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CNN NEWSROOM

Biden to Address Ransomware Hacks with Putin; Fauci: We Must Not Declare Victory Prematurely; Airlines Scramble to Get U.K. Travelers Home from Portugal; Biden to Reverse Trump Endangered Species Rollbacks; Sri Lanka Keeps Eye on Sunken Cargo Ship; Experts Alarmed at Mucilage Growth in Turkish Waters; Serena Williams Eyes Quarterfinal in French Open; Trump Suspended from Facebook for Two Years; Injured U.S. Capitol Officer's Emotional Court Statement. Aired 2-2:45a ET

Aired June 5, 2021 - 02:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello, everyone, and welcome to Studio 7 here at CNN Center in Atlanta. I am Michael Holmes. Appreciate your company.

Now coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM, the director of the FBI, urging Americans to wake up and get on the offense against the threat that he is comparing to 9/11.

Also --

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The country that I love that I came in, that I have sacrificed so much don't care about us.

HOLMES (voice-over): Feeling abandoned, after Republicans refuse to back a commission to investigate the Capitol insurrection, Capitol Police officers are speaking out.

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HOLMES (voice-over): And it doesn't have any teeth but it's one of the world's most dangerous underwater predators. What it is and why human beings are to blame.

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HOLMES: Welcome, everyone.

The U.S. government, warning that just about every facet of America's infrastructure is, now, directly threatened by an epidemic of ransomware attacks. And as we saw with the Colonial Pipeline, in April, a successful attack can, quickly, throw daily life into turmoil. An investigation found hackers accessed Colonial's system, with a

compromised password. It was that simple. Cyber experts believe hackers are targeting American entities, dozens of times, each day.

The Biden White House, urging all of them to beef up their online security, before they become the next victim. More, now, from CNN's Alex Marquardt.

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ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): "We can't do this alone."

That's the message from the White House to private companies in the growing war against cyberattacks.

A rare open letter, first obtained by CNN, was sent by the top cyber official on the National Security Council, Anne Neuberger, to businesses nationwide appealing for immediate action, saying, "We urge you to take ransomware crimes seriously and ensure your corporate cyber defenses match the threat."

The government is limited in what it can force companies to do, while attackers only get more brazen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They really are in an impossible position. I think, the way that we're to really get after this is to basically start focusing on these adversaries. The government is going to have to step up and find ways to put pressure on these criminals.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): The Biden administration says it has told Moscow it expects the Russian government to crack down on cyber criminals operating inside Russia.

ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I think there's an obligation, on Russia's part, to make sure that that doesn't continue.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): This comes after the back-to-back Russian ransomware attacks on Colonial Pipeline and JBS Foods, which caused gas shortages and meat processing to shut down. It's not clear whether JBS paid a ransom. While Colonial paid almost $4.5 million to get back online, something, the administration discourages.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Our focus is on the disruption of ransomware infrastructure and actors, including through close cooperation with the private sector. Part of that communication, building an international coalition.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Press secretary Jen Psaki said that the string of recent Russian cyberattacks by, both, government and criminal hackers, will be a topic at the president's summit in Geneva in two weeks.

In the meantime, a White House official tells CNN they are looking at ways to require stronger cybersecurity standards for those companies that operate critical infrastructure. The White House memo suggests five fundamental things that companies

can do, immediately, to shore up their defenses as the threat from ransomware attackers is not only spiking but evolving, from trying to steal companies' and organizations' data, to trying to shut down their operations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If they believe that a company can pay and can pay a lot, they become a target almost immediately. And if they believe that these companies don't have the right measures in place, they're going to go after them, for sure.

MARQUARDT: In another sign that the Biden administration is taking this plague of ransomware attacks seriously, the Justice Department, on Thursday, released a memo, saying that, essentially, it's going to start handling ransomware attacks in a similar way as terrorism attacks.

They will be using similar protocols, similar processes. There will be more alerts, more information sharing, more coordination and more resources dedicated to this growing number of ransomware attacks.

A new and important step taken by the Justice Department, which recognizes this growing global threat -- Alex Marquardt, CNN, Washington.

