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CNN International: France In Political Limbo After Left Alliance Beats Far Right; At Least 22 Killed By Russian Missile Strikes Across Ukraine; Sources: Several Top House Democrats Want Biden To Step Aside. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired July 08, 2024 - 08:00   ET



EVELYN FARKAS, FORMER DEP. ASST. SECY. OF DEFENSE FOR RUSSIA, UKRAINE & EURASIA: Another ally joining the NATO summit. They've being doing this now for a couple of years, and that's significant. So, we have -- the democracy is getting together collectively on the world stage, though Putin and Xi want to have sort of a competitive programming in the world of media (inaudible). So, that is what they're trying to do here. They're trying to show that they're strong, that they can stand up to the democracies. There is a real struggle going on. You mentioned the far right. Yes, they've made some advances in certain places, but they've also had to retreat and --

MAX FOSTER, HOST, "CNN NEWSROOM": Hello, and welcome -- hello, and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Max Foster live in Paris. This is CNN Newsroom.

Just ahead, France making a dramatic left turn, as the far right's fortunes plunge at the polls. But, a day after an historic election, where does France actually go next? There is some confusion. We'll have full coverage from Paris this hour. Plus, a deadly day in Ukraine, as at least 22 are killed in airstrikes. We'll take a closer look at the targets that were hit. And tracking Hurricane Beryl, the Category 1 storm comes ashore in Texas. We're live on the Gulf Coast with the very latest.

Beginning here in France, where the EU's second biggest economy is facing political gridlock. A short while ago, it looked like France's Prime Minister was heading for the exits until Macron, President Macron, asked him to stay put at least for now. This comes after Sunday's second round of parliamentary vote. That saw a left-wing alliance win the most seats in a stunning turnaround. The far-right National Rally pushed into third place, had been expected to come out on top, considering the first round election. But now, with no single party winning outright, observers say France is facing a hung parliament.

CNN's Melissa Bell looks at how Sunday's vote unfolded.


MELISSA BELL, CNN SENIOR 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.

CAMILLE, NEW POPULAR FRONT VOTER: When we saw that, like, I know in my street, people started shouting. There were like, yeah, let's go. 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, LEADER, FRANCE UNBOWED (Interpreted): The unified left has shown it is capable of facing this historic event and it has scuffered 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 this 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, FRANCE NATIONAL RALLY LEADER (Interpreted): 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 biggest disappointment of all, of course, for Marine Le Pen, she had hopes 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 tears 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, FRENCH PRIME MINISTER (Interpreted): 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.


FOSTER: Well, Melissa joins us now live. Melissa, for President Macron, this is a crisis, isn't it, and he is heading to NATO. He has got to represent the French. He is a key player in Europe. He doesn't know who is going to be Prime Minister. He is going to have to appoint someone, but it's very sort of rough. I mean, this group of left-wing parties have got to find some sort of solution and they haven't been that organized in the past. BELL: They haven't been that organized, Max, and they're famous for being extremely fractured on the left. And then you have the change in the composition of this alliance. The last time the left formed an alliance couple of years ago, the weight of France Unbowed, which is probably its most controversial constituent part, the radical left, far left, considered by many here in France, led by Jean-Luc Melenchon, represented a much bigger weight within it. This time, the balance of power is slightly different.


So, you're going to see all kinds of discussions beginning even now behind closed doors between the representatives of that party, of Jean-Luc Melenchon, between the other allies that have come together with it in this improbable alliance to try and figure out what happens next. It was all very well coming together less than a month ago in the face of who they knew they were against. It's another kettle of fish and tidy to figure out what it is they are for, and how they can cooperate, not least in choosing who will represent them. Clearly, the socialists hope it will be Olivier Faure, those of France Unbowed who have not broken away from the party, and there are a few dissidents there too. We will be hoping that is their leader Jean-Luc Melenchon. And all of this, of course, hangs in the balance, and we simply don't know.

For now, all we have learned this morning is that President Macron has not accepted the resignation of Gabriel Attal, suggesting that he might stay on for a little longer in a caretaker role, bringing some sense of stability while these negotiations can take place, Max.

FOSTER: And while the Olympics takes place as well, I mean, the optics of changing the Prime Minister would be unsettling for that. Wouldn't it? Never happened before. In terms of -- I mean, you alluded to this in your piece, where you said that this was the best showing the far right has had. If we step back from everything and all this chaos that we've seen in French politics, the one ongoing story is that every vote the far right get more votes, they get more power, and it seems to be only going in one direction.

