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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  September 8, 2015 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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nightly news." >> see you back here at 6:00. tonight, freed and defiant. a kentucky clerk emerges from jail to a cheering crowd of supporters. will she defy the judge's order and go back to denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples? clinton's apology. for the first time she says she's sorry for using private e-mail, with word that donors are getting nervous. as her campaign makes a change of strategy. stepping down. late word that the ceo of united airlines is resigning amid questions about whether the airline added routes in exchange for preferential treatment. and another break from tradition for pope francis, making the most significant change in centuries for catholics wanting to wipe the slate clean on broken marriages. "nightly news" begins right now. >> announcer: from nbc
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news world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news with lester holt." good evening. she didn't blink. refusing to budge on issuing marriage licenses for same-sex couples. but her subordinates issued them anyway and that was enough for a federal judge in kentucky today to free county clerk kim davis, who had been locked up for contempt. and while other workers in the rowan county clerk's office are now issuing licenses to gay and lesbian couples, kim davis emerges from behind bars defiant as ever. embraced as a hero by some on the religious right and making it clear the fight isn't over. nbc's gabe gutierrez is in grayson, kentucky. >> please help me welcome to the stage kim davis! >> reporter: kim davis walked out of the carter county detention center after almost five full days behind bars as a rock star. >> i just want to give god the glory. he is -- his people have rallied, and you are a strong people!
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>> reporter: a judge suddenly setting her free because her deputy clerks issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples complying with federal law. >> we are not issuing marriage licenses. >> reporter: davis had stood firm amid a national firestorm after she refused to issue the licenses, citing her religious beliefs as an apostolic christian. >> under whose authority? >> under god's authority. >> reporter: last week a judge found her in contempt. >> all has been well. >> reporter: today just before her release republican presidential candidates ted cruz and mike huckabee came to show their support. she's the elected rowan county clerk, so she can't be fired, only removed by impeachment. her salary around $80,000 a year. critics think davis should resign. >> if you do not want to obey the law and you think that is not right, then maybe you should not be in office. >> reporter: davis's attorneys now say her deputies did not have the authority to issue the licenses. >> what does she plan to do tomorrow? >> the licenses that were issued were issued without the
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authority of the clerk of rowan county. and they are not valid. >> reporter: but today governor steve beshear disagreed and said he would not call a special session of the legislature to debate the issue. >> those marriage licenses are legal. >> reporter: this afternoon as kim davis headed home, she was asked, was it worth it? davis's lawyers say she plans to be back at work later this week. what's not clear is whether she'll interfere with her deputies issuing those licenses. if she does, she could be back at square one, facing even more jail time and stiff fines. lester? >> all right, gabe, thank you. there's late word tonight that the chairman and ceo of united airlines is stepping down amid a corruption investigation. the feds are looking into whether the ceo tried to improperly influence the form former head of the port authority by adding flights to a city where he had a vacation home in order to curry favor with him. nbc's tom costello has the story. >> reporter: out of a job this
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evening, jeff smisek. >> at united we take great pride in our global network. we're constantly exploring new routes for our customers. >> reporter: the man who until today ran the nation's third largest airline. smisek and two other top executives at united forced to step down amid a federal investigation into whether the airline tried to influence the head of the port authority of new york and new jersey, david samson, by adding twice weekly flights from newark to columbia, south carolina where samson owned a vacation home. cnbc's phil lebeau covers the airline business. >> the question is whether united added flights between newark, new jersey and columbia, south carolina as some sort of quid pro quo as part of the negotiation for extending its lease at newark airport. >> reporter: in a statement united airlines says the departures announced today are in connection with the company's previously disclosed internal investigation related to the federal investigation associated with the port authority of new york and new jersey. federal law enforcement sources
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tell nbc news tonight today's developments are an extension of the bridgegate scandal involving the port authority. david samson was forced out of the port authority last year amid that scandal. united's flights from newark to columbia ended three days later. smisek being replaced on a temporary basis for now by united board member oscar munoz, who's a former railroad executive. lester? >> all right, tom, thanks. we're following brought late breaking news here. let's go to miguel almaguer. >> good evening. a close call in las vegas. a british airways 777 aborted takeoff after an engine fire. 172 people had to deplane using emergency slides. you can see smoke and flames pouring from the plane. two passengers suffered minor injuries. and in orange county, california, tonight a wildfire. take a look at these live pictures. it's burning in dense brush creeping closer to homes at this very hour. the fast-moving blaze is threatening a major subdivision as additional resources
