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Final Vote Set for French Presidential Race; Macron Camp Claims "Massive" Hack; Death Toll Rises in Venezuela; Trump Team Warned Flynn about Russia Contact; North Korea Accuses South and U.S. of Plot. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired May 6, 2017 - 03:00   ET




NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Emmanuel Macron's campaign is targeted by a massive hacking attack just one day before the presidential election.

Stunning images from Venezuela. An armored vehicle plowing through a crowd of anti-government protesters.

Also rare social media posts from inside North Korea show a way of life seldom seen in the Western world. Our report from Will Ripley, who's been in North Korea many times, just ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM.

Thank you for joining us. I'm Natalie Allen.


ALLEN: On the eve of the French presidential election, allegations of a massive hack that could upset the dynamics of this critical race. The campaign of former economy minister Emmanuel Macron says thousands of its e-mails and documents were posted online Friday by hackers.

But what now at this stage in the game?

And with reporters having some restrictions to their reporting, what do we know about what's in these, maybe, Cyril, 70,000 documents?

Cyril Vanier now with us from Paris.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, Natalie. It's great to be joining you live from Paris less than 24 hours before polling stations open in mainland France. And you know, the special thing about today in French politics is that today is supposed to be a moment of calm and tranquil reflection for voters.

There's been a very animated, dizzying campaign really, a brutal campaign. And in France the campaign officially ended a number of hours ago, midnight Friday French time.

And the idea, the spirit of this rule really -- and there's another rule also, which is that media, especially TV, are not allowed to report basically on politics anymore, is that you have 24 hours, you know, alone with your thoughts to really think about who you're going to vote for and let those ideas sink in.

So Emmanuel Macron has been the front-runner throughout the race. But Marine Le Pen still has plenty of support, especially in her home base of Henin-Beaumont. Our Isa Soares has been speaking to voters there and she joins us live.

Isa, I want to talk to you about this revelation that the Macron campaign has been hacked. Le Pen has consistently hinted that Emmanuel Macron might be hiding something, that he might not be as clean as we think. It seems to me that this hack plays into Le Pen's arguments.

ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is what we have heard throughout the campaign from Marine Le Pen, Cyril. You're absolutely right. These 24 hours are supposed to be one of reflection, like you just pointed out.

But clearly fears this will have an impact on the vote. Now we've heard from Le Pen throughout the campaign. In fact, just this week when she had that two-hour heated debate with Macron, allegations perhaps that he has something to hide.

She went on to say, I hope you don't have an offshore account in the Bahamas, Mr. Macron, to which he basically said, stop spreading fake news and lies. He then went on to file a lawsuit over this, over these lies.

So we have heard from several people throughout the campaign, this allegation that he's hiding something but it's something that we have felt here, too, in a sense, because people here see Macron in many ways, many of them from those we've been speaking to, as belonging to the elites.

You know, he's come up from -- he's belonged to the elites but he's also someone who's trying to distance himself, Cyril, I think it's fair to say, from the elites with the new message being a more kind of centrist person.

But there are links. His background is business. He knows the people at the very top. And for those we've been speaking to here, that is very hard to stomach. They want a new candidate, someone who will listen to them.

They believe that Marine Le Pen is the woman to do so because those at the very top have been ignoring them thus far. Take a listen.


SOARES (voice-over): Henin-Beaumont has seen better days, once a prosperous mining town, now facing a fight for survival. Boarded up shops, high unemployment and an aging population. But there's hope in every corner here and it's called Marine Le Pen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It's true that everyone, including the media and the journalists call her a bad person and a villain. But I'm sorry. Look at all the towns governed by the Le Pen party members and the Front National. No one thinks like this. No one has any problems.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): OK. I'm for Marine Le Pen because of her promises over the limits of the retirement age.


SOARES (voice-over): And while some are keeping their voting cards close to their chest, others are passionate and highly defensive of Marine Le Pen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I am for her. There you have it. Sorry to say it but you asked me who I'm voting for. And maybe it's not what you wanted to hear but I told you that I'm voting for her.

SOARES: There's a real sense of abandonment here by those at the very top, by the main political parties, which really explains the support for Marine Le Pen. But what is striking is how she's managed to do this, turning a town that, for seven decades, voted Socialist, now turning overwhelmingly to the Right.

SOARES (voice-over): At the Bellevue coffee shop, not everyone has been convinced by Le Pen's promises. Local train driver Benet Sant (ph) is one of them.

BENET SANT (PH), TRAIN DRIVER (through translator): I am for Macron obviously because he is against the Front National and he defends our values and those French people of North African descent and because of Marine Le Pen's many lies.

