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France, Britain Angry over Trump NRA Remarks; Giuliani Doubles Down on Porn Star Hush Money; Lebanon Votes; Hawaii Volcano; Indian Teen Raped and Burned to Death; Alex Ferguson Recovering after Emergency Surgery. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired May 6, 2018 - 03:00   ET




CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Anger in France and Britain over remarks from U.S. president Donald Trump about recent terrorist attacks in those countries.

Plus polls are open in Lebanon in the country's first parliamentary election in nearly a decade.

And still no relief in sight for the hundreds of people displaced by the continuing volcanic eruptions in Hawaii.

Live from the CNN Center here in Atlanta, I'm Cyril Vanier. It's great to have you with us.


VANIER: 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 at the time, hundreds more were wounded.

So what did Mr. Trump say?

Well, he was speaking at a convention of the largest gun rights organization in the U.S., the National Rifle Association, on Friday. And he said this.


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.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VANIER: Francois Hollande was France's president of the time of the attacks and he called Mr. Trump's comments, quote, "shameful. The French Foreign Ministry issued a statement, expressing its firm disapproval and they called for the respect of the memory of the victims.

In the same speech, Mr. Trump also angered Britain, saying Britain 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.


VANIER: Let's talk to Daniel Lippman about this. He's a reporter at "Politico" and co-author of the daily newsletter, "Playbook."

Daniel, there's criticism in France. There's criticism in Britain of Mr. Trump's comments as you would expect, given what he said. And I'll just read you another one. You heard the French president just now. I'll read you another one.

This comes from a former British Justice Secretary Charlie Falconer, "U.S. murder rate over five times higher than the U.K.'s. There isn't a person in the whole world, with the possible exception of the President of the United States -- and he's probably lying -- who believes the way to reduce our murder rate is to make it easier to get guns."

What I'm noticing, Daniel, is none of the criticism is actually coming from the very, very top, from Downing Street or even from the French presidency.

So do you think they're giving him a pass on this?

DANIEL LIPPMAN, "POLITICO": I think they see it as a way to avoid antagonizing Mr. Trump if they don't criticize them because they think that if they do so then he would lash out and put on tariffs or attack their country rhetorically.

You saw any time that a country gets in a argument with President Trump, he often does something like that. So they are trying to forestall that and try to have this blow over and have former leaders of their country do their dirty work for them.

VANIER: So essentially you're saying they've got their hands tied because they're talking about Iran, because they're talking about tariffs and they've got deadlines on those key issues coming up. They've got their hands tied.

LIPPMAN: Yes, the deadline for the Iran deal is May 12th. And the French leader, Macron, he had a pretty successful visit to the U.S. only in the last two weeks. And so he doesn't want to make it much more difficult for Trump to ally himself on the Iranian nuclear deal.

He sees that as very important for France's national security and Europe's well-being that Iran does not get a nuclear weapon. This was the crowning achievement for Europe to strike this deal with Obama and Iran a couple years ago and they don't want President Trump to disrupt it.

And so they're willing to take --


LIPPMAN: -- occasional lapses in Trump's language on their two countries For overall national security and foreign policy goals.

VANIER: Yes, the bromance, the Trump-Macron bromance will have to allow for that kind of thing. By the way, do you think this could endanger Mr. Trump's visit to Britain that is now scheduled for July?

These inflammatory comments are exactly what got -- drew the ire of the British public and that led the British authorities to postpone or stave off any kind of visit from Mr. Trump until now?

LIPPMAN: I don't think that visit is in jeopardy but Trump is not going to get the best reception when he does visit the U.K. He was also wanting an invitation from London to really feel like he was very welcoming. But he is not winning over the U.K. public with these comments.

They seem like they are totally ridiculous to many foreign policy experts because how are we trying to -- how do we get the U.K. and France on our side when the U.S. president is making mocking hand gestures when hundreds of people died in terrorist attacks in France and the U.K. in the last dozen years?