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HOLMES: Well, Russia's leader is brushing off U.S. allegations that the most recent ransomware attacks came from Russian hackers. CNN's Matthew Chance with that part of the story.

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MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Vladimir Putin sharply rejecting allegations that Russia is in any way implicated in the recent ransomware cyberattacks in the United States, describing them as nonsense, ridiculous and just hilarious.

U.S. officials say two recent attacks on a crucial U.S. fuel pipeline and on a major meatpacking company were carried out by cyber criminals based in Russia. They've called on the Kremlin to crack down.

The suggestion being that the Russian authorities are currently allowing the cyber gangs to operate with impunity. President Putin made his remarks at an interview with Russian state television on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Take a listen to what he had to say.

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VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): It is just ridiculous to blame Russia for this. I think that the relevant U.S. services should find out who the scammers are. Not Russia, for sure.

For us to extort money from some company?

We are not dealing with some chicken meat or beef. It is just hilarious.

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CHANCE (voice-over): Strong words from the Russian leader and they come less than 2 weeks before he is scheduled to meet the U.S. President Joe Biden in a face-to-face summit in Geneva, Switzerland.

Hacking and cyber warfare just one of the fraught issues on the agenda, which is also likely to include sanctions, Russia's treatment of Kremlin critics and military threats against its neighbors.

President Putin says he's hoping the meeting will be held in a positive manner but he doesn't expect any breakthrough in Russian- American relations -- Matthew Chance, CNN.

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HOLMES: Now the very first U.S. Director of National Intelligence is also sounding the alarm that ransomware poses a serious threat to the country.

Among other positions, John Negroponte served as DNI under president George W. Bush starting back in 2005. He told our Jake Tapper that cyberattacks can have impact just as significant as more conventional forms of terrorism.

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JOHN NEGROPONTE, BIDEN ADMINISTRATION DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Absolutely, no. And I certainly don't want to, in any way, minimize the -- the tremendous cost that we suffered back on 9/11, in 2001.

But just like you mentioned, an attack on a health care system, a network of hospitals, for example or, you know, other such facilities, shutting down the energy supply, let's say, of the entire East Coast of the United States, you know, what could be the health impacts of something like that?

They could be enormous.

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HOLMES: Robert Lee is the CEO of cybersecurity company Dragos and he joins me now from Crofton, Maryland.

Good to see you, Robert. So the FBI director comparing these attacks to 9/11, in terms of threat, because of what they can do for infrastructure. I mean, he wouldn't do that without thought.

I mean, do you agree with him, just how big and serious is the problem? ROBERT LEE, DRAGOS: Absolutely. So it sounds like it could be hyperbole. But in reality, these attacks can, absolutely, impact infrastructure and the people that depend on them.

If you talk about, you know, manufacturing companies and stopping vaccine production or hospitals and having to cancel emergency appointments, it, absolutely, can lead to a loss of human life.

HOLMES: So far, the -- these are about money, it would seem, what we know. And -- and -- and, of course, the exposure of these vulnerabilities show what could happen, if the motive was disruption and -- and not money, if it was chaos, they are after.

LEE: Yes. So far, everything has been criminal in nature, both, from non-state actors and state actors taking advantage of these things. But it does expose the weakness everybody is concerned about, where you could do disruptive attacks.

We've seen these types of attacks before, not with ransomware but with cyberattacks on infrastructure, including Ukraine 2015 and the Ukraine in 2016, when cyberattacks took down portions of their electric power system.

HOLMES: Yes. Absolutely.

And what worries you, most, in terms of potential impacts?

I mean, you mentioned health care organizations being hit. One -- one imagines, at some point, lives are going to be at risk or -- or -- or even lost.

LEE: Absolutely. So I think, we have to, first, focus on human life. That is, obviously, what we need to protect the most.

Beyond that, it also is just a significant economic impact. A lot of these companies, especially when you look at industrial companies, they are portions of our supply chain for food, fuel, energy, water.

When you disrupt those, it can have a real impact on our day-to-day lives. And when you start looking at manufacturing, some of those companies are just-in-time manufacturing. So disruption to them is very difficult to catch up for.

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LEE: Especially if you are in the middle of a global pandemic. It's not exactly easy and that can lead to significant impacts.

