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Emmanuel Macon Wins French Election; E.U. Celebrates Macron's Decisive Victory; Nigeria Welcomes Back 82 Chibok Schoolgirls; North Korea Says They've Detained 4th U.S. Citizen; Business Implications of Macron Win; French Reaction to Macron Win; Former Acting A.G. Sally Yates to Testify on Flynn. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired May 8, 2017 - 02:00   ET




[02:00:52] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome viewers in the United States and all around the world. I'm George Howell, from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. NEWSROOM starts now.

France decides, choosing a centrist leader as president. Emmanuel Macron defeating the far-right's Marine Le Pen and making Macron the youngest president ever elected in the nation. It is a decision that not only has implications for France but for the whole of Europe.

Leading our coverage this hour, my colleague, Cyril Vanier. A French native, Cyril has covered politics there for years.

What's the mood on the streets of Paris?

CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, George, that's the question we always ask, what's the mood? It's particularly relevant this time around because it's subtle. There are layers to this answer. You look at the numbers, you see Emmanuel Macron won a lop-sided victory, 65 percent of the vote. You would think there is a huge level of support and enthusiasm for him in France. It's not that simple. We spoke to voters and supporters of Emmanuel Macron. They could be put in two categories. You have the enthusiastic one. Also, there are reluctant Macron voters or unenthusiastic voters who voted for him because they didn't feel they had an alternative and didn't want the far-right to get to power. That creates a complicated dynamic for Emmanuel Macron. He knows this. He does absolutely know this.

Listen to what he had to say about uniting the country during his acceptance speech last night.


EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT-ELECT (through translation): What we have done for months and months now has no precedent, nor equivalence. Everybody told us it was impossible, but they didn't know France.



VANIER: Macron's rival, Marine Le Pen, congratulated him after the vote. She called on her party to build on the record performance in her concession speech.


MARINE LE PEN, FORMER FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translation): We have to renew our forces at this event. I propose, therefore, that we embark on a new phase for the party, which the French want, and which is absolutely necessary for the country to get back to its feet again.


VANIER: France's interior ministry says Macron defeated Le Pen with 66 percent of the vote. That's an outstanding number.

Let's go to Melissa Bell, who joins us now, on what is a quiet Monday morning in Paris, a bank holiday in France.

Melissa, you have covered this since the beginning. I want to tap into your knowledge. When Emmanuel Macron created his movement, nobody gave him a fighting chance of winning the presidency in France. At what point, as a journalist, did you start taking him seriously?

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We started believing he had a chance on the 1st of March at 6:00 p.m., Cyril, because that was the moment when the man, who was favored in the race, announced he would be facing charges in the case looking into whether or not his wife was paid for parliamentary work she never carried out, but also that he would not be standing down. A committee of the Republican Party was held at 6:00 p.m. on the first of March, which they tried to urge him to stand down so another candidate could be found in time to save the election for them. He refused, taking the party hostage and the rest is history.

So, very precisely, it was the candidate and the troubles faced by Francois Fillon that really allowed Emmanuel Macron to manage this gamble. It was a gamble from the beginning. No one believed he could do it. Everybody said it could not be done. France's political structures were such that you couldn't come in without a party and make it to the presidency. That's what Emmanuel Macron has achieved.

[02:05:13] VANIER: All right. Melissa Bell, reporting from the streets of Paris, thank you so much.

The world is reacting to Macron's victory, of course. U.S. President Donald Trump, who had spoken positively of Le Pen, praised him in a tweet. It says, "Congratulations to Emmanuel Macron on his big win today as the next president of France. I look very much forward to working with him."

Mr. Trump's rival in the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton, tweeted, for her part, "Victory for Macron, for France, the E.U. and the world. Defeat to those interfering with democracy. But the media says I can't talk about that." That's another issue. That's U.S. politics.

British Prime Minister Theresa May also congratulated Macron. The two spoke by phone. Her office said topics like Brexit and NATO were discussed.

Many European leaders crossed their fingers that the far-right would not come to power in France because Le Pen was radically anti-European Union during the campaign.

