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Don Lemon Tonight

GOP Leadership Skeptical Of Support For Blocking Witnesses; Majority Of Americans Wants To See Witnesses; The Trump Trial; McConnell Makes Clear The Votes To Block Witnesses Aren't Locked In Yet; President Trump Meets With Benjamin Netanyahu Hours After Israeli Prime Minister Was Formally Indicted On Corruption Charges; NTSB: Kobe Bryant Chopper Missed Clearing Mountain By 20-30 Feet. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired January 28, 2020 - 22:00   ET



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: This is something that me and D. Lemon have been talking about because we love each other very much. And we cherished having time with each other but it's occasions like this that first thing Don said when we were processing that Kobe was gone was --


DON LEMON, CNN HOST: First text was to Chris Cuomo. What did I say to you?

CUOMO: You said, don't go anywhere.

LEMON: Don't go anywhere. I love you. What did I -- I said that, right?


LEMON: And you said why do I have to be the one --

CUOMO: Yes, why do I have to be the one who's going to be gone?

LEMON: And you said something -- you want me to share?

CUOMO: Go ahead.

LEMON: You said, and I said stop it. You said, I live hard. I know you said I attack every moment, and you said I live hard because I know that I'm not going to live long. And I'm like, come on, man.

CUOMO: I don't -- I don't feel that that's not how I feel. So, I make sure that I try to do it now. I try to make sure -- I mean, you know this because you're a good friend of mine.

But I try to be the best I can to my friends. I try to deal with flaws in real-time as often as I can. I try to love my family as best I can. And when I mess up, I try to make up for it as fast as I can.

I have a sense of desperation about my life because there's no guarantee.


CUOMO: And that's why I'm so forgiving of you.


CUOMO: Because, you know, I just -- I don't have time to be mad at you, I love you too much.

LEMON: Well, I do the same thing. And for my flaws as well, and I'm going to address some of my flaws a little bit later on in the show.

But, yes, I agree with you. And I said to you, and I really mean this. And you know, I've told a number of my friends and people that how many -- how many examples do we need to present themselves that life is fragile.

You know that I lost my sister. I lost my dad. I've lost my step dad. I lost my real dad. I lost my grandmother. How many -- you know, and I've been dealing with this whole thing with, you know, what am I going to do with moving on and getting married and all these things.

You got to -- you have to live every single moment. You have to live your life as if it's your last day. And I don't mean that in a, you know, in a sort of dismal way. I mean that in a happy way. Live it as if it's your last day.

So, when I see you because I have to walk past Chris' pod when I come in. And I see this really ugly guy every day that pains me but I give him a big bear hug and I tell him I love him and I just run away as fast as I can. I go to my office so that he doesn't bother me.

CUOMO: I do love you. And I'm happy to have you.


CUOMO: And I'm happy that with we get to be with each other here.


CUOMO: An opportunity we don't get with a will a lot of our friends.


CUOMO: I know you got a lot to cover.

LEMON: I do.

CUOMO: And I'll be watching.

LEMON: Well, if there's anything that comes out of this good is that people understand that live, live, live, live. And to Kobe's family, I really -- you know, our hearts and our thoughts and prayers are still going out. Especially to Vanessa. I just, I can't even imagine, but --


CUOMO: Too many kids are gone and too many young families are broken up by this. It's terrible.

LEMON: On now to the business that we need to take care of. Thank you, Chris. I'll see you tomorrow. This is -- or later on tonight.

This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

The impeachment trial moving into a whole new phase with 16 hours of questions and answers beginning tomorrow afternoon. But ultimately this trial hinges on the question of witnesses.

It's really interesting that we're talking about a trial and then wondering is there going to be any witnesses in the trial. It seems odd. Right?

Mitch McConnell telling Republicans they don't have the votes right now to block John Bolton or any other witnesses from testifying. But with several GOP senators non-committal, it could go either way. And that's why Republican in the Senate are working overtime to come up with reasons for not calling Bolton to testify. For not letting him tell them what he knows, for not letting him tell them under oath.

Lindsey Graham seems to think the Senate would be drowning in witnesses.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): If there's one witness there's going to be a bunch of witnesses. And I don't think we need any more witnesses.


LEMON: And that maybe the main GOP talking point. McConnell warning senators that letting Bolton testify could lead to more witnesses with no clear path out of this trial. Well, it sounds like John Thune got the message.


SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD): If you start calling him, then the Democrats are going to want to call Mulvaney and they're going to want to call Pompeo because I'm sure they would get reference.


LEMON: It's a trial. Trials have witnesses. That's how it's supposed to work anyway. You know? That as Ted Cruz says the whole thing has gone on long enough.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): They just want to drag this on. They're playing a delay game. They want to keep this open for weeks and weeks and months and months. (END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: It has been seven days. Seven days. Which doesn't seem like an awfully long time. I mean, after all, this is the impeachment trial of the president of the United States. But Rand Paul doesn't want to call Bolton as a witness because he might sell more books.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): I would say he's a witness very interested in making a lot of money right now.



LEMON: And then there's Mike Braun who says we're just too polarized already.


SEN. MIKE BRAUN (R-IN): If we're this polarized, we have to worry how we're going to get around that.


LEMON: And it seems like actually hearing the facts from credible or credible witness could make us less polarized. Ron Johnson says Bolton should speak but not as a witness.


SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): Just tell, tell what you know. I hope he got to introduce smart thing. I encourage John to do that. Without involving trial.


LEMON: If you think Bolton should tell what he knows, why wouldn't you want to do it as part of the trial? Why wouldn't you want him to do it under oath? Josh Hawley seems to think it's a problem that there's a lot of news about impeachment.


SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): I imagine we'll get another one. I mean, this is Tuesday, right? So, we're not voting probably on the witness until Friday. I measure we're going to have more stories.


LEMON: That sounds like you're dismissing new evidence because there's so much of it. And then there's Mark Meadows who seems to think it's all a plot to convince Republicans to open up the trial to witnesses.


REP. MARK MEADOWS (R-NC): This leak was designed for one purpose and one purpose only. And that was to try to manipulate the thinking of my Republican colleagues in the Senate to encourage them to open it up and provide for more witnesses.


LEMON: Roger Wicker thinks it doesn't matter what Bolton says. And remember what Bolton says is that the president told him he was with holding aid to force Ukraine to announce an investigation of the Bidens. But Senator Wicker thinks that's not grounds for impeachment.


SEN. ROGER WICKER (R-MS): I basically think in agreement with a very scholarly approach that Mr. Dershowitz gave. That there's no article there that is grounds for impeachment.


LEMON: Speaking of Alan Dershowitz. It wasn't so long ago that he was calling then candidate Trump corrupt. Roll tape.


ALAN DERSHOWITZ, PROFESSOR, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: You compare that to what Trump has done with Trump University with, you know, so many other things. I think it's there's no comparison between who has engaged in more corruption and who is more likely to continue that if elected president of the United States.


LEMON: Well that was 2016. How things have changed. One thing that hasn't changed much is public opinion about calling witnesses.

And another poll out tonight shows this. Seventy-five percent of Americans in a new Quinnipiac poll say witnesses should be allowed to testify. Seventy-five percent. Can you get 75 percent of Americans to agree on anything? Well, there you go. Seventy-five percent say witnesses should be called.

But the big question in all of this now that we have heard from the senators is, will they hear what the American people are saying? That's a big question.

And one final note that I have for you. Because this is personally important to me to address this. OK? Anyone, ask anyone who knows me they'll tell you. I don't believe in belittling people. Belittling anyone for who they are, what they believe, or where they're from.

During an interview on Saturday night one of my guest said something that made me laugh. And while in the moment I found that joke humorous and I didn't catch everything that was said. Just to make this perfectly clear, I was laughing at the joke and not

at any group of people. Still to come on this show tonight the latest on the impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump. And tributes across the country to Kobe Bryant. We'll be right back.



LEMON: The next phase of President Trump's impeachment trial begins tomorrow at 1 p.m. Senators have two days for written questions to House managers and the defense team. Then they'll turn to the debate over whether or not to subpoena witnesses and documents.

Mitch McConnell doesn't have the votes to block witnesses which he is desperate to do.

And I've got the A-team here to analyze all the impeachment stuff with me. But first they're sitting here. But first we have to get to the AA-team. Right? Our other A-teams, Senate congressional correspondent Manu Raju on Capitol Hill. Our folks are on Capitol Hill.

Manu, we appreciate you joining us. You guys have been doing great work there. So, let's get to the latest here.

The Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is making it clear to senators that the GOP doesn't currently have the votes to block witnesses but Democrats don't exactly have the votes yet to call witnesses either. What's going on here?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. McConnell is saying that they don't have the votes locked down yet. But it's careful to note this. That they could eventually get there.

