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Kobe Bryant, 13-Year-Old Daughter Among Nine Killed In Helicopter Crash; New York Times Report, Bolton Book Manuscript Says Trump Told Him To Keep Hold On Ukraine Aid Until Officials There Helped With Biden Investigation. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired January 26, 2020 - 22:00   ET

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


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[21:00:00]

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: The breaking news tonight, it's sad news. Sports legend 41-year-old Kobe Bryant killed in a Los Angeles area helicopter crash today, again, sadly along with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, seven other people as well. There is no word yet on the cause of the crash. Federal investigators are now beginning their work.

Bryant was on his way to coach his daughter's basketball team. He was, by all accounts, devoted to her, tonight tributes pouring in from all over the world.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN NEWSROOM: Just a huge crowd tonight right now. Look at that at those live pictures surrounding the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The setting of so many of Bryant's career highlights and in several NBA cities, players taking 24-second pauses, those violations, purposely on the man who wore 24.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Well, he was drafted right out of high school. He won five NBA championships. He was an 18-time all-star, an Olympic gold medalist twice over, also the only athlete ever to win a basketball championship and then go on to win an academy award.

But more than all that, he was a father of four daughters that he loved so dearly. And, again, one of them, 13-year-old, Gianna, Gigi, as they called her, was on that helicopter with him when it crashed.

Let's begin this hour with Nick Watt. He joins us in Calabasas, California, where the helicopter went down. Do we have any answers tonight?

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No answers. But I can tell you that within the past few minutes, the LAPD has confirmed to CNN that this morning, they grounded their helicopter fleet because the weather conditions did not meet their minimum standards. Weather will be one of the focuses of the investigation by the FAA and the NTSB.

It was foggy here this morning. This marine layer that you sometimes early in the day here in Southern California was there, also the storm front was pushing through and people around here tell us it was foggy. So that will be one part of the investigation, possibly a key part.

They will also, of course, be looking into the maintenance record of the helicopter itself. They'll be looking at the pilot's background, they'll be looking into communications with the tower. What we do know is that that helicopter hit very hard, according to the radio traffic from the first responders who were on the scene. They said that it was pretty much disintegrated and they only managed to identify it from serial numbers on some of that debris. And, of course, there was always a fire that they had to contend with right off the bat there to get that brush fire under control before they could secure that scene for investigation, so that move in.

Now, this afternoon we did see camera flashes going off, which we imagined were investigations. We've also seen some heavy earth-moving equipment coming in and lots of personnel moving back and forth.

Now, of course, Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gigi, killed in this, also seven others victim. Everybody aboard the helicopter perished, the pilot. And we also know that there was a baseball coach from Orange County, John Altobelli, along with his wife and his daughter and three other people who have not yet been named.

Now, the NTSB is sending 18 people to California for this. They are still in the air right now. We imagine we will get some updates from them tomorrow on the investigation. We're also expecting to hear from the L.A. County sheriff again within an hour for an update on the situation as far as they are concerned.

But right now, still no official word as to what might have caused this terrible, terrible tragedy. But here in Los Angeles, people are just disbelieving that Kobe Bryant is gone, age 41. Guys?

HARLOW: I didn't believe it when I first saw it cross. Nick, we appreciate the reporting. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: And we should not, nine people on that helicopter, a lot of families are grieving, for Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan. He paid his respects saying this evening, saying, I am in shock over the tragic news of Kobe's and Gianna's passing. Words cannot describe the pain I'm feeling.

[22:05:01]

I loved Kobe. He was like a little brother to me. We used to talk often and I will miss those conversations very much. He was a fierce competitor, one of the greats of the game and a creative force.

Kobe was also an amazing dad who loved his family deeply. He took great pride in his daughter's love for the game of basketball. Yvette joins me in sending my deepest condolences to Vanessa, the Lakers organization and basketball fans around the world.

HARLOW: We are joined by the Jay Williams, an ESPN basketball host, also the second overall pick in the 2002 NBA draft. Bob Costas is also back with us. Thank you both for being here to share your memories and your expertise.