Let's check in with Erin McLaughlin, who is in Brussels.

Erin, European leaders must be breathing a deep sigh of relief this morning.

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So much relief here in Brussels, Cyril. This election result really seen to build on election results earlier in the year, in the Netherlands, as well as Austria, that far- right candidates in Europe are making gains, but they are not winning elections.

We are hearing reaction, congratulations from E.U. heads of states as well as the heads of E.U. institutions, including the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, who tweeted out, quote, "Congratulations @Emmanuel Macron. Congratulations to the French people for choosing liberty, equality and fraternity over the tyranny of fake news."

Macron campaigned heavily based on the premise that the French people feel profoundly European. It was telling when he arrived for his victory party last night that the sounds of "Ode to Joy" were playing, the European anthem.

At the same time, throughout his campaign, he's been calling for E.U. reform, saying that the E.U. must reform or face Frexit, a play on words, a reference to Brexit, Britain's departure from the E.U. And I have been told we can expect him to introduce an ambitious campaign in this direction.

At the same time, many E.U. officials will be looking to see how he does in the parliamentary elections, if he will have the political backing to implement his domestic agenda Cyril?

VANIER: Erin McLaughlin, joining us live from Brussels with the European perspective, thank you so much.

Joining me now here in Paris are the Paris correspondent for "The Daily Beast," Erin Zaleski -- and thank you very much for being with us on what is a cold morning, I'm sorry -- and Douglas Herbert, France 24 foreign affairs commentator.

I would like you both to address something the world has been looking at, how the French election fits into the narrative of the rise of populism. It's Brexit, the victory of Donald Trump, and then all eyes looked at Netherlands for a little bit, and then France as the next big one. It didn't happen.


ERIN ZALESKI, PARIS CORRESPONDENT, THE DAILY BEAST: It didn't. There was a fear for a while of the triumphant. First, it was Brexit, Trump in the U.S. and everyone was looking to the French election. There was a fear that Le Pen would get in and the populist wave would sweep Europe and the world, the western world to a lesser extent.

VANIER: She claimed a political kinship to Donald Trump. We are not making this up.

ZALESKI: She did. She said even before he was elected she would love to meet him, and if she were American she would definitely vote for him. She actually went to Trump Tower. They didn't meet. She visited Trump Tower. She's been an open admirer of Trump pretty much from the beginning.

VANIER: Douglas, was it the same battle we saw taking place in the U.S. between populism and what I guess you would call the progressive liberal order? Was that the same battle being fought in France?

[02:09:27] DOUGLAS HERBERT, FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR, FRANCE 24: Cyril, the battle was the same. You still had -- what's seen as a demagogist threat, a populist threat in both elections here. The mechanism was different. By the mechanism, I mean the way in which the presidents are elected in the U.S. and France.

It is interesting. If France had an Electoral College system like the U.S., we might be sitting here this morning talking about a different story. There were a lot of observers, pundits, highly paid ones, too, unlike myself, who basically said things like Marine Le Pen would have had very good odds of winning. It would have been almost 50/50 had there been an Electoral College. There is a popular vote system. You need 50 percent, plus one vote.

There is another thing that I call the insurance policy that France has that the U.S. didn't have in the electoral system in electing a president, this two stages of voting. You vote in the first round. We saw it in 2002. Her father got in, the shock election. You could hear the jaws dropping around the world. All of the sudden, there was a two-week interim before the run-off, the knockout round in which the country had a chance to take a step back, and I won't say to get to their senses, but to say, OK, is this what we want, to really think about their choices.

Emmanuel Macron was also served by the fact that there were 11 candidates in the contest. There was a debate with 11 people in it. He was helped by the fact the Socialists were in disarray. And on his right, you had the conservative, the Republican Party here, tarred by scandal, allegations of graft and corruption. He was helped by the disarray on the political landscape.

That said, France has the in-built insurance policy, I have to say, the U.S. was lacking. The U.S. in one fell swoop in one day, 24-hour period elected a president, Senators, House of Representatives, governors. That's all done. The whole political landscape is defined between the time you wake up in the morning and the time you go to sleep. It's not like that in France.

