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WORLD RIGHT NOW WITH HALA GORANI
CNN Goes Inside Mosul; Anger On The Street of Venezuela; Candidates Battle For French President; Trump Meeting With Italian P.M. At White House; Ongoing Police Operations in Paris; Champs-Elysees Closed After Reported Shooting; Trump, Italian Prime Minister Holds News Conference; Police, Attacker in Paris Shooting Killed. Aired 3-3:54p ET
Aired April 20, 2017 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:00:20] HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, a harrowing journey into the heart of Mosul.
CNN goes inside the old city to see where ISIS has been pushed back and where Iraqi forces are still struggling to clear the extremist group, plus
this hour, police using tear gas on the streets of Venezuela capital as massive crowds protesting the Maduro government march for a second day.
And the French presidential candidate battle for support, CNN meets the voters, still hoping the scandal plague Francois Fillon can still pull off
a win. We'll look at the state of the race across the country. Hello everyone, I'm Hala Gorani live from CNN London, thanks for being with us
this Thursday on CNN. This is "The World Right Now."
We will get to all of those stories in a moment, but first, bringing you live pictures from the White House, the Italian Prime Minister Paolo
Gentiloni is set to arrive any moment there for a meeting with the American president, Donald Trump. He is just the latest world leader to try to
establish a working relationship with the new administration. We will bring you that arrival live and also bring you a joint news conference
scheduled for about 45 minutes from now between the two leaders later in the hour. We'll see if they stick to the official schedule.
Let's turn now though to battle to defeat ISIS in Western Mosul. Two defense officials say the terrorist group is escalating the use of chemical
weapons. Iraq federal police have been treated to exposure to nerve gas just in the last few day, and ISIS is also using the mustard gas on the
battlefield according to some source, now though for dramatic pictures. Our Nick Paton Walsh travelled inside of Mosul's old city, where terrified
civilians are trapped in the dangerous cross fire between ISIS and the Iraqi forces.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ground down to its bones, Mosul is so quiet, spectral where it once bustled. You
ask yourself, where are its people? Where have ISIS taken them? The answer is here. Trapped in the war for the old city, the density populated
final hold out of ISIS. There's a (INAUDIBLE) of shoot and wait now weeks old, where few alley ways down, ISIS mass hostage stand off begin s. Tens
of thousands civilians held as human shields.
You can see from the drone pictures filmed during a massive ISIS counter attack exactly how tight the streets are packed and every hell could wait.
The unloading (ph) mosque from where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdad gave its only real public speech its central prize.
Each street, window a bloody slog, and now, abhorrent truth, and clear, but ISIS leaves nothing intact behind it.
(on camera): There in the distance is the reason why ISIS is fighting so hard in these dense winding streets to hold the Iraqi police and military
back, and that is the Al-Nuri mosque very much the ideological heart in Iraq of the self-declared caliphate.
(voice-over): They want more American precision firepower. Up until now, the help is weak he says and they have advanced precise weapons and with
the intelligence they can help us better.
So far, astonishingly Staph Therok (ph), aged four, has stayed in her home and survived and does not flinch once.
There is no life under ISIS, Apollo (ph) says, no food, no water, and no electricity. We had to dig a well to pull water. The first thing she has
really known is the police. She loves them like kids in her school. And there is the shells still rain down, those who will never leave, and those
who do as fast as they can.
[15:05:04] Far enough out they are ferried to camps, reaming (ph) with stories of ISIS using human shields and herding civilians into kill zones
to die with them.
UNDENTIFIED MALE (Through translator): They would e besiege us, and use us as human shields and take people and families as they withdraw.
UNDENTIFIED FEMALE (Through translator): My brother and the rest of his family are besieged. ISIS hit them with sticks and a dragged him away. He
is crippled, he can't go anywhere.
WALSH: These voices are a fraction of the cacophony of suffering inside, in the fight they may take months more yet.
GORANI: Nick Paton Walsh joins me now live. He's in Irbil. And Nick we saw you in camera there. What look like a stone throw away from that
mosque where Abu Bakr al-Baghdad gave that sermon, after the takeover of Mosul. How close are Iraqi forces to that mosque?
WALSH: It's very hard to tell in terms of the meters there because the frontline is so fluid. One day we here that those Iraqi federal police,
another forces of pushed massively into the region and then they've here to get push back by ISIS too. It's incredibly fluid. The fighters
(INAUDIBLE) some seem very experienced, some seem frankly very inexperience. So it's a messy situation.
But yes, in that circumstance, we could see ourselves probably about 200, 300 meters, 500, I would say if I'm being most conservative is where the
mosque is. That's the last thing ISIS going to want to give up.
And we're also - I have to compare, Hala, coming out of that of a stunned by how empty the city felt. You know, we heard estimates of 400,000 people
trapped inside that old city, and we didn't get into the areas held by ISIS, but it is an enormous number of individuals and potentially -- this
is going to be an extraordinary bloody chapter if those numbers are true as the forces are slowly going to try to move in. Hala?