SOARES (voice-over): But in a town led by Front National and home to many migrants, you'll be surprised to hear any anti-immigrant rhetoric, a sentiment shared by local Ed la Guy (ph).

ED LA GUY (PH), LOCAL RESIDENT (through translator): Not all immigrants are the same. We are all created in France and proud to be French. Look around here. You see people are open. There is no climate of fear and people from all backgrounds get on.

SOARES (voice-over): That's because the Front National has muted the anti-immigrant message here, focusing instead on social issues, a simple message that plays well in a town that enjoys the simple life.


SOARES: And, Cyril, there is a sense of disillusionment, of really feeling they're voiceless here, hence why Marine Le Pen and Front National has had such a huge support from people in this town.

And what they've been able to achieve is quite a feat in many ways. You know, like I mentioned, 70 years of Socialist rule now turning to the right. And they've done so, Cyril, at grassroots level, talking to people, knocking on doors, telling them what they want to see, what help they really want.

And what we've seen is local taxes lowered by as many as 10 percent. We have seen money spent on infrastructure, new building projects under way. But when it comes, of course, to helping the economy, those in need, that we haven't seen.

So it's those promises of being listened to, being heard and being helped that really is playing very well here, going right to the hearts and minds of the people. Worth putting into context, too, that the last mayor here was a Socialist mayor and he was charged with embezzlement of public funds, hence why you have seen so many people really backing Marine Le Pen and backing Front National -- Cyril.

VANIER: Isa, thank you very much. You're absolutely right to point out that the local context, the local politics in Henin-Beaumont are critical to explaining and understanding the rise of the far right in that particular region, along with the broader factors you've mention. Isa, who is going to be also critical to our French coverage over the weekend.

Thank you very much, Isa.

And for more on all of this, let me turn to our next guest, Bruno Cautres, professor of politics at Sciences Po. I want to talk more about the potential impact of the hacking of the Macron campaign because, immediately, when you see that happening, you realize, when we got the news this morning and we discussed it earlier that campaign staff of Emmanuel Macron had seen their e-mails hacked, both private and professional e-mails.

We understand that there might be some accounting documents relating to campaign finance in that information that's now been dumped on a website.

When you see that, you think back to the U.S. election and you remember how big a part of the narrative of that election it was. But the campaign is over in France.

BRUNO CAUTRES, PROFESSOR OF POLITICS: Yes, the campaign is over and also it's not exactly the same story because, in the U.S., it was a very long story during weeks and weeks and weeks. And also it was about the e-mails of the former secretary of state, which is not exactly the same case in France.

We just don't know what we have inside this hacking and what news is there.

Is it just to discover that En Marche is just paying invoices (INAUDIBLE)?

So we just not know. So I'm not sure it's going to have a big impact because the campaign has been long enough in France. We've got the primaries. Then we've got the long, long, long presidential campaign.

And the --


VANIER: -- made up their minds?

CAUTRES: Probably, yes. And the two camps have already their supporters. And obviously, on the Macron side, they don't want to show that they overclaim the victories is there. On the Marine Le Pen's side, they don't want to show also that it is over, that it is done and we are in the very last (INAUDIBLE).

VANIER: There's something else that is important to report which is that, if you're waking up now in France, as many people will be, it's just 9 o'clock Paris time.


VANIER: You turn on your TV news. You will not know that the Macron campaign has been hacked.

CAUTRES: Yes. You can find that if you look to the Web, obviously. But you know we have this very strict regulation in France that, 24 hours before the day of the vote, there is no longer surveys that can be published. The campaign is over.

The candidate cannot make any declaration and even we have to respect very strict regulation in the comments. (INAUDIBLE) needs to be very careful --

VANIER: What you can say.


VANIER: Yes. And you'll be going on French TV later today and what you can say is strictly limited.

CAUTRES: Absolutely. We can make general statements about our participation, turnout, (INAUDIBLE) and these kinds of things but we have to be very fair in the way that we are treating the two candidates.


CAUTRES: So it's a French regulation which is there since some years.

VANIER: You do something that is fascinating, which is you really take a long, hard look with your studies and surveys at the state of French thinking, where French voters are in their minds. And you were telling me earlier, people are angry.

CAUTRES: Yes. I would say even that one of the characteristics of French public opinion, when people think about politics, is the amazing level of distrust. We did a big survey --


VANIER: -- distrust towards...? CAUTRES: Distrust towards politics, toward (INAUDIBLE), political (ph) parties. So we did a survey before the official campaign in (INAUDIBLE) and we were just amazed by the level of frustration, dissatisfaction with the state of democracy, with the functioning of democracy.