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arrive. mandatory evacuations are under way. stay tuned to your local station for late updates. now back to lester in new york. >> nbc's miguel almaguer. now to the race for president and news tonight of a shake-up in the campaign trail. hillary clinton issuing a new apology about that e-mail controversy while nbc news has learned her campaign is deploying a new strategy. and on the republican side an outsider is surging in the polls, though not the outsider you may be thinking of. we have two reports beginning with nbc's andrea mitchell. andrea? >> reporter: good evening, lester. hillary clinton is apologizing for using a private server. she's also rebooting her campaign after complaints from donors about the e-mail controversy and polls now showing bernie sanders is pulling ahead of clinton in new hampshire. and possible candidate joe biden doing better than clinton against donald trump. >> thank you for being here. thank you for wearing ellen blue. >> ellen blue it is. >> reporter: hillary clinton tonight taping the "ellen" show to appear thursday. it's all part of a
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campaign reset prompted by falling polls and the e-mail controversy. trying to show clinton's fun side with ellen. along with a lighter touch on the campaign trail. >> and off we go, joyfully. >> reporter: and next week with jimmy fallon on "the tonight show." after months of sounding defensive -- >> the server will remain private. >> reporter: or mocking reporters' questions. >> did you wipe the server? >> what, like with a cloth or something? well, no. >> reporter: even corralling reporters to keep them at bay. now clinton has decided to do interviews about the e-mails. first with us. >> i take responsibility. i should have had two accounts. one for personal and one for work-related. >> reporter: refusing to apologize with the associated press. and now telling abc news david muir she is sorry she used a private server. >> that was a mistake. i'm sorry about that. i take responsibility. >> reporter: after a campaign launch aimed at fixing the problems from her last campaign, it's clinton 3.0.
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from the team of her long-time aides and president obama. tv ad makers mandy grunwald and jim margolis. campaign chairman john podesta. campaign manager robbie much. pollster joe bennyson. communications director jennifer palmieri and close adviser houma abedin. plus husband bill. fund-raising next week but so far not campaigning. >> but you know, she is who she is. and she can't transform her personality overnight. she shouldn't try. >> reporter: looming ahead, whether joe biden jumps into the race. the fbi investigation into her e-mail system and her testimony to congress next month. andrea mitchell, nbc news, washington. >> reporter: this is hallie jackson with the ben carson campaign in san francisco. he's not the loudest voice in the republican race, but carson's making plenty of noise. standing alone as the only republican candidate who could win over front-runner donald trump in a head-to-head match-up. second place nationally and in iowa. a close third in new
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hampshire. >> what makes you unique? how do you separate yourself from the pack? >> i'm not going to be a traditional politician. i'm not going to do things like traditional politicians do. >> reporter: raised in poverty in inner city detroit by a single mom, a third-grade dropout, carson had bad grades and a bad temper. so troubled at age 14 he tried to stab a classmate for changing a radio station. >> i tried to kill bob. i must be crazy. sane people don't try to kill their friends. >> reporter: he calls that moment a turning point, when he turned to god, finding his faith and his footing academically. >> extremely well. >> reporter: eventually rising to a position as chief pediatric neurosurgeon at johns hopkins. a life story so compelling hollywood made a movie about it. already a local celebrity in baltimore, carson rocketed to republican stardom at the national prayer breakfast in 2013. >> here's my solution. >> reporter: challenging obamacare just feet from the president and prescribing a tax plan based on the bible. >> when i pick up my bible, you know what i see? i see the fairest individual in
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the universe, god, and he's given us a system. it's called tithe. >> reporter: his credibility with evangelical voters and his anti-establishment voice a more soft spoken one than trump's, propelling a quiet surge. >> ben carson has been sort of in the slipstream, avoiding the spotlight, avoiding the scrutiny and moving up in the polls. >> reporter: carson does face questions about his lack of political experience and some of the controversial comments he's made, questions that also dog donald trump. carson was asked today if he would consider trump as a running mate if he gets the nomination. his response, lester -- "all things are possible." >> hallie jackson, thank you. overseas tonight, the desperate journey of refugees continues. thousands of men, women, and children, most of them fleeing the war in syria. they make their way through turkey to greece, then north to germany and beyond. but the road is long and dangerous and in hungary unfriendly. our chief foreign correspondent richard engel was there today as
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things boiled over. >> reporter: they've been waiting for days, desperate to continue their journey north. hungarian authorities refusing to let them go. so today hundreds decide to make a run for it. completely frustrated that there's no place to put them, that they're not being allowed to leave the country, some refugees and migrants have just decide to escape and try their luck in the bushes. >> reporter: mothers with children. babies carried like sacks. they ran from bombs in syria. now they're running again. they're refugees, and now with police chasing them they're fugitives, too. abdullah carrying his 1-year-old daughter, worried what would happen if they got caught. "they can shoot at us. i'm not going back," he says. but they don't know where they're going either. they stumble through ditches. at a clearing a mother stops to nurse her baby.
