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Trump's Emerging Foreign Policy; North Korea Holds Legislative Meeting Amid Nuclear Tensions; Gorsuch Sworn in to U.S. Supreme Court; Boy and Teacher Killed in California School Shooting; France's Le Pen Slammed Over Holocaust Comments; Man Bloodied When Kicked Off United Plane. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired April 11, 2017 - 00:00   ET



[00:00:09] ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles.

Ahead this hour:

He promised America first but a new Trump doctrine could be emerging from the White House for Syria and North Korea.

And far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen opened old wounds and outrages many with controversial comments about France's role in the Holocaust.

Plus a paying United Airlines customer roughed up and dragged off a plane that the company had overbooked shocking other passengers and airline travelers everywhere.

Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I am Isha Sesay. NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.

Well, Donald Trump is facing questions about what he'll do next regarding Syria but the U.S. President's top officials are sending mixed messages. Some say Syrian President Bashar Assad has got to go, others say the U.S. is not looking for regime change. So now, many are wondering after last week's strike in Syria, what exactly is Mr. Trump's foreign policy.

Here's CNN's Jim Sciutto.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I ordered a targeted military strike on the air field in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: To what extent is a single strike against a single target define President Trump's approach to what U.S. intelligence agencies call the most diverse array of national security threats to the U.S. in decades? From Syria to Russia to North Korea, China and ISIS. TRUMP: The world is a mess. I inherited a mess. Whether it's the Middle East, whether it's North Korea, whether it's so many other things.

SCIUTTO: So what is in effect the Trump Doctrine.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We do what we can to make sure that our interests, both economically and national security, are at the forefront and we're not just going to become the world's policeman running around the world.

SCIUTTO: Military action against one side of a war the U.S. has studiously avoided would seem to represent a shift from an isolationist America first strategy despite Trump's many assurances to the country.

TRUMP: I'm not, and I don't want to be the President of the world. I'm the President of the United States. And from now on it's going to be America first.

SCIUTTO: However, in the case of Syria, his administration is offering contradictory messages on whether the Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad must go.

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Regime change is something that we think is going to happen because all of the parties are going to see that Assad is not the leader that needs to be taking place for Syria.

REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Our priority in Syria, John, really hasn't changed. I think the President has been quite clear. First and foremost, we must defeat ISIS.

SCIUTTO: Elsewhere, the next steps are equally unclear.

In the battle against ISIS, there hasn't been much visible difference between President Trump and President Obama aside from some tough talk. The fact is the U.S. battle plan remains much the same. A U.S.-led air campaign backed up by very limited U.S. forces on the ground, largely in support of Iraqi military and Syrian rebel forces. Again, despite Trump's frequent rhetoric to the contrary.

TRUMP: I would bomb the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of them.

SCIUTTO: In Asia, the Trump administration is making another show of force this week, diverting a U.S. carrier group to the Korean Peninsula following recent North Korean missile launches.

However at Trump's meeting with the foreign leader most able to restrain Pyongyang, Chinese President Xi Jinping failed to produce a plan to deescalate tensions with the North Korean dictator Kim Jong- Un. Trump himself has often said that the difficulty in discerning his intensions is actually part of this plan.

TRUMP: I don't want people to figure me out. I don't want people to know what my plan is. I have plans. I have plans but I don't want them to know what I'm thinking. Does that make sense?

SCIUTTO: Perhaps sensitive to public questions about how long- standing the effects of the U.S. military strike would be, the Defense Secretary James Mattis releasing a statement cataloguing the damage from U.S. cruise missiles including saying that some 20 percent of Syria's operational air force was taken out of commission permanently.

Jim Sciutto, CNN -- Washington.


SESAY: Well, joining me now in Los Angeles are talk radio host Mo Kelly, director of the USC School of International Relations Robert English and from Moscow, CNN's very own Paula Newton. Welcome to you all.

Robert English -- let's start with you.

[00:04:58] Irrespective of what the President and his people say, have last week's missile strikes committed this administration to a change of policy when it comes to Syria?

ROBERT ENGLISH, USC SCHOOL OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: No, I don't think so. As we've seen, the strikes were limited. They were actually coordinated in advance in Russia to limit casualties and any possible greater in relations with Russia.

