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Ransomware Attacks targeting U.S. Cities Are On The Rise; Fear Of Getting "Hillary'D" Driving Anxiety For Female Voters; U.N. Report: One Million Species At Risk Of Extinction. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired May 11, 2019 - 20:00   ET



ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: You are live in the CNN Newsroom. Good evening, I'm Alex Marquardt in New York. New tonight, President Trump says it would be appropriate for him to talk to his attorney general about launching a probe into his potential 2020 rival, the leading Democratic candidate, Joe Biden. The president tells Politico, quote, "Certainly it would be an appropriate thing to speak to William Barr about, but I have not done that as of yet." It could be a very big situation.

That situation the president is referring to is a suggestion of wrongdoing started by the president's own personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani says he's suspicious about work that Biden's son did for Ukraine and whether it created a conflict of interest for the former vice president.

Here is CNN's Randi Kaye with more on Giuliani's accusations and the holes in those claims.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The president's lawyer wants to know whether or not Joe Biden used his political power as vice president to shut down an investigation into a Ukrainian company his son, Hunter Biden, was working with.


RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY: It's a big story. It's a dramatic story. And I guarantee you, Joe Biden will not get to Election Day without this being investigated. It will be a massive scandal.

KAYE: Giuliani says he stumbled upon the Biden story while investigating Democrats' efforts to spread misinformation about Trump. He claimed to CNN that, in 2016, as part of a broad anti-corruption push by the U.S., then Vice President Biden pressured the Ukrainian government to oust its top prosecutor. He claims that prosecutor was investigating the Ukrainian company called Burisma Holdings, a natural gas company which Biden's son, Hunter, was on the board of.

(on camera): After that prosecutors removal, Ukraine's new prosecutor dismissed the case against the company. There is no evidence that Joe Biden acted improperly. In fact, Bloomberg reports the Ukrainian's government's case against Burisma, the company, had been dormant since 2014. That would have been two years before Biden pushed to remove the prosecutor.

(voice-over): Giuliani told "The New York Times," which first reported this story, he's not meddling in an election. But he's meddling in an investigation, which he said he has the right to do. He claimed, there's nothing illegal about it, and this isn't foreign policy.

Giuliani says he's planning to visit Kiev to dig deeper. His efforts to intangible yet another foreign nation in our elections isn't lost on those in Washington investigating the president.

REP. JERRY NADLER (D), TEXAS, CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: We've come to a very sorry state when it's considered OK for an American politician, never mind an attorney for the president, to go and seek foreign intervention in American politics.

KAYE: Giuliani is also calling for the Department of Justice to investigate Biden and says the president agrees. But if the goal in all of this is to damage Biden's campaign, the candidate hardly seems bothered. The Biden campaign referred CNN to a statement it had given to "The New York Times," claiming Biden acted on Ukraine without any regard for how it would or would not impact his son's business interest.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


MARQUARDT: So, as Randi Kaye mentioned there, Giuliani was planning to go so far as to travel to Ukraine in this effort to dig up dirt on Biden. Then, he suddenly decided to cancel that trip.

CNN White House Reporter Sarah Westwood is live on the north lawn of the White House. Sarah, what's Giuliani saying about why he decided to cancel this at the last minute?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Alex, Giuliani is making a reversal of this decision to travel to Ukraine amid a massive backlash. And he tells our colleague, Mike Warren, that he came to believe that the meeting with Ukrainian officials would accomplish little. And he said, quote, "It may be in the hands of those who might misinterpret it."

Now, Giuliani also complained about the media coverage of his upcoming trip to Ukraine. He thought that his version of events wasn't being portrayed fairly. Obviously, the dominant narrative was that Giuliani was traveling overseas to meet with foreign leaders to get information about a potential rival of President Trump. Information that would have been politically advantageous to Trump, possibly.

So, that had caused Democrats to start to question why this trip was taking place. Giuliani, of course, has a history of making statements, and then later having to walk them back. He did that, for example, one of several examples, with the timeline of discussions about Trump Tower Moscow. During the election, he once said they stretched all the way to Election Day. He had to walk that back.

