Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

France Elects New President; Kidnapped Chibok Girls Back Home Again; Three and Counting: Americans Held in North Korea. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired May 8, 2017 - 03:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[03:00:00] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: A rock concert-like celebration as Emmanuel Macron officially becomes President-elect of France. And we will go live to Paris for complete coverage of this historic election.

Plus, what a Macron victory in France means for the victory of the European Union.

And North Korea says it has detained a fourth U.S. citizen. A live report from Seoul, still to come.

Hello and welcome to our viewers here in the United States and of course all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church here at CNN headquarters in Atlanta. And this is CNN NEWSROOM.

France has chosen a new president, Emmanuel Macron, and his centrist call for change in the country. The political novice defeated his far right opponent, Marine Le Pen, in Sunday's election.

So let's bring in CNN's Cyril Vanier. He joins me live from Paris. Cyril, great to see you. And of course with the election over there are still many challenges ahead. Next month's parliamentary elections will be key, won't they?

CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: Absolutely. And Rosemary, it is great to be with you this morning live from central Paris. It's 9 o'clock French time. France is very slowly waking up today. It's a Labor Day holiday. So most people probably lying in, and they will be waking up to this new political reality that is still shaping up.

And you're absolutely right, Rosemary, to point out the importance of the parliamentary election. So we're going to bring you multiple angles to cover this story, the European angle, the French angle.

Emmanuel Macron who celebrated his decisive victory with a promise to unite France. There was a lot of excitement outside The Louvre on Sunday night, where supporters waited to hear the president-elect's victory speech. Emmanuel Macron talked about healing the country's divisions and his unlikely path to the Elysee Palace.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT-ELECT (through translator): What we have done for months and months now has no precedent, no equivalence. (TECHNICAL PROBLEM)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[03:05:00] (TECHNICAL PROBLEM)

(TECHNICAL PROBLEM)

VANIER: He praised Emmanuel Macron. This is what it says. "Congratulations to Emmanuel Macron and his big win today as the next president of France. I look very much forward to working with him."

Mr. Trump's rival in the 2016 U.S. election Hillary Clinton tweeted this. "Victory for Macron, for France, the E.U., and the world. Defeat to those interfering with democracy."

As for British Prime Minister Theresa May, she also congratulated Mr. Macron and the two spokes by phone. Her office says topics like Brexit and NATO were discussed.

Well, for more on Mr. Macron's victory, what it means for the E.U., I'm joined by Ryan Heath, senior E.U. correspondent with Politico. He's currently in Brussels. Ryan, thank you for coming on the show.

RYAN HEATH, SENIOR E.U. CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: Good morning.

VANIER: The first question, there was a lot of hand wringing across Europe because of the idea that if Marine Le Pen had come to power it could be the beginning of the end of the E.U., the European Union as a political project might unravel. That did not come to pass. What do you think is the reaction?

HEATH: Well, last night was really a combination of people feeling they'd survived a near-death experience. That's what it came down to. If Marine Le Pen had won it would be very, very hard to hold the E.U. together in any shape that we recognize. And of course everyone loves a winner. So everyone who considers themselves part of the political center wants to be on the coattails of Macron.

And then of course there's the genuine political sense that there is some new hope and reinvigoration in the European project. So everybody was reaching for words like reinvigoration, moving forward together, and of course Emmanuel Macron, he's got his victory now, but he's got precisely zero seats in the parliament as you were just saying a few minutes ago. So he's got a lot of work to do. It's really just the easy part that's over now.

VANIER: But he campaigned on being staunchly pro-E.U. Do you think it's going to be a renaissance for the European Union or is it just going to be business as usual?

HEATH: Well, it opens up a new playbook for other leaders. What he's done is teach them that you can embrace the E.U. and it's not electoral death. I think that the media sometimes and I know that my friends and my colleagues in Brussels can be guilty of it as well.

It's very hard to focus on one or two narratives at the time. And one of those narratives in recent months has been that the populace has the momentum, that the E.U. is always on the back foot. And Emmanuel Macron reset that whole sense of how the E.U. can be discussed and how you can talk about your ability to relate upwards as well as downwards in politics.

So that doesn't mean everyone is going to take the same cue. I can also say that Theresa May is certainly one of the losers out of yesterday's election. She was going to face difficulties no matter what happens because right now she's dealing with a weak Francois Hollande and the French have always said they'd be the toughest negotiators on Brexit.

