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Lebanon Votes; France, Britain Angry over Trump NRA Remarks; Korean Diplomacy; Russia Protests; Alex Ferguson Recovering after Emergency Surgery. Aired 2-2:30a ET

Aired May 6, 2018 - 02:00   ET




CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): It's great to have you with us. Live from the CNN Center here in Atlanta, I'm Cyril Vanier. NEWSROOM starts right now.


VANIER: For the first time in almost a decade, the Lebanese are voting for their next parliament. Polling stations have been open for about two hours. The Saudi-backed prime minister, Saad Hariri, is expected to be able to form a new government but he will face pressure from Iran's ally, Hezbollah, as it looks to make it to make gains.

Regional power struggles aren't the only issues at play here. For the first time in Lebanon's history, candidates are promoting gay rights. Nearly 100 are calling for the decriminalization of homosexuality.

Let's talk about all of this with Ben HUBBARD: ard. He joins me from Beirut, Middle East correspondent for "The New York Times."

Ben, let's start with the novelties here. There is a list of candidates drawn from civil society and there are also a range of new issues that have been advocated. Tell us about that.

BEN HUBBARD: ARD, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": It's been nine years since we had the last election so there's a lot that's changed in society, in the region. We have somewhere between 700,000-800,000 new voters. Young people who have come of age since the last election.

That's thrown a whole level of unpredictability into the race here and part of that is that we've seen a lot of new issues come up. You mentioned the civil society candidates. That is something that people are watching closely.

I don't think that the most of the pollsters expect them to do very well. But these are basically independent people, who were running against the establishment political parties and who were trying to keep the issues very locally focused.

These are people who are interested in talking about electricity, talking about water, talking about garbage pickup. And these are areas that Lebanon has struggled with traditionally and specifically in the last few years, as politicians have focused on many other things and a lot of basic issues in the country have kind of fallen apart.

VANIER: So these elections are usually the moment where you can assess the relative strengths of the various political camps, the Sunnis versus the Shiites versus the Christians.

What does the political landscape look like going into this vote?

HUBBARD: It's a little bit scrambled because we have a new -- we have a new electoral law that has changed the rules for everybody. So it's sort of like we're playing this whole game but we're playing it with new rules and that adds, again, another sense of unpredictability --


VANIER: What did that change, this electoral law?

HUBBARD: Well, everybody's running in lists and it's very confusing to be frank. I don't think most of the people who are going to vote completely understand all the intricacies of it.

But it's done a little bit to blur the lines between the traditional blocs. We used to sort of have the pro-Iranian bloc versus the pro- Western bloc. And those people are all still there, their positions are still the same, but it's blurred the lines a little bit.

And the other thing that we have seen is, before this election, we had basically representatives of those two blocs or across the platforms come together to elect new presidents, who was still seen as an ally of Hezbollah.

And it's very likely that, regardless of how the elections come out, unless there's a huge upset, that those are going to continue to exist as well will remain in the parliament. Hariri will remain the prime minister. Michel Aoun will remain the president.

Things will probably continue more or less. Unless some of these unpredictable factors that I mentioned really sort of upend the way things have been done.

VANIER: All right, Ben Hubbard, Middle East correspondent for "The New York Times," we will talk again, thank you, Ben.

HUBBARD: Thank you.

VANIER: Another story we're following this hour. U.S. president Donald Trump angering not one but two of America's closest allies. France is upset over comments Mr. Trump made about the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris. At least 130 people were killed and hundreds were wounded.

Mr. Trump was speaking at a convention of the largest gun rights organization in the U.S., the National Rifle Association, on Friday when he said this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They took their time and gunned them down one by one -- boom, come over here, boom, come over here, boom. If you were in those rooms, one of those people -- and the survivors said it just lasted forever.

But, if one employee or just one patron had a gun or if one person in this room had been there with a gun, aimed at the opposite direction, the terrorists would have fled or been shot.


VANIER: Francois Hollande was France's president at the time of the attacks and he called Mr. Trump's comments, quote --


VANIER: -- "shameful." The French Foreign Ministry also issued a statement expressing its firm disapproval and calling for the respect of the memory of the victims.

In the same speech, Mr. Trump also angered Britain, saying it had a knife problem. At one point he compared a London hospital to a war zone, saying the floors were covered in blood from knife attack victims.

