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Erin Burnett Outfront

Search For Submersible Zeroes In On Banging Sounds; Vaccine Expert: "Stalked" For Debunking RFK Jr. Claims; House Votes To Censure Rep. Schiff for Trump Probes; CNN Gets Access To Ukrainian Navy Patrol Boats Playing A Major Role In Russian Fight. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired June 21, 2023 - 19:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next -- not giving up, crews frantically searching for the missing submersible after hearing more sounds today. They are desperately trying to rescue the five human beings on board before they ran out of oxygen. I'm going to speak to someone who has been on the very submersible that is missing tonight.

Plus, he knows all too well the horrors of being trapped in the ocean hundreds of feet down, no light, no heat, no oxygen. I will speak to a man with a miraculous story of survival, and why he is saying that there is hope tonight.

And, under attack -- anti-vaxxers stalking and harassing one of America's top vaccine experts, Dr. Peter Hotez, after he criticized RFK Jr.'s anti-vaccine crusade. Dr. Hotez is my guest.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, holding out hope. Underwater noises detected in the search area for the missing Titanic bound sub is raising the possibility that the five passengers are still alive inside that vessel. The time is running out. It could be hours here of air left. The Coast Guard estimated that this time last night that the sub had about 34 hours of breathable air left.


SEAN LEET, CO-FOUNDER & CHAIRMAN OF HORIZON MARITIME SERVICES: The time sensitivity around this mission -- there is still life support available on the submersible. And we will continue to hold out hope until the very end.


BURNETT: The massive search -- and, if it's successful -- but would be the deepest underwater rescue in history, is now using buoys that jets dropped into the water. Now those buoys first detected those underwater noises I reference. They have been described as, quote, banging noises. And it's that description -- banging noises -- that makes people think, well, human beings, perhaps in that submersible, are making them, desperately trying to signal where they are.

Also tonight, the state of the art robot I am showing here, which is capable of operating more than 12,000 feet below sea level, is also expected to arrive at the search site. It is called the Victor 6000. Now, obviously, if you rescue the sub at this point to find it, getting it out is minute by minute, what matters for oxygen. And while this robot can't lift the sub on its own, it does have the ability to hook the 23,000-pound submersible to a ship and get to the surface.

But, of course, they have to find the sub first. And originally, the search area with the size of Connecticut. Now, we understand it is about twice the size of that state. And, of course, the sub is about the size of a minivan.

Now, in a moment, we are re going to hear from someone who is on the very sub that is now missing, and you will hear what he experience to his trip to the Titanic.

First, though, I want to begin with Miguel Marquez, who is OUTFRONT live in St. John's Newfoundland, staging area for so much of the rescue efforts.

And, Miguel, what is the latest you are learning?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, look, for as great a concern about oxygen is on that sub, there is great urgency here. They get it. But the searches that I am talking to, they are operating on the assumption that those five people, if they are alive, are conserving their oxygen and they may go way past that 96 hour limit that they first set. Basically saying that they will figure out, before you do anything else, they will figure out what happened to the Titan.


CAPTAIN JAMIE FREDERICK, U.S. COAST GUARD: This is a search and rescue mission, 100 percent.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Rescuers clinging to every sliver of hope, indistinct sounds from the ocean depths could be a sign, the sign of life.

FREDERICK: The noises were heard by a Canadian P3, and that was this morning, and some yesterday.

MARQUEZ: The noise, described as banging sounds, at regular intervals in the Department of Homeland Security briefing, are now described as less specific than that, but still, the focus of the search.

FREDERICK: We need to have hope, right? But I can tell you what the noises are. What I can tell you is -- and I think this is the most important point -- we are searching with the noises are. And that's all we can do at this point.

MARQUEZ: The sounds, picked up by buoys, like this, one drop from planes, and then listening for any signs of life from the Titan submersible.

CARL HARTSFIELD, WOODS HOLE OCEANOGRAPHIC INSTITUTION: This team has multiple sensors that are in the area. They're sending data back expeditiously to the best in the world.

MARQUEZ: It takes about today for ships from St. John's, the closest land to the Titanic wreck site, to arrive at the search area. That search area is enormous, two times the size of Connecticut, a grid pattern provided by the U.S. coast guard indicates the meticulous nature of the search and how it is has expanded.


The commercial ship, Horizon Arctic, left this morning with equipment and gear from three U.S. military C-17 cargo planes.

And another Canadian coast guard ship, the Terry Fox, left St. John's today, and is on the way. They will join eight other ships, either already at the search area or en route. The submersible, made of carbon fiber and titanium, no hatch, it's five person crew bolted into the 25 foot craft, stirred controversy during its development and testing.

In 2018, the Marine Technology Society, a volunteer group that offers technical advice to the industry, expressed concerns to OceanGate about, quote, the current experimental approach adopted by OceanGate could result in negative outcomes from minor to catastrophic that would have serious consequences for everyone in the industry, unquote.