VANIER: Erin, were French voters thinking about the U.S., looking to the victory of Donald Trump to inform their choice of who they would choose for France?

ZALESKI: Absolutely. I interviewed a lot of voters leading up to both rounds. Different reactions depending on who I was speaking to. Those on the far-right and the supporters of Le Pen did mention Trump. He was an outsider. Americans want to take their country back. It was a populist victory and we could maybe see the same thing here. They felt emboldened by the Trump win.

VANIER: The idea being it can happen, it does work in a major democracy, is that right.

ZALESKI: Absolutely. They felt like Le Pen could have a Donald Trumpesque victory in France.

VANIER: So, to both of you, how do you interpret the fact that Marine Le Pen won and she underperformed what the polls predicted, 35 percent.

HERBERT: She's -- you know, basically she normalized her image. The French have a word for it, literally banalism. She made it banal to be a member of the National Front. People almost forgot, especially in the younger generation, forgot what the roots of the National Front are from the days of her father, who was seen as an aggressive, rough, thuggish-type politician getting into brawls. They had roots in the Nazi-era collaboration here in France, going back to that the anti- Semitic Dreyfus Affair early in the century. The party had roots in anti-Semitism, racism, bigotry, xenophobia, you name it. What Marine Le Pen did, and you could say it was quite a miracle politically, was she did succeed, especially with this new generation, at normalizing her image. Un-demonizing it, so to speak, making her seem an acceptable political brand, someone you could vote for and say to an interviewer, journalists like myself, say I'm not a racist, I'm not a xenophobe, she answers my feelings. That's one connection you often had with the U.S. Often, if you said to a Trump supporter, but how do you react to accusations that you are actually playing into racism, xenophobia, bigotry, misogyny, and they would say absolutely not, that's the liberal media tarring us unfairly, nothing to do with the way I feel. You see a parallel there at the same time. But Marine Le Pen did manage to smooth in her image.

A lot of the political observers here would say, basically, that despite that attempt, many people saw it was transparent. Saw right through her. They said like father like daughter. She made a comment towards the end of the campaign about a World War II round-up and deportation of 13,000 Jews here in France. They were rounded up, at lot of them children, 13,000. Only a hundred survived. The rest were sent to the death camps, never came back. It was in that moment, in that little flash of a comment, that a lot of people saw, ah, wait a second, Marine Le Pen is like her father. It's like the mask came off for a second. There was a flash there.

ZALESKI: I think we have to realize she was roundly defeated by Macron but she still took about 11 million votes. That's double the number of votes her father took in 2002. So there are significant numbers of French people that back Marine Le Pen.

[02:15:02] VANIER: It will be interesting to see how that dynamic plays out as we head, George, to what a lot of people here are calling the third round of the presidential election, which is the parliamentary elections coming up in June. That will be critical to determining whether or not the president-elect, who will be president by then, will have a working majority in parliament with which to implement his reforms.

HOWELL: So not all done yet. There is still a lot to happen here. We'll stay in touch with you, Cyril live for us in Paris. Thank you.

Still ahead on CNN NEWSROOM, North Korea claims it has another U.S. citizen in custody. What we know about the latest case as NEWSROOM continues.




HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. Nigeria is welcoming home dozens of the missing of the Chibok schoolgirls. 82 of them met with the president, Muhammadu Buhari, on Sunday, after they were released through a negotiated exchange from the terror group Boko Haram. They are believed to be among 276 kidnapped from their school back in 2014.

Our CNN producer, Stephanie Busari, is live.

Stephanie, many of the girls are still missing, but this is good news that 82 have been released.

[02:20:11] STEPHANIE BUSARI, CNN PRODUCER: Absolutely, George. Good morning. It is the most exciting news that we could have had right now, to be honest. It's a day many thought would not come. For myself, who has covered the story for three years, it has been quite a touching scene seeing these girls emerge from the military helicopters, arriving at the presidential villa yesterday to meet the president. To get 82 of them when many lost hope that they would come back alive. It's really great news -- George?

