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Hurd Enters 2024 GOP Race; Controversial Materials on Titan Submersible; Chris Brown is Interviewed about the Titan Mission; Lab- Grown Meat Cleared for Sale. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired June 22, 2023 - 08:30   ET



EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: An outspoken critic of the former president. He's also really brutally indicted his own party, arguing that far to much time has been spent on these cultural battles and not enough time on these generational challenges. So, you heard a little bit of that there, talking about the threat of China and Russia and how America is going to adequately respond to AI replacing American jobs.

He has long championed moderation, castigating the far right and the far left, saying it's the moderates that actually get stuff done on The Hill. And he was an effective lawmaker during his time in Washington, getting many bills passed.

Now, historically, he's been a strong fundraiser and an aggressive campaigner, but it's not clear the Republican Party has an appetite for what he's offering at this time.

I was in Iowa just a few months ago and he was there. And you can see he was testing the waters. We'll have to see if people are receptive to this message.

But he is unique in that it is just sort of him and Chris Christie, really, that are so directly confronting the former president.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we'll have to keep an eye on that.

Eva McKend, thanks so much.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right, let's bring back in CNN political analyst, senior political correspondent at "The New York Times" Maggie Haberman.

Maggie, to Eva's really important last point, it's about the appetite of the party right now, the party that elected Trump in 2016 and the party that has him by far the frontrunner right now in the - in the primary polling. So, what does that mean for Will Hurd as candidate?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think there's a third component, which is that this fiend is expanding. I mean I think Hurd is -- HARLOW: Twelve -

HABERMAN: Yes, I was going to say, I think he's the 12th candidate to get in.


HABERMAN: It's pretty surprising how many late entrants we have seen. And that speaks, frankly, not just to the fact that Trump is continuing to dominate in this field, which he is, but also the fact that Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, who had been seen as the likeliest, you know, possibility to topple Trump has gone down. He has not, you know, sustained what had been a decent polling number.

And so I think that you're seeing a lot of people who want to get in. That thins out the opposition to Donald Trump. So it is not just, is there an appetite for, you know, a candidacy like Will Hurd's on its own, but it's that when you're actually looking at a field in which clearly there isn't a huge appetite for that just based on how well Trump is doing and then DeSantis behind him, you're then splitting a smaller segment of the party up.

So, you know, I think that, listen, I think Hurd, I think Chris Christie, think that they are making important cases. I think they are making cases about the soul of the Republican Party, which has changed tremendously under Donald Trump, and what they would like to see go back to, you know, if not, you know, I don't think the Republican Party was ever, you know, purely of Will Hurd and Chris Christie. I think they're more moderates. But I do think that there was room for them in the Republican Party. Now there's much less of that.

I don't know how much attention anyone can get right now just challenging Trump when Trump is sucking all the oxygen out of the room, both on his own and also because of his legal problems.

MATTINGLY: And so, again, I mean I think the question -- Will Hurd knows all of the things that you just laid out.

HABERMAN: Yes. He's - I was going to say -

MATTINGLY: He has a very astute, political mind.

HABERMAN: Yes, he's well aware. I'm not saying I think that -

MATTINGLY: He's very well aware. Right. No, no, but, you know, I had a Republican, as we were showing this, that texted me, nobody who's announcing on a network morning show actually is serious about trying to be president in this primary. That's not - I mean my point is, is that, like the constituency -

HABERMAN: OK. I mean -

MATTINGLY: No, the idea of, there's not a clear pathway right now.


MATTINGLY: Who is his audience? Why do this if you're concerned that Trump could be president again?

HABERMAN: Yes, I mean, I think that is the point, right?


HABERMAN: I think the point is that essentially there are candidacies that are more tailored to the media and the mainstream media than there are candidacies that are tailored to, you know, the Republican primary electorate.

And, yes, in general - in general, you know, a candidacy that begins with a rally in - in Iowa or South Carolina, you know, or somewhere where you're taking it directly to the voters would - would probably, you know, suggest less of a media centered candidacy. A candidate like Will Hurd or had Chris Sununu run or Chris Christie, who is running, they do require a lot of media attention.


HABERMAN: So, I mean, the whole - they're not really serious point -- it's hard to take a line like that seriously only because, again, the -- there is such a high bar for anybody to gain traction in this Republican primary against Donald Trump. I understand that there is the belief among some that if - you know, and within the Republican Party. Trump's going to sink of his own weight. The indictments are going to bring him down. That may all prove true. It also may not prove true.