GORANI: Yes. Nick, I was speaking with the spokesperson for the coalition forces and the fight against ISIS, and I asked them where do these ISIS
fighters in Mosul, are there any escaping, are there any able to find their way out of the Mosul area, he said nobody is leaving. The city is
completely surrounded, they either surrender or they die. Is that what you are witnessing yourself in the reporting?
WALSH: I mean, fully, of course, I don't have a 360 view on exactly what is occurring around that battle space. I mean, we did see a lot of the
civilians walking out. We saw a lot of individuals who you might have thought if they were clever enough could have changed the clothes and
decided to pretend to be a civilian to get out of that area. Hard to tell.
Really, I was stunned, and I have to confess in the air where we were taken by the Iraqi federal police by how little they seem the number. I had
expected to see hundreds crowding the streets because this being so much the focal point of the battle now to get the hold of the western side of
Mosul. Well, the old city will always going to be the hardest challenge ahead, but it does seem sparse at times the streets and the number of
forces, and I couldn't see an incomplete picture because of where I was, but certainly the feeling that you get is this is a large challenge ahead,
and one --
WALSH: -- that possibly requires a larger effort than is being applied at this point, Hala.
GORANI: Great. It'll be long and bloody and unfortunately as always, civilians are suffering from many more months. Thanks very much for that
great reporting as always Nick Paton Walsh in the Irbil with more on his reporting from the old city of Mosul.
By the way, I mentioned at the top of the hour, the prime minister of Italy, Paolo Gentiloni, is currently in the White House. He's meeting with
the U.S. president, Donald Trump. We will bring you that video when we have it. But meantime, our White House reporter Jeremy Diamond joins us
now live with more. What do we expect out of this meeting? What topics are on the agenda, Jeremy?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Hi, Hala. Well the Italian prime minister just arrived here at the White House. There was of course
military guard lining the driveway here the as the time prime minister SUV made his way over here to greet President Donald Trump.
This is the first meeting between those two leaders. And of course it's a significant relationship. Italy is the third largest economy in the
Eurozone. And so there are a lot of economic and trade issues for the two leaders to discuss, but there's also a lot of security issues that are
going to be likely at the top of the agenda here. Italy of course has been on the frontline of this migrant crisis that has wrought a lot of the
political turmoil in Europe, and also of course Italy is a member of the anti-ISIS coalition, so we will be expecting the two leaders to discuss the
fight against ISIS which President Donald Trump has of course sought to ramp up in the quest to destroy the terrorist group. Hala?
GORANI: We're seeing the images of Paolo Gentiloni from earlier in Washington D.C. Well, we're also obviously Jeremy following that
blistering news threat by North Korea, warning that it could launch a super mighty pre-emptive strike that would destroy the U.S. and South Korea in an
[15:10:11] North Korea obviously regularly threatens its enemies. But this rhetoric is intensifying as the Trump administration takes a hard line on
its nuclear program. North Korea accusing the U.S. of hightening (ph) intensions by dispatching this warship.
Now, many of our viewers are familiar with the statements by Donald Trump that he sent an armada to the Korean Peninsula but to check out this
graphic this week actually heading in the other direction. They're now on their intended course.
So let's talk a little bit, Jeremy, about the White House and how its explaining away the fact that after saying that armada was headed to the
Korean Peninsula, it actually was going to Australia?
DIAMOND: Yes, that's right. Well, just like you said, the president had said in an interview that he was sending an armada to the Korean Peninsula,
and of course that was not the case at least not yet. We now know that Carl Vinson is going to be headed to the Korean Peninsula. The ship's
deployment was actually extended 30-day in order to make it happen, but the White House's explanation yesterday was pretty much entirely
unsatisfactory. The White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer insisting that when they said that it was on the way to the Korean Peninsula, it was just
not right at that moment. So, a little bit of confusing from the White House on that issue.
But as you said, we have seen the ratcheting up of the rhetoric on both sides of the matter. The Vice President Mike Pence, of course, has been in
the region for the last several days, and he has made clear that the U.S. is not taking any options off of the table, and the North Korean statement
today that we saw, of course, warning of the potential strike some of the very -- kind of the bellicose, but also hyperbolic rhetoric that we hear
from time to time from the North Koreans, but all of this obviously in the context of the tensions that are ratcheting up on both sides of the issue,
and we'll have to keep a close eye on that to see exactly what will come of it and what the response the North Koreans may have to the official
deployment of the ship into waters near that Korean Peninsula. Hala.
GORANI: All right. A lot of the tensions, flash points, potential flash points. We'll keep monitoring all of that. Thanks very much Jeremy
Diamond reporting from the White House.
Check out this video just in to us of the Italian prime minister that Jeremy was referring seeing live at the White House. There he is Paolo
Gentiloni. He is the former foreign minister. He took over his prime minister few months ago. It's their first face to face meeting and it
comes an important time. Just before months, a few months -- a month I should say before Mr. Trump travelled to Italy for his first G7 summit.
There is the issue of trade, security issues, Europe's migrant crisis, all expected to the agenda. And the leaders will speak to reporters later this
hour. We'll bring you that conference, that news conference live.