In fact, I am told from top Republicans tonight that they are confident that they'll ultimately get the votes they need to reject that motion that would call for witnesses. And if they do reject that vote which is expected on Friday, then the president could be acquitted in just a matter of days.

Now what the Republicans have been making behind the scenes the argument they are saying is that look, if we do move forward on what witness this could lead to endless parade of witnesses potentially on both sides and it could drag on the proceedings for some time.

And talking to some Republicans including Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi today. He told me we don't need to hear from John Bolton, because they're saying that even if he says what we've -- what's reported has been said to the president linked Ukraine aid to probes that that would not be even enough to be impeachable conduct.

But that doesn't necessarily mean that they're defending the president's conduct. Republicans like Wicker are saying it's simply not impeachable. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) RAJU: Do you think that his conduct was concerning in any way, the



WICKER: Do I agree with everything every president has done? No. Does that include this president? Yes. My voting record is something like 92 point something percent in support of President Trump's positions.

But the question is not whether I think a phone call was perfect. Or whether something was impossible or not. The question is, is this an impeachable offense?


RAJU: And that's where a lot of Republican senators are coming down right now. They are saying what they have heard from the arguments they have laid out so far is not enough to remove the president from office or move forward with any new witnesses. And that argument is working.

The ultimate question though, Don, here is, will there be those four defectors. There's expectation if there are four defectors or probably it will be six or seven or eight Republicans are ready to break ranks and join with democrats to vote to subpoena witnesses and documents.

But at the moment, those votes aren't there. So, a lot of work will have to happen behind the scenes before that critical Friday vote, Don.

LEMON: Boy. Quickly, Manu, a question for you. Even if the Democrats clear the hurdle on witnesses. Let's just say they do, they might lose some of their own when the vote -- on the vote when, you know, when or not to convict comes up, right?

RAJU: Yes, that's possible. Several red state Democrats are not ruling out the possibility of clearing President Trump on the ultimate vote about whether to acquit or convict. And those include Senator Doug Jones of Alabama who is in a difficult reelection race.

Senator Joe Mansion, the West Virginia Democrat who did vote for Brett Kavanaugh and confirmed him. Also, Kyrsten Sinema is someone that senators are looking at very closely. She's not saying exactly how she -- what she's thinking about right now.

But watch for those individuals in particular as it's possible they could even split their votes. Possibly clear the president potentially on say, obstruction of Congress and convict him on abuse of power.

Joe Manchin told me earlier today, Don, he is still evaluating everything. And hope to make a decision right after the question period is done. Don?

LEMON: All right. Manu, thank you very much. I appreciate that. I need to say earlier in the show we showed a clip of Congressman of Mark Meadows who is of course a congressman and not a senator. So, I just want to make that clear.

I want to bring in now, as I said my A-team. Alice Stewart is here. John Dean, Laura Coates, and Frank Bruni. So, as I said can we get to the other stuff, but you know, them saying this is not an impeachable -- then what is impeachable?

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That's the question that one of the country's scholars had. I mean, this is not this way is.

LEMON: I mean that. What is impeachable?

COATES: Ideally, it's something that would be those ABCs that now they're talked about. The abuse of power. Betrayal of a nation. Corruption of office or of an election. And you have to meet the criteria to show that. That's the big question of whether or not they have move into the criteria phase to convince that this is enough to show the prerogative of the Senate who wants to actually acquit or convict.


ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's what one of the constitutional scholars said. Another one, Jonathan Turley said look, this is problematic. The actions of the president but at the same time it's not worthy of impeachment. And this might be one action that the Democrats may want to take because they're mad at the president. They don't like the president but this is not grounds for impeachment.

So, there's -- there are conflicting constitutional arguments on this. We heard a lot of them today. Republicans say all you need in this instance is the Constitution and your common sense. Democrats are saying the same thing.

LEMON: So, well, I still don't know. What is impeachable if this impeachable, I don't know what is. But John, I want to ask you. Right now, you've seen all the reporting, you've heard all the reporting. Then so, what do you -- what's your call on witnesses? How do you think this is going to go?

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I'm leaning -- excuse me -- about 60, 40 that there will be witnesses because there will be a breakthrough on Bolton. That they can't really, a number of the senators are in tough races. It's a really rough thing to not have a fair trial.

We just saw that poll you've showed. Seventy-five percent of the Americans think that there should be a fair trial here and there should be witnesses. That's an unusual number because you can't get 75 percent of Americans to agree on the time of day.

