Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Left-Wing Coalition Beats Far Right In France; Sources: Several Top House Dems Want Biden To Exit Race; Ceasefire-Hostage Release Talks To Resume In Qatar; Beryl Back To Hurricane Strength Ahead Of Texas Landfall. Aired 12-12:45a ET

Aired July 08, 2024 - 00:00   ET


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello and welcome, everyone. I'm Michael Holmes. Appreciate your company.


Coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM, from the far right to the far left, France's parliamentary election deals a major blow to the former and leaves France in political limbo.

Joe Biden's future. Several top House Democrats still want the U.S. president to exit the 2024 race.

And Tropical Storm Beryl nearing hurricane strength again, as it makes its way towards Texas.

ANNOUNCER: Live from Atlanta, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Michael Holmes.

HOLMES: And we begin in France, where the left-wing coalition has won the most seats in Parliament, defeating the far right in a stunning upset. The New Popular Front, a coalition of several parties, won 182 seats in the National Assembly, making it the largest bloc, but it fell short of an absolute majority.

President Emmanuel Macron's centrist Ensemble alliance got 163 seats, while Marine Le Pen's far-right National Rally and its allies got 143 seats. You see the breakdown there.

Now, speaking to supporters or Jean-Luc Melenchon, one of the prominent leaders of the left coalition, said the results came as a, quote, "huge relief" for the overwhelming majority of people in the country.

And Mr. Macron's office said the president will ensure, quote, "the choice of the French people is respected." After the first round of voting, the far right's run to power was undone by tactical dealmaking between centrist and leftist opponents.

More than 200 candidates withdrew from the second round to avoid splitting the anti-National Rally vote. Party leader Marine Le Pen said the party's victory had only been delayed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MARINE LE PEN, NATIONAL RALLY (through translator): The quagmire that I warned about has, of course, come true. France will be totally blocked, with three groups that have more or less the same influence in the National Assembly. Well, we're going towards that. It's sad. Losing one more year, one more year of unregulated immigration. One more year of losing purchasing power. One more year of a blowing up of security in our country.

But if we need to go through that, then we'll go through that.


HOLMES: As the results trickled in, thousands of people gathered in central Paris to celebrate. The police finally had to use tear gas to disperse them.

Now, reactions to France's election results were passionate, some voters saying the election was less about the left winning, but rather stopping the far right from doing so.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): The new left-wing bloc offer a unit front. Actually, a New Popular Front, because people knew how to face and block the National Rally.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It makes you think that the 2027 presidential election is an achievable goal and that we can win. This is obviously a big turnaround, when many activists no longer saw hope, and we were afraid for the future of France in the hands of the National Rally.

But in fact, we said to ourselves that no, there is another way. And that way is us, the left, the united left.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Our opponents seemed to be thinking they have already won, but there was this real upsurge throughout the country.


HOLMES: That upsurge appears to have caught some supporters of the National Rally by surprise, but they've made it clear, as we heard, they're already looking forward to the next election.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Personally, I'm a little disappointed. I wasn't expecting an absolute majority, of course, but I'm still a little disappointed.

On the other hand, I'm not beaten down. I still have hope. I can't wait for the presidential elections.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We will continue, whatever happens, to follow through on our ideas, which are not racist ideas, as some may say. The media said it, the social networks. They tried to demonize us, but it was the honest French who vote for the National Rally.

In the first round, there were 12 million votes for the R.N. There are not 12 million racists. There are 12 million French people who have concerns about purchasing power, retirement, and want solutions. We want to tell them that we are here, and we are going to fight with them.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We are going to amplify our work, our mobilization, so that it passes next time.


HOLMES: CNN's Melissa Bell has been following the results and has more for us now from Paris.


MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A shock result. Screams of jubilation mixed with tears of joy.

France's political pendulum swinging left in the second round of the country's parliamentary elections.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When we saw that, like, I know in my street people started shouting. They were like, "Yay!" So, we're really happy.

BELL (voice-over): The New Popular Front, a left-wing alliance formed less than a month ago, sweeping the most seats.