Talk about the man and what he meant to this country and the sport, Bob.

BOB COSTAS, AWARD-WINNING SPORTSCASTER: Well, he was truly a basketball icon. There are other players of hall of fame caliber but only a handful have that kind of presence, that kind of star power. The raw accomplishments, the raw stats, Jay can attest to this, that's one thing. Presence is something else.

And he was on the very short list of all time greatest players but also when it came star quality, he might be on an even shorter list in that regard.

SCIUTTO: And his quality as a leader to the teams that he influenced and how he influenced them, and he was tough in the way he did it. In his book, he writes about it, quoting here. He said, I like challenging people and making them uncomfortable. That's what leads the introspection and that's what leads to improvement. You can say, I dared people to be their best selves.

But listen to this as well. I think this captures that Mamba Mentality they talk about. And, Jay, I'm sure you can speak to this. I always aim to kill the opposition, he wrote. The main thing LeBron and I discussed was what constitutes a killer mentality. He watched how I approached every single practice and constantly challenged him and the rest guys.

Tell us about the Kobe Bryant mentality.

JAY WILLIAMS, ESPN COMMENTATOR: You named it. He's introspective. Let me give a context on this. Me as an African-American young man, I grew up in a predominantly black town. When I would talk this way in my town, I was called Uncle Tom, a sellout. When I went to my school, which is predominantly Caucasian, I was called, ghetto, I was called, hood.

Seeing Kobe Bryant come into the league, speaking a plethora of language, being a sophisticated young man, carrying himself with grace made it okay to be smart and to be educated. When players would talk about Oprah, he would talk about Harpo Studios. He would talk about the bigger play. That's how he saw the business of basketball.

I feel so bad about this because I think him retiring at 37 years old. We were just seeing the best of Kobe Bryant, him as a father, him as a husband. And sometimes when you become so fixated and myopic on being the greatest of what you do in your sport, it takes time away from your family. And I think we're just seeing that version of Kobe Bryant, Bob, which was so different and so unique. COSTAS: Many people knew him better than I did. I knew him pretty well during the time at his overlapped NBC covering the league, which ended in 2002. And since then, I don't think our paths have actually crossed, which I regret. But those who knew him better than I did in these later years attest to not only his devotion to his family, taking his kids to and from school, being there for all the practices and all that sort of thing.

But the countless acts of personal kindness and charity that were not publicly known, he had a big heart. As we said, in the last hour, as I said, that doesn't mean he was without flaw or missteps in his life. But he was a very young man when the most notable of those missteps occurred. And now, he is entering or was entering a period of time when, by most reckoning, he wasn't an athlete, he'd still be regarded as young man, just in his early 40s.

There was so much life ahead of him not just as a family man but he had accomplished much. And he was the executive producer, he wrote and he narrated Dear Basketball.

HARLOW: Which isn't -- if you haven't watched that, by the way, take four minutes of your time and watch that. It is extremely powerful. And there's one line that struck me tonight. He says, I never saw the end of a tunnel. I only saw myself running out of one.

Do you know what it was like to be on the court and watch how hard he worked? Tell us that story.

WILLIAMS: So it was my rookie year. I only played one year in NBA before I almost passed away. And when you play in NBA, that lifestyle, Bob, like you alluded to, it can take you in a lot of different directions away from your craft. That was happening to me at that juncture of my career. And playing against the Lakers, I actually wanted to find myself again. So I decided, I'm going to come to the Staples Center and I'm going to work out for an hour and make 400 made shots so I can get ready to play against Kobe and Shaquille O'Neal.

And walk in the gym, I'm putting my shoes on, and I look at the other end of the court and I see Kobe Bryant working out. And I watched for ten minutes and then I started my workout. It takes me about an hour to work out. And then when I come back down and sit back on the table and unlace my shoes, he's still working out. And I watched him and I said, okay, that's fine.

[22:10:00]

He had to drop 35, 40 points on us that night.