LEMON: I just said that. Would you have ever gotten 75 percent of Americans to agree on?

DEAN: No, you can't.

LEMON: Not a lot.

DEAN: And that's why I think this pressure is going to come down on the Senate.

LEMON: You know, forgive me, Laura, I wanted to -- I just thought about it. I saw Dershowitz's name. Because they are -- Republicans are hanging their hat on the Dershowitz argument. That, you know, even if Bolton said it, even if he says it's true, that that still wouldn't be impeachable. But he is in the minority on that thinking.

COATES: He is. And this note how you have a transition of the argument. It began a week and a half ago about the idea of you don't have new evidence to prove the president abused power and even what they're saying. And now it's even if everything you've just said is true and there's further corroboration and a firsthand witness that it's not enough.


And it leads me to think in my mind, I've been thinking a lot today about this issue of what would have happened if the New York Times had not release information about the manuscript? And the idea and then the stick of, I wonder what Bolton would say was still lingering in the air as supposed to having this sort of finite understanding at this point in time as to what he actually said.

It almost gives Republicans who are looking already for an excuse to say I'm going to have my cake and eat it too. I don't have to call a witness now. Because I think I've already seen the best part of the movie. And you know what? It's not enough to change my mind. And so --

LEMON: Were you watching me last night?

COATES: Well, I don't.

LEMON: I said the same thing. You said it. You are more to take a look than I -- than I said. But I think they're looking for any excuse.


LEMON: Then they can say, you know what, well, I did -- I did my due diligence so now I can vote that way and boom. Right?



LEMON: All right, Mr. New York Times.

BRUNI: But these are not genuine arguments. This is a predetermined conclusion in search of whichever arguments are necessary to get them back there. And the arguments keep changing as the fact pattern changes, as Laura just said.


LEMON: Do you have any behind the scenes?

DEAN: Inaudible) will change anybody's mind.

LEMON: Do you have any behind the scenes, do you know like, you know, he can say it to you, you know, the Times can report it. Why isn't he just get in the front of the microphone?

BRUNI: Why isn't John Bolton doing that? I don't know. I think that's a great question. I don't know the answer to that. But I do want to respond to something John said. You noted 75 percent of American that's a very unusual number.

DEAN: Right.

BRUNI: And because of that you think there will be witnesses. We have an equally or more unusual president whose thirst in talent for retribution is like nothing we've ever seen. And so while those Republican senators are going to be chilled by that 75 percent number, they are also chilled by what the president is going to do on Twitter and other formats dare they cross him.


STEWART: But look at those numbers of that 75 percent. Half of them are Republicans that say they want to her more witnesses. But Mitch McConnell is going to look very closely --


LEMON: Those are my question which Mitch -- what are you hearing?

STEWART: I've spoken with some that were in meetings with him today. One of them Ted Cruz has made it quite clear he doesn't need to hear what John Bolton has to say. No -- there's no new information that is going to compel him to believe that the Democrats have made their case and met the constitutional threshold to where impeachment --


LEMON: Even if John Bolton has a recording of Donald Trump saying he hold the aid for --


STEWRT: If he has that, John Bolton should come forward from a moral obligation and not need a legal obligation.

BRUNI: No, but --

STEWART: But others that have met with McConnell have also said that the Democrats have not proven their case. And McConnell can't get crafty with this motion for additional witnesses and say, all right, if we want to hear from john Bolton let's also hear from Hunter Biden, maybe Adam Schiff. So that maybe enough right there to compel them to withhold their desire to --

(CROSSTALK) LEMON: I want to continue this, and I know you want to get in, but

let me just play this moment from this morning on Fox and Friends. Watch this.


BRIAN KILMEADE, HOST, FOX NEWS: I don't see how when Lindsey Graham comes out and says Bolton maybe a relevant witness. I don't see how you avoid bringing Bolton in now.


BRUNI: Lindsey Graham says something different every single hour. I just saw Lindsey Graham at the microphones saying that there should be no witnesses because the House had the ability to call all these witnesses and didn't do it.


LEMON: John Kelly says --

BRUNI: Which is a flat out lie.

LEMON: But John Kelly says he believes him. But I mean, Alice is saying it doesn't matter. They're saying it doesn't matter. But John Kelly the former chief of staff says he believes him. You had then Lindsey Graham saying, you know --


BRUNI: But it doesn't matter because we said what if there's an audio of Trump saying this. It doesn't matter because now they have gone to well, this isn't impeachable. So, they win either way. Either there's not enough evidence or there's plenty of evidence and it's doesn't matter because the things are not impeachable. Either way, they get to their predetermined -- predetermined conclusion.

