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CNN Live Event/Special
Coast Guard: Titanic-Bound Sub Suffered "Catastrophic Implosion," Killing All Five Aboard; Former President Of The Explorers Club Remembers His Friend, Hamish Harding; Former Texas Rep. Will Hurd Launches 2024 Bid For GOP Presidential Nomination. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired June 22, 2023 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Yes.
PER WIMMER, ADVENTURER & FRIEND OF MISSING SUBMERSIBLE PASSENGERS: -- to a more regulated space, like the space arenas.
COOPER: Yes. Yes, we'll see what comes out of this.
Per Wimmer, I appreciate it. Thank you so much.
That's it for us. CNN PRIMETIME with Kaitlan Collins starts now.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Yes, hey, Anderson.
You arrived there, on the scene, just as we had learned that there were no survivors here, that all five, onboard, had died, as Per was just talking about there.
There obviously have been this huge international search underway. What have you heard from people, on the ground?
COOPER: I think there's real -- I mean, there's a real sense of sadness and a sort of a somberness, here, obviously. I mean, this is a maritime community. People have been very closely following this, obviously, all week. This is where the ship, these explorers left from. It's just a really somber, sad feeling.
And I think there was hope. People held on to hope. And to hear that extinguished, late, this afternoon, it's a difficult day.
COLLINS: Yes. Even as they had realized, as the days went on, that it had become more unlikely.
But when it comes to what we heard about those five pieces of massive debris, are there any chances, the experts believe that they will actually be able to recover any of that from the ocean floor?
COOPER: Yes, I think it really depends on, kind of who is involved in that, and who would actually fund that. As I was talking to somebody earlier, a maritime expert, in this, and
it's not like with the FAA, who, routinely investigate plane crashes. Somebody would need to fund such an exploration, to bring up some of these pieces. And it's not clear exactly who would be behind that.
But obviously, there's a lot of people, who are working in this field, who would like to know exactly what happened, particularly with this kind of composite -- carbon composite material.
So, it's possible. But it's going to be expensive. It's going to take time. They do have the ROV still, that's going to be capable of going down and looking at the debris field. But the Coast Guard wasn't clear, or they wouldn't say at this point, how long they'll continue with that ROV, exploring the depths of the ocean, in that area, to try to find out more.
COLLINS: I was so struck by what James Cameron, who obviously is an expert, on the Titanic, but also when it comes to these submersibles, said, earlier to you, when you all were talking, when he said, he would have never taken a risk, like this one, without those rigorous safety checks, especially with customers, who weren't just going to explore, they are these paying customers, going down, and talking about the risk that they took, with this specific vessel.
COOPER: Yes. And it's true. Because, I mean, he built -- he designed and built a experimental submersible, just for himself, and went three times deeper than the 13,000 feet that the Titanic is at.
And he didn't go through the routine -- the maritime safety protocols for that, because in his words, it was an experimental craft. And people who make that argument, believe that the traditional maritime protocols really are not -- haven't caught up with the experimental nature of some of these crafts.
But the differences he said is he would not have brought a passenger, in that vehicle, with him, he would not have taken responsibility for that. And he found that sort of unconscionable.
COLLINS: Yes. Anderson, thank you.
Ahead, for us, tonight, our conversation with the Co-founder of OceanGate, the company, of course, that our guests started with the late Stockton Rush.
First, though, the very latest information that we have, on this tragedy, including reporting that a network of undersea Navy sensors, actually picked up sounds that were consistent with an implosion, about the time that contact was first lost, with the Titan, on Sunday.
CNN's Jason Carroll joins us now.
Jason, what more can you tell us about that, the Navy, possibly picking up either sounds of an implosion or an explosion? And how that factored into what has happened over the last four days?
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's certainly one of the most intriguing developments that surfaced later on today, the Navy indicating -- and this, of course, some of this reporting coming to us, from CNN's own Oren Liebermann.
Basically what happened, Kaitlan is, on Sunday? And, you remember, Sunday was the day that the Titan took its fatal, what ended up being its fatal dive, early in the morning, on Sunday.
But on that very same day, the Navy detected acoustic signatures, based on the sonar devices that they had placed, within the ocean, and they had that information. They turned that information over to officials, who were -- and who ended up conducting the search.
And so, it was determined though, that that acoustic signature that the Navy had found, it was -- it couldn't be determined exactly what it was. And so, the decision was made, to continue this search. One official saying any chance at saving a life is worth the mission.
