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Kobe Bryant, 13-Year-Old Daughter Among Nine Killed In Helicopter Crash; John Bolton's Draft Book Ties Trump To Ukraine Aid Hold; Remembering The Life And Legacy Of NBA's Kobe Bryant. Aired 9- 10p ET

Aired January 26, 2020 - 21:00   ET

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


[21:00:19]

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to CNN this evening. A lot of news this evening. I'm Jim Sciutto in New York.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Poppy Harlow. We have breaking news tonight. The sports world, the entire world, we are all mourning the loss of a legend tonight. 41-year-old Kobe Bryant killed in a Los Angeles helicopter crash today along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other people. All dying in that chopper crash. No word yet on the cause of it as federal investigators begin their work.

SCIUTTO: It's just the most devastating news for his family, all those other families as well. Bryant was on his way to coach his daughter's basketball team. Tonight we've been hearing the tributes pouring in. A massive crowd is gathering at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, a setting for so many of Bryant's career highlights, and in San Antonio and other NBA cities across the country including Madison Square Garden just down the street from us.

Players taking 24-second pauses to start the game. That to honor the man who, of course, wore 24 for much of his career.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have decided that whoever wins the tip, and in this case Toronto, they are going to let the shot clock run out because of the number 24 to honor Kobe Bryant.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: They are deliberately taking a 24-second violation there in honor of his wearing 24. He did wear two numbers. The Lakers retired two numbers in his honor, the only player in the league to have two numbers retired by the same team. Just one of many honors that he gained during his career.

HARLOW: What a remarkable career. Drafted right out of high school. He won five NBA championships, was an 18-time All-Star Olympic gold medalist twice over. And also the only athlete to ever win a basketball championship and an Academy Award. But something that may have meant much more to him than any role on the court or on the silver screen, his role as a devoted father to four daughters. And, again, one of them, Gianna, on that helicopter with him today when it went down.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Look at that smile on that little girl's face.

Coming up, we will have the latest from the crash scene, what we're learning there. We are also outside Staples Center. And we have legendary broadcaster, sportscaster Bob Costas. He's going to join us to help memorialize Kobe Bryant, what he meant to the game of basketball and frankly beyond the game of basketball, as well.

Let's begin, though, with CNN Correspondent, Polo Sandoval with a look back at Bryant's life and career.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He was born Kobe Bean Bryant. But to the world, the 41-year-old was a global basketball phenomenon. The son of a pro-basketball player, the Philly native finished high school and was quickly drafted by the NBA.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Greatness lies ahead for this young man.

SANDOVAL: At the time Bryant was the youngest player in the league's history at just over 17 years old.

KOBE BRYANT, FORMER NBA STAR: I think a lot of people, even when I came out of high school, I think people were kind of, kind of giving me the cold shoulder to begin with because I think unfortunately some people wanted me to fail because I defied the odds.

SANDOVAL: The MVP spent his entire pro-career with the L.A. Lakers winning five NBA championships with the team. During his 20 seasons, Bryant became one of the league's top scoring players, even surpassed Michael Jordan, becoming fourth on the NBA's all-time scoring list. On two occasions he helped secure team USA Olympic gold on the world stage.

Bryant dealt with controversy, too. In 2003 he was charged with sexual assault, accused of raping a 19-year-old hotel employee. The charge was later dropped and the case was settled in civil court.

Bryant also overcame various sport-related injuries, always determined to heal and return to the court. Then in the fall of 2015 he announced his plan to retire from the NBA and played his final game in 2016. The following year, his jersey numbers, 8 and 24, were retired. Since then he has made his mark on Hollywood, winning an Academy Award for his film "Dear Basketball."

But his greatest accomplishment may have been off the hardwood. He was a husband and proud father of four children.

BRYANT: We all have moments like this in life where it just seems like that day is never going to end, you know. It just seems like the moment that you're in just feels like the darkest moment to you, you know. And at that point you really kind of have to step outside of yourself and put it in perspective and understand that, you know, I had many, many blessings, a lot of things to be thankful for.

SANDOVAL: At 6'6" Bryant was more than just a literal giant. L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti wrote, "Bryant inspired, amazed, and thrilled people everywhere with his incomparable skill on the court and awed us with his intellect and humility as a father, husband, creative genius, and ambassador for the game he loved."