BELL: That's right. And in fact, you heard that very much in the comments that were made after the vote was announced, both by Jordan Bardella, the current President of party, and of course, Marine Le Pen, its historical leader, that both suggested that in fact it was the seeds of tomorrow's victories that they believe they were reading in the results of yesterday's vote. And of course, it's important to remember that whilst they had been hoping to win this election and indeed become the biggest party here at the National Assembly in Paris, they still achieved their biggest ever victory, and they've doubled the number of seats that they have in parliament. And that's a pretty considerable feat for a party.

Remember that a couple of decades ago, it had no MPs, little by little got more and more, changed its image, managed to hear and speak to the anger a lot of French people, especially outside of Paris, that find that times are hard economically, that feel that they're not listened to, really playing on that disenchantment, and it had looked after that first round, Max, like they'd actually finally achieved their hope of getting to the center stage of French politics. In fact, they're now the third largest force within parliament. They're bigger than they were. And they remain the force that is most likely to continue growing. And I think that's also something that's at the heart of the celebrations that we saw yesterday, Place Publique (oh).

Everyone there was very excited that the left had come together, but also worried about the fact that this had been a coalition of circumstance and the deep down, perhaps the forces on the far right still remains strong and concerning, Max.

FOSTER: Melissa Bell, thank you.

Well, earlier on CNN, I sat down with the left-wing MP Daniele Obono of the Unbowed Party, who is being reelected as a member of the French National Assembly for a third time in a row. She is very close to Jean-Luc Melenchon. He was -- she was with him last night, as the results came through. I started by asking her the mood when those results came in.




OBONO: I think everybody was both released -- relieved and are very overwhelmed by -- everybody being so happy. And also, we felt that we were at a turning point in our country's history, and we managed to beat the odds and win and defeat the far right, which, what everybody predicted they would win. And the people rose up and said, not today. They're not going to win this time, nor ever. So, that was a very powerful moment.

FOSTER: That was very successful the way the parties on the left and in the middle ground came together to squeeze out the far right. But, you also had a very strong turnout. So, are you finding that people were really quite shocked by that first round election with the National Front -- National -- the far right actually coming out on top?

OBONO: Yes. And I think for millions of people in this country, it was about their very lives that was threatened. And we have groups of -- far-right groups roaming the streets, threatening LGBT people, threatening migrant people. A lot of people were abused verbally and called names, and it was very a matter of life or death for a lot of people, and parents telling their kids that they should leave the country because it would be impossible to keep living in this country with the far right win. So, it was very -- it was not something theoretical for us and many of others.


So -- and I think that the fact that there was such a high turnout that people realized what was at stake, and rose to this historical moment.

FOSTER: People in the center ground that also didn't like your language either. They were as worried about the far left as they are about the far right. What are you saying to them today?

OBONO: First of all, we are on the left, as a whole and --

FOSTER: Unbowed Party (ph) is far left.


FOSTER: That's a group. That's a group.

OBONO: It's on the left and our highest administrative courts saying that we were the left and the National Rally was the far right, which I think closed the debate. But, most of all, it's not about the language or how bright it is outside, the smile and or anything. It's about our platform. And I think we convinced people that our platform, what was needed in order to beat the fascist but also to change people's lives, and that's what's the most important for us. We got elected on a mandate to make more social justice, to implement green policies in order to face climate change, and to change our system to make it more democratic. And I think that's the most important rather than like language or the way we behave -- supposedly behave. I think that's what people are looking for, and they will be very serious about --


OBONO: -- what you're going to do the next.


FOSTER: Daniele Obono, the Unbowed Party there, speaking to me. We'll have much more on the French election later this hour. I'll speak with the Paris Bureau Chief for The Economist about where the country goes from here.

Now, at least 22 people, meanwhile, killed and dozens of others injured in Russian missile strikes across Ukraine today. The targets included a children's hospital in Kyiv that was hit during a rare daytime attack. One nurse described it this way, everything was in smoke. There was no air to breathe. Residential buildings and other facilities also badly damaged. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says the exact number of casualties at the hospital isn't yet known and there are people under the rubble. Russian missiles also hit several of Ukraine's southern cities.

Let's get more from CNN's Clare Sebastian, live in London. Is there an explanation from Russia?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Russia just said that it's been targeting defense installations. They have not directly addressed this specific attack, and in particular, the children's hospital, which is where we're getting the most shocking images this morning, Max. This is a very well-known location in Kyiv, the main children's hospital in that city, but also in all of Ukraine, a place where people would bring their children to get the most sophisticated treatment. We're seeing children having to evacuate, those who are undergoing treatment for things like cancer, having difficulty moving.