The industry group wanted OceanGate to submit to comprehensive testing and certification standards. It's not clear what steps OceanGate undertook to test and adhere to those standards. Its founder, Stockton Rush, who is on the missing sub, expressed his take on research and testing this way when asked by one of his previous passengers.

STOCKTON RUSH, FOUNDER & CEO, OCEANGATE: I've broken some rules to make this. I think I've broken them with logic and good engineering behind me, the carbon fiber titanium, there's a rule you don't do that, well, I did.

MARQUEZ: Later, in 2018, two employee separately expressed concerns about the thickness of the carbon fiber hull. One employee was fired. He sued for wrongful termination. The other resigned.

The lawsuit was settled out of court, and OceanGate says it conducted further testing on the sub to ensure functionality and safety.


MARQUEZ (on camera): Now, one former passenger who is on that very submersible, the Titan, took his son down with him on it last summer. He says that he expressed full confidence in OceanGate, so they went through tons of security and emergency training with them, and basically became members of the crew and says that he believes that craft is sound -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Miguel Marquez, thank you very much.

OUTFRONT now, Mike Reiss, he's a writer for "The Simpsons", and he traveled on the Ocean Gate submersible last year to view the Titanic wreckage. So, you went down, you came back up. He traveled on OceanGate submersible and back four times.

Also with me, retired Navy captain and diver Bobbie Scholley. She helped lead the TWA Flight 800 recovery and the USS Cole bombing recovery.

And David Gallo, oceanographer and explorer who co-led an expedition to create the first detailed comprehensive map of the Titanic.

All, thank you.

And I should, of course, mention, David, you do know one of the passengers on the sub, Paul-Henri Nargeolet, a very experienced explorer, as we are hoping for his survival and rescue tonight.

Mike, let me start, because you're here. I know you were on -- you've been down four times.

MIKE REISS, "SIMPSONS" WRITER, TOOK TRIP ON MISSING SUB: Four, not to the Titanic -- three were in New York harbor and I like the company and --

BURNETT: You felt --

REISS: -- I have so much faith in them that I, two years later, booked this trip to the Titanic.

BURNETT: So, you've been down. You did what they did, right? You got -- we are looking at pictures of it. You know, you got ready, you went, you expected a quick thing, and for you, it was.

REISS: Yeah.

BURNETT: Inside, obviously, cramped quarters with other people.

REISS: It's not even that bad. I really want to --

BURNETT: It wasn't that tight. There were five of you?

REISS: It's very comfortable. It's the size of a mini-van. There is room to stretch out.

The detail people seem to love the idea that, although I was scared, although I was excited, I fell asleep on the way down. It was that comfortable. And I had that much confidence in it.

BURNETT: So, so -- which -- and I want to ask you more about that because, obviously, they are 90 hours in or close to, by this point.

And, David, the crews that are, obviously, searching, say that they heard these banging sounds every 30 minutes yesterday. They describe them as banging. Unclear exactly what it was -- but they were at an interval of 30 minutes which made people think, maybe this is them. Maybe these are human beings.

Does this give you hope?

DAVID GALLO, OCEANOGRAPHER AND EXPLORER: Absolutely. I mean, before that, my hope was starting to slide downward a little bit as time went by. There was some suggestion that an implosion was heard about the time that the sub went missing, and I was thinking, trying to ignore that, but I couldn't. And when I heard this news, and then found out it was a credible source --


GALLO: -- my hopes, along with many, many people, went skyrocketing up.

BURNETT: So, Captain Scully, how do you go about figuring what those noises are? I mean, how difficult is that task and the task of pinpointing, right? They know the general area, right? But a general area here, when you're looking for something this small, is not enough.

BOBBIE SCHOLLEY, RETIRED NAVY CAPTAIN AND DIVER: Well, this is very precise science. They take the data that they got from the sonar buoys, which is, you know, very specific data and they send that ashore to the experts that evaluate sound noises.


And those experts can break down that sound that and they can break it down into specific sound waves. And they're very good at that stuff.

And then they analyze it, and they send their analysis back out to the scene, and then the scene uses that to determine what they're hearing, and then they update their search patterns based on that, which is what they've done already. And that's why they have started searching in that area.

They haven't confirmed that those sounds were the Titan. But they have not confirmed that it was not a Titan. And so they have not ruled it out. And now they have sent the ROVs in that area to -- to try to fine-tune whether or not those sounds are relevant. And that's how you do a search pattern.


SCHOLLEY: That's how you do an underwater search.

BURNETT: And as they've said, right, it's all they have right now. So, they are looking there.

I mean, Mike, when we talk about the nearly 90 hours that they've been in there at this point, right? You know, you went down and back up. It was a few hours.

REISS: It was ten hours.


