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Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) Is Interviewed About The Current Standing Of The Democrats' Opinion On Calling For Witnesses; Both Parties Still Not Throwing Their Votes For Witnesses; Husband Of Coach Killed In Kobe Bryant Crash Opens Up; Pentagon Now Says 50 U.S. Service Members Are Diagnosed With Traumatic Brain Injuries After Iranian Missile Strike. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired January 28, 2020 - 23:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening again. Top of the special impeachment trial edition of 360.

The pressure to call witnesses especially former national security adviser John Bolton and the Republican effort to resist it.

The pressure reflected a new polling out tonight from Quinnipiac, showing 75 percent of registered voters wanting to hear testimony at the trial, among that number 49 percent of Republicans.

The resistance though is being led by Senate Majority Leader McConnell and as that unfolds the trial itself is about to enter the next phase.

CNN's Manu Raju will be there for all of it. He joins us now. So, where do the Republican votes stand right now with witnesses?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they don't have votes yet to move forward and Mitch McConnell doesn't have the votes yet to block witnesses from going forward. And that's because a number of key Republicans are still holding back how they'll vote, they're not committing one way or the other, they're saying that they still want to deal with the questions that will occur tomorrow and ultimately the decision in the days ahead.

But I can tell you, Anderson, coming out of a closed-door conference meeting tonight. Republicans were telling me that they are confident that they will defeat that motion on Friday to move forward on witnesses. They believe they'll eventually get there in large part because of the arguments that they're making behind the scenes.

Mitch McConnell is warning that having one witness could lead to a flood of new witnesses, they could be tied up in courts for some time. And that's concerning senators, including ones up for reelection in 2020 who don't want to be in the middle of a court fight and a prolonged trial.

And the argument that John Thune, the number two Republican made to me earlier today was that the fact the calls for John Bolton wouldn't add much to the case that's already being presented to the Senate and will ultimately would not change the outcome and the president would be acquitted.


RAJU: Wouldn't it be helpful for senators to know exactly what he knows about the president's actions?

SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD): Well, I think there is already on the record that from the House managers that sort of evidence. So, like I said, I mean, you could, you could say reinforce it, he could put different context to it.

But, you know, 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. And our guys are obviously going to start wanting to call witnesses on the other side to illuminate their case. And I think that gets us into this endless cycle of -- and this drags on for weeks and months in the middle of a presidential election.


RAJU: And that's the concern among the r Republicans right now, Anderson. So, at the moment we have only two Republican senators who are signaling that they're going to vote to move forward on witnesses. That's Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah, but others are still being mum about their intentions, including Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who I caught up with earlier tonight.

She still won't say where she comes down, or the fact that she's curious about hearing from Bolton and Lamar Alexander, another wild card here, still is waiting for the question period to play out, so we'll see if others defect.

But the reason why there aren't 51 votes now is because of that pressure, the push that's being made by the Republican leadership, and Republican leadership believes it's working at the moment, Anderson.

COOPER: So, the actual vote on whether or not to have witnesses what, that might be on Friday?

RAJU: That might be on Friday. That would be after the question and answer period that would occur starting tomorrow. And a little bit about that question and answer period, Anderson, it's going to be expected to be eight hours tomorrow, eight hours on Thursday. And then those will go back and forth between Democrats and Republicans.

It would actually pass a note over to the chief justice who will actually read the questions to each side. So after those 16 hours that are completed over two days that's when we get into that crucial vote on Friday. And if it fails, Anderson, Trump could be acquitted in a matter of days.

COOPER: All right, Manu Raju. Manu, thanks so much. More now on the witness fight. Earlier tonight I spoke with Maine

Senator Angus King who's gone back and forth throughout the day with his assessment of where the vote count stands whether Democrats will be able to persuade for Republicans to join them.

Just before air time, I spoke with his counterpart from Hawaii Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono.


COOPER: Senator, the reporting tonight that Mitch McConnell says Republicans at this point do not have enough votes to block impeachment of witnesses. Are you surprised by that and is that in line with what you've been hearing?