HOLMES: Yes, yes, good point. I mean, tell me this.

How -- how -- how does the perpetrators being, it would appear, in Russia hamper efforts to get on top of this?

Even if these aren't government actors -- and they might well be -- but even if they are just criminal, it would certainly seem, you know, Vladimir Putin and his government isn't acting against them. How significant is that?

LEE: It absolutely gives them air cover. So a lot of these criminals in Eastern Europe and in Russia and other places, their governments don't lock down or crack down at all on their actions.

The mindset is, as long as you're not attacking our companies, you're not breaking our laws. Therefore, we're not going to get involved.

And because ransomware operations are very easy to get into, it's kind of cheap to start off in and the payments can be, you know, multimillion-dollar payouts on each company they target and your home government isn't willing to prosecute you or bring you to justice, there's not a whole lot of reasons you wouldn't do it.

And that creates an international crisis.

HOLMES: This -- this is a corporate issue, isn't it, by and large, the most recent ones, anyway?

Even if the potential impacts of an attack do have national security implications. The U.S. is a country, of course, that doesn't like federal mandates and so on with private enterprise.

What can the federal government, actually, do?

What should it do?

LEE: Well, federal government does have a very important role and responsibility to play, especially, in coordination, amplification, of what works and what doesn't work and also, in trying to find ways to create incentives.

You know, regulation is something that always comes up in the discussion. And there is reasonable regulations that make sense. But you can't policy or regulate your way out of this. Just as you mentioned, these companies have to invest in it, themselves. A lot of the day-to-day work happens in those private-industry companies.

And as we look at a lot of these companies around the world, they really haven't made the investments in cybersecurity that are required, not only for where they are today but where they're going and taking advantage of new technologies.

So by and large, it's got to be everybody at the table. And there's going to be international cooperation as well. But as you mentioned, it's got to start with the corporations themselves and there's got to be incentives and mechanisms for them to do the investment required.

HOLMES: And, real quickly, do you know any countries that are doing a good job combating this?

As you say, it requires an international effort, really.

Cooperation between governments, anyone doing a good job? LEE: I don't think anyone's doing a particularly good job on the ransomware problem. There is obviously good governments out there. Again, the U.S. has done a lot. If you look in the U.K., what happens with their NCSC organization in Australia, the ASDNA (ph) ACSC (ph), basically, these various-government organizations have worked really hard to create partnership in those communities. And that is a great thing.

But people are what we need to train. People are who we need to employ in these organizations and the corporations to actually do the day-to- day work, using technologies that amplify those skills. That's more important, really, than just partnership. But you do need both.

HOLMES: Great analysis, Robert Lee with Dragos, Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

LEE: Thank you.

HOLMES: Now British travelers in Portugal are having to cut short their vacations.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have had tests to get here, tests to go home, tests when we get home. I just don't understand.

HOLMES (voice-over): Why the rise of a COVID variant has holidaymakers from the U.K. scrambling to get back before Tuesday.

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HOLMES: Also, another major sporting event cancelled because of the coronavirus. We'll have that and more, after the break.

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DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF COVID-19 MEDICAL ADVISER: It ain't over, until it's over. And it is not over yet.

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HOLMES: Words of caution there, from Dr. Anthony Fauci, as the majority of Americans think they can start to put the pandemic behind them. A new poll says two-thirds of adults in the U.S. feel like their lives are somewhat back to normal.

They are feeling optimistic and less worried, even though there's still a big partisan divide about most coronavirus topics. There are more victories outside the U.S., too. France looking forward

to its next reopening, which is due to start Wednesday. There are now just more than 2,500 intensive care patients in France, the lowest number of ICU cases all year.

Now the U.K., on the other hand, experiencing some setbacks. Concern about the spread of variants prompting British authorities to enforce new quarantine measures for people traveling from Portugal.

Beginning 4:00 am Tuesday morning, they'll have to quarantine 10 days. And that has Britons scrambling to get home before the deadline. Nina dos Santos explains.

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NINA DOS SANTOS, CNNMONEY EUROPE EDITOR: From green to amber, the traffic light system in the U.K. just hit the brakes on the travel plans of many U.K. citizens visiting Portugal.