But certainly, this is going to be a question that a lot of people are going to be looking at, going forward, simply because if the Navy had this type of acoustic signature? Again, we know what they eventually decided about that acoustic signature. But if they had that information, there's a question why such this type of massive search, why this effort was put into this, why that information wasn't made a little bit more readily available?
COLLINS: Yes, and how we're just learning of it.
But when it comes to now that they did find these five major pieces of debris, as the Coast Guard described them, on the ocean floor, do they have a better sense of what went wrong here?
CARROLL: Well, that is going to be a key part of this investigation. I mean, again, they're calling it a catastrophic implosion, an implosion that took place sometime after it made its descent.
You remember it. It was, again, on Sunday. The descent, it took about an hour and 45 minutes for it to get beneath below the surface. At that point, lost communication with the surface ship. So, that is going to be a big part of this conversation, going forward, a big part of the investigation, in terms of exactly what happened.
Earlier today, out here, in Boston, we heard from the Coast Guard's Rear Admiral. We also heard from experts, deep sea diving experts, the Rear Admiral, explaining in very specific detail what that rover, what that remote operated vehicle that was down on the ocean floor, exactly what it found, early this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REAR ADMIRAL JOHN MAUGER, U.S. COAST GUARD: This morning, an ROV, or remote operated vehicle, from the vessel, Horizon Arctic, discovered the tail cone of the Titan submersible, approximately 1,600 feet, from the bow of the Titanic, on the seafloor.
The ROV subsequently found additional debris. In consultation with experts, from within the Unified Command, the debris is consistent with the catastrophic loss of the pressure chamber.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARROLL: And Kaitlan, also following that, a deep sea expert also came to the mic, and had explained that that ROV -- again, though, these remotely operated vehicles, I mean, just to let you know, they're also equipped with cameras, and robotic arms.
Those ROVs are still on the ocean floor. They are still going to continue searching, trying to map that area, around the debris field, to see if there's anything else that can be found.
COLLINS: Yes, and big questions about the cost of trying to recover that debris, if that's what they do.
We're hearing from the families of those who were lost today. But is the company itself, OceanGate, have they said anything, about what happened, and the determination that no one on board survived?
CARROLL: Yes, they certainly have.
And in fact, the OceanGate's Co-founder Guillermo Sohnlein, I just want to read part of the statement here that he put out.
He said, "These men were true explorers who shared a distinct spirit of adventure, and a deep passion for exploring and protecting the world's oceans. Our hearts" are with "their families during this tragic time. We grieve the loss of life and joy they brought to everyone they know."
I mean, there's going to be, again, a lot of back-and-forth, in terms of what information was shared, the types of resources that were used.
But, I think, you heard Anderson touch on this. Those in the maritime community really taking this very, very hard, as these men were explorers. They were dedicated, to the world that they lived in. And so, this is something that is going to be hitting a lot of people very, very hard.
COLLINS: Yes. Just a devastating outcome.
Jason Carroll, thank you.
Throughout all of this, we have been talking to the oceanographer, and deep water search expert, David Gallo. His friend P.H. is one of the lives, one of the five lives, who was lost, aboard the Titan. And David joins us tonight.
David, I first want to say I'm so sorry, because we have been talking, every day since the Titan disappeared, and especially not about just what's happening, but your friend P.H. So, our condolences, obviously. DAVID GALLO, RMS TITANIC INC. SENIOR ADVISER FOR STRATEGIC INITIATIVES, FORMER DIRECTOR OF SPECIAL PROJECTS, WOODS HOLE OCEANOGRAPHIC INSTITUTION, OCEANOGRAPHER: Thanks.
COLLINS: And when we talked last night, you still had hope that this was a search and rescue mission, not just a recovery effort. What went through your head, today, when you heard that they had found debris, on the ocean floor?
GALLO: Kaitlan, I had hope because we had to have hope. I mean, that was -- it was pretty clear that they -- I think I may have said that somewhere along, that the simplest conclusion was right in front of us that there had been an implosion.
We knew about the sound. Wasn't confirmed. We knew about the loss of communication. It's hard to explain any other way, because the vessel was in mid-water. It wasn't snagged on anything. So, that was the easy, obvious conclusion, in the beginning.
But we had to have hope. And as I said, many times, miracles do happen. And, maybe not this time. But they do. So, we had to have hope right up to the very end. And it was difficult. But I think that's what you've got to do. You can't just give up, in the beginning. You've just got to go to you know, for sure.
