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Kobe Bryant And Daughter Killed In Chopper Crash; Bolton Bombshell: Trump Revealed Quid Pro Quo; Trump Denies Claim In Bolton Manuscript; Bernie Sanders Surging In 2020 Democratic Race; Rockets Hit U.S. Embassy In Baghdad; President Xi: China Is Facing A "Grave Situation"; U.S. Stock Futures Tumble As Coronavirus Spreads; Walmart Testing Higher Minimum Wage; Billie Eilish Sweeps Grammy Awards; Grammy Tributes To Kobe Bryant. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired January 27, 2020 - 05:30   ET



ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: -- more than 57 million people locked down in China and unprecedented response from Xi Jinping who warns the coronavirus outbreak is accelerating.

Good morning. This is Early Start. I'm Alison Kosik.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Laura Jarrett. About 30 minutes past the hour here in New York. We begin with the death of Kobe Bryant, a heart breaking tragedy for basketball fans and all who admired excellence. Bryant, one of the games all-time greats, 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.


BOB COSTAS, AWARD-WINNING SPORTSCASTER: 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'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've long since have reconciled. They're young guys. They're guys in their 20's but the eyes of the world are on them.


JARRETT: You heard Costas mentioned Shaquille O'Neal there. Well, Bryant's Lakers 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 only -- 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 basketball coach, John Altobelli, his wife, Keri, and 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 hillside. Once that was under control, they secured the scene. The FAA was quickly here putting a cordon around and an air cordon, 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, 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.

JARRETT: Nick, thank you so much for that. There were so many moving tributes to Kobe Bryant around the NBA and beyond on Sunday. Andy Scholes joins us now.

And, Andy, you know, for the players, I just can't even imagine what it must have been like last night to have to go out just receiving this news.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Yes, Laura, so many players just in tears, you know, before their game, during their game, after their game. Unfortunately, you notice it can be one of those moments, you know, that you never forget, you know, where you were, what you were doing when you heard this news about Kobe Bryant. And you know, of course, tributes just pouring in all over the country as this news spread.

At NBA games, arenas around the league holding a moment of silence before the game, then the Spurs and Raptors both taking 24-second violations at the beginning of the game in Kobe's honor. Kobe, of course, wore the number 24 at the end of his career, and multiple players around the league writing on their shoes tributes to Kobe.

Hawks star Trae Young meanwhile, he usually wears number 11, he wore the number 8 to start his game in honor of Kobe. Kobe wore 8 at the beginning of his Lakers career.


There were many other tearful tributes. Here are Kobe's friends Dwayne Wade and Clippers Coach Doc Rivers.


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

DOC RIVERS, LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS COACH: The news is just devastating to everybody who knew him, who've known him a long time. And, you know, he just -- means a lot to me, obviously. You know, he was such a great opponent, you know. It's what you want in sports.


SCHOLES: Yes, and Kobe's old running mate, Shaquille O'Neal, also emotional. He posted, "There's no words to express the pain I'm going through with this tragedy of losing my niece, Gigi, and my brother, Kobe Bryant. I love you and you will be missed."

Michael Jordan saying, "I am in shock over the tragic news of Kobe's and Gianna's passing. Words can't describe the pain I'm feeling. I loved Kobe, he was a little brother to me. We used to talk often, and I will miss those conversations very much."

The Lakers returning from a road trip and LeBron James could be seen very emotional out there once he got off the plane. He had just passed Kobe for third on the all-time scoring list.

And Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban, meanwhile, he released a statement saying that no Mavericks players ever going to wear the number 24 again in honor of Kobe Bryant. Laura, I would expect maybe similar teams to follow suit as well.

JARRETT: Yes. And I know you just did an interview with him just 12 days ago. It's just stunning. Andy, thank you so much.

SCHOLES: All right. KOSIK: Republicans were confident they could size-up witnesses at the Trump impeachment trial, but new revelations from John Bolton are casting serious doubt. We'll tell you why.



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


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


JARRETT: Before "The Times" disclosures, Republican leaders were confident they could defeat a vote for witnesses. Now, three GOP sources tell CNN that is less certain.

