysees. We've been cleared by police off the Champs-Elysees. I have somebody who is the head of security
for the Garland perfume store. I'll have to speak to him in French and translate.
[speaking in French to security head of store] At 8:45, he was in the store and heard a couple of shots. He saw people running away. He in fact
closed the store right away. And then allowed people to come in, if they wanted to, to be safe from whatever was happening outside. He heard there
was some shots fired, and he basically heard the helicopters as well. So, he knew something was going on. I'm asking if there's going to be any
difference in the security now. He said that for some time now they've been in this emergency situation, and they've been taking extra care,
checking bags and whatnot as people come into the store.
QUEST: Jim? Jim, don't let him -- oh, too late.
BITTERMANN: He just left, I'm sorry.
QUEST: I wanted to know how he factored it into the election, obviously, of what's happening. That was fascinating. That was fascinating to hear,
because once again, we are getting a window into one of the world's principal capital cities that is being rocked once again by an attack,
which one perhaps presumptively assumes could be terror.
BITTERMANN: I think you can't say it any other way than that, Richard. The fact is, once again this is going to make the people on the streets
nervous. This street, people certainly feel a fair amount of confidence, there are so many police and armed patrols up and down the Champs-Elysees,
it's the heart of Paris, certainly the commercial heart of Paris. For that reason, people feel more secure here. Now, after this, a gunman pulls up
in a car and attacks people themselves, it will have a jarring effect, I'm sure. In terms of the elections, it's hard to say how this will play out,
but it does play into the hands of those people who advocate tighter security and control. And as Cyril was saying, the idea that if it turns
out this this gunman was an immigrant, asylum seeker or someone like that, it will really play into the hands of the far right.
Almost all the candidates have been very tough on security, not all of them. Some of the far-left people have not been that tough on security.
But most of the candidates have been saying things, that the police need to be supported and the state of emergency needs to be continued, and that
sort of thing. I think they're all expressing solidarity this evening when they heard that a policeman had been killed and two others injured.
QUEST: France, one of the peculiar things about France from a government and indeed from an economic point of view, more so than other European
countries, is the centrality of Paris. Economically, government-wise, just in terms of the sheer size of the city vis-a-vis other cities. And so much
more of France revolves around the capital, one might arguably say in Germany with Berlin or more arguably than Spain with Madrid.
BITTERMANN: Reporter: exactly, Richard. This is not only the economic capital, it's not only the cultural capital, it's not only the political
capital. It's all of these. An attack in Paris attacks all those things at once. When you had the world trade center in New York, it was an
economic hit, it was against the capitalists of the world or whatever. But in any case, here, if you strike at Paris you're able to hit all the
various aspects of human life, because this is such a central clearinghouse. The French, out in the provinces away from Paris, complain
about this all the time, that Paris is such a center that all the trains go through Paris, only recently have they created PGVs that go across the
country. It's very much a centralized country, and as such, an attack here makes the capital very, very vulnerable, Richard.
[16:55:00] QUEST: Jim Bittermann, thank you, Jim. I'll leave you to get on with your news gathering duties and find more people who have seen
something and who can give us more insight. So, at the CNN center, Paris is your home or at least it was until you moved to the southern United
States. Forget the analysis. Give me your gut reaction. What do you make of it, what are you thinking as you see your city in turmoil tonight?
VANIER: My gut reaction, I have to work pretty hard at keeping the journalism and the gut reaction separate. When I was told to come on set
here, even as I was doing that and putting on the earpiece, I was also getting in touch with my wife who just traveled to Paris today. That's not
just my story, that's the story of everybody who has a relative in Paris, everybody who lives in Paris. How many times individual to do that over
the last 2 1/2 years, check whether my sister is OK, whether my dad happens to be there, when there was an attack at Orly airport, my dad was
traveling, he was supposed to take a flight from that airport, 30 minutes before or after, he would have been maybe close to that incident where a
policeman was shot at.
So, there's really a cumulative effect. For the last 2 1/2 years, living in Paris, and it's not just Paris, it's France, because many attacks have
taken place beyond the limits of the capital. It has just grown and grown. There's this tidal wave of attacks. When you're French, you know it's not
a matter of if there's going to be another attack, it's a matter of when. It's what your gut tells you and it's what the officials tell you, the
interior minister, the prime minister, they all say look, be ready because we're going to have more attacks, we've given police extended powers, we're
under a state of emergency, but there will be more attacks. You were asking earlier about the politics of this and how this impacts the
election, are French people blase by now as some of our guests, I believe it was Jim saying earlier, because they've seen so many of them, it's the
new normal? Or is there a cumulative effect that really pushes their vote in one specific direction?
QUEST: I've got both Cyril and the professor Goehl, professor, stay with me please, but Cyril, a question to you, look, is it possible, voting for
Marine Le Pen carries in some people's view a certain stigma, National Front, the right wing, fascists, the legacy of her father, anti-immigration
and so on. But in a secret ballot after an event like tonight, is it -- am I out of the bounds of possibility to suggest people go into that ballot
box, vote for somebody like marine le pen, thinking, well, I never thought I would do it but she might be the only answer for me tonight?
VANIER: No, absolutely. It's not outside the bounds of possibility. It's a definite possibility, in fact. She is the prime candidate, if you want,
to get votes out of this, because she has been campaigning along these lines, these law and order lines, these shut down the country lines, I'm
going to protect you from all dangers including terrorism. She's been doing this not just for months. I mean, intellectual honest forces us to
say this has been her thing for years.
QUEST: Cyril, stay with me. Professor Gohel, European leaders, they've got enough problems with politically and strategically, Brexit and the
like, but security is the number one issue. Tonight, every European prime minister and president will be saying, there but for the grace of god go I,
or my country, and are worried they are next.
GOHEL: 27 countries in the European Union. 26 if and when Britain eventually leaves. Each country has their own dilemma, they have their own
nationals that have gone abroad to train with ISIS and Iraq and Syria. Some countries unfortunately have been more in the firing line and suffered
the potential blowback, France being one of them. Also, Belgium. And Germany to a lesser extent, countries like Sweden and the United Kingdom.