COLLINS: And you talked about the sounds that were heard.
The U.S. Navy says they detected quote, an "Anomaly," consistent with an implosion, or an explosion, in the general vicinity, of where the Titan was operating, when those communications that you were referencing, were lost.
When you hear that, and that that is something they heard, was it clear that this is something that happened, as they were, in this descent, from very quickly on?
GALLO: Yes, yes, Kaitlan. I mean, that was a pretty big boom, a lot of energy, there, wasn't that a hull that size collapses. And it just fit too well, with the time that communications ended.
The two things came together in a way that -- and with the Navy, a credible source, saying, we not only hear a sound, but it's an implosion, which they could tell. Those two pieces are, you've got to put them together, and say this must be the same event, yes.
COLLINS: And does that make you think that there was a design flaw with this? I mean, what is -- when you hear that that happened, that quickly, after they had already started this dive, on Sunday, what does it tell you about that?
GALLO: Yes, I'm not an engineer. But I mean, P.H., who is as good as anyone? He's not an engineer, either. But when he says, this is safe, this vehicle is a safe vehicle, I have to go with P.H. There's going to be a lot of people, commenting about how this was a
bad idea, bad design, untested. Almost everyone I know that have been around, as long as I have been, in the ocean game, has taken some risk. They didn't end up like this, fortunately. But, so I can't comment.
It's not a vehicle I would have gotten into. It's just not my kind of thing to get into a tube-like vehicle. I do wonder about that, too. This was a tube. Most submarines that I know about are spheres that you -- and a sphere, when it's under compression, is pretty strong. But a tube is a bit different.
So, I think all that stuff's going to come out in the next couple of weeks. It's going to get ugly at times. But we do need to get to the truth about really what happened here.
COLLINS: What do you mean by that, just as there are questions raised about this? I mean, I should have -- I'm obviously not an engineer, either. It's just people are raising questions about it. But what do you -- what do you mean, what do you think we could learn about this?
GALLO: Well, was it a design flaw to begin with? Was this just a bad idea that somehow people let go that -- because I hear many, many people, probably nine out of 10 said, "I would never get in that submarine."
So, was it really a serious design flaw? Was Stockton an innovator, adventurer, and was taking a calculated risk? Or was it just one of those things?
Because the oceans, just because you pass every test, and get every sort of stamp there is to have, doesn't mean, you're going to have a perfectly safe dive. The oceans are full of surprises. It's a very hostile place to be.
So, somewhere in between there, something that could have happened, to any submarine, or this was a fundamental design flaw. There's going to be the truth or closer to the truth about what happened in this case.
And your friend, P.H., had been on more than 35 dives, to the wreckage of the Titanic. You talked about his experience. He loved going there.
We heard from James Cameron, obviously the Director of the "Titanic," a diver himself, he said, he described him as this legendary submersible dive pilot.
(GRAPHIC IS SHOWN OF DAVID GALLO & PAUL-HENRI NARGEOLET)
COLLINS: We're showing this photo now, the two of you, from 2010, in Newfoundland, in St. John's. As you look at that, and you think back on this, what are you going to remember the most about, about P.H.?
GALLO: Oh, boy, there's so much. I mean, we've talked to this family, at the company that we worked with, RMS Titanic, Inc., about how much we're going to miss him.
He was a pain in the butt. He was, as I've said many times, he was just comfortable on the deck of a ship, in a hurricane, as he was in a Parisian cafe. He was just unflappable. But always had a twinkle in his eye, and a smirk, always up to trouble. So, that's going to be the stuff I miss most.
But we've lost an incredible explorer. And this world of exploration, especially marine exploration, has no lack of egos. And P.H. was aside from all that. He hasn't -- or he's not a person that wrote books. He's not a person that made movies, has starred in documentaries. He just did what he did for the love of what he was doing. And that's something I'm going to miss too.
COLLINS: And given clearly he had such a love, for the Titanic, and to be able to go down there, I mean, to do this, as many times as he did, dozens of times, what does that say to you?
GALLO: There's something about this, something poetic in a way that he's there, now. He loved that -- he knew that place better than any other place on -- that's his favorite place, on the seafloor. Working in that debris field, beneath him was where -- what we're putting all of our effort into those artifacts, preserving the legacy of Titanic. And now he's there.