[21:05:14]

Polo Sandoval, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCIUTTO: We're going to be hearing a lot about him tonight. His athletic accomplishments, his dedication to his family. Just tremendous talent he's shown after his career on the court.

CNN Correspondent, Paul Vercammen, he's at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Let's begin, though, with correspondent Nick Watt. He is near the crash scene in Calabasas.

Nick, tell us what the latest is there. We know it's early in the investigation, but is there any idea as to whether it was weather- related, mechanical, do we know at this point?

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Nothing official yet, Jim. And the 18 NTSB personnel who will be coming to investigate are still in the air flying west. They'll get here in a few hours. The FAA has been involved. But nothing official on cause yet from any officials here in California. But listen, weather is something that they will be looking into.

Everybody around here has told us that it was very foggy this morning. CNN Weather says that there was in fact 100 percent humidity in some parts of the air. So visibility would have been low. I spoke to a pilot friend of mine who was going to fly today and didn't because of the visibility. So that is one of the things that they will be looking into to try and ascertain why this happened.

But I've got to say, Jim, having spent the whole day out here, that's not the question on people's minds. People are still just in absolute shock that Kobe Bryant has died aged 41. You know, he played 20 years, as we've described here, with the Lakers. But he really became part of Los Angeles. And people, you know, were saying we miss him because he was such a hard-working guy.

The fact that he scored 60 points on his last game with the Lakers, that's something that people don't forget. He didn't just slack it off at the end. This is a guy who played to the end. And also this morning we understand from parents who were waiting at the Mamba Sports Academy, they were expecting Kobe and his daughter Gigi for a game there at mid-day.

It was his involvement in things like that. Youth sports and not just boys' youth sports, girls' youth sports as well, that really helped him win the hearts of people here in Los Angeles. Plenty people today walking around wearing Kobe Bryant jerseys looking bewildered. You know, and at that event he was supposed to attend today when the news broke, kids got down on their knees and prayed.

And I spoke to one man just now who said that he got the news when they were coming out of church this morning. The whole congregation stopped outside the church and prayed. This is somebody that Los Angeles will take a while to get over. As one of the sportscasters on the radio here this morning said, you know, for Los Angeles this is like the JFK assassination. We will remember where we were when we got the news that Kobe Bryant had died aged 41 -- guys.

HARLOW: Far, far too soon, Nick. Thank you for the reporting. We'll get back to the Staples Center. And our Paul Vercammen a little bit later this hour. But now legendary sportscaster to talk all about the man, the life, the game, Bob Costas is with us.

BOB COSTAS, AWARD-WINNING SPORTSCASTER: Hey, Poppy, Jim.

HARLOW: You know, if you ever wondered if hard work matters, he embodied it, right? There's that story about tearing his rotator cuff. And what does he say? He says, can I shoot with my left hand?

COSTAS: He was magnificently talented. There have been other players who came right out of college into the NBA, only a handful, LeBron is one, Kevin Garnett was another, went on to the Hall of Fame caliber players. So he was 18 years old when he hit the NBA. You start out with magnificent talent, but he was always a legendarily hard worker, even at the peak of his career before age and injuries may have slowed him a little bit.

He always came back after each offseason having added something to his game, a new move, a new dimension. And then what you mentioned, Poppy, he had a torn Achilles tendon late in his career after he played 15, 16 years in the league and already had accumulated first ballot, no question, Hall of Fame credentials. And at an advanced athletic age, he tears an Achilles tendon, he comes back nine months later and barely weeks after that breaks a bone in his knee.

HARLOW: Yes

COSTAS: Comes back from that, tears the rotator cuff, and is still determined, goes through grueling, grueling rehab. This isn't just rehab that the average person would go through. This is rehab to play again at the highest possible level so that the last image of him with fans and for his own peace of mind could be something close to vintage Kobe Bryant.

Now, it was mentioned a moment ago he scored 60 points in his last game.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

COSTAS: Just a reality check.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

COSTAS: There was nothing at stake in that game against the Utah Jazz. There was no playoff spot at stake. And he did take 50 shots in the game because after all it was his farewell game. Nobody cared and he wanted to go out on that high note.

HARLOW: There you go.

SCIUTTO: Remarkable that he did. And you always -- you hear this from players who played with him or against him. He worked harder than anyone.

