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Kobe Bryant, Daughter Gianna Killed in Helicopter Crash; NYT: New Book Alleges Trump Tied Ukraine Aid to Biden Probe. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired January 27, 2020 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just absolute shock and speechlessness in Los Angeles.
LAURA JARRETT, CNN ANCHOR: NBA legend Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash along with his 13-year-old daughter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Heartsick Kobe Bryant fans remember their fallen hero.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kobe, Kobe, Kobe!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kobe, Kobe, Kobe!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kobe, Kobe, Kobe!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A bombshell new report in "The New York Times" about Ambassador John Bolton's forthcoming book.
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: He may have a first- hand account of President Trump directly linking an official act to a personal political need.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If true this would undermine a key argument that President Trump's defense team has been making.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Monday, January 27. It's 6 a.m. here in New York. And two major stories developing at this hour.
First, the huge revelation overnight in the impeachment trial of President Trump which could change everything, and that's not an overstatement, at least in terms of witnesses. And if it doesn't change everything, it really begs the question, why not? Because this morning there was reportedly a first-hand eyewitness who
says the president directly linked aid to Ukraine to the investigations into the Bidens. That man is John Bolton, the former national security advisor.
And this morning, "The New York Times" reports in a draft manuscript of his new book, Bolton says that, in an August meeting, the president told him he wanted to withhold military aid to Ukraine until the Ukrainians agreed to investigate the Democrats, including Joe Biden.
There it is, the link the president's defenders said did not exist. The witness that his defenders said the case against him lacked.
So the key question this morning: will this convince at least four Republicans that they need to hear from Bolton under oath? We have new reporting on that just ahead.
The president responded after midnight, denying that he ever said such a thing to John Bolton. But consider his record with the truth in all the other evidence that has come to light.
The new reporting this morning is certain to hang over the impeachment trial as his lawyers present their case in just a few hours.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: But we begin with a tragic story that has an outpouring of emotion and grief around the world.
This is the Staples Center in Los Angeles, where thousands of fans gathered through the night to pay their respects to basketball legend Kobe Bryant. He was killed with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven other people when their helicopter crashed Sunday morning outside of Los Angeles. The helicopter went down in foggy weather on the way to a basketball game for his daughter.
When young athletes at his academy learned what happened, they gathered on the court to pay tribute, some of them bowing their heads in prayer.
Omar Jimenez joins us live from Calabasas, California, with more on the loss of this legend. What a shock, Omar.
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It really is, Alisyn.
There are a lot of people, especially here in the Los Angeles area, who probably struggled finding a way to sleep last night. All nine people involved in this helicopter crash were killed. Among them, Kobe's 13-year-old daughter, Gianna or Gigi, as she was known; a college baseball coach along with his wife and his daughter; a teammate of Gigi's; an assistant basketball coach; and, of course, five-time NBA champion, Kobe Bryant.
JIMENEZ (voice-over): He was a basketball legend who helped create a dynasty. Kobe Bryant's death stunning the sports community and the world. The 41-year-old tragically lost his life in a helicopter crash outside
Los Angeles Sunday.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Responding to brush fire, reported to be a copter down.
JIMENEZ: First responders quickly arriving to the fiery scene, where nine people died, including the pilot. Among the victims, Bryant's 13- year-old daughter Gianna.
This morning, authorities are investigating the cause of the crash.
ALEX VILLANEUVA, L.A. COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: This is going to take not just days but weeks for us to get -- to recover from this. It's a logistical nightmare, in a sense, because the crash site, itself, is not easily accessible.
JIMENEZ: Bryant retired in 2016 after 20 seasons and five championships with the Los Angeles Lakers. And in his retirement, returned to basketball, sharing his love for the fame with his daughter, Gigi. She had dreams of playing at UConn and in the WNBA.
KOBE BRYANT, FORMER NBA STAR: Fans will come up to me, and she'll be standing next to me. And it will be, like, "Man, you've got to have a boy. You and V. got to have a boy, man. Somebody to carry on your tradition, the legacy."
She's like, "Oy, I got this."
JIMENEZ: Overnight an outpouring of memorials, growing, honoring the basketball legend.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My favorite basketball player always and forever.