REISS: Yeah.

BURNETT: OK. So, now, it's 90 hours, close.

Were you trained on anything -- like, if something really went wrong, what you would do if it lost communications? Or did you know if there was food? Did you know what to do if you were stuck for days, given the bathroom situation?

I mean, these are crucial questions now.

REISS: Yes, I knew -- they let you know everything up front. There's not a lot of training you can do, especially as a civilian. There's not much you can do in that situation. You're in there and you're trapped.

But I knew, upfront, there was four days worth of oxygen there. There's food on board. There's water on board.

They told me something before I took the trip. And it's ten hours, kind of door to door. And they said, we have food, we have water, we have a toilet. You're not going to use any of them.

There's something about the experience that it is just so engaging, and just -- other concentration, you -- those things don't really matter to you.

BURNETT: Right. And, of course, now they would. But that you were saying it was there and you knew about it.

REISS: Right.

BURNETT: I mean, David, you obviously know someone on this submersible, as I mentioned, Paul-Henri Nargeolet, your friend, a widely respected career ocean explorer, right? He's not a -- there are tourists on this, but he is not that, right? He knows -- he is very experienced.

Some of the others on board, the father-son combo, for example, are not, right? They are paying ocean tourists, right? So, they are there to -- for the experience.

How risky is it, given how little you can do -- I mean, you are trapped, to have people on the submersibles who are not experienced and trained in the way that someone like Paul-Henri Nargeolet is?

GALLO: Oh, I think, in this case, they really don't have a functional role. It's probably makes no difference at --


GALLO: -- rather than just riding up and down for the most part, so I don't think the training matters much.

But having Paul-Henri Nargeolet on board, PH, really elevates your chances of getting out of any rough situation. He's superbly trusted and very calm under pressure. A great guy.

BURNETT: But it will make a huge difference for someone. I mean, you can only imagine. No matter how much you prepare, Mike, someone like you, or someone else, I mean, you know, you don't know how you respond in the terror -- the terror you may feel in that moment.

WEISS: It may be, Erin. I -- I mentioned the state of mind, Erin, because I think, if they are still alive, that is the state of mind they are in right now. I think there's just a calm. There's an acceptance.

Stockton Rush, who built the sub from the ground up --


REISS: -- is there. And it's a great thing to know if there's anything that can be done, he'll do it, and he'll do it with humor and with confidence. He's just a tremendous --


BURNETT: And he's there. And we should emphasize, right? He is -- he is on this mission.

Captain Scholley, I mentioned that robot that they have out there now that is designed basically to, you know, provide a way for a ship to hook on to the submersible if they find it. And I raise this question because even if you find it at this point, how long does it take from finding to getting it to the surface, right? I mean, when you are in a race against time on oxygen, you could find it and it might still be too late. How much time does it take to lift to safety?

SCHOLLEY: Well, it's going to take, you know, it's going to take several hours, because the ROV is going to have to take the cable from the -- I understand they have the Navy's FADOSS system, which is a hydraulic system that would be able to lift it safety.

But the ROVs are going to have to take the wire down there.


It's going to have to figure out how to rig it to the Titan. I don't know if there's lifting rings. But I assume there is some sort of lifting device, because that's how they have to get it in the water.

And so, the ROV, it will have to shackle it in and rig it so that it will safely come to the surface without dropping it. And then they'll have to start the process of hauling it to the surface at a safe speed for the lifting device, which is hydraulic, that will be up on the surface.

So, this is going to take, you know, several hours. I don't know specifically. But it's more than a couple to do this all safely. So, we're talking about, you know, hours to get it to the surface once they find it. BURNETT: All right. Captain, thank you very much. David, thank you.

Mike, thank you. Of course, as everyone has all of these questions and everyone is watching, thank you.

And next, a diver who knows firsthand what it is like to be stuck on the water with no, life no heat, and no oxygen running out. He's going to join me live with his story and the chilling parallels to what is happening now to the Titan.

Plus, after four days after being trapped at the bottom of the ocean, what are the health concerns for these five passengers inside the sub, right? They are trapped down there physically, psychologically. Dr. Jonathan Reiner will be OUTFRONT.

And the head of Russia's private military, with a warning tonight for Putin. Why he says Putin's Russia could now be in for a disaster.



BURNETT: Tonight, a history of mechanical problems, delayed trips to the Titanic's wreckage site before the Titan submersible went missing with the five people on board now. Court records show OceanGate Expeditions which operates the submersible have been hit with a lawsuit in 2021 from a London-based travel company representing customers who has been about $800,000, in total, to see the Titanic in 2018.

Now, the company said it had to postpone that trip for safety reasons. They say lightning damage that affected over 70 percent of the subs internal electrical system, right? So, they are saying it was because of safety. That case was officially dismissed.