President Trump did speak with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Saturday. But we don't know if they discussed his NRA comments. They did talk about North Korea, Iran, China, trade and Mr. Trump's upcoming trip to Britain, which currently is scheduled for July.

The U.K.'s foreign secretary Boris Johnson arrives in the U.S. in the coming hours and he'll be meeting with vice president Mike Pence as well as national security advisor John Bolton.

With a summit looming between the U.S. and North Korea, we are still following the fate of three Americans detained by that country. On Saturday, one of President Trump's attorneys said there was a good chance the men would be released over the next several days.

Rudy Giuliani later said that he did not have any new information to back up his prediction. Last Thursday, Giuliani erroneously stated that the detainees were to be freed that very same day.

And Giuliani is speaking out yet again about the hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels. He created a firestorm earlier in the week by announcing President Trump had repaid his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, for the $130,000 payment made to keep Daniels quiet about her alleged affair with Mr. Trump.

In an interview on Saturday night, Giuliani repeated his argument that the payment did not break the law.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER MAYOR OF NYC: The President of the United States did not in any way violate the campaign finance law. Every campaign finance expert, Republican and Democrat, will tell you that if it was for another purpose other than just campaigns and even if it was for campaign purposes, if it was to save his family, to save embarrassment, it's not a campaign donation.

Second, even if it was a campaign donation, the president reimbursed it fully with a payment of $35,000 a month that paid for that and other expenses. No need to go beyond that. Case over.

That case should be dismissed by the Southern District of New York, at least with regard to -- at least with regard to President Trump.


VANIER: And where was Stormy Daniels meanwhile?

She made a cameo appearance on "Saturday Night Live," speaking on the phone with actor Alec Baldwin in his Trump impersonation.


ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR, "DONALD TRUMP": Just tell me, what do you need for this to all go away?


"TRUMP": Yes, right.

VANIER: The saga continues.

Russian police have detained opposition leader Alexei Navalny Saturday, just two days before President Vladimir Putin is to be inaugurated for his fourth term. You can see Navalny being carried away by police from the anti-Putin protest.

Hundreds of other protesters were also arrested across the country. Demonstrators chanting, "Down with the czar." They are furious that Putin has been in power for 18 years, either as president or as prime minister.

Despite the threat of a trade war between the U.S. and China, billionaire Warren Buffett says he isn't worried. His company, Berkshire Hathaway, has a lot to lose if the two countries can't settle their differences.

But speaking with shareholders, Buffett said, "We've done remarkably well with trade in China. We will have disagreements with each other. We will have disagreements with other countries on trade. But it is just too big and too obvious that the benefits are huge and the world's dependent on, in a major way, for its progress."

Frequent earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and toxic gas are threatening thousands of people in their homes on Hawaii's big island. The U.S. Geological Survey says cracks in residential areas are still spewing molten lava and toxic gas.

They say there is no evidence that the Kilauea volcano will slow down anytime soon. And on top of that, they're expecting even more earthquakes, adding to the hundreds that have rocked the island this week. Officials said anyone choosing to stay in the eruption zone is making a grave mistake.



VANIER: Right now one of the most decorated and successful managers in the history of football, Sir Alex Ferguson, is recovering after emergency surgery for a brain hemorrhage. Ferguson managed Manchester United for more than a quarter century and retired almost five years ago.

The club said his surgery went very well, but that he will need a period of intensive care. Messages of support are pouring in, including from two football superstars, who were managed by Ferguson.

You might recognize here Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, who posted this photo of him and Ferguson, writing, "My thoughts and prayers are with you, my dear friend. Be strong, boss."

And David Beckham posted on Instagram this picture, from when he signed with Ferguson as a teenager. The caption reads "Keep fighting, boss. Sending prayers and love to Cathy and the whole family."

Ferguson has won 13 Premier league titles, five FA Cups and he has twice won the prestigious European Champions League at the helm of one of the world's biggest football clubs.

Kensington Palace has released the first official photos of the littlest royal. Here he is. In the first one, this one, Prince Louis cuddling with his sister, Princess Charlotte. It was taken on Wednesday when the family was celebrating her third birthday.

The other photo, here it is, shows Prince Louis when he was just 3 days old.

That's it from me. Thank you for watching. Up next, it's "MARKETPLACE AFRICA." You're watching CNN.