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U.S. President Joe Biden Encourages His Family to Stay in the Presidential Race Despite Reports to Step Him Down; Far-Right Leads First Round of Parliamentary Polls in France; Caribbean Prepares for Hurricane Beryl; Get to Know Jordan Bardella And His Potential Campaign as French Prime Minister; Suicide Rates Among Afghan Girls Now Alarming. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired July 01, 2024 - 03:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from the United States, Canada and all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, political turbulence on both sides of the Atlantic. We are learning what U.S. President Joe Biden's family is telling him after his disastrous presidential debate performance.

Meanwhile, his opponent Donald Trump expects to learn in the hours ahead whether he can claim immunity on his alleged efforts to undermine the results of the 2020 presidential election.

And we're live in Paris following a crushing blow to Emmanuel Macron's centrist party, the far-right coming out on top in the first round of parliamentary elections in France.

Good to have you with us. And we begin with the fallout of U.S. President Joe Biden's dismal debate performance last week. Mr. Biden's family is encouraging him to stay in the race despite growing calls for him to step aside. That's from two of his advisers who say the family also talked about whether top Biden aides should be fired.

They spent time together on Sunday at Camp David and discussed how they could support the president. President Biden's advisers say he's closely watching polling data, which is not looking good. Some Democratic leaders say conversations are happening about the future of the party behind closed doors.


REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-ML): Obviously, there was a big problem with Joe Biden's debate performance. And there's also just a tremendous reservoir of affection and love for Joe Biden in our party. And so this makes it a difficult situation for everybody. But there are very honest and serious and rigorous conversations taking place at every level of our party because it is a political party and we have differences in point of view.


CHURCH: For more on this, I'm joined now by Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. Great to have you with us.


CHURCH: So, Larry, a CBS poll of registered voters taken after Thursday's debate shows 72 percent think Joe Biden should not be running for president. The "New York Times" and the "Atlanta Journal- Constitution" are calling for President Biden to leave the race and wealthy Biden donors are panicking. Many saying if he's not replaced with a younger candidate at the August Democratic Convention, this race is over. What do you say to all this negative reaction to the president's stumbling debate performance on Thursday?

SABATO: It's not surprising, given what we saw, you know, everyone saw with their own eyes what the problem was, and it's hard to explain your way out of it. You know, people can say it's a cold or he was over prepared or whatever the excuse is.

The truth is, most of the negativity has stayed underground, which has been surprising because Democrats normally express themselves fully in public. And that hasn't happened yet. And it's why we have to keep our eyes on two groups.

One, the elected officials who will share the ballot with Joe Biden in November if he stays on the ticket. And of course, the donors, you mentioned the big donors at some point, some of them are going to abandon the ticket if, in fact, Biden falls behind Trump a good deal more than he already has.

CHURCH: Right. And of course, President Biden says the only way he would step aside is if he is shown convincing data that proves it's too damaging for the party and the country for him to stay on. Now, if that happens, what is the process for replacing him at the convention in August and who would be positioned to take his place? Is anyone able to take on Trump at this point?

SABATO: Well, the process could charitably be described as chaos. And again, Democrats have had some experience with that over the years. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't. But there is no plan. There's nothing in the party rules that -- that contribute to the solution to this other than the fact that Joe Biden would have to do it as soon as possible to give the party enough time to organize the selection of his substitute. And of course, his vice president, Kamala Harris, is going to insist that she's next in line and certainly would be a candidate.


But I think there would be others who would be interested. But who organizes this? Would it -- would it fall to former President Obama and maybe former President Clinton and Hillary Clinton and Speaker Pelosi?

You can think of a group of people that might be able to pull it off, but it would be difficult. And while the party lacks leadership for the presidential election, the Republicans aren't going to just be sitting there. They're going to be organizing, airing negative ads, raising more money and probably moving up in the polls.

So this is really hard to figure out, you know, what both pathways could lead to destruction. So which one do you pick?

