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French Candidates Descend into Hostilities; Big Win But Not a Done Deal. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired May 5, 2017 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[00:01:24] ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: This is in CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.
Ahead this hour --
Insult and mockery -- France's presidential candidates descend into hostilities just days before the vote.
Trump care is the President's biggest win so far but his plan to overhaul the U.S. health care system isn't a done deal yet.
And "fake news" phone call -- Donald Trump clears the air with Australia's prime minister and blames the media for reports about their tense phone call.
Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Isha Sesay.
NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.
Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen -- one will make history Sunday as France's next president, the stakes are sky high. To put it in the simplest terms, Le Pen of the far right National Front wants France to turn inward, shut its borders and go its own way, preferably without the European Union.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARINE LE PEN, FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): I want to us emancipate and rediscover the Europe of free nations in cooperation. A Europe respectful of everybody's sovereignty and freedom and that allows progression on big common projects.
Yes, I will give you back your sovereignty, your power. And together we can build, rebuild a new European project.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Well, Macron on the other hand is a centrist who believes France should remain a vital player in the E.U. and the world. He's enjoyed a big lead over Le Pen in the polls but he cautioned his supporters Thursday not to take anything for granted.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): For around ten days now we have been bringing about this fight, the fight at the second round, which pits two programs against each other head to head.
The National Front's -- no, don't boo. Don't boo them. It won't help. Go combat them. Go defeat them. Go vote against them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Well, Macron and Le Pen have just 18 hours left until campaigning officially stops at midnight Friday, local time. French voters will have Saturday to think it over then cast their ballots on Sunday.
We get the very latest now from CNN's Cyril Vanier in Paris. And Cyril -- this has been a presidential race like no other.
CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: Absolutely Isha -- and good to be with you.
And I want to bring in somebody who really can tell us just how unique this he race has been -- Melissa Belle, our CNN Paris correspondent. She has spoken to the candidates. She has spoken to their supporters.
Melissa -- this has been an extraordinary race.
MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: Extraordinary from start to finish with twists and turns and favorites who were then thrown out of the race or found themselves back behind in the polls as a result of judicial troubles.
And then of course this extraordinary final stage that we're now entering where you have these two extraordinarily different visions facing off against one another and that sort of culminated on Wednesday night when the two of them faced each other for the first time directly alone on a stage with extraordinary results. I mean fireworks.
Here is a look back at where we are just ahead of the vote as we enter this last day of campaigning.
BELL: It was a victory of the pro-European, pro globalization agenda. As the world watched on the independent centrist celebrated a victory that few had initially imagined possible.
[00:04:57] Emmanuel Macron had run without an established party and with no experience of elected office. And he'd won the first round of France's presidential poll.
Immediately behind him the woman had who had believed she'd win, the far right's Marine Le Pen who nonetheless saw off (ph) nine other candidates with her anti-E.U., anti-globalization and anti-immigration platform Leaving a stark choice to France on Sunday between a continued openness to the wider world or a new withdrawal from it.
With that first round result the country's political lines were redrawn and the effect on the streets was immediate. Le Pen's second place was greeted by anti-fascist protests in Paris -- and a new strategy of reaching out beyond her core electorate ahead of the runoff.
On May 1st she delivered a speech that was an exact copy of one given just days before by her former rival, the mainstream Republican Francois Fillon.
Macron has a solid lead in the polls but he still needs to convince many of those on both the left and the right that his candidature is worried and deal with attacks on his marriage to a woman who's nearly 25 years his senior.
MACRON: I felt a huge fear in this country about the future of families. Am I an enemy of families because mine is different. I'm not ashamed of it.
BELL: On Wednesday, the two met face-to-face for one last time ahead of Sunday's vote only two weeks after the latest terror attacks, security was among their battle grounds.
LE PEN: We have to eradicate the ideology of Islamism in France and that is something which you wouldn't do because you are subjected to them.
MACRON: (inaudible) we have to strengthen the resources of police and we have to do it before the attacks are committed.
BELL: On Sunday France will choose between their two very different visions of the future with consequences that will reach far beyond the country's own borders.