So, there's all sorts -- and all that kind of stuff's going to be running through my mind. And it's going to be tough, I think, for me, and certainly tough, for all the loved ones and family members, of the other five -- other four people.
But I haven't yet begun to process that. And I know other people that in our laboratory are all feeling the same way. There's still that bit of shock. Also, that bit of acceptance, because this could have happened. And we expected something like this to happen sometime. So, we just have to get through it, and move on, in his honor, to finish the work he began.
COLLINS: Well, David, I mean, we're thinking of all of you, of all of your co-workers, everyone who knew P.H. And, of course, you for joining us here, every night, in such a difficult time, to talk about this, and for joining us here, tonight. And of course, our condolences, for the loss of P.H.
GALLO: Thank you. Thank you, Kaitlan.
Up next, we're going to speak with the Co-founder of OceanGate, and what his thoughts are, learning about this.
Also, later tonight, we'll have an update for you, on presidential politics. And the seemingly always growing Republican field, it's grown again, today, as another former Congressman, Will Hurd, has now joined the 2024 race. He'll tell us why, next. [21:20:00]
COLLINS: As more is being understood, about what failed, on the Titan submersible, investigators will be able to address, whether the design choices going into it, and the way it was developed, contributed to the sub's implosion.
Perspective now, from Guillermo Sohnlein. He met Stockton Rush, back in 2008. The two of them co-founded OceanGate, the next year. Guillermo left the company, I should note, in 2013. That was before the Titan vessel began testing. But he does have a minority ownership stake, in the company.
And Guillermo, thank you for joining us, tonight.
I want to start with your friend, Stockton Rush, who is among those confirmed lost today. I know the two of you met, back in 2008. When you met him, what was your first impression of him? What do you want people to remember about him?
GUILLERMO SOHNLEIN, CO-FOUNDER, OCEANGATE: I think, for me, he was probably one of the most intelligent people I had ever met. Very curious, very driven, very talented, and very committed to exploration, and a passion for learning more, about the oceans, in a way to expand humanity's understanding of the ocean, but also for humanity to be able to preserve the ocean.
COLLINS: I know you just talked to him, just two weeks ago. Does anything, from that conversation, stand out, as you look back on it?
SOHNLEIN: No. I know, he was -- as always, every year, when OceanGate does these science expeditions, to the Titanic, he gets very excited about it. He was very excited about the team, the operations, and the mission specialists, who were going to be joining his crew, the scientists, who were going to be on board.
It's always exciting to be able to go somewhere no one's really been before, to gather as much data as possible, and to help the scientific community understand more about what's going on down there, with the wreck of the Titanic.
COLLINS: You worked at OceanGate for almost four years, which I should note was before the Titan was created. But as these other submersibles were being produced.
Today, we heard from Coast Guard officials, who said what happened was this catastrophic implosion, was the term that they used. What would have caused this, in your view?
SOHNLEIN: Well, first of all, anyone who operates in the deep ocean understands that there's a lot of pressure, especially at that depth of 3,800 meters. Whether it's humans inside a submersible, or even the ROVs that they were using, during the search and rescue operations, you're subject to that kind of pressure. There's always a risk for catastrophic implosion. It's something that
we know about. It's something that we plan for, plan against. And it's just a known risk. We take -- the community takes this into account, when designing the submersible, when testing the submersibles, and when operating the submersibles.
COLLINS: Yes, and you mentioned Stockton being risk-averse, as you said.
Red flags had been raised, in recent years, about this submersible, specifically about the Titan, and its design. Leaders, in the industry, had actually warned about what they said were potentially catastrophic problems. They said that the company did not follow the safety procedures that others had.
Do you think this should have been handled differently?
SOHNLEIN: Well, I think, we have to keep in mind that Titan was the product of at least a 12-year, maybe more, technology development program, went through several different phases.
There were a lot of people involved in the design and build of the submersible, including folks at NASA, University of Washington's Applied Physics Lab, Boeing, a lot of people had a hand in this, all providing their expertise, in every aspect of the sub, including the rigorous testing program that it went through, and, of course, keeping in mind that it's been operating these science expeditions, to the Titanic, for a few years now.
So, I wasn't involved, in the development of the sub, because I had left the company, since then. But I can't imagine what more they could have done, in the development of the sub.
COLLINS: Yes. Well, and I should note, Boeing has said, they weren't part of the development.
And the University of Washington has also said, they had this grant, initially, but only a small portion of it actually happened, before the project essentially stopped.