JIMENEZ: Across the NBA, players both past and present, reeling from the news.
KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR, RETIRED NBA PLAYER: It's very difficult for me to put in words how I feel about the loss of Kobe Bryant.
DWAYNE WADE, RETIRED NBA PLAYER: We will forever, forever miss you, man. You're a legend. You're an icon. Thank you for being my friend. I love you, brother.
JIMENEZ: Shaquille O'Neal remembering his longtime teammate and, at times, rival, writing, "There are no words to express the pain I'm going through, losing my niece Gigi, and my friend, my brother, my partner in winning championships. I love you."
ALICIA KEYES, SINGER (singing): It's so hard to say good-bye.
JIMENEZ: Inside the Staple Centers, music's biggest stars paying tribute to Bryant during the Grammys.
KEYES (speaking): We're literally standing here heartbroken in the House that Kobe Bryant built.
JIMENEZ: While outside that same venue, thousands gathered to mourn the loss of their basketball hero.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just unbelievable, and it still don't feel real.
JIMENEZ: With many wearing his jerseys, a dedication to a superstar, gone too soon.
JIMENEZ: Now the FAA and NTSB are still investigating the cause of the crash. But the Los Angeles Police Department did say the weather conditions didn't meet their standards for flying. Bottom line, the ripple effects of what happened in just a few moments here are going to be felt for a very long time, not just from people like myself, who grew up wanting to embody that Mamba mentality, but also for basketball as a culture, as a sport; and the world will be feeling this for a very long time -- John.
BERMAN: Omar Jimenez in California for us. Omar, thank you very much. And our hearts do go out to all nine people and their families.
CAMEROTA: We don't even know the identity of two of them still.
BERMAN: No, we don't. No, we don't.
Joining us now, Christine Brennan, CNN sports analyst and sports columnist for "USA Today"; and Andy Scholes, the CNN Sports anchor who sat down for an interview with Kobe Bryant just 12 days ago.
And friends, I think part of this is whenever someone is lost in the prime of their life, it's tragic. With Kobe Bryant, it's doubly tragic, because I think there was a sense that he was on the precipice of a really meaningful second act. And then the fact that his daughter was there. And then the fact that he, himself, was really the example to the entire generation of players in the NBA right now.
Christine Brennan, what does Kobe Bryant mean to you?
CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: Someone who, as you said, at 41 had had this one act, and it was majestic. As a star athlete, an icon as you said, as so many people have been saying, John, over the last 12 or so hours, but also what was yet to come. The fact that he had branched out into Hollywood and movies, animated film, winning an Academy Award.
And the slice of Americana that ended up taking his life. A dad going to a sporting event with his daughter. That is such a 21st Century phenomenon and Kobe exemplifying that, as well.
So all that put together, what we will never have from him, the 30, 40 years, potentially, of creative opportunities, the things he might have done. Gigi at 13, what was she going to do as a young girl playing sports, learning those life lessons through her father and through sports, and what she was going to become, as well, as the others and.
But at the end, it's about sports, about a father and a daughter and I think that makes it even more tragic, if that's possible at this moment.
CAMEROTA: I agree, Christine, there is something that was so universal about what he was doing.
And you know, Andy, obviously, Kobe Bryant was bigger than a sport figure. He was bigger than a sports legend. When I was driving yesterday, when the news came across the phone and my 14-year-old daughter said, "Kobe Bryant was just killed." And my mother and I, not avid sports watchers, both felt this immediate gut punch: Oh God. And it's ha ready to explain why we had that reaction, except that he was such a part of the culture.
ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Absolutely, Alisyn. I mean, when I saw the alert, my heart just, it just sunk. You know, Kobe Bryant meant so much to so many people.
You know, in the Nineties when Michael Jordan's career was winding down, you know, people were panicking. You know, what's going to happen to the NBA, you know? We're going to lose Michael Jordan. But Kobe Bryant, you know, more than carried that torch. You know, he came in saying he was going to be the next Michael Jordan. And if anyone, you know, talked the talk and walked the walk, it was Kobe Bryant. No one worked harder than him.
