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Nine Killed in Helicopter Crash; Remembering Kobe Bryant; Bolton Book on Ukraine Aid; GOP Fight Against Witnesses Uncertain. Aired 7:00-7:30a ET

Aired January 27, 2020 - 07:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All the way. Reverse layup is good.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kobe Bryant, the five-time NBA champion, has been killed in a helicopter crash.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His loss is epic and the grief incalculable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He inspired a whole generation of young athletes. Kobe, my thoughts are with you. Rest in peace, young man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A bombshell, new report in "The New York Times" about Ambassador John Bolton's forthcoming book.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: John Bolton may have the smoking gun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ambassador Bolton's an important witness to hear from directly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The chief justice is presiding over this trial. If he signs a subpoena or a witness to come, we're going to get that witness.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and all around the world. This is NEW DAY.

And we are tracking two huge developing stories.

First, breaking news from "The New York Times." The wait for what John Bolton says he knows is over. For the first time, we hear what the former national security adviser says he saw and heard from President Trump in the scandal of withholding military aid to Ukraine.

This new information comes courtesy of John Bolton's upcoming book. "The New York Times" got their hands on a manuscript. This changes the equation of what could happen in the Senate trial today.

Republicans have complained that there was no first person witness. Now, according to this manuscript, there is.

In just a few hours, the president's legal team will present more of its defense of the president, which has thus far been almost entirely focused on denying what Bolton claims happened.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Also developing this morning, the sudden, shocking death of basketball legend Kobe Bryant. The 41-year-old former Lakers star was killed in a helicopter crash near Los Angeles Sunday, along with his 13-year-old daughter and seven others on board. Federal crash investigators are now heading to the scene to try to determine what happened.

Overnight, thousands of fans gathered outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles to remember his life and his remarkable career.

CNN's Omar Jimenez begins our coverage live from Calabasas where the helicopter went down in California.


OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, this is as close as we can get to the crash site this morning. The FAA and NTSB are continuing to investigate the cause of this crash. But The Los Angeles Police Department did say that the weather conditions on Sunday did not meet their standards for flying. All things that are going to play into this investigation.

But, bottom line, this is something that happened in a matter of moments that rippled throughout the world so quickly and something that is going to have a long-standing impact on not just the support of basketball, the culture around it, and the greater world as well.


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.

LA COUNTY FIRE DISPATCH: Units responding to a brush fire 120 (ph), 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 VILLANUEVA, LA COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: This is going to take not just days but weeks for us to get -- to recover from this. This is a logistical nightmare in a sense because the crash site itself is not easily accessible.

JIMENEZ: Bryant retired from the NBA if 2016 after 20 seasons and five championships with the Los Angeles Lakers. And in his retirement, returned to basketball, sharing his love for the game with his daughter Gigi. She had dreams of playing at UCONN and in the WNBA.

KOBE BRYANT (October 2018): Fans will come up to me and she'll be standing next to me and they'll be like, hey, you got to have a boy. You and V got to have a boy, man. Got somebody to carry on the 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.

DWYANE WADE, RETIRED NBA PLAYER: We will forever, forever miss you, man. You are a legend. You're our icon. Thank you for being my friend. I love you, brother.

JIMENEZ: Shaquille O'Neill remembering his long-time 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.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): It's so hard to say good-bye.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): After --

JIMENEZ: Inside the Staples Center, music biggest stars paying tribute to Bryant during the Grammys.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 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. Like, it still don't feel real.

JIMENEZ: With many wearing his jerseys, a dedication to a superstar gone too soon.


JIMENEZ: Now, you don't have to look hard. Whether it's on social media or in conversations with friends and family, the impact that Kobe Bryant left on this world is evident. And when you look at the chance that many people here, not just in Los Angeles, but across the world will have to honor him, the Los Angeles Lakers will be playing the Los Angeles Clippers tomorrow night. And not just for the thousands in attendance, but the likely millions watching around the world will have the chance to remember the life Kobe lived, but more importantly the legacy that continues to live on.

John. Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Omar, thank you very much.

Joining us now is Jemele Hill, staff writer for "The Atlantic." She has interviewed Kobe Bryant many times over the years and had an interesting friendship that developed with him.

Great to have you here on set.

You've just, overnight, you just wrote this piece for "The Atlantic," "The Kobe Bryant I Knew." Can you sum that us for us?