VANIER: Melissa -- tell me about the two candidates. Let's start with Emmanuel Macron. How he's casting himself as an outsider. How much of an outsider, the new guy, is he really?
BELL: He is actually -- France tends to have political elites. As you know, Cyril, they tend to recycle themselves not over years but over decades. He really has come from nowhere.
And you'll remember that when he launched his improbably campaign everyone has said it cannot be done. You cannot become president of France without the benefit of an established party behind you and having never been elected to any office before.
He has done it. What the question now is, is how he is going to govern because either way this is going to be something of a political experiment for France.
CYRIL: If he wins. If he wins.
BELL: If he wins.
If Marine Le Pen wins, of course, there's going to be a sharp rupture with all that's been before, of course. And we're going to head down the road of populist, right-wing presidency.
If Emmanuel Macron wins, here is a man who has not just no parliamentary majority but no parliamentary anything. He's going to have to within a month manage to get as many MPs as he can (inaudible) if he has any hope of being able to govern. So either way, we are on the edge of something very different for France.
VANIER: Marine Le Pen wants to close the country. She wants to protect French people from the effects of globalization, the European Union -- all this stuff would have been considered backward here in France just 15, 20, 25 years ago. Why is it working today?
BELL: Perhaps they might have seen that in the United States just a few years ago as well. As perhaps the Brexit vote might have seemed completely impossible in the United Kingdom just a few years back, too.
There is this kind of populist wave that appears to be sweeping all before it -- will it come to France? This is what we've been asking ourselves for weeks. I've changed my mind almost every day, actually -- Cyril.
The question is now whether Emmanuel Macron perhaps is another version, another answer; that need for change without a populist face and whether he can do it on Sunday.
VANIER: Melissa Bell, our Paris correspondent has been following the whole campaign. Of course she'll be with us throughout the weekend.
And the world is watching as France prepares to elect this next president. U.S. President Donald Trump had expressed support for Marine Le Pen. His predecessor however, Barack Obama has chosen a different candidate and he has now endorsed, quite officially, Emmanuel Macron.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've always been grateful for the friendship of the French people.
I'm not planning to get involved in many elections now that I don't have to run for office again. But the French election is very important to the future of France and the values that we care so much about. Because of how important this election is I also want to you know that I am supporting Emmanuel Macron to lead you forward.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have President Barack Obama for you. Hold on one second.
MACRON: Thank you very much.
OBAMA: Hello. MACRON: Hello Mr. President. How are you?
OBAMA: Is that Emmanuel?
MACRON: Yes, exactly.
OBAMA: Well I'm doing very well. How are you? Can you hear me?
The main message I have is I'm going to wish you all the best in the coming days.
He appeals to people's hopes and not their fears.
[00:10:02] En Marche, vive la France.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: All right. For more on this on the French presidential race I'm joined by Eve Irvine. And she's got a unique perspective on this. She is a journalist with France 24 here in Paris, has been living here a long time.
You're Irish but you're also newly French. This is the first time you're voting in a French presidential election. And I should point out Eve is also European affairs editor at France 24. So you've got this European perspective.
What is different about the French political theater as compared to other countries?
EVE IRVINE, FRANCE 24: Well, in Ireland already we have a parliamentary system as opposed to a presidential system so I had to get used to that. And I think this particular election has been different to other presidential elections even in France in the past. I mean theatrics is all it's been about from the start, you know, with the scandals we had for certain candidates who are the favorites being knocked out.
I guess it's down to the -- also this French way of the two-round system and you know French colleagues and French people around me wanted to get past this message that in the first round you vote with your heart, in the second round you vote with your head which was all very new to me.
And even that changed over the weeks and months as we got closer to that Election Day. People saying well, hang on. In the first round that's normally what we do. This time you got to vote tactically.
And on the Friday, the final campaign day ahead of those elections all French eyes seem to be on these polling results to see what exactly effect their vote could have, you know, and who they could end up with in that second round which coming from a proportional representation system is all very new to me.
