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EARLY START

Remembering Kobe Bryant; New Bolton Revelations Complicate GOP Plans; China's Unprecedented Response To Coronavirus; FEDS Search For Cause Of Deadly Chopper Crash; China Coping With Coronavirus Situation; America's Choice In 2020, Last Minute Push In Iowa. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired January 27, 2020 - 04:00   ET

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


[04:00:00]

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ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Emotions running high for basketball fans worldwide. NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter among nine killed in a helicopter crash. He was just 41 years old.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, new details from a draft of John Bolton's book will make a tougher to refuse witnesses at the impeachment trial. We'll tell you why.

KOSIK: More than 57 million people locked down in China, an unprecedented response from Xi Jinping who warns the coronavirus outbreak is accelerating. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is Early Start I'm Alison Kosik. Good morning.

JARRETT: Good morning and I'm Laura Jarrett. It's Monday, January 27, 4:00 a.m. in New York. Just one week to the Iowa caucuses. We begin this morning with a the death of Kobe Bryant, a heart breaking tragedy for basketball fans and all who admired excellence. Bryant one of the game's all-time great and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna among nine people killed when their helicopter crashed into a hillside, Sunday morning in Calabasas, California.

Outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles thousands gathered numbed by the news. Kobe thrilled Lakers fans for two decades leading the iconic franchise to five championships.

KOSIK: His stunning death shaking the league he elevated. Lakers superstar Lebron James distraught as he exited the team plane. High praise from Lakers legend Magic Johnson, hailing Bryant as the greatest Laker of all-time. Sportscaster Bob Costas remembering an athlete wise beyond his years.

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BOB COSTAS, NBC SPORTS BROADCASTER: 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, 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 were a veteran when you're 27, 28 years old. Whatever happened is relatively meaningless between Kobe and Shaq, some kind of a spat with athletic ego's involve and all the rest that they've long since have reconciled. They're young guys. They are guys in their 20s. But the eyes of the world are on them.

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KOSIK: You heard Costas mention Shaquille O'Neal there. While Bryant's former Lakers teammate said this, Kobe was so much more than an athlete, he was a family man. That is what we had most in common. Friends say, Kobe was proud of his daughter's love for the game and he was not the only Bryant who could lead with his shoulder. He leaves behind his wife Vanessa and three others daughters, the youngest just 7 months old.

JARRETT: Among other victims local college baseball coach John (inaudible), his wife Kerry and daughter Alyssa. For more on what may have caused the crash. Here's CNN's Nick Watt in Calabasas, California.

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NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Laura and Alison, this is an inaccessible crash site we're told, and, you know, the first thing that first responders had to deal with was a brush fire ignited by the helicopter hitting that hill side. Once that was under control they secured the scene. The FAA was quickly here putting a cordon around and an air cordon sealing so that crash site could be preserve as best it could be.

Now, the Coroner's Office has been involved in trying to remove the remains. They will then be involved in the process of identifying all the victims and that they say could take a few days. The NTSB, the FAA help by local law enforcement and they will, of course, examine the route of that helicopter. They'll look into its maintenance record. They'll look into the record of the pilot, and they will also be looking into the weather.

People around here tell us it was very, very foggy Sunday morning when this helicopter crashed. And in fact we heard from the L.A. Police Department that they had in fact grounded their fleet of helicopters Sunday morning because the visibility was just not good enough. But listen, for the people here in L.A. That's down the line, that's secondary. The headline, the pain that they are feeling is that Kobe Bryant, this Lakers great, this towering figure of Los Angeles who helped kids, boys, girls, young athletes, Kobe Bryant is gone age 41 and that is what the people of Los Angeles are just trying to come to grips with. Laura, Alison, back to you.

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JARRETT: All right. Thank you so much for that report. There were moving tributes to Kobe Bryant around the NBA and beyond Sunday. In San Antonio, the crowd cheer as the Spurs and the Raptors, each ran off a 24 second clock at the beginning of the game to honor Kobe Bryant, of course wore the number 24 for the Lakers.

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There was a similar tribute in Atlanta by the Hawks and the Wizards. Hawks star Trey Young wore Bryant's other uniform number, number 8 to start the game. There was also a tearful tribute from Bryant's friend long time NBA rival Dwyane Wade.

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DWYANE WADE, FORMER NBA PLAYER: We'll forever miss you man. You're a legend, you are an icon, you're a father, you're a husband, a son, a brother, you're a friend. Thank you for being my friend. I love you, bro.

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JARRETT: Bryant was drafted straight out of high school near Philadelphia in 1996. At the time he was the youngest player ever the NBA. Kobe was greeted on draft night by then Commissioner David Stern who recently passed away. the helicopter carrying Kobe and his daughter was headed to Mamba Sports Academy in thousand oaks, California for a basketball game, 13-year-old Gianna was going to play and Bryant was expected to coach. This image here shows the shell- shocked kids receiving the news of Kobe Bryant's death.