JEAN-LUC MELENCHON, FRANCE UNBOWED PARTY LEADER (through translator): The unified left has shown it is capable of facing this historic event, and it has scuffered (ph) the trap, which was set for the country.

BELL (voice-over): The snap election was called by President Macron after France's far-right National Rally Party dominated European elections.

It then went on to take a commanding lead in the first round of voting in its parliamentary elections. But then suffered a major blow in the second.

The party's leader, Jordan Bardella, fighting frustration and disappointment after the stunning loss.

JORDAN BARDELLA, NATIONAL RALLY PARTY LEADER (through translator): I tell you, in all seriousness, that depriving millions of French people of seeing the possibility of their ideas and thoughts represented in government will never be viable for France.

BELL: The voters disappointed the role (ph), of course, of Marine Le Pen. She had hoped that her National Rally Party would finally be able to govern. In fact, it came in third, but still recorded the party's best ever electoral success.

BELL (voice-over): Yet, the result that set off those cheers of jubilation has also plunged the country into political chaos. With no clear majority, Parliament is left gridlocked, and the left-wing alliance, which was formed with no clear leader, also now needs to determine who becomes prime minister.

GABRIEL ATTAL, OUTGOING FRENCH PRIME MINISTER (through translator): I know that, in the light of tonight's results, a good many French people feel very unsure about the future, because there is no absolute majority. Our country is faced with an unprecedented political situation.

BELL (voice-over): An unprecedented political situation that includes a French Parliament even more fractious and divided than it was before.

Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.


HOLMES: And joining me now, live from Los Angeles, is Dominic Thomas, CNN European affairs commentator.

Always good to see you, my friend.

Now, this has been a whole election process full of surprises. This tactic for the center and left to block the right. But more than that happened. What was your take on this -- these results.

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Well, Emmanuel Macron took a very big risk going into this election, and ultimately, after the terrible performance of his party at the European elections, he wanted to go back to the French people and to change the narrative and to ask them, really, whether they were serious or not in supporting the National Rally to the degree they had in the -- in the European elections.

And I think what was so stunning about this particular result, and I think that the reason why the polls were so far off, was the effectiveness of the blocking of the far right. But also, Michael, this historic turnout. It's been decades since this many people have voted in the second round of a run-off stage.

So I see the disappointment on the far right, but it's important to underscore that they did get well over 10 million votes, three times more, roughly, than in 2022 in the runoff stages. And although that did not translate into a -- the 289 majority numbers, it's still an important sort of indication as to the power that they have there and how crucial it's going to be for Emmanuel Macron moving forward to create a different kind of government, Michael.

HOLMES: yes. Yes. Yes, they may not have won, but they certainly boosted their -- their presence and power. Now the New Popular Front, this is comprised of five parties. Desperate -- disparate parties, really, in many ways; Marine Le Pen will no doubt be hoping for coalition, chaos and dysfunction.

How unified are these leftist parties? What are they going to want out of these results? I mean, for one, the party wants to recognize -- the main party wants to recognize a Palestinian state. How's it going to play out?

THOMAS: Well, so first of all, yes, they did come out ahead, but there's still about just over 100 seats short of an over -- of a larger sort of majority.

So, the Parliament is very much divided between this sort of center, left and right kind of factions. The interesting thing in the long game is really the 2027 elections.

And so, the calculation going forward is, do they join up with the Emmanuel Macron kind of coalition government here, since we know that Emmanuel Macron will not work with the far right? Or do they decide to kind of stay on the sidelines, waiting for 2027 because their dream, of course, is to end up in the runoff stages against Marine Le Pen.


And they believe that they will win out with a kind of Republican bloc moving forward.

I think what we're going to see in the next few days is Emmanuel Macron trying to build a coalition -- coalition with some of the members of this New Popular Front. And many of his supporters and party members do not want to work with the far-right LFI, France Unbowed. And that's going to be interesting to see whether that coalition gets torn apart as Macron reaches out to the socialists, to the Greens within that political configuration, Michael.

HOLMES: As we say for centrists and leftists, a case of crisis averted. But the -- as you said, the far-right can't be ignored. Does this give Emmanuel Macron some breathing space? Is it too early to read what the tea leaves look like for the presidential race in 2027?

