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Macron Looks for Common Ground with Trump; Scientists: Earth's Sixth Mass Extinction Underway; Teen Intern Eddie Nails It

Aired July 13, 2017 - 14:00:00   ET



[14:00:00] MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN HOST: Tonight on the program, Macron puts on a show of military pomp for Trump in Paris. But what does it mean for

U.S.-French relations. We'll get the view from Francois Heisbourg who advised the French president on things and security.

And also, "Washington Post" columnist Josh Rogin.

Also ahead, scientists say a catastrophic annihilation of wildlife is underway and humans are to blame. The author, Elizabeth Kolbert, travelled

the world to document the sixth mass extinction. She joins me live.

Good evening, everyone. Welcome to the program. I'm Michael Holmes in for Christiane Amanpour.

Well, could Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump be the new odd couple of international affairs. The American president arriving in Paris this

morning. And of course after a rocky start to their relationship, could this second European trip be the start of a beautiful friendship.

President Macron pulling out all the stops. He is wooing the Trumps with a visit to Napoleon's tomb. There will be dinner at the Eiffel Tower and a

full dressed military parade tomorrow led by American troops to celebrate the centennial of America's entry into World War I.

Now despite the early posturing, there are areas where the two men could agree and seem to be on fighting terror for example building Europe's

military strengths for starters.

This trip also an opportunity for President Trump, of course, to duck the springing scandals at home. Although reporters somehow didn't get the memo

on that. He was asked about the issue at a joint news conference.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have a son who is a great young man. He's a fine person. He took a meeting with a lawyer from

Russia. It lasted for a very short period and nothing came of the meeting. And I think it's a meeting that most people in politics probably would have



HOLMES: So will President Trump head home tomorrow with a new best mate in Europe?

Francois Heisbourg is a veteran French diplomat who advised candidate Macron on defense and security issues. He's joining us from Paris.

And in Washington, CNN political analyst Josh Rogin covers foreign policy for "The Washington Post."

Josh, I'm going to start with you before we get to the international relationship. Just a couple of things from the news conference on domestic


Donald Trump as we heard there repeating that when it comes to his son, meeting with that Russian lawyer, that, quote, "most people would have

taken that meeting."

Now that's simply not the case is it when it comes to a meeting set up on the basis of the supposed involvement of the Russian government?

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's exactly right. What we've seen over the last four days is, congressmen, senators on both sides of the

aisle, the nominee to be the next FBI director and any expert you can think of, emphasize that if a political candidate is contacted with an offer from

a foreign government to interfere in the U.S. election, their responsibility is to call the FBI.

Now President Trump indicated that this was a lawyer who wasn't affiliated with the Russian government. The e-mail was released by Donald Trump Jr.

show that he was under the impression it was a Russian government lawyer, and that's the key issue. That under that impression, he decided to take

the meeting.

The results, of course, is somewhat immaterial. But this is the stance that the White House has decided to take to alleged that there was no

impropriety and to hope that the whole thing just blows over.

HOLMES: Which it doesn't look like doing.

Francois, let's bring you in to the conversation. Now at that news conference, there was a lot of emphasizing the positive as you might

imagine. But I want you to speak to the broader dynamic here when it comes to this two men.

As we know, it wasn't the warmest start. A lot of differences in personality, world view. That famous alpha male white knuckle handshake.

And then the U.S. pulls out of the Paris Climate Accord. But today focusing on what they can agree on.

What do you see as Mr. Macron's strategy here?

FRANCOIS HEISBOURG, FORMER CAMPAIGN ADVISER TO EMMANUEL MACRON: Well, Emmanuel Macron's strategy is first of all to demonstrate that France is

back. And one of the best ways of doing that is actually to receive the American president, whoever that person may be for our national holiday,

for Bastille Day with all of the pomp and the ceremony.

So this is from Macron's standpoint, pretty much a win-win, because this works even if they disagree.

[14:05:00] The other thing, of course, is that although the two men have very different world views, have very different electorates I would add,

they actually have done in political terms pretty much the same sort of incredible journey from nowhere to the presidency of their respective

countries. And that probably weighs on their personal rapport.

They have something in common that they can talk about.

HOLMES: Very true.

Josh, I'll come back to you now, and we're going to put up a graphic here that all show that just how deeply unpopular among the French people Mr.

Trump is.

There was a Pew Research poll out three weeks ago, and we've got it up on the screen now.

93 percent of people deem Donald Trump arrogant. 83 percent said intolerant. 78 percent said dangerous. And 86 percent said they had no

confidence in him doing the right thing in world affairs.

