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EARLY START

Kobe Bryant and Daughter Killed in Helicopter Crash; Grammys Host Alicia Keys Along with Boyz II Men Sing a Heartfelt Tribute to Kobe Bryant; Democrats Demand John Bolton Be Called as Impeachment Witness After Bolton's Manuscript Got Released. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired January 27, 2020 - 05:00   ET

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


[05:00:00]

LAURA JARRETT, CO-ANCHOR, EARLY START: With Boyz II Men to sing "It's So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday". They came (INAUDIBLE) to Kobe Bryant's Lakers' jerseys hanging in the rafter's there. Kobe has five NBA titles, but also another gold trophy, an Oscar for his short animated -- animated short film, "Dear Basketball". EARLY START continues right now.

ALISON KOSIK, CO-ANCHOR, EARLY START: 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.

JARRETT: Breaking overnight, new details from a draft of John Bolton's book will make it 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. Good morning and welcome to EARLY START, I'm Alison Kosik.

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett. Thanks so much for being here --

KOSIK: Thanks --

JARRETT: It's Monday, January 27th, 5:00 a.m. in the East, just one week to the Iowa caucuses. But we begin with this, the death of Kobe Bryant, a heartbreaking tragedy for basketball fans and all who admired excellence. Bryant; one of the game's all-time greats and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna among nine people killed when their helicopter crashed into a hillside on Sunday morning in Calabasas, California. Outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles, thousands gathered just 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.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB COSTAS, SPORTSCASTER: The first time I met and spoke with him when he was 18 years old --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes --

COSTAS: 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 --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes --

COSTAS: Most of us reach any sort of emotional maturity. You're a veteran when you're 27, 28 years old. Whatever happened is 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 --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes --

COSTAS: They're guys in their 20s, but the eyes of the world are on them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: You heard Costas mention Shaquille O'Neal, Bryant's former teammate says this, "Kobe was so much more than an athlete, he was a family man. That was what we had most in common. Friends say Kobe was so 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 other daughters, the youngest just 7 months old.

KOSIK: Among the other victims, local college baseball coach, John Altobelli, his wife Keri, and his daughter Alyssa. For more on what may have caused the crash, here's CNN's Nick Watt in Calabasas, California.

NICK WATT, CNN 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 cordoned a ceiling so that, that crash site could be preserved 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 helped 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 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.

[05:05:00]

JARRETT: All right, Nick Watt, thanks so much for that. The removing tributes to Kobe Bryant around the NBA and beyond on Sunday. In San Antonio, the crowd cheered as the Spurs and the Raptors each ran out the 24-second clock at the beginning of the game to honor Kobe. Bryant, of course, wore the number 24 for the Lakers.

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JARRETT: Bryant was drafted straight out of high school near Philadelphia in 1996, and at the time, he was the youngest player ever in 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.

Thirteen-year-old, Gianna, she was going to play and Bryant was expected to coach. This image shows the shell-shocked kids receiving the news of Kobe Bryant's death.

Oh, look at that, just all on bended knee there. Well, CNN's most recent interview with Kobe Bryant was by our very own Andy Scholes. He was in Los Angeles, just 12 days ago, and in an event for Major League Soccer. And Andy joins us now. Andy, you talked about a lot, you covered a lot of ground with him, what's stuck you the most?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS REPORTER: Well, just the way he talked about his daughter and how, you know, excited he was about her future in the women's game. And you know, any time I got to be around, Kobe, Laura, it was just special, it was beyond, though, he's one of the greatest athletes, you know, of all-time. This of course, all just still surreal because like you said, you know, just 12 days ago, I was sitting across from Kobe, talking to him.

And you know, we all know Kobe 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 ring, Body Armor, they had just signed a big, exclusive deal with Major League Soccer. And it was that big announcement is where I got to sit down with Kobe.

We talked about his love for soccer after growing up in Italy, and we also talked about, you know, the NBA, we talked about his daughter Gigi. You know, she's the one who got Kobe watching the NBA every night again. And Kobe felt very involved in the women's game. He was coaching Gigi through her basketball journey, and she'd become quite the player.

So, and one of the questions I asked Kobe is if, you know, he thought Gigi or any woman could one day play in the NBA, and here's part of our conversation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KOBE BRYANT, FORMER LATE BASKETBALL PLAYER: Yes, I think there are a couple of players that could play in the NBA right now, honestly. I mean, there's a lot of players that have a lot of skill that can do it. Diana Taurasi, more of Elena Delle Donne, I mean, there's a lot of great players out there, so they can most certainly keep up with them.