And in fact, they were considerably less than President Obama was proposing several years earlier in response to a similar outrage. So given the comments of Secretary Tillerson and others you can see that in fact there is some effort to gain maximum maneuverability in the American political context, right. He's been praised for this. He now has some maneuvering room with Russia instead of relentless criticism that he's Putin's puppet.

But in fact the damage to Russian relations, U.S.-Russian ties has been limited and there is space now to go into bargaining, to go into the meeting in Moscow later this week, you know, with some bargaining power, with some leverage.

SESAY: Let me follow up with you -- Robert. You talk about Secretary of State Tillerson's comment but he makes this comments where clearly he seems to be -- he's saying that the line we've heard to date of this country not wanting to wade into the situation in Syria, wanting to make ISIS the priority.

But then you have the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley saying something entirely different. I mean how certain are we that there is a coherent policy within the administration when it comes to Syria.

ENGLISH: Well, clearly there is some incoherence, right? And we've seen some officials even more diverse views actually have to depart. For example Michael Flynn and not he alone.

But we've seen this before in presidential administrations, especially young ones where the ambassador the U.N. says something slightly different than the Secretary of States, says something slightly different from the Pentagon. I remember well the Reagan administration, Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick at the U.N. We had Caspar Weinberger on a very different note from George Schultz between the Pentagon and the State Department.

Some of that is genuine disagreement. Some of it keeps our adversaries guessing and actually gives us a little greater margin for maneuverability going into negotiations. It did under Reagan.

SESAY: All right. Mo Kelly -- to bring you in here. Is this about the administration not wanting to telegraph where it stands when it comes to a policy on North Korea, the varying comments from Tillerson and Haley? Or is this about an administration that hasn't got everyone on the same page and isn't quite sure where it's going?

MO KELLY, RADIO HOST: If we use history as a guide, up until now they have never had a consistent unifying message as far foreign policy. When I listen to Rex Tillerson or Nikki Haley, it seems like they're reading from different play books.

And I don't think that's their fault. I think it starts from the top and they're not on the same page if only because they don't have a singular message which is being disseminated throughout all the ranks.

And if we look at the specificity of the Syria strike, we have 59 Tomahawks which neither disabled nor deterred the enemy. So I would have to say that that was ineffective altogether.

SESAY: Let me go to Paula to pick up that point. Paula -- we have seen jets take off from that very same airbase that was struck by those U.S. missiles. So you do have to wonder what the U.S. actually achieved with its actions with these strikes other than angering Russia.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they certainly angered Russia. As Rex Tillerson wakes up this morning here in Moscow he will expect to hear about this attack from the Russian government.

Having said that though, I think it does give some maneuverability here. Remember this was short, sharp, it was measured and is something that Russia doesn't necessarily have to retaliate for.

And we have seen in fact quite a muted response from Russia despite all the rhetoric that's gone on in the last two days. Sergey Lavrov, the foreign minister here and Rex Tillerson can have some constructive talks today when they meet in the next few hours.

And the reason is they're still trying to figure out what's exactly the U.S. policy is. You know, everything we've been talking about here, the fact that there is no clear U.S. policy, in a way Rex Tillerson can use that to his advantage.

But what is key here, Isha, is that Tillerson comes to the table with some leverage. It will be interesting how far he tells the Russian government that the United States is willing to go if he can't seem to understand that look, the Russian government is either completely committed to keeping Assad in power or they are willing to help nudge him away from that regime and perhaps usher in a different political process in Syria.

SESAY: Robert English, to you -- the question of Assad's future. We had Nikki Haley talk about regime change in Syria being inevitable. How do you see it? Is there anything in the last couple of days to lead you to believe that is actually or even achievable?

[00:10:03] ENGLISH: Look, it's over a year since Russia made clear that they're not wedded to Assad for the indefinite future. It's a matter however of coordinating the transition and when Russians hear regime change, the term that Nikki Haley used, they think of Saddam Hussein's toppling in Iraq and the chaos that followed. They think of the ousting of Muammar Gadhafi in Libya and the chaos that followed.

And what they'd rather see and what's frankly in our interest as well is coordination in, as you said, nudging him from power but having a plan in place for a transition government instead of the infighting sectarian ethnic and every other sort that would follow if he were just precipitously toppled as sometimes our comments suggest that we want to do.

