tv NBC Nightly News NBC May 28, 2014 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT
>> thanks for joining us. brian williams is next. >> see you at 6:00. on our broadcast tonight, our nbc news exclusive, edward snowden living in exile in russia and in our interview, he says he would like to come home. tonight, what the government has to say about that. the scandal at the va, a damning new report on just how long american veterans were forced to wait for care, more than 100 days to see a doctor. use of force, president obama lays out his vision for the future of american foreign policy and where the next big threats are. and maya angelou, tonight, remembering an american icon, those words and the power to change peoples lives and the wider world. "nightly news" begins now. ' li wider world. "nightly news" begins now. >> from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news" with brian williams.
good evening. already today members of the obama administration have launched a frontal attack on edward snowden based so far on just portions of the interview we've released prior to tonight's hour-long broadcast in primetime. snowden is accused of espionage for stealing secrets from the government, many of which revealed the extent of government surveillance on all of us. many regard him as a treasonous and traitor who should pay dearly for what he's done and many believe he's done grave damage to the united states. some of our viewers have let us know they are outraged that we interviewed him at all. tonight, however, our viewers get to hear his first interview on american television that will include this new portion. snowden's contention that the amount of domestic surveillance he witnessed while at the nsa gave him no choice but to blow the whistle because of what he saw and what a federal judge has since labeled as constitutional violations.
>> the reality is the situation determined that this needed to be told to the public. you know, the constitution of the united states has been violated on a massive scale. now, had that not happened, had the government not gone too far and over reached, we wouldn't be in the situation where whistle-blowers were necessary. i think it's important to remember that people don't set their lives on fire. they don't say good-bye to their families, actually pack up without saying good-bye to their families. they don't walk away from their extraordinary, extraordinary comfortable lives. i mean, i made a lot of money for a guy with no high school diploma, and burn down everything they love for no reason. >> are you looking for clemency or amnesty, would you like to go home? >> i don't think there is any question i'd like to go home.
i mean, i from day one said i'm doing this to serve my country. now, whether amnesty or clemency ever becomes a possibility is not for me to say. that's a debate for the public and the government to decide, but if i could go anywhere in the world, that place would be home. >> how anxious are you right now to make a deal to go back? >> i think my priority is not about myself. it's about making sure that these programs are reformed, and that the family that i left behind, the country that i left behind, can be helped by my actions, and i will do everything i can to continue to work in the most responsible way possible, and to prioritize causing no harm while serving the public good. >> doesn't your asylum run out soon? >> the temporary asylum runs out, i believe, august 1st.
>> will you apply for an extension? >> if the asylum looks like it's going to run out, then, of course, i would apply for an extension. >> do you see yourself as a patriot? >> i do. >> now his view right there that he is a patriot, which he explains at greater length in a longer interview later this evening, that point proved too much today for the u.s. secretary of state john kerry who like so many other americans finds snowden simply a traitor to his nation. he's one of the people saying if snowden comes back to this country, it should be to face justice. >> what he's done is hurt his country. what he's done is exposed for terrorists a lot of mechanisms which now affect operational security of those terrorists and make it harder for the united states to break up plots, harder to protect our nation. if this man is a patriot, he should stay in the united states
and make his case. patriots don't go to russia. they don't seek asylum in cuba, they don't seek asylum in venezuela. they fight their cause here. they are many a patriot. you can go back to the pentagon papers with dan ellsberg and others who stood and went to the court system of america and made their case. edward snowden is a coward. he is a traitor, and he has betrayed his country, and if he wants to come home tomorrow to face the music, he can do so. >> an energized secretary of state john kerry who made those comments on the air today to our chief white house correspondent political director chuck todd. chuck is with us from the white house tonight. chuck, without exception, this is the position you hear on edward snowden where you are. >> reporter: that's right. here at the white house, he was channelling rage, frankly, that you sometimes hear from about edward snowden. i've had a similar experience with staffers, particularly in
the national security wing, who when you talk about this, they want to have a sober conversation, and say, look, we're not going to get into a back and forth about edward snowden and you poke for just a second and hear that tone that secretary kerry was doing. that wasn't political theater. sometimes you hear anger that's political theater. that's real rage. the anger at edward snowden has to do with not the theft itself but the selective leak that they hate, that they believe is undermined america's standing in the world and the diplomatic standing between, say, america and germany. and think about this, brian, john kerry's the guy that ends up in europe with foreign ministers, who now make jokes, i'm told they siems make jokes when they are meeting with him, hey, is the nsa listening, and it makes secretary kerry mad. it makes the entire national security staff mad, and that's why they have so much rage at edward snowden. >> that's right because edward snowden made doing business that much more difficult overseas. chuck todd, thanks.
now that edward snowden has raised the prospect of coming home to the u.s. to face the charges against him, what would that entail? our justice correspondent pete williams is here with us in our new york studios. how would that work? >> well, administration officials say that clemency or legal forgiveness is a nonstarter. here's what was said about that recently. >> the clemency, a simple, you know, no harm, no foul, i think that would be going too far, but in the resolution of this matter with an acceptance of responsibility, we would always engage in those kinds of conversations. >> law enforcement official says tonight there have been some preliminary discussions with snowden's lawyers, but nothing of substance, and government lawyers will undoubtedly be watching tonight to see what he says. snowden is accused of stealing government property and giving classified information, two counts on this to people not entitled to have it. maximum sentence on each ten years.
