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European Parliament Elections 2019; Split On North Korea; President Trump In Tokyo; Who Will Replace Prime Minister Theresa May. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired May 27, 2019 - 04:00   ET



BIANCA NOBILO, CNN HOST: A major blow to centrist political parties in the European Parliament election as millions of voters express their diversity in their ballots. CNN is live across Europe with all the latest results.

Plus U.S. President Trump says he is not bothered by North Korea's latest missile tests, but Japan's Prime Minister disagrees.

And later devastation in the U.S. State of Oklahoma. President (Inaudible), dealing with flooding and deadly tornadoes. We'll bring you the very latest.

Hello, and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world, thank you for joining us. I'm Bianca Nobilo in London and this is CNN Newsroom.

The political landscape here in Europe is changing in a way that few saw coming. Right now, ballots are being counted in the biggest multi country electoral process in the world. And it's clear that the centrist parties inside the European Parliament on the left and the right are losing their dominance.

That was the reaction by Germany's Green Party and worth, it came second. They were one of several liberal pro E.U. parties across the block that did better than expected.


SVEN GIEGOLD, GERMAN EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT MEMBER (through translator): The people in Germany, the people in Europe, have voted for climate protection and for European solidarity. And that is the signal that is being sent this evening.


NOBILO: But while nationalists and far right parties are not posting the gains that some feared, they will be making their presence felt in the new parliament. In France, where Marine Le Pen's national rally beat President's Emmanuel Macron's Party to first place. In Italy, where the anti-immigrant league of Deputy Prime Minister Mateo Salvini is leading the vote. And here in Britain, while the vote is viewed as a referendum on the ruling conservatives and main opposition Labour Party. Both did badly with Nigel Farage's new Brexit Party coming out on top.

We have correspondents across Europe. Our Nina Dos Santos in South Hampton, England, Barbie Nadeau is in Rome, Atika Shubert is in Berlin, Melissa Bell in Paris, but first we begin with our Erin McLaughlin in Brussels. Erin, I know a few people who follow the mood of the European parliament more closely than you do. So, what's your initial reaction to these results particularly the loss of ground for the center parties, who were the real winners and losers.

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that is right, Bianca, big headline from last night is the so-called grand coalition, the alliance of the center right and center left here in the E.U. Well, they lost their majority last night, collectively losing some 71 seats, which means they're going to have to look to other centrist parties for compromise and that is music to the ears of Margrethe Vestager, she is the competition commissioner for the European commission, she is also seen as a contender for the E.U.'s top job, known for taking on the likes of Apple and Google. Now she says she is taking on the E.U., declaring the monopoly of power within the E.U. to be over. Take a listen to what Vestager had to say last night.


MARGRETHE VESTAGER, COMPETITION COMMISSIONER FOR THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION: I have worked with breaking monopolies. This is basically what I have been doing for five years by now, and this is also what voters have been doing today. The monopoly of power is broken.


MCLAUGHLIN: The other big headline from last night, Bianca, voter turnout at a staggering 50.5 percent, a big surprise here to E.U. officials. They were very concerned going into this about voter apathy. That is the first uptick in voter turnout for the E.U. since the elections were first held in 1979. So that is good news for E.U. officials. Bianca?

NOBILO: Erin McLaughlin in Brussels, thank you, let's go now to our Melissa Bell who is in France. Melissa, this seemed like a poor showing for supporters of Emmanuel Macron's Party. He is one of the key champions of the European project. So, how much of a disaster is it for him and how much of a surge is this for the far right in France?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bianca, it had look far worst for Emmanuel Macron's Party last night with the first exit polls and even the first partial official results, but now that we had the final results here in France, the official ones, complete, figures that is Bianca.

[04:05:02] We understand that the gap is in fact far narrower than we'd imagined last night between 23 percent from the Marine Le Pen's ruling Party, 22 percent for Emmanuel Macron's Party. It was a triumphant note that Marine Le Pen hit last night as you would expect when she spoke to her supporters. She had made this a referendum on the president and trying to draw all the anger in the last few months in the streets of France. Have a listen.