KOSIK: 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: Joining us now, Princeton University Historian and Professor Julian Zelizer, also a CNN Political Analyst. Julian, thanks a lot for joining us this morning.


JARRETT: The biggest question since the beginning of this trial has been are Democrats going to be able to flex enough muscle to get a witness or maybe even more than one witness in this Senate impeachment trial. The Bolton book, I think for -- at least for Democrats, changes the game here.

And here's what they say with news of their revelations last night, "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."

Are they right? Is this going to move the needle?

ZELIZER: Well, two things can be true at once. The book can have that kind of dramatic effect. It can offer evidence that, you know, a higher up official heard directly from the President what this was about. But at the same time, Senate Republicans could sit tight and they could want to get this over with even quicker because this kind of news is out there. So until we see a vote, until we see a commitment to a vote from the so-called Moderate Republicans, the assumption has to be that we're going to have more of the same.

KOSIK: You know, in the draft of this book, we see how he sort of paints broad strokes reportedly implicating others in Trump's orbit, including Pompeo, Barr and Mulvaney. Some of those new, like one of them, Bolton telling Barr that Trump had mentioned him during the July 25th call. That's something that Barr disputes. You know, we're seeing these broad strokes here and then we're hearing about the motivations of writing this book. What do you think about this?

ZELIZER: Well, the motivations are going to be what the administration emphasizes as the President did. It's a way to raise questions about the legitimacy of the account. But the broad strokes are pretty damaging. Not only are they talking about the President, they're talking about the entire inner circle being in on this or understanding what exactly was going on.

But, remember, the President's team controls the floor in the next few days. So they are going to use that time to push this story out. And if it comes up, it's going to be about selling a book, it's not going to be about top officials saying everything that they did.

JARRETT: "The Times" story suggests that Bolton actually circulated, you know, his thoughts on all of this to others. But a statement from his spokesperson says this, I want to just read it aloud for you. "The draft of the ambassador's book was transmitted to the White House for prepublication review by the National Security Council. The ambassador has not passed the draft manuscript to anyone. Period."


So pushing back a little bit there, kind of passing the buck to the White House. But it seems like this is going to come down to Trump's word versus Bolton. And Bolton is not some flaming liberal.

ZELIZER: No. The idea that Democrats are counting on John Bolton for anything is unbelievable given his history. This is a very conservative Republican who doesn't like Democrats and Democrats don't like him, but that doesn't matter in these kinds of scandals whether impeachment or otherwise. Sometimes people who you don't side with can have the most damaging information.

But again, so far, Senate Republicans are sitting tight. They have sat tight from already a lot of damaging information, so we shouldn't assume this will turn them. JARRETT: Yes. And of course, even if Democrats do manage to get John Bolton in the witness chair, at first it would be behind closed doors. He would be deposed privately before we would ever see him in public if ever that's assuming they're able to get their thoughts.

ZELIZER: Yes. I mean, the reason it's important isn't necessarily to determine the final vote, which I think we all know what it is, the President will stay in office. It's to just build a case. Democrats have used the entire impeachment process to say, look what happened, look what this President is about and look why we conducted the impeachment process. And the John Bolton information only solidifies that, even frankly, if he doesn't end up testifying.

KOSIK: OK. Let's switch gears a quick second to the race for 2020. Bernie Sanders sounding really confident on the campaign trail about a week away from Iowa. He's saying that he's going to win, saying that he's the establishment's worst nightmare. Listen to what he had to say.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I could tell how good I feel by how nervous the establishment is getting. 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.


KOSIK: All right. So, is he overconfident or is he onto something here?

ZELIZER: No. According to every poll we are seeing, he is a solid frontrunner. He is positioned to possibly win the first two rounds, Iowa and New Hampshire. And he's looking strong in other states, so I don't think he's being overconfident. I think some Democrats are being caught by surprised. But he has a path to victory right now, and the other candidates need to kind of let that sink in.

KOSIK: Julian, it's so great to have you here with us.

ZELIZER: Thank you.

JARRETT: Great to see you, Julian. Thanks so much. We'll be right back.