I mean, what are your thoughts reflecting on this, about what this looks like, going forward? What is the future for a company like OceanGate?
SOHNLEIN: Well, I think for, not just for OceanGate, but for the entire ocean exploration community, what we always do, when things like this happen, is we wait for the team, to collect data, and to make determination, of what they believe occurred. And then, we derive lessons from it. And we build that into future exploration programs.
And exploration, in general, will continue going forward. It's the best way of honoring the crew and preserving their legacy.
COLLINS: Guillermo Sohnlein, thank you for joining us, tonight. And we are so sorry for your loss.
SOHNLEIN: Thank you.
COLLINS: Just ahead, what "Titanic" Director, and deep sea explorer, James Cameron has to say, about the parallels, between that disaster, and this one, specifically the red flags that were ignored, back in 1912, and, he believes, this time as well.
COLLINS: In the last hour, James Cameron, of course, the famous Director, of the "Titanic," but who is also an expert, in submersibles, and himself has dived dozens of times, to the actual Titanic wreckage, told Anderson Cooper, about the striking similarities, that he sees, between the sinking of the Titanic, and OceanGate's failed expedition, and how, in both cases, he says, there were obvious risks that were overlooked.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES CAMERON, DIRECTOR, "TITANIC," DEEP-SEA EXPLORER: I think there's a great almost surreal irony here, which is Titanic sank because the Captain took it full steam, into an ice field, at night, on a moonless night, with very poor visibility, after he had been repeatedly warned by telegram, by Marconigram, by radio, during the day, that that's what was ahead of him.
And so, I think we're also seeing a parallel here, with unheeded warnings, about a sub that was not certified, where the entire deep submergence community actually, or not the entire community, but a large number of them, got together, to write a letter, to OceanGate, the company, and say, "We believe that this could lead to catastrophe."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: With me now is Richard Wiese, the President Emeritus of The Explorers Club, and friend of Hamish Harding, who was on board that Titanic-bound submersible, today.
I mean, I want to talk about what James Cameron said, and I know that you know his expertise here.
But we talked, last night, about the hope that you still had. What did you -- what went through your mind, when you heard, today, from the Coast Guard?
RICHARD WIESE, PRESIDENT EMERITUS, THE EXPLORERS CLUB, FRIEND OF HAMISH HARDING: Well, it's been surreal, for so many of his friends, at The Explorers Club, because this is playing out in a very public way. But I think that all of us, almost universally, have been on so many chat strands, with different people, that they think about the family. And so, I didn't know the other four men. But I know that their families are going through something that is just rocking their world. And I think that grief is a very universal emotion. And that whether your father is a fireman, or a soldier, in the Ukraine, or a migrant, out at sea, in your world, it's everything.
And so, with Hamish, how do you tell his two sons that Superman died, when Superman's your father?
COLLINS: Yes. And one of his sons was earlier talking about how just what a special person he was--
COLLINS: --and how they made this cross-country trip, when they thought they were going to miss his graduation.
When you hear from James Cameron, what he's saying, there, talking about the risks here, and the parallels, between the Titanic, and this submersible, do you think that this is something that could have been avoided, if there were enhanced safety measures? What's your sense of his comments?
WIESE: Well, I mean, the obvious answer is yes, right, and anything but. When the Challenger went up, and had that explosion, could you have guessed it was the O-rings?
And I think so, I believe in the evolution of humans. And I think in the exploration community, yes, there's definitely grief on there. But, next week, people will detach themselves, emotionally, from the individuals, and sort of assess the situation. The aviation community has done very well. Every time there's an accident, they look, and how can we do it better, build it better.
And so, one of your guests had mentioned, when the Titanic went down, I think it was David Gallo, that that brought about so many regulations that were not considered, up until that point.
And so, with any disaster, whether it's COVID, or this particular thing, if you don't come out of that disaster, or accident, knowing more and being better, as a society, then you have failed.
COLLINS: Yes. And we'll see if regulations do change.
But Hamish Harding was your friend.
WIESE: Yes. He was a lot of people's friends. He was very popular.
And, there's a certain irony that Prime Minister Modi was in Washington, today. Because one sort of factoid about Hamish was that he was responsible with one of our esteemed explorers, Dr. Laurie Marker, of Cheetah Conservation, of bringing wild cheetahs, and reintroducing them to India. It was on Modi's birthday.
And, explorers have always had the ability to have detente, where politics has failed. When the Soviets and the Americans first reached across the aisle, it was scientists that wanted to exchange information. And so, Hamish is really part of that great tradition.