The U.K. downgraded the popular holiday spot on Thursday, surprising many British travelers already in the country, with new restrictions, saying they must quarantine when returning to the U.K., the changes going into effect on Tuesday.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The change is the day we go back. So 4 hours difference. If we had come back 4 hours earlier, we wouldn't have to. And if we come back four hours later, we do have to do it. I don't see (ph) --

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now we have to work from home in 7-10 days.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): The U.K. just reopened some international travel about 3 weeks ago. Portugal was initially on the green list, meaning there was no need to quarantine.

But the U.K. announced it was changing this status, citing a rise in COVID-19 cases there and concerns over a mutation of the variant first detected in India. Many U.K. tourists say that decision casts a cloud over their sun-soaked beach holiday, already in progress.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've had tests to get here, tests to go home, tests when we get home. I just don't understand. I really don't understand why we are now on the amber list.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): Many businesses in Portugal, which rely on British tourists for income, fear would-be customers will not come now with the new restrictions.

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DOS SANTOS (voice-over): A blow for Portugal's tourism sector and a disappointment for the vacationers, who are ready to spend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know a few -- a couple of weeks ago, they're opening up. They are re-employing people. They are getting the hotels open, the shops open. Again, they're going to have to step backwards.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): Airlines are adding extra flights to accommodate the scramble of U.K. tourists trying to get home before the change. For some, a holiday cut short is better than being forced to stay at home -- Nina dos Santos, CNN, London.

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HOLMES: Organizers of the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix have cancelled the event for the second year in a row, thanks to COVID-19.

The event's deputy chairman says the decision was, quote, "incredibly difficult but necessary," due to safety concerns. The race was scheduled for October the 3rd. Organizers say they're working with officials in Singapore to determine the future of the race.

Now the 2020 Summer Olympics are now just 48 days away. They were pushed back, of course, because of the pandemic, now scheduled for July 23rd. Tokyo 2020 organizers have been under huge pressure this week, partly because vaccination rates in Japan remain low.

And nine regions, including Tokyo, are under a state of emergency. CNN's Selina Wang joins us now, live, from Tokyo.

And despite these widespread concerns from experts and the public, this -- this juggernaut just won't be stopped, will it?

The games are going to happen.

SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Michael. Well, it's the IOC that has the power to unilaterally cancel these games. And IOC officials have been making it clear, that these games are going ahead, no matter what.

And Japanese Olympic officials have been echoing that with, most recently, the president of the local organizing committee, saying here that these games cannot be further postponed.

Now this is coming, as athletes are, already, arriving here in Japan. Locally, in Tokyo, you can see that final preparations are underway; posters, giant posters, of Tokyo 2020 going up. Temporary infrastructure being built, including, these live viewing stands, spectator stands at these Olympic venues.

All of this, the games, still, barreling ahead despite mounting opposition from the public, from medical experts, from high-profile leaders, even from sponsors, even from the head of Japan's COVID-19 task force. Even he's been raising the alarm here.

And most notably and most recently, Carrie Yamaguchi (ph). She is a local sports hero in Japan. She is also on the executive board of Japan's Olympic committee. And she asks the question of, what are these Olympics being held for?

And for whom are they being held for? She says that Japan has been, quote, "cornered" into holding these games. And that it is now too late to cancel but that the Olympics have already lost its meaning.

It is remarkable, Michael, to hear a local sports hero, an Olympian, one of the most well-known Olympians in Japan, saying these strong words. But what she says, Michael, reflects much of what I hear from residents here in Tokyo.

They are asking the question of, is it the right time to hold this celebratory event?

Is this the right way to allocate resources, when much of Japan is still under a state of emergency?

Just 3 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated and the medical system in Japan is, still, under strain.

But when we're talking about whether or not these games are going to go ahead, Michael, at stake here, of course, are billions of dollars, contracts, lawsuits, insurance. But also, for Japan here, at stake, are people's lives -- Michael.

HOLMES: Yes. Extraordinary, isn't it?

Selina, thanks, Selina Wang there in Tokyo for us.