And his -- his fans were just so passionate and so loyal to Kobe Bryant. I mean, a lot of them didn't even want the Lakers to sign LeBron James, because they loved Kobe Bryant so much.
I was lucky enough, you know, to interact with Kobe in two sectors of my life. You know, I was a ball boy for the Houston Rockets in my college days. And Kobe Bryant was the best player in the league back then. But no matter what, he took time, as you see, to take pictures with people, to sign autographs for anyone who asked.
And I showed Kobe that picture of me and him from back in 2003, when I interviewed him just 12 days ago. He kind of laughed and said how we were both youngsters back then. And I took that opportunity, you guys, actually to thank Kobe. I said, you know what? I just wanted to thank you from all of us who were ball boys, you know, and fans. Thank you for being so nice, because there's a lot of superstars that aren't as nice as Kobe. And you know, they don't take the time to take pictures and sign autographs for everybody. And when I told Kobe thank you for that, which I'm so glad I did, he just smiled at me, guys, and nodded. And, you know, that's a moment I'm never going to forget.
BERMAN: And that's a moment from 2003. And the bookend on that, Andy, for you was the interview you did with him just a few weeks ago, where he talked about another important part of his life, which was his daughter and which is women's sports, which Kobe Bryant was a champion for. And I want to play a little bit of sound of that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHOLES: You recently said your daughter Gigi got you back into the NBA.
SCHOLES: You've taken her to a bunch of games this year. You're sitting courtside with her. As you watch games with her and coach her through her basketball journey, I wanted to get your take on do you think a woman could ever play in the NBA one day?
BRYANT: Play in the NBA. I think there are a couple players that could play in the NBA right now. There was a lot of players that have a lot of skill that can do it. Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore. There's a lot of great players out there. Elena Delle Donne. So they could most certainly keep up with me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: And you know Kobe Bryant wasn't blowing smoke, because he didn't blow smoke. That wasn't how he was.
So Christine Brennan, place that for us, because this is "and," not a "but" when it comes to Kobe Bryant; and he was charged with sexual assault in 2003. There was an incident. The charges were later dropped, and it was a civil settlement in 2003.
What do you take from that and what do you think Kobe Bryant took from that?
BRENNAN: You know, to place this back, as you said, John, back in 2003, that was a very difficult time; and these were serious allegations. And even though the charges were dropped, there was a civil suit. And Kobe did admit back then that -- he had a statement as part of the civil suit that was undisclosed, that he thought the -- their -- the act was consensual; and he said I realize that she did not.
That was a bombshell. He lost sponsors. He lost Nutella. He lost McDonald's. And there were real concerns back then if Kobe Bryant would ever recover the fame and the love of the basketball world and the sports world that he had at that point. He was able to do that.
I think it is a part of his legacy. It is a footnote that is important to mention at this incredibly sad time. I know there's a lot of people out there that don't think that. But it is a part of this story. And it's something, I think, to mention as you then move forward to hear that answer to Andy's question and to see where Kobe came and what he became as a man, as a father of four daughters and is really sounding like a feminist.
That doesn't change what happened in 2003. But it shows the arc of his life and his career and how he has evolved and had hopefully understood what happened, the significance and the horrific allegations back in '03. And to see how he moved forward, I think is a very commendable thing.
CAMEROTA: Christine Brennan, Andy Scholes, thank you very much for sharing all of your experiences with him. Obviously, we will update the viewers as we get more developments about just what happened in that crash.
BERMAN: Those really are questions about why the helicopter was flying and why it went down and out?
CAMEROTA: Yes. All right, coming up, new details about how key Republican senators are responding to this new information. It has just been revealed by "The New York Times" about John Bolton's book. The mystery is over about some of what is in it. What CNN is learning. We'll bring it to you.
CAMEROTA: We have breaking news this morning that could change the course of President Trump's impeachment trial. "The New York Times" reports that former national security adviser John Bolton's upcoming book will say the president personally tied aid to Ukraine to an investigation of the Bidens.
CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is live open Capitol Hill with the latest. This is -- we often use the term bombshell, and this is another one this morning.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: absolutely, Alisyn. And over the weekend, I had a chance to talk to Republican senators Graham, Cramer, and Braun, and all of them expressed a great deal of confidence in the White House defense's opening statements on Saturday.