But it comes as there are growing concerns about why, what happened here, and what might have caused this setup to lose contact? Because that is what obviously first happened here about one hour and 45 minutes, and raising questions to whether rescues now will be able to rescue those five human beings.

Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT with a look at the most dramatic under water rescues to this point of all-time.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Racing time, the elements, and an ocean of unknowns, those trying to find the Titan face dwindling odds of success. Underwater rescues are inherently complicated, dangerous, and the deep state makes it all harder.

Author Stephen McGinty knows.

STEPHEN MCGINTY, AUTHOR, THE DIVE: It is hard to even imagine. Two miles of water above you. Amidst darkness, no natural light. The weight of that -- crushing weight. So, you are operating in pitch darkness at a depth that is many things will fail. FOREMAN: His book, "The Dive", is about the deepest ocean rescue

tonight. In the early 1970s, the Pisces 3 sank nearly 1,600 feet below the surface while laying an undersea phone cable off the coast of Ireland. For three days, ships, submarines, and robotic vessels struggled to get lines attached and haul up the reversible with its two experienced sailors.

Finally, success.

REPORTER: -- when you began to one that you would ever get out?

ROGER MALLINSON, RESCUED SUBMARINER: Not at all. We had about a day's supply left off life support. We knew what was going on. We could talk to the surface all the time. That was no trouble at all.

FOREMAN: Not exactly. Like the Titan, the Pisces had limited air, just enough for 72 hours. The two men extended by lying still and not talking. When they finally emerged after 84 hours, they had enough for only 12 minutes more.

So, how different is the Titan's predicament? The Pisces was located quickly, 120 miles offshore. The Titan is still missing more than 400 miles from land. The Pisces had a steady communications, no one had spoken with the Titan since it vanished. The Titan is in much deeper water. And yet even when the Pisces was pulled up, the men inside were terribly battered.

MCGINTY: They thought they were going to be smashed unconscious inside the sub. The sub was just rattling and rolling and spinning. At one point, they beg for the lift to stop.

FOREMAN: There have been other undersea rescue attempts. In 1939, when the USS Squalus sank off the East Coast in less than 254 of war, 26 men drowned, 33 were saved.

In 2000, when the Russians sub Kursk suffered a pair of on board explosions in the Bering Sea, despite really hopes for survivors, the entire crew of 118 perished.


FOREMAN (on camera): The thing is, these incidents are so rare and they are so different from each other, each time one comes along, rescuers have to both study history and simultaneously re-write the book, another thing that makes it very tough -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Tom, thank you very much.

And I want to go to Chris Lemons now, because he's a deep sea diver, two decades of experience, and he has a harrowing tale of survival.

Here's what happened: he was 300 feet beneath the surface of the North Sea for nearly 40 minutes, no light, no heat, or breathing gas. His miraculous story was the subject of the documentary "Last Breath".

And, Chris, I appreciate your time tonight. I -- you know, you're looking at this with a perspective that so few

can. You know, we got video of you. You were unconscious under water.

You didn't have light. It was too dark under there, right? No heat, ability to breath.

You thought you just had a few minutes worth of breathing gas. Then, it took more than half an hour for rescuers to reach you.

What was it like? What do you even remember about what that was like?

CHRIS LEMONS, DEEP SEA DIVER ONCE TRAPPED ON OCEAN FLOOR: Yeah, I think today's events really resonate. My memory of that is almost twofold, really, the sort of the panic stage which I suspect these guys have been through as well, when we (ph) -- you're really in a sort of fight or flight mode, which transcended into a place where I think I was -- I realized from, certainly from my point of view, that the chances of rescue were extraordinarily slim, and the panic and the fear subsided almost.


And it was almost a case of grieving, and, you know, thinking of the things we always think of in that situation -- you know, the people we love, you know, the strange ethereal sense of this alien, inhospitable place, which probably seemed very romantic on the way down, but you know, when you're suddenly in that predicament, it seems very hostile, and cold and very lonely, I would say, more than anything.

BURNETT: Chris, do you have any hope, given what we know now, for the five passengers on board the Titan?

LEMONS: I think you have to have. I think -- I think despite all the -- you know, the potential pitfalls they might be facing, and the potential horrors, the truth is they have, you know, what are we might think of this submarine that's -- you know, submersible that's gone down and the quality of it, it does have the life support systems to sustain them, and those estimates of gas consumption will be estimates, you know? You know?

And if, you know, I hate to relate it to my own, but, you know, the -- certainly in my case, you know, hope certainly seemed to be gone. And, you know, if my case has to do anything is that, you know, that you -- it's remarkable what a human body, a human spirit, I guess, can survive.

So, I think there is every hope for them, but I think as we're all realizing, that absolutely hinges on them being found, first and foremost, yeah.

BURNETT: Yeah, absolutely. And they're in there together. Just to imagine the -- those interactions and thousand that goes. It's very different experiences in all of this.