Now, speaking of tension, in Venezuela, armed forces are using tear gas to repeal demonstrators in the capital of Caracas. Protesters are responding
by throwing objects that police and the National Guard. This is the second day of massive anti-government protests in the Latin American country which
is dealing with the major economic crisis, many people are suffering a lot economically day-to-day and on Wednesday, to make matters worse, General
Motors shut down operations there after the government seized its plant. Three people were killed when the protesters against President Nicolas
Maduro, I should say, lost their lives after these demonstrations turned violent.
Now, journalist Stefano Pozzebon by phone from Caracas. Stefano let's put up some of these images because we saw the tear gas. Three people killed
yesterday. What is the situation now where you are, please?
STEFANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST: Yes, Hala. I am standing in the (INAUDIBLE) square which is one of the protest squares that it is back in 2014 in the
last wave of massive protests against the government. The situation here is quite quiet, it's much more quiet than the images that you are seeing
there which are taken from Chacaito which is in an area that this -- on the border between the east and the west of Caracas. What normally happens,
what the normal routine of protest here is that (INAUDIBLE) which is stronger in the east of the capital city gathers a number and gathers in
strength here, and then tries to march towards the government buildings which are standing in the west of Caracas, and so far, they have not
managed to pass the blockade created by the national guard and national police to prevent them to go there reaching one of this government
buildings and I was talking about the parliament, the presidential palace, the attorney general, whatever -- incredible symbolic significance of the
protester, and so that has been the target for the past three weeks actually as these protesters started that seems -- the sentence from the
Supreme Court out on the 29th of March.
[15:15:15] GORANI: Stephano Pozzebon in Caracas. Thanks very much for that the report. As you can see there are things turned violent yesterday.
Three demonstrators were killed. Today, again, tear gas, some of the demonstrators are saying that they are not going anywhere.
A lot more to come on the show this evening. We are going to in fact look at this story with the king of cable Bill O'Reilly who has falling hard
from his throne, the latest from his dramatic exit from Fox up next. Also, three days to go when the French election race is still too close to call.
It could be any one. We are live in Paris with the very latest.
GORANI: Welcome back here everybody. Very sketchy details here, Melissa Bell is in Paris, there are apparently seems some sort of incident
unfolding on Champs-Elysees. Melissa, what's going on?
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hala, for the time being, details are pretty sketchy. We don't know what is going on, but the scene is very
dramatic for the last 10 minutes or so. The whole of the Champs-Elysees city, extraordinary busy road of course in the heart of Paris has been
closed off by the police. I'm just going to show what's happening on the Champs-Elysees just beneath this terrace. There are 20 or so riot police
trucks as of now in the middle of the Champs-Elysees. Perhaps you can see them just there.
They've closed off the entire avenue. All of the pedestrians have been pushed aside rather violently by the riot police over the course of the
last quarter of an hour or so. And the official word from Paris police is that people should stay away from Champs-Elysees. We don't yet know what
happened about 20 minutes or so. We heard what might have been fireworks. We're not actually sure what that was. We're hoping to find out in the
next few minutes.
But clearly, the French police are taking this incident very seriously. The whole of the Champs-Elysees now entirely closed tough to either
pedestrians or cars in a huge gathering of police trucks about halfway up the avenue, obviously dealing with some sort of incident there.
GORANI: So did -- you're talking about the riot police, do they push people away? Were there an issue with crowds? You said, you heard may be
what sounded like fireworks. Can you give us more details there?
BELL: This is all happening really, Hala, within the last 20 minutes. This is -- a this time of the night on a Thursday in incredibly busy
street. There are cars, there are hundreds of -- many of them tourists walking up and down the street. And really within a matter of minutes,
they've managed to clear it out entirely. No word on precisely what has triggered this, but what we saw from this balcony were the last pedestrians
who have been pushed out of the way really being fairly violently taking aside to be taking off the Champs-Elysees altogether.
There is now no one on the street apart from the police who are both in their vehicles and heavily armed walking up and down the street, and trying
to secure the area. So, clearly, something serious has happened here. We don't know what its nature is for the time being. All that we know for
sure is that the police are urging people to --
GORANI: The area.
BELL: -- to stay away from this part of Paris. And even as I speak to --
GORANI: What do you mean?
BELL: -- more and more police trucks are heading towards this Champs- Elysees.
GORANI: All right. Melissa Bell, thanks very much. She's live in Paris. Cyril Vanier in Atlanta, but can talk to us about the area here that we're
talking about which obviously we all know it. I mean many people who have travelled to Paris do know it. Champs-Elysees is very busy, it's a
Thursday night, it would be extremely unusual to have all this police vans park one after the other there and essentially pushing pedestrians and
visitors out of the way.
CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: And that's right Hala. I used to live there until a few months ago really and you and I both know the city very well.
The Champs-Elysees is one of those obvious targets that anybody who's been living in Paris has either avoided in past months.