But now you take a look. You've got the excerpt from this book from John Bolton, potentially a game changer as Democrats are now once again asking for witnesses and documents.
MALVEAUX (voice-over): In just hours, President Trump's defense team will make its case against Trump's removal from office. But explosive new details from former national security adviser John Bolton's impending book could now change the direction of the trial.
A report in "The New York Times" describes dozens of pages in Bolton's unpublished manuscript on how the Ukraine matter evolved in the months before he left the White House last September.
Bolton claims President Trump told him in August they should continue to hold nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine "until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens," undermining a key pillar of the president's impeachment defense that the two circumstances are unrelated.
A source with direct knowledge of the manuscript tells CNN "The New York Times" telling of Bolton's account of the Ukraine aid hold discussion with Trump is accurate.
President Trump denying Bolton's claims, tweeting, "If John Bolton said this, it was only to sell a book."
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't know if we left it on the best of terms. I would say probably not, you know. So you don't like people testifying when they didn't leave on good terms.
MALVEAUX: "The Times" says the book also details conversations Bolton says he had with key cabinet members, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Attorney General Bill Barr.
SEN. BEN CARDIN (D-MD): I think Ambassador Bolton is an important witness to hear from directly. There's a lot of missing blanks here that would be helpful if we could have the direct testimony in order to complete the record.
MALVEAUX: In a joint statement, the House impeachment managers urging the Republican senators to vote to allow new documents and witnesses, writing, "There is no defensible reason to wait until this book is published when the information he has to offer is critical to the most important decision senators must now make -- whether to convict the president of impeachable offenses."
Before the "Times" report, Republican leaders were confident that they would defeat the vote this week. But now it is less certain, according to three GOP sources.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't know how my Republican colleagues cannot call for witnesses. Senator Romney has called for witnesses. They should all be calling for witnesses. We have to get to the truth.
MALVEAUX: Now Bolton's attorney in a statement said they are not responsible, Bolton or his team, for this leak, that they went through the proper channels of actually submitting this draft manuscript to the National Security Council in a case that was classified information. Although they say that this manuscript does not have classified information. They believe that someone outside that approved group to vet this manuscript may have leaked this. And they are calling to question whether or not it was somebody inside the White House -- Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Suzanne, thank you very much.
Let's bring in Elie Honig, CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor and political commentator Joe Lockhart. He was President Clinton's press secretary during that impeachment. Mystery solved. We don't have to wait for the book to be published.
"The New York Times" got their hands on this draft, and we now know what was suspected. And that was that John Bolton does have answers to these things. He did see it with his own eyes. He did see the president tied directly the aid to Ukraine to doing a political favor for President Trump.
Here is how "The New York Times" characterizes it: "In his August 2019 discussion with Mr. Bolton, the president appeared focused on the theories Mr. Giuliani had shared with him, replying to Mr. Bolton's question that he preferred sending no assistance to Ukraine until officials had turned over all materials that they had about the Russia investigation that related to Mr. Biden and supporters of Mrs. Clinton in Ukraine."
What changes today, Elie?
ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Wow, to me that changes everything. I mean, we have gotten used to a steady drumbeat of new revelations coming out for the last four or five months about the Ukraine scandal.
But I think it's important people understand this is on a whole different level. This is right down the middle. This is the heart of the matter. This is direct testimony about a direct conversation with Donald Trump. There's no secondhand, no indirect, no speculation. And it goes right to tying the aid directly to the investigation.
So the Republicans have raised the bar, raised the bar, raised the bar. They can't raise it any higher. And now it's been cleared and, boy, there better be witnesses. I can't even comprehend.
And Joe will tell me, in his political wisdom that, even with this, there will be no witnesses. But I can't comprehend there not being a witness now, John Bolton not testifying now.
BERMAN: This is exactly what the president's defenders say the case lacks. Right? This is precisely. An eyewitness. There's no eyewitness who says the president tied the aid directly to the investigation. Well, now there is.
