Return to Transcripts main page

The Situation Room

Coast Guard Announces Catastrophic Loss Of Submersible; India's Prime Minister Touts New Chapter In Ties With U.S. After Productive Talks With Biden At White House; Obama Says, Democratic Institutions Are Creaky But Trump Indictment Proves Rule Of Law Still Exists; Navy Says It Detected Sub Implosion Sunday And Relayed Information To Search Leaders; Sources: Trump Team Handed Over Tapes Of Interview To Special Counsel. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired June 22, 2023 - 18:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Quote, devastated about the show tonight, hope everyone is okay, sending you all love.


You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, BlueSkay, if you have an invite, the TikTok @jaketapper. I'm back there. You can tweet the show @theleadcnn.

Our coverage continues now with Alex Marquardt. He's in for Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, after days of searching, the Coast Guard just announced the catastrophic loss of the missing submersible. Debris from the vessel discovered not far from the crew's planned destination, the wreckage of the Titanic. We have deep sea experts standing by.

We'll also be taking a closer look at the five people onboard whose families and friends are now grieving. We'll be joined by guests who knew several of the passengers and understood their love of exploration and adventure.

Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Alex Marquardt, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Tonight, the Coast Guard says it is continuing its investigation of the submersible and its implosion. The discovery of debris confirming everyone's worst fears, that the underwater expedition to see the ruins of the Titanic had a disastrous end.

Our correspondents are at key locations covering the story from every angle. First, I want to go to Miguel Marquez who's in Newfoundland. Miguel, the debris field was found just off the coast of Canada where you are just 1,600 feet from the Titanic's wreckage.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. My God, Alex. We were hoping, everyone, the number of rescuers that were out there day and night hoping for a miracle. And today, it all came to an excruciating halt.


REAR ADM. JOHN MAUGER, U.S. COAST GUARD: The debris field is consistent with a catastrophic implosion of the vessel.

MARQUEZ (voice over): A catastrophic implosion. Five crew members onboard the Titan submersible gone, the vessel torn to pieces by extreme pressure.

PAUL HANKINS, U.S. NAVY DIRECTOR, SALVAGE OPERATIONS AND OCEAN ENGINEERING: We found five different major pieces of debris that told us that it was the remains of the Titan.

MARQUEZ: The destruction of the vessel so great, debris found in two different areas just in front of the Titanic, the wreckage they hoped to view.

The debris 1,600 feet from the Titanic's bow and consistent with where it would have fallen if there was an implosion as the ship was descending to the great ship on Sunday.

CARL HARTSFIELD, WOODS HOLE OCEANOGRAPHIC INSTITUTION: 200-plus meters from the bow, and consistent with the location of last communication for an implosion in the water column. And the size of the debris field is consistent with that implosion in the water column.

MARQUEZ: OceanGate, the company that owns the now destroyed vessel saying in a statement 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 these five souls and every member of their families during this tragic time.

All indications so far the implosion happened shortly after the Titan lost contact with its mother ship an hour and 45 minutes into what was expected to be around a nine-hour dive.

MAUGER: We've had sonar buoys in the water nearly continuously and have not detected any catastrophic events.

MARQUEZ: Colin Taylor was aboard the Titan last year, knew the OceanGate founder and P.H. Nargeolet, and says everyone onboard would have known the risk they were taking.

COLIN TAYLOR, WENT ON THE TITAN SUBMERSIBLE LAST YEAR: You know when you get into it that it's not without risk. This is not for the fainthearted.


MARQUEZ (on camera): Not for the fainthearted, indeed. So, what now? The officials out there say that they want to continue to map the wreckage site, and they want to try to get any remains that they can. But at this point, given the catastrophic nature of this event, that may be difficult and we may never hear from them again. Alex? MARQUARDT: All right, Miguel Marquez starting us off in Newfoundland.