You have so much experience here, Chris. You're a deep sea saturation diver. I know you work on oil and gas lines. And that is involved for you living in a decompression chamber for up

to 28 days at a time. You'd have to work 900 feet below the surface for six hours at a stretch, right? So, you continue to do this.

You know, what is that experience like? And, you know, when -- we have just had a guest who had been on the Titan itself and said that he was sort of -- he almost fell asleep going down, that it was sort of ethereal and peaceful in a sense.

But how do you see it?

LEMONS: Yeah. I think, I mean, for me, I was slightly different for me because I -- you know, I literally as you describe, I do it every day, so it becomes normalized. But --


LEMON: -- you have to remember, sometimes, that that is not a normal -- that is not a normal situation, you know, like I've done in a working capacity. So, it's perhaps slightly different.

But there's definitely that sense of, as I described it earlier, a romanticism, I guess, you know, that ethereal beauty of being under water, which is very, very attractive.

But, you know, I'm also reminded day in and day out that it's a very harsh and hospitable environment and it's one that, you know, particularly -- as you said, I went down to 300 -- 300 feet, you know? Sometimes 900 is probably -- 900 feet is the deepest we go. These guys are down 12,000 feet-plus. You know, that's an extraordinary depth in terms of the sheer pressure they're being exposed to.

So -- and as you said, they're also not professionals. You know, there's a couple guys in there who are, you know, supposedly experienced, but the other three really are passengers, aren't they?

The other thing is they are very much at the mercy of the -- of the thing around them, aren't they? They probably have gotten to a point where there's very little they can do if they lost power and anything like that.

So, yeah, it's a scary situation, but it's also -- yeah, it's a place that can seem very peaceful, but that can also turn into a very dark, inhospitable place very quickly, I would suggest.

BURNETT: Right, which, of course, they're all alive, they all are dealing with the possibility of the death in a way that very few --

LEMONS: But that's -- yeah.

BURNETT: -- you are one of the few on the planet who can truly understand.

Chris, thank you.

LEMONS: My pleasure. Thanks for having me. BURNETT: And next, one of the nation's top vaccine experts, Dr. Peter

Hotez, facing harassment after Robert F. Kennedy Jr. made him a target in his anti-vaccine crusade.


ROBERT F. KENNEDY, JR. (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: His science is just made up. He cannot stand by it. He can't cite studies.


BURNETT: Dr. Hotez responds here, next.

Plus, more on the race to look at that missing stop, including that psychological state. Five people trapped together, crammed and to the capsule the size of a minivan for days. How does this impact their oxygen supply?



BURNETT: Tonight, NFL superstar Aaron Rodgers attacking one of the nation's top vaccine experts. The New York Jets quarterback posting this image of Dr. Peter Hotez on Instagram, saying, quote: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. would mop this bum.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., of course, is running for president. He is a vocal vaccine skeptic. Rodgers' post comes after Dr. Hotez criticized RFK Jr. after a podcast he did with Joe Rogan.

In the podcast, Kennedy repeatedly pushed unfounded claims about vaccines and he called out Dr. Hotez by name.


KENNEDY: Nobody will debate me -- for 18 years, nobody will debate. I have asked Dr. Hotez many, many times to debate me. I have debated Dr. Hotez on the telephone with, kind of, a referee. His science is just made up. He cannot stand by it. He cannot cite studies.


BURNETT: Rogan, then, after all of this comes out and tweets at Dr. Hotez. He tweets, quote, Peter, if you claim what RFK Jr. is saying is misinformation, I'm offering you $100,000 to the charity of your choice if you're willing to debate him on my show with no time limit.

And then, Elon Musk jumps, tweeting, quote, of Hotez, he's afraid of a public debate because he knows he's wrong.

And Dr. Hotez is now OUTFRONT.

And, Doctor, there's a lot I wanted to talk to you about, a lot of layers. Let me start with what you are at this moment. You are now dealing with personal threats, stalking from anti-vaxxers, how is the situation different than anything you have faced before?

DR. PETER HOTEZ, TEXAS CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL CENTER FOR VACCINE DEVELOPMENT: I think it has to do with the volume, the intensity, and the fact that now people are coming to my home. You know, I have been going up against anti-vaccine groups for a couple of tickets because I have a daughter with autism and wrote a book, vaccines did not cause hurt Rachel's autism about my daughter.

But what has happened over the last few years has become -- the movement still continues around autism but it has shifted to become more of a political movement and it's better organized, it's better funded, it's politically motivated.


And I think that is what you are seeing now play out in a very organized fashion. That is really troubling and extremely aggressive and at times pretty scary.

BURNETT: I can only imagine. And, look, the reality of this, is part of the reason this is in the conversation is that for now, a couple months, RFK junior has been polling around 20 percent in various polls as a challenger to President Biden for the Democratic nomination, right? That is why people are so focused on him.