This is -- there was also operations going on at the same time. A pediatric nurse telling CNN that they were midway through an operation on a two-year-old and had to essentially stop and sew the child back up without having completed the operation when the bomb hit. There was also another air raid siren several hours later which sent people running to the basement. We're now hearing that another medical facility in another part of Kyiv has been hit. We think preliminarily, according to officials there, by debris, but seven people that killed, according to the General Prosecutor's Office.

So, an extremely deadly day, not just in the capital, but in other cities, and it was cities mainly targeted, the Defense Minister saying, during morning rush hour and involving overall some 40 or so missiles. All of this, Max, was happening on the eve of the NATO summit in Washington. This is leading, of course, to calls not only from Ukraine, but its allies for more to be done, and more quickly to provide the air defenses that could, of course, prevent these missiles from hitting their targets.

FOSTER: With the NATO summit in mind, was Russia sending out a message here, or was this an opportunity for them to take out some targets they were after?

SEBASTIAN: It's hard to tell, Max, in the general course of this war, where we see so many of these sort of missile barrages that, I think, in some cases are designed to weaken the air defenses that they evade.

One thing to point out, Russia did say on Sunday that it was going to respond to an attack by Ukraine on a -- on an -- on what Ukraine says is an ammunition depot in southern Russia. It's hard to distinguish, of course, as I said, revenge from the general course of this war, and it is possible that this is being timed to coincide with the NATO summit. But again, the tactic from Russia that we see and especially now with Western weapons only slowly trickling in, is one of attrition, trying to exhaust the supplies of air defenses and trying to exhaust the Ukrainian people.

FOSTER: Clare Sebastian in London, thank you.

Scores of Palestinians fleeing parts of Gaza City, meanwhile, after Israel ordered a new round of evacuations. That includes patients at Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital. Many of them were transferred to a hospital further north. Residents in Gaza say Israeli strikes continued throughout the night.


Meanwhile, a new round of ceasefire and hostage release discussions on Israel and Hamas will restart this week. CIA Director Bill Burns is heading to Qatar to take part. Israel's head of Mossad is also expected to attend. Now, the calls for Joe Biden to end his campaign for reelection seem to be only growing. While Biden was campaigning in Pennsylvania on Sunday, a number of Democratic members of Congress told their leader Hakeem Jeffries that they think Biden needs to step aside in the wake of his disastrous debate performance. Still, many other Democratic officials are publicly supporting the President and Senator Mark Warner, who had been leading an effort to confront Mr. Biden, is now backing down, and that's according to a source close to him.

All of this comes as NATO leaders prepare for a visit to Washington this week, a key opportunity for President Biden to demonstrate his foreign policy strengths.

Let's join CNN's Senior White House Correspondent Kayla Tausche with more on this. I mean, frankly, other world leaders were worried by that debate performance as well. When you're dealing with matters of international security, you want to know that the most powerful person in the world is going to be on it, if I can say that, the right moment. And so, he has got some reassurance to do with those world leaders as well in Washington.

KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And I think that one of the biggest challenges for President Biden is just the diversity of where these questions are coming from. It's not just coming from his Republican opponents. It's not just coming from voters. It's not just coming from people who have worked with him. It's coming from really across the board.

And that is why the President this week faces such a critical week for his candidacy. He is really racing the clock to assure all of those parties that I just listed that he is up to the task. And as he said on Friday in an interview with ABC News, that his disastrous performance at the June 27 presidential debate was an episode, a singular event, not something that indicated a broader condition that could impact his ability to run in 2024 or to serve another four years.

But so far, Democrats have not been buying that. You heard that -- those House Democrats held the call yesterday, the senior most members of the party in the House of Representatives, and discussed the potential to replace Biden and the potential need to do that. And so, they're going to be convening on Tuesday as a party in full to discuss that very issue. Similarly, Senator Mark Warner, who has been leading that effort that you just mentioned, while those discussions have taken place, they are likely to continue at a lunch that the Senate is hosting within the party on Tuesday midday.

Before then, I'm told President Biden is going to be working the phones, reaching out to these members of Congress to try to assure them that he has heard their concerns. But, whether that means taking the rare and unprecedented step of bowing out of the race is unlikely. Up until this point, he said he is not going to back down, that he is digging his heels in, and that he is not going anywhere. So, that is certainly something that we will be watching what his message to these lawmakers is and what he says to assuage their concerns. Last week, he spoke with 20 members of the House Democratic Party.