[21:10:05]

COSTAS: He did.

SCIUTTO: He was in the gym longer from a young age. And you, you met him first as an 18-year-old.

COSTAS: I did. The NBA was on NBC from 1990 through 2002. So it encompassed the beginning portions of his career, both as a young player and after he really hit his prime and played on championship teams. And my first interview with him came during his rookie year in 1996. And I was struck even then by how uncommonly poised he was, how aware he was. He didn't have the usual youth for an NBA star.

His dad had played in the league, Joe "Jellybean" Bryant, teammate of Dr. Jay and Julius Irving in the 1970s.

SCIUTTO: Kobe Bean Bryant.

COSTAS: The Kobe Bean Bryant. Teammate of Dr. Jay's, his dad was, in Philadelphia. But then the family moved to Italy. So he spent eight, nine years as a kid in Italy.

HARLOW: Yes.

COSTAS: Spoke fluent Italian. Now he comes back as an 18-year-old. He's kind of a man of the world. And when I spoke with him, it was striking not just how aware he was about basketball, but he had media awareness, he was self-possessed. And as he said in that clip that we saw a moment ago, he was resented by a lot of people.

HARLOW: Yes.

COSTAS: Because he had been anointed as a superstar, as some kind of icon before he had proven himself.

HARLOW: Yes.

COSTAS: And he was determined to prove himself.

SCIUTTO: Well, you know, 20 all-star appearances, the championships.

COSTAS: Yes.

SCIUTTO: He certainly proved himself and beyond.

HARLOW: Many times over. You were mentioning that final game. And we've just been watching clips of it, as you've been talking.

COSTAS: Yes.

HARLOW: Stand by, Bob. Stay here. Let's go to the Staples Center tonight just to see the scene in Los Angeles. Our Paul Vercammen is there. And then we'll get right back to you, Bob.

What is it like, Paul?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy and Jim, it's a little bit surreal because it's the Grammys tonight. And they're at the Staples Center. So once in a while you'll see somebody walk right through this crowd dressed to go to the Grammys.

And yet this is now this makeshift memorial to Kobe Bryant. And behind me, I'll just step out of the frame, you can see all these people gathered. They are dropping flowers down there. They're chanting "Kobe." They are also chanting "Gigi" for Kobe's daughter.

They are reflecting on what Kobe meant to the city of Los Angeles. And we'll talk to a lifelong Laker fan. Come on in here Gurdev. You were telling us the Lakers and Kobe Bryant, a connection for you as we see you dressed in your Bryant jersey.

GURDEV ANAND, LIFELONG LAKERS FAN: Yes, absolutely. I mean, growing up in L.A. as a child, I mean, I watched Laker games since I was -- as long as I can remember. And for me I think Kobe's more than just a basketball player. It's him as a person, you know, transitioning out of basketball and into something else and pursuing perfection. So for me it's surreal this is happening. I still kind of don't believe it, but I'm glad I was able to make it out here today.

VERCAMMEN: Well, you expressed what a lot of people have expressed to me today, which is they thought maybe this is just some sort of roadkill on the information superhighway, trash on the internet, not true.

ANAND: Yes. Yes, I spent, like, I don't know, five, 10 minutes on Twitter today this morning when I first heard looking it up, you know, hoping that it was not, again, not true. Obviously you hate to hear anyone's passed away. But for me personally Kobe was as close to an idol as someone could be. And so to hear that was just absolutely tragic.

VERCAMMEN: Well, I appreciate your sentiments. Laker fans here gathered outside Staples. I would say at least 1500, 2,000. Very hard to calculate just how many but, again.

HARLOW: Yes.

VERCAMMEN: They're absolutely floored by this. Their hearts have been ripped out and they are just gathering to remember Kobe Bryant. Back to you. SCIUTTO: Well, just down the street from us here, at Madison Square

Garden, his picture was up there on the screen.

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: I wonder for folks, place this, someone like you who has so much experience, following sports icons and he'd been -- a lot of people use the term sports icon, but he lived that and more. A moment like this where someone young, a talent like this, a presence like this who dies young. What does it compare to?

COSTAS: No two situations are exactly alike. But I'm reminded of Roberto Clemente who died on a mission of mercy, New Year's Eve into New Year's Day, taking off to bring supplies to earthquake-stricken Nicaragua in 1972 into '73.