[20:05:02] But, of course, Giuliani no longer making that trip, which could have caused President Trump some headaches -- Alex.

MARQUARDT: All right. Sarah Westwood, thanks very much.

And to dig into this deeper, we have with us the former deputy assistant attorney general, Elliot Williams, as well as White House reporter for "The Washington Post" Tolu Oluranipa. Tolu, to you first. Do you think that Giuliani actually planned to go on this trip to Kiev? Or was he -- what he really wanted, frankly, what we're doing here right now in talking about this alleged Biden scandal, which, as we just heard in the Randi Kaye piece, and there with Sarah, frankly, has a lot of holes in it.

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes, it's hard to know with Rudy Giuliani. He has had a long history of, sort of, making a number of different, sort of, bizarre statements and getting the press all riled up around what he's commenting and then walking them back. He did the same thing when President Trump was trying to deal with the issue of Stormy Daniels. Giuliani got out in front of it and said that the president knew about the payments to the former porn star, and then later said that the president didn't know about it.

So, it's hard to know. I wouldn't be surprised if Giuliani would have gone over to Ukraine just to, sort of, stir up more media coverage. It does appear that the Ukrainians, themselves, were not necessarily OK with the idea of being seen in this light in the U.S. media. That they might be meddling in a foreign election, meddling in the U.S. presidential race.

But it is a clear sign that the president and his allies see Joe Biden as a threat for 2020. And they see him as someone that they need to put their eyes on, at this moment, even though we are several months ahead of even the first primary votes being cast. The president believes that Joe Biden is the frontrunner.

MARQUARDT: Right. And Ukraine, of course, just had their own presidential elections.

Elliott, essentially, what we're looking at here is the president's personal attorney, making suggestions of impropriety involving this potential political rival. Then, the president saying it would be appropriate to have his attorney general look into investigating those allegations. How in any way is this appropriate?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Spoiler alert. It's not, hint, hint. So, no, it's not appropriate in any way. You would never have the president of the United States directing how an individual should be prosecuted.

Frankly, you know, when I was at the Justice Department, the mere -- any sort of communication between the White House and the Justice Department is incredibly heavily regulated. And that's just something that's not appropriate. On this question of Rudy Giuliani as the president's lawyer. It seems clear, over the last several months or years even, that he's not serving in a substantive legal role to the president. It's largely an attack dog, a spinmeister, and an individual who helps with the president's messaging and so on.

So, backing up to this question of whether he might have actually served a substantive purpose by going to Ukraine. I think the better question is what public relations matters could he have helped by going to Ukraine?


WILLIAMS: Because that really seems to be all that's happening here with the president.

MARQUARDT: Yes, Giuliani's role, until now, has been in his capacity as a lawyer for the Mueller probe. And now, he's acting as a 2020 campaign aide.

But, gentlemen, as you know well, this is not new from the president. He's been threatening to investigate his political rivals since before he took office. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country.

TRUMP: Yes, because you'd be in jail.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Secretary Clinton --


MARQUARDT: Tolu, what does it say about how the president views the threat from Biden, that he's tweeted so much about him. That his lawyer almost went to Ukraine to dig up dirt on him. That he's talking about having his attorney general investigate him. And doesn't this play straight into Biden's hands?

OLORUNNIPA: Well, the president and his allies are worried Joe Biden could win in those key states that President Trump won in 2016. We're talking Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania. Those are places where Biden has a long history and has been shown that he's been able to win some of those blue-collar voters that President Trump was able to secure in 2016.

So, the president's trying to run the same playbook that he ran against Hillary Clinton by, sort of, casting this cloud of scandal around Joe Biden, trying to put investigations around him and make it seem like he is crooked or corrupt. And he's believing -- the president believes that that might be a way to keep Biden from continuing to soar in the polls, and clear the field, and have him, sort of, bog down in the long and messy primary.