MARINE LE PEN, FRENCH NATIONAL RALLY LEADER (through translator): It will be up to the president now to join. He who put his presidential legitimacy in his vote made a referendum on his policy and even on himself. He has no other choice than at the very least to dissolve the national assembly and choose a voting system that is more Democratic, and friendly, more representative of the real opinion of the country.


BELL: It was Emmanuel Macron's first electoral test since his stunning victory two years ago and that redrawing of the political landscape. What this result has confirmed is that the left and right, the traditional parties in France, really are a thing of the past, the leading forces, the two political forces now in France are Emmanuel Macron's party and Marine Le Pen's national party. The other headlines from France, big gains for the greens as well, just as we saw across other European countries, 13 percent which is a historic high here in France.

NOBILO: Melissa Bell in Paris, thank you.

Let's now go to Atika Shubert. She is in Berlin. Atika, Melissa just mentioning that it was a good night for the greens, as well in France, but they were triumphant in Germany. They did exceptionally well. What's behind the surge in popularity?

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They did really well. I mean, they've got almost as many seats now as the CDU, the Christian Democrats. The Christian Democrats still won the most votes overall, but really they did much worse than they did in previous elections, and the greens surged ahead to win 20 percent of the vote.

And really, the number one issue here in Germany was climate change. The failure to tackle the climate crisis is what drove a lot of voters to the polls, particularly first time voters. You know, it's almost, you could call it the Greta effect, a Greta Thunberg, of course that Swedish teen climate activist has been mobilizing tens of thousands of climate strikers around the world, but it had a particular effect here in Germany, and every Friday they have been campaigning for people to get out and make the vote. Melissa Noybauer (ph), who was -- who organizes the change -- climate change protest here has told us that she wanted this election to be the climate election and I think it goes to show they really were able to mobilize not just young voters, but to convince those young voters parents to vote for a party that is going to take action on the climates and that party was the greens.

NOBILO: And Atika, there has been concerns in Germany about immigration, particularly because of Merkel's policy and that has driven some support for the far right. Like you say, it seems concerns about the environment are now coming up as the most concerning to people who are living in Germany, so how did the far right fare last night in where you are?

SHUBERT: You know, they were able to make some modest gains, the far right party, the alternative for Germany. They got around 11 percent of the vote, but that seems to be a sealing, it didn't do quite as well as they hoped. It hoped to get more than 12 percent. And it shows that immigration is still an important issue for people here, but it is sort of receding in the headlines.

So, while AFD is campaigning on tough immigration stance, voters are saying, listen, I'm concerned about that, but it is not as big a concern for me anymore as climate crises. And that is why you've seen the shift to the greens. However, again, like you're seeing across the E.U., what you're also seeing is just this fragmentation and polarizations. So, voters leaving the centrist right and the centrist left going to the fringes, whether it's the far right alternative for Germany or the more left, Green's Party.

NOBILO: Atika Shubert in Berlin, thank you. Let's who is in Rome for us. Barbie, how does Italy fit in to what we are seeing as this pan European trend of favoring the fringe parties or parties which is certainly not the traditional centrist parties in those countries?

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think what we saw here in Italy, and I think it says it all by one of the morning papers here, it says, you know, black shadows over Italy and that is a fear by a lot of people here that these far right parties, especially the league led by Mateo Salvini, who really, really performed well getting 34 percent of the vote.

What's most interesting about that, I think though as a fact that in 2014, his party got just 6 percent of the vote. What we're seeing then is a shift in the country, this government has been in power for just one year and this really was seen as a referendum on his government and it's really given him some momentum. He is still in campaign mode this morning, promising to shake up Europe like he is been able to shake up Italy. Bianca.

[04:10:07] NOBILO: And Barbie, I was speaking to some members of the Brexit Party the other day, and they were saying that how inspired they were by Matteo Salvini and the works of the leaders doing in Italy. You get the impression of there is more work being done to try and unite nationalist parties within Europe as inherently limited as that might sound?