This is a European-wide problem. And unfortunately, it is something that the terrorists themselves are exploiting with the advent the new media,
enabling them to communicate, traveling through the Schengen zone, which doesn't have any border restrictions, which is a European ideal, to make
borders irrelevant. These are challenges that Europe unfortunately faces.
QUEST: Professor, thank you, Cyril, thank you, Cyril, stay with me. The pictures we're looking at now are obviously from the Champs-Elysees.
Investigators, well, we believe, I'm not confirming, but it seems like it's a jolly good guess that this was the assailant's car, and you can now see
the forensic staff taking a minute, covered in overalls, minute inspection of that vehicle. It's not confirmed but it's believed that is the vehicle
that the assailant, the attacker jumped out of before firing at the police, killing one police officer, injuring another, and other people nearby
before one of the policeman returned fire killing the assailant. We know no more than that tonight. Other than France once again faces the specter of
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news -- Paris shooting. A gunman fires on a police van with an automatic weapon killing one police
officer, injuring more before being taken down by police.
What was the motive? The president's promise -- President Trump voices optimism on a new Republican move to repeal and replace Obamacare in an
effort to avoid a government shutdown next week. Will congressional Republicans be able to deliver?
High alert as U.S. and South Korean troops conduct drills. North Korea warns of a merciless preemptive strike that it claims would reduce
America's military to ashes.
Why is China now putting its war planes on high alert? And the Trump factor -- President Trump is silent so far on the stunning downfall of his
long-time friend, Bill O'Reilly.
After the president's strong defense of the former Fox Host against sexual harassment allegations, what are the political implications? I'm Wolf
Blitzer. You're in "The Situation Room."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following breaking news -- a deadly shooting in Paris now being investigated as a possible terror attack. Officials there say a car
pulled up next to a police van and open-fired with an automatic weapon.
One police officer was killed. At least two others injured before the shooter was killed. Over at the White House, meanwhile, President trump
just expressed condolences to France and said the shooting, quote, "looks like another terrorist attack."
The president also criticized Iran, which he says is not living up to the spirit of the nuclear agreement. And he expressed confidence that China's
president is working to contain what Mr. Trump calls the menace of North Korea.
Also tonight, the Kim Jong-un regime is making new threats against the United States, vowing and I'm quoting now, "complete destruction that will
lead the country in ashes." We're covering all of that much more this hour with our guest, including Congressman Ruben Gallego of the House Armed
Services Committee and our correspondents and expert analysts are also standing by.
Let's get straight to Paris, though, first on (ph) the breaking news. Our CNN International Correspondent, Melissa Bell, is on the scene for us.
Melissa, this is an unfolding -- this is unfolding right now on -- on the city's busiest streets (ph). Tell us the latest.
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Champs-Elysees is still completely cut off, just over two hours after this attack took place. A lot of the
details of what happened have been cleared up by authorities, you know.
Since then we heard what we now know were these gunshots from up here on the CNN terrace (ph) overlooking, as you say, what is one of the busiest
avenues in France, also one of the most heavily policed. Now, we are still under a state of emergency here in France as a result of the terrorist
attacks of (ph) the last couple of years.
The Champs-Elysees is, in particular, this iconic avenue in Paris, is always heavily policed. What we now know is that one of the many police
vans who patrol this street, it was just outside of one of those police vans but that attacker pulled up in his car and opened fire, tragically
killing one of those policemen, Wolf.
Those are the facts. We now know also that France has opened an anti- terror investigation. The clearest indication so far, the French authorities believe this was terror-related.
BLITZER: Melissa, the French elections are this Sunday -- the national elections. This clearly could have an impact.
Explain the -- the possible impact.
BELL: We are just a couple of days, as you say, from a presidential election that is likely to prove not just fundamentally redefining the
future of France but that it was already proving extremely unpredictable. The specter of the far right has really hung over the race over the course
of the last few months in the shape of Marine Le Pen, the far right leader.
She has already tweeted out about this. She's really been presenting herself as the law and order candidate.
Now, you have this extra layer of a terror investigation being opened. That also plays in to her narrative.
The nature of who this suspect were and -- was -- and particularly, what his motivations were are going to be extremely important over the coming
hours. And clearly, this election campaign, in which so many French voters, historic numbers, Wolf, of French voters have yet to make up their
minds, is now going to be dominated in the last 48 hours by the images of the Champs-Elysees closed off tonight and by the death of that policeman at
the hands of this attacker.
What were his motivations, who was he? If it turns out that indeed this was terror-represented, Marine Le Pen is likely to really kind of use that
in the run-up to the election and is likely to play into what was looking already like an extremely uncertain vote.
BLITZER: Yes, we'll be watching every step of the way together with you. Melissa Bell in Paris for us, thank you very much.
I want to bring in our Chief National Security Correspondent, Jim Sciutto.
Jim, you're picking up some additional information. What else are you learning?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it does appear that this assailant was previously known to French authorities, specifically, to the GDSI.
That's the General Directorate for International Security in France, among whose duties is counterterrorism.
That's not to definitively say that this was a terrorist attack because they are still investigating that. But it does appear that his identity
was known prior to this.
That, of course, is telling because this has been the case with many of these attacks. If you remember Charlie Hebdo, the Kouachi brothers who
carried that attack out as well as some of the attackers to the Paris attacks in November 2015, prior -- known to French authorities, and the
reason that's possible there is that they have so many Jihadis or suspected Jihadis or people tied to them, numbering in the thousands, which make it
just impossible, frankly, for the French authorities to track all of them.
Again, not a definitive answer -- they've opened a terror investigation. They don't know for sure the motivation of this.
But we are learning that he was known prior to this attack to French authorities. The other point I would make, Wolf, is this, the police,
sadly a frequent target of -- of these kinds of attention and certainly the Champs-Elysees, there have been a number of threats focused on the Champs-
Elysees and amongst following the Paris attacks.
BLITZER: You -- you were there in Paris during the November 2015 attacks. You were throughout the city. What does it tell you as someone who has
covered these attacks in Paris that the police were specifically targeted today?