But, right now, the president and his allies do see Joe Biden as the top threat in the Democratic field. The president said to Politico that he believes that Biden is, sort of, similar to Trump in 2015. Where he started off and he, kind of, cleared the field from the beginning. And he was a frontrunner and he stayed as the frontrunner through the entire process. And that's how he is viewing Biden here in the 2020 race.

WILLIAMS: But I just -- you know, I just want to underscore how inappropriate that is, you know, the president's statements and the president's comments. Yes, the president is the head of the Executive Branch and the Justice Department is part of that branch of the government.

[20:10:01] But the president ought never to be dictating the terms of how investigative or prosecutorial matters should happen. That is the way it has worked, you know, since the beginning of our --


WILLIAMS: -- of the founding of our Justice Department hundreds of years ago. So, it's a big thing when the president is talking about investigating anyone, let alone a political rival.

MARQUARDT: And, of course, it's the accusation, the criticism of Bill Barr in the wake of the Mueller report, that he's been accused of being -- acting more like the president's lawyer than the country's lawyer which is, essentially, what the attorney general is.

Guys, I want to get to the other breaking news this weekend. Sources have told CNN that White House asked the former White House counsel, Don McGahn, to publicly say that Trump did not obstruct justice. But now, we know that McGahn declined. And, of course, you'll recall that Trump had asked McGahn to fire Robert Mueller.

So, Elliott, to you first. What's your take on what the White House is now asking him to do?

WILLIAMS: Right. Well, when you're -- when you've obstructed justice and are, then, asking your lawyer to say you haven't obstructed justice and he won't do it, you've got a problem. It's clear that this is just a continuation of the conduct that we saw laid out in the Mueller report.

Now, obviously, now, you probably could not --


WILLIAMS: -- charge this engagement with Don McGahn. But it's still -- it's the same conduct. It's asking him to cover up and asking him to, essentially, meddle in the -- in the terms of the investigation. And so, it's -- even if it's not illegal or really legal or really cool, as the president would say, it's just suspect and poor judgment for them to have done it and tried to engage their lawyer. And, again, this gets back to the question, was he the White House counsel, the counsel to the White House or the lawyer to the president? And I think the president has seemed to confuse those two roles. The personal attorney and the personal, sort of, hitman for the president versus the -- you know, the official attorney for the White House --


WILLIAMS: -- and the executive branch.

MARQUARDT: OK, guys, we've got to leave it there. Elliot Williams, Tolu Olorunnipa, thanks very much.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.

OLORUNNIPA: Thank you.

MARQUARDT: We have shocking new developments in the disappearance of four-year-old Maleah Davis. An arrest has been made. Details ahead.

Plus, no deal. The United States and China fail to reach a trade agreement, and it could cost you more on everything from toys to T.V.s to toilet paper. The real-world impact on your wallet.



MARQUARDT: Breaking tonight, there are shocking developments in the case of missing four-year-old Maleah Davis. Her stepfather, Darian Vence, is now in custody in Houston, charged with tampering with evidence, namely a human corpse. We want to be clear. Law enforcement officials, at this point, are not confirming whether the little girl is dead. But investigators do not think that little Maleah is still alive.

Houston police say, in a press release, that the blood evidence found in her stepfather's apartment has been linked to Maleah. And they say that a laundry basket was found in the stepfather's car along with a gas can. Houston police are asking anyone who may have sold the gas can to the stepfather to call them.

CNN'S Nick Valencia has been tracking this story and the anguished plight of the little girl's mother.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Darian Vence is the last known person to have been with missing four-year-old Maleah Davis. But police say, since the beginning, his story has been full of holes.

SERGEANT MARK HOLBROOK, HOUSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT: I realize there's a lot of blanks in that story but we're hoping that the public can fill in -- fill in the blanks.

VALENCIA: Vence, Maleah's stepfather, told police he was on the way to the airport with Maleah and her one-year-old brother last Friday to pick up their mom. In route, he says, he heard a noise coming from the car so he got out to check if he got a flat tire. It's then he told police he was ambushed by three Hispanic men in a blue pick-up truck.

