tv NBC Nightly News NBC May 29, 2015 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT
something hike it was friday today. on an official -- on this friday night, secret past. shocking new revelations about the former speaker of the house dennis hastert. now we know what he was trying to hide with millions in hush money. sources telling nbc news it's all about sexual misconduct with a male student. mandatory evacuations being ordered as texas gets hit again. unrelenting rain and hundreds of dramatic high-water rescues today. highways paralyzed by flash floods. pilots targeted, nearly blinded by lasers being pointed by someone on the ground. a growing problem putting flights in danger. too close for comfort. we're in open water on the trail of great white sharks 40 years since "jaws." just how close they're coming to shore. also, our special salute to the class of 2015. "nightly news" begins
right now. >> announcer: from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news." reporting tonight, lester holt. good evening. the surprise criminal indictment of the once powerful speaker of the house, dennis hastert, on charges he lied about paying hush money to someone in his past glaringly left out the answer to the question so many were immediately asking -- what was that money supposedly buying? tonight we may know the answer. federal law enforcement sources are telling nbc news the payments relate to hastert's days as an illinois schoolteacher and coach and sexual misconduct with a student. our justice correspondent pete williams has been digging into the story and has more for us. hello, pete. >> reporter: lester, the public charges against hastert, who's the longest serving republican house speaker, say only that he engaged in misconduct years before. but tonight, law enforcement officials describe it as sexual in nature with a male
high school student. no sign of dennis hastert today at his home in plano about an hour's drive west of chicago. in nearby yorkville where hastert was a teacher and coach, strong support and disbelief. >> i would prefer to have never known that anything like this went on. >> reporter: a federal indictment says hastert agreed to pay someone from yorkville $3.5 million to conceal what's cryptically described only as past misconduct. the charges don't say what hastert's past misconduct was or who the person is referred to in court documents as "individual a." but the indictment strongly suggests that the incident happened while he was a teacher at yorkville high school from 1965 to 1981. and today law enforcement officials tell nbc news the payments were to a man and the misconduct was of a sexual nature while the man was a student. the yorkville school district in a written statement said it has no knowledge of his alleged misconduct, nor it says has any individual contacted the district to report
such misconduct. hastert was also a wrestling and football coach in yorkville. today, former coaches he worked with and students he coached were coming to his defense. gary matlock was hastert's first state champion wrestler. >> the gentleman was a super professional as a teacher, as a coach, as a human being. i would refer to him as my second father. >> reporter: anthony hule was hastert's assistant coach. >> there isn't anything that happened in the six years that i worked with denny that would ever make me believe that there was anything improper. >> reporter: prosecutors say hastert had withdrawn $1.7 million from four of his banks to make the payments but cut back on the size of the withdrawals to illegally evade federal bank transaction rules.