I mean, he doesn't have to run until then.

THOMAS: He doesn't, and he's -- he's termed out in any case. And the big question really with him is who is the person who replaces him?

But I believe that -- you know, that the way that things are playing out in here, yes, he did today. He did not come last. He came second and so on. So, there's still a sort of strong centrist support that the real bulk of this support is on the far right and on the far left.

And those are the two movements and parties looking to get to those runoff stages. The crucial point for him right now is, is he able to change the way that he's governing? Is he able to transform this deep anger that we saw just a few weeks ago, Michael, in this protest vote in the European Union elections? And he cannot expect people moving forward to repeatedly vote in

elections simply against the far right, rather than actually voting for things that they -- that they believe in. And that's going to require a new kind of government maturity cross-party kind of consensus.

And this is not really in the DNA of this French system that sort relies on a strong presidential majority, and we don't have that anymore, Michael.

HOLMES: Yes, so he'll -- he'll be out of the scene in 2027 anyway.

So, what happens in the very short term? I mean, who's likely to be prime minister? I mean, in this hung Parliament situation, when is there likely to be a functioning government? I mean, how long might it take?

THOMAS: Well, there's a lot of chatter on the sideline and misconceptions, right? And you see this on some candidates in that -- in that New Popular Front, calling for a prime minister. None of them have a majority. So there's no precedent of him behaving in this way.

In the past, when they've had these power-sharing cohabitation governments, it's precisely because the office -- the Parliament had a majority that was not that of the president.

That's not the case right now, so that nothing requires him to reach out to any particular -- particular group that clearly, the path forward, the only way in which he can legislate in a way that's different than he has been since he lost his majority in the 2022 legislature is to basically reach across the aisle.

And over the next few days, what we're going to see is him having conversations with different political groups to see whether there is a path forward.

And I think that this electoral turnout is a very strong indication that the French people are concerned about poor governance and ineffective governments. And this is -- this turnout is an indication that they expect something positive to come out of this.

And if they don't, Michael, it will simply provide the oxygen that is so needed for these far-right groups that rely on despair and dissatisfaction and low voter turnout. And the high turnout today negatively impacted the far right, Michael.

HOLMES: Wow. Just a fascinating dynamic.

Dominic Thomas, always good to see you. Thanks, Dominic.

THOMAS: Thank you.

HOLMES: Now to the U.S., where a number of House Democrats are joining the growing chorus calling on Joe Biden to exit the presidential race.

But for the U.S. president, it's been business as usual, with campaign stops in the battleground state of Pennsylvania on Sunday, where he once again insisted he's pushing onward and upwards and has never been more optimistic, he said, about Americas future.

CNN's White House correspondent Arlette Saenz with more.


ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Biden told reporters traveling with him in Pennsylvania on Sunday --

SAENZ (voice-over): -- that he does believe the Democratic Party is behind him in the 2024 race. But there are more signs emerging that that might not be the case.

On Sunday, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries held a phone call with the ranking members of several top committees in the House, and sources tell CNN that several of the Democratic lawmakers on that call said they believe it's time for President Biden to step aside in this race.

The sources told CNN that about six top House Democrats said that they want to see the president leave the 2024 campaign. That included Congressman Adam Smith, Jerry Nadler, Susan Wild, who is a frontline Democrat in Pennsylvania, all saying that they did not think the president should be the Democratic nominee.


There were a few people who spoke up in defense of President Biden, including Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Bobby Scott, saying that he should be able to remain in this race.

SAENZ: But sources tell CNN that the number of people who wanted to see the president step aside outnumbered those who were in favor of him staying in this race --

SAENZ (voice-over): -- at least those who spoke up on this call.

Now, it all presents a very interesting dynamic for President Biden, especially as Congress is set to return to Washington this week.

So much of the debate about President Biden remaining in the 2024 race has played out with -- while lawmakers have been back at home over Fourth of July holiday, hearing directly from their members [SIC].

SAENZ: But this week, they will be back here in Washington in front of reporters, holding meetings of their own, where certainly this issue of the 2024 campaign will arise.

