Return to Transcripts main page


Mitch McConnell Tells Republicans Not Enough Votes To Block Witnesses; Chopper Crash Victims Include Girls Basketball Coach And Mentor; NTSB Deems Bryant Chopper Crash As "High Energy Impact." Aired 12-1a ET

Aired January 29, 2020 - 00:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: The news continues. I want to turn things over to Chris Cuomo.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right. Thank you very much, Anderson.

I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.

This Trump trial is now drawing closer to the witness vote. And as of now Mitch McConnell is supposedly saying he doesn't know if he has enough votes to block them. Is that good news or is that bad news for Democrats? How can it be bad news? We'll discuss.

We're going to game out what this means. There's a plus-minus factor here to be considered because this is politics.

There are also new developments on the Kobe Bryant crash. There are updates from investigators on where the helicopter was flying right before impact and what the conditions were.

We also have the brother of one of the passengers killed. Here to help us honor someone who is lost. You will not believe the bond they had.

All right. So the time to argue is over. Both sides have had its chance. But the debate will continue and here's how. For the next two days you're going to have senators submitting written questions in the Trump impeachment trial. They'll give them to the parliamentarian, the person who runs the Senate and helps the chief justice. And the chief justice will then ask the questions to either the House managers or the president's defense team.

And then, you're going to have the real test. After the questions we'll see if Mitch McConnell believes that the votes are there to warrant debate on whether to compel witnesses and documents. According to sources who came out of a meeting with Mitch McConnell today -- first that tells you that Republicans are talking, right? So that's automatically a problem on that side of the ball.

The word is that the votes aren't there yet to block witnesses. But, the majority leader underscored it is still a work in progress. Three quarters of you think witnesses should be allowed to testify, according to a new poll. That included nearly half of Republicans surveyed.

Now where are we in the state of play? Is it more likely that we're going to have witnesses now than it was before Bolton, before the two cases? And is that a good thing necessarily?

Let's turn to the big brains. I have all three of you here.

Professor, good thing to have witnesses?

MICHAEL GERHARDT, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think it's going to be good on balance. At least --

CUOMO: Why could it not be good?

GERHARDT: OK. Well, because sometimes you don't know what a witness will say. And there's a good chance that nobody really knows what Bolton will say and that could turn out to be good or bad. Again depending on what he says.

But I think it will -- I'm guessing it will be on balance good for the Democrats because they have asked for this to be a trial of witnesses. They want to get to the truth. And presumably Bolton will help them get there. My guess is, it will be worse for the Republicans because they also don't know what he'll say, but they (INAUDIBLE) damaging things.

CUOMO: But they know that if anything is said, that's automatically more than if nothing is said.

GERHARDT: Exactly.

CUOMO: This is what they're playing for. We have Elaina Plott with us.

Elaina, what are you hearing about this? Is there any chance, Elaina, that this is gamesmanship by McConnell, make it seem like it's a struggle, but in the end he pulls it out? Or do you think that with the Bolton new information and his suggestion that it is a dicey proposition for holding back witnesses?

ELAINA PLOTT, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I do think, Chris, that, you know, Bolton's revelations alleged as part of this book have complicated McConnell's calculus. I was actually just in Kentucky, Louisville and Lexington, last week to talk to a lot of McConnell's diehard Republican voters back home about how they feel about this.

A lot of the kind of mythology that surrounds McConnell right now as a Republican majority leader has relied on his handling of this trial. And I do have to wonder that if, you know, ultimately he does not have the votes to block witnesses from testifying, whether that tarnishes this sort of image of him as kind of the ruthless, go-getter, who would not let anything hurt the Republicans' case in this moment.

So I do think this is about his personal legacy as much as it is just the outcome of this trial. CUOMO: Elaina, thank you. Stay with me. Chime in as you see fit.

Let me ask you a legal question then I have a political bounce for you, Jim, to help me figure it out. You're a lawyer. But, you know, (INAUDIBLE). So the idea of risk in witnesses as the professor laid out. You don't know what they're going to say. Another type of risk is for the Democrats specifically is overplaying your hand as you could argue happened in investigations before this.