SCIUTTO: It's a frequent target of groups like this. Again, if we leave (ph) -- if police find information to back up that this was an attack
motivated by terrorism, but (ph) they are frequently -- frequently a target of attacks like that -- police authorities, official buildings, et cetera.
And it does get to the wider point of the challenge that France has here. We've heard of a number of thwarted plots in advance of these presidential
But the trouble with counterterror and the same is true here in the U.S., you often don't hear about the plots that are thwarted. And there are many
in both countries.
Sadly, the ones that you do hear about are the ones that get through. And it is impossible as they say.
The police have to be right all the -- all the time. And attackers like this only have to be right once.
BLITZER: Jim Sciutto reporting for us. Thank you.
President Trump, meanwhile, spoke about the situation in Paris just a little while ago during a news conference with Italy's visiting prime
minister. Let's go to our Senior White House Correspondent, Jeff Zeleny.
Jeff, you were there at the news conference. The president did comment on this incident in Paris. Tell us what he said.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, he did indeed. The president in the east room offering his concern and condolences for the
people of Paris, and perhaps getting out slightly ahead of the French authorities, he did not mince words.
He said it looked like a terrorist attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: First of all, our condolences from our country to the people of France. Again, it's happening it seems.
I just saw it as I was walking in. So that's a terrible thing and I'd say very, very terrible thing that's going on in the world today.
But it looks like another terrorist attack. And what can you say? Just never ends. We have to be strong and we have to be vigilant.
And I have been saying it for a long time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY: So certainly, the president there, getting that early information, that early word. It was the subject of at least a bit of the discussion
there with the Italian prime minister, who he was meeting with today at the White House, Wolf.
BLITZER: He also spoke about North Korea, the president, Jeff. He mentioned what he called unusual moves going on right now. Tell us about
ZELENY: Wolf, this was very.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.
AMARA WALKER, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. Thanks for joining us. I'm Amara Walker.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN HOST: And I'm Michael Holmes. This is "CNN Today." And we continue our breaking coverage of the shocking police shooting on
Paris' famed Champs-Elysees.
And here is what we know right now.
WALKER: The French interior ministry says one police officer has been killed and two others wounded in a brazen attack. The ministry says a man
got out of a car on the boulevard and opened fire on a police vehicle with an automatic weapon.
HOLMES: Officers returned fire. They killed the attacker, the motive for the shooting not clear at the moment.
But the interior ministry says what is clear police were targeted. This attack coming just three days, of course, before the first round of voting
in the French presidential election.
WALKER: CNN is gathering the latest developments in covering this breaking story from all angles. Senior International Correspondent, Jim Bittermann,
is on the streets of Paris getting information and reaction.
We also have correspondent Melissa Bell in Paris at our bureau, which overlooks the Champs-Elysees, and Cyril Vanier, working the story here from
CNN center in Atlanta. We are going to start with Jim Bittermann, who is there on the scene.
Describe what's happening around you and just walk us through again what happened and what we know right now because an anti-terror investigation
has been opened.
JIM BITTERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Amara. That's the clearest sign that we've got that, in fact, this is a terrorist
Basically, we've been pushed back. The press has been pushed back off of Champs-Elysees. I'm on a side street that gives on (ph) to the Champs-
And the police are in force out on the Champs-Elysees. I think we might have a shot of what it looks like out there.
Basically, somewhere around 9:00 this evening, a car with a one gunman in it pulled up alongside of a police van. Police vans are always parked
along the Champs-Elysees.
That's a very frequent site -- pulled up alongside the police van, and got out with a semi-automatic weapon and started shooting. It was at 102
Champs-Elysees, which is just about around the George Sink (ph), if you know Paris or the George V metro stop.
And one policeman was killed. Two policemen were injured in that attack. And the gunman was killed by other officers in the police van.
In any case, it was panic all around at that point according to the eyewitnesses we've talked to. Basically, a number of people heard their
There has been enough terrorist incidents in this city that I think people now immediately take cover. I talked to the head of security for the
Guerlain perfume store, which is just down the street.
He said he heard the shots. And he immediately told his employees to come into the store. And he also lowered the security barrier so that the --
the store itself was safe and then opened it once again to allow people to seek shelter inside the store as people fled the -- the Champs-Elysees.
And this -- this time of night on a Thursday night, the -- the Champs would have been very crowded with people just out shopping and going to
restaurants and what not. Right now, it's totally dead.
They have evacuated the entire avenue, all the restaurants, all the shops and offices. I just talked to some people who had come down, they were
trapped up in their offices and didn't want to leave until they were given the all-clear from the police.
And they were given the all-clear. They're now just now leaving several hours after this all took place.
HOLMES: Yes, Jim Bittermann there on the streets of Paris. Let's go now to correspondent, Melissa Bell, who is at CNN Paris, which overlooks the
Champs-Elysees and -- and a clear view of that famed boulevard.
You know, we're -- we're obviously talking about the -- the -- the death of this police officer, the shooting that went on. But there is a political
angle to this, the elections -- a matter of days away.
And -- and if it does turn out to be a terror attack, that -- that's going to perhaps have an influence, do you think?
BELL: Not only the fact that the authorities have now opened this anti- terror investigation, which clearly plays into the narrative of the far right candidate, Marine Le Pen, the fact that this is no long just a law
and order issue, but one that authorizes believe could have to do, could be linked to terrorism, will clearly play into her hands as we head into this
absolutely crucial vote, and may I remind you, a vote ahead of which there are record numbers of undecided voters here in France. Now, those images
that you've seen over the course of the evening, still this police operation continues on the Champs-Elysees.
These very dramatic pictures of the most iconic avenue perhaps, not just in France, but in the world being entirely cordoned off for these last few
hours, are going to be a massive part of the political debate over the next couple of days, no doubt. We've already heard from the main candidates
tweeting out their condolences to the family of the officer who lost his life -- his life here tonight.
No doubt, this is something that we're going to hear an awful lot more about. Now, another factor will be and for the time being, there is lots
of speculation tonight about the identity of the attacker, whether or not he was known to authorities.
If it turns out that he was under active surveillance by French authorities, something that we call here in France to be (Speaking in
French). If he was indeed -- if he had that status, that will again play into Marine Le Pen's narrative in a massive way simply because for the last
few days, she's been hardening herself on these issues, even further suggesting that all those who are under that form of active surveillance
should simply be thrown out of the country.