So what's in it, politically, for Donald Trump to be there?

ROGIN: Right. I think if you took similar polls in other Western European countries, you'd find similar results. And let's not forget that there's a

context here.

President Trump for over a year has been bashing France, Paris specifically. He often talked about his friend Jim, most people think

doesn't exist. He used to go to Paris all the time, but doesn't go any more, because it has become so reeled with terrorism.

Trump was confronted about that at the press conference. He said, oh, now that Macron is there, everything is much better. Sort of cheekily

deflecting the question about the reality here is that the Trump administration has dug itself a big hole in Western Europe. And as they

discovered that that actually hurts their ability to rally the countries of Western Europe to do things that they think is in their interests.

They initially have thought that they would form a chief alliance with Theresa May in the U.K. But of course she's got her own problems. And

they are withdrawing from Europe anyway.

The Trump relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel is terrible. So the Trump people see any benefit of having one interlocutor in that

entire region that they can plausibly or semi-plausibly claim to have a constructive working relationship with is useful. And that's what they are

trying to do here. Whether or not it's going to work is another question.

HOLMES: Francois, Mr. Trump and Mr. Macron might seem, at least initially, like a bit of an odd pairing. But do you think Donald Trump now is looking

to Mr. Macron as his point of contact with Europe, his entry to Europe, given the feelings of other leaders there? You know, can Mr. Macron have

some influence on Donald Trump?

It was interesting at the news conference, Donald Trump saying something could happen with regards to the climate accord, although we don't know

what that means.

Could Mr. Macron already be having an influence?

HEISBOURG: Well, one of the interesting things over the last few months is that we learned over and over again, that Donald Trump is pretty much the

person we think he is. That is he does not like weakness. He does not like people who tend to fawn and to flatter. And this is probably where

Macron became effective.

You mentioned the white knuckle handshake. That certainly grabbed Trump's attention.

Theresa May was seen rushing to Washington, more or less desperate to get America's blessing. That has not been the Macron style.

That being said, this is just one visit. And when Mr. Trump returns to Washington, given his traditional attention span, given his lack of wish to

have what I would call a multilateral approach to international affairs where he moves from one person, one personality to another, Mr. Trump is

transactional, he doesn't deal with guy A one day, with guy B another.

So we're not expecting a great relationship coming out from this. But, of course, it doesn't hurt. And the two countries are -- they're -- you know,

France is the United States' oldest ally. And that's worth reminding everybody of, both in France and in the United States.

HOLMES: And, Francois, I'll stay with you for the next question.

Is there a sense in Europe that unlike with perhaps past U.S. presidents, there may not necessarily be a big price to pay for being tough with the

U.S. as President Trump and the view of many sort of seized U.S. power internationally as part of this sort of America first policy?

Do you think that Mr. Macron senses that? That he can be a bit tougher with this president, because it may not matter as much?

[14:10:00] HEISBOURG: You're exactly -- you're exactly right on that one.

Trump -- all of his statements for the last 25 years has always reminded people, including in this book, of course, that you have to be tough.

Weakness is not respected.

And therefore, Macron's approach is one which I think is in the best interest of his own country because in so far that he himself is respected

vis-a-vis Trump, and he is respectful. Trump has not been -- going to respond badly to strong pressure from Macron. That's the way Trump deals

and Macron deals in the same coin.

HOLMES: Yes, interesting.

Josh, I want to get your thoughts, on that of course.

You know, Mr. Trump in this situation gets to leave some domestic woes behind, but you can't really do that as we've seen.

Just speak to what Francois was just talking about, and how what's going on in the U.S. has impacted the U.S. in terms of foreign relations and how Mr.

Trump and the U.S. is viewed?

ROGIN: Right. They may be able to establish some personal chemistry and a personal relationship, but that only takes you so far. What's going on in

American foreign policy now is that we have no clear strategic direction, no clear policy for western Europe, and no agreement on what the agenda is

that we want to pursue, much less lead on the world stage. And the G20 was sort of startling realization of that.

And both presidents today gave lip service issues like free and fair trade, global climate change. You know, the fight against propaganda, the fight

against terrorism. But there were no deliverables and there were no specifics. And that's because there's essentially a lack of strategic

direction inside the Trump administration especially inside the White House.

There are general principles of America first which are interpreted by different officials and different ways and explained in totally different

ways from that depending on who you're talking to and what day it is.

So it's impossible for the United States to play its role as a global leader, and it's impossible for any of the countries in Europe to

understand what that leadership looks like, because it simply hasn't been worked out.