NADEAU: Well, I think there has been a lot of behind the scenes work. You know, we have seen Steve Bannon for example here in Italy a lot, trying to help Salvini with his strategy. We saw him in France, of course, Le Pen of course, distanced herself from him to some extent.

But I think that is a sort of underlying current we are seeing here, and Salvini used it to his advantage. And I think that he is going to work right now to try to unite all those far right like-minded thinkers that are in the European parliament right now, and try to make a change. He has promised his constituents that he is going to change Europe

from the inside. It's going to be hard to deliver on that. But that is still a promise he is making this morning, Bianca.

NADEAU: Barbie Nadeau in Rome, thank you very much. Let's go now our Nina Dos Santos in South Hampton. Nina, the Brexit Party was only founded a few months ago, I think on -- in late January, the 20th of January, but it seemed to have had a victorious evening. Talk to us about why it is so popular and whether or not this is going to have to push the governing party in the U.K. to a more extreme Brexit position.

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, remember, Bianca, that any vote in this country, whether it is at a local level or national level like you saw yesterday evening is being viewed and thought as a proxy for rerunning that divisive 2016 referendum on E.U. membership. And that's exactly what we learned from results yesterday evening. The country apparently appears to be still deeply divided more or less along the same pattern and more or less along the same folk lines.

Remember, these were the European elections, that the U.K. was not supposed to gotten involved in, the U.K. was supposed to have left the E.U. by March the 29th of this year before Theresa May's conservative led government secured a last minute stay of execution to try and leave the E.U. at the end of October without a deal.

What that has done has allowed Nigel Farage, another entre back in to politics with one simple message, to try and secure deliver of Brexit in the swiftest manner possible, that has allowed him to take votes away from Labour in Brexit supporting heartlands, that had become distant with the Labour's Brexit strategy and of course to continue to eat away from the conservative Party.

I spoke to him yesterday evening here in South Hampton which is the main seat for the Southeast of England where he has been an M.P. for 20 years and was reelected. And his message throughout the years, he wants a seat at the negotiating table now with his own E.P.'s to steer the Brexit negotiations and take his message to Westminster.


DOS SANTOS: How confident are you that you can translate this into a National Party?

NIGEL FARAGE, EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT MEMBER AND BREXIT CHAMPION: That will depend. I mean, the answer is yes, we can. How successful it will be will depend on a large extent on whether we leave October 31st. Just as March 29th, we can see it people's mind as this big important date. October 31st is the same.

DOS SANTOS: To those who say you're a one message man, what is your answer?

FARAGE: The most important message we have discussed in this country for 300 years. (END VIDEO CLIP)

DOS SANTOS: And that message he claims is Brexit. And so the Brexit Party sweeping the board here across the U.K. We're expecting the last couple of constituencies to report throughout the course of the day. It's looking like they secured a third of the vote. The conservatives relegated to fifth position, Labor also in single digits. One interesting little dynamic, though, Bianca, is that the liberal Democrats came racing back up the polls. They have an unambiguous position on Brexit. It's diametrically opposed to the Brexit Party. They want to call it off together. And so the whole point of this is that it showed us, there is an old saying before, yes, again, the two party system hasn't delivered the type of Brexit that the people want and the country still remains divided three years ago, Bianca.

NOBILO: Thanks, Nina.

A big thanks to all our correspondents, Erin McLaughlin, Nina Dos Santos, Atika Shubert, Melissa Bell, and Barbie Nadeau. Upon, traditional parties losing their gripped on power in the European Parliament in favor of liberals and nationalist.

Coming on CNN talk, we want to know what you think about all of this, who the winners and losers in the European elections. Go on to international to have your say. That is CNN talk starting at 12:00 p.m. here in London, 7:00 p.m. In Hong Kong.

U.S. President Donald Trump is in Japan for a four-day state visit. It was designed to show the world the alliance between the two countries, but the trip has been overshadowed by trade tensions. We'll have more for you on that after the break.