Now to CNN's Veronica Miracle in Everett, Washington, the home base of the company that owned and operated this submersible. Veronica, this investigation is certainly going to be looking at the construction of this vessel, the material that was used, and the amount of real world testing that went into it. So, what are you learning?

VERONICA MIRACLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alex, I spoke at length with former subcontractor for OceanGate D.J. Virnig, who was actually part of the team that was part of the development and the testing of the Titan here in Everett, Washington, back in 2018. And he said that the design choices and the material choices that they made were considered very controversial at the time, innovative, but not tried and true methods.


He also said that they were working very quickly to develop this submersible.

Now, what he said is that they were really trying to accomplish creating a lightweight submersible that could fit a lot of people. And so they made the design choice to use carbon fiber. He explained to me that a conventional application of this material of carbon fiber can be found on airplanes where the material is under tension. But in a submersible, it is under pressure. It's an entirely different kind of force. He called it experimental and unconventional.

Here's what else he had to say.


DOUG D.J. VIRNIG, CONTRACTOR WHO WORKED ON THE TITAN SUBMERSIBLE: They created a pressure hull and took it to Woods Hole institute and subjected it to the pressures that you would find at depth where Titanic is, and it passed. But then the question is, well, if you do that repeatedly, then what happened?

So, these are the sorts of questions that if you have a long research and development program, you start answering. But if you really are pushing the envelope, there's no time to -- you're answering those questions in real-time.


MIRACLE: Alex, Virnig spoke highly of CEO Stockton Rush's vision of OceanGate's mission to really to go out and explore uncharted depths of waters of the ocean. He said, in fact, that adventure tourism, as he understood it, was not the company's mission, but selling these high ticket items, like going down to the Titanic allowed them to continue their vision of exploration and allowed fund these projects.

Now, I did ask him if he would have had the opportunity to go down to the Titan to the depths of the Titanic, would he have done it, and he said as somebody with an engineering background, knowing everything that could go wrong, he would not have felt comfortable. Alex?

MARQUARDT: Yes, several people praising the CEO's vision. Veronica Miracle, thank you very much for that reporting. And we're joined now by experts on submersibles and deep sea exploration. Thank you all for joining us this evening. It is, of course, a very sad occasion.

Captain McLaren, You were good friends with the Frenchman onboard, Paul-Henri Nargeolet. Our condolences go out to you. Captain, first, how are you processing this news?

CAPT. ALFRED MCLAREN (RET.), U.S. NAVY: Well, Alex, I'm heartsick for the people onboard and what they suffered but also for their families. And I'm angry as hell because this thing should have never happened. You know, for the last several years, anybody that's asked me, I advised them not to make a dive on that. The technology was too risky. They were trying to use the carbon fabric for the pressure hull and trying to make that with the titanium.

And most of us that are professionals and have been in the field for a long time, in my total time just under water divorced from the outside atmosphere 5.75 years at least as a nuclear submarine captain and officer and then deep sea submersible pilot just five years ago. And that mating, trying to mate them and getting that seal, and somebody who just talked previously was absolutely right. Repeated dives, flexing, you're going to work that loose. And then look at that big viewing window in the front, how thick was that and how that was fitted. There was all kinds of ways to get in trouble.

MARQUARDT: Rachel, I want to ask you about those concerns. You have studied sub disasters. You just heard those details in Veronica's report about that pressure hull made of carbon fiber. What clues are you now looking at that have been revealed so far that could explain this catastrophic implosion?

DR. RACHEL LANCE, ASSISTANT CONSULTING PROFESSOR, DUKE UNIVERSITY: Yes. Well, to repeat what Captain McLaren said, I couldn't agree more with the expert about carbon fiber. Sometimes innovation is used as a buzzword, but, really, what I think has happened in this case is the submarine industry has tried certain things and already rejected them. One of those things is carbon fiber and other similar materials, which are made by lamination.

