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Interview with Marine Le Pen; Europe's Battle Royal; Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired February 1, 2017 - 00:14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN ANCHOR: Her manifesto in a race to become the country's next president. She's warning of grave consequences
if she can't get Europe to make the changes that she wants.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARINE LE PEN, LEADER, FRANCE'S NATIONAL FRONT: If I can recover the sovereignty, I think Europe will change completely. It will change
radically. And if I cannot the sovereignty back, then I will ask the French people to leave the EU.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone. And welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Big minds are trying to grapple with the big picture these days and a major split is emerging over which poses the biggest existential threat to the
West. A Russia bent on the collapse of the post-war order that America has led for seven decades? Or ISIS and its radical Islamic terrorism? Or
General David Petraeus, one of the most respected and decorated commanders of his generation, has just issued this dire warning to the U.S. Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS (RET.), FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Americans should not take the current international order for granted. It did not will itself into
existence. We created it. Likewise, it is not naturally self-sustaining, we have sustained it. If we stop doing so, it will fray and eventually
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: President Putin he says understands that undermining NATO and the EU is much more effective than a conventional war. The European
Council president added his worries, especially given the views of the new American president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TUSK, EUROPEAN COUNCIL PRESIDENT: For the first time in our history, in an increasingly multi-polar external world, so many are
becoming openly anti-European or Euro-skeptic at best. Particularly the change in Washington puts the European Union in a difficult situation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: With Brexit looming we're watching live pictures of the British parliament where MPs are voting on triggering the Article 50 divorce in a
month from now. All eyes are focused next on a possible Frexit and the leader of France's far-right National Party is ahead in the polls for the
first round of presidential elections which will be held in April.
Marine La Pen is a anti-immigration, pro-Putin Euro-skeptic. As I found out, when I sat down with her in Paris this week as she prepares to
formally launch her campaign this weekend.
AMANPOUR: Marine Le Pen, welcome to the program.
LE PEN: Bonjour.
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you about the story that's making news all over the world, and that is Donald Trump and his ban from Muslim nations. As you
can see a big reaction. What do you make of the ban and how it's been implemented?
LE PEN (Through Translator): First of all, I think that most of the reactions are in bad faith. The truth of the matter is that it is a
temporary measure. It targets six or seven countries, countries that of course are responsible for terrorist threats. So I think Donald Trump and
his intelligence services wanted to set up criteria and conditions to avoid having potential terrorist entering the United States where they might
commit attacks. The same way that France was the victim of attacks.
I think that indignation is something that varies from case to case. I think there are about 15 Muslim countries that have set up a permanent ban
on travel of people with an Israeli passport and no one is scandalized about that.
AMANPOUR: As you know, that's a political situation for countries that don't recognize Israel yet.
LE PEN (Through Translator): Well, if it's a political question, it's not critical, you can't criticize it? But if it's a question of security for
the American people then you can criticize it? I don't understand the difference.
AMANPOUR: OK. I'll just let you know what the difference is. They do allow Jews in but maybe not Israeli passport holders because of a
diplomatic non-recognition of countries. But let's move beyond that. Is that the kind of thing if you were to be president of France that you would
do to keep this country safe? And remember, none of those countries' nationals committed terrorism inside the United States.
LE PEN (Through Translator): What I'm interested in is the borders of France, France no longer has any border because of the EU. Four or five
terrorists have committed attacks, have killed hundreds of people in France because they were able to sneak in with migrants arriving from Syria.
[14:05:05] So I think that we have to be very vigilant, we have to have secure borders. I think that we have to stop the flow of immigrants into
the EU and into France. I think Mr. Trump was elected -- he was elected and he said that he was going to do this. And now the world seems to be
scandalized because he's implementing what he promised he would do during his campaign.
AMANPOUR: He did, as you say, enact what he said he would do. For instance, the wall with Mexico. Is that something that you approve of?
And as you said you're concerned about your borders. Would you ever consider a wall?