LEMON: Pat Cipollone during his final presentation showed old video of Democrats arguing against the Clinton impeachment. Take a look at this.


PAT CIPOLLONE, COUNSEL TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: They were right then, and they're right now. And I'll leave you with some of those words.

REP. JERROLD NADLER (D-NY): They must never be a narrowly voted impeachment or an impeachment supported by one of our major political parties and opposed by the other.

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): This is unfair to the American people. By these actions you would undo the free election that expressed the will of the American people in 1996.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Republicans are crossing out the impeachment standard of high crimes and misdemeanor. And they are inserting the words any crime or misdemeanor.

SEN. BOB MENENDEZ (D-NJ): The constitutional provision for impeachment is a way to protect our government and our citizens not another weapon in the political arsenal.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: I expect history will show that we've lowered the bar on impeachment so much. We have broken the seal on this extremely extreme -- extreme penalty so cavalierly. That it will be used as a routine tool to fight political battles. My fear is that when a Republican wins the White House, Democrats will demand pay back.

CIPOLLONE: You were right.


LEMON: Boy, they were all so young back then.

DEAN: They were young.

LEMON: They were young. But listen --

DEAN: Their strategy today clearly was do no damage and give the boss something that will please him.

LEMON: But the Democrats used the same tactics on them.

DEAM: Yes, they did.


LEMON: So, Republicans -- on Republicans. Is it effective today?

DEAN: Of course. It shows -- it shows a certain obvious degree of hypocrisy on these issues.

COATES: And it requires amnesia, though, on the fact that there's a very critical distinction between the facts at hand now and before. And it's a very convenient amnesia. To look at this idea of saying, certainly someone can make this argument and say, this is hypocritical.

But you have to actually look back in the time and think what is the distinction of now. We're talking about an alleged abuse of power involving a compromised national security and withholding funds to Ukraine which affects us.

DEAN: But they're not talking about the facts, they're talking about the law.


COATES: No, you're right.

STEWART: But there's also the difference and that we have a presumption of wrongdoing here. And in that case, we have actual Bill Clinton lying under oath which are actually is a violation.

LEMON: We actually heard from witnesses and evidence. Now we haven't heard from witnesses and no evidence a lot.


BRUNI: We have more than a presumption on wrongdoing here.

LEMON: I got to go here. Yes.

BRUNI: There's been quite a bit of evidence, Alice.

STEWART: Well, the reality is the House had all the ability in the world to subpoena people to come forward.

LEMON: I got to go. I have to go. My next guest has -- thank you, all by the way. My next guest has a lot of insight on the impeachment. They spoke to over 200 Trump officials and confidantes for their bestselling book. A book that's rocking the White House. You're going to want to watch this next segment right after this break.



LEMON: The Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell telling Republicans he doesn't have the votes right now to stop witnesses from testifying at President Trump's impeachment trial. Does this mean that we'll hear from John Bolton? Well, in his upcoming book, Bolton writes that the president directly tied Ukraine aid to investigations into the Bidens. The president legal team claiming it doesn't change anything.


JAY SEKULOW, PRESIDENT TRUMP' LAWYER: Responding to an unpublished manuscript that maybe some reporters have an idea of maybe what it says. And that's what the evidence, if you call that evidence. I don't know what you call that. I call it inadmissible. But that's what it is.


LEMON: Joining me now, two people who have done extensive reporting on the Trump White House, Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, they are the authors of the new book, "A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump's Testing of America."

I'm so happy that you're hear. Thank you guys for coming in. I can't wait to dig into this. My producer took it off of my desk and she started mine. So, now I have another copy.


So, thank you so much. Phil, I'm going to start with you. You have done a lot of reporting on John Bolton's relationship with the president and you found that these men are polar opposites of each other.

PHILIP RUCKER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST, WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF, THE WASHINGTON POST: To some degree. I mean, Bolton is someone who came into the president's orbit trying to take advantage of this moment. An opportunist if you will. He has got a clear ideological agenda especially on Iran, another parts of the world and he saw an opportunity to enact what he wanted done in foreign policy with Trump.