SAENZ (voice-over): Now, the House minority leader, Hakeem Jeffries, held this call really to take the temperature of these leaders heading into this week's congressional business.

But sources tell CNN that so far, Jeffries has not shown his own hand either way. He has not weighed in, in these calls, about whether he believes President Biden should step aside or remain in this race. Now, President Biden is still charging ahead with his campaign, campaigning in the battleground of Pennsylvania on Sunday, his -- and joining him on the trail were several elected officials from Pennsylvania, including Senators Bob Casey, John Fetterman, and Madelene Dean.

SAENZ: The state's governor, a Democrat, Josh Shapiro, also joined the president at one of his stops. The campaign really hoping that this will show some elected officials who are still supporting President Biden, who are out there campaigning with him.

SAENZ (voice-over): The president has been defiant, insisting that he will stay in this race despite some of the pressure within his party. He's already planning out travel to go to Michigan and Nevada in the coming weeks, two critical battleground states, as he's really trying to convince voters and ease their concerns following that debate.

But certainly, there will be many questions facing President Biden --

SAENZ: -- here in Washington this week, especially as lawmakers are set to return. And there has been this growing chorus, publicly and privately calling for the president to step aside in the 2024 campaign at this moment.

Arlette Saenz, CNN, the White House.


HOLMES: Dr. Larry Sabato joins us now from the University of Virginia. He's the director for the Center of Politics at UVA and also the editor of "Return to Normalcy: The 2020 Election that Almost Broke America."

Always good to see you, sir.

There's been the debate performance fallout, the discussion about the ABC News interview, Congress back to work Monday. What -- what do you think this week holds in terms of Joe Biden moving the needle?

LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR FOR THE CENTER OF POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: I think this is the moment of decision, not just for President Biden, but also for Democratic leaders with Congress back in session.

They're all in one place, or most of them are in one place. And they're going to be communicating a great deal.

And already, we've had some additional members of Congress, all Democrats, come out and suggest that President Biden should step aside. I'm not predicting that will happen, because he seems determined to stay in, and it's up to him.

But if something were to happen, I think it would have to happen this week. Barring another incident weeks from now.

HOLMES: How long does he have in the political sense? I mean, what's -- what's the momentum in this discussion? And for the

party, how important the issue of time left until the election?

SABATO: Well, it's very important, because whether the Democrats want to admit it or not, whether the Biden campaign wants to admit it or not, President Biden is behind. He was behind before the debate and he's further behind now.

I know there's been one other poll suggesting that the swing states are still close, but you have to look at the polling averages. And things don't look good, and they seem to be getting worse.

That, more than anything else, except maybe for the views of the big donors, will probably determine whether Biden stays or goes.

HOLMES: I see this a lot on social media, and it does resonate a bit. I mean, do you see elements of a media feeding frenzy on this whole issue, particularly when Donald Trump has major issues with his own cognition and clarity of thought?

I mean, do you think there's a bit of a blood-in-the-water mood with Biden rather than, you know, more measured and balanced reporting on this issue, including the other candidate?

SABATO: Yes. I actually entitled a book I wrote back in the early 90s "Feeding Frenzy." So, I'm well familiar with media feeding frenzies.

Is this a frenzy? It is. Is it justified, as many frenzies are? Yes, because that appearance at the debate was extraordinary. Actually, it was extraordinarily bad. And I do think it reaffirmed people's doubts. Not everybody had articulated them, but most people had doubts about someone running for another four-year term as president at age 82.


So, I don't blame the media for that. What I do blame them for is under-covering Trump's lies and misrepresentations and also his own slurring of words and word salads. Those ridiculous word salads of his, that make no sense.

You know, he's showing signs of age, too. He's 78.

HOLMES: Yes. Yes, exactly. It does seem to be a bit one way, but on that -- on that point, how much has this whole thing helped Trump, at least for the moment. I mean, Team Trump has been remarkably quiet throughout all of this.

Is that a smart tactic? Take the win of Biden dominating the headlines in a negative way and just, you know, shut up?