CHURCH: Yeah, I mean, that's the problem. But some of those ads that Republicans will be putting out, they'll be using great slabs of that debate, no doubt. And of course, it has to be said, we saw a very different Joe Biden the day after the debate at a rally on the campaign trail.

So what went so terribly wrong debate night, do you think, and why was he so faltering and how does he restore faith in his leadership and overcome his bad debate performance, which will keep coming back over and over as we approach November, won't it?

SABATO: Absolutely, it will. And Rosie, we haven't been given a real explanation yet. We've been given little bits and pieces by this aide and that aide, almost all of them on deep background or off-the- record. It's not good enough. People want to know what caused that. Again, we saw it with our own eyes. It's not enough to dismiss it and to move on and say it was one bad night. No, I think it was probably more than one bad night. We're all coming to that consensus.

They have to answer that. And then once they answer what happened, they have to answer the tougher question, which is how can people be assured that he can function well as president for another four, really four and a half years? He's got a half a year plus in this term and then four more years on top of that, all the way to age 86.

Again, it's not as though Donald Trump is perfect. He's also old and has many problems and mainly that he can't tell the truth, which is in some respects a much more serious problem than Joe Biden.

CHURCH: Yeah, we certainly saw that on display Thursday night as -- as well. Of course, I did want to ask you this, Larry, because Axios is reporting that top aides have been shielding Joe Biden since day one. And that's why there was so much shock inside the White House following his debate performance. What's your reaction to that report?

SABATO: I read that a few hours ago and I was really shocked. I mean, if it's true, there are people who have to answer for that. They really do. If they were shielding the real President Biden, even from other White House aides, then someone has to answer for that. And those who were doing it have to be dismissed. That would be my reaction to it. But of course, that's up to them.

CHURCH: Larry Sabato, always a pleasure to have your thoughts and analysis on all things political. I Appreciate it.

SABATO: Thank you, Rosie. CHURCH: In the coming hours, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to decide whether former U.S. President Donald Trump has presidential immunity. Trump has claimed sweeping immunity on his federal 2020 election subversion case. CNN's Jeremy Herb has more.


JEREMY HERB, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: The Supreme Court is heading into its final day of decisions on Monday, where the justices will rule on a case with significant implications for the 2024 election, whether Donald Trump can face trial on election subversion charges.

The justices are set to issue their ruling on Trump's claims of absolute immunity from prosecution. A decision that Trump is not fully immune from prosecution could clear the way for the former president to stand trial this fall.

But the decision could also lead to another round of litigation and appeals that would push any trial beyond the 2024 election. The case stems from special counsel Jack Smith's indictment of Trump last August over his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Trump responded by claiming he was immune from prosecution because he was president. The trial judge in this case, Tanya Chutkan, and the Circuit Court of Appeals both rejected Trump's claims of immunity. But the Supreme Court chose to take up this case, and they heard oral arguments in April.

Several of the justices, including Chief Justice John Roberts, were skeptical of the circuit court decision that fully rejected Trump's immunity claims. They focused on whether there should be some immunity for a president's official duties compared to his private actions.

This suggests that the justices could grant Trump some degree of immunity for his official actions, but not for those actions he took that went beyond his role as president. That could pave the way for the election subversion case against Trump to move forward.

But how quickly any case actually goes to trial depends on whether the justices address Trump's conduct specifically in their ruling, or if they only set a standard for prosecution that the lower court would then have to apply to this case.


If that happens, Trump could potentially start a whole new round of appeals, likely pushing any trial beyond the 2024 election in November.

The special counsel asked the Supreme Court in December to take up this case and this appeal immediately. But the justices declined to do that, instead letting the case work its way through the appeals process. That's what led to April's hearing and the wait now for Monday's consequential Supreme Court decision, which is coming a little over four months before the 2024 election.

Jeremy Herb, CNN, New York.