So, you know, it's better for them to have a good meeting than a bad meeting. It's better for us to have good relations with France than bad

relations with France. And if they stem the bleeding and the damage that's been done by President Trump's own statements over the past year and a

half, that's fine, but that doesn't substitute for an actual U.S. policy that the world can understand much less follow.

HOLMES: Josh Rogin in Washington, Francois Heisbourg in Paris, thank you so much to you both. Fascinating stuff.

ROGIN: Thank you.

HOLMES: Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel prize winner an one of the most well-known Chinese dissidents has died from cancer. The 61-year-old was granted

medical parole in June.

Now while serving an 11 year prison term for so called state subversion. Despite international pressure, Beijing refused to let him seek treatment


Today, the Nobel committee said, quote, "The Chinese government bears a heavy responsibility for his premature death," end quote.

An empty chair poignantly marking his absence at the Nobel Peace Prize awards ceremony in 2010. A symbol to forever mark his fight for human

rights and democracy.

Up next here on the program, the numbers are staggering. A mass extinction of animals around the globe, and scientists say humans are to blame. What

can be done? We'll discuss when we come back.


[14:15:18] HOLMES: And welcome back to the program. I'm Michael Holmes.

Scientists now say we are living through the sixth mass extinction. The sixth time, a huge number of U.S. animals and plants have died in short

order. In the last mass extinction, it is believed an asteroid impact wipe out the dinosaurs and three quarters of all other species. But this time,

it is mostly humans to blame.

And in a stunning new report, scientists have put numbers to the crisis. One third of the nearly 30,000 land vertebrates studied are experiencing,

quote, "considerable population declines." There are just 7,000 cheetahs left, one example, down from 100,000 at the beginning of the 20th century.

There were nearly a million elephants in 1900. In just 20 years, they could be completely extinct. Some of that is poaching. But territory loss

and climate change are thought to be the main causes for these extinctions.

Elizabeth Kolbert travelled the world to write a definitive account of the sixth extinction. She joins me now via Skype from Massachusetts.

And thanks for doing so.

Five previous mass extinctions. Now the evidence is the sixth is underway. It may seem an obvious question, but what would such an extinction of these

animals mean for humanity, for the planet?

ELIZABETH KOLBERT, STAFF WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: Well, this is the great, you know, sort of unanswered question. And that is why I think scientists

are trying really to draw attention to this issue when we're, you know, obviously. Still the vast numbers of species on earth are still around.

I'm happy to say. But we really need to arrest the slide, because the possibility of what people call sort of cascade of effects where, you know,

one species goes into decline and knocks out another and whole ecosystems start to unravel.

And that could obviously have big impacts on people because at the end of the day, you know, everything we eat, all the fish we fish out of the

oceans, all of these depend -- all of this are part of a natural world that we, you know, sort of control, but do not entirely controlled at this


HOLMES: A co-dependency in many ways.

You know, I saw -- you write that in essence. A technologically advanced society now is obviously is causing to destroy itself.

I mean, what then are the primary choices being made that are causing this.

KOLBERT: Well, when I wrote that line, it was primarily referring to climate change that we've been warned over and over and over again. And

now we are seeing very, very clear signs. All over the world, everywhere you look.

The decline is changing and changing very rapidly. And moving out of the space in which humans, I should point out, humans are a pretty young

species. We've only been around for maybe 200,000 or 300,000 years. We are moving the climate out of the climate regime in which humans evolve.

And that's obviously a pretty dangerous thing to do.

HOLMES: We're looking at a video there of a giraffe, and they are threatened as well.

You know, scientists talk a lot about bias for lovable animals. And there's a lovable one. The giraffe.

But you've also written a lot about the Panamanian Golden Frog, which is endangered. There's a Pangolin, which we've reported only CNN. There's

some species of bats as well.

Explain to people why they should care about those bats, less than cuddly creatures?

KOLBERT: Well, as I said, I mean, you know, the message of ecology, the science of ecology has always been, everything is connected. And it's

connected in ways that we don't always understand often until it's too late.

But we are intimately connected, our source of -- as I said, our source of all our food, all of our oxygen, all of this comes from life itself. And

you start pulling at the threads of these ecosystems, which -- and not knowing how far you can tug before they start to unravel. That's a very

risky strategy.

So even if you think, you know, that Pangolin, I'm not sure. You know, it's really (INAUDIBLE). I didn't even know the penguin existed. It's

still probably true. Six degrees of separation as it were, that you and that penguin are connected in some pretty important ways.

HOLMES: I guess the question is, can it be turned around? I imagine, it can. But when is too late?