So, what that means is these advanced materials are made by repeating and alternating the material itself with layers of epoxy. And that tends to work extremely well to create strength if you're going to build something like an airplane that will then be in the air. But what they've neglected in this particular case is the fact it's going in saltwater.

It's a well-known property of these materials that once they're in saltwater, especially when they're then mated with other materials, like titanium or steel, that you get the buildup of electrical currents, just like you don't want to be in the ocean when lightning strikes. Electrical current can then travel through saltwater much faster than the air. It breaks down the epoxy layers between these materials. And over the course of repeated pressurizations, they tend to weaken.


So, this is not exactly what in my opinion would be innovation because this is already a thing that's been tried, and it simply didn't work.

MARQUARDT: And they were trying something new. John, in terms of the investigation, you've been trained on deep sea salvage operations, what does it look like from inside of an operation like this as they try to find, to locate, lift that debris and attempt this recovery?

JOHN ISMAY, PENTAGON REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, first off is a lengthy survey period where they're likely going to have used something called an autonomous underwater vehicle, which basically looks like a large torpedo and includes a side-scan sonar in its belly basically looking down, beaming sonar waves out, getting returns back. And what that does is once it's brought back to the surface, the data can be downloaded. The imagery is looked at, and people can pretty quickly find objects on the bottom that look promising, things like straight lines, right angles that are manmade, not found in nature, pretty quickly would grab your attention.

And once you have targets of interest, then you're more likely to put down a remotely operated vehicle, which is sort of like a giant minivan-looking device held by an umbilical that transmits data in real-time back to the surface with video cameras and gripper arms. So, the people on the mothership that deploy that, can then verify the images that they saw in the sonar imagery and decide whether or not it is or is not what they're looking for and potentially use grippers to attach lifting straps and connect those to a lifting line and bring them to the surface.

MARQUARDT: And, Captain McLaren, the Coast Guard was listening closely, and they say that listening devices did not hear any signs of catastrophic failure of that catastrophic implosion. What does that tell you about the timing of this implosion and this accident?

MCLAREN: It just tells me that they didn't start the search until after it imploded. And so that's no mystery. But the question is that's sort of a sensitive area as far as national security, and there's -- I can't believe that there's no underwater acoustic devices down there to have caught that, military ones, probably classified. You know, the Titanic isn't all that far away from the thresher. They heard that implosion. But there's not been a word about picking anything up. And was there any submarine operating within several hundred miles of this, they would have picked it up.

So, there's never been mention anybody picking up the signal, and I can't believe there hasn't been some military assets, whether they're fixed on it bottom or submarines or whatever, that hasn't picked up something and it just hasn't been reported yet.

MARQUARDT: That certainly is a significant possibility. It is something that we are looking into. I want to ask you all to standby, stay with me. We're going to have much more on this disaster, what went wrong, and what happens next. And then later, we will be speaking with a fellow explorer who knew several members of the sub's crew. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.



MARQUARDT: This hour, many unanswered questions remain about exactly how and why the Titan submersible imploded killing all five people onboard. Listen to what's being said about the next steps in the investigation.


HANKINS: We continue to map the debris field.

We will do the best we can to fully map out what's down there.

MAUGER: One of the prospects for recovering crew members, and so this is an incredibly unforgiving environment down there on the seafloor.

We'll continue to work and continue to search the area down there, but I don't have an answer for prospects at this time.

Those questions about the regulations that apply and the standards, that's going to be, I'm sure, a focus of future review.


MARQUARDT: Our experts are now back with us. Captain McLaren, I want to ask you, for the families, is there any chance they'll be able to bury their loved ones?


MARQUARDT: There's no chance of recovery of the bodies because it's so deep, because of the pressure?

MCLAREN: Not because of the pressure but the environmental factors down there. I think there's not much chance, unfortunately.

MARQUARDT: So, this is a burial at sea, for lack of a better description?