CHURCH: And I'll speak to a legal expert next hour regarding this landmark decision that's expected today.

All right, let's go to Max Foster now in Paris, where he is covering the French parliamentary elections. And Max, it was a gamble that appears not to have paid off for President Macron with the far-right leading in the first round of voting. What's the latest on all this?

MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, a crushing defeat to Macron's authority, it has to be said, coming third in this first round of the parliamentary election, the far-right doing extremely well. A lot of people saw them doing well, but I speak to someone from the left, a senator from the left earlier, and she said it was still a shock when you saw those results come through. So according to the interior ministry, National Rally won 35 percent of the vote, with the left- wing New Popular Front coalition coming in second with 28 percent.

Macron's centrist alliance came in third with about 20 percent. The results prompting protests in Paris amongst those who obviously aren't against the, obviously aren't with the far right, crowds hitting the streets to voice their opposition to the far right. CNN senior international correspondent Jim Bitterman has more on the night from here in Paris.


JIM BITTERMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jubilant cheers fill the headquarters of France's far right National Rally as projections show the party dominated in the country's first round of parliamentary election.

Seen as a fringe movement, the National Rally could be positioned to assume power and become the first far-right party to enter French government since the Second World War.

The controversial doyenne of the party, Marine Le Pen, asserted that the second round of voting to be held next week will secure their position.

MARIE LE PEN, NATIONAL RALLY PARLIAMENTARY LEADER (through translator): Democracy has spoken and the French people have placed the National Rally and its allies in first place. Nothing has been won and the second round will be decisive.

BITTERMAN (voice-over): Complete results of the election are not finalized and much political maneuvering is expected before the second round of voting is held next week, which could determine whether a seismic shift is underway in French politics.

National Rally's leader and Le Pen's protege, 28-year-old Jordan Bardella, could be positioned to become France's next prime minister. A child of Italian immigrants, Bardella has maintained the party's nationalist politics and hardline anti-immigration stance. Across the country and its overseas territories, voters turned out in

huge numbers to participate in the high stakes election. Uncertainty has loomed ever since President Emmanuel Macron suddenly dissolved Parliament and called for snap elections earlier this month, sending shockwaves across the country.

Now his gamble appears to have backfired as his alliance of centrist parties faltered in the vote, finishing a third according to projections. In a statement, the president called for the formation of a broad alliance to block the National Rally from coming to power.

Faced with the National Rally, the time has come for a broad, clearly democratic and republican rally for the second round.

The coalition of left-wing parties also had a strong showing, coming in a close second projection show. However, no party achieved an outright majority, possibly leading Parliament into political deadlock.

For now, the preliminary results of the election are being received with intensity, drawing some protesters out to demonstrate in Paris.

As the country with a painful history with fascism and far-right movements, deals with an uncertain future.

Jim Bitterman, CNN, Paris.


FOSTER: Earlier, I spoke to John Lesieur, he's a journalist. I asked him about, you know, how the far-right has changed really under Le Pen and now under its new leader.


JOHN LESIEUR, JOURNALIST: The program that they had up until two or three weeks ago was totally different from what they're advocating now.

It's, it's, you know, it's political tactic, which is OK. But for example, basic questions like what age can French people retire?


You know, Macron passed a reform that made 64 the legal age to retire. Madame Le Pen, a few months ago, was advocating 60 years old. She's now talking about 64, 65, which, you know, the law of reality is going to catch up with her very quickly, like it did in Italy with Madame Meloni. Same about immigration. You know, we have shortage of workers here in France. So she cannot be as radical as she would like to be.

FOSTER: What does this mean for the world if we end up in a situation, because it's not over until it's over, of course, where we have a far- right prime minister and Macron as president? What does that mean for French policy? Because it feels like chaos. LESIEUR: Well, chaos or paralysis. And it's really important. If you

look at the map of the world right now, I mean, not right now, but, you know, the next few weeks and months, you could have, you know, going from east to west. You could have Putin in Russia. You could have a European Union which will be totally disunited with about half a dozen leaders who kind of side with Putin, even though they don't really admit it.