SABATO: Yes. And it's surprising they were able to do it, because they normally can't convince the candidate to be quiet. That will end soon because the Republican convention is beginning in another week or so. And that's going to change the shift of attention to Trump.

Now, the good news for Trump is most of it will be positive. He'll be announcing his vice-presidential candidate, and various events will be occurring in Milwaukee at the Republican convention.

But sooner or later, there's going to be a reckoning. Sooner or later, there will be a reckoning. And Donald Trump is going to even out the coverage in a negative way.

HOLMES: I'm almost out of time, but I wanted to ask you this. In the big picture of what Democrats are thinking about, how worried are some in the party of not losing just the White House, but potentially, the House and the Senate, you know, there's a lot of brave faces out there. They're circling the wagons, a lot of them. But what is the broader party concern about losing all three branches?

SABATO: I've heard the word "panic" a lot. I think it's justified. I prefer the word "terrified," because even though so far, the Democratic candidates for Senate and for House and other offices have actually been leading Biden, which is highly unusual. Normally, the top of the ticket leads. They realize that, as the election approaches, that will change.

And in the end, the presidential margin, whether you're winning or losing, determines pretty much whether you win the Senate and the House and loads of state offices.

So, they have every right to be terrified.

HOLMES: Always good to get your analysis. Larry Sabato, thanks so much.

SABATO: Thank you, Michael.

HOLMES: Now, Mr. Biden said recently that he should be judged by his performance when America's closest allies come to Washington this week for the NATO summit.

The gathering kicks off in Washington on Tuesday, marking the 75th anniversary of the alliance. Crews are already putting up barricades over the weekend to prepare for the high-stakes summit.

The White House says talks will largely focus on upping support for Ukraine and the country's path towards eventually joining the alliance.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said he had a productive meeting with Mr. Biden to prepare for the summit.


JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL: I'm absolutely confident that, when all NATO leaders convene here this week, it will be a great summit. We will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the most successful alliance in history.

And I just met President Biden in the Oval Office a couple of weeks ago, and that was a good and productive meeting, where we prepared all the important decisions we'll make here on defense, on support for Ukraine, and not the least, on burnishing the European allies and now really stepping up and spending record amount of money on defense. And of course, also on China and our need to work together.

So, this is the substance of the summit. And -- and of course, these decisions would not have been possible to make without strong U.S. leadership.


HOLMES: Now the summit will begin with a commemorative event at the auditorium where the treaty was signed that formed the basis for NATO.

Well, there is new optimism about a possible ceasefire and hostage release deal between Israel and Hamas We'll explain why when we come back.



HOLMES: While some French allies are expressing relief over the country's election results, one Israeli government minister is expressing concern about the outcome and its potential impact on Israel-France relations.

The Israeli Minister of the Diaspora called the result, quote, "very bad news." He also slammed prominent New Popular Front leader Jean-Luc Melenchon as a, quote, "antisemite and staunch Israel hater" after the projected victory of the NFP.

The criticism reflects significant concern within the Israeli government about the political climate in France and its impact on the Jewish community there.

Well, there could be a step forward towards a ceasefire and hostage release deal between Israel and Hamas. We've been saying that for a long time, haven't we?

CIA director Bill Burns is heading to out for a new round of talks later this week. The head of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency also expected to attend.

Journalist Elliott Gotkine explains why there is new optimism this time.


ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: July 7 marked nine months since the Hamas-led --

GOTKINE (voice-over): -- terrorist attacks on Israel and a day shy of that, since Hezbollah began firing on the country. Since then, Israel and the Iran-backed militia in Southern Lebanon have been engaged in tit-for-tat attacks that still threaten to boil over.

Tens of thousands either side of the border have been displaced.

On Sunday, Israel said Hezbollah anti-tank missiles injured a soldier and two civilians, one of whom is a U.S. citizen. The 31-year-old man, who suffered shrapnel injuries to his upper body, was operated on and was initially said to be in a serious but stable condition.

The hospital treating him later said his health had worsened.

The attacks came a day after Israel said it killed a senior Hezbollah operative in an airstrike in Northern Lebanon.