JEMELE HILL, STAFF WRITER, "THE ATLANTIC": It's hard. And even waking up today, it just felt so surreal that I couldn't believe that he's gone. And we did -- we fostered a relationship, as I write about in "The Atlantic," that started from a disagreement. He wrote -- or he said some comments to "The New Yorker" in a profile about Trayvon Martin, that case, and I thought it was really tone deaf and that he kind of missed the point. And so I was -- when I was at ESPN, I was on air and I was criticizing him, which considering his greatness as a player is something not often done necessary. And before I could even make it offset, before they ended the show, he had sent me a direct message and he and I had never spoken. And he told me to call him right away.

And I waited and I called him and we wound up talking for an hour and just kind of hashing it out. And for, I guess I would be considered an old school journalist at this point, that was sort of the way it was done. It's like you wrote something, if they didn't like it you had to have that face to face, you give them a chance to respond. And I thought it was really interesting that he was kind of of that mindset. Like, no, I have an issue, you don't understand what I'm trying to say or I didn't mean it the way it came out.

CAMEROTA: And what he was trying to say, I think, if I can interpret what he was trying to say, you know better, is that he was going to wait till more facts came out. He wasn't just going to have just a knee jerk reaction.

HILL: Yes, that was part of it. But I think it's the way that he said it, that it just -- it really struck me as wrong. And, again, as I allude to in the piece, he later apologized to the Martin family for the comments coming off as kind of harsh and he even spoke at a rally for Trayvon Martin. And so he really evolved.

And when the Michael Brown situation happened in Ferguson, his tone, demeanor, his comments completely different than I think how he started with Trayvon Martin. So he clearly kind of got it, if you will.

And so when we ended the conversation, he said, here's my number, call me any time, if you ever need anything. And it just so happened a few months later I asked him to be a part of this sit-down conversation with me for BET, during the BET awards weekend, and he was phenomenal. And it just -- it's so eerie and it strikes me because the only thing that he wanted was for BET to pay for his helicopter. That was literally the only thing that he wanted. No fee, nothing, he just wanted that. And for this to be the way that he died, it just -- it's something that I just haven't been able to get in my -- get out of my mindset.

BERMAN: Well, look, I'm resistant often to reader a writer's words back to them, but what you wrote overnight in "The Atlantic" is so beautiful that I want people to hear it. And this was the closing paragraph here.

You said, I was one of the people who doubted him. That's why it's so hard to believe he's gone. Kobe defied and banished every single doubt anyone ever had of him and he plowed through obstacles as if they were invisible. That there was something he couldn't beat, the unpredictability of life, is something I will never fully comprehend.

Which is beautiful, again.

HILL: Thank you.

BERMAN: And so fitting because Kobe was going to win no matter what. Kobe Bryant was going to win at anything he did. And to me that's what's so sad about his death because there was a second act that was just beginning here in his life, as a father, I think as an entrepreneur, as a role model, and there's every reason to think he was going to win at that. He was winning at that.

HILL: Yes. I mean the fact that he won an Oscar so quickly after he retired is very Kobe-esque, if you will. That's, you know, what made me write that is this, thinking about this second act that he had where he really fully embraced being creative, being a story-teller. Because when we did that interview for BET, I remember joking with him and saying, I cannot imagine you in retirement. I totally wouldn't. I wrote that I doubted him.

He very much struck me as one of those players who was going to be totally unhappy in retirement. I was like, there's nothing he can find that would mean as much to him as basketball.


And because of his competitive nature and competitive streak, I just had a hard time imaging retired Kobe.

And I was surprised because he created a healthy distance from the game. He was not always necessarily -- he was present in basketball, but he wasn't this, you know, this overlord in terms of always being connected, always feeling he had to say something. He let the young guys take over. And he became this elder statesmen. And, as I refer to him in my piece, the NBA uncle. I mean he truly embraced that role. And so it was very different to see him in his life.

But he was -- he was very content, very happy, didn't think about coming back. And I thought, he's going to be -- he's going to do what Jordan did. He's going to wait until a certain point and then he's going to be like, no, you know what, I want to come back again. But he wasn't that way at all.

CAMEROTA: Your story of your relationship sort of blossoming out of original conflict I think illustrates that he didn't shy away from conflict. He didn't shy away from tough topics. The sexual assault allegation against him, how did he so successfully recover from that?