And there's so many things, when a friend dies, the stupid little things, or hugging someone, on the summit of a mountain or -- I guess, what I think about most is the circle of people. He was a pied piper.
When we climbed Kilimanjaro together, his son was 15, he brought a whole bunch of friends, along that, and he brought other friends, from other countries there, and he reveled in them enjoying the experience. And he was an intellectual guy and certainly had an insatiable curiosity about things. But he wanted to share it.
WIESE: And I think that, while it's unfortunate for his son, to miss their father, he's laid the groundwork, for them being, really, tremendous men themselves.
COLLINS: Yes. That's really lovely. I mean, he sounds like such an adventurer.
And I know it's not easy to come on and talk about. So, thank you for joining us, Richard.
WIESE: Thank you, Kaitlan.
COLLINS: Thank you.
Up next, of course, we will remember the lives that were lost, all five today.
We're also going to get an update on the state of the presidential race, as the crowded GOP primary field just got another contender added to its mix. Up next, I will be joined by the newest candidate, former Texas Congressman, Will Hurd.
COLLINS: The Republican presidential field just got even bigger than it already was. A 12th candidate by our count has already joined the race. Former Texas Congressman, Will Hurd, who joins us now here in studio.
Congrats on entering the race.
WILL HURD, (R) 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, (R) FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Thank you.
COLLINS: You are joining a very crowded field, as you can see there, from that picture. How do you pull this off?
HURD: Well, look, the way you pull it off, and the thing that I thought was interesting, today, is that within minutes of me announcing, Donald Trump, and the DNC, were attacking me, which is a sign that they think I'm dangerous.
And the thing that I've learned, my entire time, as an adult, is the Republican Party is supposed to be the big tent party. But unfortunately, right now, we're stuck in these echo chambers. And we're always preaching to the choir. We have to grow the choir, if we're going to be successful, in November. And that's the path. It's hard.
It's going to be difficult, for a dark horse candidate, like me. But there's a path. And the fact that 77 percent of Americans don't vote in primaries, one of the big reasons is that they don't like the candidates that are in there, and people are not talking about the issues that we should be talking about.
And so, I'm going to do what I did in the 23rd, when nobody thought a Black Republican could win in the 72 percent Latino district. I'm going to talk about issues people care about.
COLLINS: Do you think you'll get on the debate stage to talk about those issues?
HURD: Well, it depends on what the rules are.
The bottom line is this. I've taken -- I take one pledge. And that's when I put my hand on my heart, and to pledge allegiance to the flag. I've taken one oath. That's to defend the Constitution of the United States of America. And I've taken one vow. That's to my amazing, beautiful wife.
And I won't be signing any kind of pledges. And I don't think that parties should be trying to rig who should be on a debate stage.
COLLINS: So, you're not going to sign the pledge that you will support the candidate, whoever the candidate is, including potentially, Donald Trump.
HURD: That's right.
And look, Donald Trump is not going to sign that pledge, either. And part of it was designed to put him, in that place.
And so like, I am not in the business, of lying to the American people, in order to get a microphone. And I'm not going to support Donald Trump. And so, I can't honestly say, I'm going to sign something, even if he may or may not be the nominee. This is--
COLLINS: Are you calling on the RNC, to amend that pledge, to take away the loyalty pledge?
HURD: Look, the RNC can do whatever the RNC wants to do, right? And -- but like I said, I don't think political parties should be trying to, to rig that process, of who's on the stage.
COLLINS: Yes. And you clearly think they're trying to tip the scale.
You're a former CIA officer. As you know, Trump is accused of taking information, related to the U.S. nuclear programs, our defense capabilities, weapons capabilities. If what is alleged is true?
COLLINS: Do you think he betrayed the nation?
HURD: 100 percent, he did. And to me, it's absolutely outrageous, that he knew what he had, in those documents. And he knew the level of sensitivity. The fact -- and yes, you are innocent until proven guilty.
But if those allegations are true, it is slapping the men and women, who put themselves, in harm's way, every single night, in order to keep us safe. It's a slap in their face, because the leader of the Free World should be willing to protect those secrets, because if they got in the wrong hands, people would -- lives would be lost.
And what we still haven't heard from Donald Trump is why -- and well he said the other night, "I had T-shirts and shoes in those boxes," right? That's outrageous.
