tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC September 26, 2019 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT
lester holt is next with nightly news. whistle-blower complaint revealed the document at the center of the impeachment firestorm sparking a fierce battle on capitol hill the whistle-blower accusing president trump of abusing his power. pressuring ukraine's leader to interfere in the 2020 election by investigating joe biden and bombshell allegations of a white house cover-up the acting intel heave in the hot seat how he defended holding up the complaint from congress. president trump in private attacking the whistle-blower our political team breaking it all down and richard engel inside ukraine also tonight, the explosion in vaping-related illness 800 cases in 46 states the first person to speak out after losing a family member to the epidemic.
>> it took my mom away from me. >> her warning to other families. new revelations about the final moments before the deadly 737 max crashes, the ntsb saying boeing wasn't prepared for the chaos in the cockpit. the tragic failure in a prominent children's hospital. the malfunction that destroyed potentially life-saving treatments for dozens of young patients. and at "joker" firestorm what many movie theaters are banning after warning the screenings could be targeted for mass shootings >> announcer: this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. >> good evening everyone the curtain was lifted today on an anonymous whistle-blower's explosive complaint against president trump. detailing not only his ask for political help from ukraine's president, but also a white house effort to lock down records of that phone call today the acting director of national intelligence faced a barrage of questions on capitol hill over why he held up the complaint, and tonight an embattled president trump facing
an impeachment inquiry is angrily denying and deflecting the allegations. we're covering all angles here we start with peter alexander. >> reporter: within minutes of its release, the whistle-blower complaint sparking clashes on capitol hill. >> our president sacrificed our national security and our constitution for his personal political benefit. >> this latest gambit by the democrats to overturn the people's mandate is unhinged and dangerous. >> reporter: in the nine-page complaint the whistle-blower makes a series of bombshell allegations, writing i have received information from multiple u.s. government officials that the president of the united states is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 u.s. election, including pressuring a foreign country to investigate one of the president's main domestic political rivals, pointing to that july phone call
between president trump and ukraine's president. the whistle-blower, who acknowledged they were not a direct witness to most of the events described, adding white house who told me this information were deeply disturbed by what transpired in the phone call. >> i think he followed the law every step of the way. >> reporter: today the acting director of national intelligence, joseph maguire, who served three decades as a navy s.e.a.l., was pressed by democrats why he didn't turn over the complaint sooner given the inspector general found the allegations represented an urgent concern that appears credible, while noting the whistle-blower showed signs of an arguable political bias. >> the inspector general found that serious allegation of misconduct by the president credible did you also find that credible?
>> i did not criticize the inspector general's decision on whether to or not it was credible. >> reporter: democrats zeroing in on this allegation from the whistle-blower i learned from multiple u.s. officials that senior white house officials had intervened to lock down all records of the phone call, that they were directed by white house lawyers to place it in a separate system for classified information, and that this was not the first time under this administration that a presidential transcript was placed there solely for the purpose of protecting politically sensitive rather than national security sensitive information. >> did that reaction to the transcript seem to you like a recognition within the white house that the call was completely improper? >> congresswoman, i have no firsthand knowledge of that. all i have is the knowledge that the whistle-blower alleges in his allegation. >> reporter: and asked whether he spoke to the president about the complaint -- >> my conversations with the president, because i'm the director of national intelligence, are privileged. >> reporter: tonight some republicans expressing concerns about the president's call.