And it's not only the president's political defenders. It's his legal defenders. His lawyers got up in front of the United States Senate and said this on Saturday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PURPURA, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: There is simply no evidence anywhere that President Trump ever linked security assistance to any investigations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Now there is, Joe. So answer Elie's question. Is it more or less likely, or how does this affect those four Republican senators as they decide whether to vote for witnesses? JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's obviously more likely
that there will be witnesses. But that's only because of as of Sunday afternoon, there was no chance there were going to be witnesses. I think, you know, Republicans were clearly signaling it all day Sunday, that they had won this fight and they were willing to swallow the -- whatever bad press they'd get.
I still don't know that it makes it extremely likely. Remember, the president's defense, you say at the heart of the president's defense. The president defense has changed a dozen times. This is just the most recent one. It is. And it does go to the heart of whether there's first-hand information.
But I think most Republicans, and probably the four that we've been concentrating on, have made up their mind that they just want this; over and they're willing to take a short-term hit. We'll see. I mean, we're going to see from the White House defense today, you know, whether they now bury this defense. We'll see it in the hallways.
CAMEROTA: Well, their defense is that -- that Bolton can't be trusted. You're already hearing that in the president's tweet.
LOCKHART: Well, but I think you may see a subtle change from the senators, which is something along the lines of, Listen, we've known from the beginning that the president acted improperly, but you don't remove a president for a phone call. I mean, it's specious on its face. But their -- their arguments from the very beginning have been specious.
ELIE: The president is saying -- he tweeted it didn't happen. So that's exactly why you need a witness. That's what cross-examination is for. If it didn't happen, his lawyer should be eager to get Bolton on the stand, to prove it.
BERMAN: By the way, the president is not under oath on that tweet. OK? And consider his truthfulness on this up until this point.
HONIG: Very much.
BERMAN: Consider the other evidence that we've seen in the impeachment investigation until this point, all the people who say the president didn't say it to them directly. But they have all kind of signs and evidence.
CAMEROTA: They were operating under those instruction. I mean, the people who testified, obviously, in the House investigation believe that they were under instructions to get this out of Ukraine. Now we know who -- who heard the first initial instruction.
BERMAN: Can I just say one more thing, and I think it's important? John Bolton, who did apparently write this in a book, could also come out in the next hour, if he wanted to, and say this out loud.
CAMEROTA: Can he? HONIG: Yes, he can. OK. Now, what he can't do is testify.
Here's how executive privilege comes into play. Here's where the blockade comes into play. If the Senate votes, we want to hear John Bolton. Then Donald Trump has already said, I'm going to invoke executive privilege.
Now we have a legal contest, and that could go either way. I do not think executive privilege applies here. It does not apply as a general shield against wrongdoing. But there's another question of who decides. Republicans are saying it has to go to the courts, which means we're going to be delayed.
CAMEROTA: But executive privilege doesn't matter if you walked to a microphone today, you're saying?
HONIG: Right. Executive privilege does not cover that. There's no way he can, as a practical matter. Unless he goes to court at 9 a.m. this morning and gets an injunction, which is really hard to do, there's nothing to stop Bolton.
BERMAN: There's no executive privilege police, as we've been saying before.
BERMAN: And Charles Savage, in "The New York Times," writes, I think, cleverly that executive privilege has been used as a shield, not a sword. A shield by people.
If I am sitting there testifying, saying, I can't tell you anything, because the White House is exerting executive privilege. And those people saying that don't want to tell you. But for someone who does want to tell you, it's never been tested.
HONIG: And a limited shield. There's this notion out there that it's a blanket protection. No, it's supposed to be very limited, to military and national security secrets. This is not that.
CAMEROTA: OK. Well, then the next few hours are going to be very interesting.
BERMAN: They really are. I do want to make that point. Because over the next few hours, I expect we could and should hear from Republicans who will tell us what they think about this startling new revelation.
CAMEROTA: Absolutely. Joe, Elie, thank you both very much.
Coming up later in the show we will speak with lead House manager, Democrat Adam Schiff. What does he make of this breaking news?
BERMAN: All right. We are standing by for new information about the investigation into the crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven other people. We're going to take a look back at Bryant's life and legacy next.