Some of them were assuaged. Others were not. So, certainly, President Biden has a tall order, not only with members of his own party, but also with those dozens of world leaders who will be here, trying to understand what the future of the NATO alliance, the future of geopolitical stability will be, and the U.S.'s role in all of that.

FOSTER: OK. Kayla at the White House, thank you so much for bringing us that. We'll be watching all of those events very closely.

For his part, Donald Trump has been keeping a fairly low profile lately, choosing to let the political world focus on Biden's struggles kind of work for his campaign. But, that will soon change, as Trump is just one week from the start of the Republican National Convention, which is in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Trump also needs to pick his running mate. His campaign is expected to announce the VP pick by no later than next Monday, the first day of that convention.

All right. Still to come, Hurricane Beryl is lashing Central Texas, as millions of bracing for life-threatening storm surge and flooding. We're live on the ground with the latest just ahead. And Boeing pleads guilty to misleading regulators about the safety of its 737 MAX planes. So, why are Boeing critics angry about the guilty plea? That story in just a moment.




FOSTER: Happening right now, Beryl slamming into Texas after strengthening to a Category 1 hurricane. A million people in Houston are without power, whilst millions across the state are now bracing for life-threatening storm surge, flash flooding as well, and possible tornadoes. Beryl is expected to quickly weaken, though, to a tropical storm.

Let's go straight to CNN Meteorologist Derek Van Dam, the only person I know that actually runs into a storm as opposed to away from it, but he is in Texas.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's the adrenaline, Max. It's the adrenaline.


DAM: We are on the Central Texas coastline where we just witnessed the first hurricane of the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season come crashing ashore with winds over 140 kilometers per hour or roughly 90 miles per hour. There was a storm surge component to this as well, lapping water over some of the coastal roadways. But, there is also an ongoing tornado threat and flash flooding that is occurring right now in downtown Houston. No one wants to hear those words flooding and Houston used in the same sentence with the same conversation by any stretch of the means. What you're looking at behind me is the Port Lavaca Bay, and that's

the causeway going over towards another stretch of the Texas coastline. We are just coming out of low tide. But, what a difference the backside of the storm and the change in the wind direction has made yesterday when high tide was occurring, and we were getting the surge from the ocean waters from the Gulf of Mexico. All of this was inundated by crashing waves lapping up to the seawall you see below my feet. Right now, though, we're seeing exposed ground shells and beachfront that wasn't here when the surge was occurring in this particular location. So, that is one of the components of a hurricane.

But, let's talk about the other threats that are still ongoing, get right to the graphics, because this still is considered a Category 1 hurricane, even though it's lost its energy source, which is the warm ocean waters from the Gulf of Mexico at 75 mile per hour winds. So, remember, 74 mile per hour plus is a hurricane Category 1 equivalent. Now, this storm has dumped a lot of rain over Southeast Texas. And this is producing a flash flood warning that is ongoing from Houston all the way to the coastline of Eastern and Central Texas as well. So, we're talking hundreds and thousands of people under this threat of flash flooding. Remember, it doesn't take much for the (inaudible), the creeks, the rivers and the urban areas to quickly start to rise the water levels and see the inundation happen.

Now, some of the rainfall totals here have been impressive, but there is still more to come. And that is why that flash flood warning is ongoing through the course of today, and we're coming off of a long holiday weekend here, celebrating the Fourth of July. So, people are getting this rude awakening heading back to work in downtown Houston with a hurricane still approaching the city center. That's really saying something because they're on this right quadrant of the hurricane, and that is so dangerous because we get these spin-up tornadoes that occur.


They drop out of the sky at a moment's notice. We've seen reports of waterspouts over the open waters. There was a tornado warning earlier in Houston that has been allowed to lift. But, regardless, that's the threat here that is ongoing across the central coastline of Texas.

Now, when we talk about the current winds, we're seeing wind gusts in excess of 80 kilometers per hour right now, and that's significant because that's already brought down power outages, brought down trees. And so, a lot of people here are waking up with no power this morning. That's significant for this community, as they continue to reel from this first hurricane of the season, the first strike, per se. Max, back to you.

FOSTER: Yeah, very early as well, isn't it? Derek, thank you very much indeed.

As the U.S. Gulf Coast deals with Hurricane Beryl, an intense heat wave is gripping much of the western part of the country. Las Vegas, Nevada, shattered all-time record highs, reaching 49 degrees Celsius, that's 120 degrees Fahrenheit, on Sunday, and there is very little relief in sight with records being broken both during the day and at night. The heatwave is expected to continue through to the end of the week.