HARLOW: Right.

HABERMAN: We have seen Donald Trump survive one thing after another. And, at the moment, you know, again, a lot can happen between now and Iowa and New Hampshire. But not that much can happen between now and Iowa and New Hampshire. And so, at a certain point, it has to be people beyond just Asa Hutchinson, Chris Christie and Will Hurd, who are taking an aggressive case to Donald Trump. It has to be people who are getting more attention. And we'll see what happens.

HARLOW: Gotcha. Yes, Maggie Haberman, thank you. And thanks for sticking around. Appreciate it.

MATTINGLY: Well, a former OceanGate subcontractor tells CNN some of the cutting-edge technology on the now missing submersible were considered controversial when it was being made. That report ahead.

HARLOW: And coming up, we'll talk to someone who pulled out of an expedition on that vessel over safety concerns.



HARLOW: A big development this morning in that desperate search for the sub that vanished near the Titanic shipwreck. The U.S. Coast Guard says a remote operated vehicle has reached the ocean floor and is now searching for the Titan submersible. Sonar did pick up banging sounds again yesterday. They have not been able to figure out what or where the sounds are coming from though.

The search-and-rescue operation is, though, entering a dire state this morning. It is feared that the five people onboard may not be able to have enough air left to breathe in just a few hours. And there is new questions about whether the Titan could even withstand the experience pressure being at such extreme depths.

A former subcontractor who helped develop the submersible tells CNN the construction materials and design choices were considered controversial and experimental.

CNN's Veronica Miracle spoke to him.

Veronica, good morning. Thank you for being with us.

I think this is what so many people have questions about because the CEO of this company said many times on camera, you know, what I'm doing is breaking the rules, but I believe in the engineering and the science.


What did you learn?

VERONICA MIRACLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Poppy, the subcontractor who worked on this, DJ Virnig, had a lot of specific interesting points to make. He spoke highly of the CEO, but he did say that they moved very quickly in this development.

Just a little background, DJ Virnig worked on the testing and development of the Titan here in Everett, Washington, back in 2018. And he said a lot of the design choices that they made were considered very controversial at the time. Innovative, but not necessarily tried and true methods. He said in order to achieve what they were trying to do, which is to create a lightweight submersible that could fit a lot of people, in this case five, they made decisions like not having a conning (ph) tower, which would allowed people to get in and out of the submersible and open the hatch to allow oxygen in if it made it to the surface, which is obviously a problem. The Titan, right now, has to be opened from the outside. He also talked about the material of the hull.

Take a listen.


DOUG VIRNIG, FORMER OCEANGATE SUBCONTRACTOR: The pressure hull itself on Titan is made out of primarily carbon fiber. Various people from around the world felt like that was a very experimental choice. Now, to Stockton, and Titan, and OceanGate's credit, they actually answered that to the best of their ability.

But then the question is, well, if you do that repeatedly, then what happens?

But if you really are pushing the envelope, there's no time to, you know, you're - you're answering those questions in real time.


MIRACLE: Poppy, he also told me that OceanGate's mission was never adventure tourism, it was simply a means to an end. Really what they're trying to do is to explore the undiscovered parts of the ocean, but they knew, in order to get the funding that they needed, they had to have high-ticket items like taking people down to the Titanic in order to achieve what they're trying to do.


HARLOW: Veronica, thank you very much. That's fascinating to hear.

MATTINGLY: And our next guest pulled out from a reservation for an expedition on the OceanGate Titan over safety concerns. He's also friends with one of the passengers, Hamish Harding.

Joining us now is Chris Brown.

Chris, thanks so much for joining us.

You may have heard what the reporting has been over the -- some of the concerns in the engineering. Did you share concerns related to those specific issues, or what caused you a couple of years ago to decide not to move forward?

CHRIS BROWN, PULLED OUT OF TITANIC SUB MISSION: Yes, there's quite a - yes, sorry. There's quite an overlap with my own thinking there. When you pay the deposit to go on something like this, it tends to be staged. You pay a small deposit. Then you pay a little bit more when they reach the first milestone. And a bit more when they reach a second milestone. Those milestones are based on depth achievement. And they - they were constantly missing them.

And we're not talking massive depths. So, when I eventually pulled out at the end of '18, they hadn't got below 300 meters. Bear in mind that the wreck's at 3,800 meters.