HOLBROOK: One of them makes a comment, saying that Maleah looks very nice, looks very sweet. The other male hits Darian in the head. Darian loses consciousness.

VALENCIA: Then says he and the two children were carjacked and abducted. He didn't fully regain consciousness, he says, until 6:00 p.m. the next day. When he woke up on the side of a highway more than 40 miles from the airport, his one-year-old son was with him. But four-year-old Maleah was nowhere to be found. It took him five hours to go to a hospital for his injuries and report Maleah missing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just want to find Maleah. I just want to find Maleah.

VALENCIA: Maleah's mother, Brittany Bowens, initially defended Vence against those who doubted his story. In a long post on social media, she pushed back against his critics.

But in the days that followed and as the search for the missing girl intensified, there were more questions. On Thursday, the car Vence was driving the night Maleah disappeared was spotted in a shopping center parking lot just a few miles from where he said regained consciousness. Maleah's mother said the discovery added to her suspicions about Vence. His story, she says, just doesn't add up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you still believe Darian?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I don't believe his story. Only because I've been out here every single day doing what I have to do as a mother. I've been trying and he hasn't been by my side not one time. He hasn't called me. I haven't heard from him since Monday. I don't know what's going on. And it's, like, if you're innocent, why can't you save yourself? Wy aren't you out here defending yourself? I defended you in good faith.


MARQUARDT: Nick Valencia reporting there. Thanks to him.

The father of the missing four-year-old Maleah Davis is due in court on Monday.

In Kentucky, a pilot has been indicted for killing three people in 2015 and then burning their bodies. Christian Richard Martin was arrested early this morning at Louisville International Airport for the triple murder of Calvin and Pamela Phillips and their neighbor, Edward Dansereau. He's now indicted on three counts of murder, one count of arson, one count of attempted burglary, and three counts of tampering with physical evidence. Martin was a pilot for PSA Airlines which is a subsidiary of American Airlines.

Nearly 800 bucks a year. That's the dollar amount that the average American family will lose if President Trump's tariffs stick. And you may be surprised by the long list of products impacted.

You're live in the CNN Newsroom.



MARQUARDT: Trade talks with China came to a surprisingly early and abrupt end on Friday. No resolution, though Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin does insist that they were constructive. Still, there's no disguising the fact that an already high-stakes situation just got all the more precarious. Because in the midst of those talks, President Trump escalated the trade war with China by slapping even more tariffs on Chinese goods. And now, China has vowed to retaliate.

President Trump has continued the negotiation online, tweeting a short time ago that China shouldn't wait around to see if a Democrat wins in 2020. Because he predicts he will win, and it will be far worse for China to try negotiating with him in a second term. He says he loves collecting big tariffs.

But here's one thing. The president repeatedly claims that tariffs are paid for by other countries. Here's just one example. For 10 months, China has been paying tariffs to the USA. These payments are partially responsible for our great economic results. The tariffs paid to the USA have had little impact on product costs, mostly borne by China.

But that's not true. So, either the president doesn't know how tariffs work, or he does and he knows they are not popular politically. Here's Republican Congressman Will Hurd, explaining exactly what tariffs are.


REP. WILL HURD (R), TEXAS: Ultimately, a tariff, we should think of a tariff like a sales tax. This is going to --


HURD: On American consumers, right. So, it's going to be -- it's going to more expensive for Americans to buy products, right. And so, that is why this has a long-term impact on the U.S. economy. (END VIDEO CLIP)

[20:25:10] MARQUARDT: So, here's how it works. The U.S. places a tax or tariff on foreign goods, in this case, goods from China. When a U.S. company imports those goods like cell phones or clothes or fish, think about everything that has a sticker Made in China. The company must pay that tariff to offset this cost.

U.S. companies increase the price of their items, meaning you, ultimately, pay more to buy them. So, that means that price hikes on everything from food to fancy handbags, according to figures compiled by Oxford Economics, these new tariffs mean that the average American family could end up paying an extra $800 a year.