So after the game, Bob, I find him and I say, hey, I just want to know why do you work so hard? And he looked me in the eye, never have this happened to me in my life, and he said, because I saw you walk in the gym and I saw you start to work out. And I wanted you to know no matter how hard you work, no matter how long you work, you weren't going to outwork me.

And I sat as a 21-year-old man thinking, this is a legendary Kobe Bryant that found inspiration in a young rookie just worked out in order to make himself better that day. That is who he is.

COSTAS: A legendary for that, laser-focused. And toward the end of the previous hour, you saw the message from Magic, and he called him greatest Laker of all time. That is saying a lot. Because the Lakers have had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson himself, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor. I mean, that's an all-time roster.

SCIUTTO: There were some great accounts from his fellow, because he also won two gold medals, right, playing for country --

COSTAS: Yes, '08 and '12.

SCIUTTO: -- in the Olympics. And there were some great accounts there of his fellow players, they showed. We were reading this earlier with my producer, showed up for breakfast prior to their workout that day. And Kobe shows up sweaty and he's been working out two hours before the breakfast. What were you doing? He was like, I was already working out. He's working harder than anybody.

WILLIAMS: And can I just say this? We all have issues that we face in our lives, like everybody makes mistakes. That's why we're here. Nobody is perfect. Kobe was not a perfect individual. But ultimately was his strive for perfection that made him so unique. And from that moment in my life, look, I almost passed away. I spent two-and-a-half months in the hospital.

SCIUTTO: But you refer to that as a motorcycle accident.

WILLIMAS: Yes. And I never played basketball ever again. But you know what, I always go back to that moment because it makes me drive myself to be different. I get challenged in my marriage, I get challenged being a father now. And that's -- if you ask me for what's his legacy, his legacy is going to be his three little girls. And I think it's our responsibility to make sure that they're remember the best moments of this father.

SCIUTTO: That's a great of thought.

COSTAS: And players today in all sports, if they're that good, they make fortunes. And some can say when they're done playing, I'm just going to cruise for the rest of my life. He had so many things beyond the family commitment, so many things he wanted to do and had already done, in film, in music, as an entrepreneur, as a coach.

HARLOW: Many of them for kids. This podcast he was making in the series was for kids.

WILLIAMS: Even when he spoke up for WNBA players.

HARLOW: Yes.

COSTAS: Yes.

WILLIAMS: I mean, that's massive, saying that Diana Taurasi could play in the NBA and inviting women to do different things in the Mamba Academy. That speaks volumes about his character overall. SCIUTTO: It does. Well, listen, there is much more to talk about, so please stay with us. Both of us, we have a lot more news tonight.

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[22:15:00]

HARLOW: Tragic news really for the world tonight. The NBA legend Kobe Bryant dead along with his 13-year-old daughter. They're among nine people killed in a helicopter crash near Los Angeles.

SCIUTTO: We have two folks with us who know so much about this. It's so good to have Bob Costas here, of course, award-winning broadcaster, and Jay Williams in addition, ESPN Commentator, also played in the NBA, including against Kobe Bryant. Great to have you both here.

Bob, we were talking about this place in this kind of in history. Such a legend like this but lost at such a young age. I mean you and I talked about it. It made us think of Roberto Clemente, right, a baseball player lost too young. And --

COSTAS: And we also mentioned Thurman Munson, Rocky Marciano, all --

SCIUTTO: Is there a comparable -- he seems truly a global star, right, who is now lost to the world at far too young an age.

COSTAS: Lost in anything like this fashion? I can't -- if there is, I can't quite come up with it at the moment.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

COSTAS: Fame is bigger now for a variety of reasons. Fame is bigger now than it was. Someone in Australia likely didn't know who Babe Ruth was. But now, if you attain that kind of fame, whoever were the great icons of the NBA in the generations that preceded Magic Johnson, let's say, and Larry Bird, Jerry West, Oscar Robertson, they were not globally famous the way Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan and LeBron James were and have been.

So this is kind of a modern phenomenon, wouldn't you say, Jay?