HOWELL: There was the hashtag #bringbackourgirls. Talk to us about what that has meant to all of this. The social media campaign to make sure this stayed front and center in politics, in media spotlight.

BUSARI: Well, I think this hashtag that was coined from a protester movement in Nigeria has really helped to keep the story at the forefront. Really helped to ensure that the girls were not forgotten. It was long after the media headlines had gone away, the group behind bring back our girls met almost daily sometimes here to protest and the slogan "Bring back our girls." They would chant that over and over again. So this group really key, I think, to keeping the plight of these girls in the world spotlight and in the media spotlight. So really credit to the "Bring back our girls" movement on this one -- George?

HOWELL: Let's don't forget, though, there are still many who are still not accounted for, who have not been released. But at the same time, this is good news to report today that so many have been released.

Stephanie Busari, thank you so much for being with us, live for us in Nigeria.

Moving on now to North Korea. That nation now saying it has detained another U.S. citizen. State media reports Kim Hak-song, seen here on the left, is suspected of hostile acts against the regime.

CNN's Paula Hancocks following the story live for us in Seoul this hour.

Paula, good to have you with us.

What more do we know at this point about this citizen that's been detained?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, George, the first we knew about this was from North Korean state run media KCNA saying he was detained Saturday. They say he's been accused of hostile acts against the regime. This is a fairly standard charge we hear from North Korea when it comes to Americans that are being detained there.

We spoke with two people who say there were friends with Kim. They say he is an ethnic Korean who was born in China and went to the U.S. in the mid '90s. He worked in agriculture within the University in China. He went to North Korea, according to his friends, a couple of years ago to try to take cultural technology into the country to try to help the situation with the food shortage and food insecurity there. Both friends saying he cared about North Korea.

From the regime's point of view, they still, at this point, haven't specified what the accusations are against Kim Hak-song. He was teaching at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, the same university that Tony Kim was teaching at. He was an American who was detained just last month in North Korea -- George?

HOWELL: All this happening at a time of transition in South Korea. That nation poised to pick a new president at a time of high tensions for sure with its neighbor to the north, DPRK.

HANCOCKS: That's right. We have the presidential elections on Tuesday in South Korea. From an outsider point of view, it seemed North Korea would be front and center in mind as people are voting. Certainly, the security concern is pivotal. But the fact is, many people would be voting on the economy, on welfare, on corruption. This is an unusual election, a snap election called since the previous president has been impeached and imprisoned. Park Geun-hye standing trial for bribery, abuse of power and other charges, all of which she denied. So this is an unusual election. Many South Koreans hoping it will draw a line under the corruption scandal that's crippled the country for months. There's been a serious power vacuum here. Many hoping that by May 10, on Wednesday, when the result is known, then it can go back to business as usual -- George?

[02:24:50] HOWELL: Paula Hancocks, live in Seoul, South Korea. Paula, thank you for the reporting.

Still ahead on CNN, Emmanuel Macron ran his campaign with a pro- business message. Now he has won the French presidency. We look at what it means for the financial world.

Plus, France's president-elect reaches out to his defeated rival's supporters. But will they welcome his vision of France's future? Details ahead.

A look at the men and women who bring you the show live from our control room in Atlanta, Georgia, to our viewers in the United States and around the world this hour.

You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.


HOWELL: Welcome back. Here in the United States and around the world, you are watching CNN NEWSROOM at 2:28 a.m. on the U.S. east coast, with the headlines we are following for you this hour.


[02:30:01] HOWELL: Returning to the French election, Emmanuel Macron easily defeated the far-right's Marine Le Pen to become the next president of France, now president-elect. Voters rejected Le Pen's anti-immigration, anti-European Union message in favor of the Independent centrist, Macron.

He acknowledged the divisions in France and promised to try to unite the nation.

EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT-ELECT (through translation): I will serve you. I will serve you with humility, strength, and I will serve you on behalf of our slogan, liberty, equality and fraternity.



HOWELL: Now the question, what are the business implications of Macron's election.

Joining us, Nina dos Santos, live in London with a breakdown of that.