What also did he do to protect those documents at his properties? What did he do, to vet his employees, or people that came to the club, and determine whether or not they were being targeted, from our adversaries?
We know the Russians and the Chinese, what they do, to try to influence and gain information. And this would be a -- it had been a target-rich environment. Donald Trump hasn't announced, what has he done, in order to protect those.
COLLINS: Republicans are using those 37 counts, against him, to attack the Justice Department, and the FBI? Are they wrong to do that here?
HURD: Look, this is -- all of this stuff is not -- it's almost like it's nonsense. It's just crazy.
This is why, like the American public is frustrated with Donald Trump and Joe Biden. If you care about the boxes, in Mar-a-Lago, you should also care about what Hunter Biden is doing. If you care about whether or not Donald Trump is protecting secrets, you should also care about the Durham investigation.
And this is the frustration that the American people have. And this is why a majority of Americans do not want either Joe Biden or Donald Trump. But DOJ--
COLLINS: Yes. But you acknowledge there is differences, in the Hunter Biden stuff. You can say he did something wrong.
HURD: Sure. Sure.
COLLINS: You can always see the difference in that and holding on to nuclear information, at Mar-a-Lago.
HURD: Look, of course. And he was the leader of the Free World, right? And you have a higher expectation. So there's no question. But also, in this time, what I would like DOJ to do is show a level of transparency, because there is an erosion of trust, between the American people, and many of our institutions. And when you have something like this, I think we need to see a higher level of transparency to meet this.
But let me be clear. If one of those counts is accurate, it's a problem. And because Donald Trump is dealing with this baggage, and worried about, is he could have potentially spend the rest of his life in prison? Guess what he's not doing? Thinking about the future of our country, thinking about how we can deliver a time of unprecedented peace.
COLLINS: Sounds like you think he should drop out?
HURD: Look, no, Donald Trump needs to be beaten, in a Republican primary, right? And that's what we should -- that's what I'm planning on doing. And that's one of the reason I got in the race, because we have generational-defining challenges that we have to face with.
And we shouldn't be having to debate whether or not you should keep classified secrets in the loo, which you shouldn't, by the way. And so, this is the problem. And this is why Americans are frustrated.
And guess who is loving all this happening? Our adversaries. They love the fact that we're fighting with one another. They love the fact that they can go to their allies, and be like, "See, those people can't get democracy, right. How can you trust them? Work with us." And that's continuing to erode our position, in the world that affects every American. That's the problem. And this is why we need to make sure that we're having commonsense, in these very complicated times.
COLLINS: Will Hurd, newest GOP presidential candidate, we're going to spend a lot of time, talking to you, coming up, I imagine. And you'll be spending a lot of time, in New Hampshire and Iowa.
COLLINS: But thank you for joining us here, in studio, tonight.
HURD: Thank you.
COLLINS: Thank you.
And up next, we have a CNN exclusive interview, with former President, Barack Obama. His thoughts on democracy. Christiane Amanpour will join us, to share what the former President had to say, about this 2024 election, but also the war in Ukraine.
COLLINS: In just a few minutes from now, at 10 PM, CNN is going to air an exclusive interview, with former President, Barack Obama. He sat down, with our Christiane Amanpour, to discuss a range of topics, including the 2024 election, and the war in Ukraine.
Here's a clip from that interview.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: President Biden is running for reelection.
BARACK OBAMA, 44TH U.S. PRESIDENT: Yes.
AMANPOUR: Everybody is talking about his age. People are talking about his polls. Even there's some challenges, within the Democrats, maybe somebody will -- might start to try to primary him, et cetera.
But what I would like to know is many say that his policies, and his legislatives, and his wins, frankly, should speak for themselves.
And yet, according to the Way to Win, it's a Democrat-leaning company, firm, only some 22 percent of Latino voters, 33 percent of Black voters can actually identify something that they say he's done to specifically make their lives better.
AMANPOUR: What would you say to that? And would you -- how would you advise him to connect in a reelection?
OBAMA: I think Joe Biden has done an extraordinary job, leading the country through some very difficult times. I do not think that there's going to be any kind of serious primary challenge, to Joe Biden. And I think the Democratic Party is unified.
There was a lot of talk, you'll remember, when he was first elected, because Bernie Sanders had run that somehow there was this huge split, between progressive Democrats, and more centrist Democrats. And the truth is, is that partly because of how Joe has governed, those divisions have been bridged.
I think what's true in American politics, generally, is until you get to campaigns, people aren't paying much attention.