Just imagine if President Obama did something like that. The Europeans would rightly criticize Obama.

VANIER: Daniel Lippman, thank you for joining us today. Always a pleasure speaking to you.

VANIER: Trump's attorney Rudy 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.


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.


VANIER: And we're getting new details about special counsel Robert Mueller's office interviewing one of President Trump's closest friends and former chairman of the Trump inaugural committee. Our Boris Sanchez reports from the White House.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: CNN confirmed on Saturday that one of the president's closest friends, Tom Barrack, a man that he's known for some 40 years, was interviewed by the special counsel in December of last year for approximately two hours.

A sources familiar with the matter spoke with my colleague, Gloria Borger, and they indicated that Barrack was asked specifically about his relationship with Paul Manafort and Rick Gates; that is, Trump's former campaign chairman and his deputy.

Manafort and Gates are both facing a slew of charges related to financial crimes and fraud. Manafort has denied all of the allegations while Gates has pled guilty. Notably, this source tells CNN that Barrack was not asked about his relationship with the president, though the two men are very close, consider that Barrack spoke at the 2016 Republican convention.

He also chaired the president's inaugural committee and was offered a senior role in the administration though he reportedly turned it down. We understand that Barrack was also not asked about financial issue; his role on the inaugural committee and further he was told that he is not a target of the special counsel's investigation.

Still, this is notable considering just how broad the special investigation's reach has become. How this plays into things moving forward for Robert Mueller, still unclear -- Boris Sanchez, CNN, at the White House.


VANIER: In Lebanon polls have been open for just over three hours in that country's parliamentary election. It is the first such vote in nine years. CNN's Ben Wedeman is in the Lebanese capital, Beirut. He joins me live.

Ben, there hasn't been a parliamentary vote in almost a decade.

Do you expect a radically different parliament after these elections?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Radically different, perhaps not, Cyril. But there are important changes. There's a new election law here, which has changed the situation, the situation of the vote, from a winner-take-all to proportional representation.

What that means is that you have more independent candidates running in this election than ever before in Lebanese --


WEDEMAN: -- history. You have other interesting things. For instance, in 2009, the last election, only 12 women ran for office. This time, you have 86 women. You have many parties which have a much more progressive agenda. For instance, there are more parties than ever calling for the decriminalization of homosexuality.

Some are calling for the legalization of cannabis. So it is significant, but it's not expected that, at the end of the day, much is going to change.

Now right now, behind me, the Lebanese prime minister, Saad Hariri, has just voted in this West Beirut voting station, which is a school. There are about 3.6 million eligible voters.

What's interesting this time is that because there has been no election since 2009, there are 800,000 new voters voting for the first time. And many people of course are going to vote for the traditional sectarian parties.

But many others are just unhappy with the situation in Lebanon. You have an economy that has stagnated; you have social services, which are sort of falling apart For instance, here in Beirut, you have three hours of electricity cuts every day.

You've had crises where the streets were full of garbage. People are saying that the government really has to do a far better job in running this country rather than doing what it does best at the moment, which is simply patronage politics -- Cyril.

VANIER: Ben, I think a lot of our viewers will remember those protests that took place in Lebanon, specifically in Beirut, about the issue of garbage collection, when the government couldn't even get its act together and collect garbage.

Do you think after these parliamentary elections, things like that, day-to-day things like that of the business of governance, that will improve?

WEDEMAN: What has happened between then and now is that, as a result of the garbage crisis, you had various civil society movements. For instance, the so-called You Stink movement, which was a protest against the government's management of the garbage crisis, that movement gave rise to a variety of civil society groups, which reject sectarianism as the basis of politics and call upon the government to simply do its job.

Now a miracle of Lebanon is that somehow the country functions not because of the state but despite the state. The state is really sort of a vehicle for patronage and clientelism.

But as a result of that garbage crisis you have seen the growth of civil society, people demanding simply that the government does what a government should do -- Cyril. VANIER: Ben Wedeman, reporting live from Beirut in Lebanon, we will be keeping you busy today. Thank you, Ben.