SESAY: So you honestly believe that Russia's motivations here when it comes to not joining the U.S. position in terms of nudging Assad from power about maintaining peace in the region and preventing Syria from an all-out collapse as opposed to Russia expanding its sea of influence in Syria and the region?

ENGLISH: I certainly think they want to maintain the influence they have which means that probably retention of rights at that naval base on the Mediterranean that they now enjoy would be an important part of Russia's demands in that transition. But they have no love for Assad himself, absolutely none. This is a cold-hearted, you know, practical calculation.

And Russia's interests will simply have to be taken into account in preventing the worst. They're afraid, of course, of terrorist backlash as well. But expanding their influence, taking over the Middle East to dominate -- this is an exaggerated threat.

SESAY: Paula, to you there in Moscow, one consequence we have seen on the U.S. action is we've seen Russia and Iran publicly move closer together, both issuing their warning to the U.S. if they cross so- called red lines. I mean, what could they be talking about in terms of a response? What are their options? And how seriously should the U.S. take such threats?

NEWTON: Well, I would think at this point not too seriously. You know, that was very interesting that the Iranians and the Syrians have come out with that so-called red line. When we asked Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesperson about it he said, I have no idea what you're taking about.

Clearly as Robert was just saying, look, they continue to say our support for Assad is not unconditional. You know, Isha -- they have that show of force. They have sent another warship back in the Mediterranean and as Robert pointed out, they have their seat at the table in the Middle East.

They fought hard on the battlefield. They've got their -- all their naval crew out there in the Mediterranean. It is one of the largest deployments of the military here in decades, probably going back to Cold War time. They're not going to give that up easily.

But does that mean they're really going to continue to support Assad? You know, unlikely. And so it's going to be interesting to see Rex Tillerson here on the ground, how much latitude he feels he has. And as Robert says, you know, Russia is worried about a backlash from ISIS.

You know, I was up covering the terrorist attack in St. Petersburg. They have no idea still what the motivation could have been there. And it's not like they aren't fearful of that here. When they say that their main priority is destroying ISIS in Syria, you kind of have to take that at first flush even though -- even though in the last 18 months, if you looked at their air campaign, it would be hard to see that that was their priority.

What they've done in the meantime that's really bolstered the Syrian regime and the Syrian army. And when you get down to the brass tacks of it, Rex Tillerson will be looking for that as well. What are you doing in Syria right now? And how can your military operation there more clearly align themselves with the U.S. coalition.

SESAY: Robert English, Paula Newton -- my thanks to you both. Mo Kelly -- stay with me. I want to keep this conversation going. But my thanks to Robert and Paula -- appreciate it.

North Korea is expected to hold a legislative gathering which can give us an idea of Pyongyang's agenda. The country is defiant after the U.S. redeployed warships for the Korean Peninsula.

It's not an unusual military move by the U.S. but it's in response to North Korea's recent nuclear threat. Here's the reaction from North Korea's government. Quote, "The Trump administration clamors about peace through strength and bring to the region of the Korean Peninsula a number of strategic weapons in order to frighten us. But we are not daunted even as to turn an eyelash. We'll make the U.S. fully accountable for catastrophic consequences that may be brought about by its high-handed and outrageous acts."

Mo Kelly -- you're still with me. President Trump on the brink of getting sucked into Syria while at the same time facing a growing threat from North Korea, is it realistic to assume that this administration can hold to its America first doctrine.

KELLY: Well, they have to understand that making America first does include other nations around the world. I mean America first does extend to South Korea and our interests there.

[00:15:01] And unfortunately, this President doesn't necessarily seem to realize that you don't have the luxury of only dealing with one nation at a time. He may think that he's only dealing with Syria but that also includes Russia and now it also includes North Korea.

And also that was on -- at the same time dealing with the leader of China. All these things are coming together simultaneously. And we're not sure, at least I'm not sure whether President Trump with his strike in Syria was an addressing an audience of America to help his approval rating or whether he was actually trying to make a change in Syria and the Middle East because we know that that has not deterred al-Assad so at this point it stands (inaudible) that there's going to be an escalation. And an escalation in Syria means that there's going to be more of an impetus to have to deal with Russia and then also North Korea.

I'm not so sure that the President has complete control of where this goes from here. And that concerns me greatly.