LE PEN (Through Translator): No, I do not want to erect a wall around France. I don't think that it is a useful project for France. We're
talking about the will of the people being exercised. People voted in a way that was against the system as it is. That was true for Brexit, it was
true for Donald Trump's election, and now people have to get used to letting the people decide, not the system.
AMANPOUR: Do you take inspiration from Brexit and from Donald Trump?
LE PEN (Through Translator): I don't look for models abroad. I respect the different countries of the world but for many years I have been
advocating and I have been defending the end to unmitigated free trade. I think we have to get rid of this unfettered free market and that we are
moving towards greater patriotism to the preservation of culture of local jobs. I think this is a great thing. I have been calling for this for
years. We're the only party in France that calls for this. And also we're alone in Europe.
AMANPOUR: If you were to win, is your position to take France out of the EU?
LE PEN (Through Translator): When I am president, I will organize a referendum in the six months following my election. I will use this six
months to negotiate with the EU for the return to four types of sovereignty that are necessary. Territorial sovereignty, control of border, monetary
sovereignty, one state, one currency, economic sovereignty. If I can recover this sovereignty, I think Europe will change completely. It will
change radically and if I cannot get the sovereignty back, then I will ask the French people to leave the EU.
AMANPOUR: Now that it has all happened in Brexit, people are saying that it's going to take a lot longer to negotiate bilateral deals and economists
are warning that it could actually -- could, if there's a sort of trade war, most definitely impact Europeans, Asians, Americans. In other words
there could even be a global recession. Does that worry you at all? That your people who vote might be worse off economically?
LE PEN (Through Translator): But the Eurozone is the weakest economic zone in the world, the slowest growth in the world. So what are we talking
about? The Euro and the free trade agreements have destroyed -- destroyed our agriculture, destroyed our industry, led to delocalization on a massive
scale, led to unfair competition. So this is free trade? Unfettered free trade has led to a disaster.
Whether it's the Transpacific agreement or NAFTA or TAFTA, you can see that people have rejected them. How can you be right when the people are
against you? Who's right? The banks? The multinational corporations, the EU? No, the people are right.
AMANPOUR: Can I just ask you a question about a current issue that's very pertinent to your party. You are being asked, the party, the Front
National, to repay nearly 300,000 euros to, I believe, the EU because of what they are saying is an investigation into fraud, into conspiracy to
commit fraud because of two assistants who have been paid -- they're investigating, they're saying that it's not quite what it seems. Are you
able to repay nearly 300,000 euros --
LE PEN (Through Translator): No. Not at all. This is a political attack. It's inadmissible. We have been persecuted by the EU parliament.
[14:10:02] They are our adversaries. Mr. Schulz, the Socialist president of the EU parliament, has launched this attack against me and I have filed
a complaint against the OLAF which is not an independent project.
AMANPOUR: So you're not going to repay?
LE PEN: Pardon?
AMANPOUR: You're not going to repay?
LE PEN (Through Translator): Of course not. I'm going to take it to court. I'm going to file a case.
AMANPOUR: They say that these so-called assistants did not do any work in your MEP office to merit that kind of money.
LE PEN (Through Translator): That's what the political adversaries are saying but they have no proof.
AMANPOUR: You deny it, that they did work there and you did pay them?
LE PEN (Through Translator): Of course. Of course they worked there. The assistant, about 3,000 worldwide journalists are well aware of her, they
know her well. I'm parliamentary MEP. I'm also president of my political party. That's well known.
AMANPOUR: Now, after a break, we dive into more with Marine Le Pen, pinning her down on Putin and immigration, views that align her with
While constituents all over America right now are flooding the phone lines to Congress and forcing lawmakers to figure out how to handle the surge in
traffic. We're unclear how much is pro or con Trump but reports say the phone calls have jumped dramatically since the president announced his
Muslim travel ban over the weekend.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.
Hell is freezing over in Eastern Ukraine, civilians are cut off from heat and electricity as violence surges to new levels. NATO is calling on
Russia to use its influence over the separatists to reign in the fighting.
The flare-up comes less than two weeks after Trump took office, prompting many to wonder how the new U.S. president will handle the crisis? Will he
insist the President Putin along with Ukraine implement the Minsk ceasefire accord?