MCLAREN: Exactly. Can I make a quick statement here? You mention that the submersible was filled with five explorers. That's not true. You only had one professional, one real explorer onboard, and that was P.H. Nargeolet, the French naval captain. I had dinner with him six weeks ago. 47 dive to Titanic. It was his passion. The rest really didn't have the experience to safely operate in that, and that makes me heartsick along with the way that thing was constructed.

MARQUARDT: And, Rachel, how important is it for the debris that has now been spotted on the bottom to be recovered, to be analyzed, to figure out what went wrong and to learn from this catastrophe? LANCE: To be equally as blunt from Captain McLaren, I don't think there's a lot we could learn from this because this was a company that was already defying much of what we already know about submersible design, like we mentioned before, the use of carbon fiber and the use of titanium, which is hard to work with in a way that maintains its strength were already large red flags to people who work in this field.


MARQUARDT: Captain, there has been some criticism from James Cameron, a person whose name is perhaps more closely tied to the Titanic than anyone because of the movie that he directed. And he told ABC News, quote, I'm struck by the similarity of the Titanic disaster itself where the captain was repeatedly warned about ice ahead of his ship and yet steamed it full speed into an ice field on a moonless night, and many people died as a result. Captain, do you fear that warning signs were ignored here?

MCLAREN: Absolutely. And it sort of reminds me on that launch into space of one of the space vehicles in which the seals gave way.

MARQUARDT: And then there was an implosion there as well, you mean?

MCLAREN: Exactly. Now, the warnings -- the signs were all there for a long period of time. And you had 30 professionals warn the CEO of that.

You know, it's one thing for a professional to take a calculated risk. It's another thing to be foolhardy and risk innocent lives along with that.

MARQUARDT: Yes, the reference you just made there is to a 2018 letter in which industry experts criticized the submersible for not being up to code.

John, there are a lot of people who want to get going into the ocean, who want to explore its depths. Some people call it tourism. Some people call it exploration. What do you think the implications of this accident are for the submersible industry?

ISMAY: I think that, you know, a readdressal of safety is probable paramount before people can, as Captain McLaren said, be passengers, be tourists essentially going to the bottom. I think submersibles will likely be subjected to additional scrutiny, tests and evaluation of their design to make sure that they can actually operate at these depths that people want to go to.

It is an extremely unforgiving environment. There's really no room for mistakes, and so many mistakes can mean you instantly fatal.

MARQUARDT: And certainly a lot of questions still out there and the investigation will take some time. Thank you all for joining me. And, Captain, again, our condolences on the loss of your friend.

MCLAREN: Thank you, thank you. MARQUARDT: And coming up, the victims who lost their lives pursuing their spirit of exploration, their stories and their legacies, that's next.



MARQUARDT: We now know the fate of the five people who set out on a tour to see the ruins of the Titanic. The Coast Guard concluding that their submersible imploded killing all five onboard.

CNN's Brian Todd is taking a closer look at the victims. Brian, they did come from different backgrounds, but they really shared a sense of adventure.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They really did, Alex. The victims ranged in age from 19 to 77 and included two world renowned explorers and an expedition leader who sometimes pushed the bounds of regulations to pursue his vision of deep sea travel.


TODD (voice over): Stockton Rush once said he wanted to be remembered as an innovator. Two years ago, he explained to Mexican travel blogger Alan Estrada his mindset while constructing the Titan submersible.

STOCKTON RUSH, CEO, OCEANGATE: I think it was General MacArthur who said you're remembered for the rules you break. And I've broken some rules to make this. I think I've broken them with logic and good engineering behind me.

TODD: Rush's penchant for breaking rules often brought controversy. Submersible industry leaders as well as some former employees of OceanGate claimed he was dismissive of regulations and safety standards. Rush once countered his critics by saying, quote, we risk capital, we don't risk people. And he always seemed to have an eye on the future.

RUSH: The future of mankind is under water. It's not on Mars. We're not going to have a base on mars or the moon. We'll try. We'll waste a lot of money. We will have a base underwater.