WILLIAMS: I would. And Kobe never sought fame. He just did it because he had an insatiable appetite to be the best at what he did. And the amazing part, playing against him multiple times, and I also consulted with the players and spent time with him. When he would tell stories, you would just see a bunch of former players, players who are currently playing, guys who have resumes that you couldn't even fathom, just be in awe, right? He can captivate an audience because the intricacies and the innuendos of the game, he paid attention to every detail.

Look, on ESPN, he has show named, Detail. Okay, like he studies the details of everything. I think it was that ultimate attention to his craft that made him different.

HARLOW: What do you -- because you knew the man on the court, in practice, off the court, what does the world not know about him or not know enough about him?

WILLIAMS: You know, I think the evolution of his relationship with his family and, you know, I didn't get a chance to play 15 years in the NBA. From the one year I did, it's hard to balance the fame that comes along with the position that you have, with the attention, with everybody wanting a piece of you here and there.

[22:20:02]

And to be frank with you guys, even doing T.V. now, my wife and I talk about this. When I go out with my wife, my wife wants to spend time with me. She doesn't want to spend time Jay Williams, the person on T.V. But other people want to spend time with Jay Williams, the person on T.V. How do you balance that?

And I think Kobe started to make those changes in his life where he would spend time with his family. The things, the pictures of seeing him and his daughter courtside, paying attention to the game, that's such an amazing thing to do.

And I know fathers at home say, that's what I do with my father all the time, but when you have people pulling on you from so many different directions. And he told us one story about his daughter, Gigi. Somebody said to her -- a fan came up to him, because we were predominantly guys, love sports, and the guy say some kind of erroneous things sometimes. I guess the guy said to him, I wish you had a boy, you had a boy who would just carry on the legacy, right? And his daughter said, don't worry, pop. I got it. Like those are the kinds of things when you think about Kobe Bryant and his family, that's what it stands for him.

SCIUTTO: And he was working her out.

WILLIAMS: Yes.

SCIUTTO: We were playing some video earlier in their gym. He was defending her. She was shooting hoops with him.

HARLOW: She's very good.

SCIUTTO: He was coaching his daughter, I imagine, with great hopes and expectations as to what she would do with the game.

COSTAS: Yes, that was apparent. And his interest, as Jay said, his genuine interest in women's basketball, not just because of his daughter, he had a broad view of things. I mentioned this to you when we first began our conversation within an hour ago. And there is Gigi seeing if she can get around --

SCIUTTO: Throwing those shoulders.

(CROSSTALKS)

COSTAS: And she knew what to do with it.

I mentioned this to you. The first time I met and spoke with him when he was 18 years old, I was struck by how broad his view of things was. He had a sense of what the media was, just partly because his dad has been an NBA player, partly because he spent time in Italy. He was just a different sort of person at age 18 than almost anyone else you would run across.

The sports writer, Mike Lupica, made this point earlier today. Someone like LeBron James or Kobe Bryant, famous for much more than half their life, much more than -- and if Kobe had lived a full life, he would have been famous 80, 90 percent of it. That is a circumstance that most of us cannot relate to.

WILLIAMS: And, by the way, we're dealing with so many beam mental health issues. They think about them. And we have a player in NBA named, Delonte West, who has had a really big issue just in dealing with mental health. And there is imagery of him out there getting beat up by a guy and it's really troubling to see.

But there are so many things that can happen when you deal with fame and the attention that comes along in today's age. And the fact that Kobe remained away from headlines and with the exception of sometimes something happened, obviously. But still, if that's the biggest thing that you're going through that seems more of a private issue, that's who Kobe was.

COSTAS: Here's something that should seem obvious but you seldom hear said. Sports is just about and maybe some aspects of entertainment. But sports is one of the very few avenues in life where people peak in terms of their ability long before most of us reach any sort of emotional maturity. You're a veteran when you're 27, 28 years old. Whatever happened, it's relatively meaningless between Kobe and Shaq, some kind of spat with athletic egos involved and all the rest that they long since have reconciled. They're young guys. They're guys in their 20s. But the eyes of the world are on them, certainly the eyes of the sporting nation.