Meanwhile, CIA Director Bill Burns heads back to Doha this week to resume talks aimed at securing a ceasefire and the release of hostages still held in Gaza.

GOTKINE: An official familiar with the meeting told CNN he'll meet with his counterparts from Egypt and Israel, as well as the Qatari prime minister, amid rising hopes that a deal may be close.

GOTKINE (voice-over): This comes after a senior Hamas official told CNN it's considering dropping its demand that Israel agree to a permanent cessation of hostilities from the very start. A red line for Israel.

Under pressure from protesters to do a deal, but mindful that it could cause his far-right allies to bolt from his coalition, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office issued a statement on Sunday, insisting on four points.

Firstly, that any deal will allow Israel to resume fighting until all of the objectives of the war have been achieved.

Secondly, that there'll be no smuggling of weapons to Hamas from Egypt over the Gaza border.

Thirdly, that there'll be no return of thousands of armed terrorists to the Northern Gaza Strip.

And finally, that Israel will maximize the number of living hostages who will be released from Hamas captivity. Israel believes there are still 116 hostages in Gaza who were kidnapped --

GOTKINE: -- on October the 7th, around a third of whom are believed to be dead.

Elliott Gotkine, CNN, London.


HOLMES: Meanwhile, Benjamin Netanyahu's office is asking that his trial on corruption charges be delayed again because of Israel's war with Hamas.

But the prosecutor says that the court should reject that request. The prosecution wants Netanyahu to testify as early as November.

The prime minister's office wants the already much-delayed trial pushed back to March of next year. Well, a shock result in a snap election. The left comes out on top in

a vote the far right was expected to do better in. We'll have all the results from France and the reaction when we come back.



HOLMES: Welcome back. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM with me, Michael Holmes.

Returning now to our top story out of France, where the country's left-wing alliance has come out on top after the second round of parliamentary elections.

There were celebrations in the streets when the results were announced.




HOLMES: That excitement as many expressed relief that the far right was denied a majority.

The final results on Sunday came as a reversal to the first round of voting a week earlier, that saw the National Rally top its rivals. But after the second and final round, the far right came in third.

The New Popular Front coalition came in first with 182 seats. That makes it the largest bloc, but not a majority. President Emmanuel Macron's centrist alliance came in second.

Now the most recognizable face of the New Popular Front, Jean-Luc Melenchon, said that the French people, quote, "rejected the worst- case scenario."

Now comes the task of choosing the next prime minister. Mr. Macron, who called the snap elections, vowed earlier that the results would be respected, in his words. But his move is likely to lead to political uncertainty, with no alliance reaching an absolute majority.

The French prime minister, Gabriel Attal, meanwhile, says he will submit his resignation on Monday, although he says he will continue his duties as long as he is needed.

Attal has only been in the job since January, and he's broken barriers as the country's first openly gay prime minister and also its youngest.

He says he's stepping down as the country faces an unprecedented political situation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ATTAL (through translator): My commitment in this campaign was for me a duty from the start of this campaign, I've been alerted of three risks. The risk of an absolute majority, dominated by France Unbowed; the risk of an absolute majority dominated by the National Rally; and the risk of disappearance from the movement that represents our ideas and our values.

Today, these three risks have been eliminated by the French. Tonight, no absolute majority can be driven by the extremes.


HOLMES: Now, the prominent French far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon of the France Unbowed Party. He says that the Popular Front victory gives President Macron a clear mandate to appoint a new left-wing prime minister.


MELENCHON (through translator): Now the will of the people must be strictly respected. From now on, no tricks, backroom deals, nor combinations would be acceptable.

The lesson to be taken from the vote is definitive. The defeat of the president and his coalition has been confirmed with clarity.

The president has the power. The president has the duty to call on the New Popular Front to govern.



HOLMES: National Rally leader Jordan Bardella remained defiant over his party's slide from leading the first round of polling to third place in the second round.

He vowed to continue with Marine Le Pen to fight for the National Rally's future, insisting that change is coming.


BARDELLA (through translator): The National Rally will be stepping up its work. Firstly, in the National Assembly behind Marine Le Pen, and then in the country, continuing to work toward national unity, bringing all French people together. And of course, the necessary democratic changeover that is coming.