TODD: 77-year-old French explorer Paul-Henri Nargeolet had earned the nickname Mr. Titanic because of his 30-plus dives down to the sunken ocean liner. Fellow explorer Bill Blaesin met Nargeolet in 2010 when they traveled in a ship together over the Titanic.

BILL BLAESING, FORMER PRESIDENT, BLUE HOLE EXPEDITIONS: He's absolutely passionate about it. And the great thing is he's humble and kind. He's not arrogant like some of the folks in this business. He's a true gentleman explorer.

TODD: This wasn't the first adventure for British billionaire Hamish Harding either. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've always wanted to do this and the sheer experience of looking out at the window is something I'm looking forward to.

TODD: Last year, Harding went to space with Jeff Bezos on the Blue Origin flight and was known for exploring every corner of the Earth.

JANNICKE MIKKELSEN, EXPLORER, FRIEND OF HAMISH HARDING: Hamish is larger than life. He lives exploration. He's an explorer to the core of his soul. He has been to the bottom of Planet Earth in the Mariana Trench, to Challenger Deep, he's even been in space. We circumnavigated the planet together of the North and South Pole and set the world speed record.

TODD: Shahzada Dawood came from one of Pakistan's most wealthiest families. His teenage son, Suleman, was onboard Titan with him. Shahzada Dawood's friend, Bill Diamond, describes him as intelligent, perpetually curious and believes his friend was aware of the risks he was taking.

BILL DIAMOND, FRIEND OF SHAHZADA DAWOOD: He's not what I would consider one of these sports adventurists. He doesn't go on death defying missions or ride motorcycles over cliffs or any these sort of things, parachuting, scuba diving, to the best of my knowledge. So, I never thought of him as a daredevil in any sense.


TODD (on camera): Stockton Rush's connection to the Titanic could well have been about more than just pushing the bounds of exploration.


The New York Times reports Rush's wife, Wendy, is a great, great granddaughter of two first class passengers who are aboard the Titanic on its fateful voyage, retailing magnate Isidor Straus and his wife, Ida, who died when the Titanic sank. Alex?

MARQUARDT: Back in 1912. Brian Todd, thank you very much.

Joining me now, someone who knew several people who died aboard the Titan, Aaron Newman is an investor in OceanGate and he's been a passenger on the Titan submersible himself. Aaron, thank you so much for joining us. Our condolences to you. We know that you knew several people onboard. Here you are in this photo in front of the Titan along with the OceanGate CEO, Stockton Rush. How are you remembering your friends and colleagues today?

AARON NEWMAN, FORMER PASSENGER ON TITAN SUBMERSIBLE: Well, it was a group of explorers and Stockton was a visionary. Here is a man who -- he had a vision of exploring the bottom of the ocean, and he had a passion around the fact that we don't know much about what's going on down there, and we really need to. And he was pushing the limits and making it happen. He had a vision, and he -- you know, few other people could do it, and he did it. So, he was a hero of mine and somebody who made these type of things happen. And people like P.H., there was another person who had been in submarines for 60 years. No one had more experience in a sub than P.H., and soft-spoken, humble, just a true gentleman. And people like Hamish, who -- they were doing so many exploration trips and pushing the limits, and the way this happened was so unfortunate, and we feel for the families.

But in that sub was a sense of exploration and more experience in there than you can see anywhere else in the world.

MARQUARDT: We certainly do feel for the families today. Aaron, in terms of figuring out what happened, the Coast Guard is saying this is catastrophe implosion. Both ends of the pressure hull, the bow and the tail found in separate places on the ocean floor or at least spotted. What does that indicate to you about what may have caused this implosion?

NEWMAN: Well, I mean we're talking about 4,000 meters down, the amount of pressure and the forces, you know? We are truly pushing the limit when we go to places like this. And what we need is more investment. We need more people looking at how do we do this as safely as possible.