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D-HI): That seems to be what's happening with the Republicans. And faced with the Bolton bombshell that he, in fact, was told by the president that he was connecting the holding of the aid to Ukraine to investigations, you know, that's the kind of direct evidence that the Republicans have been saying they wanted and here you have it.

So, I think there was handwringing, and there were people saying, look, we can't just turn our backs on this because I don't think they want to be accused of continuing with a rigged trial.

COOPER: Some Senate Republicans like James Lankford they've been saying that they have, quote, "got to be able to see John Bolton's book manuscript before they vote on whether to include witnesses in the trial." Does that make sense to you? Is that something you would be open to?

HIRONO: No, it does not. These are people who want the trial to go on. I mean, why do we want to read a book as opposed to talking to the witness under oath who can be cross-examined? I mean, the book is -- we can't cross-examine the book. So, I find this totally strange.


COOPER: Alan Dershowitz in his defense of the president said that even if what John Bolton said is true it's not an impeachable offense.

HIRONO: The basis on which Alan Dershowitz came to that conclusion is mystifying to me because, to make a case for abuse of power, which is what the president did in pressuring a Ukrainian president to do his political bidding, that's an abuse of power.

And for Alan Dershowitz to come up with this very unusual theory that I don't know any other professor of constitutional law come out and say, so he's sort of, a minority of one. But I guess he's the one giving them their fallback position for the Republicans which is to say that, well for one thing the president didn't do it even if the evidence shows that he did do what the House managers have said he did.

But alternatively, even if he did it this is the Dershowitz defense, we can't impeach it, it is what they called the so what defense. And I say it is not so what.

And you know to listen to Sekulow today talk about danger, danger, danger, like flashing lights, the danger is if we let this president not be held accountable for doing acts that we need to decide whether they are impeachable acts. And Alan Dershowitz certainly didn't convince us that we should follow his legal theory as to what's required.

COOPER: I'm wondering if you think that just having Bolton testify would be enough, if he was the only one, if there were no new documents submitted, if there were no other witnesses allowed.

HIRONO: Before the beginning of this trial I said that this trial is an opportunity for the president to mount a strong defense. They have not done so. And I said that the evidence that we're brought forth by the House impeachment inquiry and the evidence from all of the various witnesses, that that is enough as far as I'm concerned for us to convict this president.

However, you know, it certainly would be good to have the totality of relevant evidence that has been kept from us and the American people because the president has totally stonewalled all witnesses and all relevant document production, something that no other president has done.

COOPER: The trial obviously enters the question phase tomorrow. Do you plan on submitting or have you submitted questions that you want answers to?

HIRONO: Yes, all of us have submitted questions. I know that there have been hundreds of questions that have already been submitted that go to the evidence, that was produced, so-called evidence produced by the -- by his team.

And, you know, to enable the House managers to counter that evidence because unlike a trial they were not able to object to the kind of so- called evidence that was presented by the Trump team.

COOPER: So just finally, at this moment, and again, you know, it could change tomorrow, you're confident that at least one witness will be called?

HIRONO: I'm not confident of anything because there's going to be a lot of pressure, continuously pressure being put on the Republicans to support the president in whatever he's doing. And this is a president who says I can do anything under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

There's a lot of pressure and we all know that this president will go after anybody who disagrees with him. Tooth and nail. And I think that he will particularly go after those Republican senators who dare to question or defy him so there's going to be continuing pressure.

I hope they can withstand it and look at the evidence, and come to the appropriate conclusion that how can you have a trial, fair trial without witnesses and relevant documents? COOPER: Senator Hirono, I appreciate your time, thank you.

HIRONO: Thank you.


COOPER: Ahead tonight, including live reporting of what Republican voters are saying about hearing from John Bolton and others and the political heat it's generating tonight in the state of Maine.

Later, enduring almost unbearable loss, my conversation with Matt Mauser whose wife Christina, mother of their three kids, was killed along with eight others including Kobe Bryant in Sunday's helicopter crash in Southern California.



COOPER: You saw the polling at the top reflecting not just broad overall support for impeachment witnesses but also 49 percent support among registered Republicans, beyond being a significantly large percentage for a group that routinely gives the president around 90 percent approval, it also means that Republicans are split down the middle in this important question. It may explain why senators like Maine Republican Susan Collins are playing their cards so close to the vest.