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they move on and split up. in one group we find 10-year-old lava. she says back home in aleppo her entire neighborhood was destroyed. no school to go to. cars pass but don't stop. cyclists don't even look. villagers say they won't help. another group follows the train tracks. assuming they'd eventually lead out of hungary. but the police were waiting for them, in force. exhausted and overpowered, they were encircled and forced onto buses, which take them to a detainment camp. as hungary and all of europe wonder how many more are coming. richard engel, nbc news, hungary. pope francis today announced another big shift for the church. the first significant change to the church's marriage law since the mid-1700s, making it easier for couples to have their marriages annulled. this coming on the heels of new church guidance about forgiving abortion.
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the latest surprise ahead of the pope's highly anticipated visit to the u.s. nbc's anne thompson has details. >> reporter: francis, building on his reputation as the pope of mercy, today streamlined the annulment process for divorced catholics. 25% of american catholics are divorced, and almost half of the annulment cases in the church are from the u.s. father dave dwyer, a radio host on the catholic channel, says divorce and annulments make the phone lines light up. >> why is this such a hot topic? >> so many people feel they are away from the church, cannot participate in the sacraments, cannot receive communion until they get an annulment. >> reporter: but if they get an annulment and remarry they can receive the sark sacrament. under the new process the mandatory second review of an annulment decision is eliminated and bishops can now quickly decide case when's both spouses seek the annulment or no one contests it. lisa duffy got a divorce and started the annulment process in 1994, eventually writing a book about it.
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>> the charge for the annulment process was $600. and it was steep for me. the whole process was right around two years long. >> reporter: now the process should take a year, and pope francis wants it to be free. >> this is going to help more catholics come into full communion with the church. and that is a wonderful, beautiful thing. >> reporter: while the process is simpler, the criteria for granting an annulment has not changed. trying to make sure when couples separate, they are not separated from their faith. anne thompson, nbc news, new york. we're back with more right after this.
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for the first time tonight we are hearing from the now former officer in a video that shocked the nation. michael slager is facing murder charges for gunning down walter scott as a bystander captured it on his phone. now slager's attorneys say there is more than meets the eye in that video, and in documents filed just hours ago they're giving us a first look at his defense. nbc's craig melvin has the details. >> show me your license. >> reporter: when walter scott was stopped for a broken taillight last april he took off running. former north charleston police officer michael slager gave chase and about a minute later the two men are captured on cell phone video by a bystander. in a recent video conference with his attorney andy savage slager defended his actions. >> just three seconds of the video came out and everybody
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thought i was racist and i took out my gun and shot him in the back for no reason. >> reporter: in documents filed today argues the state's own evidence shows officer slager did not commit murder. in never-before-seen fbi analysis of that video obtained by nbc news, blurry frames are rotated and enhanced. attorney savage says it reveals a scuffle. >> they were both on the ground. it wasn't just firing a shot at the distance. it was a close-in physical confrontation. >> reporter: the attorney also says the state found scott's dna on slager's taser. savage says this supports slager's claim that scott used it against the officer. >> he took two five-second bursts, scott toward slager. before he gave up the weapon. >> reporter: and the attorney says state investigators found gunshot residue on walter scott's hands. what's more, the state toxicology report shows scott had cocaine and alcohol in his system when slager shot him. >> why did he take his pistol out and shoot? >> because he was
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threatened. >> reporter: but scott's family says whatever the evidence before and after the shooting might show, slager murdered a man running away from him and should stay in jail. >> the context of this situation is already caught on tape. everything else we've seen is distraction information trying to make people think that whatever transpired before is actually relevant and important. but it's not. >> reporter: today the prosecutor says she will not join the media sideshow and her focus remains on presenting the evidence in a proper way and time. craig melvin, nbc news, north charleston, south carolina. we're back in a moment with a thermometer-popping heat wave at home and the deadly sand storm of epic proportions overseas.