SCIUTTO: And with the challenge often as to what you do after, right, and can you handle and find something new, which he did as an Oscar winner, right?

HARLOW: If you're Kobe Bryant, you go win an Oscar a year-and-a-half later.

WILLIAMS: Well, because he also thought about it as, hey, I appreciate my position but I'm always planning my promotion. I think you saw Kobe building his business while he was playing.

HARLOW: Always planning a promotion.

WILLIAMS: Using his platform to leverage.

HARLOW: What a life.

SCIUTTO: Listen, Jay, so good to have you on. We appreciate your personal experience of this. Bob, we're going to draft him to stick around with us because there is much more on the legacy of Kobe Bryant ahead. It's just a unique life and a sad loss this evening. The New York Times, in other news, reporting that former National Security Adviser John Bolton writes in his upcoming book that the president directly tied aid to Ukraine two demands for investigations in his political rival, Joe Biden. This is explosive new information. We'll have more after the break.

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[22:25:00]

HARLOW: Tonight, significant breaking news considering the president's ongoing impeachment trial, just 15 hours before his defense team retakes the Senate floor, that's tomorrow, John Bolton flips the script.

The New York Times reports tonight that according to an unpublished draft manuscript by the former National Security Adviser, the president told Bolton in August that he wanted to continue freezing the $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats, and that included the Bidens.

SCIUTTO: This is significant for multiple reasons. It contradicts what White House lawyers are expected to argue in the president's defense tomorrow. That is that the president's decision to hold the aid had nothing to do with investigations. It was all about corruption. Bolton saying here, no, there was a quid pro quo. This is why the president withheld the aid and his lawyers essentially confirming the substance of the reporting when they released the following statement.

We're quoting here, it is clear regrettably from The New York Times article published today that the pre-publication review process has been corrupted and that information has been disclosed by persons other than those properly involved in reviewing the manuscript.

I spoke to someone who works with John Bolton. They said they gave one copy to the NSC for classification review. They say they did not mean for this to come out.

HARLOW: So what does this mean when the vote happens this week for witnesses and calling witnesses? Well, now, our reporting is that three Republicans that were on the fence of this may be more on the fence because of this reporting. Their confidence in being able to defeat a vote on witnesses this week is now less certain.

Let's talk about what this all means. Michael Zeldin, he's here, former federal prosecutor, and formerly Bob Mueller Special Assistant at the DOJ, and Karoun Demirjian, CNN Political Analyst and Report for the Washington Post.

Okay, Michael, let me begin with you. So what does this all mean come the key to the president's defense from his attorneys tomorrow? Does this blow that up?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's not clear exactly how it blows it up. As much as their argument is that all the people who spoke on the record so far disclaim any connection between Ukraine aid and the Biden investigations. They're going to stick to the record of all the witnesses we've heard from have affirmed that and that's our defense.

The problem is it makes it -- as you said in the setup, it makes it impossible almost for them to not have witnesses at the end of the presentation because Bolton now undermines his argument that nobody has firsthand knowledge that connects military aid and the Biden investigation.

SCIUTTO: Karoun, watching this, it's CNN's reporting speaking to GOP folks on the Hill that now some question at least about whether they have four votes, four Republicans who might vote with Democrats to call witnesses, they've been getting increasingly confident that they would not lose those four. Does this, in your reporting, folks you speak to, does this change that math potentially?

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, it potentially does. I mean, look, before this was all a theoretical case the House Democrats are making, saying, look, we think based on what everybody else has told us that the firsthand witnesses, we have more to say to corroborate this and bring this right into the Oval Office and be able to say what the president was saying if there was actually this tit- for-tat, quid pro quo going on there.

But we did not have that actually testimony because they were not able to get it. They could point to the public statements Mick Mulvaney made and things that the president was saying but there had not been that testimony yet.

The book is kind in lieu of testimony. And, yes, we're going on reports at this point, not sworn testimony, but it's out there. This book is coming. And presumably what Jon Bolton says in the book is what he would have to say under oath.