And that's the silver lining I want to take out of this is that ocean exploration has not been a priority of what we're doing. We look at space as very exciting and sexy, but, really, the ocean is where we need to put our effort and resources into to explore, to build a base, to go -- to go find the biology and the species, the resources, the energy. There's so much down there in our planet that we're not even looking at when we're looking at other planets.

MARQUARDT: That sense of adventure certainly undying despite this tragedy. Aaron Newman, thank you very much.

And just ahead, we have an exclusive one-on-one interview with former President Barack Obama. He sat down with CNN's Christiane Amanpour to discuss Donald Trump and threats to democracy.



MARQUARDT: Tonight, President Biden is hosting a state dinner for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi after their talks today at the White House. Now, Modi is touting a new chapter in relations with the United States despite ongoing concerns about human rights in India.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond is at the White House. Jeremy, this was a controversial move for the White House to host Modi, both leaders facing questions today about democracy backsliding in India. What did they say?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's exactly right, Alex. And President Biden was certainly making an ideological tradeoff in granting the Indian prime minister the honor of a state visit, only the third leader to receive that honor. And you can hear behind me the horns going off now as the Indian prime minister arrives here at the White House just showing that pomp and circumstance that he's getting here.

But President Biden he has made this idea of autocracy versus democracy central to his foreign policy, and yet in India, we have seen democracy backsliding, human rights backsliding. And so President Biden making the choice that he is going to give all these honors to the Indian prime minister despite that, putting the strategic interest of the United States, whether with relations to China or the U.S.'s economic interests above those human rights concerns.

But both leaders were pressed on human rights concerns in India. President Biden effectively sidestepped the question, though he did say he believes democracy is in India's DNA. The Indian prime minister, for his part, he really seized on those remarks, insisting the DNA is in the country's veins. And he also claimed there is no space for discrimination.

But the fact the Indian prime minister took questions at a news conference, that in and of itself was very significant. Modi has not taken questions in his nine years as prime minister at a news conference, but that was the result of a heavy back and forth between the White House and Indian officials who I'm told initially balked at the idea of Modi taking questions in that format.

MARQUARDT: And we are seeing there live pictures of the Indian prime minister arriving at the White House being greeted by the president and first lady.

Jeremy, the president was asked about calling China's dictator -- sorry, excuse me, China's President Xi Jinping a dictator. Those were his words. And what impact could that have on Chinese relations? How did he respond to that?

J. DIAMOND: Yes. Well, President Biden not only called Xi Jinping a dictator but he also talked about the fact that he believed Xi was in the dark about that spy balloon that flew over the United States in February. The president, though, very much standing by his remarks. Listen.



JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: The idea of my choosing and avoiding saying what I think is the facts with regard to the relationship with India -- with China is just not something I'm going to change very much.

I expect to be meeting with President Xi sometime in the future, in the near term, and I don't think it's had any real consequence.


J. DIAMOND: And that is the key point there from the president at the end. He says that he doesn't believe his remarks will be of any consequence given the fact, of course, that this controversy emanated from the fact that this comes at a critical moment, Secretary Blinken just returning from Beijing where they're hoping to get U.S.-China relations back on track. Alex?

MARQUARDT: All right, the president sticking to his words. Jeremy Diamond at the White House, thanks very much.

MARQUARDT: Tonight, former President Barack Obama is speaking out about democracy in this country in the U.S. as well as the federal indictment of his successor, Donald Trump. He sat down for an exclusive interview with CNN Chief International Anchor Christiane Amanpour. Christiane now joins us from the Greek capital, Athens, where she spoke with President Obama.

So, Christiane, what did the former president tell you about the health of American democracy?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, it was really interesting. He's here with the Obama Foundation where they train up a whole new generation of leaders to try to get democracy going in their own countries around the world.

He did also talk about India and China, and he said, you know, the world is complicated. Obviously, India is a big piece of this administration's strategic new foreign policy when it comes to trying to get countries on side while they essentially confront China.