Volcanic eruptions are splitting neighborhoods open on the eastern coast of Hawaii's big island. Very impressive and scary pictures. This is what it looks like when your backyard erupts with molten lava. This is happening in residential areas near the Kilauea volcano ,which began acting up on Thursday.

Officials say at least five houses have been destroyed and they have ordered nearly 2,000 people to leave their homes because of lava and emissions of poisonous sulfur dioxide gas.

This all caps a week of geological turmoil, with hundreds of earthquakes, including one of magnitude 6.9. And this is not over here.



VANIER: Officials say the danger from the volcanic eruptions is so great that anyone choosing to stay in the evacuation zones is making a grave mistake. Ivan was telling you that Stephanie Elam is coverage this for us in Hawaii.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Nothing really prepares you for the thunderous eruption of the lava out of these fissures here near Hilo, Hawaii. They are loud and they're impacted, too, with the gas, the sulfur dioxide that is erupting as well out of these fissures, shooting very high up in the sky.

And on top of that, the magma, which is so intense, an orange that's so intense it almost looks like your eyes are fooling you when you look at it, all of that is part of the reason why they have expanded the perimeter that they're telling residents that they need to stay away from.

Because imagine something like this opening up on your street, right by your house. That's what happened to Steve Gebbie (ph). And he doesn't know the house that he built by himself with his own hands -- he's a carpenter by trade -- he doesn't know whether or not it is still standing. Take a listen to what he said.


STEVE GEBBIE (PH), LEILANI ESTATES RESIDENT: Yesterday, everybody looked like "The Beverly Hillbillies." Everybody had everything in their trucks and on the run. Now this is the first morning after evacuation. And now it's time to figure out what the future brings.


ELAM: And for many of these residents, while the fissures are a huge fear, that sulfur dioxide is a major concern. When you get close to it, it takes your breath away when the wind changes. It's not something that they want anyone to even be around, including their first responders.

So they've expanded the perimeter around where these fissures have opened. You can even see it in some places, where this white smoke is billowing across the roadways.

So that's part of the concern and then there's still the issue of earthquakes that have been rocking this part of the island. One as big as 6.9, that knocked out power to thousands of residents in the area.

But all of this, all of this that is happening is what is of concern to people who are studying this volcano. They don't know where the next fissure may open, but they do expect that more will open. So because of that, they are asking residents to stay away -- back to you.


VANIER: Stephanie Elam there in Hawaii.

The football world rallying around Sir Alex Ferguson after the celebrated former manager of Manchester United undergoes emergency surgery. We'll have the latest on that after the break.





VANIER: U.S. President Trump spoke by phone with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Saturday. We don't know if they discussed Mr. Trump's controversial NRA comments that angered many in Britain and France. We do know they talked about North Korea, Iran, China, trade and Mr. Trump's upcoming trip to Britain as well. That is currently 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.

Now I want to turn your attention to India, a barbaric crime there is attracting international attention, in part because of how the village council ended up handling this case.

It happened in a rural village in northeastern India. A teenage girl there was allegedly kidnapped and gang-raped last Thursday. Then when her family went to the village council seeking justice, things got even more gruesome and the young girl ended up burned to death.

CNN's Nikhil Kumar is in New Delhi, another one of these atrocious stories, I have to say, coming out of India. Explain to us how it got to this and whether the family will be able to get justice.

NIKHIL KUMAR, CNN NEW DELHI BUREAU CHIEF: Cyril, as you said, on Thursday night is when this horrific attack on the 16-year-old girl in the northeastern states of Charcun -- it's a remote part of India, quite poor; the village itself is quite far away from the nearest urban center, is when this attack is meant to have taken place.

The day after the family of the girl went with the allegations to the village council in their village -- these councils don't have any legal authority, but they tend to wield a lot influence, particularly in these distant parts of the country.