People have gone through a difficult time, because of COVID, and the Pandemic, and lockdowns, because of inflation, primarily the result of both, the war in Ukraine, and rising energy prices, as well as supply chain issues.
And so, people have memories about the "OK, eggs got more expensive, and gas was more expensive." And they haven't been paying as much attention to the fact that, for example, the African-American unemployment rate is lower than it's been in decades. The campaign will allow President Biden to make those arguments.
And I think that, in a media environment that's so cluttered, it's very hard to break through, until you get to election time. You'll recall when I ran for re-election, in 2012, my poll numbers
weren't that great. And we ended up winning comfortably. Part of that was just we started campaigning, and we were able to get a message out, and people said, "Yes. That policy, or this policy, or this thing left undone? That irritated me a little bit."
But overall, I think he's done a good job. And I think that's what they're going to conclude about Joe Biden as well.
AMANPOUR: When Russia started its illegal invasion, the second invasion of Ukraine?
AMANPOUR: I believe you said that democracies, it's a clarion call, it's a wake-up call.
AMANPOUR: Democracies are getting flabby and feckless.
AMANPOUR: Where does Ukraine, in your view, stand, in the fight to preserve democracy?
OBAMA: I think it's vital.
It it's interesting, before I left office, I gave speeches, not just here, in Athens, but also in Hamburg, and in London. And one of the arguments I made is, do not take for granted the extraordinary achievement of the European Union, and the fact that a continent that was wracked by war, and bloodshed, for centuries, was now as prosperous and as peaceful as any in history.
And then, now, we've seen the first war, on European soil, in recent memory, and I think it was a wake-up call to Europe. And I think it was a wake-up call to the West, and to democracies around the world, that the old ways of thinking, might makes right, big countries can do what they want to small countries, that people cannot independently determine their futures? That, those forces have to be confronted.
Watching the Ukrainians themselves, with such courage and bravery, fight back, I think that reminded Europe of who they were. And I've been impressed by the degree to which in not easy circumstances, Europe has stood up. It has provided the aid that was necessary.
I think the Biden administration has very deftly managed, maintaining that alliance, to support Ukraine. And I believe the stakes are high, to send a message, to somebody, like Putin that they are not going to just be able to willy-nilly determine the borders of other countries.
COLLINS: And Christiane joins me now.
Christiane, obviously, when Obama was president, Russia had illegally annexed Crimea, back in 2014. His administration did not provide Ukraine with lethal weapons. I understand that you asked him about that. What did he say?
AMANPOUR: Yes, I did. I asked him about didn't he think that he, and his other allies, like Angela Merkel, of Germany, had not put enough red lines, around Putin, and not confronted him enough, after the first invasion of 2014?
And he essentially said, "Look, 20/20 is hindsight." And the truth is, he said that "We dealt with Russia as it was then, and Ukraine as it is now. And we dealt with the tools that we had." So, he wasn't really going there.
But he does absolutely believe that Ukraine is fundamental to this global battle to preserve democracy.
And it's very interesting. Here we are, in this spectacular ancient city. Greece is the birthplace of democracy. He came with his Obama Foundation, with a lot of young people, who they're training and mentoring, to try to struggle, to protect democracy, in the future, and, right now, around the world, democracy and institutions that he says are really creaky, and a lot of them needing reform, not just around the world, but in the United States as well.
COLLINS: Christiane Amanpour, thank you. Great interview.
AMANPOUR: Thanks, Kaitlan.
COLLINS: And coming up, we'll remember the five lives, lost, aboard the Titan submersible.
COLLINS: We want to end tonight, by remembering the five people, who were lost, aboard the Titan.
61-year-old Stockton Rush founded OceanGate, in 2009, with the stated mission of quote, "Increasing access to the deep ocean through innovation."
58-year-old pilot, Hamish Harding, who made headlines, in 2019, for being part of a crew, that broke the world record, for circumnavigating the globe, over both poles.
48-year-old British-Pakistani billionaire, Shahzada Dawood, and his 19-year-old son, Suleman. Suleman, we should note, was a university student, in Glasgow.
And 77-year-old legendary French diver, P.H. Nargeolet. He had made dozens of dives, to the site, of the Titanic.
Tonight, we're thinking, for all of those, who knew him -- knew them, and their families.
Up next, the CNN Exclusive, "OBAMA & AMANPOUR: WILL DEMOCRACY WIN?" starts right now.