SESAY: It's interesting that you mentioned approval rating on the part of the President and the actions in Syria because what we know is that while the majority of American support for what happened, they're leery about going further about what comes next. And we also know that the President's own base, they feel like they didn't sign up for this. They didn't sign up for a president that was wading into Syria.

I mean talk to me about the political cost, the risk for the President here.

KELLY: It's very interesting because he received bilateral support from both Republicans and Democrats for at least doing something and that I guess served as a differentiation between him and President Obama who arguably did quote-unquote "nothing" in 2013.

So he received bilateral support. But at the same time no one want so take this further than it needs to go. I mean we wanted to strike as a nation but we really didn't want to be tangled up in another Middle Eastern country.

But unfortunately if you're going to get into a fight and you're not going to actually knock out the other guy, then you might as well stay around for the whole 12 rounds. And I don't think America has the temerity or even the stomach for another long war in the Middle East. But we may be on the precipice of that.

SESAY: Yes. We might indeed. Well, Mo Kelly -- I know you have the stomach to stick around for the next hour.

KELLY: Yes, ma'am.

SESAY: We'll keep this conversation going. Appreciate it. Thank you.

Now, the U.S. Supreme Court is once again dominated by conservative justices. Neil Gorsuch took his judicial oath at the White House Monday and President Donald Trump celebrated his biggest political victory.

Democrats fought an intense battle, you may remember, to block Gorsuch's confirmation. Senate Republicans, well they changed those rules to end that blockade. Gorsuch fills the vacancy left by Antonin Scalia's death nearly 14 months ago.


JUSTICE NEIL GORSUCH, SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will never forget that to whom much is given, much will be expected. And I promise you that I will do all my powers permit to be a faithful servant of the Constitution and laws of this great nation. Thank you.


Let's bring in CNN Supreme Court analyst Joan Biskupic. She joins us now from Irvine, California. Thank you so much for being with us -- Joan.

So Judge Gorsuch is not Justice Gorsuch. How soon will we feel his impact on the court?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: You know, on Thursday, he will vote in a private conference with the rest of the justices about some pending appeals. And then the following Monday we'll see the list of which cases they've taken in and rejected. We wouldn't see his specific vote but his influence will be there.

So right away this week, he will start having an effect on the law of the land here. And then what you'll see is, beginning the week of the 17th, the justices will be hearing oral arguments. So we'll see him up there on that elevated bench in this new chair that has been made specifically for him and I'm sure he's going to jump in and with some questions and try to be a player. So we'll see that.

And then, you know, June is right around the corner here and that's when all of our big rulings come. And he will have a vote in all of these April sitting cases and then also orders. You know, we've got the travel litigation percolating up. We have some other emergency matters percolating up that he'll have a hand in.

So I think it will be pretty quick that we'll see his influence.

SESAY: As you mentioned the travel ban, let me pick up on that. You know, there are some out there who believe that this administration has purposely dragged its feet in terms of its actions in appealing the travel, you know, trying to untie it in its judicial wranglings because obviously the expectation is it will go to the Supreme court and they wanted to see Gorsuch on the bench when that happens.

Do you believe from what we know of him that his being on the court means this will go the administration's way?

BISKUPIC: I think that the chances are that it will now go the administration's way. Now, there's so many different variables. So, you know, we're just speculating here.

[00:20:02] But first of all he was chosen as a conservative. He was screened intensively by conservative groups here -- the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation. He seems to have -- he seems to be quite compatible with President Trump's outlook on things. We just don't know yet, you know, how much -- how much politics might be infecting his view and how much his general conservatism from a lower court will play out at the high court. But definitely the chances of the administration succeeding at the Supreme Court have been increased by virtue of this new (inaudible) conservative.

So -- the other thing I would say about the lower court litigations so far it's been going against the administration. But sometimes lower court judges themselves keep their eye on who's at the Supreme Court and what might happen.

And until today that court was deadlocked, essential four-four with four liberals and four conservatives on many dilemmas. And I bet that that probably had an effect on some of the lower court judges in many areas. But now there's a whole new team at the very top, essentially.

SESAY: You mean there's a whole new gang in town, so to speak. Joan Biskupic -- appreciate it. Thank you so much for the insight.


SESAY: Time to take a quick break now.