Nina, good to see you.

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, George. The European markets, especially when it comes to the currency markets, certainly rebounded on the back of this Emmanuel Macron win. This was the best possible outcome, not just for pro-business French people but also for the European project as a whole. The strength of the E.U. after it was buffeted by Britain's decision to vote in favor of Brexit months ago.

Also we are seeing that in the currency markets. What we saw was the Euro, the single currency of countries around the E.U. that share the currency. Rebounding to a six-month high. It's fallen back and is flat against the U.S. dollar. You can see by 1.0980 at the moment, just down.

Really a lot of economists said a lot of people had been pricing in Emmanuel Macron win. In fact, the currency is up 3.5 percent in the last three days alone before French people went to the polls.

We also saw positive reactions in the Asian markets as well here. We saw a number of Asian markets rising on the back of this. It seemed as though this is the best pro-business outcome for France, as I said, and a sign of strength in the solidarity of the European project. Of course, France is the second-biggest economy inside the Euro Zone. What happens economically there really matters.

You can see the mainland markets in China down at the moment. I should point out, the European stock market is not trading for the next 30 minutes or so. They are called up to the tune of quite some significant amounts here. People expecting the main market in Paris to rise in excess of 2 percent, 3 percent -- George?

HOWELL: Nina, I was listening to one of Cyril's guests, the conversation they were having, just about the importance of France, and the look on Mr. Macron's face, to some extent, realizing he has a tall order to fill here dealing with the problems that the nation faces. Economically, what does Macron have to do to get France back on track?

DOS SANTOS: You're right. It is a tall order here. A lot of people across the city of London and various financial capitals saying, for the moment, there is this kneejerk reaction of relief. But how long can he hold onto that positive moment? That's the question. Of course, France is coming up for the legislative elections. He has to try to get some kind of working majority in favor. What he has to do is tackle France's structurally high unemployment rates, in excess of 10 percent. Maybe over 25 percent for young people as well. Those are the figures you see in southern Europe, let alone, a big key market like France. He wants to reinvigorate the business community, make the labor rules more flexible. He's already tackled some flexibility in the labor laws when he was the economy minister in the previous socialist government. He has to shrink the state, which is currently about 60 percent of GDP.

HOWELL: 7:33 in the morning in London. Nina dos Santos live for us. Nina, always a pleasure to see you. Thank you.

Fair to say these were two very different candidates. Opposite in their views of France. Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen offered different visions of the nation's future.

Let's go back live to Paris. Cyril Vanier picks it up from here -- Cyril?

CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: Yeah, George, good to be with you. It's 8:30 local time here in Paris.

George, in his victory speech, Macron understands the anxiety and anger some voters have been feeling. He directly reached out to Marine Le Pen's supporters.


MACRON (through translation): And I also want to say a word for those who voted today for Madam Le Pen.


MACRON (through translation): No, don't boo. They expressed, today, anger, dismay, and sometimes convictions. I respect them. I will do everything during the five years to come to make sure there is no reason at all to vote for extremes.



[02:35:17] VANIER: Marine Le Pen conceded the election not long after the polls closed Sunday night, saying voters have chosen continuity. That was the word she chose.

Though she lost, the outcome was a watershed for the far-right National Front party. We'll talk about that throughout the morning.

For now, I want you to listen, George, to some of the voices of the left side of the political spectrum and the center left. We've got with us Sophie Rauszer, a policy adviser for the far-left party of Jean Luc Melenchon. His name is important in French politics because he weighs about 20 percent of the French electorate. That's how much he got in the first round.

We have a Clemence Lambert, who is a supporter of Emmanuel Macron.

To the victors first.

Big smile this morning, Clemence.


VANIER: How are you feeling?

CLEMENCE LAMBERT (ph), MACRON SUPPORTER: Obviously, I'm very happy with what we received yesterday. At the same time, I think we need to be very aware of the huge responsibility that now lies on Emmanuel Macron's shoulders. He reminded us of that yesterday. Part of his victory is due to people voting against the National Front. We need to acknowledge that and be able to talk to people and convince them that the Macron presidency will be for all French people.