And then you cross the Atlantic and you may have Donald Trump. What does that bring us? You know, what kind of world does this bring us? And what kind of Europe comes out of it? If Mr. Putin feels emboldened to titillate, you know, Poland a little more, the Baltic countries, that's kind of scary.


FOSTER: Well, let's look at what this might mean for the rest of the world. We're joined by Nic Robertson, our senior international editor. And Nic, can you just clarify the roles here? So if we do end up in a situation where the right wing, far-right prime minister and Macron remaining as president, what's that mean for foreign policy and defense, for example?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yeah, well, these have been under the purview and are under the purview of the president of France, and they've really been challenged. But it looks like Le Pen's party would challenge Macron on the right to determine both defense and foreign policy.

So Macron has a very forward-leaning policy, let's say, on Ukraine, sending longer range missiles and even perhaps being out ahead of NATO partners, suggesting that there should be foreign troops, NATO troops on the ground inside Ukraine in a training capacity, training Ukrainian forces.

Well, Le Pen's party, Jordan Bardella, stands against that. They said they wouldn't want to send these long-range missiles, which can deliver a bigger punch to Putin. They wouldn't be advocating French troops being sent to Ukraine.

So you can already see a difference in position there. Perhaps, you know, it's not a position that weakens NATO immediately. But you can certainly see the way that France has positioned itself, being challenged at home and being changed overseas. And then, of course, there's the immigration policies of the party in terms of how that would impact in Europe and a growing right-wing trend within the European parties.

This weekend, we've seen Viktor Orban of his Fidesz party in Hungary, which actually took a beating, a right-wing party that took a beating in European polls recently, aligning with other right-wing parties. So it will potentially have real-world implications. Max.

FOSTER: And obviously, France is a major power in the world, but particularly within the European Union, they have commissioners. They appoint commissioners to the European Union. And, you know, you'd expect the far right to have a say on that, which presumably would weaken the European Union.

ROBERTSON: Yeah. And Macron has his pick of who he'd like to be the France's commissioner at the European Union. And that's not the pick that Le Pen's party, Bardella, would go for. So that affects France's voice and what it stands for within the European Union, what it can expect to win from the European Union in terms of influence over trade and other issues.

So this is another sort of point of weakness. But I think, you know, let's look at how Macron has positioned himself being this controller of foreign policy, being this influence over defense policy.

He has positioned himself as a very forward-leaning ally of the United States. We saw him, look, we saw him entertain President Trump when he was president, you know, five, six years ago. And we've also seen him very recently entertain President Biden, the Normandy D-Day 80-year commemorations.


France has positioned itself as an important player on the global stage, whether it's in the Middle East, whether it's whether it's in the Pacific or whether it's just the transatlantic relationship with the United States.

It's positioned itself as an important player that stands in many cases, not every time, at the United States side. They have differences of opinion, but it is a vital ally to the United States. A right-wing government in Paris that undermines a centrist president, if there was a Democrat president again in the United States, would be a much more wobbly proposition.

But as your last guest just mentioned, if it's Donald Trump in the White House next year, then it looks different and a lot of things look different.

FOSTER: Yeah, it's really, you know, it speaks to geopolitics, doesn't it, currently. Nic Robertson, thank you so much for joining us. Rosie, back to you. The far right haven't won this yet, but they're certainly leading. And that's what has really charged this country.

FOSTER: Yeah, it's going to be interesting to see what the second round of voting brings to France. We'll be watching that, of course, next Sunday. So after the break, thank you for that, Max, we'll come back to you very soon.

Caribbean islands prepare for an unprecedented and extremely dangerous hurricane. We will have more, that's next.