Yet, he is perhaps -- he has done a lot of environmental work in his career -- but perhaps best known for what he has chosen to make his central statement, right, which is claims about vaccines. Here he is on the COVID vaccine.


KENNEDY: As we all know recognize, the COVID vaccines were neither safe nor effective.

If you got vaccinated, you are more likely to get sick, you are more likely to get severe illness, you are more likely to die than if you are unvaccinated.


BURNETT: Those things are not true. I should just, right, Dr. Hotez, these are simply not true.


BURNETT: And you mentioned the book that you wrote about your daughter, right, she has autism and you wrote a book explaining why vaccines are not the cause of that.

So, this whole debate comes up, the Rogan saying do this debate, give $100,000 to charity. You have had time to think about it. What's the reason you don't think that that is worthwhile?

HOTEZ: I have had, as Bobbie, which is what I would cool him when I would be speaking with him, rightly points out, we have had a number of conversations especially in the year 2017 when he announced he was going to be appointed to head the special commission around vaccines, and I began speaking with him actually at the request of the National Institutes of Health. It was an exercise in frustration because I did cite studies, in-depth studies, and in fact I put it all together in the book, vaccines did not cause Rachel's autism.

It was frustrating because he would keep on moving the goalposts. I mean, initially, it was about the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine, that was said to multiply in the colon and some tout that led to autism. That was debunked with large epidemiological studies.

And then it was shifted to thimerosal preservative. And he was a big proponent of it in the 2000s.

Then, when that got debunked, it was spacing vaccines too close together. They told about the concept of greening vaccines.

Then it was an element vaccines. Then it wasn't even about autism anymore, something called chronic illness. So, it was always kind of this game of whack-a-mole or moving the goalposts.

And that's what it would be looked like if I went on Rogan.


HOTEZ: It's not productive to do it and in some ways it kind of sits the whole field back.

BURNETT: Let me ask you that point, Elon Musk, right? He said you are afraid to debate RFK Jr. because you know you are wrong. Now I should just note that Musk hosted Kennedy for a Twitter spaces forum. He has more followers than any other human on Twitter, 144 million. He is the richest person in the world. People pay attention to him.

He is, to state the obvious, and intellectually formidable and successful person. How impactful is it that he is saying these types of things?

HOTEZ: Well, remember, between RFK Jr., Joe Rogan, and Elon Musk, pretty much that is every follower on Twitter. So, that's a big -- that is a big space.

Look, I have said, multiple times to Rogan, I was on twice on his show, I said, I'll come back anytime you want. Especially during the delta wave when he was inviting some anti-vaccine activists, I thought that was doing some damage.

I said, let me come on, Joe, I will talk to you and explain why vaccines are effective, why they're safe and why they'll save your lives. But he ignored those emails. I wrote to him in 2021, 2022, then I finally gave.

With Elon Musk, I said, look, I'll come on whatever Twitter format you want to use and have that discussion with him, but in terms of RFK Jr., I've been there, done that, I have had multiple discussions with him. They don't go anywhere. He doesn't really understand the science

behind vaccines and doesn't really understand the science of autism. So, I think, it was just -- and he doesn't really want to listen. And so, therefore, I think it will be highly unproductive.

BURNETT: Dr. Hotez, I appreciate your time. Thank you so much.

HOTEZ: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, the breaking news. The House, in a very rare move, going to censure Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff for investigating Donald Trump.

And as the oxygen supply is running lower and lower on the submersible, what can be passengers on board do to stay alive to conserve it? Dr. Jonathan Reiner is OUTFRONT.



BURNETT: The breaking news, censured. Just moments ago, in a very rare move, the House voted to censure Democrat Adam Schiff. Democrats drowning out Speaker Kevin McCarthy as he attempted to address the chamber. Far right members of the GOP Freedom Caucus led the charge to punish Schiff for investigating Donald Trump's campaign ties to Russia and for his role in Trump's first impeachment.

Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi chastised them today on the house floor.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Today, we are on the floor of the House where the other side has turned this chamber where slavery was abolished, where Medicare and Social Security and everything were instituted, they have turned it into a puppet show, a puppet show.

And you know what? The puppeteer, Donald Trump, is shining a light on the strings. You look miserable. You look miserable.


BURNETT: Those investigations into Donald Trump are a part of a long list of probes into the former president. He's now, of course, been indicted twice and there are signs the legal baggage is starting to weigh him down.

Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT tonight in Council Bluffs, Iowa.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose any voters, okay. It's like incredible.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was the closing days of his first Iowa caucus campaign when Donald Trump uttered those now infamous words.


JOHN LEE, PASTOR, BETHEL CHRISTIAN REFORMED CHURCH: He made that here in Sioux Center at Dordt University.