former congressional colleagues expressed surprise at the charges. both republicans and democrats. >> it's surprising, i think that would be a universal response. and of course remains to be seen what comes forth now. but it's very sad for him and sad really for the congress. >> reporter: there's been no comment from dennis hastert or his lawyer since the charges were revealed more than 24 hours ago. because the sexual conduct happened so long ago, it cannot be prosecuted. the statute of limitations has long since expired. lester? >> pete williams, thanks. let's turn now to chuck tud,odd, our political director and moderator of "meet the press." chuck, these are just allegations. but sometimes things are whispered, they're rumored. what are you hearing in washington about all this? >> i talked to multiple colleagues, people very close to dennis hastert when he
was in congress, many of his congressional lieutenants, a bunch of his former staffers. i can tell you they all said collectively not a whiff. i had one said, you could have knocked me over with a feather when they found out about it saying this was a guy that was -- the whole reason he was picked to be speaker by his republican colleagues is they were scandal-plagued at the time. and he was considered the most ethical of the bunch. i had another member say to me they can't believe he allowed himself to be speaker with this in his background, sort of shaking his head. i can tell you this, lester, two things. this only adds to this long list of illinois politicians that have gotten into trouble over the years. but it really is a stain on congress. i had one say to me, you know, people sit there and say the place is filled with crooks and creeps. i want to say that it's not but if dennis hastert turns out to be a crook and a creep, maybe the whole place really is. >> chuck todd, thank you so much. we know you'll have a lot more on this story on "meet the press," plus presidential politics with three of the candidates. see you sunday morning. now to the deadly unrelenting downpour in texas where a state of disaster has now been declared in 70 counties. hundreds had to be rescued over the last 24 hours. today the dallas area got some of the worst of it with officials saying a large portion
of highway will close for a week due to flooding and the rain. it just won't stop with more storms firing up across the south tonight. our janet shamlian has more from dallas. >> reporter: texas lashed again, this time dallas was hardest hit. pounding rains flooded roads and brought the morning rush hour to a stop. >> we're at a standstill. can't go left, can't go right. >> reporter: a portion of a highway now closed for up to seven days. more than 7 inches of rain slammed the area. more than 200 people needed emergency rescues after flash flooding submerged cars. even a tow truck driver who came to help others was stuck. >> the water shut my truck down, and the water started rising immediately. >> reporter: north of dallas, a police officer had to be airlifted out after raging floodwaters surrounded his squad car. near houston, a triple threat. waters rising on the brazos, san jacinto and colorado rivers. several homes under water. >> you just don't know
what to do because you see it and it's right there at your backyard. >> reporter: more than 35 trillion gallons of rain have fallen in texas in may, its rainiest month ever. that's enough to cover all of texas in 8 inches of water. at some homes in hard-hit wimberley, mud covers nearly every surface. at judy thompson's house, a big find today, her husband's wedding ring. >> we got a few of our own things. but lots of people have nothing. so we're blessed. >> reporter: floodwaters may be toxic and snakes have washed up in some residential areas. >> there's chemicals, bacterias, viruses, all kinds of things in the water. >> reporter: flooding also forcing several oklahoma highways to close. with storms predicted for this weekend, residents are struggling to deal with more rain than they've seen in years. the death toll from these storms now stands at 27. 13 people are still missing here in texas. and in wharton, south of houston, calls for a mandatory evacuation tonight of some 400 homes as the colorado
river continues to rise. lester? >> janet shamlian in dallas, thank you. now to the investigation tonight into several dangerous scares in the skies. authorities looking for whoever targeted up to half a dozen commercial planes with a laser last night nearly blinding the pilots. this despite urgent warnings from the feds for people to stop doing this before something terrible happens. here's nbc's tom costello. >> reporter: it happened at 9:30 p.m. thursday. a commuter flight crew flying out of new york's jfk airport. >> there's somebody out just to the left side of the airplane here. they are shining green lasers. it's flashed us a couple of times. >> reporter: a few minutes later, it was an american airlines flight headed to l.a. >> looks like it was in a neighborhood in that area. we got struck about three or four times. >> reporter: and then delta flights to buffalo and boston -- >> delta 2292, left side or right side of the aircraft? we actually have a police helicopter on the ground underneath you right now. left side or right side? >> i'm not looking down at it. but it's lighting up
the inside of the windshield here from the left side. >> reporter: in all, at least four to six flights hit in just a few hours. >> he's aiming it right at me right now. he's directly south of me about one mile. >> reporter: nationwide, the faa says lasers are targeting planes roughly 12 times each day. in florida, a police helicopter was lit up leading to a chase and arrest. the green laser can flood dark cockpits with blinding light. it's happened to commercial pilot robert hamilton five times. >> as a pilot, there is no more critical tool that i have than my sight. and to lose that at one of the most critical moments of flight is a very serious safety issue. >> it's reckless behavior, frankly. it endangers a lot of people. >> reporter: authorities say it's usually teenagers and young men pointing the lasers at planes unaware it's illegal with penalties of up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. tom costello, nbc news, washington. tonight, the clock is ticking on the patriot act. unless the senate takes action in a rare weekend session, key and controversial
parts of the law will expire at the stroke of midnight sunday. our white house correspondent kristen welker joins us now. kristin, the pressure is on here. >> reporter: that's right, lester. so much pressure that the senate has been called back from its vacation to get this done on sunday. and tonight the white house is trying to ramp up pressure on congress. president obama said it's critical to fighting terrorists and protecting national security. >> heaven forbid, we've got a problem where we could have prevented a terrorist attack or apprehended someone who was engaged in dangerous activity but we didn't do so simply because of inaction in the senate. >> reporter: but opponents like republican presidential candidate senator rand paul say the legislation violates civil liberties. the main sticking point, the provision that allows the nsa to sweep up details on the phone records of millions of americans famously exposed by edward snowden.