NOBILO: Welcome back to CNN Newsroom, the U.S. President has pressed his Japanese counterpart to even out the trade balance with the U.S. Donald Trump is on a four day trip to Japan. Earlier, he and Shinzo Abe said they discussed economic relations, regional stability and North Korean among other topics. This what Mr. Trump had to say after their talks?


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Prime Minister and I continue our close consultation in pursuit of peace and security on the Korean peninsula. The essence of our approach is peace through strength and this is a strong alliance indeed, the U.S./Japan alliance is steadfast and ironclad. We want peace and we want stability. We continue to hope that Chairman Kim seizes the opportunity to transform his country through denuclearization. It is a country with tremendous economic and other potential.


[04:20:03] NOBILO: Mr. Trump also said he would work with Abe to bring home Japanese citizens who were kidnapped by North Korean agent's decades ago. U.S. leader met with the families of Japanese (inaudible), saying their stories were very sad.

CNN senior international correspondent Ivan Watson joins me now from Tokyo. Ivan, President Trump was underscoring the fact that the bond between the U.S. and Japan is ironclad, but the way in which both leaders saw North Korea and recent actions from the peninsula was not entirely consistent.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, there were divergences there, and in particular, it revolves around North Korea's missile launches that took place twice earlier this month most recently on May 9th when North Korea fired two short range ballistic missiles. The Japanese Prime Minister who's hosting this whole affair said that those were direct violations of United Nations Security Council resolutions. President Trump was asked about this, and he had a different opinion. Take a listen.


TRUMP: He is going to try at some point. I'm in no rush at all, the sanctions remain, we have our hostage's back, we as you know, are getting the remains, continuing to get the remains. A lot of good things are happening, and very importantly there's been no nuclear testing for two years. I looked at a chart the other day. During the past administration, there were many numbers that were very high, like 10, 12 and 18 having to do with missile launches and nuclear testing and for the last two years on the bottom it had zero and zero. So, I am very happy with the way it's going and intelligent people agree with me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're not bothered by the small missiles?

TRUMP: No, I'm not. I am personally not.


WATSON: For his part, the Japanese Prime Minister credited President Trump for as he put it, cracking the shell of distrust around North Korea with what he described as President Trump's new approach. Shinzo Abe added that he would be willing to sit down face-to-face with Kim Jong-un without any preconditions to try to pursue this diplomatic initiative that President Trump has led.

So, even though there are some differences and there are also differences on trade, for example, this has been a big show and a celebration of the strength of the U.S. Japanese alliance, which Abe described as a corner stone of stability and prosperity in the region.

There are probably going to be some eyebrows raised on the other side of the pacific, Bianca, because at one point President Trump agreed with Kim Jong-un who his news agency denounced the former American Vice President Joe Biden and candidate for president in the 2020 elections as a low I.Q. individual and President Trump stood on that world stage and agreed with the North Korean dictator, calling a former American vice president a low I.Q. individual. He argued that Biden was not smart, because he had agreed to an Iran

nuclear deal and President Trump said that deal was terrible, but he also almost in the same breath said that he did not want regime change in Iran, and he believed Iran would like a new deal with the U.S. even though President Trump somewhat recently ripped up the U.S. commitment with the preceding Iran nuclear deal, Bianca.

NOBILO: Thanks, Ivan. Ivan Watson there for us in Tokyo. Let's get more perspective on this now with Leslie Vinjamuri, he joins me on set. Leslie is head of the U.S. on America's Program Act. Thank you very much for being with us.


NOBILO: Ivan was just mentioning how Shinzo Abe was saying it is so important to celebrate this alliance between the U.S. and Japan. It's the corner stone of much diplomacy, but I'm curious to know what the significance is from both of their perspectives and what you think each leader is hoping to get out of it.

VINJAMURI: Well, it's tremendously important, as we know, for Japan to keep America fully engaged in Asia to make it crystal clear to China and to North Korea that the U.S./Japan alliance is at the heart of that, that America is committed to Japan's security, that it's committed to the subjective of a denuclearized North Korea, and that it's engaged on trade, and remember, Japan has been disappointed that the U.S. under Trump pulled out of the transpacific partnership, hasn't been able to pull it back in and ends very nervous about where that trading partnership is going.