Oh, if we just get this one everything will change. That's a dicey proposition here, even with Bolton, is it not?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It is. And now that we have heard through the leak of what's in his book supposedly what he has to say about this, if he comes and doesn't say anything beyond that and just repeats it, I think a lot of people are going to be disappointed. They'll say, well, we've already heard that. It wasn't in the evidentiary record and it wasn't from his own mouth.

But still I think people are going to be wanting more substance from him. So there is a possibility if he comes and just repeats that people will say, so what? We already heard that, you know, two, three days ago.

CUOMO: There's also a chance that he says yes, the president told me. But then it still falls under the category of "but it's OK" because he could easily say, I didn't like foreign policy choices. I thought he was doing it the wrong way. I didn't like what he was doing with a few of these countries. I thought that he was compromising it. But that's still the president's call.

Here's why I think that you guys have to be careful about there being no witnesses is that I think that's the best thing for the Democrats politically because it's not going to change the vote. We don't have any indication. I don't want to get ahead of it. But we have no indication that senators have been swayed through this process, that if there are witnesses you may -- there may be a guilty verdict here.

We don't believe that. So if it's not going to change the votes, and you guys -- and there are no witnesses, the Democrats will get to leak out whatever comes after this. Right? They'll call in Bolton themselves and they'll say, look what they didn't want you to see. Look what they didn't want you to see. I think it's better for you guys to have witnesses and bank that it doesn't really change the calculus.

JIM SCHULTZ, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think all along the Republicans have been on message, saying, look, they don't have anything here. They didn't put on a very good case. We knocked it down. They relied upon hearsay testimony, relied on unconstitutional principles. That they put together a case for a fake crime of this obstruction of Congress. You know, and what it all comes down to is that, you know, from a political perspective, they've knocked down this case. They did what they needed to do. CUOMO: But they said you have no direct evidence tying the president

to the plot and you got Bolton sitting out.

SCHULTZ: But it's the Democrats saying, look, we had a rock solid case here. Well, if you have a rock solid case, run with your case.

CUOMO: Right. But they did run with the case. They couldn't get the witnesses. That's my point.

SCHULTZ: No, but they say the case that they put on was a rock solid case.

CUOMO: They did.

SCHULTZ: So run with the case.

CUOMO: That's what they say, but they qualify it, Jim.

SCHULTZ: They don't.

CUOMO: But there's a comma. The comma is, because we couldn't get the main witnesses and now you've got Bolton saying he wants to testify. But, Elaina, you've been on the ground feeling this out. What do you hear?

PLOTT: Yes, I think, Chris, one reason to really dwell on here I think why this could actually not be great for the Democratic Party is that to imagine that, yes, maybe McConnell doesn't end up having the votes for this. But to imagine that then 24 hours later, John Bolton saunters in to deliver his testimony I think is a bit silly. Especially from what we know about this White House.

I mean, I already have Republicans sources in the Senate telling me that they will fight tooth and nail within the White House to ensure that, you know, where it's a claim of executive privilege or some set that Bolton does not end up sitting in that seat. And so then you have the question of whether Democrats actually want to continue prolonging this trial. If this is something that gets tied up further in the courts with whether a claim of executive privilege is in fact apt in this case.

So I don't think it's not something as simple as a proposition of have the vote, if the votes are there, John Bolton comes in, and there we go.

CUOMO: I agree. Process matters. But hold on, let me bring in the professor, because, Elaina I think tees that up perfectly. However, I think -- and you respond to this after the president -- the president, not yet. The professor lays out the premise here, which is they bashed Bolton. OK. And when you bash somebody on the exact subject matter that you might want to claim privilege on it's a dicey proposition, Professor, because it can look like a waiver.

If they argue this is privileged conversation he can't talk about it, unless they say he can't release the book, because it's classified information, in fact this topic is which we know it isn't by exercise. How strong is the argument that no, I'm sorry, you waived it with Bolton because you attacked his story?

GERHARDT: I think it's a very strong argument.


GERHARDT: Because the president said -- and I'm paraphrasing. I can't know the exact words, but basically said, I didn't say what Bolton is saying in the book. Well, what does that mean? That means the president is already signaling something about what he said or didn't say in a conversation with Bolton. That's enough to open the door.

CUOMO: Is a rejection -- do you disagree with the professor that if you disagree with how a conversation is characterized that you had with an adviser, can that be seen as a waiver?