>> concerning that conversation, i want to say to the president this is not okay that conversation is not okay. >> reporter: still president trump's allies are dismissing the complaint. >> i think of whistle-blower complaints, i think of somebody who saw something that was wrong and came forward to say so this is hearsay information. >> reporter: house speaker nancy pelosi taking aim at the white house. >> the complaint states that the white house tried to lock down all records of the call. this is a cover-up this is a cover-up. >> reporter: lesser, maguire said he would be fine with the whistle-blower testifying and tonight top democrats say they are still working to make that happen, but no new discussions have taken place. >> peter, thank you. the president is firing back after today's hearing and the release of the whistle-blower's complaint. chief white house correspondent hallie jackson on the president's response and the mood inside the white house. >> reporter: for that high-profile hearing, a high-profi it's a disgrace to our country it's anotherit a his crew making up stories and sitting there li tke piocall them. the democrats are going to lose
the election they know it that's why they're doing it. and it should never be allowed what's happened to this president. >> reporter: blasting democrats after privately doing today to the anonymous whistle-blower at a closed-door meeting in new york. >> basically, that person never saw the report who is the person that gave the whistle-blower -- who is the person that gave the whistle-blower the information that's close to a spy. you know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart with spies and treason >> reporter: treason is punishable by death with the president makes those comments with children in the audience. inside the west wing there appears to be rising anxiety, unease and concern was one
source close to the white house described the mood shellshocked staffers with growing fears impeachment pressure could trigger erratic and maybe unmanageable behavior from the president some say they can survive as they undermine the whistle-blower's credibility >> hallie jackson, thank you. and there is a growing firestorm tonight over actions in the president's personal lawyer, rudy giuliani. the former new york city mayor a key figure in that whistle-blower's complaint kristen welker has more on that. >> reporter: tonight rudy giuliani is again at the center of the storm democrats demanding answers. >> rudy giuliani should be held to account for his role in this. >> reporter: giuliani is mentioned in the whistle-blower complaint more than 30 times it alleges the president's personal lawyer was in frequent contact with ukrainian officials
as he tried investigate joe biden and his son's activities according to the whistle-blower multiple u.s. officials were deeply concerned and two state department officials had spoken to giuliani to contain the damage. in an interview with nbc news, giuliani fired back, calling those claims nonsense, sending nbc news this text message he says is from the state department's special envoy to ukraine kurt volker who reached out to him as discussed, connecting you with andre urmak. the state department has acknowledged volker put giuliani in top with the aide, but a spokesperson says giuliani does not speak on behalf of the u.s. government just last week giuliani contradicted himself about his conversations with the ukrainians did you ask them to investigate joe biden? >> no. >> so you did? >> of course i did. >> reporter: some lawmakers are
urging that giuliani testify before congress. when we asked if he would agree to that, giuliani told us, quote, testify in front of those frauds i don't go in front of kangaroo courts. >> all of this put a spotlight on ukraine a former top prosecutor is speaking out about joe biden's son hunter nbc's richard engel inside ukraine tonight. >> ukraine tonight is at the center of a firestorm it wants no part of, but can't avoid after president trump brought up the bidens in that phone call with ukrainian president voldymyr zelenskiy today ukraine's former top prosecutor telling "the washington post" he uncovered no evidence of corruption by hunter biden when he worked as a consult ant for a ukrainian energy company while his father was vice president from the perspective of legislation, he did not violate anything, the prosecutor said. but president trump asked zelenskiy to reopen the investigation. ukraine's president insists he
was not pressured by president trump. >> nobody pushed me. >> in other words, no pressure. >> reporter: ukraine is fighting a war with russia and is dependent on u.s. military aid former officials tell us it's too fragile to be caught up in a fight over president trump's survival >> don't drag us into the domestic disputes that endanger ukraine's security >> reporter: the whistle-blower complaint alleges that it was made clear to the ukrainian government that access to president trump depended on his willingness to, quote, play ball now officials just want to stay out of all of this. >> richard engel in ukraine tonight. thank you. let's bring in chuck todd in washington and andrea mitchell here in new york chuck, the attorney general, william barr, as you know, was named in the whistle-blower complaint and then his justice department tried to stop it from being sent to congress and declined to formally investigate so that leaves the question does the attorney general have some
explaining to do >> look, i think he will he was name dropped in there there is also that special investigation that the attorney general has launched himself in trying to essentially investigate the mueller investigators of sorts and rudy giuliani seems to be sort of hovering around that as well the point is what kind of interactions have bill barr and rudy giuliani had, especially during this period regarding ukraine? the point is this. while i think the barr part of this episode is going to be a sidebar, no pun tended, as far as congress is concerned, it's still going to be of interest to find out what exactly was the president trying to use with his attorney general. >> all right let me turn to andrea. the president uses the term treason to describe the whistle-blower complaint what's the impact of that? >> it could have a chilling affect on future whistle-blowers who will be afraid to report wrongdoing and it ends a week where the president's diplomatic goals at the u.n. were overshadowed by his attacks on joe biden and also his anger at nancy pelosi over impeachment.