CHURCH: The Caribbean is bracing for Hurricane Beryl, and although the hurricane has weakened to a category three in strength, it's still extremely dangerous with maximum winds of 120 miles per hour or more than 190 kilometers per hour. Potentially catastrophic wind damage is still expected when Beryl passes through parts of the Caribbean's eastern edge in the coming hours.

Beryl had intensified to a category four on Sunday, making it the earliest cat four hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean on record. Several countries are under hurricane warnings and watches and authorities are urging caution.

So joining us now from St. Thomas in Barbados is journalist Barry Wilkinson. Good to see you, Barry. So what is the latest on Hurricane Beryl's track right now? And when is it expected to make landfall, do we know?

BARRY WILKINSON, JOURNALIST: Well, Barbados is being affected by the outer bands. What is going on so far is that these outer bands are moving very quickly over Barbados. As the system gets closer early into the morning, we can expect more frequent rainfall and dust.

What is a very positive for Barbados is that the system is moving further south of Barbados, so therefore it's not going to hit directly as we might have thought 12 hours ago, per se.

I think St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada might be perhaps in a closer track. Barbados, you can feel the wind. You can feel some more rain. There has been an uptick in the wind, an uptick in the rain. But the system has moved a little bit further away from Barbados. So we are feeling those gusts as I speak to you.

But it is not as impactful as it might have been about 12 hours ago, where the track was actually leading towards Barbados getting hit, not directly, but certainly much bigger than it is at the stage.

CHURCH: And that is certainly great news for Barbados. But how is the region preparing for this extremely dangerous storm and where will residents take shelter? What sort of support are they receiving?

WILKINSON: I speak for Barbados. The emergency shelters have been open for the last 24 hours. There is a great emergency plan in place. All of the shelters across Barbados are suited for major evacuation if they had to be.

But you're not going to find that those shelters are going to be utilized in such a way unless there is a need for evacuation. But the Centre for Emergency, they have indeed done several tests and Barbados' water and electricity is not off. It's still very much on.

As I speak to you, we are speaking on uplink, so therefore you can tell that the power is still very much going pretty well. So at this stage, there's no real cause for emergency.

In St Vincent and Grenadines, they've also been bolted up. We've bolted up here, of course, as you would imagine. The Prime Minister, the Honorable Ralph Gonzales in St Vincent spoke quite earlier about how things have been going there. The Honorable Mia Motley here in Barbados, she's been definitely prepared in case that there is anything major.

So I speak with confidence that if something was to hit and happen, that the plan and the emergency evacuation is well underway. We have been hit before. This is now almost three years that Hurricane Elsa would have touched down in Barbados. That would have been July 2nd in 2021. That would have been the last major hurricane that would have touched in Barbados.

And the plans then were pretty well for evacuation and they remain intact if that was to be the cause. But as I said, the system, while we're feeling much more wind, there is a lot of dust and a bit more rain. The system is not touching down as much. So therefore, there is a little bit of ease and tension as to how this system might affect Barbados and impact the Windward Islands.

CHURCH: Right. Well, this is good news, but we will keep a very close eye. And of course, we're going to be talking again next hour. Barry Wilkinson, thank you so much for talking with us. I Appreciate it.

Well, France's far-right is celebrating a strong showing in the first round of parliamentary elections. Our Max Foster will be live from Paris just ahead with more on that vote.




FOSTER: The French Prime Minister really urging the French to prevent the far-right from becoming the main bloc, getting a majority really, an absolute majority in the Parliament, which would have a huge impact on France if that were the case. Obviously the far-right is pushing for that, they're certainly in the lead after the first round of two sets of parliamentary elections.

Now the Prime Minister's comments come after they came out on top in that first round, and the party's Parliament leader Marine Le Pen said that democracy has spoken as she hailed those results. Obviously they had a huge amount of support. The left-wing New Popular Coalition came in second, whilst President Emmanuel Macron's Centrist Alliance is in third. The second round of voting, which is the decisive one, does happen next Sunday. We'll have the results on Monday.