Now the European Union is imposing new sanctions against Belarus. The bloc is banning Belarusian airlines from flying over E.U. airspace or landing at its airports.

This comes after the forced landing of a Ryanair flight in Minsk last month and the arrest of a dissident journalist, Roman Protasevich. The activist was shown on state media on Thursday, appearing to confess to organizing mass protests against the government. But his family and supporters say he clearly made that statement under duress.

Experts are shocked and frightened by a threat to sea life in Turkish waters. We will explain this crisis in nature, made by humans, after the break.

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HOLMES: And welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. Appreciate your company. I'm Michael Holmes. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Well, today, June 5, is World Environment Day. And the Biden administration is marking the moment by announcing plans to revise Trump-era regulations that critics feared undermined the Endangered Species Act.

They plan to review and revise a handful of regulations the Trump administration pushed through and which rolled back protections for endangered plants and animals.

They'll also look at Trump rules that allowed for more oil-and-gas drilling, regardless of the impact on the climate. Environmental groups are cheering Biden's plans and say urgent action is needed now.

Sri Lanka wrestling with an immediate environmental challenge that is potentially catastrophic. Sri Lanka's navy says it doesn't know if a sunken cargo ship off the coast of Colombo is leaking oil or chemicals.

Divers on Friday inspected the stricken vessel that is partly submerged nine nautical miles from the shoreline. But the navy later tweeted that visibility is too low to determine if there is a leak.

The ship has almost 400 tons of oil in its tanks and it's packed with chemicals, such as nitric acid. Even without a leak, the incident has created one of the world -- worst ecological disasters Sri Lanka has ever seen.

But if there is a spill, things could get a whole lot worse. Sam Kiley joins me, now, from Delhi, in India.

How -- how prepared is Sri Lanka for something like this, Sam?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Michael, it's very difficult to see how any country could be prepared for an environmental disaster that, as you say, could get worse but is, already, extremely bad with the leak of many billions of small plastic pellets into the ocean.

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KILEY: Those have, already, been washing up, now, for several days or even weeks on the Sri Lankan coastline, 50 kilometers of -- rather, miles -- of Sri Lanka's coastline's been closed to fishing.

That's affecting the lives of some 100,000 people directly involved in the industry there. And then, of course, you've got the environmental effects in the sea itself, potentially, of these oil leaks and potentially of the leaks of very toxic chemicals, like nitric acid. But a wide range of others, including sulfur and so on, which could affect not only, in the short-term, there is a hope that maybe they could be diluted, some of these chemicals. But the effects that they would have on fishery stocks, on the breeding grounds for fish in that area, on coral reefs could be very, very long-lasting.

So the Sri Lankan authorities saying also that the rescue efforts to try to drag that ship further out were hampered by the fact that it got grounded during those efforts. But also, they were facing very high winds, indeed, which meant that it couldn't be brought into port and dealt with at a critical time. It's one of the aspects they faced. So there was a combination, I hate

to use the term, a perfect storm, as a cliche of horror in this sort of situation. But the Sri Lankan authorities are saying they've done everything that they possibly could.

They did get help from neighboring India in the early stages of this disaster. But it could get worse. I think, ultimately, though, from the environmental perspective, experts have been telling us that one of the really catastrophic results has already been hoisted upon the oceans, which is the release of these billions of plastic pellets, which we know now get ingested by fish, can block up the digestive systems of very small creatures, right through to whales and dolphins.

And this is an area frequented by those giant mammals too, Michael.

HOLMES: Yes, just -- just horrific. Sam, thank you. Sam Kiley in Delhi, there for us.

And now, to another ecological threat.

Have you ever heard of mucilage?

For the lack of a better word, it's a type of slime that is attacking all forms of life in the waters around Turkey. The so-called -- and they do call it the sea snot -- has appeared before but as Arwa Damon now reports, never this much nor for this long.

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ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Something is very wrong. An alien like web of slime is choking off all forms of life in the water here.

From above, it looks like streaks of paint. It's like sinking through what our future will look like if nothing changes if we continue to pollute our waters and allow our planet to warm.

It's known as sea snot; in science-speak, marine mucilage. And it has happened here before but never like this, getting sucked into the gills of fish wrapping itself around corals suffocating them.