Bottom line, in the end, you are paying these tariffs, not China or any other country. But the China tariffs are just the latest in a long list of foreign policy initiatives that are causing real worry right now.

So, joining me to talk about China and all those other subjects are CNN Politics White House Reporter Stephen Collinson and CNN Political Analyst Margaret Taley. She is also the senior White House correspondent for "Bloomberg News." Thank you, both, for joining me this evening.


MARQUARDT: Now, Stephen, first to you. As we were just saying, it's not just China. There are a number of other pots bubbling on the Trump stove, with the potential to boil over, frankly, when it comes to foreign policy.

So, let's start first, if we can, with North Korea. Less than a year ago, the president said he and Kim Jong Un, the dictator of North Korea, fell in love at their first famous historic summit. Now, North Korea, as we saw in the past week, is test-firing missiles for the first time in two years. So, does that mean these talks to denuclearize North Korea are pretty much done for?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN POLITICS WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, I think what we're seeing, Alex, is the fact that President Trump's rather unique approach to North Korea has been no more successful in solving this dangerous riddle of the North Korean nuclear program than have been many of his predecessors over the last 30 years. I think you can argue that the president's tactic of having two summits with Kim Jong Un, which was seen as a huge concession, hasn't borne fruit. And critics would say that he's given away the best U.S. leverage here.

Now, on the other side, these missile tests, so far a short-range missile test, I think the problem will come if Kim Jong Un, who is trying to get America's attention, decides to step up his escalation of its medium to long-term missiles. Firing over the Sea of Japan again. Some activity with the nuclear plants in North Korea. I think that is the problem and that's where we with could get into a much more dangerous situation.

You could argue that, paradoxically, that close relationship between President Trump and Kim Jong Un could halt that cycle of escalation given, there's this supposed connection between them. But it's very difficult to see how the Trump administration's approach has changed the calculation on the credit Korean Peninsula.


MARQUARDT: Yes, we've actually heard Trump officials, administration officials, floating the possibility of a third summit. Margaret, you know, when you look at North Korean and then, of course, Iran, which we've been talking about so much in the past week, you can often seem like these policies coming from this White House are contradictory. He's trying to reach this deal with North Korea to get them to get rid of their nuclear weapons, while having just pulled out of the nuclear deal with Iran, which doesn't have nuclear weapons and was designed expressly to stop them from building them.

So, how does the White House reconcile those two things?

TALEY: Well, others have, you know, sort of highlighted the same issue. And the White House position has been that they're really different. Although, it's easy to see the similarity when we've seen the president, in the last week, kind of overtly and repeatedly saying to Iran, please reach out to me and ask me to meet with you -- and say that I can meet with you. But -- and the Iranians have shown no interest in doing that.

The president and his team feel pretty strongly like those sanctions on Iran, the pressure they're putting on Iran, are having real sustained economic impacts. Now, whether that breaks Iran or brings Iran crawling to the U.S. or causes Iran to halt its nuclear ambitions is another question entirely.

I think one of the differences is that the president sees Iran as the, sort of, flashpoint that is able to reconfigure U.S. relations in the Middle East with different partners and allies. And so, part of the reason he is hammering on Iran is because he sees the ability to steer policy in Israel and other things like that.

But there are real questions about whether the president sort of hardline approach, in places like Iran or Venezuela, are going to succeed. And when you hear the president at once talking very tough on Iran and, on the other hand, saying, call me, I'd -- you know, I'd like to meet with you. I'm not going to give you anything, but I'd really like to meet with you.


It does sort of raise a lot of questions about what he thinks Iran is actually going to agree to do, which is a question of all these things is, is North Korea going to cease its nuclear weapons program because of the president's diplomatic approach? And is Iran going to stop its nuclear program because of these sanctions? We don't know the answers to these questions yet.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well -- and, of course, it all begs the question of what the Trump administration's actual end goal is in Iran.

Stephen, you wrote in an analysis on that the strategy is regime change in all but name. And so when you combined that with -- we watched The Pentagon send an aircraft carrier and strike force out to the region, out to the Persian Gulf. It looks like we could be on a path to war with Iran.