And so that puts extra pressure because now we know what he would say or at least the meat of what he would say, and it's very, very relative to the case at hand, so it becomes more difficult for the Republicans in the Senate to kind of dismiss that as well if you thought you had that as part of the case. I mean, if that was supposed to be part of the cause, why didn't you bring it?

Now, it's out there in a way to that it's -- it's more difficult to dismiss what the former national security adviser, John Bolton, who is known by the GOP, is saying than somebody like Lev Parnas who did a series of T.V. interviews but was not a known entity, it has a kind of sorted past. This is different and this puts more pressure on those senators.

HARLOW: So, Michael Zeldin, I mean, correct me if I'm wrong, but there is zero, except perhaps the president's distaste for this option, standing between Bolton and the microphone and a press conference tomorrow morning. So if he were to do that and tell his story to the public, would that be considered in the Senate trial just as if sworn testimony? ZELDIN: Well, two things. First is the president could try to assert executive privilege with respect to the advice that Bolton gave the president. And they could try to get some sort of restraining order from him to hold that press conference. I don't know whether they would do that or not. They don't really favor prior restraints that way. But I don't think that a public press conference would would substitute for under oath testimony.

And so while the president's defense of no quid pro quo sort of remains intact, as Karoun and I think are reading, it makes it almost impossible for there to be any rationale for not calling Bolton, because, otherwise, it really makes transparent how much of a sham trial -- you can't even call it a trial, but how much of a faux trial this is.

SCIUTTO: Michael Zeldin, you use your lawyer knowledge here. Administrations have been claiming executive privilege virtually across the board for a whole host of things. What does this do to that legal claim if the information is, in effect, already in the public sphere?

[22:35:06]

Does that affect a privilege claim legally?

ZELDIN: Well, I don't believe the White House will have waived their ability to assert privilege because somebody leaked this document. One could argue that because it's in the public domain, there is no executive privilege to protect. But Bolton has, I expect, much more to say than this. And under examination, you would flesh this out. And that would be the basis for which the president could assert privilege.

So, Jim, I think that it's arguable that somehow privilege has been waived, depending on who released this to the media. But I think probably they still have a viable claim of executive privilege with respect to Bolton's advice.

DEMIRJIAN: I would also add just on the question of the executive privilege. It's been raised a lot in discussions. But the president has really only invoked it for the case of Don McGahn at this point.

So, oftentimes, when the question comes up about executive privilege, it puts the president in a tight spot where he doesn't then actually avail himself on that claim. There has been an assumption that he would in this case because of the seriousness of the impeachment trial. But that has yet to be done.

And also just if you end up seeing John Bolton, there has been a lot of talk in the GOP about the idea of reciprocity, it could open the flood gates to potentially somebody from their of the witness roster too, which could be yet another chapter of this going forward.

ZELDIN: And may I add just one thing about this, which is that if they have to succumb to the pressure to get Bolton, but they say, that's it, when Bolton testifies, if Bolton testifies, and he says, Mulvaney knows stuff too, Pompeo knows too, how do you not follow evidentiary stream?

SCIUTTO: And, by the way, the book, according to The New York Times reporting, the book says that others had knowledge, for instance, Secretary Pompeo, specific to the firing of Marie Yovanovitch. So good point, Michael Zeldin, as always.

HARLOW: Thank you both very much, Michael, Karoun. We'll see you tomorrow.

SCIUTTO: Investigators are now heading to the scene where a helicopter crashed killing NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others. More on what could have caused the crash, it's early in the investigation, and exactly what investigators are looking for, that's just ahead.

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[22:40:00]

HARLOW: All right, back to our breaking news tonight, the death of basketball legend Kobe Bryant in that helicopter crash earlier today in Southern California.

SCIUTTO: Nine people dead including his daughter. New information coming in this house from the Los Angeles Police Department. The spokesperson confirming to CNN that the LAPD has now grounded its helicopters this morning, that was due to foggy weather conditions. They're going to hold a press conference at the top of the hour. Is that relevant to this investigation?