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post-labor day we have reached the unofficial end of summer, but mother nature didn't get the memo. sweltering temperatures across much of the country, including several new daily record highs. a toasty 97 degrees in new york city and 96 in boston. cooler air is on the
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way for the midwest. and the plains starting tomorrow. and the east later in the week. a colossal sand storm is choking much of the middle east, so big it can be seen from space. it's blamed for at least eight deaths as people from israel to western iraq shield their faces in the streets and try to find cover. the dusty haze blotting out buildings and reducing visibility on the roads to almost nothing. president obama will probably never take the white house kitchen for granted after dining on raw salmon. in this newly released clip from nbc's "running wild with bear grylls." it was left over by a different bear, the kind with sharp teeth and claws. the upcoming episode was taped during the president's visit to alaska last week. when we come back, sister versus sister. high drama as venus and serena face off under the lights with a shot at history on the line. e. ===take vo jess=== the fiery
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mishap forcing passengers to evacuate on the runway. ===take 2shot raj === plus, too hot for school. the break some local students will get because of the heat. ===next close=== the news is next. ==jess/take vo== right finally tonight, a sibling rivalry for the ages. serena williams on the verge of tennis immortality. three wins from one of the most difficult feats in all of
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sports. and standing in her way is her best friend. venus williams, who after years of struggles and illness finds herself back in top form, heading into a sister versus sister showdown under the lights. with history on the line. nbc's stephanie gosk is at the u.s. open. serena and venus both like to point out, a williams sister is going to the u.s. open semifinal. but there is a flip side, of course. a williams sister isn't going to the semifinals as well. and in this tournament there is more on the line than ever before. serena is poised to win a grand slam. four major victories in a calendar year. the last female player to do that was steffi graf in 1988. and venus is playing great tennis. she hasn't won a major tournament in seven years. >> i can't even imagine how they do it. they are the very best of friends. i mean, from the time they first showed up on the tour they were so respectful of each other and so loyal. >> i'm so proud of serena.
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and i think she's proud of me. and we inspire each other. >> reporter: before becoming tennis greats, they were just sisters. growing up in compton, learning the sport. >> i like tennis a lot, and i think i want to play all the time. >> reporter: playing against each other long before it became so important. >> i feel like i shouldn't be holding the trophy, like i can't believe i'm holding it and venus isn't. >> reporter: and now there is a recognition that after years of facing off professionally this great sibling rivalry may be coming to a close. >> i'm 33 and she's -- she just turned 35. you know, i don't know how many more moments like this we'll have. >> reporter: tennis fans likely feel the same way. >> serena. we know that. >> i want venus to win. she's got to have a comeback. >> it really is hard. >> why? >> because i like them both. >> reporter: a victory is bittersweet, but maybe a loss hurts a little less too. there's still a sister to cheer for. stephanie gosk, nbc news, new york. that is going to
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do it for us on this tuesday night. i'm lester holt. for all of us at nbc news, thank you for watching and good night. ==jess/take vo== right now at six: one moment they were preparing for take off, the next, they were running for their lives. these are photos of a british airways jet on fire in las vegas. ====short open=== ===jess/2-shot=== thanks for joining us. i'm jessica aguirre. ===raj/2-shot=== and i'm raj mathai. ==raj//boxes== let's show you some a live picture of that british airways jet -- grounded on the runway at mccarran international. on your left, you can see the charred fuselage of this boeing triple-7. right now, one runway remains closed. ==take vo== eye witnesses from other flights -- and from the terminals -- immediately
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started recording the fire. 172 people on board. many of them scrambling off of the plane on emergency slides. remarkably -- the airport says only 2 people were hurt. initial reports say that the fire was started by engine problems on takeoff. ==live== back to our live picture. so far, no officials word on why the plane caught on fire. again -- was is a british airways flight -- scheduled from las vegas to london gatwick airport. ==jess/take boxes== if yo have been outside today this may not come as a surprise ... there is a heat advisory is in effect across the bay area. our live cameras are proof ...it's hot, dry and sunny with not a cloud in the sky. ==take live== it's nearly impossible to find a cool spot on the map. you're looking live over san francisco, which hit the mid- nineties today. ==raj/anim== we have multiple reports. we begin with meteoroligist rob mayeda. ==raj/boxes== now let's go to nbc bay area's

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