Now just 28 years old, the national rally leader Jordan Bardella could be the next French Prime Minister, which would be an extraordinary moment. This is the first time the far-right has actually won a first round vote in France. Marine Le Pen, who's obviously the icon of that movement, has said that Bardella's rise is a bid to normalize the party, which has faced accusations of extremism in the past, certainly when her father was in control.

CNN producer Saskya Vandoorne has more now on who this new leader is.


SASKYA VANDOORNE, CNN PRODUCER (voice-over): He's been called the TikTok king, and young people love him.

But who's the slick 28-year-old French far-right leader on the brink of power?


VANDOORNE (voice-over): Jordan Bardella has transformed the national rally, taking it from the fringes into the mainstream, solidifying its rural base --

BARDELLA (through translator): What we want is to take agriculture completely out of the free trade agreements so that we can protect our domestic markets.

VANDOORNE (voice-over): -- and using social media to reach a new generation of voters.

BARDELLA (through translator): Go out and vote to stop the migration surge that threatens our security, identity and values.


VANDOORNE (voice-over): The populist rhetoric isn't new, but because of this gifted communicator, it's resonating in France now more than ever.

KEVIN ARCENAUX, POLITICAL SCIENCE PROF., SCIENCES PO: The sorts of young voters who are attracted to Jordan Bardella, they tend to have less optimism about their future. I think Jordan Bardella shows them, look, look at me. I don't have a college education. I come from a place in France that the elite looks down upon. If young people also find themselves in those circumstances, see that as actually inspiring.

VANDOORNE: Jordan Bardella grew up here, in Seine-Saint-Denis, a suburb northeast of Paris. He attended this private school and at 16 he joined the national rally.

VANDOORNE (voice-over): Around here people know his name, but they remain divided.

UNKNOWN (through translator): I'm rather proud of the fact that he is aware of our problems here, that he knows our reality.

UNKNOWN (through translator): If we're not white, if we don't have a typically French name, we're not considered French.

UNKNOWN: I know the struggles that students face here, and I don't feel that he's representing young people.

VANDOORNE (voice-over): Bardella was hand-picked by Marine Le Pen to be her successor, in an effort to detoxify and normalize the party that was founded by former French members of Hitler's SS. Though he lacks experience, he and Le Pen form a powerful duo.

BARDELLA (through translator): She's the political leader and I'm the army general. We work together in harmony.

VANDOORNE (voice-over): First a strong standing in the European elections, now a real shot at the parliament, and finally another go at the presidency by Le Pen. All with one man firmly in their sights.

BARDELLA (through translator): The person who erased France has a name. It's Emmanuel Macron.

VANDOORNE (voice-over): Saskya Vandoorne, CNN, Paris.


FOSTER: Earlier I spoke to Helene Conway-Mouret. She's a senator for the Socialist Party, representing French citizens abroad. I asked her about her reaction really to Sunday's vote, and also what comes next.


SEN. HELENE CONWAY-MOURET, FRENCH SOCIALIST PARTY: We never thought that we would see the extreme right being so strong in France. Of course the extreme right was in power just for a short time, during the Second World War, and we never had it since. But what they've thrown is quite counter to everything I defend. You know, I'm a pro- European, I'm a universalist, and I believe that we need to be open and that France be loyal to what it has always been.

And I represent the French abroad, so I'm quite open to the world and not believe that our borders ought to be closed, which is something that cannot be done anyway.

FOSTER: So what happens now? You've got Macron and the left alliance saying, because there'll be typically three candidates now going into the second round, from left, far-right and the center. What's going to be the direction of the left and the center for their candidates? Do they pull out to block the far right?

CONWAY-MOURET: That was what all the leaders of the left-wing parties announced last night. I mean they were all very clear as to the fact that they do not want the extreme-right to have an absolute majority. We know that there will be a lot of M.P.s, but the thing is not to give them an absolute majority and then having the president, well, having some kind of freedom to nominate who he wants as a prime minister and not be obliged to nominate the one that will be representing the absolute majority. So there is a major difference because at the end of the day we may have a prime minister who is not from the extreme-right.