CNN Aviation Analyst Justin Green joins us now. So given this new information, the LAPD, they grounded their helicopters, foggy, cloudy conditions, even in the footage there of the crash scene, you see that. I imagine that's going to be a topic of the investigation.

JUSTIN GREEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, the weather is like suspect number one right now. I mean, first of all, nobody should jump to conclusions, because once they take a look at the wreckage, they might find a mechanical issue. But they ran out under special VFR conditions.

So the -- FVR means visual flight rules. The normal visual flight rule is you have to have 1,000 feet and three miles visibility. So the actual weather conditions were below that. You can go out under special VFR if they let you as long as you have mild visibility and stay below the clouds.

So they went out with low clouds. They were talking on air traffic control. They were told that two airports were under instrument flight conditions. And then reports of other helicopters, including the police grounding their aircraft because of the weather is obviously a sign that perhaps this pilot went out under conditions that were not safe.

HARLOW: The type of helicopter, the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter, most Americans, to me, that means nothing. What does that mean in terms of reliability, safety record?

GREEN: They've had accidents before. There is nothing in the history -- I took a quick at the history of their actions. There's nothing there that jumps out as a potential cause. But it's a very -- it's a VIP helicopter. It is used for executive transport. And there is nothing -- nothing suggests that the safety of that particular helicopter may be to blame.

SCIUTTO: And based on the crash scene, and, again, we are working with imperfect information, incomplete information from afar, our reporter on the ground there was talking about high impact or high speed impact on the ground. Given the condition of the wreckage, does that tell you anything?

GREEN: If you lost an engine and you were able to -- this aircraft has two engines, by the way. So if you lost an engine, you still have an engine to work with. If you lost both engines, you could hopefully rotor rotate and the impact would be lesser forces of you're able to enter proper rotor rotation.

One thing that weather raises is spatial disorientation. As a Marine Corps helicopter pilot before I went to law school and became aviation (INAUDIBLE), before flight school, they put you in a spatial disorientation trainer to teach you not to trust your instincts. And if you remember John F. Kennedy Jr. went out without instrument rating, and remember back in June 2019, that helicopter pilot on 33rd Street took off, he got into weather, he didn't have an instrument rating and basically was flying, floundering all over the city and ended up on top -- crashing on top of a roof and dying.

So this pilot, he shouldn't be flying that helicopter without an instrument rating. It is an instrument rated helicopter.

[22:45:02]

He had a bunch of passengers on board. I'm sure when we find out who the pilot was and look at his record, he probably did have an instrument rating.

But I'll tell you, I still wake up at night sometimes having a nightmare about having spatial disorientation.

SCIUTTO: You don't know which direction you're flying. I remember that from the John F. Kennedy crash. Thanks so much, Justin.

GREEN: No problem. Thank you.

HARLOW: Bob Costas is back with us again. Bob, thank you again for being with us for all of this tonight. You are famous for doing this job well and asking the right questions at the right time. So what would you have wanted to know from Kobe Bryant?

COSTAS: I guess since we were four years removed from his playing career, what are you proudest of post-career? And what are you intending to do or hoping to do with the rest of your life? And that question now looms as poignant because his life, which had so much promise beyond what he had already accomplished, his life is now ended tragically.

SCIUTTO: We're seeing a lot of tributes. We mentioned before players taking a 24-second violation to honor 24. We've seen players, as they've been playing tonight, writing his name and number on their shoes. I think we have some pictures of that. And, of course, his picture now that's outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles, just down the street from us here, Madison Square Garden, and I imagine other NBA arenas around the country.

How does NBA honor a star like this in the days and weeks to come with the hall of fame vote coming up?

COSTAS: The all-star game is soon upon us. And I'm sure that much of that -- it's in Chicago. But I'm sure that much of that will be a tribute to Kobe Bryant. And as you said, he hadn't even been retired long enough to be eligible to the hall of fame. So there will be a posthumous induction into the basketball hall of fame.