RODGERS: It can. It can because what you're doing is you are giving information about the content of the communication. He's saying no, no, no, that is not what was said here. That's saying something about the content of that communication. You can't both say I won't let him talk about the content of the communication.

CUOMO: But I will.

RODGERS: So I will.

CUOMO: So either it's not talked about at all or it is?

SCHULTZ: Well, remember, it's the president's privilege at the end of the day. This is not an attorney-client privilege. This is the executive privilege.


It's his privilege at the end of the day. He has not -- he did not divulge any information or information that was relative to a conversation that he had in the decision-making process which is the important thing here. Presidents have to be able to speak with their top advisers, you know, freely. And the fact that he says that's not what I said doesn't -- I don't believe opens up that door. You know, you can argue it both ways. But I don't think that opens up that door especially in the context of executive privilege.

I think he's -- if you look at the 70 percent, though, a lot of us Republicans that want to hear from Biden or Schiff and Hunter Biden, you know, so that number, it's not just about, you know, hearing from Bolton, it's about hearing from the Democrats as well. And I think that's what you're seeing some of the excitement. And McConnell, I don't think this -- whether or not he can handle this and keep the votes, I don't think is going to make a difference in his reelection campaign.

I think McConnell is very popular at home. He's going to go -- he's going to win elections solidly in Kentucky. But he's also -- let's not sleep on Mitch McConnell here. He -- you know, he's never -- he doesn't do like Adam Schiff does. He never overplays his hand. He always says it's tough. He always says we have a problem. CUOMO: Let's not --

SCHULTZ: And at the end of the day --

CUOMO: Hold on a second. Hold on.

SCHULTZ: At the end of the day, a lot of times, he delivers.

CUOMO: I gave you a lot of latitude.

SCHULTZ: He's a crafty guy. He's a crafty guy.

CUOMO: He definitely delivers but the last word is the one that counts. Let's not paint him as some kind of different animal than Adam Schiff. All right? I mean, this is a guy who warned the Democrats not --

SCHULTZ: Measured.

CUOMO: Not to play with the filibuster and then he -- and, you know, of course all this is subjective. But he perverted the process of picking judges in this country like nobody else has before. And here was his premise, Jim. And you know it. You did something screwed up here, you Democrats, by making it 50 plus 1 to get judges through. So because that was screwed up, because I think that was unfair, I'm going to do it with Supreme Court justices. And you see that as a man of principle?

SCHULTZ: No, no.

CUOMO: Come on.

SCHULTZ: I said he's not a man of overreach, right?

CUOMO: That's overreach.

SCHULTZ: So -- so Adam Schiff, you know, we found collusion. Well, you didn't find collusion. conclusion. You know --

CUOMO: That's opinion. It's not changing a constitutional process.

SCHULTZ: They thought Mueller was going to take down the president when he testified.

CUOMO: Jim, Jim --

SCHULTZ: It didn't happen.

CUOMO: Jimmy, you want to compare a bad --

SCHULTZ: So, I mean, that's the danger of Bolton, too.

CUOMO: You want to --

SCHULTZ: The Mueller effect.

CUOMO: Hold on, Jimmy, you want to compare a bad analysis, a bad conclusion.

SCHULTZ: Making stuff up.

CUOMO: To a guy who changed --

SCHULTZ: He was caught making stuff up.

CUOMO: No. He was wrong. OK. Even on the whistleblower stuff. The guy never talked to the whistleblower. We have no other proof. Talk to his staff. You want to run down that road and be so strict.

SCHULTZ: No, no, no.

CUOMO: Then you better start swinging a stick at Devin Nunes.


CUOMO: Because that guy says some funny stuff. Now what I'm saying is, let's just do this. Let's just do what we've been doing well. Both sides have some stuff to deal with. But you've got to look at it relatively. We're doing that with witnesses. When it comes to McConnell, you are never going to sell me on the proposition that he plays the game better. He may be more effective. But the guy changed picking Supreme Court justices in a way that will forever politicize the process.

But let's take a break. We'll argue about it more on the other side. You don't seem concern there. We're going to take a break. When we come back, the president just put out a tweet on Bolton. All right? Spoiler alert, what happens when you say something that isn't good for the president. No matter how close you were to him before. Where do you wind up? Here it comes. Get ready. Here comes the bus.