So this is something to keep a close eye on over the coming hours. In any case, this is likely to play heavily in the national debate over the next
couple of days.
WALKER: Melissa Bell in Paris, Jim Bittermann as well. Thank you to both -- both of you for that.
We have a lot to talk about this hour. We're going to take a short break and come back with more.
WALKER: Welcome back, everyone. We are following breaking news on Paris' famed Champs-Elysees. One police officer has been killed, two others
wounded in a brazen shooting.
HOLMES: Now, this happened as the sun set on the city's iconic boulevard. Officials say a gunman got out of a vehicle and opened fire on a police
Other officers in the area fired back. They killed the attacker. The gunman's motive right now is unclear.
WALKER: Cyril Vanier is joining us here in studio now. He lived in Paris his entire life. He's been there for previous attacks.
You've covered those attacks as well. But I wanted to first get your personal reaction to this. I mean, again, you just moved here a few months
Your wife just landed in country. Obviously, you must have been very concerned. And what really struck me about what you said earlier was that
it's almost like you've become accustomed to expecting these kinds of deadly incidents to occur in your country.
CYRIL VANIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you have because it's -- it's not a matter of -- of whether it's going to happen again. It's a matter of when
it's going to happen again.
And it's not -- your gut tells you that. The last two and a half years tells you that because there's been just such a waiver of attacks.
It's been relentless, you know. Every time you think you're out of the woods for a few weeks, it happens again. And either it's in Paris or it's
somewhere else in France.
And you look at the breadth of -- of -- of targets, you know. They have targeted -- they, being terrorists, have targeted journalists.
They've targeted soldiers, policemen, people who go to football games, people who just sip a cafe at a terrorist (ph) in Paris. So who's that?
That's everybody. They've targeted our clergymen inside churches, people who go see the national day fireworks, you know. So who's safe? Nobody.
So first of all, nobody is safe. Second of all, it's relentless. And third of all, even all the way up the chain of authority in France from the
president down to the prime minister, they're telling you this is going to happen again.
HOLMES: All right, we'll just leave it there for the moment, Cyril. We'll come back to you. The French President Francois Hollande is about to
speak. Let's listen.
FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, PRESIDENT, FRANCE: At 9:00 o'clock precisely on the Champs-Elysees, an attack took place aimed at police officers. And the
car, which was -- in wich they were and one policeman was killed.
Two others were wounded. A passerby was also affected. The assailant was himself neutralized by other police officers.
Our entire district has been cordoned off. Those present were evacuated. And we are absolutely convinced that the trails of which can lead us in the
inquiry will identify terrorists.
The attorney general's office against the terrorism has been apprised (ph) of the events. And they are establishing motivation and complicity of
I have the counselor of France tomorrow at 8:00 o'clock. And everything has been done to mobilize the security forces and police force, gendarmerie
(ph), right from very top are involved.
And that has, in fact, been the case for a couple of months now. And we are at the highest possible state of tension (ph) and particularly during
this electoral campaign.
I think everybody will understand at this moment that my thoughts go to the families of the policemen who were killed, the nearest and dearest also of
those who were wounded. National tribute will be paid to these police officers who have been so cowardly massacred.
We have to all realize that our security forces are involved in a very, very difficult job. And they are very exposed.
We can see that again this evening and that the support of the nation here is absolutely total. And I should like to reiterate all the commitments
which I have made to the police force and to gendarmerie (ph) because what we're talking about is protecting the nation, the security of our citizens.
And everything must be done to make sure that these forces of law and order can obviously do their job, respecting procedures and the rule of law, and
with the trust of the entire nation. This is the message which I wish to communicate this evening.
And this is not only about the police force. It is about all our citizens. They are protected.
They have to be. They will be, and all the measures which can be taken along those lines. But the basic principle, which has to be reiterated
each time is the trust and solidarity and support of the entire nation for the force of law and order.
That is my thought today as well as my imminence sadness for those people who gave their lives and their families, put (ph) them on the line. And I
also want to reiterate my determination -- our determination to fight against terrorism with renewed force. Thank you.
HOLMES: Francois Hollande speaking there and praising the security forces -- the French security force saying we all have to realize that our
security forces are involved in a very difficult job and are very exposed.
WALKER: Yes, our Jim Bittermann has been listening as well standing by.
Are you there, Jim? Yes, I just wanted to get your reaction to what he had said because Francois Hollande was saying.
BITTERMANN: Yes, I am.
WALKER: .yes, he was reiterating what exactly happened. Then he also mentioned that a passerby was affected.
Is that new information?
BITTERMANN: Well, we'd heard that earlier that there might have been someone else who was wounded passing by the scene. And that confirms that
what the president had to say just then.
I found it a little bit sad that we've heard a lot of this before from the President Hollande when there have been other attacks here. On the other
hand, something like this, it's difficult to imagine how one can protect oneself.
Even the police can't protect themselves from this kind of an attack. It's a random attack, when someone drives up with a semi-automatic weapon.
One of the things I also noticed about what he had to say is that there are 50,000 police on the streets. This is not what President Hollande said
But in fact, they've put 50,000 police on the streets because of the upcoming elections. And as a consequence, they feel at least that they're
doing their utmost to protect not only the electors, the people who are going to cast their ballots, but also the candidates.
Last week, notices went out to the candidates that, in fact, they should take extra precaution. Pictures were -- were circulated of two men who
were later arrested in Marseilles.
And the connection was made to -- between them and the political campaigns. That, of course, is something that is very worrisome here.
One of the other things the president said, he expressed the need for solidarity. And in fact, those arrests of those two men, the solidarity --
it was solidarity that brought about those arrests because one of their neighbors thought they were acting in a suspicious way and called the
And after that, they were caught. So in a way, he was touching on some themes that have been predominant here. But clearly, this is going to
bring it all back to mind, especially as far as the candidates are concerned and most probably, as far as the voters are concerned.
HOLMES: Jim, you've -- you've lived there, you know, for decades. You know this country very well.