[15:20:04] That was the case for my wife and kids recently, for instance during the Christmas celebrations thinking it's just too much of the target
just because it's such an iconic landmark for Paris. And also because there are so many people. So unfortunately in the mind of anybody who
would want to do harm to Parisians, to tourists, to anybody in one of those major capitals in Paris, the Champs-Elysees would have to be a prime
target. There's no two-ways about it.
GORANI: But we're making a leap here, right? We don't have any confirmation or any?
GORANI: Anything has taken place.
VANIER: You know, you are quite right to point that out, Hala. And I'm going to confess that I'm reacting here as somebody who has lived in Paris
for a long time. You know, you sort of because these attacks have been so numerous so the last two and a half years, you sort of mapped out the city
in terms of what might be a prime target, what might not be a prime target of terrorism. But you are absolutely right to point out that at the moment
we don't know exactly what has happened. And you are also right to point it out because there have been incidents in the recent past when law
enforcement has been called on and has cleared an area, and in fact, there has a false alert, that has happened recent past, you are right.
GORANI: All right, but obviously, here we are in a situation in France where there is a lot of nervousness and tension. We saw what happened in
Marseille where authorities said they foiled what they called "imminent attack." Now, just to be clear, sometimes there's a reaction to something
that is in fact completely innocent. They may have heard something or gotten a report, and they are just, you know, sort of telling people to get
out of the way, and calling in reinforcements out of the abundance of caution.
VANIER: Yes, people are very jittery. And you saw it, especially after the Bataclan attack. You know, days after people essentially walk around
the streets of Paris shooting Parisians who were standing by a Paris and having a cafe or all of the things that are Hallmarks of the Parisian life.
And the days that followed that, for instance in those same areas of town, you know, any little noise or unusual occurrence would trigger a mass
panic. And you have people running around.
So again, that's true that you are bringing us into the psychological mindset of people who live in that city, and who sort of have to get used
to this and had to ask themselves for months and months and months. You know, what do I do? How do I react if I hear something out of the
And again, the Champs-Elysees with its being such an obvious targets. Honestly speaking, I think a lot of people in Paris are almost surprised
that it hasn't been targeted in the recent past. Because we know that there have been some people arrested where we found plans, law enforcement
found plans they had to target for instance the end of year Christmas market at the Champs-Elysees.
GORANI: Cyril, let me stop you there, BFM TV, our affiliate is reporting two police officers injured and that shots have been fired, this happening
on the Champs-Elysees according to our affiliates. So we do have at least according to our affiliate BFM, in Paris, some confirmation according to
there sources that there's a serious incident right now unfolding on the Champs-Elysees in Paris with two police officers.
So what Melissa Bell reported earlier sounded like fireworks that this in fact is confirmed, those would have been gun shots. So we are going to
continue to follow the story. And Cyril, this is what we know right now. Massive police operation on the Champs-Elysees, pedestrians and visitors
asked to get out of the way. Many, many police vans lined up one after the other on the Champs-Elysees. And BFM reporting, two police officers
injured, we don't know how, but we do know that according to their sources shots have been fired.
All right, we are going to actually turn this coverage over to our sister network CNN USA.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have breaking news, ongoing and police happening presence in Paris, right, that Champs-Elysees and CNN International
Correspondent Melissa Bell is joining us now live. Tell us more about what's happening there, Melissa?
BELL: Well, we are just above the Champs-Elysees on which have been closed off for the last 20 minutes or so, entirely closed off. Pedestrians are
violently pushed aside by riot polices, dozens of police cars have made their way up this normally very busy street at this time. This would show
what's going on down there. Perhaps you can see further up the Champs- Elysees of both police presence. There are no -- now, no one apart from the police on this avenue, that you could see the trucks up there. The
armed riot police are also making their way up and down the avenue ensuring that it is entirely blocked off to anyone who might want to have a closer
Now, for the time being, very sketchy details about what actually gone on, it was about 25 minutes ago, half an hour ago, we've heard what sounded to
us like fireworks, obviously it might have been something more serious and that there are number of reports coming through about what might actually
have gone down there. What we've seen for sure at this dozens of police trucks heading towards the center, the middle there, the avenue of the
Champs-Elysees towards beyond (INAUDIBLE).
[15:25:08] We've also seen and announce two minutes emergency vehicles with doctors, bringing doctors to the scene leading us to believe that someone
may have been injured. No confirmation from police about what's happened there, although they have put out an official warning to Parisians urging
them to stay away from the Champs-Elysees until this police operation can be brought to an end.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So Melissa, you told us, you hear what sounded like fireworks. We know our French media affiliates are reporting gunshots were
fired and perhaps two policemen were serious injured. Again, that's according to the French media reports, you are working to get details
confirmed, but tell us a little bit more about these area.
BELL: This is an avenue with the most famous avenue, and most famous in the world of course that at this time of the night is packed. And until
about 20 minutes ago, it was just that. There are hundreds of cars on it at any point in the day or night, and hundreds of people walking up and
down. Let's going to show you again how empty it is. And this clear up operation, the police have already come in and gotten everyone off the
street within the matter of minutes.