Do you think, Stephen, that this is saber-rattling from the national secretary advisor, John Bolton, and secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, or is this the administration really ready to start a new war?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: I don't think the administration has made any political case to the American people about why a war with Iran would be necessary.

I think the danger in the short term is some kind of accidental clash between U.S. and Iranian forces in the gulf. We saw that sometimes in the 1990s, the 1980s. Ever since the Iranian revolution, there's been a cycle of confrontation, and then negotiation and an attempt to call attention.

So it looks like we're in another one of those periods of rising tensions. In the long term, I think the question is, as Margaret said, whether the administration's punitive sanctions, the maximum pressure campaign will make a political change in Iran.

So far, it looks that although the economic sanctions are having a very damaging effect on the Iranian people and the economy, they might have actually unified differing parts of the Iranian regime, the hardliners, and President Rouhani.

So I think it's really up in the air, whether this is going to be an effective tactic. In the long-term, if Iran decides to pull out of the nuclear deal completely, it looks like what it's talked about this week is a small step back to try and pressure European nations to do more, to help them with their economy.

But if Iran starts spinning those centrifuges again, we get to the point that the Iranian nuclear deal under the Obama administration was supposed to stop, and that is the question that the U.S. must face. Does it allow Iran to kind of break out towards a nuclear weapon or does it take military action and eventually, as you say, a war to try and stop that nuclear weapon? That question looks like it might soon, in the next year or so, be back on the table if things keep getting worse.

MARQUARDT: All right. Well, we could be here for hours discussing a whole lot more, but we got to leave it there.

Stephen Collinson, Margaret Talev, thank you very much.

TALEV: Thanks, Alex.

MARQUARDT: All right. Three rescued hostages are now safely on the ground in France and celebrating their freedom after a harrowing experience in Burkina Faso. They were set free in a daring military raid led by French Special Forces, the French president Emmanuel Macron, on hand this afternoon, to welcome the two French citizens and one South Korean freed by his Special Forces.

The rescued hostages each offered solemn thanks to the families of the two elite soldiers who were killed in the raid. A fourth ex-hostage, an American woman, was not on the plane. Instead, U.S. officials got her in Burkina Faso.

American cities held hostage, Baltimore, just the latest city to be targeted by a computer ransomware attack. The crippling problem that's on the rise across the country. That's next.


[20:35:25] MARQUARDT: Cyber criminals are holding entire American cities, towns, and counties hostage and they're doing it with computer viruses called ransomware. What's their motivation? Money.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): The city of Baltimore is under an extensive cyberattack. Hackers launching an aggressive virus called RobinHood and holding many government computers hostage. The assault causing police e-mails to go down, as did the board of elections, the Finance Department couldn't do business this week. Fax machines and printers were on the fritz.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know that the teams are working hard working hard. And we know that they are not in control of certain parts of our system.

It's really frustrating and this could happen anywhere.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it does. A new report shared exclusively with CNN by, Recorded Future, is one of the first to measure the scope of these kinds of attacks showing that across the country, ransomware attacks are on the rise, crippling counties, cities, and towns, costing them millions of dollars.

Since 2013, malicious foreign actors have been detected targeting local governments, law enforcement, and universities 169 times. Twenty-two attacks alone this year.

Figures, the group behind the new study says which represent the tip of an iceberg.

ALLAN LISKA, THREAT INTELLIGENCE ANALYST, RECORDED FUTURE: The bad guys see state and local governments as a target that is willing to pay and that they, and that they may be able to get a lot of money out of.

If nothing else, they may be able to get a lot of news coverage out of.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The attackers are not governments. This isn't about politics, but money. Attacking targets big and small, often underfunded when it comes to cybersecurity.

[20:40:07] LISKA: They've got a bunch of really dedicated people, but they don't have the latest tools and equipment to protect themselves.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eric Wyatt is one of those dedicated people. Last fall, he fought off a multipronged ransomware attack on his 100,000- person community Anchorage, Alaska.