Boeing has agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud U.S. regulators for its role in two 737 MAX airplane crashes. As part of the plea, Boeing will pay a fine of almost half a billion dollars and has agreed to have an independent monitor oversee the company's operation for three years to ensure it complies with all safety regulations. But, the families of the people who died in Boeing 737 MAX crashes say the aircraft maker isn't being punished enough. They want a public trial and a bigger fine.

CNN Aviation Correspondent Pete Muntean is following this story for us. I mean, the reality is they have reached a deal, and for the families, it's pretty distasteful.

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. Another huge blow to Boeing's once-sterling reputation here, and the company really not saying all that much this morning, Max, only that it has reached an agreement in principle with the U.S. Department of Justice. Here are the terms of that deal, according to the government. Boeing is being fined $487 million. The Department of Justice says that it is the maximum fine allowed by law. Government will also be appointing an independent compliance monitor to oversee Boeing for the next three years, and that monitor will give reports to the court each year.

But, the biggest part of this is Boeing agreeing to plead guilty to criminal charges. Remember, this is for the 737 MAX 8 eight crashes; the Lion Air crash in 2018, the Ethiopian Air crash in 2019. 346 people killed in those two crashes. Boeing agreed to plead guilty to defrauding the Federal Aviation Administration about the MAX 8 that Boeing hid major design changes that led to those two crashes. Originally, Boeing was able to reach a settlement with the government to avoid criminal charges. But, that deal also came with three years' probation. And the January 5 door plug blow out at an Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 9 happened just days before that deal was set to expire. So, that made the Department of Justice look at that original deal again, ultimately triggering this new deal.

Now, victims' families are calling this a "sweetheart deal" because they wanted Boeing to face a nearly $25 billion fine. Paul Cassell is the leading attorney in their civil case. And in a statement, he says, "This sweetheart deal fails to recognize that because of Boeing's conspiracy, 346 people died. This deceptive and generous deal is clearly not in the public interest." Of note here is that Boeing executives avoided criminal charges themselves. The Department of Justice says this deal gives them no immunity that applies to the MAX 8 crashes as well as the door plug incident of earlier this year, Max. So, this is really just now unfolding.

FOSTER: Yeah. Unbelievable. Pete, thank you so much.

Still to come, a surprise election result here in France, the far right defeated, but the country is still left in political limbo, deadlock, you could call it. International reaction to the vote just ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)



FOSTER: Back to the stunning results here in France's parliamentary elections, a left-swing alliance, known as the New Popular Front, won the most seats in the National Assembly thwarting Marine Le Pen and the far right, which fell to third, though, Le Pen says her party's victory is only being delayed.


MARINE LE PEN, NATIONAL RALLY (Interpreted): 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. We're 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 insecurity in our country, but if we need to go through that, then we'll go through that.


FOSTER: Meanwhile, in the last few hours, President Emmanuel Macron has rejected the Prime Minister's resignation following yesterday's vote, instead asking Gabriel Attal to stay on for, quote, "the stability of the country", and they do have the -- you can see all around here how the -- they're getting ready for the Olympics, and that must be one of the things he is referring to. Not only -- not long after we learned about the outcome of Sunday's vote, I spoke with Christopher Weissberg, he is a member of parliament as part of President Emmanuel Macron's centrist alliance, which came second. I asked him how he thought Mr. Macron would be feeling today.


CHRISTOPHER WEISSBERG, MEMBER OF FRENCH PARLIAMENT, RENAISSANCE PARTY: It's probably a very strange feeling, although he did much better than he could have expected last week.


WEISSBERG: We had two rounds last week. We all felt that the France National Rally could win for the first time and be in government for the first time in France over the last 80 years, and it did not happen. So, it's a major relief. And somehow, even if we were supposed to be pretty low, we did pretty well for an election where we were supposed to be the challengers and be defeated.

FOSTER: You very successfully organized tactical voting effectively with the whole of the left, just squeeze out the right from any seats. So, how much of a win actually is that, because now you got have to work together and actually find some policies you can all agree on, not least, who is going to be Prime Minister? WEISSBERG: This is going to be the most challenging thing for the next

few months. There is no clear winners. There is probably a real loser is the national front, the National Rally. There is no clear winners today. Most blocs, you spoke about the blocs, the left bloc, is supposed to be the first one, but they are very divided.