Thurman Monson, the great Yankee catcher, he was the pilot of the plane and not that experienced a pilot, taking off from his home in Canton, Ohio, and the plane crashed and he was killed which led to a very moving scene at Yankee Stadium where before the game all eight players other than the catcher stood on the field.

But the catcher's position was kept vacant in honor of him. And then as the game proceeded, one of his closest friends Bobby Mercer, who had been one of the eulogists, delivered a come-from-behind game- winning hit in the bottom of the 9th almost as if it was scripted.

I'm trying to think of who else would be on that list.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

COSTAS: Rocky Marciano died in a plane crash, the only undefeated heavyweight championship.

[21:15:02]

SCIUTTO: Payne Stewart, you know, you have that.

COSTAS: Payne Stewart, the great golfer. Yes.

SCIUTTO: You know you talk about tributes here, we mentioned that the players taking this 24-second violation as a tribute to him, kind of their own moment of silence. Of course he wore the number 24. The other one we noticed players playing tonight because of course the NBA goes on, and they have been writing his name and number on their shoes. I think we have pictures of this and "rest in peace."

Listen, he was -- well, here's the folks taking this 24-second violation as a tribute to Kobe Bryant. But a lot of the players writing their names on their shoes tonight as a tribute to him as well.

COSTAS: Sports sometimes provides moments of genuine grace. The Thurman Monson moment was a moment of grace.

HARLOW: Yes. COSTAS: This is inspired to take a 24-second violation, and both teams

did, so that neither team would have a competitive advantage.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

COSTAS: When the Spurs got the ball next, they did the same thing. And then the game proceeded and I'm told it's being done at other NBA games as well. And LeBron James, coincidentally, passed Kobe Bryant only last night for third place on the all-time NBA scoring list. And he had worn sneakers with Mamba 24 written on them in playing that game in tribute to Kobe. And I guess the last tweet that Kobe Bryant ever sent out was a tribute, a thumbs up to a guy he called, "my brother," LeBron James.

SCIUTTO: The first guy to congratulate him was the man whose record had been broken.

HARLOW: And he left the game -- we'll talk a lot more about his life obviously. But he left the game at peace and he had a cup of coffee the next morning, and he went to church, and he said thank you for the career I've had. And he did so much more after. So stay with us.

COSTAS: OK.

HARLOW: We're going to talk about the life after basketball.

COSTAS: Sure.

HARLOW: And the family man and what he meant to his family. Ahead, Bob. Thank you so much for being here.

SCIUTTO: We're continuing to follow breaking news. Reactions pouring in. Memorials pouring in including the special tribute in Los Angeles tonight at the Grammys. This by Alicia Keys and Boys 2 Men.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALICIA KEYS, MUSICIAN: We love you, Kobe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[21:21:25]

SCIUTTO: Right now the world mourning the loss of an NBA legend, really a legend around the world, Kobe Bryant, dead at just 41 after a helicopter crash just outside L.A.

HARLOW: Nine victims in all, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna by his side, among the victims. We're joined now by Gotham Chopra who got really rare insight and spent so much time with Kobe Bryant making this film, "Kobe Bryant's Muse." Bob Costas is also back with us.

Gotham, thank you so much for being here. If you could -- we hear so much about the man and his athletic ability and achievements, but talk about the man himself because one thing you point out is his humility. GOTHAM CHOPRA, DIRECTOR, "KOBE BRYANT'S MUSE": Yes. Thanks for having

me. It's a difficult night but it feels also good to pay some tribute. Because he was special. I mean, I am a fan. I grew up watching -- actually Kobe and I kind of bonded because I grew up in the same era he did. I was a Celtics fan, of course. He was a Lakers fan and then he became a Laker legend. But we bonded over that.

But -- so I got to know him towards, you know, the end of his career when he got injured and we did the documentary chronicling his comeback. But then I got to know him, sort of as he was transitioning out of basketball, and really as he was embracing this role as father. And over the last few years I would say every time we texted, it wasn't highlights from the NBA, it was highlights with Gigi, his daughter, and his older daughter, too, who was a great -- who is a volleyball player.