But over the course of more than a year working together, Bolton to some degree has manipulated the president. He took notes of the president's private conversations that now it's going to be in this memoir creating huge challenges. Potentially imperiling the impeachment trial for the president if he were to come forward and testify and it's become a very dire situation for Trump.

LEMON: But it's interesting because, it was a controversial hire or pick for this president, because Bolton wasn't he the exact opposite of what this president ran on? Getting people -- you know, getting us out of war and so on and so forth. Not being a hawk.

CAROL LEONNIG, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: In fact, Trump bragged -- remember Bolton, John Bolton a sort of bush hold over is somebody who was the third national security adviser of the president. He had already been through two of them before. One caught up in a FBI investigation, Michael Flynn. And the second one, a person he mocked, does not strong enough. The president used to brag that Bolton was so conservative and so much a hawk, that he was actually tougher than me, which was a big compliment.

LEMON: Yes. You talked to over 200 officials and Trump confidants from you both. From what we know so far in what's been reported, it's Trump portrayed in Bolton's manuscript saying the way he's portrayed is the same Trump in your book?

LEONNIG: Very similar. But there's really a similar theme. John Bolton is a person who like so many others, the president didn't like being reigned in. You know, he didn't like anyone giving him counsel and warning him away from doing certain things. Increasingly the trajectory of the presidency is a presidency of one. It's driving -- the president is driving the grownups out of the room. The difference with Bolton is he got driven out of the room. But as Phil says, he took his notes with him or at least he took his -- he took a lot of memories, contemporaneous memories with him.

LEMON: I want you guys to watch this. Because this is the president's legal team in their opening arguments and they keep claiming that President Trumps priority was fighting corruption in Ukraine. Take a look at this.


SEKULOW: The president also expressed concerns about corruption in Ukraine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president had long standing and sincere concerns about corruption in Ukraine. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump shared his concern about


SEKULOW: The president raised his concerns about Ukrainian corruption.


LEMON: Phi, you have new reporting that says otherwise. That discredits that.

RUCKER: Yes, our reporting, Don, in a very stable genius blows a hole in that argument. Because the president in 2017 actually asked his Secretary of State then, Rex Tillerson, to go about dismantling the foreign corrupt practices act. This is a long standing law that prevented American companies from doing bribes overseas with foreign officials in order to try to get new business.

Trump thought that was unfair to businesses in America. He wanted to enable this sort of corruption. He asked the Secretary of State to get rid of the law. Of course, that's not something that the secretary or anyone in the executive branch has the authority to do. So the law still remains. But the idea that Trump has been committed to rooting out corruption abroad does not stand up to the reporting that we did for this book.

LEMON: And not -- I mean, he didn't even mention Ukraine corruption until now. You know, throughout the tenure of this presidency, until it came to wanting to get an investigation into Joe Biden.


RUCKER: That's correct.

LEMON: Right, in 2019. You saw the Israel Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House today. Just hours after he was formally indicted on corruption charges. If he really cares about fighting corruption. He has a funny way of showing it, doesn't he, Carol?

LEONNIG: Well, it does seems odd. Especially because, you know, in our own reporting, we see that multiple times the president said he wanted this aid blocked and his aid his chief of staff agreed to do it. Even though at the time, the Government Accountability Office said it was illegal. That there was not a justification that was appropriate to blocking this aid to Ukraine. But the president wanted it badly and they are willing to break the law according to the GOA to do it.

LEMON: I'm going to play this real quick. This is the president NPR reporter. Remember Mike Pompeo and their interactions with the president weighed in on that. Let's watch this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was very impressive. That reporter couldn't have done too good a job on you yesterday. He did a good job on her actually. That's good, thank you (inaudible).


LEMON: So, he's talking about the secretary that said, berating a reporter, giving him a gold star.

LEONNIG: You know, the president has made the media a separate party in a way in our democracy. And that's not our job. We are at work, as you are, trying to report the facts. And we're not at war with the administration. Some of the facts that we unearth as Mary Louise Kelly (ph) did at the NPR are unflattering and probably unwelcome. And the president hasn't really liked the thing he's read about our book. But they are rigorously reported, vetted, fact checked and we're very proud of what we were able to learn inside the room.

LEMON: And when -- we're not perfect. When we get it wrong, we say we got it wrong, we apologize and we move on.

RUCKER: I would add, Don, too that the president's comment there fits a pattern of behavior of his over the last three years of his authoritarian impulses that the senior officials who serve him and work closest with him told Carol and I for this reporting in the book, that they are concerned about that behavior. And that they think it's clear and present danger for the country.