WEISSBERG: They're very scattered. There is a whole part of their group who will not be part of the same caucus. So, in the next few days, we're going to have different caucuses and --

FOSTER: They will have to form into a coalition effectively and then they will propose a Prime Minister.

WEISSBERG: Right, preserve a coalition but then you have groups.


WEISSBERG: You have parliamentary groups, which you basically call a caucus. And you'll see there'll be like two different caucuses at least, maybe three, inside the left bloc, and extreme left of this bloc is going to be extremely hard to get into any kind of coalition. It's the best scenario that could happen and this is a one I'm -- I've been pledging for, for many years, is that we get a very broad coalition of people who want to work together just like we did after World War Two, and we actually delivered the best things that this country ever had after this, because there were communists, there were people from the right wing, and we need to build up this major coalition in order to move on and move forward.


FOSTER: Christopher Weissberg speaking to be there.

Nic Robertson joins me now. I mean, they've got a hell of a mission, haven't they, trying to find a way forward, get stuff done. They got to appoint the Prime Minister. And this time, Emmanuel Macron said he wants it to settle down effectively before he gets involved. So, we're not getting any speeches from him. His priority is actually going to Washington and meeting world leaders, and that's going to be a tough sell for him this time.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It is, and we've just heard in the last few hours from the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz saying that he really hopes that the French are able to form a constructive government, and I think constructive is the word you should underline there. He said, look, there is relief about the way the election has gone in Paris, relief that we are working with French partners who have a far-right component, an unconstructive far-right component trying to drive the agenda.

So, what he is talking about there, what Olaf Scholz is talking about there, is undoubtedly what Macron is going to hear in his conversations with other leaders. He is not speaking publicly, but behind closed doors, I think they're going to be keen to understand from the French President where he thinks things are going to land and how effective a force because France is a force on the international stage, I mean, take NATO, and the issue of Ukraine has been the one that's been saying we should have NATO troops as trainers, as military trainers, not engaged in combat, but as military trainers on the ground inside of Ukraine. That's a very forward-leaning position. But, he pushes that.

So, absent Macrons' political ability to have that narrative on the big global stage, it makes it harder for people like Olaf Scholz and other leaders to take those positions. So, yes, Macron is going to really be on the private spotlight, as people try to figure out really what his plan is here, because everyone understands his original plan, didn't go to a plan. It didn't work out.

FOSTER: OK. Nic, thank you.

Our next guest has been writing about French politics and economics for more than two decades. Sophie Pedder is The Economist Paris Bureau Chief. She joins us now. Thank you so much for joining us. I just want to get your perspective on this idea, the left triumph here. There was a lot of tactical voting involved. And if you look at the far-right figures, they're really strong if you put them -- if you look at the pattern over a period of time.

SOPHIE PEDDER, PARIS BUREAU CHIEF, THE ECONOMIST: They are, of course, and that's been something that Marine Le Pen has been working on election after election, is pushing out, out of her old base and into new regions, trying to present her party as a party ready to govern. And they have secured a very solid number of votes and a little bit less solid number of seats. I mean, that's the nature of these second round (inaudible). France is a first past the post system. So, it's -- you ever -- you can have a lot of votes and you can still not get a lot of seats. We saw that equally in the UK for the Reform Party most recently.

But, it is the case that she is, I think, nonetheless, disappointed by this result. You could see it on the face of her deputies last night that they thought they were about to govern. They thought they were about to take over control of parliament. And that isn't the case. They're not even in first or second place. They're relegated to third place. So, for the party, for Marine Le Pen, it's a disappointment. But, as you said, she sees this as a sort of long -- this is a long project and the phrase she had last night was "it is victory postponed", and that's I think the way she is looking at it.

FOSTER: Can we just talk about the Prime Minister, because Attal is going to stay on until there is a new Prime Minister, presumably to create some stability through the Olympics and a few things going on, obviously, domestically in France over the next couple of weeks or so. But, speaking to a member of the far-left party, painting her party as very much leading that group, suggesting that Melenchon could be Prime Minister. But then you speak to people at the right of that whole big alliance in Macron's grouping, they can't imagine any sort of long- lasting coalition with the far left. So, it's certainly not going to be Melenchon. Who is -- who do you think he is going to float up here? PEDDER: I mean, even members of Melenchon's own alliance that aren't close to him recognize publicly now that it's not going to be Melenchon as Prime Minister.