Perhaps, you can see the pavements themselves are completely empty apart from the heavily armed riot police, and on the avenue itself which is
entirely blocked off. All you have are there's dozen or so police trucks that came in here full of armed riot police, as I say, about 20 minutes
ago. We heard what may have been the gunshots, but we had assumed were the fireworks about half hour an ago. So this clear up operation, this closure
of this avenue has really happened incredibly quickly.
Of course, France remains on high alert. We are still living in the state of emergency, and will be until July as a result of the terrorist attacks
that has all too sadly become a regular feature of French life. And this, of course, in a particularly tense moment, we only a few days away from the
general election. We have been warned by authorities that extra police, extra soldiers will be on the streets to ensure that France remain safe
during this presidential race.
What seems to have happened here within last half hour and a half, as you say, we are waiting to get confirmation ourselves if there's reports on the
French media that a police officer may have been shot down there tonight. What appeared to have happened is that that uneasy truth, the calm of the
last few weeks may have come to an end here in Paris this evening.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Melissa Bell, standby with us. I want to bring in CNN International Anchor Hala Gorani and as we are continuing to look at
these pictures. Just want to tell our viewers that we are following this breaking news situation happening in Paris right now, a major Police
presence around the area of the Champs -Elysees. Tell us a little bit about what you know of this area in terms of security presence and past
incidence, that type of thing.
GORANI: Well, this is obviously, if there was one target in Paris, a recognizable name and location, you have the Eiffel Tower, you have the Arc
of Triumph. And then you have the big avenue of the Champs-Elysees. It is the major tourist and visitor artery. You obviously have movie theaters,
shops, restaurants all along this avenue.
What we are hearing according to the French reports is that two police officers have been injured in the shooting. Now we don't know if they were
injured as a result of being shot of someone, came at them with a knife or for whatever reason. Shots were fired after an attacker sort of tried to
assault the police officers. We've seen that happen in the Louvre in Paris as well. In Marseille, just a few days ago, police said, they foiled what
is called by police "Imminent Attack" before the presidential election.
Tonight is an important night on there because there is a huge 11-person television event featuring all the presidential candidates. Sunday is the
presidential election. The frontrunner is Emmanuel Macron. He is a centrist politician, but very, very close in the polls. After him is
Marine Le Pen who is a far-right candidate who has spoken a lot about the terrorist threat. She is anti-immigration. She wants to close the
borders. These types of events are frightening Parisians and the French people across the country.
There were terrible attacks at the Bataclan and Charlie Hebdo and then the Nice Truck attack not even a year ago. So obviously something like this is
going to cause a lot of nervousness and a lot of tension across the country. But we don't know much else really Ana. Two police officers
injured, there was a shooting. There's a massive police presence, all of the police vans with their lights flashing and the pedestrians and sort of
the ordinary visitors and tourists have been told to leave the area, and it is now completely sealed off.
ANA CABRERA, CNN: You talked about the proximity to the elections that are coming up in just a few days, and some of the different candidates who are
part of the election, 11 different candidates. Now in terms of the lead up to these big presidential election, have we seen there an increase and in
any kind of confrontations between different groups that are campaigning for their candidate?
[15:30:05] GORANI: Confrontation between the supporters of the candidates, no, but we're seeing, obviously, these major security and the terrorism
themes brought up by the candidates because they're important to French people right now. And it is mainly the far right candidate, Marine Le Pen,
who is talking about this terrorist threat because she is linking it to mass immigration. She is linking it to the refugee crisis, and she is
hoping to score political points by putting it in that context, if you will.
But it is an important time because the incumbent President of France, Francois Hollande, is not running again. So no matter who wins, whether
it's a candidate of his party or another, it will be a complete new leadership in France. And it comes at a time are where this populist fever
is sweeping Europe with Brexit first, and then we're seeing it with the election of other politicians across the continent. And now it is France's
And this is probably the most important political event in Europe this year because whoever wins this election on May 7th, the first round is this
Sunday, will determine the future of France and possibly the future of Europe. So as we continue to see these images and look at this video
coming to us from the Champs-Elysees, these incidents, these types of violent acts, could have a big political impact. And by having a big
political impact, they could impact the country and also the much wider region.
CABRERA: All right. Hala Gorani, thank you so much that insight, for giving us some good perspective on why this event, regardless of what it is
right now, how there could be an impact on the upcoming election as we continue the follow the breaking news. Shots fired in Paris according to
our CNN affiliate there, and a major police presence right now around the well known the Champs-Elysees.
We'll have continuing coverage of this breaking news story with Jake Tapper and "THE LEAD" which picks up our coverage from here.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Ana. I'm Jake Tapper. We're taking over early to bring you CNN's special live coverage of President Trump's news
conference with the Italian Prime Minister, Paolo Gentiloni.
There is also breaking news right now as you just heard, a shooting in Paris in the area of the famous Champs-Elysees, a major boulevard in Paris.
A CNN affiliate is reporting that two police officers have been wounded in the shooting.