When you -- when you think back on, you know, everything from Bataclan to Nice through even smaller attacks at the Louvre (ph). How are Parisians,
people would live there in France -- how are they taking it in stride?
Is there a sense of -- of fear, of -- of dread? Or is there a more stoic attitude taken and we just get on with it?
BITTERMANN: Well, I would say stoic to an extent. But you know, after a while, when you've had a number of these attacks, it's hard to be stoic.
The fact is that there have been so many attacks here that people do sort of take it in stride to a certain extent. And they see the police on the
street, the army on the street.
But when they see the police being attacked and the army being attacked -- we have army soldiers attacked at the Louvre several months ago, you have
to you wonder to what extent an individual is actually safe. There's a certain sense, I think, too, that this is very random.
And if you're in the wrong place at the wrong time, maybe you -- you may get hit. But if you're not in that particular place at exactly at the
wrong time, then you're safe.
So there is that -- that feeling, you know, kind of feeling that, in fact, it's a -- it's a fatalistic feeling almost, maybe it has something to do
with the Catholic nature of the country. But in any case, it's -- it's an idea that as long as you're not in harm's way, you're OK.
And so I think that -- that is the way a lot of people think especially here in Paris. Out in the provinces and away from here, I think things
always look worse.
The farther away you are from events, the worse they look. And so I think that, in fact, for people in (ph) the provinces seeing what's going on in
the nation's capital, it probably is a lot more scary than it is for some of the Parisians.
Some of the people I just talked to this evening who are evacuated from their buildings were quite blase about it. They were on their way home and
without showing any signs of -- any kind of fear, panic or anything like that.
WALKER: They're (ph) carrying on. Jim Bittermann, thanks for that. I want to bring in Melissa Bell who's standing by as well.
And I just wanted to pick up on some things you were talking about earlier. I mean, this is a country that's been under a state of emergency for some
time now, I believe since 2015.
Leading up to these elections, what, just three days away, these national elections, has there been a heightened sense of vigilance?
BELL: Yes, absolutely, because the fact is that authorities have put 50,000 soldiers and policemen on the streets of France precisely to keep
the French public safety, is their (ph) words in the run-up to this poll to ensure that both rounds of the presidential election went over smoothly.
And of course, just a few days ago, we saw that there's arrests in Marseilles, that flat was raided in which those explosives were found and
those weapons and ammunition as well.
We were told that the men had been plotting what was believed to have been an imminent attack, and that he -- they've been stopped sort of in the nick
of time. So there is the sense that France is living day-to-day in the state of emergency.
And yet, life goes on. You know, it was over two hours ago now when these gunshots were fired when the shooting happened. We heard the gunshots.
But of course, we assume they were fireworks. So even in these tense times, even with all these extra security on the streets of Paris, you do
go about your ordinary life.
And you don't expect the worst to happen. We now know, of course, precisely what it was that we heard.
We now know that it was the sound of the man who had pulled up outside the police van, shooting at the police and the man then being killed, not
before one of those policemen sadly, of course, was killed. And just going back to what you were talking about a moment ago, what we have seen over
the course of the last few attacks, the (ph) smaller-scale attacks, I'm thinking been (ph) particularly, all the attack of a couple weeks ago when
a man went into Orly Airport and tried to seize the weapon from a female soldier before being shot by authorities, I'm thinking also the Louvre
attack just a few weeks ago, when a man with machetes attacked the soldiers.
We've seen increasingly small-scale attacks targeting specifically security forces.
HOLMES: Melissa Bell in Paris there in our station at CNN Paris there overlooking the Champs-Elysees where this attack has taken place in just
the last couple of hours, once policeman dead. We'll take a short break.
We'll be right back.
HOLMES: On Paris' famed Champs-Elysees, a live picture for you there, looking down that famed boulevard, iconic image at the end, the Arc de
Triomphe. One police officer has sadly been killed, two others wounded on Champs-Elysees in a brazen shooting.
WALKER: And obviously, as you can see, the area has been cordoned off and the surrounding areas evacuated as this investigation is getting under way.
All of this happening as the sun set on the city's iconic boulevard.
Officials say a gunman got out of a vehicle and then opened fire on a police van. Apparently, it was an automatic weapon.
And the officers fired back, killed the attacker. The gunman's motive at this time right now is not clear. Joining us now is Stefan de Vries,
journalist there in Paris.
Stefan, can you hear me? Just give us a sense of what you've been seeing from your vantage point?
STEFAN DE VRIES, JOURNALIST, PARIS: Well, of course, the security measures have been very high already for over two years following the attacks on
Charlie Hebdo in the Kosher Supermaket in 2015. So we're used to a huge amount of police forces and also soldiers in the streets of Paris.
And what we're seeing now tonight in Champs-Elysees is basically a result of this very tight security because the police's presence on the premise is
very, very quickly in huge numbers. So yes, Melissa Bell, your correspondent always said, we're well somehow already used to these kinds
Of course, we don't know yet for sure what really happened tonight. But it still shows that -- that the danger has not gone and that Paris is still
HOLMES: Stefan, just stand by, just we're getting information from CNN Terrorism Analyst, Paul Cruickshank, who -- who's reporting that the Paris
attacker was known to French security services for radical Islamist activities. Now, that's according to a source close to the investigation.
He was shot dead as we know. It was the subject of what's called fiche S (ph) surveillance file, was on the radar of French domestic security
service, the DGSI. And the investigators believe this was in all likelihood a terror attack.
And they do believe it was just one attacker. Stefan, I'm wondering what do you make of -- of the tactic. And we did see at the Louvre attack army
soldiers being targeted.
But it is an interesting tactic rather than go shoot a group of unarmed civilians and perhaps get a higher death toll, taking on security services
who -- who can and did shoot back.
DE VRIES: Yes, absolutely. The police are a clear target of -- of terrorists. We already had an incident about a month ago at the Orly
Airport in south of Paris.
These -- these two officers, police officers, were clearly targeted.
The suspect got out of the car according to the police information and shot -- started directly shooting at the police officers.
So it is known that the police is a clear target. Of course, their presence in huge numbers in the Paris streets, it becomes much more
difficult for terrorists to plan a large-scale attack as we've seen in November 2015 in the Bataclan, for instance, because the intelligence
services are very closely monitoring any possible attacks.