Next on NEWSROOM L.A. people in California are mourning the victims of a shocking murder-suicide inside an elementary school.

Plus shocking video of authorities roughing up a United Airlines customer -- the video is hard to watch -- you're seeing there being yanked off the plane. What other passengers are saying about the disturbing incident. We'll have that for you, next.


SESAY: Well, an eight-year-old boy and his teacher had been killed in an elementary school shooting in California. Police say the gunman was targeting the teacher, his estranged wife, before killing himself. Another boy was injured though police say the children were not the target.

Stephanie Elam is in San Bernardino with more.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Isha -- this tragedy took place just before 10:30 in the morning on Monday. And what we understand happened from police is that a 53-year-old man came to the elementary school here in San Bernardino, California, went to the front office, processed as anyone would be as a visitor to the school.

and then he walked to the classroom where his estranged wife -- they'd only been married for a couple of months, we understand -- was teaching her special needs class. It's a class made up of first through fourth graders.

[00:24:59] Police say he walked in and without any announcement began shooting at his estranged wife, killing her -- her name being Karen Smith (ph). Karen Smith was there teaching and standing behind her were two boys, a nine-year-old boy who we understand is in stable condition; and an eight-year-old boy who understand has succumbed to his gunshot wounds. That eight-year-old boy's name is Jonathan Martinez.

Then after this all transpiring, they say that the man then turned the gun on himself, killing himself. So they do believe it was a murder- suicide here inside the school. Officials working very quickly to reunite the children in that classroom with their parents quickly. The rest of the school of about 500 students, they worked methodically to reunite those children with their parents after making sure they were releasing them to their legal guardians.

But all in all, it just (ph) was to be a very tragic development here in San Bernardino, California -- Isha.

SESAY: Our thanks to Stephanie Elam for that.

Just ahead on CNN NEWSROOM, opening old wounds. French presidential frontrunner Marine Le Pen is being slammed for comments about France's role in the Holocaust. I'll talk to an expert on French politics just ahead.

Do stay with us.


SESAY: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

The headlines this hour:

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un is expected to attend a high profile political gathering. The legislative assembly could give us an idea of Pyongyang's agenda. The country remains defiant after the U.S. redeployed warships to the Korean Peninsula in response to Pyongyang's nuclear threat.

The White House says it won't rule out anything when it comes to Syria.

[00:30:00] Earlier Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the Syrian regime's use of barrel bombs would cross a line for the US president. These crude explosives have been used frequently in the six-year civil war. White House officials later walked back Spicer's comments saying the administration's policy has not changed.

Egyptians are mourning the victims of Sunday's deadly attacks at two Coptic Christian churches. At least 45 people were killed and 125 were wounded. ISIS claimed responsibility and promised more violence. The Egyptian cabinet announced a three-month state of emergency.

Swedish officials have released the name of the Uzbek national accused of carrying out Friday's deadly terror attack in Stockholm. 39-year- old Rakhmat Akilov is accused of stealing a truck and ploughing it into pedestrians in the Swedish capital. Four people were killed and more than a dozen others wounded. Now, France's far right presidential candidate has sparked an outcry. Marine Le Pen is drawing protests from Jewish groups and the Israeli government after suggesting France was not responsible for the wartime round-up of Jews who were sent to Nazi death camps.

The National Front leader says, "I don't think France is responsible for Vel' d'Hiv, a reference to the stadium where thousands of Jews were held before being sent to Auschwitz. Le Pen is the frontrunner in the race for Elysee Palace.

Her election campaign in France officially began on Monday, less than two weeks before the first round of voting on April 23. I'm joined now by Dominic Thomas, Chair of UCLA's Department of French and Francophone Studies. Dominic, always good to have you with us.

So, these comments by Marine Le Pen have really provoked an outcry in France. She has tried to walk them back somewhat saying that she really was saying that the Vichy government wasn't the French government, trying to distance herself on what she said. But how damaging have they been to her standing?

DOMINIC THOMAS, CHAIR OF UCLA DEPARTMENT OF FRENCH AND FRANCOPHONE STUDIES: I think they're extraordinarily damaging. This is an age- old story. In 1942, France, remember, the sort of the Free French were in exile in the UK and London with Gen. de Gaulle. And Marshal Petain, in collaboration with the Nazis, was the sort of - named himself sort of the head of the French state.