They are beginning to speak out against that and against him, so -- which is an interesting move in itself. There is so much disagreement even among the four parties, the main parties that make up his alliance. I mean, they agree -- they disagree on everything, whether it's on NATO arming Ukraine on nuclear energy, on the role of the European Union. So, this is a really kind of stretched alliance as it is. Now, Macron's hope is that he can split it up and pull away the more moderate members of the Socialist Party, the Greens, communists, even, and create a kind of alternative majority, a kind of government of national union or something like that, but (inaudible).

But, for the left, they are feeling very buoyant on the back of last night's results. They feel they won the election. They didn't win a majority. But, they did come top. They feel they won it. They feel they haven't -- they ought to have a chance to govern with or without a majority. After all, that's what Macron did after elections in 2022. So, I don't see the left-wing alliance backing down and finding -- but finding themselves a single name to put forward as Prime Minister, is going to be really, really difficult for them.

FOSTER: What's the alternative if the President can't actually find an elected Prime Minister? Presumably, he could set up sort of a technocratic government or something like that. How would it work?

PEDDER: I mean, he could. But, I think that's further down the line. I think the sequence is probably going to have to be, see if the left can do it. So, the left-wing alliance first. If not, see if there is an alternative majority, and only if that fails, and when I say that fails, it probably means having that government installed, that government failing to pass no confidence motions, that government falling, we've got a whole series of steps I think before we get to that. If all else fails, then there is the option of having a technical government, sort of Italian-style when Mario Draghi was brought in.

But, we're quite a long way from that. And I think that you have to exhaust all the proper political options first before even France would be ready to contemplate the idea of being run by sort of faceless bureaucrats. I think that that would be politically extremely difficult to do in the short term. The political alternatives haven't yet been explored,

FOSTER: Yeah. It has to be the last resort. Sophie Pedder, thank you so much for your insights today.

We're going to turn now to Sicily, which is experiencing a severe water shortage. The region has been under a state of emergency since February because of extreme drought conditions and aging infrastructure, and its booming tourism sector, one of Sicily's biggest sources of income, is suffering. Now, some areas of forced to turn visitors away.

Still to come, for the first time since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, India's Prime Minister visits Moscow. Why now? We'll explain. Plus, life after weight-loss drugs, how some people maintain their goals without the prescriptions. The story is just ahead.




FOSTER: India's Prime Minister just arrived in Russia for a two-day state visit. This is the first time Narendra Modi has traveled to Moscow since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine nearly two and a half years ago. The Prime Minister is expected to discuss quote, "perspectives on various regional and global issues" with Russian President Vladimir Putin. This is an attempt by both sides to forge deeper strategic ties. Mr. Modi's visit comes as the West continues to try to isolate Moscow over its war on Ukraine.

Let's take a closer look with CNN's Ivan Watson. It's also when many of those Western nations have been courting the Indian Prime Minister. So, they won't like the look of this.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, and it does give Vladimir Putin a chance to show that efforts to isolate him internationally are not succeeding. But, I think what we're seeing from the Indian government is that this relationship with Russia is simply too important to ignore. This is the first time that Modi and Putin will meet face to face in nearly two years.

The relationship between Moscow and Delhi goes back to the Cold War. India has long purchased Russian-made weapons for its military, but trade has spiked between the two countries over the course of the last two years. Russia has become a gas station of sorts for India, which has been sucking up cheap Russian crude oil that used to go to Western markets that now have imposed sanctions on Moscow for the full-fledged invasion of Ukraine. India clearly has no qualms with taking advantage of that cheaper crude oil to serve its -- service its own economy.

There are areas of concern in the relationship, and experts I've talked to have highlighted the blossoming relationship and alliances between Vladimir Putin and China's leader Xi Jinping. This is particularly of concern, because the Russia -- the Indian and Chinese relationship has been on the rocks for years now since the Indian and Chinese armies have gotten into these deadly skirmishes over their disputed border in the Himalayas, skirmishes that have sometimes turned deadly. So, this can clearly be seen as an effort to kind of find a counterbalance there to try to perhaps woo Putin back a little bit to New Delhi's side.

While talk of trying to revitalize this partnership that's on the agenda, there are also areas of friction between Moscow and New Delhi. In particular, the Indian diplomats have been talking about Indian citizens showing up in the ranks of the Russian army fighting in Ukraine. Listen to what a senior Indian diplomat had to say earlier.


VINAY KWATRA, INDIAN FOREIGN SECRETARY (Interpreted): At every level of Russian leadership, both official and political, we have expressed strong concern that Indian citizens who are being taken to the Russian army through improper procedures must be returned promptly.