FOSTER: Will the candidates actually adhere to it though? I'm just thinking of an example where there's someone from the right of the centrist bloc and someone from the far-left of the left bloc and neither of them deciding who should pull out. Perhaps the centrist doesn't want to allow the far left to get through.

CONWAY-MOURET: Well, at the end of the day it's going to be down to the people voting. I mean, you know, parties, political parties may indicate what they want as a strategy, as I've just indicated, of not having an absolute majority.

But, you know, individuals will make up their mind and decide that, well, they, you know, they want to, you know, they don't care or they feel that they just want to vote for the M.P. that will be best representing them locally and they will make their choice like that. But those indicators are for an overall strategy, if you like, of not having this absolute majority, which is going to have an impact far beyond France if it is the case.


So that's why the left and the center have indicated that indeed they will pull out their candidate, not to have an election with three candidates, but only two, with the third giving their vote to, you know, either the center, right-left or the left.


FOSTER: Helene Conway-Mouret speaking to me a bit earlier, Rosemary, from, you know, the Socialist Party. They held their vote really in the center. What we saw was the right moving forward ahead of them and obviously Macron falling back. So it was a seismic shift in French politics.

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Yeah, most definitely. All right, our thanks to Max. We will return to you at the top of the hour. I appreciate your reporting there from Paris.

We are seeing more unrest in Jerusalem, nearly a week after Israel's Supreme Court ordered the government to begin drafting ultra-Orthodox Jewish men into the military. On Sunday, members of the community clashed with police and five people were arrested.

That anger could eventually threaten the future of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition government, which relies on ultra- Orthodox parties to remain in power.

Still to come this hour, the alarming trend of Afghan girls trying to end their lives rather than live under Taliban rule. The details after the break.


CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Some young women and girls in Afghanistan are losing their will to live since the Taliban's resurgence to power nearly three years ago. The Islamist militant group's crackdown on women's rights has led to an increased rate of mental health crises and suicides among Afghanistan's teenage girls, with little to no intervention from the international community.


Our Anna Coren spoke with one Afghan teen who almost became another statistic in that unfortunate trend. She spoke to her on her second chance at life. A warning though this report may be upsetting to some viewers.


ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's been described as the most serious women's rights crisis in the world, Afghanistan under Taliban rule. But despite this grave warning, the United Nations has been accused of betraying the girls and women of Afghanistan, agreeing to Taliban demands to keep women's rights off the agenda at the two-day U.N.-led conference in Doha.

It comes as a mental health crisis is sweeping across the country, with adolescent girls who see no future trying to kill themselves. We now bring you the story of one of those girls.

COREN (voice-over): Huddled on the floor over school books, 16-year- old Azo meticulously copies the English sentences. Her neat cursive writing, a display of devotion to furthering her education.

Learning new words makes me happy, she explains.

But this scene was unthinkable just eight months ago when we first met Azo in the same room on the outskirts of Karachi in Pakistan.

Don't worry, you'll be fine, says her brother, kissing her hand. We are with you always.

Azo was bedridden, her skeletal frame wasting away.

Every breath she took and movement she made causing unbearable pain.

Azo is from neighboring Afghanistan and it's there in her home in July of last year she tried to kill herself.

This is the first time the teenager, whose identity is hidden due to security concerns, is able to speak to us about what led her to that point.

On that day I felt like everything was over. I glanced at pictures of my classmates and felt a deep sense of longing. I was overwhelmed by hopelessness and that's why I drank battery acid, convinced it would end my life.

Azo, seen here in pink in happier times, is one of countless Afghan girls who have attempted suicide, an alarming trend spreading across the country since the Taliban returned to power almost three years ago.