The Champs-Elysees in Paris has been closed. Authorities are telling people to avoid the area altogether. Lines of emergency vehicles are on
Obviously, Paris has experienced much terrorism in the last few years. Let's go to CNN International Correspondent Melissa Bell who joins us now
live from Paris.
And, Melissa, what do we know about the shooting at this early stage?
MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: What you're seeing here, Jake, are our pictures from the CNN balcony overlooking the Champs-Elysees. And as
you can see, massive police presence. The entire Champs-Elysees, which, of course, at this time of night is normally packed, has been entirely closed
off by police.
Now, it was about 40 minutes ago or so now. We had heard from up here what I assumed were fireworks, but we now realize may have been something far
more serious. Within minutes, the Champs-Elysees was entirely closed off.
We watched as the police trucks have come in in greater and greater numbers with a huge number of riot police making their way up and down the avenue,
fairly violently moving pedestrians on to get them out of the way until the area could be secured.
We've also seen, within the last 10 minutes or so, Jake, cars bringing doctors as well, leading us to believe that, as we've been hearing from
French reports -- and we have yet to get this confirmed ourselves -- there may have been a shooting out there. There may have been someone wounded.
And what the French reports, French press, are suggesting is that the target may have been the police themselves. That, we have yet to confirm.
What we have heard from the police is that they're urging Parisians, really, to stay away from this entire area, Jake.
TAPPER: And it is about 9:35 p.m. in France right now. France, obviously, Paris in particular, has experienced quite a bit of terrorist activities in
the last couple of years. There was the Charlie Hebdo attack. There was the Bataclan and related attacks. There was the incident in Nice, where a
truck barreled through the crowd, and many more smaller incidents.
This is just the most recent one for a country that is already on edge, I would imagine, Melissa Bell.
BELL: On edge, Jake, and also still living under a state of emergency. We've covered together a number of those attacks over the course of the
last couple of years, and that's led France to place itself under this special state of emergency. Police and military have special powers now.
And we were told, of course, we're just a few days away from the presidential election here in France. Authorities have said they were
putting extra police, extra soldiers on the ground to ensure France's security.
[15:35:06] We've become all too used to these sorts of attack. And as you say, the larger scale attacks really seem to have been a thing of the past.
What we've seen more recently have been much smaller scale attacks by sort of lone wolves going out on the rampage on their own.
We have no idea of who was involved here tonight or precisely what they were hoping to achieve, but they seem to have caused more chaos, perhaps,
than we've seen over the course of the last few weeks. And as I say, we're just a couple of days, we're three days away, from a general election that
has the country on edge, and a country that's been really living through this for all too long.
So for the time being, we know there's been a major incident on this road. We heard, ourselves, what we had assumed were fireworks, but may have been
something more serious. And we're hoping to get it confirmed soon enough what we're hearing from the French press, Jake, which is that this could
have been an attack aiming at the police and that policemen might have been wounded and even killed.
TAPPER: And if you're just tuning in, we are paying attention right now to a number of major stories. But, right now, we're focused on shots fired in
Paris, on the Champs-Elysees. CNN has not confirmed this, but local affiliates have reported that two French police officers have been wounded.
The entire Champs-Elysees, which is a boulevard -- this specific stretch we're talking about is a little bit over a mile -- has been shut down.
We're just learning, I am sorry -- in my ear, I'm being told -- that one of the police officers or at least one of the individuals involved in the
shooting has been killed. One person is dead, and the attacker has been taken down. In terms of who is dead, we don't know right now if it's the
attacker or one of the policemen or someone else.
We know that there were two policemen that have been wounded according to local reports. Now, I'm being told -- I'm sorry, this is a developing
story -- one policeman has been killed. One policeman has been killed, another has been wounded, and the attacker has been taken down.
Let me go back to Melissa Bell in Paris, France for CNN. And, Melissa, we are now learning that one of the policemen has been killed, and that the
attacker has been taken down.
BELL: Right. What we didn't know was whether that sound that we heard about 45 minutes ago, which we had assumed were fireworks, which we now
realize were gunshots, was that on the part of the man attacking, or was that the police dealing with an attacker in the middle of the Champs-
Elysees? That's what we have yet to get confirmed.
But clearly, a serious incident here in the heart of Paris that has seen, as you say, the entire Champs-Elysees entirely closed down. And this with
just a couple of days to go before France's presidential election, and in a country that has been on edge and under a state of emergency for months
We don't know anything about who was involved in this attack, what was the attacker hoping to achieve, and whether, as I say, those gunshots that we
heard earlier were the result of the police trying to get an attacker under control or whether the attack was carried out with gunfire.
Of course, it's a reminder as well of the fact that, however tight you can try and police the streets of a country, however strict the state of
emergency under which it is placed, however vast the police presence that is out there, it is very difficult to keep all parts of the country and
even those in the very heart of the capital, the iconic Champs-Elysees, safe at all times, Jake.
TAPPER: And of course, one of the major themes in the French presidential election -- and the first round of the balloting would be on Sunday -- one
of the major themes, especially from far right candidate, Marine Le Pen, is that there are too many immigrants in France. And with the refugees, with
immigration, comes terrorist activity.