Now Marine Le Pen calls the sanctions on Russia over this a huge stupidity and she sees the EU and too much immigration as the biggest threats to
France, not Putin's policies, as I found out in part two of my interview with her.
AMANPOUR: What about money? You have had to go elsewhere to find money to finance your campaign. You've had loans from a Russian bank, first Russian
Czech bank and you have spoken very warmly about President Putin.
President Putin, as you know, is considered a big threat to Europe, a big threat to the West. You know that he's been accused by all sorts of
intelligence agencies of interfering and not just the U.S. but in European democratic elections as well. And you who talked so profoundly about
valuing the sovereignty of France surely must have a view on the violation of the sovereignty of Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea.
I'd like to understand why you're so fond of Mr. Putin and do you believe that you should lobby for the sanctions to be removed from him?
[14:15:01] LE PEN (Through Translator): Well, what if I want to borrow from an American bank --
AMANPOUR: No, I'm actually --
AMANPOUR: I'm now talking about Putin. I'm now talking about Putin. Not just the loan but what you said about him. That you respect him, that you
find him a good and strong leader.
LE PEN (Through Translator): The Russian nation is a great nation, they made their choice. Whether I like it or not, it doesn't really make any
difference. Should Russia be a model for France? No. Should Russia be an ally for France? Yes, the same thing with the United States.
AMANPOUR: Does it not bother you that a big country broke international law and invaded and annexed a small country? I mean, that's the base of
LE PEN (Through Translator): There was a coup detat in Ukraine.
AMANPOUR: That's what you think?
LE PEN (Through Translator): It's not just what I think, it's the reality. There was a coup detat. There was an agreement among different nations and
the next day this agreement was broken and some people took power.
AMANPOUR: After the invasion and annexation, yes.
LE PEN (Through Translator): No invasion of Crimea --
AMANPOUR: But they annexed Crimea. It was part of Ukraine and French were part of the deal that guaranteed the independence of Ukraine in 1994. It's
really important because it's the fundamentals of international law.
LE PEN (Through Translator): Crimea was Russian. It has always been Russian. It's not that long ago it was --
AMANPOUR: So it's fine for you, though?
LE PEN (Through Translator): By Soviet --
AMANPOUR: But you're OK with it. Are you?
LE PEN (Through Translator): The people feel Russian. The people decided by a great majority that they wanted to belong to Russia. So we can't be
democratic when it suits us and then reject --
AMANPOUR: So you support these sanctions? I'm trying to ask you that. Or should they be conditional to the implementation of the ceasefire agreement
known as the Minsk Accord?
LE PEN (Through Translator): The sanctions are completely stupid. They have not solved any problems. They haven't improved the situation at all.
All they've done is created major economic problems for the EU. There is no -- they are meaningless. Maybe we need to step down when we -- when we
have better peace in the world if we could step back. The president of the United States, the president of Russia can end the cold war, no one else.
AMANPOUR: This past weekend you were in Germany and you met with people like Geert Wilders, people like the head of the AFP, the Austrian Freedom
Party. These people are considered very far-right with very divisive politics, people who respect Mussolini, for instance. People who say they
want to ban the Quran. Is that Marine Le Pen's politics? What were you doing there?
LE PEN (Through Translator): Everyone around the world who is opposed to immigration is accused of being on the far right because people who are for
immigration try to discredit them by qualifying them with this pejorative adjective. These movements are not far right movements. They do not meet
any of the criteria of the far right. They are opposed to massive immigration, yes, but that doesn't mean that we or these other parties are
far right movements.
AMANPOUR: About five years ago in 2012 and you know because this has been quoted to you many times. You gave an interview in which you said, would
you accept 12 illegal immigrants moving into your flat? You would not. On top of that, they start to remove the wall paper. Some of them would steal
your wallet and brutalize your wife. It has been -- you said this in an interview. You said this.
LE PEN (Through Translator): No. This is a joke.
AMANPOUR: This was in --
LE PEN (Through Translator): What are you talking about?