A ban on secondary education for girls, one of the most damaging of dozens of edicts enforced by the Taliban, contributing to what human rights activists describe as the most serious women's rights crisis in the world. A call backed up by U.N. officials.

RICHARD BENNETT, U.N. SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN AFGHANISTAN: The Taliban's institutionalized system of gender oppression, established and enforced through its violations of women and girls' fundamental rights, is widespread and systematic, amounting to crimes against humanity.

COREN (voice-over): But despite this powerful language, the U.N. has appeased the Taliban for the U.N. conference on Afghanistan in Doha, agreeing to its demands that women's rights are off the official agenda, guaranteeing its attendance for the very first time. Nor will Afghan women be represented in Taliban meetings.

HEATHER BARR, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: This is shocking and shameful behavior and this really represents a huge win for the Taliban, honestly, in terms of how much power they're able to exercise, how much the international community is allowing their conduct, their abuses to be normalized. And this is really devastating for Afghan women.

COREN (voice-over): Especially for girls like Azo.

After her suicide attempt, she was vomiting blood and couldn't swallow. Her siblings smuggled her into Pakistan for treatment at a local hospital, but Azo's condition only worsened.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: The rising number of girls turning to suicide out of their despair.

COREN (voice-over): When our story aired in December, a highly respected institution in Pakistan that wishes to remain anonymous contacted CNN, offering Azo proper medical care that would ultimately save her life.

UNKNOWN: Her weight was that of probably a four-year-old. She was 20 to 22 kilograms at the time that we saw her. There's no doubt in my mind that she had only a few months left to live, really.

COREN (voice-over): By consuming battery acid, Azo suffered what's called an esophageal stricture, a narrowing of the esophagus, stopping food from passing to her stomach. Over several procedures, doctors inflated a tiny balloon inside her esophagus to gradually widen the passage, allowing her to eat.


In January this year, she ate her first meal of rice and milk.

It was delicious. I felt strong at that moment and so happy. I told myself I could get through these hard days.

And since then, she has doubled her weight. Yet Azo's battles are far from over.

Her doctor says she requires ongoing medical care and is now at risk of developing esophageal cancer.

But the immediate threat facing Azo and her siblings is deportation, as Pakistan prepares to expel the next wave of undocumented Afghan migrants.

Approximately one-fifth of the nearly three million Afghans living in Pakistan were deported by the end of last year. Homes in refugee camps have been marked by authorities for the next round, and Azo is visibly upset at the prospect.

COREN: Would you try to kill yourself again if you were forced to return to Afghanistan?

COREN (voice-over): If I go back to Afghanistan, I would end up doing the same thing again because I can't attend school or see my friends. I cannot live there.

For the pediatric surgeon who operated on Azo, he says they were lucky to get to her in time.

UNKNOWN: We don't want to be at the resuscitating end. The goal is to be at the prevention part and to kind of not allow it to happen.

COREN (voice-over): But sadly there is no way to stop what is happening in Afghanistan under Taliban rule, as an entire generation of girls just like Azo are unable to see any light on the horizon.

COREN: The U.N.-led conference, which wraps up today, wants to engage the Taliban on issues such as aid, the economy, narcotics and security. But by refusing to address the systemic abuse of women's rights, activists say the U.N. and international community is abandoning the girls and women of Afghanistan who continue to suffer every single day. Back to you.


CHURCH: And while it's not on the agenda, two U.N. officials tell CNN the treatment of women and girls is expected to come up in discussions. We'll be right back.




CHURCH: Returning now to one of our top stories, the first round of voting in French parliamentary elections. The Interior Ministry says the far-right National Rally Party got the most votes, while the left- wing New Popular Front coalition came in second. And President Emmanuel Macron and his Ensemble Alliance came in third. A second round of voting will be held next Sunday, July 7.

And thanks so much for your company this hour. I'm Rosemary Church. I'll be back with Max Foster and another hour of "CNN Newsroom" right after a short break. Do stay with us.