So it's going to be a bit more difficult for her but at the same time everyone else now has some new opportunities to be friendly to the E.U.

VANIER: But do you think there's a domino effect after Mr. Macron's victory? In other words, the victory of a progressive centrist candidate here in France, do you think that makes the victory of progressives and centrists more likely in forthcoming E.U. elections in other countries?

HEATH: It makes it more possible. Germany's a bit of a different kettle of fish. Germany has two pro-E.U. candidates and it's just very clear that one of them is going to win regardless of what happened in France last night.

But you can imagine now, for example, a new motor for Europe. Angela Merkel can come a bit out of her shell. She doesn't have to be constrained by all of her domestic political opponents. Martin Schultz, who's running against her for the German chancellery, he's a former president of the European parliament.

So, he and Macron could really be a duo that sets about reforming the E.U., maybe rewriting its Constitution, and completing some of that Eurozone government that has really held the single currency from operating -- held it back from operating effectively.

So yes, I do think there are new opportunities now but nothing is set in stone. People like Marine Le Pen can go out and still be the biggest force in parliament in a months' time. So Emmanuel Macron is going to have to finish off his work at home and then he's going to have to turn to Brussels and try to build some new coalitions, try and build a new movement that says the E.U. doesn't have to operate in that old two-party system.

VANIER: All right. Ryan Heath reporting from Brussels. Thank you very much. That's for the European angle.

[03:09:57] Now I want to bring you up to speed on the political conversation here if France because as soon as we found out the results of the presidential election people started thinking about what's going to happen next month. They're calling it a third round of the presidential election, and that's the parliamentary election.

We're going to talk about that with Nicholas Vinocur, political reporter here in France. Every political party here in France is essentially having to reinvent itself.

NICK VINOCUR, POLITICS REPORTER, POLITICO: Absolutely. And I think the biggest questions are for the National Front party, which fought really hard in this election and came up short despite having equal speaking time and having fairly favorable conditions.

So they're going through a lot of soul searching starting today. They're going to have to reconfigure quite extensively if they want a chance in these legislative elections. And they've given us a few hints already about what they might have done wrong and what they might change in order to have a wider appeal in French society.

And one of the big questions for them is do they continue to be so Euro-skeptic. Do they continue to propose a withdrawal from the European Union, one of the most unpopular proposals, and today we've got senior national front officials saying, well, it's time to reevaluate these things. We've also got a lost questions on...

(CROSSTALK)

VANIER: So the far right populists are now thinking how do we reinvent ourselves, how do we redefine our political offer?

VINOCUR: Absolutely. I think that is sort of the diagnosis that cannot be avoided today and over the next few weeks. We've seen Marine Le Pen say the party needs to go -- to undergo a profound transformation.

We've had Fillon people saying that it might change its name, it probably will change its name to get rid of some of the stigma and propose a wider conservative plan now. And there's also going to be personnel questions. Who's responsible for this defeat?

VANIER: Yes.

VINOCUR: Who was responsible for the Euro position? And who was responsible for Marine Le Pen's debate performance? Those are questions they're going to deal with today and in the next weeks.

VANIER: Tough questions for the far right. But I would say even tougher questions for the President-elect, Emmanuel Macron. He launched a movement a year ago En Marche. He's yet to prove that that movement can become a political party.

VINOCUR: Absolutely. Well, I mean, he did prove it to some extent by winning...

(CROSSTALK)

VANIER: I mean, yes, he's president-elect, but now he needs a majority in parliament. VINOCUR: Absolutely. This is a massive challenge. There's a great

deal of hope built into Macron's victory that he can actually reform and he can do what Hollande was unable to do, which is stimulate this economy back into job creation and back into growth.

But in order to do that he's going to need all the political levers. And that means a majority in parliament.

Now, we have polls today which show us that Macron would place first in the parliamentary elections but he would be short of an absolute majority. And in the French system you want full control over parliament and this means that Macron is probably going to have to deal with other parties, most likely the conservatives, in order to get his agenda through.

VANIER: Because if you don't have full control then you need some kind of coalition or you need to -- you need to reach out to other parties.