AMANPOUR: Are you denying you said that? Should I read it to you? OK.
LE PEN (Through Translator): Could you repeat it? Perhaps it's a problem in interpreting.
AMANPOUR: I've got written down here. All right. In 2012, you said the following to somebody. Would you accept 12 -- we'll find out.
LE PEN (Through Translator): You don't know who I said it to you.
AMANPOUR: Would you accept 12 illegal immigrants moving into your flat? You would not. On top of that, they start to remove the wall paper and
some of them would steal your wallet and brutalize your wife.
LE PEN (Through Translator): No, this is perhaps a problem of translation.
[14:20:06] I would like to think that perhaps there's good faith behind it or else it has completely misconstrued. You know that in our country if
you have a home, you own it and I would try to make a parallel between your personal home. You wouldn't let someone that you didn't invite into your
home to come in and decide what color your wall paper should be, decide what you should eat in the evening or decide what school your children
should attend. And you would find it even more difficult to stand that if in addition this person was --
AMANPOUR: So you admit it. So you did say that. You did say that then?
LE PEN (Through Translator): But I wasn't talking about illegal immigrants. I was making a comparison between people who arrive in the
country without having been invited and who sometimes commit offenses there or crimes and this is a reality.
AMANPOUR: So we checked again. Listen to this part of the interview that Miss Le Pen gave to the Australian broadcaster SPS back in 2012. And you
can judge for yourselves. Here she's asked whether France's reputation for tolerance could suffer if her party is successful.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LE PEN: (GRAPHICS) Tolerance? What does that mean? I am very tolerant. And hospitable person, like you. Would you accept 12 illegal immigrants
moving into your flat? You wouldn't. On top of that, they start to remove the wallpaper, some of them would steal your wallet, and brutalize your
wife. You wouldn't accept that. Consequently, we are hospitable. But we decide with whom we want to be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So there it is in her own words.
Next, we imagine a battle royal taking place in the UK. As the British people rally to protect the Queen from Donald Trump. Next.
AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine a world of pomp and pageantry. A gold plated steak banquet at Buckingham Palace, the full red carpet
treatment that no one does quite like the British.
[14:25:06] Well, that's the one Prime Minister Theresa May has invited President Trump to and he's accepted.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: And a further sign of the importance of that relationship, I have today been able to convey Her Majesty the
Queen's hope that President Trump and the first lady would pay a state visit to the United Kingdom later this year and I'm delighted that the
president has accepted that invitation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: But since Donald Trump's Muslim travel ban, more and more Brits are letting their voices be heard. Almost two million have signed a
petition to withdraw that invitation to meet the Queen. And today in the famously combative prime minister's question time, the opposition leader
demanded the Prime Minister Theresa May listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEREMY CORBYN, BRITISH CONSERVATIVE LEADER: President Trump has torn up international agreements on refugees. He's threatened to dump
international agreements on climate change. He's praised the use of torture. He's incited hatred against Muslims. He's directly attacked
women's rights. Just what more does the President Trump have to do before the prime minister will listen to the 1.8 million people who have already
called for his state visit invitation to be withdrawn?
MAY: The right honorable gentlemen's foreign policy is to object to and insult the democratically elected head of state of our most important ally.
He can lead a protest. I'm leading a country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And of course nobody expects that invitation to be rescinded and arrival petitions supporting a Trump state visit has more than 200,000
The former Foreign secretary William Hade weighed in with a Trump-like tweet, saying, "The Queen has dealt with dictators and despots. She'll
take a visit from Donald Trump in her stride."
Indeed, when the Saudi Arabian king visited she put her foot down literally, taking the wheel of her car and speeding around her Balmoral
estate with him, much to the consternation of a leader whose own female citizens are, as we know, banned from driving.
It makes you long for the days of hugs and a friendly arm casually draped around Her Majesty the Queen.
That is it for our program tonight. Remember you can always listen to our podcast, see us online at Amanpour.com and follow me on Facebook and
Twitter. Thanks for watching and good-bye from London.