VANIER: Tell me your perspective on the campaign not just as a journalist but as a voter. Put on your voter hat. Do you feel -- you pay taxes here, you work here, you live here -- do you feel the campaign addressed your concerns?
IRVINE: Well, I think all the main concerns, all the topics brought on the table in terms of policies were the usual bread and butter issues that you see, you know, mirrored across the world in fact. It came down to the economy, you know, employment here a stubborn 10 percent. That seemed of concern to people. Employment rules, education, health -- so yes, all the different candidates did speak about that.
But I think in this campaign perhaps somewhat sadly, you know, a lot of attention went to the dramatics of it, the personalities of the various candidates.
VANIER: You're a European affairs editor. I assume that means -- in fact I know that means you have some love for the European Union. I think we can put it that way.
IRVINE: Especially as an Irish and French person with a Dutch husband living in Paris -- yes.
VANIER: So are you afraid?
IRVINE: I'm not really. I mean we've had the E.U. last year was brought to crisis point with the Brexit vote. I thought that would lead to an immediate shake-up of the E.U. It hasn't but that's possibly because of massive general elections. We had them in the Netherlands recently, now in France. In September we have them in Germany.
I have hope that perhaps it can still be the wakeup call. We'll have to see what happens on Sunday. If Marine Le Pen wins I have been speaking -- everybody in Brussels says that that actually will bring the end of E.U. because what the E.U. needs is an impetus of, not just somebody who is not anti-E.U. but they want someone very positive in favor of the E.U. to be elected in France because they say they need that core of France and Germany really coming out in favor of the reform of E.U., of overhauling the system, of bringing it back to people and making it more popular really in Europe.
VANIER: So you agree with this idea that if France were to somehow come out of the E.U. or have more limited participation in the political project of the E.U. it would be the beginning of the end of this?
IRVINE: Everybody I speak to in Brussels certainly believes so because France is not even like the U.K. It was a founding member. It is part of Schengen. It is part of the euro. It's seen, whether you like it or not, as one of the core countries. And there has always been this historic Franco-German partnership in the E.U. When they agree on things, things tend to move toward.
A lot of people still believe that this is needed. And given that the U.K. has voted to leave, of course, it hasn't yet actually done so. But people say that the French position is now even more important.
You know it's the E.U.'s second largest economy in terms of security after the U.K. leaves. It's the only on the U.N. Security Council. It's the largest in terms of defense. If we don't have a strong France, people say the E.U. really is starting to struggle.
VANIER: More on Marine Le Pen. There's something specific, I think our international viewers probably don't -- can't understand or guess when they're outside of France which is Marine Le Pen here is often accused of being, in French terms, un-republican. She is counter to the values of the republic. That's what her rivals, her political adversaries tend to say.
She's not just a normal candidate. She is an enemy of the country. That's how they portray her. Do you get that? And is that true?
IRVINE: Well, I think you're hearing that more and more even since the first round. And that's also something that this two-round system in France has always led to, you know.
[00:14:58] Now there is a motion under way, if you like, from all the other parties that aren't in National Front to stop the National Front being elected because she does lash out at all the political parties, at the system in place. So, I think it's quite understandable that, you know, they're going to react in kind.
VANIER: All right. Eve Irvine, joining us from France 24 -- thank you very much.
Let's bring it back to my colleague, Isha Sesay in Los Angeles. We'll be covering this throughout morning. Isha -- we'll speak to you later. Thank you.
SESAY: Cyril -- appreciate it. Thank you. Great conversation there.
And a quick programming CNN note: join us Friday for "CNN TALK" hosted by our own Max Foster, 30 minutes of live and topical debate featuring some of the U.K.'s sharpest talkers.
"CNN TALK" tackles the topic that matter to you. What is Brexit going to look like? Will Trump change the world? And is Europe going to survive?
You can also get involved. It will be streamed live on facebook.com/CNNI. That's Friday at noon U.K. time.
All right. Time for a quick break now.
And President Trump cheers the end of Obamacare but the battle over health care reform is not done yet. How the U.S. Senate could change the conversation, up next.