VINOCUR: Absolutely. It can be just a few seats, a few supporters on the other side. Or it can be one of the opposition parties can win such a big number of seats in the election that Macron has to nominate a prime minister from their party and then he'll really have to give in to their agenda. And that's what we're going to see just now.

But Macron is playing his cards very carefully. He's not announcing a prime minister. He's waiting a week to see how things shake out and see where the political momentum lies, and then he's going to tell us his plan for the parliamentary elections.

VANIER: Yes. Nicholas Vinocur, political reporter here in France. Thank you so much for joining us here on the show.

And Rosemary, he said something absolutely key, Nicholas, just a second ago, that you can have here in France a president that's from one political party who can end up with a president or with a prime minister from another political party. The French word for it is co- habitation. And it is dreaded by all because it usually is a recipe for basically no change happening over a prolonged period of time. Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes. The country is divided enough it doesn't need more problems for so many challenges ahead. Cyril, we will come back to you in just a moment. Many thanks.

And coming up, after weeks of threats and war games, North Korea says it has detained another U.S. citizen. What he's accused of. That's still to come.

Plus, after three years in captivity dozens of Chibok school girls are returning home. A live report from Nigeria coming up in just a moment.

[03:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(WORLD SPORTS)

CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, North Korea says it's detained another U.S. citizen. State media report Kim Hak-song, seen here on the left, is suspected of hostile acts against the regime.

I want to bring in CNN's Paula Hancocks for more on this. She's following the story live for us in Seoul, South Korea. So Paula, what more are we learning about the circumstances surrounding the detention of Kim Hak-song and what's he been accused of doing?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rosemary, what we've heard from the North Korean regime through the state-run media, KCNA is he was detained on Saturday. They say that he had carried out hostile acts against the regime, which is pretty much a standard charge that we hear when Americans are detained in North Korea.

No details of the exact accusations the allegations against him. We have spoken to a couple of his friends, though. They say that he is an ethnic Korean born in China, then moved to the U.S. in the '90s. And actually studied agriculture and so had been going to North Korea for the past couple of years to try and help them with agricultural technology.

His friends say he was trying to help them with food and security and cared about North Korea and wanted to do something right. But of course at this point we don't know from the regime exactly what they believe he has done, but we do know that they said the investigation is ongoing. Rosemary?

CHURCH: Right. And to another issue, South Korea of course will be holding its presidential elections Tuesday. What's the likely outcome, and what issues are dominating the election campaign there?

[03:20:06] HANCOCKS: Well, certainly North Korea is going to be a consideration when you -- when you look at the South Korean election. Although it has played much higher outside of South Korea than within. For many South Koreas -- South Koreans it is an issue that is constant, it's an issue that is fairly distant.

Many people are looking more towards the economy, job creation, welfare, and of course corruption, considering this snap election has been called because of a massive corruption scandal. But at this point there is one very clear front-runner.

Pure excitement at seeing the presidential front-runner. Moon Jae-in has dedicated supporters old and young and he's enjoying a significant lead in the polls.

His policy on North Korea, though, has voters split. A liberal candidate, Moon is pro-engagement. He supports dialogue with Pyongyang, even organizing the last North-South summit in 2007.

A group of North Korean defectors last week claimed 3,000 of them would leave South Korea and seek asylum elsewhere if Moon wins. Defectors traditionally vote conservative for a more hard-line approach to the regime they fled.

But also some rare defector support for Moon. The feeling here is that he's the only one who can prevent a future war on the Peninsula.

"Our parents, brothers and sisters are all in North Korea," says this former member of the elite. the second we carry a rifle to defend South Korea we'll be pointing a weapon towards them. Moon declined repeated requests for a television interview but tried to fight criticism he's too soft on North Korea in a televised address.

"I will not tolerate any military provocation from North Korea," he says. "Through crisis management and a solid alliance with the U.S. I will stop the war from happening."

Moon lost in the last presidential race to former President Park Geun- hye. Park has been impreached and imprisoned currently on trial for extortion and bribery. She denies all charges against her. But Moon is assumed to have picked up support for being the opposite of her in policy and in personality.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL BREEN, "THE KOREANS" AUTHOR: He stood very clearly against her. So, one big reason to his support is that he's not her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANCOCKS: Former businessman Ahn Cheol-soo also supports negotiations with Pyongyang, even highlighting the fact he went to the same business school as U.S. President Donald Trump as a way of connecting with the country's main ally.