ERIC WYATT, MATANUSKA-SUSITNA BOROUGH IT DIRECTOR: They brought down the vast majority of our work stations and servers. This type of attack that we saw was far worse than anything I have seen in my past. Being in this industry for over 35 years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One thousand employees were affected. Old typewriters had be dusted off. The ransom wasn't paid, but it cost $2.5 million to fix the problems, which still linger today almost a year later.

WYATT: We are outgunned. We don't have the resources to fight this fight. The people that are attacking us are better organized, better funded, and we don't have the same level of capabilities that they do. So they see us as a soft target. Often we are.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The FBI is among the first calls that victims make. They say attackers have moved from targeting individuals to larger prizes, because it's more lucrative.

ADAM LAWSON, FBI MAJOR CYBERCRIMES UNIT: We're seeing larger and larger ransomware demands of these victims.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The problem, the FBI believes, is only getting worse.

LAWSON: People are paying the ransom and encouraging the behavior. So I think we will continue to see an escalation and sophistication of ransomware attacks.


MARQUARDT: Now, a silver lining is that according to this study, just 17 percent of state and local governments actually end up paying the ransoms. Still, we have seen a surge of attacks against them. Attackers seeing these local governments as ripe targets, because of all the attention that they get when governments are taken offline.

Now, coming up, the fight for 2020, a record six women are seeking the democratic nomination. But are they being held to a higher standard or, as some are saying, getting Hillary'd?


[20:45:08] MARQUARDT: New poll numbers show that former vice president, Joe Biden, has a two to one lead over his number two in that poll. Senator Bernie Sanders, among New Hampshire voters.

Senators Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Amy Klobuchar are all in the top eight in this Monmouth University poll. But they're also, as you can see there, in single digits.

This race has become a historic one with more women running than ever before. But some are still wondering in 2019, whether this country is really ready to elect a woman to the White House.

CNN's M.J. Lee spoke with voters who fear that a female nominee could get Hillary'd in 2020.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Because that's all anybody wanted that to talk about, if what I was herring, what my haircut was.

M.J. LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Six women seeking the democratic nomination for president in a historic election. Four senators, one congresswoman and a spiritual writer.

SEN. KRISTIN GILLIBRAND (D-NY) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As a young mom, I will fight for your children as hard as I would fight for my own.

LEE: Female voters across the country telling CNN that it is time for a woman to finally take the White House.

KELLY GRIEF, IOWA VOTER: We make up, I think, 51 percent of the population.

DEVORAH BADE, MICHIGAN VOTER: I don't think a man could ever handle the pressures of that office any better than a woman.

LEE: But there is another darker sentiment. Frustration about sexism, fueled by flashbacks to Hillary Clinton's loss in 2016.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling. But someday, someone will.

CLINTON: Democratic voters describing a lingering trauma from the last presidential election.

ELLIE TAYLOR, STUDENT, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: Some voiced concerns about you getting Hillary'd in the election, meaning that you get held to a higher standard than your opponent for a potentially arbitrary or maybe even sexist reasons.

LEE: And concern that nominating a woman again will hand Donald Trump a second term.

TERESA JONES, SOUTH CAROLINA VOTER: I think that most people didn't vote for her because she was a woman. And I think that they ended up voting for Trump because he was a man.

JULIE SWYGERT, SOUTH CAROLINA VOTER: I worry about the old boys club.

LEE: Nine months out from the Iowa caucuses, some of the women who want to see a female president leaning towards supporting one of the men.

BADEE: I will vote for Joe Biden, because I think he has the best chance of winning the presidency.

LEE: On the campaign trail, the female candidates making a forceful case for why women are just as electable as men.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And people tell be cannot be done and (INAUDIBLE) it's not your time. It will be hard work as (INAUDIBLE) and we won.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Someone once said and I agree with part of this, but not all of it, that women candidates should speak softly and carry a big statistic. OK. So I think you know I don't always speak softly.