he seemed to have a different, a higher level of nervousness than in the past than what we've seen before, and it raises questions about what's to come. >> andrea and chuck, thanks to both of you. another major headline tonight, the explosion in vaping-related illnesses the cdc reporting at least 12 deaths in 805 cases in 46 states and the virgin islands hundreds more than last week tonight for the first time we are hearing from someone who lost a loved one to the growing epidemic here's nbc anne thompson. >> reporter: maggie davis says her mother mary should be added to vaping's growing death toll. >> she sent me a picture of her in the er on wednesday, two days before she died. she said i have pneumonia and i texted her, mom, i hope it's not the vaping disease. >> reporter: even though there is no official cause of death, maggie says her mom vaped nicotine for a decade and for the past year thc. >> it was this idea that e-cigarettes were healthier for
you is what she bought. >> reporter: the pepperdine university senior venting grief and frustration in her college newspaper. >> it took my mom away from me, so i just want to get the message out there that breath is precious if i could get one person to quit vaping, then i think my article would really have made an impact. >> reporter: in georgia where mary died the state's mobilized a team of disease detectives to examine suspected cases. >> i have been hearing about cases that may have occurred a few months ago, may give us a clue that we hadn't thought about yet with some of the more recent cases. >> reporter: a daughter now on >> reporter: that everyone know how precious breath is anne thompson, nbc news, new york a third wealthy parent has been sentenced in the college cheating scandal
a los angeles business executive received four months in prison after pleading guilty to paying $400 in bribes to get his son into georgetown. legal experts say actress lori loughlin who has pleaded not guilty in the cases and faces an additional charge of money-laundering could get even more time if convicted. tonight nearly seven months into the faa grounded the boeing 737 max, the ntsb is recommending urgent changes before the max is allowed to fly again. many of the changes involve how pilots react to an emergency here's nbc's tom costello. >> reporter: after two fatal crashes and 346 fatalities, the ntsb says boeing underestimated the panic and chaos inside the 737 max cockpit. when multiple alerts and alarms warned of immediate danger crash investigators call it alert overload pilots unable to prioritize which alerts to handle first boeing used veteran test pilots to determine how they'd respond
to a single failure rather than the many failures the max pilots faced. >> we want the pilots to make sure that they are focusing on those things that will keep the airplane safe and not those things that will distract you and kill you. >> reporter: now the ntsb wants the faa and boeing to use average airline pilots from around the world in simulator testing. in a statement boeing tells nbc news, we are committed to working with the faa in reviewing the ntsb recommendations. meanwhile, the faa remains under scrutiny for how it originally certified the max. a whistle-blower claims some faa inspectors were not qualified. the faa says its inspectors were qualified. boeing is expected to submit their software fixes for the plane next month faa approval could take weeks, which means the max may not fly until later this year. just ahead, a tragic equipment failure at a children's hospital affecting dozens of patients treated for cancer. also, what movie theaters are banning tonight with the release of the new movie "joker"
next for us tonight, the outrage in los angelesung patients treated for cancer. here is nbc's blayne alexander. anderson's son was diagnosed with neuroblastoma six years >> reporter: elizabeth ago. >> i try not to think about it. >> reporter: sean has been cancer free for three years. his mother says sean's stem cells saved his life and was