And finally, in the European Parliament. Our lawmakers will be swearing in and join a great group that will have a major influence on the balance of power in Europe, rejecting the flood of migrants, punitive ecology, and the confiscation of our sovereignty.


HOLMES: French President Emmanuel Macron's call for snap elections, after a stinging far victory in June's European Parliament elections, has resulted in a fractured French National Assembly.

Cecile Alduy, a professor of French studies at Stanford University, also says it leaves Mr. Macron in a very different -- difficult position. Here's what she told CNN earlier.


CECILE ALDUY, PROFESSOR OF FRENCH STUDIES, STANFORD UNIVERSITY: He has very little power, constitutionally speaking. The prime minister and the government govern, and they pass laws in the National Assembly.

And so, if the government is not from his political party, he's going to be sitting there and signing treaties, signing laws. But he has very little power to direct the direction the country is going to go toward and also to block anything.

You cannot impeach a president in the past (ph).

So, he's going to be this kind of honorific title, a little bit like, you know, in Italy, the president has very little power. However, he might want to organize a new coalition that will be more to the left.

He was elected in 2017 on this promise of being and of the left and of the right. So -- and in the end, he governed mostly on the right. So maybe it's gone to -- go back to his roots. He has reinvented himself many times, so no one knows.


HOLMES: That was Cecile Alduy, the professor of French studies at Stanford University.

Well, Beryl is back to hurricane strength in the Gulf of Mexico, with a landfall in Southern Texas expected in the hours ahead. We'll have the latest on the storm's path after the break.


HOLMES: Beryl is back to hurricane strength in the Gulf of Mexico.

Now a Category 1 storm with a landfall in Southern Texas likely in the coming hours. Residents there being warned not to underestimate it and to be prepared for a potentially dangerous situation with storm surge, flash flooding, strong winds, and power outages.


CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam brings us the latest from the Texas coast.


DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Residents and businesses here across the central Texas coastline are bracing for --

VAN DAM (voice-over): -- what could potentially be the first U.S. landfalling hurricane of the 2024 season.

Now, Beryl has outdone all the odds working against it, from Saharan dust to strong wind shear, which typically topples developing tropical systems. That has not been the case. It's been a named storm for ten days.

Now, it's running out of time to strengthen as it approaches the central Texas coastline.

VAN DAM: But one thing's for sure. Water temperatures over this part of the Gulf of Mexico are running abnormally high, about three degrees above where they should be this time of year. That's like mid-August water temperatures. and that is like jet fuel for strengthening hurricanes and tropical system.

VAN DAM (voice-over): So we anticipate storm surge as a threat as that water has pushed on shore along the Texas coast. And then, of course, winds. The strongest winds will be West of I-45 and South of I-10, closer to the coastline, but it's not out of the realm of possibility to see and experience --

VAN DAM: -- tropical-storm-force gusts in Houston.

And we don't have to go back that far in history to remember the straight-line winds that knocked out the windows within some of the high-rise buildings in downtown Houston. So, we don't want to see a repeat of that.

The other concern, of course --

VAN DAM (voice-over): -- flash flooding, with five to ten inches and locally over a foot in this forecast. That is certainly a possibility and something that people need to monitor.

VAN DAM: This will not be another Hurricane Harvey, which sat over Eastern Texas four days after making landfall.

Beryl will move out very quickly. In fact, by Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, it is going to be nearing the United States and Canada border. That's how quickly it will move away from the region.

I'm CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam from Port Lavaca, Texas.


HOLMES: Angel Reese, the Chicago Sky's condensed contender for rookie of the year, kept up her remarkable run in the WNBA, with a 13th consecutive double-double on Sunday.

She passed the WNBA's previous record holder, Candace Parker, who had 12 doubles in a row, with nine in a single season.

Reese scored 17 points, 14 rebounds, and threw in four steals for good measure. But Chicago lost the game 84 to 71 to the Seattle Storm.

Thanks for spending part of your day with me watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Michael Holmes. WORLD SPORT coming away next. I'll see you with more news in about 15 minutes.