VANIER: That's interesting.

George, we spoke to Clemence a few days ago. She was smitten with Emmanuel Macron.

You explained he came to speak to your class. He really made a big impression on you at the time.

LAMBERT: Very true. Very inspiring.

VANIER: At that time, did you think he might be president?

LAMBERT: No. At the time, he didn't have political ambitions. One thing you say is not I am ecstatic but I know we have a lot of issues to solve.


LAMBERT: But the fact is, today, he is the president of France and I'm really proud of that. So happy.

VANIER: What's interesting, one of the first things you said to us this morning is not I'm ecstatic, it's rather I know we have a lot of issues to solve.

LAMBERT: Absolutely. I'm not puffed with proud. We have done a lot of work on the field as supporters. That's where we realize there was still a lot of anger. I know Macron's project convinced and inspired people. At the same time, it's not enough. We cannot stop here. We need to, as a supporter, to reach out to people who are angry and who, for now, convinced of Macron.

VANIER: Sophie Rauszer, of the far left, you were an advisor to Jean Luc Melenchon.

SOPHIE RAUSZER, FORMER ADVISOR TO JEAN LUC MELENCHON: Just left is enough for me. I don't consider myself far left.

VANIER: Do you consider Jean Luc as far left?

RAUSZER: Absolutely not. What we have agreed to with this election is precisely to gain a political field that was left empty. I'm very happy that you are saying you need to take knowledge of the fact that some people haven't voted for Macron by addition to his political agenda. What we've seen is the highest share ever in terms of abstention and the vote, dating back to 1959 or something like that.

VANIER: This is important to point out to our viewers, George. Sophie is absolutely right. About four million people went to polling stations on Sunday. They had a ballot with Le Pen's name on it, Macron's name. Some chose to use a blank ballot or chose to --

RAUSZER: Stay home.

VANIER: But those four million people chose to do their civic duty but they like neither of the two candidates which you are referencing. RAUSZER: It is a political message addressed to Mr. Macron. Showing

also that a lot of the French population. About half of the French population who voted for Macron did it out of the indication they were kicking out Marine Le Pen.

VANIER: They wanted to keep the far-right from coming to power.

RAUSZER: Now the challenge for him will be his ability to govern. This is why it's important to have the next parliamentary election. To show one of the urgencies that haven't been dealt --


[02:40:00] VANIER: This is where it will be difficult. Mr. Macron said I'm not going to change my policy platform, because I would betray the people who voted for me, people, I would imagine, like Clemence.

He has a pro-market reformist agenda that you agree with.

And you, I assume, disagree with.

RAUSZER: Absolutely. I consider that it's also the old recipes, the kind of traditional recipe that's applied generally at the European level and that's as proven, at least for the past decade, that the consequence, the impact, employment has risen. We have nine million poor people. It would be very important for us to have a very big group for --


VANIER: A parliamentary group.

RAUSZER: Yes. We can be the first still in the national assembly. Because of this high abstention --


VANIER: There are a number of political groups vying for the title of first political force.

RAUSZER: Also because the threats to the environmental issues, I mean this was one of the issues that was completely absent --


LAMBERT: That's not true. There is an ecological part of the process.


LAMBERT: He mentioned it in the second speech.

VANIER: Protecting the environment.

LAMBERT: I don't think it's constructive to have an ambition to fight against Emmanuel Macron. He is now the president.


RAUSZER: No, no. I didn't say this.


RAUSZER: I said fight on --


LAMBERT: -- the opposition.

RAUSZER: Fight on environmental issues.

LAMBERT: To govern, this is the first battle. The second battle would obviously be to fed rate people. I think Jean Luc's program was interesting in many aspects, not all or I would have voted for him. What would be more clever and better for the French people is to collaborate on some aspects.

RAUSZER: Yes, but to govern by decree will mean, you know, some Democratic challenge for the parliament to do its job. What we need now and we need more voting, less -- (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE).



VANIER: This is all the time we have for now.

Sophie Clemence, thank you very much for coming on the show.