And did you notice that there was a little bit of a quick turn? All right? We're going to come back with the tweet, the tapes and the tea. What does that mean? I'll show you.



CUOMO: All right. You want the latest on the state of play, you have it and it is fresh information. As we started this midnight hour show here on the East Coast, of course, the president lashed out at John Bolton anew. He just tweeted, "Why didn't John Bolton complain about this nonsense a long time ago when he was very publicly terminated? He said, not that it matters, nothing."

Now, that's the president. Where do we listen first for the echo? State TV. What are we hearing over on FOX about this and his defenders? Listen.


LOU DOBBS, FOX NEWS HOST: Anyone who knows John Bolton is celebrating because of his intellect, his capacity, his experience, his talent. TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: Disgraced former National Security

adviser, John Bolton. Bolton has turned and betrayed his former boss, Donald Trump.


CUOMO: Brilliant. Celebrating. And then angry puppy dog face, turned. See, that's how it works over there. This is the echo of the president. This is what they want you to believe, but it's the same John Bolton, right? So let's discuss the implication.

Jimmy, the president is doing what he does best. He's attacking what he sees as a threat. Right move with Bolton?

SCHULTZ: Yes, I think so. There's no downside at this point in time to go on the attack. But I would go one step further. I -- you know, I'd describe it as capitalist. Right? The guy is trying to make money, he's trying to sell books. And I don't know if that's where the president was going with it, but I think that's a better narrative than what FOX is doing because it's more opportunistic and I think it's probably right.

CUOMO: Yes. Well, look, I mean, what they're doing over there is they echo. That's the echo. So what's the risk to this strategy of attacking Bolton, the guy who you once thought was good enough to be National Security adviser?

RODGERS: Well, not much in this context except that people may see it for what it is. You know, an attack that doesn't really have merit except --

CUOMO: Although the book thing does hurt him.

RODGERS: It does. It does.

CUOMO: You know, he didn't want to testify. Now he has a book coming out also, and he's a patriot.

RODGERS: Yes. And, you know, it's not like in court where if they've made the claim that you have made something up, right, he says, he never said it a while ago. He says it now.

CUOMO: Right.

RODGERS: You would have the opportunity to actually come in with other evidence showing that you did think that at the time and you had been saying it at the time. That's not going to apply here because we're not in court. So, you know, there's not a lot of downside to continuing this line of attack honestly, so it'll probably continue.

CUOMO: Now I don't know that this matters. But it does matter to us. The flipside of this, the president is obviously saying Bolton is lying. In fact he already said that, that John Bolton is lying in an earlier tweet attack. However, if Bolton comes in and the manuscript comes in, and you're able to match it up with what has been said already in testimony by those who said they spoke to Bolton, you start getting a ton, a (INAUDIBLE) of credibility.


And if you're going to get into a credibility contest, President Trump is who you want to be against. And even though Jimmy can be right, and boy, did you pick a nice time to want to come out speak, you know, and how about Simon and Schuster holding the book until March 17th? You know, why don't you put it out now if you want it to be relevant?

Even with that, who wins in a credibility contest if Bolton says this is what he said to me, he has to go to the AG, now you've got the AG on the spot, you've got the people who testified before about what Bolton said to them? Where does this come out?

GERHARDT: Well, Bolton might win on the credibility contest but that's not going to matter. I think with all due respect to the president and his defenders in the Senate, that credibility is not something he cares about. He's got a narrative, and he pushes that narrative. His supporters like that narrative and they defend it, and that's all they care about. Facts don't enter into it. What matters into it is they like the president and they'll stick with him through thick and thin.

CUOMO: Elaina, let me just get Elaina in here. Out on the hustings, this is seen as muscularity within the Trump base. This is what he does. He's fighting back. What's your take on it?

PLOTT: Well, as a reporter it's interesting to me, Chris, because several months ago when Donald Trump did fire Bolton, he did -- as I reported at the time at the Atlantic, he did privately ask his advisers whether that, you know, was in fact the best move. And it's something that Mick Mulvaney has dealt with before in saying Donald Trump can't fire me because I know too much. I mean, these are actual things that some of Donald Trump's top adviser have confided to each other before.