now even if the senate reaches a compromise by midnight sunday, the house is not in session until monday, which means it's very possible the program could shut down for at least a few hours. lester? >> kristen welker at the white house, thank you. a big announcement today from the white house, and even though it was expected, it's nonetheless stunning after more than 30 years. today, the u.s. formally removed cuba from the list of countries that sponsor terrorism. it comes as the two countries are moving to re-establish diplomatic relations after decades of tension. today's announcement was roundly criticized by republicans with house speaker john boehner saying it gives the castro regime, quote, a significant political win in return for nothing. the organization that oversees professional soccer around the world may be facing the biggest scandal in its history including top officers charged this week with bribery, kickbacks and money laundering. but that didn't stop its members today from re-electing their controversial president, sepp blatter, to another four-year term. blatter who has not been charged himself
said today that he wanted to fix the organization which he has run for 17 years. we have a lot more to tell you about on this friday night. still ahead, chasing great white sharks. come into the water with us, see for yourself how much closer they're getting to shore. closer than we really ever knew before. also one of our favorite annual traditions around here. some of the best and funniest advice we've heard for the class of 2015. our salute to the graduates still to come.
it's been 40 years since "jaws" hit the big screen and stoked our fears about what's lurking in the water. great white sharks. and only now all these years later are we learning just how close they're actually getting to shore and just how often. nbc's kerry sanders is in the water. >> forward, forward, forward. >> reporter: off the coast of cape cod, scientists began tagging great white sharks three years ago. naming them, too, including mary lee -- >> the shark is named katherine. >> reporter: and katherine. >> what's going on there, it's counterintuitive. >> reporter: and now it's the real science emerging that has experts like this excited. katherine right now is -- >> she's right there in that little orange dot. >> reporter: since katherine began transmitting, she's traveled more than 13,000 miles. mary lee, an
astonishing 20,000-plus miles. the routes they swim look like a plate of spaghetti. and more often than anyone realized, they're very close to the east coast shoreline. sometimes within 20 yards. yet scientists say they still cannot predict where a great white is going next. they do, however, have a theory as to why sharks, females in particular, are like tourists coming to these warm waters off the coast of florida. the 80-degree temperatures are good for their pregnancies. today off the coast of jupiter, florida, we are looking for a great white. we encountered 20 bull sharks but no great white. they're out there, as spear fisherman grayson shepard, found out off the florida coast. >> we have our monsters, our boogeymen. and the great white is definitely one of them. that particular boogeyman has now been proven to be real. >> reporter: real and closer than any of us ever knew. kerry sanders, nbc news, jupiter, florida. up next tonight, we want to show you some spectacular views
it's been a long time coming, but today the observation deck atop one world trade center finally opened to the public. the view, gone for so many years, is now back as a breathtaking tribute to the american spirit, rising again to the greatest heights. nbc's rehema ellis takes us to the top. >> reporter: after 14 years rebuilding what terrorists took away, the spectacular views are back. one world observatory has the highest view in the western hemisphere. on a clear day, you can see 50 miles away. wendy merks from orlando, florida, came with her 8-year-old triplets. >> the statute of liberty? >> where? >> out there. >> reporter: she wants them to understand what this experience means.