Hong Joon-pyo, the conservative candidate from Park's former party suffered a political body blow from her impeachment and holds a harder line against Pyongyang.

Thirteen candidates in all vying for the top job. The result expected overnight Tuesday.

So unless the polls have been horribly wrong, and certainly that's happened elsewhere in the world, Moon Jae-in does look likely to be the next leader to deal with the North Korean issue. Rosemary?

CHURCH: All right. Thank you so much. Paula Hancocks keeping an eye on a number of developments there, joining us from Seoul in South Korea, where it is just after 4.20 in the afternoon. Many thanks.

Well, Nigeria is welcoming home dozens of the missing Chibok schoolgirls. Eighty two of them met with President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday after being released through a negotiated exchange with the terrorist group Boko Haram. They're believed to be among the 276 girls kidnapped from their school back in 2014.

And CNN producer Stephanie Busari joins us now live from Abuja with the very latest on this. So Stephanie, bittersweet news of course. So wonderful for the families of these released girls but difficult for the parents who were not able to welcome home their daughters. Talk to us about how this release was negotiated and how likely or possible it is that the remaining girls will also be released at some future date. STEPHANIE BUSARI, CNN PRODUCER: Yes. Good morning, Rosemary.

Bittersweet, as you say. But there is a feeling of euphoria here that these 82 girls have been released because frankly, it is a day many thought would never come after three years in Boko Haram captivity.

We do know that five top Boko Haram commanders were exchanged for the release of these girls, and earlier I spoke to one of the Nigerian senators involved in talks, in these negotiation talks, and he explained that these talks were designed to happen in three phases. We saw the first batch released in October last year, 21 girls. That was designed to build trust between the insurgents and the Nigerian government.

[03:25:02] And now we've seen the second batch. And we understand that as early as next week that talks will continue to free the remaining 113 girls, who are still being held, Rosemary.

CHURCH: And Stephanie, how important has the social media hash tag bring back our girls been in this long fight to bring these girls home and keep their story in the news?

BUSARI: Absolutely crucial, Rosemary, I think, because in the initial days there was a lot of confusion around the girls. There wasn't much news about them. But this hash tag really kick started a worldwide movement.

You know, we saw Michelle Obama holding up the sign, Melania and many other kind of global leaders were got involved. Simply because this hash tag just went viral around the world. But of course the headlines went away but there was -- the protest movement here who formed the bring back our girls group, who really helped apply pressure to ensure that the Chibok girls were never forgotten. So really thanks to them for keeping this issue alive for the past three years.

CHURCH: And Stephanie, I do want to ask you about the Nigerian president who's been ill for some time now. We know he's gone to London for medical treatment. What do you know about his health issues?

BUSARI: Frankly, Rosemary, we don't know very much because his illness remains undisclosed. We don't know how serious the nature of the illness is. He did spend two months away at the start of the year in London and came back and two months later he departed last night after meeting the Chibok girls to seek further medical treatment.

There is -- there is a growing sense of frustration here, though, and people would like to know exactly what is going on with his illness. Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes. Totally understandable. Stephanie Busari, joining us from Abuja where it is nearly 8.30 in the morning. Many thanks to you.

His campaign message was pro-business and now that Emmanuel Macron has won the French presidency we will take a closer look at what that means for the financial world. We'll also look at the potential impact of Macron's victory on the European Union. And whether Macron can unite France after one of the most divisive election campaigns in the nation's history.

We're back in a moment.

[03:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHURCH: And a warm welcome back to our viewers here in the United States, and of course, all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church.

Time to update you now on the main stories we've been following this hour.

The wife of Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez confirms her husband is alive and well. Lillian Tintori visited her husband in prison on Sunday after being denied access to him for more than a month. Rumors have swirled over Lopez's health and his supporters have held protests and vigils outside the prison.

ISIS may have been dealt a major blow in Afghanistan. U.S. and Afghan officials say the terror group's leader there died in an April raid. The Pentagon says he was killed in eastern Afghanistan after a firefight with U.S. Army rangers and Afghan commandos.

Eighty two of Nigeria's missing Chibok schoolgirls met with President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday after being released through a negotiated exchange with the terrorist group Boko Haram. They're believed to be from the group of 276 girls kidnapped from their school back in 2014. More than 100 girls are still thought to be held by the terrorists.