HILL: Well, it took some time. And there were -- there were always going to be a lot of people -- and even I understand today like it's a complicated legacy because of that trial and that case. And so there are a lot of people still trying to grapple -- still grappling to understand how does that fit, if at all, in this story, in this retrospective as we think about him and remember him.

But for basketball fans, they certainly remember that after that case had resolved, that there was an anger and an edge to his game. He always played with an edge, but it's -- he -- it seemed like he played even edgier after that and that he had a point to prove. And I think for many of us watching, we were surprised because to during that -- with the case was in court, he was going back and forth. He was still playing. And I know a lot of people just couldn't understand how this was possible, how he was able to compartmentalize something that was obviously very serious, and then, at the same time, be as excellent and even more excellent than we were used to seeing him on the basketball court.

BERMAN: There are only two things, and I'm a huge sports fan and basketball fan, that I began to realize the last few months, Kobe Bryant was back in the public eye to an extent the last few months. I had never realized until recently that for current NBA players he's the Michael Jordan for current NBA players. I'm a Celtics Fan. Jayson Tatum idealized Kobe Bryant. The current players look up to Kobe. He was their modem. And the other thing, and we all saw the video with him with his daughter, Gianna, Gigi, at that basketball game. I only began to realize how important his daughter's basketball life and life in general was to him and how much he cared about women and women's sports.

HILL: Yes, he was a very big champion of the WNBA, a very big champion of women, girls and women's basketball. And there were -- I love that everybody's running -- been running the clip that when he was on Jimmy Kimmel and he talked about how his daughter embraced the fact that, you know, her dad was Kobe Bryant and she wanted to be the one to carry on the legacy. And whenever I saw clips posted, as you -- as what people are watching here, her game, she was clearly pattering it after her dad. She had his fade away kind of down pat already. And it was just kind of a treasure to see this softer side of Kobe because as many men have told me and some can -- will say, and is that girls bring out that in dads and she was clearly kind of bringing that out in her father. And so to see their relationship kind of develop the way that it did over basketball, it was really quite wonderful I think for the rest of us to see.

CAMEROTA: I also like the part of the Jimmy Kimmel thing where he basically scoffed at anybody who came up to him and said, don't you wish you had sons?

HILL: Yes.

CAMEROTA: And he was like, check this out.

HILL: Well, and for the WNBA in particular to have Kobe Bryant be such a huge backer of the league, I mean it was just recently that he singled out a couple WNBA stars and talked about how he felt like they could play in the NBA right now. And that's an important validation for that league and for many of the women's players who played in it. So for the WNBA, it's a basketball loss, period. But considering his close relationship with that league, with that players, with the game, I think it hurts even more so because he was such a champion of them.

Jemele Hill, it's an honor to have you on the show.

HILL: Thank you. It's an honor to be here.

BERMAN: Everyone needs to go and read Jemele's piece in "The Atlantic."

HILL: Appreciate it.

BERMAN: Bring a box of tissues, honestly.

And we're going to have much more.

There were seven other people killed on that helicopter as well, along with Kobe Bryant and his daughter. And we will have much more on the investigation and their reaction throughout the morning.

Also, the new report that truly has shaken the impeachment trial and does have the possibility of changing it in a major way. "The New York Times" reports that John Bolton says the president did directly tie Ukraine funding to the investigation of the Bidens and told him so personally. Maggie Haberman, one of the reporters who broke this story, joins us next.



BERMAN: The explosive new report in "The New York Times" details a draft of former National Security Adviser John Bolton's unpublished manuscript. In it, Bolton claims that President Trump directly tied military aid to Ukraine to the investigation into Democrats and the Bidens.

We are joined now by one of the reporters that broke this story, Maggie Haberman of "The New York Times," "New York Times" White House correspondent and CNN political analyst.

Maggie, thank you very much for being with us.

Your story is now in the middle of everything in terms of the impeachment investigation. So why don't you layout exactly what Bolton says in this draft manuscript the president said to him. MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure. So what's been described to us about what is in there is that he says the president, in a conversation with him in August, directly tied lifting the hold on this security assistance to information that he wanted about the Russia investigation and materials that would relate to Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden.

That is the first time that we have heard of any kind of first-hand account of the president making that link.


And, remember, John, that not having a link there was central to what one of the deputy White House counsel's, Mike Purpura, said in the Senate chamber on Saturday in their defense. He also says that Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, privately told him that there was no basis to Rudy Giuliani's claims about the Ukrainian ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, who Giuliani had been agitating (ph) to have removed for some time.