And then we moved onto the U.S., and I said, you know, what is the world meant to think about an indicted former president running for office, and he talked about all, you know, democratic institutions around the world including the U.S. really needing to be strengthened. Here's that part of our conversation.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Our existing democratic institutions are creaky, and we're going to have to reform them.

AMANPOUR: So, let's ask about the creaky or not institutions in the United States.


AMANPOUR: The spectacle of a former president being federally indicted, how is the rest of the world, the democratic world, maybe even the non-democratic world meant to interpret that indictment and indeed the fact a federal indictee is able to run for the highest office in the land, maybe even the world?

OBAMA: It's less than ideal, right? But the fact that we have a former president who is having to answer to charges brought by prosecutors does uphold the basic notion that nobody's above the law. And the allegations will now be sorted out through a court process.

And I think I'm more concerned when it comes to the United States with the fact that not just one particular individual is being accused of undermining existing laws but that more broadly we've seen whether it's through the gerrymandering of districts, whether it's trying to silence critics through changes in legislative process, whether it's attempts to intimidate the press.

A strand of anti-democratic sentiment that we've seen in the United States, it's something that is right now most prominent in the Republican Party. But I don't think it's something that is unique to one party. I think there is a less tolerance for ideas that don't suit us, and sort of the habits of a free and open exchange of ideas and the idea that we all agree to the rules of the game. And even if the outcomes aren't always the ones we like, we still abide by those rules. I think that's weakened since I left office, and we're going to need to strengthen them again.


AMANPOUR: And so the president also obviously talked up the re- election prospects of his own previous vice president, Joe Biden, and he spoke about where Ukraine fits in the global democracy map, and also really interestingly where growing global inequalities and inequities play in actually weakening the possibility of democracies flourishing. And also, as he said before, if we don't learn to work together, then eventually we will destroy ourselves.


And I think that's a really, really important theme especially as he tries to bring up this new generation of democratic youth leaders. Alex?

MARQUARDT: And, Christiane, it is fairly rare to hear from former President Barack Obama. What else stood out to you from this conversation?

AMANPOUR: Well, exactly. And it was really interesting to see him here. As you say this is the birthplace of democracy. We're standing in front of the acropolis. It's really the most amazing setting.

But I think, you know, it was just very interesting to hear him talk about a whole range of issues especially about, you know, the need for the world to honor women at -- at a time when the U.N. has come out with a really devastating report about how bias against women around the world is increasing not decreasing. And you talked about obviously climate -- all those issues that really only democracies and the democratic process, working together, building coalitions and using and harnessing political will.

He also, of course, talked about A.I. and how that also needs to be regulated so it actually can work for the benefit of people and not against their employment in other prospects.

MARQUARDT: An extraordinarily wide ranging conversation in Athens. As you point out, the perfect setting to have that discussion about democracy.

Christiane Amanpour in Athens, thank you very much. And you can see the full Obama interview tonight. "Obama and Amanpour:

Will Democracy Win?" That airs at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, only on CNN.

And coming up, there is breaking news on what the U.S. Navy detected in the ocean around the time the Titan submersible went missing.



MARQUARDT: And we are getting breaking news right now. New reporting of what the U.S. Navy knew about the fate of the missing submersible days ago.

Our Pentagon correspondent Oren Liebermann joins us now with details.

Oren, what are you being told?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have learned from a senior navy official that the Navy picked up on an audio signature similar to an implosion or explosion on Sunday around the time that the Titan submersible went missing and roughly the same location. That information, according to the Navy official, was immediately passed on to the on scene commander is ended help inform the range of the search and helped them narrow down where they were actually looking for the submersible itself.

Crucially, though, and the reason the search did not end right there is that the sound, according to the officials, was not definitive. They could not say for sure it was an implosion or an explosion. Because of that, the mission itself and the multinational effort that we saw play out over the last few days remained a search and rescue mission instead of transitioning to a recovery mission, which would mean they were looking to recovery essentially those who had perished in this.