ZELENY: John Lee is pastor of Bethel Christian Reformed Church, just on the straight from the evangelical campus where Trump delivered that boastful yet prescient message back in 2016.

LEE: He was quite prophetic in that, right? There is a loyalty that he has engendered. I would say, a narrow portion of the voting population that does really see Trump as someone who's almost messianic and there is a deep commitment to him regardless of indictments or impeachments.

ZELENY: That commitment to Trump is facing a new test. Starting in Iowa, where Republican voters are likely to begin deciding his political fight long before any jurors do.

NAOMI CORY, IOWA VOTER: The seriousness of taking those classified documents or even inadvertently taking them and not saying later, hey, these belong somewhere else.

ZELENY: Naomi Cory believes the indictment should be disqualifying. She dismissed attempts by some Republicans to conflate Trump's treatment to Hunter Biden's starkly different case.

How do you sort this all out, the politics around this?

CORY: The politics around this, you are still breaking the law. You have to be held accountable.

ZELENY: Cory voted for Trump but is now shopping for a new Republican. She has met several candidates, including Asa Hutchison, the former Arkansas governor who has called on Trump to drop out.

ASA HUTCHINSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now, don't boo me on that point.

ZELENY: And urged Republicans to rally around the nominee he believes is more fit to serve.

HUTCHINSON: There is a shifting mood recognized in the seriousness of what we are that we don't need a future commander-in-chief who disregards our nation's secrets.

ZELENY: Across the country, Trump's support appears to have softened a new CNN poll finds, with 47 percent of Republicans and Republican- leaning voters saying he's their first choice, down from 53 percent in May. His favorability among those voters has dipped from 77 to 67 percent.

EILEEN SAILER, CHAIR, CRAWFORD COUNTY REPUBLICAN PARTY: He has had one thing after another thrown at him. So, I kind of thought, this is just another thing for not him.

ZELENY: Eileen Sailer leads the Crawford County Republican Party. She says the indictment should not tear apart the GOP.

SAILER: President Trump can't win. Well, I just wonder, because I think he does have a strong base, I believe he could.

ZELENY: Pastor Lee fears that sentiment might be a self fulfilling prophecy. Even though he believes Republicans should choose a new leader, free of chaos and criminal charges.

LEE: I don't see it moving the needle, particularly much. I wish it did but I think it was part of the background noise and what people expect, indictments, and they expect that this is for some people, a badge of honor for him.

ZELENY: The balance between Trump fatigue and Trump loyalty will be one key measure over the next several months as Republican voters here weigh this field of candidates. But, Erin, one question, will anyone candidate become a beneficiary of Trump's softening support? So far, no one has emerged -- Erin.

BURNETT: That is the crucial question. Jeff, thank you so much. As we just mentioned, Congressman Schiff was formally censured in the House. He will be on with Anderson to respond at the top of the next hour.

Next, those five passengers aboard the missing submersible, they have been trapped for nearly 90 hours. What are the top health concerns for those five people right now? The medical view, Dr. Reiner is next.

Plus, Ukraine now claiming it is taking back territory in the south. Tonight, we have and exclusive look at how Ukraine's navy is keeping both cities and critical infrastructure safe from the Russians.



BURNETT: Tonight, that oxygen supply is dwindling. OK. So, search crews right now are running low, and what is the most precious thing here? Time. Time to find the submersible with five people on board.

At this time last night, the Coast Guard said the sub had 34 hours of breathable air lift. Obviously, they are stuck somewhere in near freezing waters, if they have gotten anywhere close to the titanic records or if they continue to drift after they lost communications.

OUTFRONT now, Dr. Jonathan Reiner, our medical analyst and, of course, a cardiologist as well.

So, Dr. Reiner, we're looking at nearly 90 hours, nearly four days since the submersible went missing. The oxygen supply is running low. We don't know exactly how low. We don't know what they could do to extend it. What are the top concerns right now for the passengers if they are alive?

DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, obviously, the top concern is the oxygen supply. Once the oxygen runs out, a human being will lose consciousness within several seconds. And then will die within a few minutes deprived of oxygen.

There are other concerns as well. As you mentioned, the temperature of the water, 13,000 feet, is about zero to three degrees centigrade. That's 32 to 35 degrees Fahrenheit. It will become as cold as a refrigerator.

Your refrigerator at home is probably around 40 degrees. That will become basically, 32 to 35 degrees. Hypothermia ensues with body temperatures below 95 degrees. Unless they are equipped with cold weather gear, which seems unlikely, that they brought along with them, that will be a major risk.

And then, finally, carbon dioxide. CO2, which we all exhale, is normally in very low concentrations in the air. But in confined spaces, like that small mini-van sized sub, if the CO2 is not actively removed from the air that the crew and passengers are breathing, it will become toxic and eventually can even asphyxiate them.