He also told Bolton, according to Bolton's book, that he suspected that Giuliani might have been trying to get rid of Yovanovitch and she was cracking down on corruption and might have been targeting some of his clients.

There's also a description of the president mentioning a DNC server in a May 23rd meeting that we're already aware of where a bunch of administration officials and Senator Ron Johnson briefed the president after their visit to the inauguration of President Zelensky of Ukraine.

And according to Bolton, he says that he told Bill Barr in early -- I think it's early August or at some point after the call with Zelensky in July that Barr's name had come up on this call and that he himself, Bolton, had concerns about it. We got pushback on that particular bit from Barr's folks.

But what we have had so far from the White House, other than President Trump's Twitter feed, is silence as to how they're going to address this.

CAMEROTA: So, Maggie, your reporting suggests John Bolton has a lot to say?

HABERMAN: Right. I -- listen, I think that John Bolton has put himself in a position where you are -- because he is doing this in the book, or attempting to do this in the book, and has not just said something publicly, other than his tweets from time to time, I think that you are going to hear from people around the White House and around the president's defenders that he is doing this to juice book sales. And as we mentioned in our story, that is a concern for him, that it looks like he held back on, you know, historically important information in the middle of an historic impeachment trial to juice his book sales. There is nothing stopping him from saying something at some point this week and we will see if he does. BERMAN: We will see if he does. Do you think it's more likely than not at this point? I was surprised to see this, Maggie, at this point in the impeachment trial because John Bolton, any day, for the last several months, could have come out and said this publicly.


BERMAN: And I'm not --

HABERMAN: Well, I mean, you're making -- you're making assumptions and I'm not going (INAUDIBLE). So, yes.

BERMAN: I'm not asking -- no, I'm not. No, I'm not. I was just about to say -- let me finish my sentence. I'm not asking and I would never ask you your sources --


BERMAN: And you would never even hint at them.


BERMAN: But John Bolton could come out and talk about this if he wanted to.

So my question to you, and this is a question, is in your reporting, do you get the sense that Bolton really, truly wants his account out there before the end of the impeachment trial?

HABERMAN: I don't -- I can't speak to his motive -- you know, his concerns or his motivations on testifying or not testifying. I don't know.

He has made clear that he wants to testify. So whether there is some deeper thing there, I don't know. We just know that this White House was given to the manuscript and we learned of what was in it. Whether that impacts the impeachment trial, I have no idea.

Listen, I think that it makes it likelier that there could be witnesses called but it -- I don't think that's 100 percent. And I think that the senators are going to have to decide if they find him to be a compelling figure.

What is significant about John Bolton is, you know, he's not Lev Parnas, right? He's not somebody who is hanging around Rudy Giuliani and paying money to get to fundraiser. He is a former presidential candidate himself. He is somebody who has been around conservative circles for a long time. He is somebody who has relationships with some of these senators and he is one of their own. And so I think that, you know, treating him in the same way I think is going to be a lot harder for them, but we'll see.

CAMEROTA: OK. So to recap, John Bolton, in the book, says he has first-hand knowledge, he heard the president direct that their -- the aid was tied to a political favor. He also, and I think this is so important, and you just touched on it, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo knew that the story that, according to John Bolton, the story that Rudy Giuliani was pedaling about Marie Yovanovitch wasn't true. And third, Maggie, and I don't know if you touched on this, Mick Mulvaney was there for at least one of those conversation.

HABERMAN: I didn't touch on that and thank you for reminding me. It's been a long 24 hours.

Among the -- among the thing that Bolton apparently writes about is that Mulvaney was present for at least one conversation that the president was having by phone with Rudy Giuliani where Giuliani was fulminating about Yovanovitch again why she had to go.

Among the reasons that's important, not just that it places Mick Mulvaney there, but Mulvaney has told associates that he would step away whenever the president was talking to Giuliani so that the president could preserve his attorney/client privilege. This completely contradicts that.

And Bolton's -- again, Bolton's key assertion here that the president tied this money directly to something he wanted in terms of investigations, you know, could undercut a key aspect of the president's defense.

What I suspect the president's folks are going to say is, you know, this wasn't about announcing an investigation, this was different. This was about, you know, other aspects of these investigations that he wanted.


In the president's conversation, it appears to have all just been lumped into one and that is generally how the president talks. Look, Bolton has had a very well-known beef with Pompeo, with Mulvaney. I suspect that's going to be pointed to as well. But, at the end of the day, this is why, when you have a White House and a president who often do not tell the truth, there are times you're going to want your credibility and this is one of them.