Donald Trump I think was waiting for this moment when his fears and paranoia about what John Bolton may or may not know about the workings of this administration could come to light. So I -- you know, I see that as pretty climactic, as a storyline I've been falling for a while.

The second point I'd make, Chris, is that Donald Trump's tweet is not correct, as they often are not. John Bolton, at least if we are to believe him, did raise this with NSC lawyers at the time when he was serving as National Security adviser. I do think that Jim is right, that there is an element that should be looked at with a lot of scrutiny in terms of what can John Bolton do opportunistically in terms of selling his book.

Bu it's not though John Bolton suddenly had a revelation last week that, you know, his opinions about Donald Trump's conduct with regard to Ukraine were in fact bad. I mean, this was something, again if we are to believe his own word that he raised with NSC lawyers at the time.

CUOMO: We have a little time left. Let's do this real quick. One question for House managers. Give it to me. In this new phase, and the questions that senators are going to ask. What do you got?

SCHULTZ: You mean senators asking House managers --

CUOMO: No, I want to ask you. What are you going to ask House managers?

SCHULTZ: I'm going to ask House managers, what did Schiff know and when did he know it as it related to the whistleblower.

CUOMO: The whistleblower.

RODGERS: I actually would give them the opportunity to rebut some of what Trump's lawyers have been saying, some repetition about the facts here, bringing the facts back, and instead of focusing on process and nonsense constitutional arguments.

GERHARDT: What I would ask the House managers is yes, come -- what's abuse of power. Explain it. Walk us through again if we need that to be done. Walk us through again why it's an impeachable. It doesn't hurt to repeat something that is very historically sound.

CUOMO: You think that -- you think the senators are going to do this stuff, by the way, or do you think this is stuff they'll miss? They'll get it?

RODGERS: I think they'll do a lot of the repetition. I think they'll actually do less of the questioning of the Trump's lawyers because it's not cross, they won't have immediate follow up, it's going to be very awkward and stilted so I think they'll do more of a friendly questioning.

CUOMO: And they'll be talking directly -- obviously they're talking to the senators but they'll be looking at the chief justice.

SCHULTZ: Guys like Ted Cruz are going to go on the attack. No doubt about it.

CUOMO: Right. But he doesn't get to attack. He's got to submit it in paper.


CUOMO: And it goes through the chief justice.

SCHULTZ: Right. No, I get it. But think about it, he's one of the smartest legal minds in the Senate, without question. Probably in the country, right? Whether you like his politics or not. That guy is going to be front and center on those questions.

CUOMO: He will. He'll be very good on the attack. He's very smart. He's a good debater. Not so great with the facts himself, though. Still waiting for him to come on this show.

Senator, you're always welcome to make the case here. It's much easier to talk about us than to us.

All right, we're going to take a break. Elaina, all you guys, thank you very much. It's good to have you.

We're going to take a break here. When we come back, we're following two big stories. Right? We have what's going on with impeachment. This next phase. And also this Kobe Bryant story is really bigger believe it or not than just him. So many families were ruined. The NTSB is giving us more information. We have to know if this crash could have been avoided. It's ruined too many families. Next.



CUOMO: So what are we seeing? When it comes to the loss of Kobe, you're going to see -- we've seen such energy coming out of the NBA, right? People who played with him. Others who joined because of him. Remember he set a standard for coming out of high school in this new era. And they are coming out with all this emotion about what he meant.

Now earlier I spoke with his former teammate and good friend, Derek Fisher. And he talks about him and ball playing is the least of it.


DEREK FISHER, TEAMMATE AND FRIEND OF KOBE BRYANT: Most of my professional career as a player, most of my formative years as a man, as a father, as a husband, alongside of Kobe, plane rides, bus rides, in the arena. And we grew up together in a lot of ways, even though I'm only a few years older. I don't think that any of us can achieve the best version of ourselves. You know, whatever our individual greatness is, without inspiration from others.


And for me, personally, he was a gift and a blessing because I got a chance to live with in a sense someone that on a daily basis was trying to access the greatest parts of who he is and who he was. And I don't know if, you know, we'll ever have someone else like him. And that -- you know, that adds to the pain, to not get a chance to see him continue on with his legacy.