I am sure that the Lakers themselves will wear up in will 24 insignias on their uniforms in tribute to him. There will be moments of silence that were around the NBA today and I imagine since not every team played today and the games ahead, each team will take note of him in some way.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if there isn't some sort of charitable initiative undertaken by the NBA with Kobe Bryant's name attached to it. The NBA, in the best sense of this word, not in a political sense, the best sense of this word has been over the last few generations the most progressive of America's sports leagues. And they tend to want to be on the side of inclusion and of a helping hand to those who have been excluded or marginalized.

I think all sports are sort of getting with that program. But the NBA was first. And I wouldn't be at all surprised if something in keeping with that notion is in part of what they do in honor of Kobe Bryant.

HARLOW: I think you're right. I mean, this comes just on the hills of losing David Stern, of course, the commissioner who completely changed the league. And he led for so long while Kobe was playing, and that what Adam Silver has carried on, inclusivity and giving back. You brought up his second act, basically, what Kobe would have done with the second half of his life.

COSTAS: Yes, and he was doing it already. There's hint, more than a few hints. There is evidence there that he was on that path.

HARLOW: He said to Sports Illustrated, less than two years ago when I go full bore into my second act, I think they'll know me for something else, not just the Black Mamba character, the villain, they'll know me for a softer side.

COSTAS: Hard to imagine, yes, softer a side, but something that he still would go at with complete passion. It's hard to imagine him doing anything halfway.

SCIUTTO: The killer mentality, as he described himself. He already won an Oscar in his new endeavor. You can imagine how much more he was set to accomplish. Bob Costas, it's been great to have you throughout to draw on your experience and wisdom. Thanks so much for joining us.

COSTAS: Thank you.

HARLOW: Thank you, Bob.

The whole world mourning the loss of basketball icon Kobe Bryant, we will hear next what he meant to the players that he took to the court with.

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[22:50:00]

HARLOW: Well, as the NBA and the world tonight mourns the loss of Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old little girl, Gianna, we want to take a moment and take you back to his final season.

SCIUTTO: He had a lot of incredible seasons. But as Kobe wrapped up an illustrious 20-year career, some of the league's biggest stars shared their thanks for all that he did for the game.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEVIN DURANT, NBA PLAYER: Kobe, thank you, man.

DWAYNE WADE, NBA PLAYER: Dear, Kobe, thank you.

DRAYMOND GREEN, NBA PLAYER: Thank you for your passion, your commitment and dedication to basketball.

KYLE LOWRY, NBA PLAYER: Thank you for showing us that number 24 isn't just a number on your jersey but the amount of hours in a day you have to devote to the game to be the best.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you for giving and giving and giving.

KYRIE IRVING, NBA PLAYER: Thank you for pushing through when your body says no but your heart said yes.

WADE: Thank you for the games that you refuse to lose and the ones you always seem destined to win.

CARMELO ANTHONY, NBA PLAYER: Thank you for your endless drive.

TYSON CHANDLER, NBA PLAYER: For showing us that even on your worst day, there is nothing else to do but push hard.

DEMAR DEROZAN, NBA PLAYER: For showing us there is no such thing as magic, only hard work.

[22:55:02]

ANTHONY DAVIS, NBA PLAYER: Thank you for playing the game the way it was meant to be played. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you for teaching us to believe in ourselves even when nobody else did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For 20 years, you gave our game all you had and we are eternally grateful.

GREGG POPOVICH, HEAD COACH, SAN ANTONIO SPURS: Thank you for being you, competitor supreme.

WADE: Thank you for loving the game of basketball.

STEPHEN CURRY, NBA PLAYER: Congratulations and, you know, we're going to keep chasing you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARLOW: Wow.

SCIUTTO: Loss to the game and, of course, loss to his family, a tremendous loss and so many other families mourning tonight. I'm Jim Sciutto.

HARLOW: I'm Poppy Harlow. We'll see you back here tomorrow morning. Thank you for joining. Our special live team coverage continues after this.

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