With that in mind we sent Gary Tuchman to Maine to talk with some Republicans there. Gary, what are you hearing?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN REPORTER: Well, here's what we heard, Anderson, our discoveries were made at the monthly Portland Republican city committee meeting. Now this is a committee of very active Republicans here in Maine's largest city of Portland. They talked about local issues. They endorsed local Republican candidates.

But we wanted to talk afterwards about their senior U.S. Senator Susan Collins. And we asked them, do they want Susan Collins, yes or no, to vote for witnesses in the impeachment trial?

Well, we got a split decision among the people, an indication that no matter what Susan Collins ends up doing she will have a group of Republicans in the state who are not happy about it. But we talked with two of the people, two of the committee members, and they gave us an expression that exemplified their divide. Listen.


TUCHMAN: Do you think Senator Collins should vote yes or no about allowing witnesses in this impeachment trial?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think she should definitely vote yes.

TUCHMAN: Do you think Senator Susan Collins should vote yes or no on allowing witnesses in the impeachment trial. STUART TISDALE, MEMBER, PORTLAND REPUBLICAN CITY COMMITTEE: No. Best

case scenario would be to have a real trial where everybody brings witnesses and find out what happened, make it a real search for the truth.

ERIC BLEICKEN, MEMBER, PORTLAND REPUBLICAN CITY COMMITTEE: It's not Susan Collins' job to try to repair what the Democrats messed up in the House.

TISDALE: I think that actually, my view is true to Republican values.


TUCHMAN: Are you curious what John Bolton would have to say?

BLEICKEN: John Bolton was fired.

TUCHMAN: Are you curious? I'm asking you about what he would say. He worked with the president directly.

BLEICKEN: I'll read his book. But what happens is that the Democrats always come up something -- with something in the last 30 seconds, OK.

TUCHMAN: So, you think this is a Democratic plot.

BLEICKEN: It's another -- yes, absolutely.

TUCHMAN: Who do you trust more, John Bolton or Donald Trump?

TISDALE: Who do I trust more? I would say I trust John Bolton more.

BLEICKEN: I'd love to see Hunter Biden. I'd like to see Schiff. I'd love to see all these people getting

grilled by smart attorneys.

TUCHMAN: So you'd like to see that but you wouldn't want to see Bolton?



TUCHMAN: So that man Eric Bleicken says if Susan Collins vote yes, he will not vote for her for the U.S. Senate, he will seek out a strong Republican to run against for the primaries and then support that Republican.

The other gentleman, Stuart Tisdale says if she votes no, he likely won't support her and he likely would support a Democrat. Anderson?

COOPER: Interesting. Divided. Gary, thanks very much.

As we reported at the top of the program, the question of witnesses in the Senate impeachment trial is bound to dominate the next few days on Capitol Hill.

Joining us now for some perspective, David Gergen, Elliot Williams, Kirsten Powers, and Mike Shields.

David, how worried do you think Mitch McConnell should be tonight about what lies ahead in terms of witnesses?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's always hard to tell with Mitch McConnell. He's a master of pulling these things off. And I think -- I think when he had this session today and said we don't have -- we don't have the votes yet, that's because some people hadn't given an indication one way or the other. I think he was -- I think he actually wanted to go public with that to sort of push people into committee so he can get rid of the drama.

I think he's figured this out. I think the chances are at least 50/50 that he's going to pull this off. But I don't think that the country is quite as split. That piece we just saw from Maine was very helpful, interesting, but it suggested an even split.

In fact, when you look at the national polls as we had a poll out today, 75 percent now say they want witnesses. They think witnesses should be called.

COOPER: Yes, those are obviously just two Republicans --

GERGEN: Exactly, exactly.

COOPER: Not a scientific example.

GERGEN: Not a scientific but I do think that, you know, if you're a Republican who wants to protect the Senate, and keep the Senate, you've got to pay very close attention when 75 percent of the saying that.