There was -- I also had some reservations about the way it was being constructed using - using construction piping for ballast. That's the kind of thing you do when you're trying to put something together between, you know, let's get some rope and try and get across this river. It didn't seem the sort of thing that you'd would be doing for a commercial craft repeatedly to go down to great depths.

They had a bit of an instance when they were testing off of the Bahamas when there was a lightning strike and it blew all electronics. That's one thing. But my question was, where's the backup? Where's the redundancy? Because if that happens, you're (INAUDIBLE) to sink. You know, you're a bit - bit of a mess.

But the final tipping thing was that it became evident that they would going to seek certification for the vessel to dive once, let alone to do repeated dives, like your previous correspondent intimated. It's - it's a different beast going down once to going down several times. And when - when they weren't even intending to get certification by calling it an experiment, that's when I thought there's just too many red flags here, so I pulled out.

HARLOW: Yes. What's stunning to me is the fact that this really wasn't regulated because it doesn't fall under the Passenger Vessel Safety Act of 1993 because it, you know, wasn't operating in U.S. waters, didn't carry an American flag, but it also didn't fall under the need to have Canadian supervision. So, there's -- there was no one to blow the whistle. And I wonder if your friend, who is onboard still, Hamish Harding, talked to you about these risks and the concerns. Did he share your concerns?

BROWN: We didn't discuss the specific concerns around this form of dive.


No, we didn't go into that.

As experienced explorers, we're aware of the risks of anything that we do, whether it's going up a mountain, to ocean depths, into the middle of a jungle. You look at the risks that are there. You assess them. You try and mitigate them by bringing in experts, mitigate them by using better equipment, maybe even something as simple as changing the date or the time that you do the expedition. And you take a personal view on whether you accept those risks.

Hamish accepted those risks. He's - he's quite experienced at taking quite high risks. I think you know that he's a world record holder for pole to pole flying at high altitude.

I just thought that there was too many things that did not look right. Maybe I was looking at a different place from Hamish.


BROWN: Maybe his desire to get down to the Titanic was just greater than mine. It's not really the issue. I mean, we're still in the search and rescue position.


BROWN: And we're still hoping against hope that they - they can find these guys.

HARLOW: We all are and we hope that you can be reunited with your friend.

Chris Brown, thank you.

BROWN: Hopefully. Thank you.

HARLOW: We'll be right back.



HARLOW: For the first - this song.

For the first time ever, U.S. regulators have approved the sale of what is being called lab-grown meat. Now two California companies will be authorized to deliver it to America's restaurants and eventually supermarket shelves. Would you eat it? According to some polls, it is a divisive question.

CNN's senior data reporter Harry Enten is here with this morning's number.

Obviously, we're playing Jimmy Buffett, "Cheeseburger in Paradise." You can have a lab-grown cheeseburger, right?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Sure you could have a lab-grown cheeseburger, but I guess the question is, why would you necessarily want to do that?

All right, this morning's number is 50 percent, because that's the percentage of Americans who are unlikely to even try this lab-grown meat. Get this, just 18 percent, they were - 18 percent said they were extremely or very likely to actually try it. So clearly the momentum is on the side of, ewe, we do not want this.

And why do we not want this? All right, number one, 56 percent said it just sounds weird, 48 percent said it doesn't sound safe, 35 percent said no reason to change the meat that I'm eating, and 27 percent, which is perhaps the big one --

HARLOW: Wait, does this polling meet CNN standards?

ENTEN: Absolutely.

HARLOW: Are you sure?

ENTEN: Associated Press and North Pole (ph). This is a very high- quality poll.

MATTINGLY: Actually, yes, it does.

HARLOW: It does.

MATTINGLY: He has this -

HARLOW: I can't believe they polled this.


ENTEN: They polled this.


ENTEN: They knew that this was coming. They polled this. I guess the question is, what about you two? What do you think of this?

MATTINGLY: First off, I didn't actually sign up or give my approval to participate in the poll.


MATTINGLY: What I would say, can you go back to the big number?


MATTINGLY: So like this gives me faith in society -

HARLOW: Oh, gosh.

MATTINGLY: And in our country in that we can make it because there's no reason to eat --

ENTEN: We can make it after all.

MATTINGLY: Grown meat. Come on.

HARLOW: There's no reason?

MATTINGLY: I don't even want to know your (INAUDIBLE).

HARLOW: OK, first of all, Jose Andres, who we all admire, is partnering with --

MATTINGLY: You came with sources and data?