For Trump, of course, you know, Abe has been brilliant about courting this president and it's a very good relationship for Trump at the same time that he is, you know, attempting to play hardball on the trade front, but beholding back a bit, as, you know, Japan is facing elections in July.

[04:25:14] The other thing to notice is that of course the U.S. and Japan have a common position when it comes to China, when it comes to tech, when it comes to a number of trade issues, they sort of broadly share a commitment to taking a harder line. So, I think this relationship is, you know, the symbolism is important, America's role in Asia is important, not without some very significant issues, but this particular visit I think is -- plays very well for the American president who as we know is one that really cultivates and admires, enjoys the state visits.

NOBILO: In the press conference which the two leaders gave a few hours ago, President Trump mentioned Joe Biden, referred to him as a low I.Q. individual and differentiated his own and Joe Biden's policies. How unusual is it for an American president to be so open about divisions internally among political parties on a state visit like that. Obviously you'd expected to see, you know, in presidential debates and so forth, but to be in that situation and then to be criticizing one of the Democratic front runner's policy in the region, is that unusual? VINJAMURI: Well, most things about this American president when it

comes to diplomacy are quite unusual, I would say, but clearly the standard for an American president for any state leader when they leave their country is to sort of protect and to stay away from partisan politics when they are abroad, but you know, this is the play book this president has pursued is very different on this dimension, so taking a swipe at former Vice President Biden is not something unexpected, but it is unusual.

NOBILO: You were mentioning as well as some of the significant activities that have gone on when President Trump has been on this visit. Talk to us a bit about those.

VINJAMURI: I think, you know, the symbolism of the visit is tremendously important. I think, one question is, you know, where are we going on trade, how much are they discussing trade? There are also trade talks that are going to be going on between the U.S., between Europe and Japan at the same time, but remember, again, that President Trump is being careful, right.

He wants to signal to the Japanese public to the leader, to the world that that commitment on security and trade is crystal clear and that it won't go away in advance of those elections. The optics are just tremendously important, but I think that we will see a much harder line taken after the G20 at the end of June and after the G7 when Trump comes back to pushing a harder trade agenda.

NOBILO: Leslie Vinjamuri, thank you so much for joining us.

VINJAMURI: Thank you.

NOBILO: Now, Britain's ruling conservative Party is hoping for revival under a new leader after suffering a dismal result in the E.U. elections. The party -- the governing party of United Kingdom came in 5th place, securing less than 9 percent of the vote. A list of candidates vying to replace Theresa May at the helm of the party, and by exception, the country is growing.

The biggest challenge remains unchanged. That would be sorting out Brexit. CNN's Phil Black is outside the Prime Minister's residence at 10 Downing Street. Phil, all eyes now in the U.K. on who's going to be living in that building behind you in a month or so time. Do you think that the results from the European elections are going to make the likelihood of a Brexiteer Prime Minister increase, somebody like Boris Johnson or Dominic Rob?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It does seem that way. Bianca, yes, even though these results were certainly no surprise, the Conservative Party saw them coming. They were expected for many conservatives, well, it was one of the reasons why they pushed finally for Theresa May to depart last week.

That said, these results will still send a shockwave through the party, because they are absolutely terrible. Truly awful in a sense. So that is why you are hearing some of the contenders essentially describe these results as an existential threat to the party. The people who voted for the Brexit Party in such big numbers, many of them traditional Conservative Party voters who are simply angry and disillusioned that the conservatives have not been able to deliver Brexit yet, and so, that is why already you are seeing within the leadership contest something of a parade of characters who are going out of their way to show that they are willing to talk the toughest and the strongest on Brexit either in terms of being able to do a deal with the E.U. or being willing to accept, perhaps even enthusiastically embrace the ideal idea of a no deal scenario.

But among those leading contenders, you see them breaking into two camps, those are talking in just very strong terms about exiting the E.U. on the next deadline, October 31st, doing it regardless of whether it a deal or not is in place, and doing so somewhat enthusiastically, you could put Boris Johnson, and Dominic.