And there are scrabbers on these submersibles, but it is possible that there is a limit to how much CO2 that device can remove. So, that becomes a concern as well.

BURNETT: All right. I think that is not something I have heard much about. There is also the way they are sitting.

Now, I know we were talking to someone earlier who has been left very sub to go down to the Titanic. And he, you know, was ten hours, right? He described it as much roomier than it looks on the picture. Basically, was saying, again, everything went without incident on that. It was ten hours.

So, we're just showing you what the seating configuration is looking like. Now you are looking at about 90 hours if they are there.

So, there is a physical question to that. There is also the psychological impact of being stuck with five people in this space.

What does this do to people?

REINER: Well, anyone who has ever been stuck in a small elevator understands, even people who are not claustrophobic by nature, understand that how quickly you can become panicky when you are trapped in a very confined space like that, maybe with several people.

Now imagine that you know you are perhaps two and a half miles under the surface of the ocean in a perhaps dark space, very dark, if there's no power, increasingly cold space. It's really a terrifying scenario to think about. The official logical response to that is panic. And panic causes you to breathe harder and breathe faster. Your supply or ear is very limited, so that becomes counterproductive. It is really a terrifying scenario to think about it.

BURNETT: It certainly is. We all hold out hope here that this will end, miraculously, but of course the chances are slim, slimming every second. Thank you very much, Doctor, I appreciate your time.

REINER: My pleasure.

BURNETT: Also tonight, Ukraine's military claiming it is advancing now into Russian controlled territory in the south, putting Russian troops on defense there. This as Prigozhin, the outspoken chief of the mercenary Wagner army is warning that Ukraine's counteroffensive could be a disaster for Russia.


YEVGENY PRIGOZHIN, WAGNER CHIEF (through translator): The Ukrainian counteroffensive is breaking us serious losses and problems which are being hushed up, which the Russian people don't know about. When the trouble comes, I'll repeat, we may remain without an army and without Russia.


BURNETT: Fred Pleitgen is OUTFRONT with an inclusive look at the Ukrainian navy's efforts to defend against Russian airstrikes.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Night after night, a common theme. Russian aerial attacks on Ukraine cities, air defense viciously fighting back from land, the air and from the water.

We got exclusive access to Ukrainian navy patrol boats that are part of that fight.

The Ukrainians say the Russians often fly drones and even cruise missiles along rivers to avoid air defenses. That's why boats like this one play an important role keeping both cities but also critical infrastructure safe.

The commander who only gave his name as "Anton" says air defense is a key component of their mission.

Are you effective?

"ANTON", COIMMANDER, UKRAINIAN NAVY: So I could not answer that question how effective we are. But so are we effective? I would say yes.

PLEITGEN: As Ukraine presses on with its counteroffensive, Kyiv acknowledges the Russians are putting up stiff resistance and every yard of territory hard fought.

We would certainly like to make bigger steps, the Ukrainian president says. They are smaller than we want but, nevertheless, those who fight shall win.

Moscow claiming they are repelling Ukraine's attempted advances, Russian President Vladimir Putin saying his troops are wearing the Ukrainians down. VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: Currently, we're seeing a certain

lull. It has to do with the fact that the enemy is suffering serious losses.

PLEITGEN: The Ukrainians fear the Russians might try to infiltrate and destabilize cities like Kyiv or smuggle weapons here. So the navy crew searches all boats and barges on the river. In this search, it was an all clear.

ANTON: We will make search of their suspect vessel. In the meantime, we'll be surrounding them to make sure that nobody is going to leave the vessel, that they allowed (ph) to be under attack.

PLEITGEN: The work they say even more pressing after the recent destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam which the Russians and Ukrainians blame on each other.

ANTON: The river is also a strategic object. Especially now as you could see what happened in Kakhovka and now we can understand how it is important to make it a safe and secure place.


BURNETT: Fred, President Zelenskyy earlier that he'd like to be making faster gains. I mean, how do you see that? Is that an admission that things aren't going as plan with the counteroffensive, or is it something else?

PLEITGEN: Well, I think that the Ukrainians certainly do acknowledge things are difficult for them on the battlefield. But I do think they are very confident they are going to make this counteroffensive a success.

It is one of the things we heard also today from the main commander on the southern front, who is saying that there's fierce battles, that they are hitting the Russians extremely. Hardly have destroyed our lot of Russian armor and they're cleansing the Russians from some of those positions. Also, the deputy defense minister came out today, and said the Ukrainians are entrenching positions they have taken and moving forward. Now, of course, those movements are difficult and slow because of those really tough Russian positions and, quite frankly, because of the Russian air power as well.

But soldiers that we have been speaking to on the ground say that they are absolutely confident they are going really deep into Russian held territory -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Fred, thank you very much.

And thanks so much to all of you for joining us as well. We'll see you tomorrow.

"AC360" starts now.