CUOMO: And look, you know, as subtlety as you hear it, you know, Kobe Bryant went through some very difficult times. And how that shaped him is obviously something that his friends are talking about, who he became and now bittersweet and heartrending for them is who he still wanted to become.

Now he's not the only person who had his best years taken from him. That really seems to be the story with everyone on there. His young daughter, the two other women who are going to play, the young parents, the young coach. Christina Mauser was the assistant coach. She was recruited by Kobe because of how great she was to the Mamba Academy team that Bryant's daughter Gianna, who they called Gigi, played on. I spoke with Coach Mauser's brother about the magic of his sister.

What she taught her students, what she taught him, what she was for her kids, and how she should be remembered. Listen.


CUOMO: Matthew, thank you for joining us.


CUOMO: I'm very sorry for your loss. How are you doing with this at this point?

PATTERSON: I mean, if I to try and word it, I'm just in complete agony, with my family. And this is just completely crushing. So, just every ounce of my being is destroyed.

CUOMO: This is so extraordinarily tough because your sister had everything in life in front of her. Young family and career.

PATTERSON: Everything.

CUOMO: So much energy. So many years to provide, and that's what she was about. She was about giving back to kids and empowering young women. What do you tell yourself about what this means?

PATTERSON: It's really just to channel my sister's strength. Christina was always the strongest one. Stronger than me. Strongest in the family. Strong for her husband and the kids. And some weird way this is her talking to us to level up. She was -- my sister was the greatest. And I don't even know where the message will prevail. But I think I know a big picture of like the family to and my brother-in-law and the kids to all just come together and honor her. And just now just live and represent her greatness. My baby sister.

CUOMO: I know she was your baby sister and I mean no --


CUOMO: I mean no disrespect. But looking at the pictures, she seems to be a superior athlete.


CUOMO: And a superior --

PATTERSON: Superstar. Superstar. Yes.

CUOMO: And I feel like you and I had similar experiences where our sisters were kind of taken it to us pretty every time we competed at anything when we were kids.

PATTERSON: Sure. Yes. Yes.

CUOMO: Is that what Christina was for you? PATTERSON: Oh, my gosh. So competitive. My sister, just growing up,

was already a superstar. It was basketball. I mean, she was on varsity as a freshman. And then all county and then volleyball. And then even when we were kids, her in soccer was -- she was extraordinary.

She was just -- she was all world at all this. And it just made you want to be a better person. And get to her level because she was amazing. She was the best. She was the best player, the best human. The best everything. And it's -- this is bad.

CUOMO: Teaching girls. She joined this club as an assistant coach. How important was it to your sister not just to be a coach, not just to empower through sports, but to reach young women through sports?


CUOMO: As a function of empowerment.

PATTERSON: Yes. And just to mentor as the leader that she was and still is.


The girls on the team called her the mother of defense. The MOD for short. M-O-D. So they all, the whole team called her the MOD. So that was my sister, mother of defense. And she put you in check. Everybody. And she just represented goodness and leadership, and got it all done.

CUOMO: Give me a memory of you guys as kids, when you realize that she was going to be somebody special.

PATTERSON: When I -- gosh. Highlight is she was able to throw the soccer ball, when doing the throw in. Like across the field. And it was like wow. And so every time that there was a throw in for soccer they would have my sister make sure she's the one to do that. And it was just legendary throw in. And just -- hoops of that just five, six, seven, eight years old, that just led to everything. Basketball, volleyball. Anything she did. She was good. Smart. Intelligent. Hilarious. My sister was hysterical.

CUOMO: You're hurting right now. She would know you're hurting. What would your sister tell you?

PATTERSON: Right now she'd be like, hey, time to level up. And I know that's what she'd be saying. When I sit in silence and I try and hear her, you know, she's -- I can hear the whisper of like telling me it's going to be OK and to get through this. Mourn, celebrate her, honor her, but then go and represent her in this world and take care of the kids.

My beautiful nieces. My nephew. My brother-in-law. Gosh. It's got to be some support from Uncle Matt now. So -- but I just want it -- it's going to be a constant listening out for her. And I'm just glad that she'll be -- she's up there guiding me now. So -- and channeling strength through this interview as we speak here, so. CUOMO: When you are hurting, what is the memory that you will cling

to? For now. To remind you that what you have is worth more than just the loss itself.