Some of the terrorists have indeed been individuals that have come in through migration programs. Others were homegrown. But no doubt, this
will resonate with a certain number of voters.
BELL: Absolutely. Marine Le Pen, as you mentioned, the far right candidate, who is one of the two candidates currently leading the polls
here in France, really has presented herself as the law and order candidate, placing, as you say, immigration at the heart of her program.
The protection of the French, the prevention of terrorism, the fight against Islamist extremism at the heart of her program. This is really
central to everything that she has had to say over the course of the last few months.
This will, of course, if it turns out to be linked in any way to those issues, prove to be incredibly timed from her point of view, and will no
doubt put all of these issues back in the heart of a campaign that has really been dominated by them, as a result of what we've seen over the
course of the last few years here in France, Jake.
[15:39:54] Now, we don't know yet whether this or what sort of attack this was, what the motivations of the person who obviously tried to cause harm
here on the Champs-Elysees tonight were, whether several of them were involved or a single individual. These are all questions that we'll hope
to have answered fairly quickly. We're trying to reach out to the police and the authorities to get all of those facts confirmed even now.
For the time being, we do know that there was some sort of attack on the Champs-Elysees. We do know that there was gunfire here tonight, and that
one or more people may have been taken down by the police after carrying out that attack in the middle of the Champs-Elysees.
And it's gone dark now, but at the time, we were still in daylight. The Champs-Elysees will have been packed. There were hundreds of cars,
hundreds of pedestrians on what is one of the liveliest streets in the world. So a lot of people will have witnessed something that was fairly
shocking up there tonight, details of which we hope to have confirmed to you fairly quickly, Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Thank you so much. I want to go right now to CNN'S Hala Gorani who is in London.
And, Hala, what are you learning about the shooting?
GORANI: Well, we're hearing from our affiliate, BFM-TV, that one of the police officers who was injured in this attack has, in fact, lost his life.
He has been killed. Right now, the toll that we have, according to these reports, is one police officer killed, one seriously wounded, and an
attacker, quote, "taken down" as this massive police operation continues.
You're not used to seeing the Champs-Elysees like this. Police vans one after the other, bumper to bumper, with their lights flashing there as this
big police operation continues to unfold.
You know, it's not a massive surprise than an attack has taken place on the Champs-Elysees. I mean, police, just a few days ago, and authorities in
France, said they foiled a, quote, "imminent attack" before the presidential election on Sunday in Marseille. Just a few months ago, as
well, authorities told us that they'd foiled an attack in Montpellier in the south of France.
There was, and some of our viewers might remember, in the Louvre Museum, a man who had flown from a Gulf country, an Egyptian national, tried to stab
a soldier as part of this sort of big anti-terrorism plan that they have in France, the VPG had (ph) in the Louvre. He was taken down as well.
So this threat is very real in France. Attacks are taking place. Sometimes they are foiled, sometimes the attackers get through. And it
appears as though, this evening, on the Champs-Elysees, the majority of which is still sealed off to the public, that some sort of very serious
incident took place that led to the loss of life of at least one police officer, Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Hala Gorani, thank you so much. We're going to take a quick break. When we come back, we'll have much more on this developing
If you're just tuning in, there has been an attack of some sort on the Champs -Elysees. The attacker has been taken down, one policeman has been
killed, one policeman is wounded. Stay with us.
[15:46:43] TAPPER: Welcome back. We're back with the breaking news story out of Paris in the area of the famous Champs-Elysees, a world famous
boulevard in Paris, France. A CNN affiliate, BFM-TV, is reporting an attack. One police officer has been killed by the attacker. One was
And now, we are learning from the same CNN affiliate, BFM-TV, that the shooter has been shot dead. The Champs-Elysees has been closed. There is
a massive police presence there right now. Authorities are telling people to avoid the area, not that they could necessarily even get there if they
Another news story going on right now is, we are waiting, in just moments, President Trump will hold a joint news conference with the Italian Prime
Minister at the White House in the East Room, and we will bring that to you live. I want to bring in right now CNN's Chief National Security
Correspondent Jim Sciutto to bring us up to speed with any more information.
And, Jim, obviously, starting with the Charlie Hebdo attack in January 2015, then the Bataclan and related attacks in November 2015, the attacks
in Nice, France last summer, this is unfortunately all too familiar in France.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: No question. I think, for an American audience, the level of the threat in Paris in
particular, but in France across the country is just an order of magnitude you can say larger to some degree than here. The U.S. certainly under
threat, but the number of jihadists in that country is really just off of the charts. And because of that, extremely difficult for the French
authorities to track all of them.
You'll remember, when you go back to the Paris attacks or the Charlie Hebdo attack, many of these attackers were known to authorities. They don't have
the resources to follow everyone. That's the challenge at hand.
U.S. authorities, we know with this attack, are in touch with their French counterparts. There's extremely close counter terror relationship and
intelligence sharing relationship. The FBI has an office and a representative inside Paris, as do other intelligence agencies, et cetera.