Plus Mr. Trump takes another shot at the news media accusing reporters of exaggerating a tense phone call he'd had with Australia's leader. Details coming up.
SESAY: A defining moment for the White House and the first major legislative victory of President Donald Trump.
Well, House Republicans narrowly passed the bill that would bring sweeping changes to the U.S. health care system by a vote of 217 to 213. The measure wipes out much of former President Obama's signature health care law and answer the key campaign pledge made by Mr. Trump. The President, well, he took a victory lap in the White House rose garden with a visibly-relieved Speaker of the House standing behind him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We suffered with Obamacare. I went through two years of campaigning. And I'm telling you, no matter where I went people were suffering so badly with the ravages of Obamacare.
This is a great plan. I actually think it will get even better. And this is, make no mistake, this is a repeal and a replace of Obamacare. Make no mistake about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Some very relieved folks there. Robin Swanson is the spokeswoman for the California Democrat Party and John Phillips is a CNN political commentator, talk radio host and a Trump supporter. Welcome to you both.
John -- first, there is no doubt that the House passing this health care bill was a much needed win for the President. It's a big political win but is it a policy win?
[00:20:01] JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's definitely a shot in the arm for him. And I'm of two minds when they it comes to the bill they passed today. First, Obamacare was a complete disaster and I think that most people across the political spectrum acknowledge that. Bill Clinton did on the campaign trail. Certainly Donald Trump talked about it at length.
There is a thousand counties in the country where they only have one option. There are five states in the country where there is only one option major fixes needed to be changed. And this pushes it in the right direction.
The problem I have with what they did is that it still kind of buys into the Democrat Party narrative that the government should be responsible for the nuts and bolts of your health care. And I think that they would have been better off pushing it in a more free market sort of way. That didn't happen today so it's a half a loaf.
SESAY: Robin -- before you answer, let me just say this, John, in response to you saying it's complete failure. Poll after poll since beginning of this year show that the majority of Americans like the Obamacare.
PHILLIPS: The most recent Gallup poll said that a plurality of Americans believe that Obamacare has impacted their lives negatively. ROBIN SWANSON, CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATIC PARTY SPOKESWOMAN: Obamacare is
much more popular than our President Donald Trump -- to start there. But yes, I think Donald Trump took a very premature victory lap for a bill that hasn't even been introduced in the Senate yet. So he took a lap after, you know, it got the vote in the House, but it -- it squeaked by. And you know the -- I think it was in poor tease what they did in the rose garden today because 24 million people could lose their health care.
Now it hasn't even been scored by the Congressional Budget Office, we know tut the fact that so many people are going to be losing their health care and they're having a victory lap was I think a slap in the face to the people who are losing their health care.
SESAY: Well, the President said this is a great plan as we know; he said that repeatedly. But I mean his comments about it being a great plan take on a slightly different complexion when you marry it up with what he said when he met with the Australian prime minister.
Take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Premiums are going to come down very substantially. The deductibles are going to come down. It's going to be a fantastic health care. Right now Obamacare is failing. We have a failing healthcare -- I shouldn't say this to our great gentleman and my friend from Australia because you have better health care than we do. We're going to have great health care very soon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Ok. John -- does he know the Australian health care system? Does he? You have at it.
PHILLIPS: He was going to where the love was saying kind things about the guy sitting next to him. That's our president. He's a wheeler and a dealer and a businessman and a salesmen and was being polite.
SWANSON: Some people would say whichever way the wind blows is the way he goes, I think.
You know, and the other thing that is reminiscent of, you know, remember George Bush when he had his mission accomplished on the Iraq war, I think. You know, Donald Trump is all about the pomp and circumstance, and the smoke and mirrors. And you know mission accomplished with -- because he got one victory. And I think he has just been slow to get any victories. So he had to really have a ticker tape parade today.
SESAY: Well, I mean John -- you've got to admit there is a certain irony to the manner in which this bill was passed by the Republicans.
If you wonder what I'm speaking to exactly, take a listen to what the President said at that rally in Kentucky a couple of months ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Back in 2009 and 2010 House and Senate Democrats forced through a 2,700 page health care bill that no one read and no one understood.