COOPER: Well, also, Elliot, if you're a Republican and you're thinking about whether or not to have witnesses you also have to take into account the idea that there's no telling what could pop out a week from now or a month from now, whether it's in Bolton's book or something else. I mean, the information comes out at one time or another.

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Most importantly, what's in Bolton's book will come out six weeks, a month from now, or whatever and that information will be out there. And if they are to vote against him, you know, they'll have that vote on them.

You know, to some extent, what the Democrats ought to do, or I think what might be wise is get Trump's team on the record about when did you see the book? What did you know? When did the White House know? And were, frankly, were President Trump's lawyers candid in the United States Senate?

This isn't really about the substance or policy anymore, really, it's about is there daylight between the senators and the White House, right? And that's OK. Because the Senate is so mindful of its prerogative and not being lied to. You know, they take themselves very, very seriously, those of us who've worked up there and I think that might be the way to flip a couple votes. COOPER: Mike, you now have, you know, folks at Fox News, Rudy

Giuliani and others now saying Bolton is, you know, a back stabber, all sorts of things, you also now have General Kelly saying that, you know, clearly he hasn't read the book but he would believe -- he would tend to believe John Bolton, you know, and would rely on what John Bolton has to say and that Bolton, you know, took notes at the end of days and was reliable.

Should Republicans -- I mean, do you think -- is there real interest in getting witnesses now because of that?

MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I have a little bit of a different perspective than David on those numbers. I think the reason you see so many Republicans saying they want witnesses is because they think they are going to get a chance to call their own witnesses. And that's excuse those numbers.

So when you see 75 percent, my gosh, everyone -- everyone wants witnesses, all the Trump base are like Adam Schiff, Joe Biden, Hunter Biden --


COOPER: The whistleblower.

SHIELDS: -- the whistle-blower. And so, they're like, absolutely. And they are in a place where that, you know, let's get to the truth, the truth for them is finding out how this thing happened. What -- why did Hunter Biden say to Good Morning America I would never have this job if I wasn't Joe Biden. What does he mean by that?

They want to bring him in front of the Senate to have those conversations. So, I think Democrats have to be very careful what they wish for here because not only will they have those witnesses coming out. In the meantime, this thing just keeps dragging on and on and on and on. And I really believe it's harming the Democrats the longer this thing goes on as opposed to getting back to talking about things they can win the election on.


The country is divided on this. They've made their mind up. It takes 67 votes. They don't -- it's not going to happen. And they're going to keep doing this over and over again and the country is just getting ready to say, what are you guys doing?

COOPER: Kirsten, do you think it's hurting Democrats that it's taking away from discussions about, you know, health care, pharmaceuticals, the price of pharmaceuticals --


KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I've never thought it politically this was a good idea, right, especially because it's bumping up against, you know, Iowa is right around the corner. And so, it never made sense to me. And I think that -- and also, look, Nancy Pelosi resisted the idea of impeachment for a long time when it was Russia because she didn't think it was going to bode well for Democrats.

I actually think what happened here contrary to the claims by Republicans where they're always saying, this was just -- you know, they're doing this for political reasons, I actually don't think that's true. I don't think that this necessarily helps them. It possibly hurts them.

And so, I think that they think that they have a responsibility, and if they don't do something it is in effect saying presidents now moving forward can always behave this way.

GERGEN: We do have sharp disagreements about this. Look, I think that the Democrats, for a large part of this process, were in peril of getting hurt through the process but I think now that it's focused on witness.

And if the Republicans vote down having John Bolton, that is going to play very badly and the Democrats are going to be able to ride this. After all, having -- first the president puts on a roadblock. So you can't see the documents, you can't see the witness.

Then the Republicans argue well, you haven't talked to them yet, you know, haven't brought anybody up here who's ever talked to the president, you know, because they blocked it. And now that person is ready to talk and the Republicans are going to block that too? Excuse me, but I think that a lot of people are going to get mad as

hell about that.

POWERS: But I actually -- yes, I actually didn't mean that I thought it was harmful because of the impeachment.