One of the reasons, George, if you follow the conversation, this tells you, shows you really what's going on, the conversations going on across France today, with people across the political spectrum who disagree, who fundamental disagree about major issues. Yet, they know for anything to get done in this country in the coming years, they will somehow find some common ground in order for Emmanuel Macron to implement at least part of his agenda -- George?

HOWELL: Cyril, that common ground found through healthy debate there.

Thank you very much.

Still ahead in U.S. politics, the lingering questions about Russia. The former acting U.S. Attorney General set to testify before Congress in the coming hours. What will Sally Yates reveal about the president's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and his conversations with a Russian ambassador? Details ahead.


[02:46:16] HOWELL: Welcome back to NEWSROOM. An important day in Washington. Within hours, we may learn more about President Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn. The former U.S. Acting Attorney General Sally Yates is set to testify before a Senate panel on Monday. She's expected to cover what she told the White House about Flynn's conversations with Russia's ambassador to the U.S.

We get more on the story from CNN's Ryan Nobles.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates is prepared to testify in front of a Senate committee on Monday. Sources tell CNN she's prepared to set the record straight about her role in events that eventually led national security adviser, Michael Flynn, to leave his post.

At the core of her testimony will be a meeting she had with White House counsel, Don McGann, 18 days before Flynn was removed as national security adviser. In that meeting, Yates is prepared to testify she gave a forceful warning to the White House about Flynn's contact with Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak. At that point, Flynn denied he talked to Kislyak about U.S. sanctions on Russia, a denial which was not true, and that also led Vice President Mike Pence to publicly defend Flynn. After Flynn left office, the White House admitted Yates warned them about Flynn's interaction with the Russian official but said the interaction was more of a heads-up, bringing to their attention Flynn may not have been honest with the vice president. Yates remembers the conversation differently and is expected to testify that she expressed serious concerns and made it clear that Flynn should be fired.

The former acting attorney general was also forced out of her post by the Trump administration after she refused to defend the White House's controversial travel ban.

Her testimony, while potentially explosive, could be tempered because she probably won't be able to recount specifics of certain events because of concerns over revealing classified information in an open setting.

Ryan Nobles, CNN, Washington.


HOWELL: Ryan, thanks for the report.

Now to another battle on Capitol Hill. The Republicans' health care bill passed the House Thursday. It now heads to the Senate. Senators have promised to rewrite key portions of it.

The governor of Ohio calls the current version of the bill, quote, "inadequate." John Kasich says Medicaid, which faces steep cuts, covers 700,000 people in his state. He's worried about what will happen to them. The Trump administration insists fears that millions will lose coverage are unfounded.


JOHN KASICH, (R), OHIO GOVERNOR: I would suggest the American people are sick and tired of business as usual in Washington and they are sick and tired of tax dollars going to programs that actually don't work. We want a Medicaid system that works for the patients. We want a system that doesn't just provide a card and says they have coverage but doesn't provide them the care they need. That's the distinction I would ask them to draw.


HOWELL: A lot of questions with that bill.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama received the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. The foundation says Mr. Obama was honored for expanding health care to millions of Americans and leading the fight against climate change.

In his acceptance speech, he called on U.S. lawmakers to have the courage to oppose the new health care bill. Listen.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It does take courage to champion the vulnerable, and the sick and the infirm, those who often have no access to the corridors of power. I hope they understand courage means not simply doing what's politically expedient but doing what they believe deep in their hearts is right. This kind of courage is required from all of us.


[02:50:12] HOWELL: Now the other story, the big story, we are covering out of France. A great deal of hope and excitement after a historic presidential election. The sights and sounds of Emmanuel Macron's victory as CNN NEWSROOM continues.


HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell.

Sunday night, France has faced many challenges over the years, but Sunday night, Emmanuel Macron's supporters were full of hope for the future.

Here is a look at the excitement that followed the new president-elect and his decisive victory.







[02:55:42] MACRON: Viva la France!




HOWELL: A good day in France.

Thanks for being with us. I'm George Howell.

My colleague, Rosemary Church, picks it up after the break.

You're watching CNN, the world's news leader.