They ignored the public. They ignored the voters. And they jammed a massive, failed health care takeover right through Congress.
SESAY: John, Democrats say that's exactly what Republicans have done.
PHILLIPS: Yes, I don't like the process. I don't like how it happened. The sausage gets made in a really ugly way and we saw that happen with Obamacare. We saw that happen here.
But in the same breath you look at the CBO numbers that we got from the Obamacare bill -- they were wildly off. Those numbers weren't even close to accurate. So a lot of these criticisms say well, we need to wait and see what the CBO has to say about this. Well, what's to say those numbers are going to be anymore accurate this time than they were the last time.
I think the criticism of the CBO scoring the bill is one thing. The other criticism is folks hadn't read the bill. I mean I think that's the other criticism separate to the CBO numbers. I mean --
PHILLIPS: That's a problem.
SESAY: That is a problem many, many admit to. I mean Robin -- take a listen so to what Congressman Collins said to our own Wolf Blitzer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Did you actually sit down and read the entire bill plus all of the amendments?
REP. CHRIS COLLINS (R), NEW YORK: I will fully admit, Wolf, I did not but I can also assure you my staff did. We have to rely on our staff. I had many meetings within Energy and Commerce, with the chairmen of Energy and Commerce as we discussed how this plan will affect Americans. I'm very comfortable that we've got a solution to the disaster called Obamacare.
[00:25:00] And I can probably tell you that I read every word and I wouldn't be telling you the truth nor would any other member. We rely on our staff and we rely on our committees. And I'm comfortable that I understand this bill in its entirety.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: First of all, he is throwing everyone under the bus by saying none of them read the bill.
But on a more serious note, Robin -- what does this say about the process that some members of the House -- I'm going to leave it out there that others did -- but some didn't read the bill and the CBO did not score this.
SWANSON: I'm going to say almost all of them did not read the bill. And I think that's a really sad answer and it actually goes against everything that Paul Ryan spoke about when he was talking about Obamacare and how they hadn't read the bill for the Affordable Care Act and hadn't had the opportunity and hadn't been scored.
And so, you know, when the tables are turned everybody becomes the hypocrite. So I think that's a big problem for them. And I think the American people didn't elect staff. They elected their member of Congress and they expect their member of the Congress to be responsible for that.
And I will say that the United States Senate they are going to have to vote on the bill after the CBO scores it. And I think they're going to have a different noose to wear around their neck as soon as they have new numbers that they're going to have to deal with.
SESAY: What about that point about the Senate?
PHILLIPS: It makes it me hearken back to Nancy Pelosi when she said we'll pass the bill to find out what's in the bill.
SWANSON: We paid for that.
SESAY: She said that. She did, yes.
PHILLIPS: Unfortunately -- and this is why, I think it's still way too complicated. And the bill is not finalized yet. It's going to the Senate. They're going to change things all around. I'd like to see something much more simplified, much more free-market oriented. And let's push things away from this notion that health care is a right for all.
SESAY: Going back to your point that the Senate is going to change it radically, does that kind of bring us back to the point that it was too early to take a victory lap.
PHILLIPS: Well, it's a victory in the house. And he just had his 100 day mark and you saw the media coverage. You saw what the newspapers were saying. They were bludgeoning him for not getting it through the first time in the House. Well, he got it through and he is enjoying himself. The guy doesn't drink, so this is how he celebrates.
SWANSON: Richie Rich wants a participation trophy. That's all that was.
SESAY: He does like Australian system better though.
John, Robin -- we appreciate it. Round two next hour.
SWANSON: Thank you.
PHILLIPS: Thank you.
SESAY: Thank you. All right. Well, still to come here President Trump uses an event saluting the military to take another shot at the news media. This time, he's accusing reporters of exaggerating an exchange with Australia's leader. Details, straight ahead.
[00:30:54] SESAY: Hello, everyone. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles, I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour.
France's presidential election is coming right down to the wire. The two candidates Marine Le Pen of the far right National Front and former economy minister Emmanuel Macron are in their final day of campaigning.