POWERS: I think that it's a problem because we have an election going on and we have candidates that are trying to win the primary, and there are issues that, as much as important as these issues are. And I actually think I would disagree with you about what you just said, it's hard for me to believe that come election day that whether there were witnesses or not is going to be on the minds of very many people. I mean --


SHIELDS: I agree with you on that. I mean, look, Reuters had a story today, they're in the suburbs of Detroit and they talked to people and the quote that really stood out to me is how does what's going on in Washington, D.C. help me when I'm struggling?

And that is -- and you know, David Axelrod said the other night on CNN, he did a focus group for Institute of Politics in Chicago, and it was 80 minutes into it before anyone talked about impeachment.

POWERS: Yes. SHIELDS: So, the country is either hard right and hard left or saying to Washington please focus on my issues. And so, the longer this goes on -- because this is going to be the -- all Bolton is going to do is talk about things that we already know about. It's just another witness to say things the Democrats want him to say, but what we know. And so, it just extends this even further and carries this drama on that the country is getting sick of.

GERGEN: So, don't you think there are people who are -- you know, Jared Kushner is already yelling that this is the president is vindicated, and he starts having exoneration rallies and basically, you know, bragging about this, as he will, as inevitably he will. Don't you think there are going to be some people really agitated about that?

POWERS: Yes. And they're all voting for Democrats.

GERGEN: What's that?

POWERS: And they're all voting for Democrats.


POWERS: They are already -- they're already voting for Democrats. The question is whether or not there are people out there who would actually be moved to vote based on this, and I just think that -- maybe if the election was tomorrow but by the time the election comes around I think it's unlikely that that's going to be the animating issue. And if you look at the polls it's not.

SHIELDS: I agree.

GERGEN: Yes. But there are a lot of Democrats right now who are -- who are worried that Bernie Sanders, for example, is going to run off with the first two primaries and there's going to be panic in the Democratic Party if that happens.

This is an issue that can help unite the Democrats in terms of a campaign. It can bring Democrats from different backgrounds together in their distaste and their fear of what Trump would be in the second term.

COOPER: I've got to take a break. Straight ahead, we're going to remember all of those who lost their lives in the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, eight other people, also killed a wife and a mother of three. Her husband shares how he and his kids are coping with their loss.



COOPER: We learn new details about the crash that killed nine people including basketball legend Kobe Bryant. Kobe Bryant skipped college and went straight to the NBA out of high school and then won five championships with the Los Angeles Lakers. His daughter Gianna was on the plane, she was 13 years old and she shared the same passion that her father did for basketball.

We've learned the National Transportation Safety Board says that the helicopter missed clearing the mountain that caused -- that it ended up hitting by just 20 to 30 feet.

Also, on the flight the photo you just saw there, John Altobelli, he's a championship baseball coach at Orange Coast College. Last year's national coach of the year, according to the Association of American Baseball Coaches.

His wife Keri was also on board. She was her husband's number one fan and showed up often with their kids to those baseball games, according to the Orange County Register. We will remember also their daughter Alyssa. She was 13 years old, a friend and a teammate of Gianna Bryant.

Tonight, we also remember Sarah Chester, she was 45 years old, a mom, and her daughter Payton was 13 years old. The principal of Payton's school called them both, quote, "engaged, supportive, encouraging, full of mischief and laughter," they died together on that helicopter.

Also killed was the pilot, Ara Zobayan. He was known -- he was very much loved it said in the aviation community, according to one L.A. journalist who is also a licensed pilot.


Also, Christina Mauser. Christina was handpicked by Bryant himself to coach at his Mamba Sports Academy. She led clinics there for WNBA players and also coached at a private school attended by Bryant's daughter. Christina leaves behind not only a husband but also three children. I spoke earlier with her husband, Matt Mauser, about how he and his family are dealing with this incredible loss.


COOPER (on camera): First of all, just how -- where are you in terms of how are you getting -- how are you dealing with this?

MATT MAUSER, HUSBAND OF HELICOPTER CRASH VICTIM CHRISTINA MAUSER: Well, emotionally, I'm torn. It's like a rollercoaster ride in a lot of ways, you know. I'm up. I'm down. I cry for no reason whatsoever. And then I'm OK, like, I woke up this morning and I said -- I mean, I hadn't slept for two days and so I woke up this morning and I said, I'm OK. I think I'm OK.