And the French police were ordered by the Nazis to round up Jews. Lists that had been created by the Nazis, over 13,000 went to Vel' d'Hiv and were deported, obviously, to the camps in Auschwitz and never returned.

For a very long time, the far right in France has embraced the figure of Petain as a sort of greatness. And Marine Le Pen has got herself caught up here. She is, on the one hand, trying to sort of talk about making France great again and, therefore, finds herself sort of having to talk about great historical figures and the sort of the great past and all these kinds of questions.

What she's tried to do for the last few years is to clean up the party image and to modernize the image. She's gone so far as to kick her father out of the party, who himself has a very long history of being both criminalized and sentenced for making outrageous comments.

The most notable comment is to basically say that the gas chambers were a detail in the Second World War. So, she's tried to appeal to a broader mainstream and her base - or certain elements of the party still hold on to these strong anti-Semitic kind of traits. But she can't get elected by appealing to them.

And what she's been trying to do for the past several months is to appeal to a broader base of people, a broader electorate and these kinds of comments and so on are going to make it very difficult for people to support her. SESAY: So, let me be clear. If the math makes it clear, she can't be voted by her base alone, should we say that these comments were her misspeaking or was there a political strategy at play here, kind of dog-whistle, if you will?

THOMAS: I can't see what the political strategy would be because her base puts her somewhere in the mid-20s. If she makes it through to the second round, which she has a very good chance of getting there because of this base support, she needs to get over 50 percent to be elected. And people are being increasingly comforted to sort of supporting her.

She participated in the first-round debate. She's become increasingly legitimate when she speaks about immigration, anti-EU and so on. But to go back to these kinds of comments, anti-Semitic comments, questionings or questions around the sort of the Second World War is highly problematic and actually really goes against everything she's been trying to do over the past few years.

In the past few years, when someone in her party made an outrageous racist comment or an anti-Semitic comment, she could take the high ground, discipline them, remove them from the party and distance herself by saying this is no longer what we stand for.

But she's fallen into the same trap. And I think the trap is being created by her to the extent that people are interested in how she reconciles this claim for nationalism, what people have called it kind of ethno-nationalism, this white Christian France without at the same time distancing herself from some of the darker chapters in French history.

[00:35:10] SESAY: As we know, Marine Le Pen has been leading in the polls. Let me ask you how the polls look now with elections two weeks away. We are seeing some movement.

THOMAS: Yes. We are seeing some movement. The interesting thing - and we've talked about this before - is that the French have never held debates in the first round. They've always waited till the second round.

And the debate that took place last week, that brought all 11 presidential candidates together, really allowed some of them to sort of set themselves up. And they also took a lot of criticism from the minor characters.

And so, on the left, the socialist candidate Hamon underperformed in these debates, but is also in many ways being held responsible for the disastrous legacy, one should say, of the Hollande presidency, has really gone down in the polls to single digits.

And the far left candidate who did not participate in the primary, Jean-Luc Melenchon, who used to be a socialist, but is really far closer to the Communist Party, has risen up in the polls.

Fillon is still sort of holding around the 15 percent or 18 percent, but the corruption scandal is not helping him. The far right is relatively stable. And Macron has remained relatively stable.

SESAY: But not growing.

THOMAS: Not growing. And this is the big issue, is that we've gone from what looked like a two race between Macron and Le Pen a few weeks ago to now there being four candidates that are dividing up these votes and are at somewhere between the 17 percent, 18 percent and 25 percent, which means - and also people are just disillusioned with this whole election. The corruption scandal -

SESAY: Penelopegate, all of the -

THOMAS: Penelopegate. All these kinds of things. There are a lot of undecided voters and also a very large portion of the - a significant number of voters have said they're not even going to bother voting or destroy their ballot and so on.

So, the outcome really at this stage remains unpredictable. And I don't think anybody can honestly say who will be there in the second round. The fact remains they still all believe they can beat Le Pen, so they all want to get to that second round. And she hasn't helped herself with this latest round of problematic comments. That's for sure.

SESAY: Dominic, you've been helping us make sense of it. You will be in France -

THOMAS: Absolutely.

SESAY: -- as they go to the polls. We appreciate it always.