And as we've seen this week, two men were arrested in Marseilles in the south of France because they were planning terrorist attacks on candidate -
- presidential candidate in the election -- upcoming election next Sunday. So the -- the intelligence services are working, of course, round the
And it becomes much harder for terrorists to -- to pick just a random target or the large-scale target. And they target police officers as we've
HOLMES: Stefan de Vries, multimedia journalist there in Paris, appreciate you talking with us, Stefan. Thank you.
WALKER: Let's head back out to the streets of of Paris where our Jim Bittermann has been following this story.
And Jim, I just wanted to ask you about this new piece of information that we got, that this Paris attacker was on the radar of French security
forces, that he was the subject of fiche S (ph) surveillance. What exactly does that mean?
What -- what does it tell us?
BITTERMANN: Well, they -- the security forces here, the intelligence forces (ph) have a system of classifying people that they think are suspect
and should be kept under surveillance. That's the fiche S, so it means file S basically.
And there are several levels of the fiche S (ph). Some is -- some levels are higher than others and -- and in fact, require more surveillance and
more continuous surveillance.
But basically, it means that a person should be under the watch of the security forces, that they should be reporting, for example, to people if
he's -- if he's suspected that he is going to go into action at some point. They'd like to know where these people are.
If they're not reporting, then they should be looked for. They should be hunted down or investigated.
And in any case, if he was indeed a fiche S (ph) and I guess it's now pretty much confirmed that he was, the gunman should have been under
surveillance to some extent. And this will bring out, what (ph), like it did before here, it's going to bring out some price from the public and
from politicians as well about why, if he was under a surveillance and if the police knew about this person, why he was -- could possibly have pulled
this off tonight with a semi-automatic weapon why -- why he was free.
Having said that, some of these folks who have been caught over the year, they have been shot, basically have been pretty good at evading capture.
And so it's difficult to track various people down.
The two that were arrested in Marseilles, for example, who were apparently planning to carry out something on the political campaigns, they were under
surveillance for some time. But they had been gone underground and the police didn't know exactly where they were.
And it was only through a neighbor who thought they were behaving suspiciously and called the police said they were able to track them down.
And they eventually got arrested.
So the surveillance can -- can be tight. But in fact, it can't be complete. And that basically, I think we probably saw this happen tonight
with this gentleman who is now dead, who is out of fiche S (ph).
HOLMES: Yes. And -- and Jim, we've actually heard this before, haven't we, with previous suspects.
WALKER: Yes (ph), many (ph) times.
HOLMES: .where -- where they have been on the radar. They've known to be having Islamist tendencies. They might have gotten into trouble before.
But it boils down to manpower, doesn't it? If it's going to take you 15 or 20 police officers to properly monitor one person, you're just not going to
be able to keep an eye on everyone you suspect could be trouble.
BITTERMANN: Well, exactly right, Michael. And I -- one of the things that we've been banning (ph) about the figure that the interior ministry put out
about the number of police on duty because of the elections -- 50,000 police on the streets.
Well, there are 60,000 polling places. So there are more polling places than there are police. So it's -- it's something that just -- you can't
have more police than I think police (ph) out on the streets now.
But you also can't provide complete protection 24/7.
HOLMES: Jim Bittermann there in Paris. Thanks so much, Jim. We'll check in with you in a minute.
WALKER: All right, let's turn now to security management consultant and security expert, Glenn Skoon, who's joining via Skype from the Hague in the
Thanks so much for your patience for us to get -- getting to you. I just wanted to get your reaction to this because again, as Michael was saying,
this is something that we have heard many times before I think with the Bataclan attack, the Charlie Hebdo attack.
The suspects, the perpetrators were known to police. Some of them were already under surveillance before the attacks happened.
And now, we're hearing that this perpetrator in this attack along the Champs-Elysees was also under surveillance. What does this tell you as
investigators believe that this was indeed a terror attack?
GLENN SCHOEN, SECURITY MANAGEMENT CONSULTANT: Well, it certainly looks like a terrorist attack. And we have more than 8,000 people who have a
fiche S (ph) in France.
So it gives you an idea of the scope of the challenge that they're dealing with at the moment. And I think when we look at this particular incident,
I think one of the major impacts it's going to have is that officials in the United Kingdom and Germany will probably be following this very
closely because in connection with the arrests made on Tuesday in the Marseilles region and this incident this evening, it appears to be whether
or not these people were acting independently or as part of a bigger effort, it's the first time that this type of movement and most likely it
is an Islamist group and most likely, will be tied again to ISIS sympathies, although we've seen other groups at work.
It means it's the first time that they're targeting an election process or at least seeking to influence it. And I think therefore as we look ahead,
we now have most likely elections coming up on 8 June in the United Kingdom and in September in Germany.
This incident will have a much greater impact even though it was a small set and however tragic for the few people involved. Even this -- this
smaller incident in comparison to some of the ones before is going to have a fairly large impact.
HOLMES: And -- and Glenn, it does speak to that -- that sort of adage, I suppose, that the -- the good guys have got to be right every time and the
-- the bad guys only have to get it right once. So -- so that's just so hard to keep an eye.
I mean, I -- I couldn't believe the number you said -- thousands of people under this surveillance warrant, can't possibly cover them all. It speaks
to the challenges.
What -- what then the answer, how -- and especially, as -- as -- as we're saying before, he's attacking security. It's not like he's evading
He's -- he's looking for them.
SCHOEN: Absolutely. Well, you're spot on. And -- and when we hear this number of 50,000, it's been bandied (ph) about in the press, that's
essentially the extra forces that have called in on top of tens of thousands already dedicated to securing the election effort. And this
incident, given where it's set and who is targeted and the venue, I think we're going to have an extra challenge here in that of course, a lot of
this policing power the last few weeks under a national security plan has been directed very much, not just at the voting booths set for Sunday, but
also of course, where the rallies are going to be, the political candidates, the candidates' homes, convoys, journalists' studios where they
-- they are speaking.