And then I walked out and I started to cry. So -- and then I saw my kids and I started to cry. But I'm just trying to be open to not judging myself, if I'm hurting or if the kids are hurting, not judging them, just loving them and loving other people around me that are hurting as well because I know a lot of people are hurting.

So -- and can I be honest with you, that having other people feel grief along kind of really helps because there was a lot of people that are in pain right now. And they may not have lost somebody that they love like I did that was in their family, but they're still hurting.

COOPER: I was actually in Orange County last night and speaking in front of a group, several thousand --


MAUSER: Could have stopped by.

COOPER: Well, had I known, I would have. But it was a group of probably 3,000 people and I can't tell you how many of those people came up to me and talked to me about your family and all the other families. And I can tell you there was a room of 3,000 people who you and your kids and Christina and everybody else on board that helicopter were foremost in their minds. And everybody was talking and thinking about you.

MAUSER: Thank you.

COOPER: I know that's -- there's millions of people around the world who are thinking that as well. Can you tell me a little bit about Christina? How did you meet?

MAUSER: Oh, man. Well, we met in the most wholesome of places, a bar.


MAUSER: Here in Huntington Beach. And she walked up and she knew who I was. I'm in a band. And she asked me when I was going back up and -- we started talking and she asked me what her type -- what was my type. And I looked at her and I said you're my type.


MAUSER: And that was it.

COOPER: Ah-ha. I read that you --

MAUSER: And --

COOPER: -- that you played one-on-one basketball with her early on at a date. Is that true?

MAUSER: Oh, man. So, when we started dating, you know, I have a basketball hoop in my front yard, practiced -- I played basketball almost every other day, and I thought I was pretty good. And I got on the driveway with her and man, I'd never experienced anything like Christina. She was quick, strong, and powerful.

She could dribble in, penetrate, come back and shoot, lay it up. I mean, hit from anywhere. She is deadly three-pointer. Unstoppable with her pivot moves. She'd never miss. I think she had like a record at her high school for a free throw percentage. She was just a stud. And I didn't know how I felt about it at first.

(LAUGHTER) MAUSER: I was like do I really want to date a girl that's better than me at basketball? And then I thought, I went, oh, man, I liked her even more. I just fell in love with her.

COOPER: And you coached together, and I guess that's how -- and correct me if I'm wrong -- that's how you came across -- met Kobe Bryant. His daughter was at the school. I understand that you used to call Christina "the mother of defense" as a coach.

MAUSER: MOD. That is what they called her on the team, MOD. Yeah, the girls came up on the Mamba team. The girls came up with her, you know, code name, MOD, mother of defense, yeah.

COOPER: And Kobe Bryant, he saw that -- he saw her skill. He knew -- he identified that right away.

MAUSER: Boom. Oh, god. So Kobe was incredible at recognizing talent. And he called me and he said I want to offer Christina a job. And I said she can't do that. I said she's running my -- she's running my music. She's got three kids. She's teaching full-time. I go, she can't. He goes, OK, I'll call her.


MAUSER: So he was pretty persuasive.

COOPER: And you're --

MAUSER: And --

COOPER: You have three kids.


COOPER: I think you have a 3-year-old, a 9-year-old, and an 11-year- old. Is that right?

MAUSER: Yes, 3, 9 and 11.

COOPER: My dad died when I was 10, and I'll never forget the night my mom came in to tell me that he -- that he was gone. How do you -- I mean, how are your kids? It sounds like a dumb question to ask.

MAUSER: Yeah, I know, but it's the ultimate question. They're doing OK. My little one, her birthday is next week. That's hard part. She's going to be four. And so her birthday is on the 4th. And so I'm trying to navigate that. And she's kind of doesn't understand, but she does know.

She used to -- I mean, I'd walk in and she would call for mom. Where is mom? I want mom, mommy, mommy. And now I walk in and she doesn't call for her. So it's bittersweet because I want her to still call for her mom. But it's hard to put her down when she's calling for mom. So I think she gets it. She knows we're grieving. She says don't cry.