THOMAS: I look forward to it. Thank you, Isha.

SESAY: Thank you.

THOMAS: Thanks.

SESAY: Quick break here. Coming up, the not-so-friendly skies. United Airlines is responding after a paying customer was dragged off. That's right. Dragged off a flight.


SESAY: Hello everyone. The US Department of Transportation is reviewing an extremely disturbing incident on United Airlines flight. A passenger who refused to give up his seat on an overbooked flight was forcibly dragged off the plane and it was all caught on video. Watch.


[00:40:05] SESAY: You can see quite clearly security officers janging (ph) the man from his seat on a flight bound to Kentucky, Sunday. Other passenger videos shows him with a bloodied mouth. The airline says it needed the space for four crew members. Officials have placed one of the security officers on leave pending a review. Well, United CEO released this statement. "This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers. Our team is moving with a sense of urgency to work with the authorities and conduct our own detailed review of what happened."

I'm pleased to say I'm joined now by defense attorney Sara Azari. Thank you so much for joining us.

Let me just start with just that statement. What is that? United CEO released a statement, apologize for having to re-accommodate these -

SARA AZARI, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: That's like the least of their worries, right? Because they're looking at a pretty big lawsuit here. There was severe use of force on this man that was really uncalled for.

And I'll tell you this. While there is - the Code of Federal Regulations provides that you can't even involuntarily deny boarding to passengers when the flight is full, in this case he had already boarded. He was seated. He was buckled in, ready to take off. And that's illegal.

There are very specific -

SESAY: So, that is clearly illegal because he was already in a seat -

AZARI: They had put him on the plane. And the only time they can eject you in that situation from the flight is if you pose a terrorist threat, if you are drunk and obnoxious or you're a safety threat to yourself or others, or there is some medical emergency. None of those exceptions applied here.

So, this is a classic case of an airline overselling. And I have a serious problem with that as a traveler myself. They oversell. They overbook. And in this case, they made the mistake of not addressing that issue before everyone boarded.

SESAY: What about those people who are saying (INAUDIBLE). I know that some people may be saying, well, they asked him to get up, they - it's within - the airline - is it in the airline small print? Is there any word to cover the airline here that says if they've oversold - obviously, it went too far, but that they can take you off the flight.

AZARI: At this point, they really need to hope that people would do this voluntarily. And nobody - they offered $400, $800 and then $1,000. Nobody would volunteer to get off.

This is a Sunday night. People want to get home, people want to get to work on Monday morning. Nobody was going to do this voluntarily. So, then they resorted to - we're going to involuntarily ask for people to leave to accommodate these crew members.

SESAY: Any clue on how they chose the four people?

AZARI: It's interesting. I was looking into that. And it doesn't seem to be - there is a system in place. And it appears to be a combo of random selection by the computer as well as employees. Like, for instance, if you're a family, they try not to break up the family. They try to keep you together, if you're traveling together.

So, obviously, this man was by himself. So, he was sort of the - probably one of the first choices of people to boot out. And also, it's about your destination, how long you have to wait for the next flight to that destination.

SESAY: Although we are hearing, he was actually with his wife on that flight.

AZARI: Oh, well, then -

SESAY: So, the whole - again, it is all so murky. So, tell me, in terms of legal options for him, the expectation is there will be lawsuit. What would that look like?

AZARI: Well, first of all, the Department of Transportation allows him to recover up to four times the amount of his travel costs, which - to me, this is way beyond that.

Civil lawsuit, because there was excessive force used and it's humiliating and he was bleeding. It was awful what we saw on video.

And then also, I think I would try to push for some criminal prosecution too. There were no exceptions against the airline and the security officers because it's essentially assault battery when there is no justification for them to use this kind of force on this man. It was really sort of out of line.

People forget that today we have smartphones and we get to document everything.

SESAY: It's a distressing video. Every time I see it, every time I hear it, I find it very difficult to watch. Sara, we appreciate you just explaining what lies ahead, what potentially lies ahead and just how out of the norm this was.

AZARI: It's very unusual, yes.

SESAY: Thank you.

AZARI: Thank you.

SESAY: All right. And thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles, in fact. I'm Isha Sesay. "World Sport" is up next. And I'll be back with another hour of NEWSROOM all around the world. You're watching CNN.


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