comforted knowing the hospital had more in storage. >> he has relapsed once. >> reporter: earlier this month sean received a letter from children's hospital los angeles. >> he just gets maybe halfway through it and starts hysterically crying. >> reporter: he is one of 56 patients whose stem cells were destroyed. the result of a freezer malfunction. >> if it were to come back, a small chance i could die or my treatment options have been lowered to what i can get, and it was just really sad. >> reporter: harvesting stem cells is a painful and invasive process. >> they will harvest the stem cells before somebody undergoes cancer treatment for that phase of cancer treatment and insurance policy for later on. >> reporter: the hospital added no child's health is in jeopardy as a result of this incident still for sean and his mom it's another gut punch. >> i don't want to go through any of it again. no other child should. they have gone through enough. >> reporter: the hospital replaced the freezer and upgraded their alert system hoping to prevent something like this from happening again. >> blayne alexander, thank you. in a moment, the movie "joker" prompting new concerns >> introduce me as joker
misleading health claims. now juul is pushing prop c, to overturn san francisco's e-cigarette protections. say no to juul, no to big tobacco, no to prop c. back now with growing controversy over the "joker" movie after a warning of potential threats of mass shootings at screenings of the film, many theaters have issued restrictions on what moviegoers can bring in steve patterson. >> reporter: tonight theater chains saying no to consumers at showings of the new warner bros. movie "joker" following a warning from the u.s. army. >> can you introduce me as "joker"? >> reporter: amc banning face masks, makeup, or anything that conceals the face while landmark theaters banned costumes outright. the military warning of a potential threat surrounding the movie's release. officials first sending an internal email, then memo about the possibility of a mass shooting at an unspecified theater.
the army saying they are not aware of a specific credible threat to a particular location or venue the charged atmosphere stemming concerns the film's message could trigger survivors of the aurora theater shooting. the director todd phillips asking people to watch the film first. >> it makes statements about lack of love, lack of compassion in the world, and i think people can handle that message. >> reporter: "joker" hits theaters next week. and when it comes to star power it doesn't get bigger than this the super bowl halftime show announcing jennifer lopez and shakira will perform in miami during super bowl liv february 2nd. we are back with more on this busy news day after this finally tonight, we're ones again witnessing history there has been a lot to absorb over the last 48 hours a formal impeachment inquiry, the release of notes on that conversation between president
finally tonight, we're ones again witnessing history there has been a lot to absorb over the last 48 hours a formal impeachment inquiry, the release of notes on that conversation between president trump and ukraine's president detailing that ask, and finally today the release of the whistle-blower complaint itself. if history is any guide, this will only get uglier and louder and, yes, further lead to this country's political divide which makes our collective challenge even more important to listen, to ask, to examine the facts, and demand nothing short of the truth. that's what we endeavor to do here every night and will continue to do as the story unfolds. that's "nbc nightly news." i'm lester holt. for all of us at nbc news, good night.
right now at 6:00, fighting back against a thief. a contra costa county man who refused to back down with had someone took the chain off his neck. plus -- >> a beloved deli on the peninsula is closing after more than half a century in buzz. the last straw that forced the owner out of business. >> a man attacked while visiting fe's grave. the man police are searching for. the news starts right now. i'm jessica aguirre. >> and i'm roger asigh. a 91-year-old man was beaten and robbed while visiting and sitting there at his late wife's grave site. tonight there is a sketch of the
suspect. robert handa joins us with the details. robert, what do we know? >> reporter: well, it really is a disturbing crime. it took place here at mission city memorial park. the man comes here to visit and sits by his late wife's grave almost every day and the attacker took advantage of the man's grief. >> this is just an act of pure cowardice. >> the vision attack on a 91-year-old at mission city memorial park last saturday struck a nerve with officers and with cemetery visitors who heard about the assault today. >> they have problems. they have a problem. they're coming at people in the wrongre