LEMON: Phil, Carol, thank you very much for coming in. Best of luck.

LEONNIG: Thank you. We really enjoyed talking to you.

RUCKER: Thank you. I appreciate it.

LEMON: Thank you. the book again is called A Very Stable Genius, Donald J. Trump's testing of America.

New information about why the helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant and eight other passengers crashed. We are going to have that for you. And as tributes to the Lakers legend are coming in tonight.



LEMON: New developments in the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash investigation. The NTSB says the helicopter was descending over 2,000 feet a minute and missed clearing the mountain by 20 to 30 feet. CNN's Sara Sidner has the story of how the NBA legend spent his final hours.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In his final hours the record will show basketball legend Kobe Bryant was living his best life. He retired from professional basketball in 2016. But his love of the game and family was ever present. One day before the fatal crash, this photo snapped. Bryant and his 13 year-old daughter Gianna watching Laker legend's Shaquille O'Neal's daughter Me'arah practice. She wrote on Instagram, I knew you 'all was watching over me. I was

trying my best to impress both of you. Social media is also where Bryant's last public words are posted. It was admissive about the achievement of another American icon, Lebron James. As he surpassed Bryant's scoring record.

Saturday 10:39 p.m. Bryant tweeted continuing to move the game forward at King James. Much respect my brother. Number 33,644, that's the number of baskets James had just made. James revealed the two had talked after his record setting day. I literally just heard your voice Sunday morning. Before I left Philly to head back to L.A. didn't think for one bit in a million years that would be the last conversation we had. WTF, I'm heartbroken and devastated my brother. Bryant began his Sunday in prayer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was quite a man of faith.

SIDNER: Too early for mass. He went to the prayer chapel before 7:00 a.m. at Our Lady of Angels Catholic Church in New Port Beach.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He just came here as person of faith and he prayed. Prayed along with the rest of us.

SIDNER: Then he headed off to be there on the a big day for Gianna. It was supposed to be the first day of her basketball tournament at the Mamba Academy. The plan was to get there fast and easy. They took this helicopter. This video shows their chopper as they flew in dangerously foggy conditions that even grounded police choppers. The aircraft was flying so low, air traffic control said it couldn't follow its path on radar.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two echo X-ray, you're still too low level for flight following at this time.

SIDNER: Before 10:00 in the morning, it crashed. In an area investigators call a logistical nightmare. All nine people on board perished. The Bryants. Basketball coach, Christina Mauser. Local legend baseball coach, John Altobelli, his wife Keri, and Gianna's childhood friends and teammates, Alyssa Altobelli, Payton Chester and Chester's mother, Sarah. As well as pilot, Ara Zobayan. All of them gone. This is the moment news of the crash made it to the Mamba Academy Tournament. Stunned silence. Ending the sound of joyful play. The crash left families destroyed. And fans distraught.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've got tears in your eyes, sweetheart.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't fathom to know, you know Vanessa's pain. Losing her husband and a daughter in the same day. And the other families losing a mom, dad and a daughter. It's just -- it's unthinkable.

SIDNER: Father, Steve (inaudible), one of the last to speak to Kobe Bryant tried to soothe the sorrow filled. Noting Kobe spent his last hours in the House of prayer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He just came and went quietly and prayed. And gave his life to the lord. And yesterday he had to give it back.

SIDNER: Sara Sidner, CNN, Los Angeles.


LEMON: Shaquille O'Neal with an emotional remembrance tonight.



LEMON: Basketball fans and people around the world mourning the tragic loss of Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, seven others killed in a helicopter crash on Sunday. Former Lakers legend, Shaquille O'Neal spoke emotionally about his former teammate tonight during TNT's NBA coverage.


SHAQUILLE O'NEAL, NBA PLAYER: It just makes me think that, in life, sometimes instead of holding back certain things we should just do.


O'NEAL: We are up here, we work a lot and I think a lot of times we take stuff for granted. Like, I don't talk to you guys as much as I need to. The fact that we're not going to be able to joke at his hall of fame ceremony -- life is too short. I never -- I could never imagine nothing like this.

I was thinking the other day, I've never seen anything like this, all the basketball idols that I grew up, I see them. They're old. Like I used to be at home when you came to interview me, Ernie, I used to want to be Dr. J, with a lot of rebound, now (inaudible).