So, you know, I saw those different sides of him. And humility is not something that often came to people's minds when they thought of him. But I think, you know, in terms of embracing all of these other things and searching for, you know, his purpose after basketball, he really sought out to learn from people, and that was refreshing.

SCIUTTO: The other essential part of the Mamba mentality, right, as it came to be known, was just his deep, deep intensity. I just want to play a quick clip from him describing what that meant to him. Have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRYANT: I had to separate myself. So I created the Black Mamba to embrace the villain nature that's in all of us, using that as a weapon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCIUTTO: Yes. The villain nature, Bob Costas. Tell us how he -- I mean, you talked about the way he recovered from injuries, the way he prepared for the game. But he also notoriously, I mean, he was a trash talker on the field. I mean, he was a supreme competitor.

COSTAS: He was a maniacal competitor. And there are some people who want the ball or they want it to be their turn at-bat in the most crucial moments. He was that. That went beyond talent. It was just a quality that he had. I'm reminded of a game that we covered on NBC in 2000. In the finals the Pacers against Lakers. Game four, the Lakers lead two games to one. The Pacers, if they win on their home floor are on the verge of evening the series and game five was in Indianapolis as well.

Shaquille O'Neal fouls out of the game. The young Kobe Bryant, who for a long time was kind of Robin to Batman in the public mind, because Shaq was such an overpowering force, the young Kobe Bryant steps up and just takes a stranglehold on this game which goes into overtime. And he's the hero of the game. That goes beyond talent. You have to want to be in that moment. And that typified his entire career, as did the fact that after Shaquille O'Neal left and went to the Miami Heat, there was famously, or infamously, friction between the two of them.

[21:25:04]

They have long since reconciled and Shaq is among those who's expressed his heartbreak. They became close again. But there was friction, and Shaq left. Kobe won or led his team to two NBA championships. Of the five, two of them were without Shaquille O'Neal at his side.

HARLOW: Gotham, back to you about who he was and how you knew him most recently. And you say that was more as a father really than even as a super star and as a sports hero and a sports icon. What do you want to say to his children? He still has three children behind, the love of his life, Vanessa. They've been married for about 20 years. What should they know?

CHOPRA: I mean, it's impossible. I mean, I'd say the grief I think everyone is feeling is just compounded by the fact that, you know, his 13-year-old daughter was with him. I have a 12-year-old. I can't even fathom. And, you know, I think Vanessa, who, you know, has known him pretty much her entire adult life and they had a whirlwind romance. And Kobe just -- I mean, he talked endlessly about her.

He loved her the same way he did when they started out. So I think, you know, hopefully those memories that they've had, those shared life and three beautiful girls that they still have together will carry her forward. But, you know, his legacy on and off the court is profound. And just watching all the images of the people outside Staples Center, hearing Bob tell so many amazing stories is -- it's hard to reconcile. I don't know that I've even been able to fully process it.

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: We are hearing so many stories of him as a doting father, probably a side to him that folks aren't so familiar with.

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Maybe even picking his daughter up from school, dropping her off every day.

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: And of course -

HARLOW: That's a great point.

SCIUTTO: Just the sad news that he lost a daughter, they lost a father and a daughter and a sister today.

Gotham Chopra, thanks so much. Bob Costas is going to stay with us.

HARLOW: Yes. All right. We are going to continue, of course, to stay on this tragic breaking news tonight. There is also, though, tonight a major development in the impeachment trial of the president.

Could John Bolton's written words in his own manuscript for his book change the prospects for calling witnesses this week?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:31:53]

HARLOW: Tonight, a major development in President Trump's impeachment, just 15 hours before the president's defense team retakes the Senate floor, a potential game changer. Cue John Bolton.

The "New York Times" tonight reporting that according to an unpublished draft manuscript written by the president's former National Security adviser, John Bolton, President Trump told Bolton in August that he wanted to continue the freeze on that $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into the Democrats, and that included the Bidens.

SCIUTTO: This is truly explosive. There have been a lot of speculation that Bolton might have something to say. Now we know the details of his account drawing a direct line to the president. To be clear, this is a draft. But it does contradict a key point in President Trump's defense. And that is that his decision to hold the aid had nothing to do with investigations.

New reporting tonight from our Manu Raju as well. Before this report, GOP leaders were confident that they would defeat this week's vote to call witnesses. But now according to three GOP sources, they believe this revelation makes that less certain.