JAMES: CNN's most recent interview with Kobe Bryant was by our very own Andy Scholes. He was in Los Angeles just 12 days ago at an event for major league soccer. Andy, joins us now. Andy, I mean, gosh, it must just be so weird for you seeing him just less than two weeks ago. You covered everything from women to the WNBA. I mean, tell us what it was like to sit down with him.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Laura, you know, any time I got to sit down with Kobe, it was special. You know, he's obviously one of the greatest athletes of all-time. And yes, this is also just so surreal. And you know like you said, just 12 days ago I was sitting across from Kobe talking to him. And we all know Kobe, you know, the amazing basketball player, but he was also excelling in his post NBA career in the business world. He was an early investor into the sports stream, Body Armour. They just signed an exclusive huge deal with major league soccer. And it was at the big announcement where I got to sit down with Kobe. We talked about he's love for soccer, after growing up in Italy. We talked about some NBA basketball. We talked about his daughter Gigi, and he got a big smile on his face whenever we did that. You know, she's the one who got Kobe watching the NBA every night again and Kobe had become very involved in the game of women's basketball. He was coaching Gigi through her basketball journey and she became quite a player. So, I wanted to ask Kobe if he thought Gigi or any woman one day could play in the NBA and here's a part of our conversation.

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KOBE BRYANT, NBA PLAYER: Yes, I think, there's a couple of players that can play in the NBA right now, honestly. There is a lot of players that have a lot of skill, they can do it. (inaudible), (inaudible), there was a lot of great players out there. So, they can most certainly keep up with them.

SCHOLES: The NBA fans love the debate. Which team, from which era was better. Shaq recently weighed in saying that he absolutely thinks you and him would have -- the current Laker's team (inaudible). What's your take on that hypothetical matchup?

BRYANT: I don't weigh in on hypotheticals and I never had. Those things drive me crazy. Like, as a competitor there's nothing you can do about it. You can't debate yourself to winning something, right? That was the beauty about sports is you compete and you either win or you lose, and the debate culture, there's never a clear winner so it's kind of pointless for me. I don't engage in those things but it's fun to hear.

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SCHOLES: Yeah, and again that was just 12 days ago and I was actually lucky enough to interact with Kobe in two sectors of my life. I was a (inaudible) for the Houston Rockets, back in college and during my chat with Kobe, I showed him a picture of us from 2003 and he laughed and said, well, we were both youngsters back then. And I actually took that opportunity to thank Kobe for just always being so nice to everyone.

You know, Kobe was the best player in the NBA back then, but he still took the time to take pictures with everyone, sign everyone's autographs. A lot of guys wouldn't have done that and when I thanked Kobe he kind of just smiled and nodded back at me. Laura, I'll never going to forget that moment and you know, that's kind of just who Kobe was right there, just a nice genuine person.

JARRETT: So, great that you kept that picture and just -- terrific interview. Andy, thank you so much. See you soon.

KOSIK: To impeachment now. New revelations will make it much harder for Senate Republican to vote against new witnesses at the trial to impeach and remove President Trump. A New York Times report detailing an unpublished draft manuscript by John Bolton. The former national security advisor claims the president told him in August he wanted to keep withholding military aid to Ukraine until it helped with a probe into Democrats including Joe Biden. A source with direct knowledge of the manuscript confirming to CNN the Times description is accurate.

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JARRETT: Bolton's account directly undercuts a key Trump legal defense that holding back security aid and the push to investigate the Bidens were unrelated. Here's a White House lawyer on the Senate floor on Saturday.

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MIKE PURPURA, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: There's simply no evidence anywhere that President Trump ever linked security assistance to any investigations.

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JARRETT: Before the Times disclosures, Republican leaders were confident they could defeat the vote for witnesses. Now three GOP sources tell CNN that is far less certain. White House correspondent Jeremy Diamond has more for us.

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JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Good morning, Alison and Laura. President Trump's defense team will enter their second day of making their arguments from the Senate floor in the impeachment trial of President Trump. But on Sunday night a bombshell new report in The New York Times could undermine one of the core defenses or the core arguments that they are making in their defense of President Trump.

And that is because according to The New York Times in a draft manuscript of Ambassador John Bolton's forthcoming book, Bolton in that book alleges that President Trump told him in August that he wanted to continue withholding that nearly $400 million in security aid to Ukraine until Ukrainian officials agreed to move forward and investigate Democrats including the former Vice President Joe Biden.

According to The New York Times Bolton lays this all out in dozens of pages of this draft manuscript. Bolton and his team are not confirming or denying anything in that The New York Times report. But I do have this statement from Ambassador Bolton's spokeswoman, Sarah Tinsley. She tells me the draft of the ambassador's book was transmitted to the White House for pre-publication review by the National Security Council and she also says that the ambassador has not pass the draft manuscript to anyone, period.