I used to be -- want to be Dr. J, he used to live next door to my mother in Orlando. My father used to tell me about the three great big men, I've met them, I've seen them. And the fact that we lost probably the world's greatest Laker, the world's greatest basketball player, is just -- listen, people going to say take your time and get better. But it's going to be hard for me.


LEMON: Joining me now is Bomani Jones, he is the co-host of High Noon on ESPN. Thanks for joining us. You can hear it in Shaq's voice, it's raw and emotional for him, for everyone, really.

BOMANI JONES, CO-HOST, HIGH NOON ON ESPN: Yes. I think this resonated with people partially in a way that's (inaudible), this Kobe's thing was so like ruthless and cut throat as a basketball player, like I don't think that you would have viewed him -- at least probably the first 10 for 15 years of his career, is being somebody that outside, I like the Lakers fan base hit people in the heart.

But when this happened, I've just found that so many people, basically for the last two days have been in a bit of a daze about this. And I just, because of the tragedy of just a particular circumstances, but we grew up with this too, right?

We've known him since he was 17 years-old. We knew who he went to the prom with, we saw him publicly kind of go through the ups and downs of growing up before people realized exactly how to manicure a teenagers before they became like 18 or 19 year old superstars, right. Like, we got him in a bit of a rawer form. And so like, especially with people who really rooted for the Lakers, like they feel like they raised him.

They feel like the stork just drop off a basketball (inaudible) in 1996 and then they helped take him to the place that he is right -- you know, to where he was by the time all was said and done. And I get exactly where they're coming from. I just like, really looking at it now, I'm stunned by the personal connection like I had that I didn't realize I had.

LEMON: Someone said to me the other night, as they came into work. It's like, this is the first time I've cried about someone that I didn't know. I mean, you're right. We knew him from lower Merion High School, brandy and going to the prom and all that stuff right from his first acting experience.

I mean, what Shaq alluded to is in his answer there, he said, the sort of feeling robbed of what else Kobe was sort of robbed of. Then I guess we were too. Of what else he was going to achieve. Where else he was going or what we were going to watch him achieve.

JONES: Yeah, I talked to somebody yesterday who knew Kobe and they said that all these other things that he's gotten into, the breadth of his interests that we got to see. They said, when the injuries started happening is that, he realized that there was something else other than being the best basketball player in the world, there was going to have to be something else and that would be an investment in being a husband and father and those sorts of things.

And so, once that happened we got to see him ease into retirement. Because normally, these guys kind a get trusted to. He had about three years to ease into what the rest of his life was going to be and we saw it develop in this really interesting way and then there's, you know, the happenstance of this man was then born with all these daughters. And so that wound up being apparently a sort of awakening for him and then the role that he played in his daughters' lives, and then what that didn't broadcast, all these people who love him in the way he goes about it. And then they see this and they all comes together.

And so, on the day that we lost him, I think for a lot of people you really looked at it and realized like there was no cynicism to have associated with it, you just looked at it. And I think we saw a total human being that 10 years ago we may not have expected to have seen in this place.

LEMON: Yeah. The first person on ESPN that you ever spoke to in the locker room.

JONES: Yes. First time I ever went into a locker room, it was a charity game for Hurricane Katrina in Houston in 2005, and I've never done anything like this, but nobody around seems to know that I've never done anything like this and I'm petrified. I was just standing there.

And then Kobe was there, and I looked over, there's Kobe, but I don't know, I literally don't know what to do. Like I don't understand the circumstances. And he kind of gave me a wave over and I went and talked to him and he could not have been nicer. And now at that point in my life I'm more a fan than anything else, and I'm not a fan of this dude, right. Like, I'm not aligned with him in my random basketball fandom thing.


And (inaudible), like, how nice he was to me in that time and later looking back at it and realizing that this is like the most fearless dude in the world. It's really nice of that dude to look at something that he personally cannot relate to, right. Scared, I don't know what that is. And then he go like, Hey, dude, I know you're scared, come on over and like, that stuck with me for a very, very long time.

LEMON: Yes. Does that way with a bunch of people, I hear, he just sort of took them under his wing, and made them feel comfortable. And he made us feel comfortable and we loved watching him, and watching him grow up, really, as you said. Thank you, Bomani.

JONES: Thank you, man.

LEMON: I really appreciate you joining us. Of course, I wish it was under better circumstances but we appreciate you coming in and sharing that.

JONES: I appreciate it.

LEMON: And thanks for watching, everyone. Our live special coverage of the impeachment trial of Donald Trump continues with Anderson Cooper.