So this actually -- you're right, stretches it even further in terms of the -- the field of potential targets that have to be covered for upcoming
WALKER: Yes, obviously, a lot of security concerns as we head into this election day. Glenn Schoen, we're going to leave it there.
Appreciate you joining us. And we're going to take a short break here on "CNN Today," back after this.
WALKER: Welcome back, everyone. As we follow this breaking news on Paris' famed Champs-Elysees, one police officer has been killed and two others
wounded in a brazen shooting.
It happened as the sun set on the city's iconic boulevard.
HOLMES: Yes, officials say gunman got out of a vehicle, went directly to a police van and fired. The police officers who were there fired back.
They killed the attacker. And our source close to the investigation told CNN the suspect was on the radar of French security services for, quote,
"radical Islamist activities."
WALKER: And French President Francois Hollande spoke a short time ago. He said he is convinced the attack was terrorist-related.
We want to bring in Cyril Vanier, who has been following the story with us as well.
Just, you know, your personal reaction -- we didn't get to that because you were saying that your wife is in Paris. Is she OK, first of all?
VANIER: Yes, she's fine. My sister is in Paris. She's fine. And my reaction is that of anybody who lives in Paris.
The first thing you do when you find out this is happening, usually, the alerts pop up on your phone, as they did for me today, even though I'm here
in Atlanta. First thing you do is you -- you go through your mind.
You go -- it's a mental checklist. Do I know anybody who was likely to have been in that area at that time?
WALKER: And you've been through (ph) this many times before.
VANIER: Yes, and you have been. And social media is actually very useful because they go through that checklist where they tell you so and so is
safe -- so and so is safe.
And that's -- that's actually been very useful. But you know, it's -- it's really hard to separate the emotions from the journalism on this one
because the cumulative effect is so big that when you see it flash across your screen even if you're in the newsroom and reporting on it in your
capacity as a journalist, you -- you also have this emotional tie to it at home.
It is home. It's home. And it's unending. And it's not stopping. And the question everybody wants to have an answer to is can we stop it.
Is it -- is it possible, first of all? And if it is possible, then -- then how? And -- and how do we do it?
HOLMES: And that -- and that comes back to the -- the politics, too, with the election coming up. And -- and it's almost unsavory to talk about.
But who does this favor.
HOLMES: .in terms of candidate? And any candidate who says I can keep you safe, well, can they?
VANIER: Yes, that's a very good question. I think the polls will tell us the answer to that question on Sunday. There is one candidate who has been
saying that for months.
And it's Marine Le Pen. And in a sense to her credit, she has been just saying this for political expediency. She's been saying this for a long
It plays to her policy platform, which is I want to have more control over the borders. Now, this is an important issue bearing in mind that some of
the assailants in previous attacks were people who had come from other countries, across, for instance, the Belgium border and had been unchecked
because this is part of living in the European Union, right? Those borders are open.
So let's look carefully at the assailant and what we find out about the assailant, either in the coming hours or in the coming days here because if
it is indeed somebody who came from another country, it definitely plays to Marine Le Pen's platform. She's saying I'm going to close those borders.
Well, no, sorry, I beg your pardon, not going (ph) to close them, but I'm going to patrol them. I'm going to control them. I'm going to police
And that argument is obviously going to be amplified if we find out that something came from outside the country.
WALKER: Yes, but.
VANIER: That's just one of many possibilities.
WALKER: .yes, it's a good point you bring up. I mean, the question is will this boost Marine Le Pen and her platform as she's been saying over
and over that I will protect you with this anti-immigration, anti-Islam platform.
But in terms of what happens next, I mean, this country has been under a state of emergency for some time. What does that mean in effect?
I mean, it gave -- it gave more powers to police. But in general, for the psyche of the French people, did it help them feel safer?
VANIER: Well, there is one counter -- oh, the the state of emergency, does that help French people feel safer? I'm not so sure because the attacks
have been relentless.
The attacks since that has been put in place. I -- I've lost count. But who's been attacked since that happened?
Policemen, people who went to watch the National Day fireworks, clergymen who were in churches, now, people, whether they are tourists or Parisians
walking up and down the Champs-Elysees, in other words, everybody. And Jim -- Jim Bittermann, who was very accurately tapping into the, I think, the
French psyche a moment ago saying to some extent, people have developed or have become -- to some extent, inured (ph) to it because it's part of life.
It has been part of life, you know, as -- as dramatic as it is to say that, for the last two and a half years. So you have to expect that that's going
to happen again.
Even the president and the prime minister have been saying this will happen again.
HOLMES: And the prime minister, I think, alluding earlier that -- that state of emergency will probably be extended, which is not a surprise given
Cyril Vanier, we'll check in with you in a moment. Meanwhile, let's go to Jim Bittermann who is out on the streets of Paris.
You know, Jim, keep going back to this thought of, you know, a -- a terrorist who wants to create terror will normally, especially in a place
like the Champs-Elysees, normally teeming with people, would mow down as many civilians as he could. But he actually targeted people who could
BITTERMANN: Well, it's very targeted. And you know, this is the, I guess, about the third or fourth attack like this that we have had eventually in
the last few months and over the years even more than that, where soldiers or police have been attacked.
We had the one in Orly. We had the one Louvre. So there've been a number of attacks where the attackers have gone straight at the security forces,
apparently, fully aware of the fact that they were probably going to get killed in return.
And that's exactly what happened tonight. One of the things that, just to pick up on what Cyril was saying just a minute ago, the fact is that, yes,
people are -- are really inured (ph) to things.
But it does lead to some pretty amazing inconveniences. I was just talking to a gentleman. Unfortunately, he doesn't want to appear on camera.
But he was saying that his family is trapped in a building just down the street here. And the security forces are not allowing them to leave the
building where they are, even though the event I think is pretty well over.
The police have drawn back their forces here. But I think that there is this feeling that they don't want to let anybody out on the streets until
they've made a thorough check. And we saw squads of police going up and down the avenue just a little bit ago, looking for anyone who might be, you
know, hiding, I guess, or have some -- some suspicious nature about them.
But I think at this point, I think things have -- have pretty well calmed down here so that there'd (ph) be some of these people who will be able to
get to where they want to this evening. It's now close to midnight here.