SCHOLES: The NBA fans love the debate, you know, which team from which era was better. Shaq recently weighed in saying that he absolutely thinks you and him would have beaten this current Lakers team with O'Brien and Pete Davis. What's your take on that hypothetical match-up?

BRYANT: No, I don't weigh in on hypotheticals. I never have. Those things drive me crazy, like -- because as a competitor, you can't -- there's nothing you can do about it. You can't debate yourself into winning something, right? That was the beauty about sports, as you compete, 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 --

SCHOLES: All right --

BRYANT: But it's fun to hear.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: And again, that was just 12 days ago, and I was actually lucky enough to have interacted with Kobe. In two sectors of my life, I was ball boy 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, we were both youngsters back then.

And then I took that opportunity to just thank Kobe for 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, he signed autographs for everyone. A lot of guys wouldn't have done that and still don't do that. And when I thanked Kobe for always being so nice, he just smiled back at me and nodded.

And Laura, that's -- you know, a moment I'm certainly never going to forget. And that's kind of just who Kobe was, a nice genuine person, and he had a smile that's going to last forever.

JARRETT: It seems like everyone has, you know, a personal story like that, of how he kind of went out of his way just to show a little bit of kindness. Andy, thank you so much, great interview.

SCHOLES: Thanks.

JARRETT: And for those of us who didn't know him, we felt like we did because he seemed so friendly.

KOSIK: All right, Republicans were confident they could side-step witnesses at the Trump impeachment trial, but new revelations from John Bolton cast serious doubt. We'll tell you why?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:10:00]

KOSIK: Welcome back. New revelations will make it much harder for Senate Republicans 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 adviser 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.

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

[05:15:00]

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alison and Laura. President Trump's defense team will enter their second day of making their arguments on 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 "New York Times" in a draft manuscript of Ambassador John Bolton's fourth coming 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 "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 passed 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.

KOSIK: All right, Jeremy Diamond, thank you. 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: Well, after a slow initial response, China is escalating efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Why a response of this magnitude may be just impossible in any other country. CNN is live in Beijing.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:20:00]

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 been confirm here in the United States. One American citizen who is trapped in Wuhan, China, tells CNN, "I woke up feeling quite desperate, sad, angry. Most of this 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, the death toll stands at 80, public health officials are saying that the case count could double every six days. I mean, what is the containment plan?

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, and you mentioned that one American, I actually spoke with her yesterday, and she's a representative of thousands of people, mostly expats, and then millions of locals. And we can tell you there are plans actually to evacuate some Americans. And we've learned that the plan is to bring them on a plane back to the states flying out tomorrow.

And that departure will involve U.S. diplomats, their families and a select number of Americans. There's an estimated a thousand in the city of Wuhan. A select number of those will be able to get on. To your point about the containment effort, I mean, this is a massive effort that's under way right now, and part of the concern is the health officials have come out to say here that the incubation period is 1 to 14 days, right?

And so, if you're potentially exposed, you have about those two weeks in which you've got to be mindful of potentially contracting the virus. Not only that, though, they have now also added that during that period of two weeks, you could also transmit it to other people. Well, that brings into question all of these containment efforts such as screening at airports, railways and even at hotels where they're checking your temperature upon coming in, and saying are those really effective?

Nonetheless, they're moving forward with those containment efforts, and Laura, they're also moving forward with the construction of those two new hospitals. I mean, they're going to be building them within two weeks time. One of them is supposed to open up within just a few days and they'll hold about 2,000 people.

KOSIK: Yes, well, they'll certainly have their hands full. David, thank you so much. It's a shock heard around the world, Kobe Bryant dead at 41 in a helicopter crash. What we know about the investigation and emotional tributes including at the Grammys.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(SINGING)

ALICIA KEYS, SINGER: We love you, Kobe.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:25:00]

KOSIK: 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.

JARRETT: Breaking overnight, new details from a draft of John Bolton's book will make it tougher to refuse witnesses at the impeachment trial of President Trump. We will tell you why?

KOSIK: More than 57 million people locked down in China and an unprecedented response from Xi Jinping who warns the coronavirus outbreak is accelerating.

END