Sunday's election is basically a referendum on whether France should stay in the European Union. Macron wants France to remain in the EU. Le Pen does not.
President Trump is predicting smooth sailing for the Republican Healthcare Bill in the U.S. Senate. The House narrowly pass the controversial bill, Thursday. It is the first step in fulfilling his campaign promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.
But President Trump also signed an executive order to, quote, "vigorously promote religious liberty." The effects of the order aren't exactly clear. It directs the internal revenue service not to take adverse action against religious organization which participates in political activity.
Now U.S. President Trump was in New York when he met earlier with Australian Prime Malcolm Turnbull. Mr. Trump used the meeting to down play reports of a testy phone call between the two in January as quote, "a big exaggeration."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You know they said we had a rough phone call. We really didn't have a rough phone call, did we? Everybody was talking about this phone call. The media was saying, what do you think about the phone call? You didn't really hang up? No, we had actually a very nice call, right?
Good. Now the record is straight. We had a very nice -- though, it got a little testy, got a little bit testy, but that's OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESAY: Well, the leaders also attended a gala commemorating the World War II Battle of Coral Sea. During that event they paid tribute to the U.S. and Australian men and women who served in that battle against Japan. And the leaders reaffirmed the ongoing strong partnership between their two countries.
Well, CNN's Anna Coren joins us with more now from Hong Kong. Anna, good to see you. The relationship between President Trump and Prime Minister Turnbull may have gotten off to a rocky start earlier in the year, but judging by the smiles and the glowing praise during Thursday's meeting, these two now have a budding bromance.
ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The blossoming of a beautiful thing, Isha. I think that's fair to say. Definite mutual admiration. And as you say reaffirming that commitment between Australia and the United States, which as we know dates back pre-World War II.
A definite turn around from that testy exchange which President Trump made reference to there which took place just over three months ago. It was their first phone call in which Prime Minister Turnbull wanted Donald Trump to honor the refugee deal that he had made with his predecessor Barack Obama, for the United States to take in 1250 refugees.
At the time President Trump described that phone call as among the worse that he had of all the foreign leaders. And later he tweeted about that refugee deal as being dumb.
But as it would appear things have been ironed out. And obviously things have been taking place behind the scenes to make sure that that refugee deal will be honored. Obviously severe vetting of the 1250 refugees.
But as we can see from this dinner, they had a bilateral earlier where they both talked about that phone call and President Trump made reference to it being a great call. Yes, perhaps a little testy. In that bilateral, it was put down to the media, beating it up and that, surprise, surprise, it was fake news.
But certainly things seem a lot smoother, a lot happier and really they've committed to that very strong alliance between the two countries.
SESAY: And to that point all the smiles and the mutual admiration, how is all that going to play back home in Australia where there were some say that, you know, they wanted to see Malcolm Turnbull, you know, stand up somewhat to President Trump. You know, they wanted to see him take a kind of muscular approach especially after the narrative surrounding that call.
COREN: Well, look, I think the fact that he was able to get Donald Trump to honor that agreement in itself showed that Malcolm Turnbull is not a pushover.
I mean, these men, they both businessman. They both had a very big life before politics -- entering politics. So they share a similar background, both very wealth. So I don't think you are going to ever see Malcolm Turnbull take a back step.
[00:35:00] But I think when he had his first face-to-face meeting with Donald Trump that was certainly put aside. And it was about that relationship. It was about that bond. You are talking about two countries that fought side by side. They were there to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea. That was when America came to Australia's aid in stopping the invasion of the Japanese.
And even today, you know, Australia is fighting alongside the Americans in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. They have done so in Vietnam and Korea. So it's not just that military alliance. It's that security and intelligence alliance. There are thousands of U.S. marines based in Darwin in the northern territory. So this is a very important relationship and whilst that phone call certainly created shock waves in Australia at the time and they thought perhaps there was going to be some serious damage done to the alliance that did not play out because at the end of the day this is a bond, a relationship that is much bigger than the leaders.
SESAY: Well, there was no fireworks but there was plenty of love.