Jeremy Diamond, he is at the White House.

Jeremy, tell us, has there been a reaction from the White House yet to this?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Jim and Poppy, we have not heard anything so far from the White House on this bombshell report. The president's Twitter feed has also been conspicuously silent on this report. And it's notable of course because if this is true, what Ambassador Bolton is saying, it really undermines one of the core legal arguments that the president's defense team has been making.

And that is to say that this freeze on the security aid that nearly $400 million in security aid to Ukraine, and this push for Ukraine to investigate the president's political rival, Joe Biden, that those two things were completely separate. And here we have Ambassador John Bolton, the former National Security adviser, saying directly that the president told him that these two things were indeed linked.

Now, we are hearing from Ambassador Bolton's lawyer Chuck Cooper. They are not confirming nor denying anything from this "New York Times" report. But they do come pretty close to confirming it. And that is because we have this statement from Chuck Cooper who says, "It is clear regrettably from the 'New York Times' article published today that the prepublication review process has been corrupted and that information has been disclosed by persons other than those properly involved in reviewing the manuscript." And that is because Ambassador Bolton's attorneys provided a draft

copy of this manuscript to the White House, the National Security Council, specifically on December 30th of last year, and essentially they are pointing the finger at the White House here saying we didn't leak this information and suggesting that in fact it came from the White House, from people who perhaps should not have had access to this manuscript, which was being reviewed purely for classification purposes.

Now, of course, why is this so important beyond simply this notion of the president's legal defense? There is also that key question of witnesses, Jim, that you were just bringing up there. And that is because this is going to thrust this right back into the center raising the question of whether or not National Security adviser John Bolton should indeed testify.

[21:35:03]

We've already seen all of the major Democrats, the Senate minority leader, the House speaker, and those impeachment managers, all making the case tonight that Ambassador Bolton, at a minimum, should come forward and testify in light of this pretty damning information -- Jim, Poppy.

HARLOW: Jeremy Diamond at the White House. Thank you very much.

With us now, Michael Shear, CNN political analyst and White House correspondent for the "New York Times." Of course the "Times" broke the story.

Michael, thank you for being with us.

MICHAEL SHEAR, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure.

HARLOW: Key question is, why now?

SHEAR: Well, look. I mean, I think, you know, why now, there's lots of -- we don't -- you know, we don't know who is the responsible person for leaking all of this. But the motive is clear that, you know, we are in the middle of the trial, we are at that key point in the trial. And as Jeremy said, the key argument by the president's lawyers is really that there is no connection, that this idea that there was a quid pro quo between the military aid and the investigations that the president wanted is just laughable.

In fact, Pat Cipollone, the White House counsel, started the entire presentation by talking about what the president really cared about was European countries contributing more to Ukraine's defense and that that's why the aid was shut off, not because of some quid pro quo. And Ambassador Bolton's draft manuscript just blows that apart because he says, no, in fact, the president did want the aid kept off until the investigations were done.

SCIUTTO: Listen, it belies the entire argument, right?

SHEAR: Right. SCIUTTO: Because you've heard various explanations throughout, one

being that there is no direct line to the president. This makes it very clear the president ordered it. And, two, that the motive was not concerns about how the aid would be used but directly tied. And not even just to, and I think this is key, to general investigations, et cetera, Burisma, but a direct connection.

HARLOW: To the Bidens. Yes.

SCIUTTO: According to the president's former National Security adviser, to the Bidens.

SHEAR: Right.

SCIUTTO: Politically what does this do? I mean, what -- those Republicans who have been arguing against hearing witness testimony. Here you have a witness saying he has something very relevant to say. What's the response?

SHEAR: Well, I mean, look, I think the most important thing that this does is it takes the witness argument from a theoretical one to an actual one. You know, I spent the entire week on Capitol Hill. And when you would ask Republican senators about the possibility of calling other witnesses, the response that you would get would be, well, we don't know what they would say, we don't know whether they would have any relevant information.

This makes that argument much, much harder for them to make because you have a witness who said this is what I will say, and it's really damning.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: Let's just remind people, though, Michael, whether or not he's going to be called as a witness. I mean, is there anything stopping John Bolton from holding a press conference tomorrow morning?