KOLBERT: Oh I don't think there's ever a moment where we get to say it's just too late? There's obviously in all of these issues, all of the forces

that are producing this mass extinction event, and there are unfortunately many of them.

[14:20:00] Climate change is one. Habitat loss is the other. Poaching is a third. Invasive species. Species we move around the world that have,

you know, big effects on other species.

All of this are contributing to this extinction event. So there's not, you know, sort of one thing we have. There are many things we have to do. But

on almost all of these fronts, we know very significant steps to take and we need to take them.

And I will use the example of climate change. We need to dramatically reduce our current emissions. We actually know how to do it. We just

haven't been doing it.

HOLMES: It's a matter of will, isn't it? And to that point, you know, it's interesting, as this unfolds.

You have here in the U.S. a massive rollback of environmental protections under the Trump administration, so called deregulation if you like. But a

lot of that is going unnoticed because of the waves of coverage of Russia and other various daily controversies. But, meanwhile, it's really a

stunning number of regulations being removed.

Have you reacted to that? What's the impact?

KOLBERT: Well, I think that's very frightening and it's exactly the opposite of what we need to be doing. We need to be looking at these

issues in a very serious, sober-minded way of being driven by, you know, what we know and being humbled by what we don't know.

And the Trump administration is taking the exact opposite tack, sort of blundering in there, ignoring the science.

Literally you can go on the Web site of agencies like the EPA these days and the science has been removed. So it's a very, very disheartening

development, and I think the consequences will play out, you know, for all intents and purposes, potentially forever.

Now the one caveat here and the one bit of good news is at every step of the way, he's going to be challenged in court, and we have yet to see

exactly how that's going to play out.

HOLMES: You know, one of our colleagues, David McKenzie, reported just recently on moving a whole bunch of elephants from one part of Africa to


Is that sort of thing substantial enough? Is that enough or is it nibbling around the edges? Or does it all count?

KOLBERT: Well, there's a lot of, you know, questions nowadays, because there are so many species in trouble. Where do you put your resources?

What you do?

Elephants are obviously a hugely -- you know, what you called charismatic megaphone. They are species that gets a lot of attention and rightly so.

They are magnificent animals, but very slow to reproduce.

So when you are killing them off faster than they can reproduce, which is exactly what we're doing right now, they are, as you suggested earlier,

headed toward oblivion. And I think most people would agree, anything you can do to save elephants is really worth doing at this point.

But it does raise bigger questions, because there are so many species out there. As you say so many frogs, toads, and event at this point insects

that are endangered. So many that we don't even know about yet.

Where you put your resources and these are all questions that are not going away. I can assure you.

HOLMES: The final lesson being that things can be done and should be done if there is a will for them to be done.

Elizabeth Kolbert, thanks so much.

KOLBERT: Thanks for having me.

HOLMES: There are some positive environmental stories.

Blue whales have been making a comeback, both in the oceans and at London's Natural History Museum, where the skeleton of Hope the Blue Whale is now on


It replaced Dippy the Dinosaur. And is a symbol says the museum of humanity's power to shape a sustainable future.

When we come back, another uplifting London story, a teenager gets the keys to a train company's Twitter account. Hilarity ensues. We'll be right



[14:26:10] HOLMES: And finally tonight, imagine a world where a teenager on work experience is put in charge and seemingly nails it.

The Twitter feed of Southern Rail in the U.K. is usually pretty grim, full of angry commuters thinking about strikes and delayed trains and

cancellations and such. But all that changed on Tuesday around 2:30 p.m. local time with this introduction.

Quote, "Hi, Eddie here on work experience and ready to answer your questions."

Yep, Southern Rail put a teenager called Eddie in charge of their Twitter account. And here's what happened.

"Hi, Eddie. Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses? 100 duck-sized horses. A horse-sized duck would be pretty scary,

Henry replied.

A hypothetical questions then moved into more intriguing and practical areas.

"Shall I have chicken fajitas tonight or chicken pie green curry? #AskEddie."

It has to be the chicken fajitas.

"Why do English men wear socks and sandals on holiday?"

Eddie tweets, "Personally, I prefer flip flops." And put an answer, "I think that's a really good question, by the way English man."

So this is Eddie right now and he is answering some commuting questions. He's actually even been offered further work placements, thanks to this

performance. It wasn't all a PR stunt. Well, why don't you go online, ask Eddie.

That's it for our program tonight. Remember you can listen to our podcast, see us online at Follow me on Facebook and Twitter

@HolmesCNN. Thanks for watching. Good-bye for now from Atlanta.