JARRETT: The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has been hit by rocket fire. The attack caused one minor injury, and that person has returned to duty. This, coming just weeks after big protests at the embassy and the U.S. strike that killed a top Iranian general. The State Department is not commenting specifically about the situation at the embassy and is not directly blaming Iran. On Friday, the Pentagon revealed 34 U.S. service members suffered traumatic brain injuries following an Iranian missile attack in Iraq earlier this month. President Trump has downplayed those injuries saying some troops had headaches and a couple of other things.

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, "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 now on what actually is going on, let's go live to Beijing and bring in CNN's David Culver. And David, you're learning more about just how long the lag time here is on the incubation period. Up to two weeks, it could be?

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And that's a really big concern for health officials in particular. And they've put out this warning that if somebody has had potential exposure to this virus they have about 1 to 14 days before they start showing symptoms, so that's the incubation period. But within that timeframe, health officials are also warning that they could transmit the virus to someone else.

So that also brings into question some of the containment efforts and screening in particular at airports and railways asking is it really going to be all that effective. Nonetheless, they're moving forward with those efforts.

And you've got to look at the broader scale here of all of this. As you mentioned, the 57 million people that are in that lock down zone, that's like combining the population of, let's say, California and New York State. So it's a huge space that we're talking about here as far as population is concerned.

And what's more interesting is that this is also President Xi stepping forward a week after this was described as a preventable and controllable situation by health officials. He's now saying this is a grave situation and he's determined to take action.


He's also putting clear pressure on some of these local officials to step up and to move quickly. And that this containment effort is now involving the construction, rapid construction of two new hospitals that will be done within two weeks time. One of them will be done in less than a week. They'll hold more than 2,000 people.

They're also moving forward, Laura, with sending as much needed medical supplies. I mean, they're desperate for it within some of these hospitals. They're lacking masks, goggles, hazmat suits, so they're putting them into containment zones as quickly as possible.

JARRETT: It's just incredible they can get it constructed so quickly but obviously so needed. David, thank you.


KOSIK: The spread of the coronavirus is shaking financial markets. U.S. stock futures falling more than 1 percent overnight. It looks like the Dow could open 400 points lower. Europe is lower and Japan's Nike index closing down more than 2 percent. The rest of Asia was closed for the Lunar New Year.

Now, beyond the human toll, investors are anxious about the virus' impact on the global economy. Travel bans will hurt profits even in the U.S. Hotel and resort companies, they do big business in China and so do airlines. We did see shares four U.S. airlines fall last week. Less flying in the region could bring down jet fuel prices, so we are seeing oil markets sink as well. Prices are down another 3 percent overnight.

But it's not just travel. Wuhan is the epicenter of the virus. It's home to huge auto factories for General Motors and Nissan. Luxury goods companies, they're also bracing for a sales hit. Chinese customers make up 35 percent of sales worldwide. And the outbreak couldn't have come at a worse time for China's economy. Last year, it grew at the weakest pace in almost 30 years due in part to the trade war.

America's biggest retailer is testing a higher minimum wage for some employees. Walmart is rolling out a starting wage of $12 per hour at 500 stores. These employees will have more responsibilities to improve service.

Walmart is America's biggest employer at 1.5 million people. It last raised its minimum wage to $11 per hour in 2018 following years of criticism from labor activists, including presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

JARRETT: Well, music's biggest night was bittersweet in celebration just hours after the death of Kobe Bryant, but the night belonged to an 18-year-old singing sensation.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the Grammy goes to Billie Eilish, "When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?"


JARRETT: Belie Eilish sweeping the four biggest prizes at the 62nd Grammy Awards. She won Best New Artist, Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Album of the Year. She is the youngest solo performer to ever win that award. The Grammy's were held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles as show host Alicia Keys put it, the arena that Kobe built.


ALICIA KEYS, SINGER: We love you, Kobe. Boyz II Men.


JARRETT: Alicia Keys powered through tears there along with Boyz II Men to sing "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday." The camera panned to show Kobe Bryant's Lakers jersey hanging in the rafters. Kobe has five NBA titles, but also another gold trophy, a 2018 Oscar for his short animated -- his animated short film "Dear Basketball."

KOSIK: Thanks so much for joining us today. I'm Alison Kosik.

JARRETT: And I'm Laura Jarrett. We'll see you back here tomorrow.