SHEAR: No. I mean, I -- you know, there is -- there may be some legal restrictions on what he can say from a classified perspective. But to the extent that he is preparing to put information in a book, he could also hold a press conference and reveal that information.

HARLOW: Yes.

SHEAR: There is an effort by the White House that if -- underway, discussions underway that if he is ultimately subpoenaed by the Senate that they're going to try to keep that from happening, and there are various legal options that they may try to try to stop him from actually testifying both in the courts by asserting executive privilege and by other options as well. And we'll see whether those work.

SCIUTTO: And the classified-ship seems to have sailed because they submitted this to the White House with confidence that there wasn't classified information in there preparing to publish it. So, well, we'll see. I'm sure in the White House right now they are working on some talking points. We'll see what they are.

Michael Shear, thanks very much.

Coming up next, a return to the breaking news we've been following all evening. That is the death of the NBA legend Kobe Bryant known for his contributions of course on the court but also off it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KOBE BRYANT, FORMER NBA STAR: Tomorrow's not a promise to anyone, and everybody must do whatever they can to help, no matter how big or how small.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[21:40:00]

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SCIUTTO: Welcome back. Kobe Bryant gave what would end up being his last public statement just last night. He congratulated LeBron James for passing him, again just last night, on the all-time NBA scoring list. His Instagram post said, quote, "On to number two, King James. Keep growing the game and charting the path for the next. Graceful."

After hearing news of Bryant's death, LeBron James, you're seeing here, visibly upset today as the Lakers returned to Los Angeles from New York.

HARLOW: And he talked about what Bryant meant to him and to the game just yesterday before news of Bryant's death. Listen to the key lesson he says he learned from Bryant as a teenage fan.

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LEBRON JAMES, LOS ANGELES LAKERS: When I was a kid, I was in high school, I was growing up to the ranks when Kobe came into the league. He was -- you know, it wasn't a dream of mine to come straight from high school at that point in time to the NBA but I was, like, wow, a 17-year-old, 18-year-old kid being able to make that leap, that's pretty damn cool. And as I started playing more ball and I went into high school, the things that he was doing on the floor, you know, I admired and I wanted to be a part of.

I went to ABCD Camp. And he came and talked to all the kids that was there. And I happened to be one of the kids that was there. And I was just listening. I was just trying to soak everything up I could. You know, and I remember one thing that he said he was like if you want to try to be, you know, great at it or want to be one of the greats you got to put the work in. You know, there is no substitution to work. And I was a 15-year-old kid at that camp.

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SCIUTTO: Back with us now, Bob Costas. We're also joined by CNN sports correspondent, Andy Scholes. But, Bob, talk about passing the torch there from Bryant to LeBron

James. Let's talk about another passing the torch some 20 years ago from Jordan to Kobe Bryant. And we have a picture here of Kobe guarding Michael Jordan. What struck me about this, and this is in Kobe's book.

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Talking about how he saw this photograph, this is from 1998, of himself leaning in to defending Michael Jordan and said, wait a second, I'm leaning too much, I'm off balance, I got to change the way I play defense. I mean, that is a student of the game.

COSTAS: Like Jordan, he was an impeccable student of the game. And '98 is Jordan's last year with the Bulls. It's a footnote that he came back subsequently and played a couple of years with the Wizards. But at that point, while everyone acknowledged there'll never be another Michael Jordan, he was the next, he, Kobe, was almost anointed as the next big thing. And it's difficult in basketball to compare backcourt players to forwards and especially to centers.

So, you can't discount Will and Kareem and other great centers. But when you're talking about the players that generally have been acknowledged at one period of time or another as the best in the game, Jordan gave way to Kobe perhaps in that respect and then Kobe gave way to LeBron. And as somebody who can remember, at least as a kid, I have actual in real time memories of Bill Russell, Jerry West, Oscar Robertson.

You have to remind ourselves, there are young players in the NBA now who have -- they have videotape perhaps, but they have no real time memory of Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

COSTAS: They have no real time memory, forget about Magic Johnson and Larry Byrd. That's ancient history to them. So kids entering the league now, they grew up with Kobe, they grew up with LeBron. Now with Steph Curry and Russell Westbrook and others. But we forget, this is a couple generations ago now in athletic terms, that Kobe was taking that baton from Michael.