And then my son is a little more quiet. He has outbursts. He's very sensitive. So I try to do physical activities with him. I let him hit a pillow. I kind of let him get it out. I hold him, I hug him, I kiss him and I tell him mom loves you and I love you. I give him a hug for mom and I give him a hug for me and move on.

And then my daughter is 11 and her friends are really important so that's nice because she played on Kobe's smaller team, the Mamba -- the Little Mambas. So she knows the whole -- she knows everybody as well. And Kobe absolutely loved my daughter. They had a secret handshake. He called her "Pen-Pen."

Her seventh grade team -- she's in sixth grade for the school she plays in. They won the championship this year. They hadn't won it since -- I believe since the 80s. We made a big bobble head for my daughter. Kobe said, give me that bobble head. He stood up and sort of waving the bobble head. They came from behind. They had a last-minute victory. It was the last -- you know, it was one of the happiest moments of my life, having him there and my wife and watching my daughter. It was very surreal.


COOPER: Matt's three kids now tonight face a life without their mom. We will talk more with Matt in just a moment about Christina and what lies ahead.




COOPER: More now of my interview with Matt Mauser whose wife Christina was among the nine people along with Kobe Bryant killed in that helicopter crash on Sunday.


MAUSER: Just cope, Anderson, day by day. I had a friend of mine, a fellow person who lost her husband a few years back. She has three kids where I taught. She was here yesterday. I just came home from a walk. And she's sitting there. And I said what do I do? And the advice she gave to me was wake up, just wake up. I guess that's all you can do, huh?

COOPER: Yeah. My mom used to say that sometimes all you can do is just, you know, put one foot in front of the other or, you know, if you're not feeling like doing that, you just, you know, just keep breathing minute by minute or even second by second.


MAUSER: Yeah, yeah. I play the thing that hurts me the most. The thing that gets me the most are the -- it's not the big thing. It's not how good she was at basketball, you know, although those things are wonderful. The things that I miss the most are the tiny little things. My wife was not just focused on the big things. My wife was focused on

the little things and the attention to detail, you know, about what kind of foods to give our kids, doctors, you know, how she would research every disease that was out there.

She was -- you know, she was relentless and she was organized and detailed and how she people that weren't important. That was -- my wife would always treat the person who you wouldn't expect anybody to treat well. She would always treat them the best. She was kind. She was funny. Our goal was to make each other laugh every day. My wife, she liked me because I made her laugh every day. And I was like -- why do you like me?

Our first date, she -- I made her laugh so hard. We were listening to "I can't go for that" by Hall and Oates. I was goofing on the song and she just started rolling. I remember the first time I said I never heard anybody laugh this hard. She would laugh so hard and she couldn't stop. I miss that. I miss those -- just the little things.


MAUSER: That's the hardest.

COOPER: Matt, I'm just so sorry. And I hope you have family and friends around you. You know, the one thing I always think about grief is that it feels really lonely and isolating, and it's actually -- you know, it's a bond that unfortunately a lot of people share, a lot of people have experienced.


COOPER: I know it's easy to feel very alone in this right now but there are a lot of other people out there who have gone through it and are going through it. I hope you are surrounded by people who you can talk to about it.

MAUSER: I'll be honest with you, today was the first day I started to feel that. I'm feeling support now. First two days, I felt extremely alone. It was very dark. The first day was brutal. But today, we have a little bit of a sun coming out. The sun came out. It has been foggy the last couple of days. It was cloudy in the morning and stuff like that. But today, it's been sunny.

Maybe that's a sign, you know. Hopefully, it's going to get easier. Like I said, it's good and bad. There's good times and bad times. I'm just -- like your mom says, one foot in front of the other.

COOPER: Yeah. You know, the other thing my mom used to say is that there's no timeline for grief. That people kind of think you'll be over this at some point, but it's obviously different for everybody. It's, you know, it's never the same but it gets better.

MAUSER: It sounds like you had a pretty good mom, Anderson.

COOPER: Yeah, I did. I did. Well, your kids have a very good dad.