Well back now to the French presidential election. And it was a decisive outcome between the two remaining candidates, who ran on very different platforms. The winner, centrist Emmanuel Macron, favors globalization and the European Union.

The far right's Marine Le Pen campaigned on a promise to halt immigration and to take France out of the European Union.

Our Nina Dos Santos joins us now from London with more on the business implications of Macron's election. So Nina, what's been the reaction on European markets to Emmanuel Macron's big win?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPPONDENT: Well, they've had about 32 minutes to digest the news, and frankly it's been a rather muted reaction. If you take a look at, this Rosemary, you can see the markets, some of them slipped below the flat line. And in fact what we've seen is markets like the CAC 40 over there in Paris are down to the tune of half of 1 percent leading those decline across the rest of the European region.

The reason for this is because remember that this was always going to be a two-stage voting process and a lot of the gains that we saw when Emmanuel Macron won the first round of the election have now priced in the fact that he was already going to clinch the second round which is what we saw happen overnight.

And that's probably one of the reasons why the markets taking it from here and saying, well, look, let's see how things fare in the legislative elections where we have all the M.P.'s are going to be voted. Can he cobble together a majority to get through these ambitious plans that he wants?

And this brings me to the single currency, the euro, against the U.S. dollar. If we have a look at that, that's where the reaction overnight, excuse me, was the most pronounced. We saw the euro spiking to a six-month high against the U.S. dollar after the exit polls showed that Macron had won.

But as you can see, it's now slipped down a little bit. It's just down about .2 of 1 percent. And on the whole Macron's win is good for the single currency and good for the cohesion of Europe. But the big question is can he really rejig the second biggest economy as ambitiously as he wants to? Rosemary?

CHURCH: Yes, everyone watching very closely to see what happens there. Our Nina Dos Santos joining us from London just after 8.30 in the morning. Many thanks. So how will Emmanuel Macron's victory affect the European Union?

Let's go back to my colleague, Cyril Vanier, in Paris for some answers on that very issue. Cyril.

VANIER: Rosemary, Emmanuel Macron's win without a doubt is a huge relief for the European Union and we'll be getting reactions from Brussels in just a second.

But first I'd like to bring you up to speed on something else that also matters. In his victory speech Macron said he understands the anxiety and anger that some voters have been feeling, and he directly reached out to Marine Le Pen's supporters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MACRON (through translator): And I also want to say a word for those who voted today for Madam Le Pen -- no, don't boo. They expressed -- they expressed today anger, dismay, and sometimes convictions.

[03:35:10] I respect them. But I will do everything during the five years to come to make sure that there is no reason at all to vote for extremes.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VANIER: Marine Le Pen conceded the election not long after the polls closed. She says the vote is a mandate for her far right National Front Party to become a primary opposition force against the new president.

Let's talk about the state of the far right here in France now. Jean- Yves Camus, he is a political scientist, author of the book "Far Right Politics in Europe," and frankly, just simply one of the most knowledgeable experts on this topic here in France. Jean-Yves, the far right had exceptional circumstances going into this

election. Terrorism. A wave of migration coming into the European Union, extreme levels of defiance toward mainstream parties. And yet, Marine Le Pen underperformed the polls.

JEAN-YVES CAMUS, "FAR RIGHT POLITICS IN EUROPE" AUTHOR: They had very good reasons to believe they would reach at least the 40 percent mark, and they did not. The first reason is Marine Le Pen during the campaign did not make any specific proposal that would show that if she were elected she would really be a leader.

She can be seen as the leader of a political party, but very few people believe that if she were the leader of the fifth power in the world she would be effective. And then there was this awful television debate between the two battles where she, in my opinion, performed very badly and it did hurt a lot.

Many voters who were contemplating voting for her on the second round just say no. She is so terrible that I will at least vote for Macron.

VANIER: So you're saying the problem for the far right is the candidate they fielded, Marine Le Pen, not a strong enough candidate?

CAMUS: The problem is the candidate. But on the other end this is a very centralized party. It is not a party with internal democracy like the mainstream political party. So they only had one leader. And I doubt very much that another contender can emerge with.

VANIER: But then again for the far right in France the glass can also be seen as half full. They have been doing better and better at each presidential election since the late '80s except for one election.