Because the sound was not definitive, they could not come to that conclusion and we saw it remain a search and rescue effort. Crucially, the Navy also played a part in interpreting the other sounds that were picked up on, for example, the banging we heard about a few days ago. Officials say it was likely either natural light or noises coming off the ships and vessels that were responding to the search.

But, Alex, a crucial piece of information, the acoustics of the implosion or explosion, even if they did not know what it was were picked up shortly after it happened on Sunday.

MARQUARDT: And, Alex, what do we know about the system that picked up that acoustic signature on Sunday?

LIEBERMANN: So, Alex, this is a secret system, of acoustic sensors that the Navy has throughout the ocean. It is used because sound or acoustic signatures travel very well and very far underwater. So, if you have something happen, you could use this series of sensors to get a better idea of exactly where it is. This could be used to try to detect the movement of submarines. As an example of how long the Navy has had either this system or

something like it, a similar system of acoustic sensors underwater was used back in the late 60s and 70s to pick up on a Soviet submarine that had imploded in much the same fashion in the Pacific. Ultimately, the Soviets were searching in an incorrect location. The U.S. Navy was able to use a system like this one to figure out where that implosion happened by zeroing in on that location.

MARQUARDT: Very interesting. Oren Liebermann at the Pentagon, thanks very much for that reporting.

And coming up on "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT", an interview with the stepson of Paul-Henri Nargeolet, one of the man who was on board the Titan submersible. That's coming up at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

Next here in THE SITUATION ROOM, we will tell you what we are learning about evidence in the special counsel's case against Donald Trump. How did prosecutors get multiple recordings of the former president?



MARQUARDT: We are getting new information about multiple audio recordings of former President Donald Trump that are evidence in the classified documents case.

CNN senior legal affairs correspondent Paula Reid is working the story for us.

So, Paula, what are you learning about these additional recordings and who was on them?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, last night, the special counsel revealed they had already begun the process of handing over evidence to defense counsel. They were required to do that under the rules of discovery.

One thing that caught our eye is the fact that they said they had interviews, plural. And, of course, we previously reported on the recording of an interview that Trump was doing with some folks that were working on his former chief of staff Mark Meadows' autobiography where he is heard of complaining about General Mark Milley, and also appears to suggest that he has classified documents. We were not aware of any other interviews.

So, we did some digging on what are these other interviews. We learned that the former president's own lawyers handed over around half a dozen additional interviews. They were subpoenaed earlier this year for any materials that referenced General Mark Milley. So, we've learned that many of the recordings that Trump team handed over our interviews with authors or journalists where Trump mentions Mark Milley but does not refer to any classified documents. And I think it's important to remind people that during the discovery process, prosecutors have to have over everything they have collected, not just what is going to be potentially incriminating or used in trial.

Now, we know they have at least one other source providing them audio recordings that they have been evidence but our sources tell us that none of these additional interviews or recordings rise to the level of significance that the original Bedminster meeting in July 2021, that was -- of course, we broke that story and it's in the indictment of that reporting.

MARQUARDT : That was terrific reporting.

This does, Paula, appear to be moving quickly.

REID: it was surprising how quickly they started the process, and that suggests two things. One, unlike other U.S. attorneys, the special counsel's office, they are only working on this case. They have another investigation. But when it comes to prosecution, this is the only thing they have to focus on.

It also suggests they don't expect any chance of a plea deal from the former president. They would wait to begin the discovery process. We know the special counsel has said publicly he wants to push for a speedy trial which translates to a trial before the election. The former president, though, has every reason to want to push this until after the elections. So, that's going to be a key tension here.

MARQUARDT: He seems to be trying to drag it out.

REID: Yeah.

MARQUARDT: Paula Reid, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

I'm Alex Marquardt in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thank you very much for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.