Anna Coren, thank you so much from Hong Kong. Anna, thank you.
COREN: Thank you.
SESAY: Quick break now. And coming up, North Korea trades jabs with a key trading partner. We'll go live to Beijing for the insult in China's reaction.
Plus, the chaos in Venezuela takes more life. The latest on the worsening crisis there. Stay with us.
SESAY: Well, the death toll in Venezuela's recent unrest has risen to 35. More than 700 others injured in April and May. New clashes seem to break out every day in the capital of Caracas and Thursday was no different. Students marched against President Nicolas Maduro.
Meanwhile, jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez appeared in a proof of life video. The government released the footage to dispel rumors that he had been hospitalized.
North Korea, the hermit kingdom is antagonizing its main ally. State media has accused China of inflaming tensions on the Korean Peninsula saying it crossed the red line by criticizing the northeast nuclear program. Pyongyang's message, "Our nuclear program is more precious to us than a friendship with Beijing."
Matt Rivers is live in the Chinese capital and joins us now.
First off, Matt, how rare is it for North Korea to publicly criticize China, it's largest trading partner and main benefactor.
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's very rare, Isha. In fact as far as we can tell, this is the first time in recent memory that Pyongyang and the state media there have actually used -- called China out by name with this kind of level of criticism.
We have seen it recently, a couple of different commentaries that didn't specifically name China but just talked about countries that it wasn't happy with with their specific policies. But this commentary really is quite scathing when talking about China saying things like, China is, quote, "dancing to the tune of the U.S."
And the fact that Chinese policies in the minds of North Korean leadership is actually emboldening the U.S. To further raise tensions on the Korean Peninsula as North Korean state media put it.
So simply put Isha, this is very rare. You don't usually see this from the North Koreans. But it's just a further example of the strained relationship that really has existed between North Korea and China since Kim Jong-un took power five years ago.
SESAY: You know, well, the obvious next yes is, has there been a public response from Beijing?
RIVERS: Well, China has two ways of responding to these sorts of things. Publicly they'll go through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the spokesman yesterday here in Beijing did not take the bait. He completely ignored the commentary and just said the standard line about how Chinese wants to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula and create lasting piece. Something we hear from all the time.
But we did see an editorial from a state sanction tabloid newspaper here called "The Global Times." They basically said that the editorial was nothing more than a, quote, "hyperaggressive piece" completely filled with nationalistic passion.
So there is a little bit of a tit-for-tat going on in state media here, but officially the Chinese government really didn't take the bait.
SESAY: I got to ask you how much these comments by Pyongyang as rare as they are undermined this notion certainly that the U.S. has that China could really rein in North Korea and its nuclear ambitions? Does this change that calculus?
RIVERS: On the one hand, there is no doubt that there is really not a lot of love lost right now between Chinese and North Korean leadership. I mean, look no further than the fact that Xi Jinping, the president of China, has never met with Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea.
But that said the notion that China can't use economic leverage to influence Pyongyang is something that I think still really exists. I mean, if you look at the first quarter of 2017 total bilateral trade volume between the two countries was up nearly 40 percent year over year.
So China still wields a lot of economic influence. They still are engaging very much economically speaking. So China still has a lot it could be doing to rein in the North Korean nuclear program if they so chose. SESAY: Matt Rivers joining us there from Beijing. We appreciate it. Matt, thank you as always.
Well, if you're a fan of The Eagles you know "Hotel California" is one of the band's most famous songs.
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(HOTEL CALIFORNIA SONG PLAYING)
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SESAY: Well, now The Eagle are accusing a hotel in Mexico of cashing in on the song's popularity. The band has filed a lawsuit accusing a hotel in Baja, California of encouraging guest the belief that it's associated with the band in a bid to sell merchandise.
The suit alleges that the hotel pipes in "Hotel California" and other Eagle songs through its sound system and sell T-shirts that refer to the hotel as legendary.
We'll see what happens next on that one.
Well, thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay. "World Sport" is up next. Then I'll be back with another hour of news from right around the world, you're watching CNN.