So the next president, whoever it is going to be, would probably needs to care about that quite a lot.

VANIER: Do you think that's something that can be addressed?

CAUTRES: It's a long process.

VANIER: Because this has been -- the reason I ask the question is because there's been this level of anger and defiance that has been rising in France for quite a while.

CAUTRES: Oh, yes. Yes, it started a long time ago actually. That France that you see today is a country like other European countries, which is facing economic crisis for a long, long period and also terrorist threats and also the feeling that the world is changing.

That we are the big France eventually but the world is changing around us and many voters just wonder, what is going on.

Are we still the big France?

Are we going to lose?

VANIER: The big France?

This is a very interesting point you raise I think for our viewers, that French people feel their country is backsliding.

CAUTRES: (INAUDIBLE) Europe, yes. Obviously we are one of the big countries and also we have been one of the very active founding fathers of the European Union.

And one of the objectives of that election is to say something to the French.

Are we going ahead with that E.U. or, on the contrary, are we going to a little bit to protect France and going inside the borders of the territory?

It is one of the big issues of that second round.

VANIER: All right. Bruno Cautres (ph), thank you so much for your time. Thank you so much for coming on the show. Always a pleasure having you. Thanks.

Now in the next hour, we will be continuing our coverage of the French election. I'll be speaking to journalist Christina Prince.

She'll tell us why French voters are given essentially a day of zen before they vote. No campaigning, no coverage of politics on TV, and whether that zen could be disrupted by the hack of Emmanuel Macron's e-mails -- Natalie, back to you.

ALLEN: I love it. Voter zen. I would love to see a report on how that works for them, if you can do that, Cyril. Thank you so much. We appreciate it.

We have much more ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM, including Syria. A cease-fire is in place. It comes one day after Russia, Turkey and Iran signed an agreement creating four designated safe zones, where all parties are to suspend fighting.

Russia's envoy says the deescalation plan will last six months and could be extended another six months. Moscow says no warplanes will fly over the four safe zones. Syria's opposition says the plan is not legitimate and that President Bashar al-Assad is trying to divide the country.

In Venezuela, the country is bracing itself for another protest this Saturday. They have been violent; 36 people have now died over the past few weeks, much of the deaths linked to both the pro- and anti- government marches.

And some of the video has been shocking and brutal, such as recent video showing an armored military vehicle running over a protester.

That video begins our report from Shasta Darlington, so we want to warn you, it is graphic.


SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dramatic images caught on amateur video, tanks plowing through crowds of Venezuelan protesters as the roof burns and shots ring out.

One man run over; somehow he survived. Separately, a --


DARLINGTON (voice-over): -- protester badly burned after a nearby police motorcycle caught fire. Scenes of pitched battles repeated across the country over the last five weeks, killing at least 35 people and injuring more than 700.

As the opposition takes to the streets almost daily to protest against President Maduro, accusing him of imposing a dictatorship, President Maduro remains defiant.

NICOLAS MADURO, PRESIDENT OF VENEZUELA (through translator): The people must decide if they want war or they want peace. In the next weeks we will have elections.

You wanted elections?

Have them.

DARLINGTON (voice-over): But instead of the regional elections demanded by the opposition, Maduro has called for elections to create an constituent assembly that could, among other things, rewrite the constitution.

Critics at home and abroad say it's a blatant power grab as Maduro's popularity dwindles.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It will be worse for the country in all ways. The financial crisis will worsen. And socially, there will be more hunger.

DARLINGTON (voice-over): Once the richest country in Latin America with vast oil reserves, these are the images that you now find on the streets of Caracas, families digging through the trash. Adriana Sanchez (ph) cleans houses but says she can't afford food for her two children.

With inflation of 800 percent last year and more than 80 percent of families living in poverty, many like Jose Godoy (ph), an unemployed construction worker, are digging for scraps.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): There are thousands of us looking through the trash to eat, thousands, not one of us or two or four. There are thousands who are on the streets, looking for something to eat to survive.

DARLINGTON (voice-over): The situation at supermarkets is hardly better. Endless lines and empty shelves, one of the main reasons Venezuelans are taking to the streets. The other, they say democracy is being eroded. Some opposition leaders like Leopoldo Lopez (ph) jailed.

It's been more than three years and still no trial. And the latest wave of protests really took off when the government banned another opposition leader, Enrique Capriles, from holding office for the next 15 years.

Maduro has tried to shore up support with his own pro-government marches and a new TV program to show off his salsa dancing, moves ridiculed by his critics -- Shasta Darlington, CNN.