MAUSER: Well, they had a good mom, too.


MAUSER: They had a really good mom.

COOPER: Well, Matt, I'd like to stay in touch with you. But I appreciate you talking tonight. I'd like to -- I'll get your information and reach out to you, if that's OK.

MAUSER: Heck, yeah, man. Maybe we can have a little more fun, do shots on New Year. That would be --


MAUSER: -- much rather hang with you doing that.

COOPER: All right. Don't ask me to play basketball though --

MAUSER: All right, man.

COOPER: -- because it is not pretty.


COOPER: It is not good at all.

MAUSER: Well, I guess neither was I.


MAUSER: God bless you. It was an honor. I really appreciate it.

COOPER: Well, Matt, yeah, just keep breathing in and out. And please give our best to your kids and let them know -- I know they know everybody's thinking about them. I hope that helps a little bit.

MAUSER: Will do, I appreciate it.


COOPER: Matt Mauser is now left with three young kids to raise on his own. They're going to need help in the months and years ahead. There is a GoFundMe page set up for the family. You can see the link at the bottom of your screen. It is fund. More news when we come back.




COOPER: Breaking news to report tonight. In the aftermath of the Iranian missile strikes earlier this month, the Pentagon has once again increased the number of U.S. service members who were diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries. You will remember that a day after the strikes, retaliation for the death of one of Iran's top generals, President Trump told the American public that "no Americans were harmed." That changed last week. The Pentagon announced 34 people had been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries. The president downplayed the news while in Davos.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I heard that they had headaches and a couple of other things. But I would say -- and I can report it is not very serious, not very serious.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): So you don't consider potential traumatic brain injury serious?

TRUMP: They told me that a number of days later. You have to ask Department of Defense. No, I don't consider them very serious injuries relative to other injuries that I have seen.


COOPER: The veterans of foreign wars called those comments "misguided" and demand an apology. Tonight, the story changes again. Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon with that. Barbara, what are you learning?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, what we have learned today is there are 16 additional cases. That brings it to a total of 50 U.S. service members suffering and diagnosed with symptoms of traumatic brain injury, concussion-like symptoms in the days since the January 8 Iranian attack, missile attack on the base in Iraq.

That makes it a mass casualty incident. Fifty American troops injured. Now, the good news is that 30 of them or so have already returned to duty in Iraq and are able to carry on. But, you know this is clearly something that has resonated throughout a large number of military troops in Iraq and it is at the hands of Iran, which remember, fired those ballistic missiles, causing that massive blast wave that injured these troops, Anderson.

COOPER: Does the Pentagon think -- they have now the total number of people affected by this and they'll continue to monitor those people or do they think this could continue to grow?

STARR: Yeah, exactly. They will monitor the ones they have. But you're right. It could continue to grow. They think there were about 200 people in the immediate area of the blast waves when it all happened. They are monitoring those people.

So, you know, within a couple of weeks now, we're up to 50. They could get additional cases and they very much want troops to come forward if they are experiencing symptoms so they can get them help. But they are very prepared at the Pentagon to see additional cases.

COOPER: These traumatic brain injuries that the service members have experienced or are suffering from, the president referred to them as headaches rather dismissively and said they're not very serious. Obviously, we know a lot more about concussions and traumatic brain injuries now than people knew 20 years ago.


COOPER: I'm not sure if the president is up-to-date on the information. But this is far more than just headaches.

STARR: Well, it is. Headache at the minimum is a symptom that some troops might be describing. But, look, they were -- their brains were on the receiving end of a massive blast wave of Iranian ballistic missiles, thousands of pounds of explosive power. That wave went across the base and caused these injuries, basically pushing their brains against their skulls.

And so this is -- can be quite a serious injury and it is something that the military has struggled with for many years now, to get troops to acknowledge that they are experiencing symptoms. The worst part of this maybe troops feel a stigma, they don't report it, and it simply grows worse. It is well known to be the silent wound of war. Anderson?

COOPER: Barbara Starr, I appreciate it. Barbara, thanks.

STARR: Sure.

COOPER: We'll be right back.