So the family went to them demanding justice. The council in response imposed a penalty on the men accused of 50,000 rupees. That is about $750 and asked them do 100 sit-ups. That was all.

So the family's (INAUDIBLE) for justice didn't get it. What was worse is that the accused in an act of retribution, a chilling act of retribution, burned the family's house down and this is when it's in this attack later on Friday that the girl is alleged to have died.

The case is now with the local police authorities, they are investigating it. The body has been sent for an autopsy. And we're waiting for more details.

But as you say it's another case that has yet again turned the spotlight on sexual violence in this country -- Cyril.

VANIER: Yes, not an isolated incident. Just last month, there were several high-profile cases, also involving horrific rapes.

KUMAR: Absolutely right. So this comes -- the context is very, very important. This comes just weeks after thousands of Indians came out onto the streets to demand justice in two cases.

One was a case again of a child, an 8-year-old in the northern state of Jamun (ph) Kashmir, whom authorities say earlier in January was kidnapped, gang-raped over a number of days and then brutally murdered.

The case hit international headlines last month. And then there was a second case involving another 16-year-old in a different part of North India, which in fact involved a sitting lawmaker from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party, a local lawmaker.

He is alleged to have attacked and raped a 16-year-old in June last year but he was only arrested last month following the public outrage.

So definitely not an isolated incident. As we await the details, this context is what is really putting a lot of attention, bringing a lot of attention to this. This concern that, why does this keep happening again, no matter how many times people come out on the streets, no matter how many new laws are introduced to deal with this problem, we keep hearing these absolutely horrific and disturbing stories -- Cyril.

VANIER: Nikhil Kumar, thank you very much, joining us there and covering the story from New Delhi. We appreciate your insights.

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. The club says his surgery --


VANIER: -- went very well, but that he will still need a period of intensive care. CNN's Patrick Snell has more on Ferguson's recovery and career.


PATRICK SNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alex Ferguson is no doubt the most successful football manager in British history and news of his hospitalization on Saturday sending shockwaves, not just in the U.K. but all across the football world.

Manchester United, the club where he managed for 26 years, giving CNN an update on the 76-year-old's condition.

It read, "Sir Alex Ferguson has undergone emergency surgery today for a brain hemorrhage. The procedure has gone very well, but he needs a period of intensive care to optimize his recovery. His family request privacy in this matter.

"We will keep Sir Alex and his loved ones in our thoughts during this time and we are united in our wish to see him make a comfortable, speedy recovery."

But it was less than a week ago the football world saw the Scotsman in public at Old Trafford when he came out onto the pitch to present longtime rival and outgoing Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger with a commemorative vase to mark the Frenchman's 22-year reign at the Gunners. Ferguson has been a regular presence at United games since his retirement.

The five-year anniversary of which falls next week. Alex Ferguson started out in the game as a player, but it was as a manager that he enjoyed huge success, having won three Scottish titles at Aberdeen. He made the move to Manchester United in 1986, where he would remain in charge until his retirement in 2013. That's over a quarter of a century at the helm of one of the world's biggest football clubs. He won a total of 38 trophies during a period of sustained domestic dominance for the Old Trafford club, which saw him win 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups and he was twice a winner of the prestigious European Champions League as well.

The Scot was known as a fighter throughout his brilliant career. And now the worldwide football community is hoping he can keep his fight going and get back to watching the team that he loves soon -- Patrick Snell, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VANIER: Quick update on the important story we were following earlier in the show, the Lebanese parliamentary elections, which are underway. We can now bring to you this picture of the Lebanese president, Michel Aoun, voting in a polling station in Beirut.

So earlier we showed you Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who is the leader of the city bloc, in Lebanon voting; this is Michel Aoun, the president, also voting a very short while ago in the Lebanese capital.

Very interesting to keep an eye on these parliamentary elections. The first in nine years happening under a new electoral law. We've got CNN's Ben Wedeman who will be covering that for us in the coming hours.

That is it from us this hour. Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier. I'll be back with the headlines in just a moment.