So can you just consider, as I heard some supporters saying last night, that they didn't win this time but they improved on their previous score and they will improve next time and might win the next election.

CAMUS: Well, the glass is in fact half full because she'll receive 11 million votes. That's huge. It's almost like in Austria where the extreme right candidate who lost the presidency but with 46 percent, which is also huge.

So if Macron does not succeed in changing something, especially with regard to the economy, within the first year of his term, I think it's a situation that we are so bad that in 2022 the National Front candidate wasn't only be Marine Le Pen or Marion Morichard or another candidate has a chance of winning.

VANIER: We heard Emmanuel Macron saying I will do everything in my power to make sure people no longer have a reason to vote for the extremes, for instance, the far right. What can he do? Do you think he can do it?

CAMUS: What can he do? He can bring back jobs. He can bring back some growth in the economy. He can bring back this feeling that the French are, I would say taken seriously and the political parties do not hold the power over everything in political life. What's interesting with Macron is not only that he's young.

In fact, he's never been a member of any political party. So that's a huge blow obviously to the mainstream conservative party and to the mainstream social democrats. What he can also do but of course he's not the only one to decide is whether this country will be free of any terror attack and what kind of attitude he will have when confronted with Islamism and Jihadism.

VANIER: All right. Jean-Yves Camus, thank you so much for coming on the show and explaining to us where the far right stands in France right now with that glass half full, half empty really depends on what happens in the upcoming elections including the parliamentary elections in June. Thank you very much.

Many European leaders were crossing their fingers that the far right would not come to power in France as Marine Le Pen was radically anti- E.U.

[03:40:04] For more on this let's go to Erin McLaughlin, who joins me now from Brussels. Erin, the E.U. I imagine is going to have a new spring in its step.

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Cyril. And there's a definite sense of relief here in Brussels. This election result really seen to be building on a previous election in the Netherlands as well as Austria which saw far right candidates make gains but not win outright.

And we're really hearing congratulations from E.U. heads of state as well as the leaders of E.U. institutions, the president of the European counselor Donald Tusk tweeting out, quote "Congratulations at Emmanuel Macron, congratulations to the French people for choosing liberty, equality, and fraternity over the tyranny of fake news."

We've also heard from the president of the European Commission Jean- Claude Juncker say that he's happy that the people of France have chosen a European future. And Emmanuel Macron really campaigned on the idea that French people feel profoundly European. At the same time he's calling for reforms here in the E.U. I'm told that we can expect him to try introduce an ambitious program in that regard.

VANIER: Erin reporting live from Brussels. Thank you very much. Let's continue on these European questions because they are so, not just to France but to this entire part of the world.

Manuel Lafont Rapnouil who joins us now, he's the head of the Paris Office of the European Council on Foreign Relations. Manuel, what do we know exactly about what Emmanuel Macron wants to do in Europe? I mean, of course he has campaigned as a pro-E.U. candidate, but then again, we've never seen him involved with foreign affairs or European affairs in any way. So for the moment it's all hypothetical.

MANUEL LAFONT RAPNOUIL, HEAD OF ECFR PARIS: Foreign affairs is very hypothetical. European affairs a bit less so. He was one of the key advisers for Francois Hollande, the current president until for a few more days still on Europe at present. Then when he was the economy minister he was actually quite involved

on the economic side of the European discussion and he had a very strong relation with his German counterpart and he already as a minister had a few ideas that yes, kept pushing for when he was campaigning.

He wants basically to bring back French leadership within Europe, and that would help rebalance the German...

(CROSSTALK)

VANIER: Just how do we do that, by the way because France has been trying to do this for a long time.

RAPNOUIL: Absolutely. And that has been a key -- actually most of them want to rebalance the Franco-German relation and most of them saying we will enter into a kind of struggle of power relation and we'll be stronger because we'll make a coalition with southern European countries, for instance.

VANIER: Right.

RAPNOUIL: Others say you just can't go on with austerity economics and you need to change that. What Macron says is a bit different. He says I'll reform France first. I'll do my homework, basically. And once France is reformed I'll be credible and I'll be authority that my predecessors have lacked.

And I'll be able also to explain to Angela Merkel, look, France was about to fall as the U.K. fell in terms of pushing for Brexit. If you don't want that to happen you need to make some compromises there.

VANIER: So the idea if he redress the French economy in order to become credible to the eyes of Germany?