BERMAN: Maggie, we're going to have to let you go. We have you back, thankfully, but I do want to ask, do you have any reporting that the president's defense team in the impeachment trial knows the details of Bolton's account or knew the details of Bolton's --

HABERMAN: I'm just going to -- I'm just going to let our story -- I'm going to let our story speak for itself on that.

BERMAN: OK. OK. We will get much more on that then as it development.

And I do want you also to know, Maggie, and you'll be back again later, the president is tweeting on this. He clearly -- he went to bed tweeting about this and he woke up tweeting about this and his -- he has a lie this morning. He says that Democrats controlled the House. They never even asked Bolton to testify. It is up to them. Not up to the Senate. The Democrats in the House did ask Bolton to testify.

HABERMAN: They -- I just want to make one quick point, John. They did ask him. They didn't subpoena him. And that has been a point of contention that we heard raised at the Senate trial. I'm not surprised to hear the president points to that.

I think the president should be mindful that if the Senate does not call John Bolton or call witnesses and ends the trial without that, there is nothing precluding the House Democrats from calling Bolton to a committee hearing and hearing his testimony. And it's not clear to me that he would say no and let the president claim executive privilege. So it's just something the White House needs to consider.

CAMEROTA: We're going to ask Chairman Adam Schiff about all of that when we see him on the program coming up.

BERMAN: Maggie, terrific work.

HABERMAN: Thanks, guys.

BERMAN: And, again, we'll see you a little bit later in the show.

So, the big question now is what does this reporting do in the Senate impeachment trial? Does it lead to now four Republicans agreeing to hear witnesses, which is what nearly 70 percent of the American people say they would like to happen.

We're joined on the phone with new reporting by CNN's senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju.

Manu, you are working your sources overnight. What are they telling you how this changes things?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, it adds new uncertainty to a key vote that's expected this week to determine whether or not to issue a subpoena for witnesses and documents.

I can tell you, at the end of last week, after the House Democrats wrapped up their portion of the argument, the White House and Senate Republican leaders were confident that they would defeat that vote. That vote is a part of the overall Senate resolution that would -- it will occur once the defense arguments are completed, once senators have about 16 hours to ask questions to both sides.

And then after that, that vote will occur probably later toward the end of this week and it requires 51 votes to pass. And what Republican leaders were saying at the end of last week was that we have our conference, mostly in line. They did expect to lose two Republican votes. Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine. But it was uncertain whether they would lose the four that would be necessary in order to move forward. In fact, they were confident they would not.

But in the aftermath of the Bolton reporting, talking to Republicans last night, they made it very clear that this is not a done deal at all. What the Republicans will need to hear from the defense team is exactly why they should not call John Bolton, why -- what the president's argument is. And, ultimately, the question is -- you saw the president's tweet overnight. I'm sure a lot of Republicans will be pointing to that in trying to argue why they may not -- shouldn't have to hear from him because the president denies it, the House should have done its job. We should expect to hear some of that.

But there will be some who say that they will -- they need to hear from John Bolton. So what -- this was done overnight and into today has put a lot, a lot of uncertainty into this, what had seemed to be a very likely outcome, which was that the -- they would reject any effort to move forward for witnesses and for documents and then they would move quickly to an acquittal vote by the end of the week.

You know, I should add, it's still very possible that the House -- the Senate Republicans and the White House do succeed in defeating that vote towards the end of the week, but now, in the aftermath of this, the Republicans are not so sure members could end up defecting.

So this makes it a crucial, crucial 24 to 48 hours to determine whether or not they will try to move forward and subpoena John Bolton. If they do, that would put the president's trial in limbo as the White House undoubtedly would try to fight that and potentially could lead to court.

So we'll see how the senators react after the defense team starts to make its argument about why they should not call Bolton.


BERMAN: Again, Manu had been reporting there was certainty that the Senate would not call for witnesses. The big change overnight, that certainty is now gone. The Republicans do not know at this point if they still have the votes to block witnesses. That is a significant development.

Manu Raju, thank you very much for your reporting. Get back to the phones. We'll check back in with you in a little bit.


CAMEROTA: OK, John, more on the breaking news. According to "The New York Times," John Bolton claims in a draft of his upcoming book that the president wanted the aid to Ukraine held in exchange for a personal, political favor.