ALLEN: Next here, one of CNN's reporters, Will Ripley, explains what it's really like to cover news inside North Korea. His personal thoughts and his photos -- coming up.

Plus a stunning performance by this runner from Kenya in the quest for the holy grail of marathons, breaking two hours.

Did he do it?

That's next.



[03:20:00] (MUSIC PLAYING)

ALLEN: We're learning more about the events that cost President Trump's former national security adviser his position after just one day on the job.

"The Washington Post" is reporting Michael Flynn was warned by senior members of the Trump transition team back in November about the risk of his contacts with Russia's ambassador, Sergey Kislyak.

Current and former U.S. officials told "The Post" they were concerned that Flynn didn't fully understand the ambassador's motives and also requested he read a classified profile about him. It's not clear if Flynn ever read it.

But his further interactions with the ambassador ultimately led to his resignation. "The Washington Post" reporter covering this story provided more details to CNN's Anderson Cooper.


ADAM ENTOUS, "THE WASHINGTON POST": What happened in this case is the transition official approached the Obama administration officials, who were interacting with the transition team in the Situation Room in the White House.

And at the end of one of their meetings about the transition, this Trump transition official asked for basically the CIA's bio of Kislyak in order to basically provide that to Flynn, so he had a sense of who he was dealing with and again, to kind of put him on notice that, you know, that there is a chance, a good possibility, that if he talks to him on an open line, it's going to get sucked up.


ALLEN: "The Washington Post" reporter there. CNN has not confirmed the story but we're looking into it.

North Korea is accusing the U.S. and South Korea of attempting to assassinate leader Kim Jong-un with a biochemical substance. Pyongyang claims a North Korean citizen was involved in the plot, along with the CIA and South Korea's intelligence service. CNN isn't able to corroborate that independently.

There are so many other stories from inside North Korea to which CNN's Will Ripley has been able to gain extraordinary access over the years. We recently asked Will to reflect on his experiences and what it's like to report and post on social media from North Korea.



WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): People are often surprised that I can post on social media from inside North Korea. Even though they don't have things like Facebook or Instagram or Twitter here, North Korean officials are becoming increasingly savvy about the power of social media to get their message out to the world.

They realize that a single post, especially by a network like CNN, could be seen by millions of people. So they're paying closer attention to what I'm posting and so just like on television on social media, you have to be really careful and follow North Korean rules.

Nothing that could be perceived as disrespectful to their supreme leader, Kim Jong-un, nothing demeaning to the country.

RIPLEY: It's not something we're used to in the West.

RIPLEY (voice-over): But we do have a lot of freedom. We've built up this trust over time that has allowed us to get some really extraordinary access that we didn't used to get.

RIPLEY: We're about to enter a place that we're rarely allowed to go.

RIPLEY (voice-over): So we're getting the chance to photograph real people in real situations. We get a window into their lives that most of the world has really never seen.

And I found that these Instagram stories that people can hold in their hand and look on their phone, it takes them inside this story in a way that they really have never experienced before. People are used to seeing military parades. They're used to seeing fiery rhetoric.

But to hold their phone and see us hanging out at our North Korean hotel or walking around on the streets...

RIPLEY: At the 85th anniversary of the North Korean army...

RIPLEY (voice-over): -- it makes people feel like they are along on this journey.

I think the North Korean people are lovely people. They're friendly. They're warm. They're kind. And I try to capture that in the photographs that I take. Of all the things that I've posted about on this trip, I think the one thing that resonated so much with people were these songs that play over loudspeakers across the city.

They begin at 5:00 am with a wakeup song. And then almost hourly there's this song that plays, called, "Where Are You, Dear General?" It's a tribute to the late North Korean leaders.

People in the Western world find it very creepy. North Koreans don't find it creepy at all. They're used to the song and actually, once you're in the country for a while, you just start to get used to it.


ALLEN: I'm not used to it yet. Will Ripley, we thank you.

You can follow Will on Twitter, social media, Facebook. It's really fascinating what he sends out.

The two-hour marathon still stands as the brass ring for runners but it is closer than it's ever been. That's because this man, Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya fell just short of breaking the


ALLEN: -- two-hour barrier. You can see it right there, 23 seconds over.

He's an Olympic marathon champion. He finished Nike's sponsored breaking two attempt with the time of 2:24, I guess officially in Italy. Kipchoge and two others wore the latest running technology by Nike, Nike trying to get them to break that barrier.

Until now, the fastest marathon time, 2:02:57. That was in the 2014 Berlin marathon. So officially it still stands as the world record.

But look at him. He did a heck of a job.


ALLEN: Thanks for watching. Be back with your top stories after this.