RAPNOUIL: He wants to redress the economy because he thinks that's what makes French strong. And then it's not just to the eye of Germany. It's to the eye of European in general and to the eyes of French themselves.

So he wants to reform France, for France to be credible, to be working. To be more effective, to be more dynamic, and then naturally comes some kind of traction within Europe, especially in the relation with the Germans. He already, as I said, a working relation with the Germans from when he was the economy minister and he's got this kind of economic credibility which of course is very important for Germany.

VANIER: So he's probably going to be sworn in on Sunday, just under a week from now, and what French presidents usually do sometimes on their first day in office...

(CROSSTALK)

RAPNOUIL: Travel directly to Berlin. Absolutely. He's done already when he was campaigning. So I suspect he'll do that now that he's the president. Go there and try to talk with Angela Merkel and figure out what is it that they can do. The thing is Germany also has its own election until September.

So, there's probably a few things that France and Germany can do together before the German elections. There's a European council, a meeting of all the heads of states government in June. The key thing will be once the Germans' election have been settled and you know which is the new chancellor and new coalition in Germany...

VANIER: Yes, yes.

RAPNOUIL: ... then you try to move forward and bring the rest of Europe with you.

VANIER: All right. We'll see how that relationship develops with that -- with the new leadership in France and possibly in Germany down the line.

RAPNOUIL: Exactly.

VANIER: Thanks very much for joining us.

RAPNOUIL: You're welcome.

VANIER: Let's take to it back to Rosemary Church in Atlanta. Rosemary?

[03:44:58] CHURCH: Cyril, good job. We look forward to seeing you again next hour. And coming up, what might Sally Yates reveal about Michael Flynn's conversation's with the Russian ambassador? The former top U.S. Justice Department official is set to testify before Congress in the coming hours. Details coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, within hours we may learn more about President Trump's former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Former U.S. acting Attorney General Sally Yates is set to testify before a Senate panel on Monday. She's going to recount what she told the White House about Flynn's conversations with Russia's ambassador to the United States.

More on this from CNN's Ryan Nobles.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates is prepared to testify in front of a Senate committee on Monday, and sources tell CNN that she's prepared to set the record straight about her role in events that eventually led National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to leave his post.

At the core of his testimony will be a meeting that she had with White House counsel Don McGahn 18 days before Flynn was removed as national security adviser. In that meeting Yates is prepared to testify that she gave a forceful warning to the White House about Flynn's contact with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak.

At that point Flynn had denied that he talked to Kislyak about U.S. sanctions on Russia, a denial which was not true. It also led Vice President Mike Pence to publicly defend Flynn. After Flynn left office, the White House admitted that Yates had warned them about Flynn's interaction with the Russian official but they described the interaction as more of a heads-up, essentially bringing to their attention that Flynn may have not been honest with the vice president.

Yates, however, remembers the conversation differently and is expected to testify that she expressed serious concerns and made it clear that Flynn should be fired. The former acting attorney general was also forced out of her post by the Trump administration after she refused to defend the White House's controversial travel ban.

[03:50:02] Her testimony, while potentially explosive, could be tempered a bit because she probably will not be able to recount specifics of certain events because of concerns over revealing classified information in an open setting.

Ryan Nobles, CNN, Washington.

CHURCH: Former U.S. President Barack Obama has received the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. The foundation says Obama was honored for expanding health care to millions of Americans and leading the fight against climate change. In his acceptance speech he called on U.S. lawmakers to have the courage to oppose the new health care bill.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But it does require some courage to champion the vulnerable and the sick and the infirm, those who often have no access to the corridors of power.

I hope they understand that courage means not simply doing what is politically expedient but doing what they believe deep in their hearts is right. And this kind of courage is required from all of us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHURCH: We'll take a short break here. But still to come, France is brimming with hope and excitement after an historic presidential election. The sights and sounds of Emmanuel Macron's victory. That's coming your way in moments.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(WEATHER REPORT)

CHURCH: France has faced many challenges over the years but Sunday night it was a time for celebration. Take a look.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

CHURCH: And there it is. Thanks for your company. I'm Rosemary Church. Early Start is next for our viewers here in the U.S. For everyone else, stay tuned for more news with Max Foster in London and Cyril Vanier in Paris.

Have a great day.

[04:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)