your children weren't even born on 9/11. any thoughts of the world then and the world now? >> i think it's a different place now. and i think it shows power and strength. >> reporter: riding the elevator to the observatory is stunning. you travel 102 floors, that's almost a quarter of a mile in just 47 seconds. and along the way, a virtual time lapse recreating the development of new york city over the past 500 years. the visit for many, breathtaking and emotional. >> this was our pearl harbor. >> the view is amazing. there's literally no other view like that in the u.s. >> reporter: in this building, under this cloudless sky, america seems on top of the world. rehema ellis, nbc news, new york. >> what a great moment. when we come back, words of wisdom for the class of 2015 from some of the best commencement speakers you could hope for.
>> it is my responsibility as a commencement speaker to prepare you for what awaits you in the future. here it is. no one has any idea what's going to happen. >> if you haven't found a job or decided on a career path yet, don't freak out. but do from this day forward open yourself up to possibilities you might never have considered. >> life is a long, bumpy road. that makes for an exciting ride. choose a direction, and if the road turns, turn. >> do not be afraid to be disgruntled. find new ways to do the convention useful, and do not run from big and bowl
challenges. >> find your north star. and that means choices. some are easy. some are hard. and some will make you question everything. >> even if you're nervous or unsure about what path to take in the years ahead, i want you to realize that you've got everything you need right now to succeed. you've got it. >> graduates, you made it. and you're [ bleep ]. think about that. the graduates from the college of nursing, they all have jobs. the graduates from the college of dentistry, fully employed. the proud graduates of the ny school of law, they're covered. and if they're not, who cares? they're lawyers. ♪ >> hold on to your old
friends. kiss your momma. don't beat yourself up if you don't know what you're going to do tomorrow. but work hard and don't be lazy. and put away your damn iphone once in a while. ♪ ♪ this is gonna be the best day of my life ♪ >> don't let anyone define your passion for you because of your gender or the color of your skin. ♪ the best day of my life ♪ >> the proudest people here won't be collecting degrees and maybe the parents of this class are thinking of another time when your milestones in life were, well, a little less ceremonious than today. things like standing up the first time or starting to read books instead of just chewing on them. it doesn't always feel that way to parents. but they must have done a lot of things right. ♪
>> as a sailor, i see graduation as akin to getting off a boat that is taking you on an amazing voyage. and then suddenly one day you arrive in the next port full of mysteries to be explored, and the captain reminds you that this is where you get off. ♪ >> we're the class of 2015! >> 2015! ♪ >> congratulations to the class of 2015 and all the moms, dads and loved ones who got them there.
and a big thanks to our producer and editor for all their hard work putting those moments together for us. we enjoy it every year. that's going to do it for us on this friday night. i'm lester holt. for all of us at nbc news, thank you for watching and good night nbc bay area news begins with breaking news. >> and that breaking news is in newark where a man is barricaded inside a home with a baby. i'm jessica aguirre. >> and i'm raj mathai. there are crisis negotiators to the scene right now, hoping for a safe ending. this has been happening for almost nine hours. police have surrounded a home on sick more street near thornton avenue started about 9:00 a.m. christie smith is there with the very latest. christie, what's happening? >> well good evening, we're waiting for an update now from newark police but i can tell
you, there's still a heavy police presence in this neighborhood. i spoke with one woman off camera who said that she's the barricaded man's aunt and it started this morning when police showed up at the apartment complex with some papers that she said were tied to a restraining order, that the woman involved was not there, the door was open and the 36-year-old man saw police and then shut the door. she said that the couple had been in a dispute, but that was over. the aunt says he's in there with his 16-month-old son, that he might come out after feeding the baby and a shower, but as far as we know he's still inside. now s.w.a.t. was called out chp on scene. the man is wanted for felony and domestic violence incidents. some neighbors in other apartments were evacuated earlier as a precaution. one woman said here adult daughter was inside another unit. >> the one police officer let mee go in there to get her