We're in the Dardanelle Strait that connects the Sea of Marmara to the Aegean. Associate Professor Baris Ozalp is a coral expert, who has been diving these waters for more than a decade.

This coral, it's dead another one dying. This one threatened. He points to a healthy sponge. And right next to it he wipes the mucilage coating off a dead one. Back on board the gravity of what we witnessed sets in. Professor Ozalp says he and other scientists first observed mucilage in these waters in 2007.

DAMON: Is this the first year where you've seen mucilage killing coral and sea life?

BARIS OZALP, MARINE BIOLOGIST AND CORAL EXPERT, CANAKKALE ONSEKIZ MART UNIVERSE: Yes. Yes, of course, we feel very bad. Because, you know during our childhood, this ecosystem is -- was a rich ecosystem, even one year ago. They're healthy. They were healthy, you know, one year ago but now it's bad.

DAMON (voice-over): A year ago this is what the underwater life looked like here. This is the exact same spot today. Professor Muhammet Turkoglu, a planktologist, takes a surface sample. He describes mucilage as a dense organic soup, mostly made up of bacteria and phytoplankton's mucus secretions.

DAMON: So what am I looking at right here?

DAMON (voice-over): This little guy is just one of the phytoplankton species that Turkoglu says is one ingredient in that deadly nastiness underwater.

The Sea of Marmara is just like a coronavirus patient who has been intubated, Professor Turkoglu explains, because the oxygen at the greater depths is almost completely depleted. It's close to zero.

[02:35:00]

DAMON (voice-over): Professor Ozalp slides his hand underneath the blanket of thick mucilage on the sea floor. Not only does this .

But phytoplankton is one of the linchpins of life on the planet. It's not the villain here. The imbalance that caused all of these us, humans are pollution, it causes an excess of nutrients in the water that acts as a catalyst for massive blooms, as does the manmade climate crisis that we have failed to prevent or even slow down.

Water temperatures here have increased by two degrees in the last 50 years, says Professor Bayram Ozturk, who studies the impact of climate change on marine biodiversity.

DAMON: When you look at this, what do you think?

BAYRAM OZTURK, TURKISH MARINE RESEARCH FOUNDATION, ISTANBUL UNIVERSITY: I think it's nature's spitting in our faces, simply and this is ecological catastrophe. But not only in the Sea of Marmara and this is transponder issue.

DAMON (voice-over): Experts say this year's mucilage is all across the waters from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Basin, one of the world's most climate vulnerable areas. The experts we spoke to fear the currents are not strong enough to dislodge the mucilage it's too dense.

It's not just a Turkey problem. This is symptomatic of the lack of global leadership and consensus when it comes to saving our planet. The marine life here is fixating, their habitat is being destroyed and their fate could well become ours -- Arwa Damon, CNN, the Dardanelles Strait, Turkey.

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HOLMES: Well, tennis star Serena Williams inching her way closer to the history books, after an impressive third round at the French Open. We will have the details for you, coming up.

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HOLMES: Tennis star Serena Williams is heading to the fourth round of the French Open, getting another shot at making history. She's trying to equal Margaret Court's record of 24 grand slams but has not made it past the fourth round at Roland Garros since 2016.

Williams won her 23rd grand slam title back in 2017. After her impressive win against fellow American Danielle Collins on Friday, the superstar athlete said nothing comes easy in this game.

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SERENA WILLIAMS, U.S. TENNIS PLAYER: I just needed a win, you know, I needed to win tough matches. I needed to win sets. I needed to win being down. I needed to -- I needed to find me, you know, and know who I am. Nobody else is Serena out here. It's me. It's pretty cool.

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HOLMES: Williams will be up against Kazakhstan's Elena Rybakina on Sunday to earn a spot in the quarterfinals.

Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Michael Holmes. If you are an international viewer, "MARKETPLACE AFRICA" coming up next. If you are here with me in the U.S., I will be right back with more news.

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HOLMES: The former U.S. President, Donald Trump, is set to speak at the North Carolina GOP convention, late on Saturday evening. It will be his first public appearance, in three months. It comes, as Trump continues to rehash debunked claims that he lost the 2020 election because of fraud, somehow.