And people are cut off from their cars as a night club just behind our camera position here -- the night club is starting to empty. And the young
people are coming, trying to get across the police lines.
And they're being turned away. They can't get to their cars, which are on the other side of the Champs-Elysees.
WALKER: And -- and Jim, just a little bit more about the moment that all of this happened, the shooting broke out, and I guess the -- the fear that
followed. And you talked about witnesses that you spoke on with in a store, owner or a merchant who allowed people to seek shelter inside, can
you tell us about what you've been hearing in terms of what people -- how people reacted when this happened?
BITTERMANN: Well, I think there was general -- general panic when things got started here, when things started, when the shots started being fired.
According to several of the witnesses I talked to, people ran off the Champs-Elysees, ran into shops and what not.
And some of the shops almost immediately closed their -- their heavy-metal grates (ph) and -- and doors. One of the things that I should say is that
to some extent, they have been through this before, not always with terrorism events -- New Year's and -- and during the World Cup and any
other sort of major events here when there are a lot of people on the Champs-Elysees, sometimes things get out of control.
And the shopkeepers who are open have the habit of immediately shuttering their shops and keeping people out. But I think in this case, especially
given the nature of what happened this evening, it was the head of security at the Guerlain perfume shop here who said, in fact, he -- he opened things
up so that people would take shelter inside at least until it was sorted out exactly what was happening because it was, for those who were close to
it, it was a pretty -- pretty loud exchange of fire.
Elsewhere on the Champs-Elysees, as I think Melissa was mentioning earlier, the fact is a couple explosions on the Champs-Elysees, there's fireworks
going off here, not all the time, but it happens. It's not the kind of thing you really take notice of that much.
But this was different I think for the people who were right on top of it. The place where this happened is up right at the George Sink (ph) -- the
George V metro stop, if you know Paris, which is really a sort of the midway point of the -- of the Champs-Elysees across from a very famous
restaurant that a lot of actors and actresses hang out at.
So it was right at the heart of the Champs-Elysees. And I think while Thursday night is not the big night here, I'm sure there were thousands of
people along the avenue out and about tonight who could have easily been hit as I guess one passerby did, according to President Hollande.
HOLMES: And -- and again, targeting security, not somewhere like that famous restaurant -- very interesting stuff. Jim, we'll check in with you
Cyril Vanier here with us, a proud Parisian.
And you know, I'm just wondering, when you -- when you look at the -- the election coming up, is something like this -- are there a lot of votes to
be swayed when it comes to security? Or are people pretty much on track now with who they like and don't?
VANIER: Yes, it's an interesting question. There are a lot of votes to be swayed, period, the degree of uncertainty heading into the first round of
voting is very high -- a lot higher than it typically is at this stage in the election cycle.
So there are a lot of people who still don't know who they're going to vote for. So they are definitely votes up for grab.
That's the argument in favor of your question. The argument against that, however, is that people have been seeing this cycle of terror attacks for
two and a half years now.
VANIER: So it's not new. So it's not like you all of a sudden have this game-changer event that happens.
VANIER: .just before the election and it makes people reassess their politics. So -- so it is something that's been factored in, I think, to
people's politics for quite a while.
WALKER: Well, then what are the main issues that they're -- they're voting on? Obviously, security is one.
But there are other things that will factor into people's decisions when they go to the polls.
VANIER: Yes, I would say unemployment and the economy. And that's true in any election in any country.
But it continues to be true. France has unemployment hovering at around 10 percent. People want an answer to that.
For the first time, since the second world war, people are feeling that they're not going to have a better life than their parents.
So the country is not headed up. And I think there is this general amorosity (ph) -- that's one of the biggest things I think that pervades
all issues in this election. And then, of course, security is one of them.
And that's also in Marine Le Pen's policy platform that's tied to immigration. Security and immigration are two sides of in the same issue
as far as she's concerned.
HOLMES: Stand by, Cyril. It's great to have you here with your perspective. Want to turn now to Pierre Moscovici.
I -- I hope I said that right in Washington -- the European commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, a former French economy minister.
Thank you so much for being with us. And you know, sympathies for what has happened in Paris. Just wanted to get your -- your reaction to it and what
could be done about it going forward.
PIERRE MOSCOVICI, EUROPEAN COMMISSIONER, ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL AFFAIRS: Well, as all Frenchmen, and I'm French even if I'm here in Washington, I
feel deeply moved. I feel that we need to pay tribute to this policeman who was killed, to be nearby those who are wounded, and that we must really
support our police force and -- and be capable of being nearby them.
And then the president has said that he would have a council on defense tomorrow, that all security measures would be taken for the election time,
and which is Sunday. But you know, it's a constant fight.
France has already suffered from too many attacks. The level of protection is high. But our country is a target.
We must always be mobilized and saying that we will defeat terrorism, that we won't be defeated by him. I said terrorism because there is more than a
rumor today that (ph) it is a terrorist attack.
And I think that ISIS has already said it came from them.
WALKER: Like -- and like Michael was asking you, I mean, how does this country move forward? How do you prevent something like this from
Like you said, this has happened a handful of times unfortunately, even just looking back a couple of years. And are these kinds of attacks
preventable when you say France is constantly a target?
MOSCOVICI: They are preventable. There -- there have been a lot of attacks which have been prevented and even one this week who could have
happened against a candidate or a meeting of a candidate.
There have been dozens of attacks which have been stopped before they took place. Our police forces are exceptional. They are fully mobilized.
We also need to do more about information. And we do more and more about that. We are very efficient on that.
When you are in that of situation, of course, there are risks. They exist. We know that.
But we must always -- I wouldn't say live with it, but overcome it, be stronger than the risk. Keep on living.
And we must also -- and that's the most important thing -- fight terrorism where it -- it -- it takes birth. And that is why we need also to be as
involved as we are in Syria and in other places.
HOLMES: Before -- just before I let you go.
MOSCOVICI: Financing of terrorism.
HOLMES: .understood. Just before I let you go, just very quickly, you're a former member of government. Do you see this as potentially an attempt
to influence the French elections?
MOSCOVICI: It is really hard to say from where I am.