SCIUTTO: You know, I was saying before, because basketball is a truly international global sport.

COSTAS: Yes.

SCIUTTO: A kid down the street here just as likely as a kid in Beijing or in Europe knows Kobe Bryant.

COSTAS: Of the four team sports that we follow in America, we're not talking about soccer internationally, but the four team sports we follow, basketball and the NBA is the most global. If we have time I want to say this very carefully.

Everything that's been said about Kobe Bryant as a competitor, as a great, great player, one of the tiny handful of greatest players in NBA history, and what has been said about what he did in the subsequent chapters of his life as a father, as a charitable person, as a friend, all of that stuff is genuinely true.

But when something like this happens, when someone is so famous and so generally popular, and when it's so terribly tragic, there is a tendency to canonize the person. And it's more truly human to say that he surmounted some missteps. There was a significant misstep, as a young man, a charge of sexual assault, there were no criminal charges brought, there was a civil suit, it was settled out of court.

He contended that it was consensual. But he did offer an apology. That is not definitive of his life. But it is a part of his life. We're talking about a great basketball player and in the big picture a very good man, but not a saint. And that's OK.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

HARLOW: It's an important point, Bob. It is.

Andy is with us again. And, Andy, let me just get to you. I mean, you were one of the last journalists to sit down with him, right, 11 days ago?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Yes.

HARLOW: And he -- there is something that he said that really struck you, and I think it'll strike everyone.

SCHOLES: Well, yes. It is always a big moment, at least for me, to sit down with Kobe Bryant. You know, he's obviously one of the greatest athletes of all time. And I'll tell you what, whenever you brought up his children or his daughter Gigi, his face seemed to just light up, you know. He actually, when he retired from the NBA in 2016 kind of checked out. He kind of stopped watching the NBA. And he credits Gigi for bringing him back.

She -- you know, she got into the game of basketball. And he says she's the reason he ordered league pass. They'd sit down, they'd watch the games together every night. And as he coached her through her basketball journey and got so involved in the women's game, one of the questions I asked Kobe when we sat down was, you know, does he ever think that his daughter Gigi or a woman could play in the NBA one day, and this is what he said.

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BRYANT: Played in the NBA? I think there are a couple players that can play in the NBA right now, honestly. I mean, there is a lot of players that have a lot of skills that can do it. Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore. I mean, there's a lot of great players out there. Elena Delle Donne. So, they could most certainly keep up with them.

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SCHOLES: Yes, I definitely got the feeling listening to Kobe give me that answer that, yes, his daughter Gigi was on the path to maybe being the first woman ever to play in the NBA one day. And guys, it's still a little surreal that, you know, it hasn't really hit home for me yet because I was sitting across from him just 11 days ago.

HARLOW: Yes, of course you are.

SCIUTTO: It's a family tragedy, that poor family, that poor little girl.

Bob Costas, Andy Scholes, thanks so much. Bob is going to stay with us. We have a lot more and he's joining.

HARLOW: We do. We are going to continue to follow this tragic breaking news, the death, the shocking death of 41-year-old Kobe Bryant.

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We will look at the tributes that are pouring in around the world, across the country on and off the basketball court, next.

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HARLOW: Well, as you can imagine, tributes are pouring in around the world over the heartbreaking loss of Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others on board that helicopter earlier today. Lakers great Magic Johnson shared this message, quote, "My friend, a legend, husband, father, son, brother, Oscar winner and greatest Laker of all time is gone. It is hard to accept. Kobe was a leader of our game, a mentor to both male and female players."

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SCIUTTO: And as we were saying, he was a global star. In France, soccer star Nemar of Brazil paid his respects, flashing the number 24 with his hands after he scored a goal, of course, Kobe's number 24. And there were these words from another NBA great, Laker Hall of Famer, Kareem Abdul Jabbar.

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KAREEM ABDUL JABBAR, NBA HALL OF FAMER: To Kobe's family, I want to send my most sincere and heartfelt regrets and prayers, and my thoughts are with you, guys. Kobe was an incredible family man. He loved his wife and daughters. He was an incredible athlete and a leader in a lot of ways. He inspired a whole generation of young athletes. Kobe, my thoughts are with you absolutely. Rest in peace, young man. This loss is -- it's just hard to comprehend.

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