They are constantly sharing. And in the wake of the Paris attacks, they ratcheted up that level of intelligence sharing, exactly to help France try
to thwart attacks like this one we're seeing here.
TAPPER: All right. Jim Sciutto, thank you so much. Our other big story this hour, moments from now, President Trump is expected to hold a joint
news conference with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni. CNN's Jeff Zeleny is in the East Room there.
And, Jeff, I don't know how much President Trump would adapt his message depending on these developing news and whether or not he would talk more
about terrorism than, for instance, Syria. What do you think we're expecting to hear from the President?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Jake, that is certainly possible. I am told by a senior official that the President is aware of
this. The White House, of course, is aware of the shooting, unfolding situation happening right now in Paris.
The two leaders are meeting at this moment in the Oval Office. The Italian Prime Minister has been here at the White House for about an hour or so,
just as this news has been developing and breaking from Paris. So I certainly would expect the President to address this potentially in his
remarks or maybe even in the Q&A that he will be getting, Jake.
But, of course, now the topic of this, this meeting is coming one month before the President is going to take his first trip abroad as President.
And one of the stops will be at the G7, the summit meeting of the leaders of the seven industrial nations. So, of course, terrorism, refugees, all
at the center of this. And that's one big difference, of course, between these two leaders among many, many others, Jake.
[15:50:18] So we will see how the President addresses this, if he does here at the White House. It is yet another world leader that is paying a visit
to the President, his first meeting with the Prime Minister here.
And, Jake, it should be underway here, their press conference, shortly. They have been meeting privately in the Oval Office for a little while now,
TAPPER: Jeff Zeleny, thanks. Please stay with us. I want to bring in my panel to talk about all of the developments. And, obviously, if we to get
new information from Paris, we will bring that to you immediately.
Let's start on the subject of terrorism, Mr. Kirby, just because I know that this has been a preoccupation of this President in particular. It was
one of the main arguments he had when campaigning for president, is that the government is not doing enough to protect you from terrorism.
Obviously, his immigration and travel ban and refugee ban is part of that. In terms of combatting terrorism in other ways, we have seen an attack, a
U.S. strike, on Syria, although that was against Assad forces, an attack in Afghanistan against ISIS. Is there any other substantive way that there
has been a change in U.S. counter terrorism policy?
REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY (RET.), FORMER SPOKESPERSON, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF STATE: I haven't seen anything substantive and tangible
change in terms of the way we're going after and combatting the terrorist fight. I mean, except that, with respect to Syria and the fight there
against ISIS, the White House has indicated that they'd be willing to maybe increase the number of American troops on the ground.
As you know, Jake, we have only got about 300 or so Special Operations Forces there, exploring the idea of maybe putting more of those advisers
and assisters on the ground. Other than that, I haven't really seen a major muscle movement change in terms of the way they're dealing with this.
But obviously, if this turns out to be a terrorist act, I mean, you know, who knows what that could propel in terms of differences.
TAPPER: And, Mary Katharine, I was speaking with a European official within the last week or so. And the term that this official used to
describe President Trump and his foreign policy was weathervane, and they just didn't know where he was going to be pointing on any specific day.
Two or three weeks ago, his posture, when it came to Syria, when it came to Russia seemed quite different than it does today. This seems like a
challenge for the people who are trying to implement the President's foreign policy and then the changes.
MARY KATHARINE HAM, SENIOR WRITER, THE FEDERALIST: Well, yes, I think it is. And he also seems to hand off speaking about it more recently to
McMasters and to Rex Tillerson, and to have them sort of take the front seat on this -- Nikki Haley also -- which I think many look at and go, OK,
well, I trust those people as actors.
But many Americans, I think, look to Donald Trump and said, there are many risks here, but I believe he sees problems clearly. And one of them was
the problem of terrorism. They felt like he was a guy who would approach foreign policy and say, well, at least, I do have this stick here. Enjoy
your carrot for the moment, but I do have a stick and I'm willing to use it.
And some of the tone changes, I think, are what people were looking for in that vein. But, yes, the weathervane part does become part of it and is
what is unpredictable but also worrying sometimes.
TAPPER: Jen Psaki, as somebody who worked both at the State Department and at the White House in the Obama administration, what are the difficulties
of working with allies when it comes to terrorism? Obviously, you would hope that everybody is on the same page. You would hope that everybody has
the same sense of purpose. But it is much easier said than done.
JEN PSAKI, FORMER SPOKESPERSON, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF STATE: That's true. And I think one of the biggest challenges the Trump administration
has is that they're not all singing from the same song sheet, and that becomes very difficult when you go to international meetings.
Donald Trump is headed out on his first trip in a couple of weeks. And I think a lot of allies and partners around the world are looking at the
comments of Tillerson and they're looking at the comments of Mattis, and they're slightly different. And then there's Nikki Haley and then there's
So there's a lack of clarity on what the United States' positioning is on the military force, on what our diplomatic plan is as it relates to next
steps in Syria, so I think --
RICHARD QUEST, CNN: 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.
[BEGIN "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS"]