PATTERSON: Her smile and our overall just conversations. Just in general. Call her for anything. Talk about anything. Vent about anything. So just having that image of her smile. And that will help for -- I mean, her smile will always help me. So then hopefully that can help everyone else, too.

CUOMO: Lean on that. Lean on that. The only mistake you can make is to try to shut out the memories to try to avoid the pain. I know it's hard, Matthew, but don't do it. You had a special bond with somebody. There's nothing like a sibling and there's nothing like a sister and a brother. And you have that and hold on to it. Don't hide from it. And feel what you feel. None of this is easy.

But thank you so much for letting us understand just how great your sister was to you, to her kids, to her husband, to her community, and to all those girls who knew her as MOD, the Mother of defense.


CUOMO: God bless, Matthew.

PATTERSON: Thank you.

CUOMO: And best to the family.

PATTERSON: Thank you.


CUOMO: Look, I'm no therapist. But I, like so many of you, I know what it's like to feel that pain of loss. And you've got to cling to the best of who is no longer here because that's how we keep them alive.

Now if you'd like to help the Mausers, she had a young family, Christina, and she's got a husband. There's a crowdsourcing page or crowdfunding page, what it's called, GoFundMe page approved by the family. OK? I will post the link on my Twitter page. You see it there on the screen. It will be on my Twitter page as well.

All right, now, in terms of why this happened. The NTSB now says the chopper was only like 20 or 30 feet from clearing the mountain it crashed into. The pilot had over 8,000 hours in the air. He was a trainer pilot. He was very good. So, how did this happen? There's new information. They are telling us some things and raising questions. We have our experts to make sense of it, next.



CUOMO: We've got some new information from the NTSB today about the crash that claimed Kobe Bryant and his daughter and seven others. Here's what we know. The helicopter had a sudden drop of about 2,000 feet in a minute. It was in one piece until it hit a hillside. Investigators call it a high energy impact crash. And that's what it sounds like. This was going fast, it hit hard, and that's going to have a catastrophic effect on the people inside.

So why did that happen? Let's take it to the aviation experts. We've got Mary Schiavo and Miles O'Brien here. Mary works for a law firm that represents victims and families after aviation accidents.

It's good to have you both.



CUOMO: Miles, the pilot, lots of hours, I think like 8,000. He was an instructor, he was instrument trained. So does that mean that this is not a situation that screams out pilot error? Or might it still?

O'BRIEN: Not necessarily, Chris. Pilots with a lot of experience can fall into all kinds of traps, can lull themselves into a sense of safety and complacency which can be inherently dangerous.


And you have to look at the type of flying this was. This was an experienced pilot, by nature they are mission focused type A people with a client who is a rich, famous guy who is a type A mission focused person, on a deadline. There is an insidious kind of pressure that is created in that environment. There have been many aviation crashes in past that ultimately had this as part of a contributing cause.

CUOMO: Mary, you said earlier that one of the factors that often is first is, to Miles point, whether or not you should have taken off. These conditions, a lot of ships were grounded at that time. What do you read into this decision?

SCHIAVO: Well, the decision to take off and I read into it that why was the decision made to go VFR. Was the pilot had a problem with doing the instrument flight route? Was there something with the helicopter that the instrument flight plan would not be approved? For example in this helicopter.

Now the pilot have to be instrument rated but if you're going to go IFR on a revenue mission that's called 135 Operation you have to have autopilot in the helicopter. So there's something about that initial decision why they just didn't file an IFR flight plan and do it that way.

CUOMO: All right. VFR is visual flight rules, it means you're not using the gauges and the instruments and the technology.


CUOMO: IFR means the opposite. Miles, when we look at what this helicopter did, it followed the normal route. We have no reason to believe that this isn't a route that this pilot had taken before. Then there is these some looping around Glendale, which seems to be explained by what we hear from the tower where they say he's been holding for 15 minutes. Maybe that was about air traffic or trying to get some better guidance. But that's probably the looping.