This, also, follows, by the way, Facebook's announcement on Thursday that Trump's suspension from the platform will last at least two years, until January, 2023. Now Trump called that decision an insult to the people, who voted for him. And said, Facebook shouldn't be allowed to get away with, quote, "censoring and silencing."

Trump supporters appear to be as loyal as ever, with his former- national security adviser even appearing to endorse a Myanmar-style coup, before later backtracking, of course. CNN's Donie O'Sullivan with more on that.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to know why what happened in Minamar (sic) can't happen here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No reason, I mean, it still happen with no reason.

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A former U.S. Army lieutenant general and former national security adviser appearing to endorse a military coup here in the United States.

MICHAEL FLYNN, FORMER TRUMP NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Trump won. He won the popular vote and he won the Electoral College vote.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Comments Flynn now calling twisted a new message posted to a Parler account used by Flynn says, "Let me be very clear, there is no reason for any coup in America and I do not and have not at any time called for any action of that sort." But that denial doesn't cut it for some elected officials.

REP. ELAINE LURIA (D-VA), VICE CHAIR, ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: General Flynn's remarks border on sedition. There's certainly conduct on becoming an officer. Those are both things that can be tried under Uniform Code of Military Justice. And I think that as a retiree of the military, it should certainly be a path that we consider.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Michael Flynn spent Memorial Day weekend at a conference in Dallas attended by QAnon supporters so too did Sidney Powell, who was part of the former president's election legal team.

Powell, who was represented Flynn said Monday that the media had grossly distorted Flynn's comments. She denied Flynn had encouraged violence or in military insurrection but she didn't explain what Flynn had meant. Powell herself spoke of removing Biden from office over the weekend.

SIDNEY POWELL, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: We're definitely in --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

POWELL: -- uncharted territory. There are cases where elections have been overturned. But there's never been one at the presidential level, which everybody jumped to point out. That doesn't mean that it can't be done, though. It should be that he can simply be reinstated that a new inauguration data set. And Biden is told to move out of the White House.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): The heavily criticized Republican led audit in Arizona has given followers of QAnon and the big lie hope that the election could still be overturned. And some are finding inspiration in the deadly military coup in Myanmar as a way to put Trump back in power.

Flynn's comments were seen as an endorsement of a coup by some QAnon followers. They were welcomed by a prominent peddler of QAnon, who has more than 70,000 followers on Telegram, writing, General Flynn says the quiet part out loud, former President Trump reportedly adding fuel to the fire.

According to "The New York Times'" Maggie Haberman, "Trump has been telling a number of people he's been in contact with that he expects he will be reinstated by August." Earlier this year, Trump supporters in California also cheered on the coup.

BETH, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Biden is just -- he's like a puppet president. The military is under charge. It's going to be like Myanmar, what's happening in Myanmar. The military is doing their own investigation and at the right time, they're going to be restoring the republic with Trump as president.

LEIANNE JENKINS FORTMYER, TRUMP SUPPORTER: What's going on in Myanmar right now?

The government took over and they withdraw (ph) in the election, correct? That could possibly happen here, possibly.

O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): Would you like to see it happen?

FORTMYER: Absolutely.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would like to see it happen.

O'SULLIVAN (on-camera): Really?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

FORTMYER: You know why? Because the election was stolen from us.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: CNN's Donie O'Sullivan reporting there.

Now we have already seen a violent display linked with Donald Trump, when that mob, led by his supporters, stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6th.

[02:50:00]

HOLMES: Well now, one of the officers who was severely injured during that insurrection is asking a federal judge to not release the man accused of attacking her. Prosecutors say she fell after being pushed with a metal barricade and was later treated for concussion.

In a written statement, the unnamed officer says her attacker robbed her of the ability to work and be present, saying, quote, "You have stolen moments away from me that I can't get back. You stole my ability to be with my fellow officers while mourning the loss of my friend, Sicknick, as I was not able to be fully mobile at that time.

"And now you're asking to be set free.

"When will I be free of my brain injury? "When will I be free and full again?"