Clearly trying to distance themselves from that New York Times report and to lay blame essentially at the White House for this document leaking. This is also going to thrust that question of witnesses right back at the forefront of all of this. The impeachment managers, the Democratic impeachment managers have already put out a statement saying there can be no doubt now that Mr. Bolton directly contradicts the heart of the president's defense and therefore must be called as a witness at the impeachment trial of President Trump. The president and his attorneys have been seeking a swift acquittal, and this could of course undermine that effort. Back to you guys.

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KOSIK: Jeremy Diamond, thank you. So how the new revelations play out may come down to John Bolton's word against President Trump's. The president sending out this tweet just after midnight Eastern Time saying, I never told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats including the Bidens. If John Bolton said this, it was only to sell a book.

JARRETT: All right, well, after a slow initial response, China is pulling out all the stops to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Why a response of this magnitude may be impossible in any other country. CNN is live in Beijing.

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KOSIK: A warning from Chinese President Xi Jinping. The coronavirus outbreak is accelerating and his country is facing a grave situation. There are now at least 15 cities in China fully or partially locked down by the government affecting 57.2 million people. That would be roughly one sixth of the entire U.S. population.

JARRETT: Five cases have now been confirmed here in the United States. One American citizen who is trapped in Wuhan, China, tells CNN, quote, I woke up feeling quite desperate, sad, angry. Most of this is because of lack of information and lack of knowing what's going on. For more on what is actually going on, let's go live to Beijing and bring in CNN's David Culver. David, update our viewers. What do you know?

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Laura, I can tell you that American you referenced right there, I spoke with her via video chat, and she feels rather hopeless right now. I mean, she's self- quarantined under her own home there and isn't wanting to expose herself to other people. And making things even more unnerving for her and for others in that region is news out of the national health commission, which they believe that the exposure between the first and 14th day of incubation periods, so the two weeks roughly that you may have been exposed that you could potentially then transmit it to another person.

That is incredibly alarming, because think of all the screening that's in effect right now. You've got it at airports. You've got it at rail stations. Even at hotels, where they are checking your temperature going in, it questions the effectiveness of those efforts especially if you go through and several days later you can start to show symptoms. Not only that, you could carry it and transmit it onto other people. So that's what's really concerning about this most recent update.

Nonetheless containment efforts are moving ahead here. President Xi Jinping, you mentioned his plans. He is going forward with these two new hospitals that are going to be constructed within two weeks' time. Some 2,000 people are going to be contained there, and they're moving forward with the Americans who are in Wuhan in particular, getting aboard a flight potentially tomorrow is what we're hearing. And Laura, we're hearing that flight will no longer go to San Francisco but will be going to California. They're not saying where exactly.

JARRETT: Yes, such an important reminder for folks that you might not actually show symptoms right away. David, thank you so much for being there for us.

KOSIK: OK, time to check the calendar, just about seven days until the Iowa caucuses. Where the race stands on the ground in Iowa next.

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JARRETT: Well, just one week from today the Iowa caucuses start the process of deciding which Democrat will challenge President Trump. Three top Democrats getting big endorsements this weekend. In Iowa the Des Moines register endorsed Senator Elizabeth Warren. The Sioux City journal threw its support behind former Vice President Joe Biden. In New Hampshire the union leader, the biggest newspaper came out for Senator Amy Klobuchar, but the candidate making the most noise as the first vote approaches is Senator Bernie Sanders. CNN's Jeff Zeleny on the trail with Sanders in Iowa.

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JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Laura and Alison, one week now until the Iowa caucuses. Senator Bernie Sanders and other senators heading back to Washington for the impeachment trial not without though a weekend of campaigning behind them.

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Senator Sanders clearly surge in, you can tell, because his rival Democratic candidates are beginning to take him on and urging voters to question his electability. Senator Sanders at the last stop of his Sunday night campaign here in Sioux City had this to say about that.

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SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I-VT), U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You can tell how good I feel by how nervous the establishment is getting.

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Suddenly Donald Trump is talking about our campaign. Suddenly the Republican National Committee is tweeting about our campaign. Suddenly we have the Democratic establishment very nervous about this campaign.

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ZELENY: So Senator Sanders will be spending the rest of the week in Washington as will Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren. That leaves the state of Iowa to Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden and even Andrew Yang. The question here, which organization will keep working and turn out those caucus goers one week from tonight? Bernie Sanders says if he wins here, he thinks he can win the nomination. Laura and Alison?

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JARRETT: All right, Jeff Zeleny, thanks so much.

KOSIK: It's a shocker around the world, Kobe Bryant dead at 41 in a helicopter crash. What we know about the investigation, an emotional tribute including at the Grammy Awards.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We love you, Kobe. Boy's II Men.

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