HARLOW: Well, I'm reading our reporting on it. Its partnering with them.

Also is, you know, my daughter is a vegetarian.

MATTINGLY: Yes, I know.

HARLOW: A strict vegetarian.


HARLOW: And so she picks a little chicken out of the Campbell's soup. This gives her another option and me another option in the kitchen, right?

ENTEN: I would just note that -

HARLOW: That isn't tofu.

ENTEN: Only 5 percent of Americans are vegetarians. That number has basically stayed the same. Americans like their meat. Look, the meat consumption is way up for the average Americans, up to 267 pounds per year, way up from 167.

HARLOW: OK. You know what else? Climate change.

ENTEN: Yes, that would be - that would be the argument.


HARLOW: OK. Thank you.

MATTINGLY: That is a policy element I will consider.

HARLOW: Thank you. Thank you.

ENTEN: Taste won't work, but if you can make the environmental case, I think that is the case to make on this particular topic.

HARLOW: You totally can. OK. This is a great number. Thank you, Harry.

ENTEN: Thank you.

MATTINGLY: Well, if you ask any NBA insider, Victor Wembanyama will be the first pick in tonight's draft.

HARLOW: Tonight? Tonight?

MATTINGLY: I said tonight's draft. We'll take a deeper dive into part of what makes him one of the biggest NBA prospects in 20 years. He's really tall.



MATTINGLY: Are you ready for this?

HARLOW: Not really.

MATTINGLY: It's going to be great. Don't worry, it's going to be great. Well, it will be a surprise to absolutely no one when Victor Wembanyama is the first name called at tonight's NBA draft. The French phenom is likely heading to the San Antonio Spurs, a franchise with a knack for picking hall of fame big men with the first overall pick.

Now, many believe he is the biggest draft prospect since LeBron James. And when LeBron got drafted 20 years go, Wembanyama wasn't even born yet.

HARLOW: But in the days leading up to his big night, the 19-year-old got the full New York City treatment, which can prove challenging when you're 7'5". Upon arriving at Newark International Airport, he was swarmed by fans, barely clearing the signs above him in the terminal. And, as you can imagine, riding the subway, that proved a little tough. On Tuesday he caught a Bronx bound d-train to throw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium. Look at that, he barely fits in the station let alone inside the subway car.

And that was - that first pitch not exactly a strike, but certainly better than mine would be. Most of us don't have hands, though, the size of dinner plates, which is - which was very evident when he posted this. That is, just to be clear, a regulation-size baseball, is it not, Phil? MATTINGLY: No, that - that is. And literally throwing a better first

pitch, that is all I have over this individual. He's tall. He has huge hands. But what about the swing span? Now, from one hand to the other, Wembanyama measures a whopping 8 feet. That's a longer wingspan than a bald eagle. His standing reach is almost 10 feet. Which means he can almost touch a regulation basketball rim without jumping.

Still, how tall is 7'5" really? Let's take a look at some NBA greats for comparison. Muggsy Bogues was the shortest player in NBA history at 5'3". His "Space Jam" co-star, and the most important part of his career, Hall of Famer Michael Jordan was listed at 6'6" when he played for the Bulls. And how about LeBron? LeBron James, the four-time NBA champ, is 6'9". And at 7'1", the Diesel and good friend of CNN THIS MORNING and one Poppy Harlow, Shaquille O'Neal is still four inches shorter than Wembanyama.

But what if Poppy and I were standing back to back-to-back starting in the back court for the Spurs next season, how would that actually look?

HARLOW: Oh, look at that. Wait, ,can we be real, though? This way. But this is -

MATTINGLY: All right, I'm not going to take my shoes off. Also, I don't feel like that's - this is just a skewed perspective. This is making me look very short.


HARLOW: Didn't they say we have to walk to that mark, too?

MATTINGLY: Oh, yes. I feel like we're doing well, though. Are we going great?

HARLOW: Yes, are we doing well? Are we -

MATTINGLY: OK. Now, we're walking over here.

Oh, is this -- is this better for you guys?

HARLOW: Oh, yes. Wait, you're still over there.

MATTINGLY: There you go.

HARLOW: OK, good. How are you feeling?

MATTINGLY: We totally dominated this hologram thing.

HARLOW: These holograms.

MATTINGLY: Also, he's very tall. Very good.

HARLOW: I can't wait to watch him tonight.

MATTINGLY: Tonight. Great job, Poppy.


MATTINGLY: Have a good morning, guys.