WATSON: A final issue here is that growing trade between India and Russia, Max. The Indians say that they want to do something about the trade imbalance. India buys a huge amount of energy from Russia and only a fraction of the bilateral trade are Indian goods going to Russia. They want to fix that trade imbalance. Max.

FOSTER: OK. Ivan, thank you so much for that.

Still to come, losing weight takes determination and perseverance, and it can be even harder to keep it off, of course. How some people are coping once the weight-loss drugs run dry?




FOSTER: Millions of people rely on cutting-edge weight-loss drugs like Mounjaro to drop the pounds. They help you lose weight and lose weight really fast as well. But, what happens when you come off those drugs?

CNN's Meg Tirrell shares the story of one man's struggle to keep the weight off.


BRAD OLSON, FORMER MOUNJARO USER: I was pretty happy not too long ago to be able to bench press my body weight, which was something that I had never been able to do for like a really long time.

MEG TIRRELL, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These days, Brad Olson works out for more than an hour and a half a day. He hikes, lifts weights, and he is totally changed how he eats.

OLSON: There is really no fast food or like restaurant leftovers anymore.

TIRRELL (voice-over): It's all an effort to maintain the weight he lost taking Mounjaro, one of a new group of drugs similar to Ozempic that millions of Americans have recently started to try.

OLSON: Super easy. Click like that and then you just toss him.

TIRRELL (voice-over): He took the drug for five months, losing 40 pounds. OLSON: And I just felt like, well, I could do this temporarily, and

then maybe I could come off and like hold on to the gains, if it works.

TIRRELL: What did your doctor think of that plan?

OLSON: He thought that was not a great plan.

TIRRELL (voice-over): Brad's weight peaked in 2009. At 280 pounds, he says he was 100 pounds over a healthy weight.

OLSON: I got to be so big that I couldn't go out. I couldn't run with the kids. It was maybe a little scary. And that part would just make me feel so frustrated and angry at myself. I mean, I would experience a certain amount of self-loathing.

TIRRELL (voice-over): He describes the feeling when he started the drug as a kind of revelation.

OLSON: You'll eat and eat about half of it and kind of get like, that's enough. And that just never happened to me before, sort of like just dawns on you where you're like, wait, is this what it's like for everybody else, like, and then -- and kind of feeling like I've been gambling against a casino my whole life.

TIRRELL (voice-over): But, his insurance didn't cover it, a problem for many people on these drugs. And add about $1,000 a month out of pocket, Brad says he can only budget it for so long. And the evidence for what happens when you stop these drugs is not on Brad's side.

OLSON: I don't think it's fair to say it's about willpower.

TIRRELL (voice-over): Dr. Jorge Moreno is an obesity specialist at Yale Medicine.

TIRRELL: For people who do come off of it, have you had patients who've been able to sustain their results over a longer period of time without the drugs?

DR. JORGE MORENO, OBESITY SPECIALIST, YALE MEDICINE: Yeah. So, I would say that that's a minority of the patients. Weight regain is also just like weight loss, heterogeneous, and that is where more research needs to be done. Why is one patient able to keep the weight off after coming off these medications, and why are some people getting all the way back?

TIRRELL (voice-over): Brad is trying to beat the odds, but it hasn't been easy.

OLSON: I came away feeling like if I get it back, so be it. I'm doing the best I can. And then I think I also now find myself revisiting a lot of decisions I would make, not to allow myself to experience something because I was fat, and just kind of saying like, don't do that again. Whatever you look like, don't do that again.

(END VIDEOTAPE) FOSTER: A report by Meg Tirrell.

Now, the world's second-ranked female tennis player is out of the Wimbledon. American Coco Gauff lost to another American Emma Navarro in straight sets on Sunday. Navarro is the 19th seed at Wimbledon. Gauff won the 2023 U.S. Open but has never made it past the fourth round at Wimbledon. Navarro will play Italian Jasmine Paolini in the quarterfinals, also which on Tuesday.

Angel Reese, the Chicago Sky's contender for rookie of the year, kept up her remarkable run with the 13th consecutive double-double on Sunday. She surpassed the WNBA's previous record holder Candace Parker, who had 12 double-doubles in a row, with nine in a single season. Reese scored 17 points with 14 rebounds and added four steals for good measure. But, Chicago lost the game 84 to 71 to the Seattle Storm.


That is it for this hour at CNN Newsroom. I'm Max Foster in Paris. CNN's coverage of the French elections continues after the break. Isa will be here in Paris, Becky in Abu Dhabi, with Connect the World.