WARREN: It's going to be fun when I say, and I won, because that's what girls do.

LEE: A recent CNN poll showing no indication that women are overwhelmingly supporting the female candidates over the male candidates. This man telling CNN, he does have a gender bias.

KEITH KUPER, IOWA VOTER: If they were two equally qualified candidates, one was male, one was female, I would support the female. It's high time we had a female president.


MARQUARDT: Our thanks to M.J. Lee there.

Now, coming up, a chilling new report. Warning that a million plant and animal species could be gone in just a few decades.


[20:50:15] MARQUARDT: An alarming report released by the United Nations says that roughly one million species are on the verge of extinction, more than at any other time in recorded history.

And as CNN's Bill Weir now reports, experts are warning that it could have grave impacts on humans as well.


BILL WEIR, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's not just the howling lemurs of Madagascar that could disappear forever. Not just the cute kiwis in New Zealand.

It could be all the wild tigers in India and all the lions in Africa. The bees and butterflies that pollinate billions of dollars' worth of crops every year. And the fish stocks that feed billions of people every day.

WEIR (on camera): According to a sweeping a new study, there are now one million species on the brink of extinction, many of them doomed to blink out in coming decades. Everything from plants and corals, to creatures great and small.

And while it was asteroid strikes or super volcanoes that caused the dinosaurs to go instinct, today, the biggest threat against nature is human nature.

EDUARDO BRONDIZIO, ENVIRONMENTAL ANTHROPOLOGY EXPERT: What my colleagues have shown is that we have reconfigured dramatically the fabric of life of the planet. WEIR (voice-over): To feed the appetites of over seven billion humans, the study finds that three quarters of land on earth has been plowed or paved, dammed or mined.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is all mining pits that are filled in.

WEIR: Plastic waste and pesticide runoff has created over 400 ocean dead zones, while heat-trapping pollution fills the sky at record levels, making earth's climate more unpredictable by the year.

ROBERT WATSON, INTERGOVERNMENTAL PLATFORM ON BIODIVERSITY & ECOSYSTEM SERVICE: There's many that like gross domestic product as an economic measure. But this is not a measure of the wealth of the world.

[20:55:05] WEIR: So the authors are calling for a seismic shift in how humans consume and how economies work, starting now.

WATSON: I also ask, what is the urgency? The urgency, I wear cufflinks. These cufflinks of watches show me, and remind me, we have no time to waste. The time for action is now.

MICHAEL NOVACEK, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT AND PROVOST OF SCIENCE: -- It's not -- climate change is very important. But the number one driver for all this is land conversion, destruction of habitat. Changes of that habitat.

And second is, you know, overconsumption and overhunting. These are more immediate and urgent problems. And they could be more directly attacked than some of the other ones.

ANNE LARIGAUDERIE, EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, INTERGOVERNMENTAL SCIENCE- POLICY PLATFORM ON BIODIVERSITY AND ECOSYSTEM SERVICE: What we would like, at the end of this report, is to really give the world a real message of hope. We don't want that people fell discouraged, that there is nothing that can be done, that we've lost the battle. Because we have not lost the battle. And if given the chance, nature will reconquer its rights and will prevail.

WEIR: But that would mean putting nature over profit motive for the first time in centuries. Deciding that the Amazon is worth more than And that life, as we know it, can only exist on a planet in balance.

Bill Weir, CNN, New York.


MARQUARDT: Thanks to Bill Weir.

Coming up, Russia's strongman president gets tripped up by a carpet. That video, next.


MARQUARDT: An unpresidential moment for Rusian President Vladimir Putin at a hockey game in Sochi. So, you can see Putin here, taking a victory lap after somehow scoring 8 goals in an exhibition game. Everything seems to be going fine, at first. There he is, waving to the crowd, then he glides straight into a mat, falling right down. And, possibly fearing repercussions, his teammates rushing up to help him up.

Thanks so much for joining us this evening. I'm Alex Marquardt.

A new episode of CHASING LIFE with Dr. Sanjay Gupta starts right now.