Now that officer is just one of about 140 others who were injured during the deadly insurrection. Many are still suffering from their own injuries, both physical and psychological. CNN's Whitney Wild spoke with two officers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: What was the worst thing they called you?

SGT. AQUILINO GONELL, UNITED STATES CAPITOL POLICE: Traitor.

WILD: Why was that the worst thing?

GONELL: Because I served my country. I want to see to protect our homeland from foreign threat threats. But yet here I am battling them in our own Capitol.

WILD (voice-over): United States Capitol Police sergeant Aquilino Gonell emigrated from the Dominican Republic to the U.S. at 12 years old in 1991, deployed to Iraq in 2003 and then joined Capitol Police in 2008.

He's speaking publicly for the first time about January 6th, when he fought rioters trying to stop the certification of Joe Biden's presidency.

GONELL: I got hurt. I got hurt. I would do it again if I have to. It's my job.

WILD (voice-over): Sergeant Gonell led members of the department's Civil Disturbance Unit. For hours they battled insurrectionists attacking the Capitol. This video shows his fight on the west front.

GONELL: They kept saying, "Trump sent me. We won't listen to you. We are here to take over the Capitol. We're here to hang Mike Pence."

They thought we were there for them. And we weren't. So they turned against us.

It was very scary, because I thought I was going to lose my life by them.

WILD (voice-over): Some of the most horrific video shows Sergeant Gonell steps from Metropolitan Police Officer Daniel Hodges, caught in a doorway.

GONELL: I could hear my fellow officer screaming the agony in some of them. All I could think was, we can't let these people in. There's going to be a slaughter inside.

WILD (voice-over): Rioters beat Sergeant Gonell so badly, they cut his hand and he needed foot surgery.

While he fended off the attack outside, Officer Byron Evans locked down areas inside the Capitol and evacuated senators.

WILD: Did you ever think this might be a life or death situation for you?

OFC. BYRON EVANS, UNITED STATES CAPITOL POLICE: I remember specifically thinking it when I was on the floor. I remember thinking all this stuff like, Byron, this is the day. All those times you've given thought on what you would do, you're doing it.

WILD (voice-over): For hours, Evans and the senators watched the riot on TV from a secure location.

EVANS: I just remember the anger I felt when I saw those images, the busted windows, climbing the walls and stuff like that. It was -- it was an audible gasp in the room.

WILD (voice-over): Around six, the riot had calmed enough that Sergeant Gonell could finally tell his wife he'd survived.

GONELL: I started texting my wife. And all I said to her, I'm OK. See you whenever.

WILD (voice-over): Congress resumed certifying the Electoral College votes that night. Sergeant Gonell arrived back home around 3:00 am January 7th, but found little relief.

GONELL: When I came in, she wanted to hug me. And I thought no, because I was caught. I was covered in pepper spray. My hands were bleeding, still.

[02:55:00]

GONELL: And I even -- I couldn't even sleep because, when I took a shower and, instead of helping, that reinflamed the chemicals.

WILD: And it had soaked through your clothes?

GONELL: Yes. Took a bath of milk, that helped.

WILD (voice-over): Just hours later both he, Officer Evans and hundreds more officers, still reeling from the worst attack in two centuries, headed back to work.

GONELL: I did give my wife a hug. I started crying.

WILD (on camera): Why?

GONELL: I didn't think I would be able to see them. I went to my son's bed and give him a hug. He was asleep still. He gave me a big kiss. And I just start crying. It's like five, 10 minutes hug. I just cry. She kept telling me it's going to be OK. I'm like, no, I got to go back to work. I got to go back to work.

WILD (voice-over): For him, the riot is hardly in the rear view.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The motion is not agreed to. WILD (voice-over): The failure of a bill to establish a commission to investigate the causes of the insurrection left him devastated but gave him a reason to speak out.

GONELL: Personally, the country that I love, they came in, that I have sacrificed so much don't care about us. They don't.

WILD: Sergeant Gonell came forward on the day the January 6th commission bill failed. He came forward on his own, not on behalf of the department. He said he just couldn't stay silent anymore -- Whitney Wild, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Thanks for spending part of your day with me. I'm Michael Holmes. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @HolmesCNN. Do stay with us. I'll be back with more news in just a minute.