And then as it starts to follow one of the major arteries, it ascends and then banks left and descends very rapidly. I know it's impossible to pinpoint what that means. But give us some sense of what those movements might suggest.

O'BRIEN: Well, first, he was getting away with what we call flying scud running. Flying beneath the clouds above the ground, just threading the needle as it were. He got to that pass where Burbank is and realized he couldn't continue flying the 101 route that he normally flew and asked for special permission to fly through Burbank airspace, had to hold until he got that permission.

So then after he got around Burbank airspace to rejoin his route which was to follow the 101 Highway, he was at the lowest part of that valley on the 101 and yet it was still steadily rising. The terrain into the clouds. And so you could surmise that as he was flying along that route he realized he couldn't maintain visual flight rules by flying that route.

What do you want to do at that point? A good decision would be to turn around. Another good decision would be to climb. But he perhaps, at least given the altitude records that we've seen so far, would have been in the clouds ascending and making a left turn.

The other thing that was very unusual about this, Chris, one of the things that inherently safe about helicopters in relatively bad weather is they can fly really slow. You can creep along and find your way. But he was flying over 130 knots, which is more than twice as fast as you might expect in this case.

So a lot of things indicate spatial disorientation, confusion, trying to turn around in the clouds, and an aerodynamic stall.

CUOMO: And then, Mary, taking what Miles is saying, we know that one, he almost made it over this mountain which seems to suggest that he didn't see it until it was too late, obviously. And that the speed that they calculate that he -- that he hit it at was something like 2,000 feet a minute, or something like that. It's like 20 something miles per hour. And my suggestion is, I'm no pilot, but what I did with the research is that that means that the plane was probably trying to go up more than it was trying to go forward. Does that make sense?

SCHIAVO: Well, yes, it does. But I think -- I agree with you. Something out that windshield it seems to have caused the pilot to try to turn and try to turn very rapidly. That causes, as Miles mentioned, a stall. If it's a helicopter, you actually have the rotor blade stall. And that happens when you're heavy, when you've got a lot of passengers or cargo. When there's a lot of moisture in the air, it's called density altitude, and when you make a sharp turn. So that could explain it as well.

And also in this part of the flight, given what they had done up to this point, they'd lost all their safety nets. They'd lost their radar. Any ground proximity equipment they had on board.


And I don't believe they had any, but if they had something like a TAWS, terrain awareness warning system, or anything like that, it would have been going off all the time over L.A. and Burbank because they were just so low.

CUOMO: And that was one of the things we're told is that this didn't have it. The NTSB recommends it but doesn't mandate it. There was an earlier crash --

SCHIAVO: That's right.

CUOMO: Crash some years ago where that was a factor.

Miles, Mary, thank you very much. As we learn more, I'll have you back. Appreciate it.

All right, remember when President Trump told us that no Americans were harmed in Iran's retaliatory strike on our forces in Iraq? None were killed. But then the president said, well, the injuries that we're hearing about, they're like headaches and stuff.

There is no evidence that he was really wrong about something that we cannot get wrong anymore. BOLO, Next.



CUOMO: BOLO, be on the lookout. 50 U.S. service members have now been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries. That's up from 16 from last week. They were injured in the Iranian missile attack on U.S. forces in Iraq earlier this month. POTUS of course had initially said no one was injured in that retaliatory attack. When the truth came out, he did what he does his worst. Doubling down on disrespect.


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 REPORTER: So you don't consider potential traumatic brain injury is serious?

TRUMP: They told me about it numerous days later. You'd have to ask the Department of Defense. No, I don't consider them very serious injuries relative to other injuries that I've seen.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: Look, he's minimizing it because he thinks it looks bad for him if people are hurt. But he is playing into a pernicious prejudice about TBI. He doesn't think it's as bad. He doesn't know what he's talking about. This isn't a damn headache. Serious concussions, brain injuries that affect processing, processing of emotions. They can be every bit as debilitating as any other injury.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars, one of America's oldest vet groups, called his remarks misguided. They demanded an apology. So far, silence.

I thought you respected the troops like nobody else. You are embarrassing on a level that we need awareness. Don't be part of the stigma. Fix it. Apologize. Show that you'll do it for the troops. Be on the lookout.

Thanks for watching. Stay tuned. News continues here on CNN.