in any potential deal, he would undoubtedly have to give a full accounting of what he did and the government would insist on strong enough penalties to discourage anybody else from doing what he did, brian. >> and we'll hear more on this sub topic specifically tonight. pete, thanks. edward snowden, of course, has much more to say in our wide ranging, provocative interview. our primetime special airs tonight, 10:00/9:00 central on this nbc station. a bombshell report from a government watchdog about the scandal on going at the va. it details just how long american veterans were forced to wait for care at one va facility in phoenix and an alleged coverup to hide that backlog. it's now triggering bipartisan demands for retired four-star army general eric shinseki, the va secretary, to resign. we get late details tonight from nbc's kelly o'donnell. >> reporter: today, the first
official judgment is in, and it's harsh about serious delays and misconduct at the phoenix va medical center. the inspector general's initial review finds 1700 veterans waiting for a doctor appointment were improperly kept off the official electronic books and those veterans continue to be at risk of being forgotten or lost in a convoluted scheduling process, while the official goal was to see new, non-emergency patients in about two weeks. the i.g. finds 84% of veterans waited longer, more than 200 left waiting a staggering 115 days. >> these are criminal problems. we need the fbi and the department of justice to be involved in this investigation. >> reporter: today in arizona senators john mccain and jeff flake called on the veterans affairs secretary to resign. several democratic senators did, as well. >> it's time for secretary shinseki to step down. >> reporter: the inspector general also connects these delays to senior staff bonuses,
finding that phoenix officials significantly understated wait times in their 2013 performance reviews. the i.g. says that was one of the factors considered for awards and salary increases. the house veterans affairs chairman jeff miller told me. >> the only way you can change how a system functions is to be transparent and honest. there are people inside the system that don't want to do the right thing. >> reporter: the inspector general says it is fanning out to 46 hospitals around the country unannounceed to reduce possible destruction of evidence. secretary shinseki called these findings reprehensible and ordered immediate action to treat those waiting veterans, and from the white house, nbc's kristen welker reports the president now considers secretary shinseki to be on probation. brian? >> kelly o'donnell on capitol hill with all of it tonight for us, thanks. president obama addressed the issue of american involvement in future wars today and the changing threat to this country. he spoke to the graduating
cadets at the u.s. military academy west point. as one writer put it, he called for a muscular, if not militaristic foreign policy for the near future. our report from nbc's peter alexander. >> reporter: they are the first class to graduate since the 9/11 attacks that may not be sent to iraq and afghanistan. at west point today, president obama argued for restraints before the u.s. commits to any future military action. >> just because we have the best hammer, does not mean that every problem is a nail. >> reporter: but today's speech also marked a public acknowledgement that syria now offers a haven for extremists so dangerous it's drawing comparisons to the threat posed by afghanistan before 9/11. >> as the syrian civil war spills across borders, the capacity of battle hardened extremists groups to come after us only increases. >> reporter: senior intelligence officials tell nbc news this suicide bombing last sunday was the first known attack carried out by an american citizen with
ties to al qaeda since the syrian civil war. >> we let syria go so far down this path of violence and instability that there are absolutely no good choices in terrorism coming home to root in the u.s. from syria is a very real possibility. >> reporter: today president obama promised to increase support and considering asking congress to approve direct military training by u.s. forces. still, president obama said the number one threat to america is no longer confined within any country's borders. >> instead it comes from decentralized al qaeda affiliates and extremists. >> reporter: president obama honored gavin white, who lost one of his legs in afghanistan. >> today his sister morgan will graduate. and true to his promise, gavin will be there to stand and exchange solutes with her. [ applause ] >> reporter: really a moving moment this morning. also today, president obama announced that he is asking for $5 billion to fund a
counterterrorism partnership to help countries in the middle east and africa, brian, to carry out operations against extremists. >> peter alexander back at the white house for us tonight. peter, thanks. we'll take a break here and when we come back, one of the most powerful voices in modern american history is gone. we will remember the extraordinary life of maya angelou and the towering legacy she leaves behind.
upon hearing the news maya angelou has died, someone said earlier today, she never seemed to have an inconsequential thought. she spoke with a powerful voice and moral authority. she spoke with eloquence and empathy and great beauty and per six. though writing was one talent she followed that rule write what you know, she spoke of the america she grew up in as a witness of the jim crow south. john louis said today quote, america is a better place and we are a better people because dr.
maya angelou lived. we get our look back tonight from nbc's rehema ellis. >> i wrote this piece for every human being on earth. >> reporter: in everyone, maya angelo saw the possibility for goodness and grace. >> how you treat other people. >> reporter: her message always delivered in that distinctive poetic voice. >> the hells we have lived through and lived through still have sharpened our senses and toughened our will. >> reporter: a best selling author, she defied stereotypes, an activist and medal recipient, she embarked on a life long crusade alongside malcolm x and martin luther king and wrote about it all. >> i want to see honesty, fair play, i want to see kindness and justice. >> reporter: born in st. louis, missouri in 1928 her first big
break came as a singer in the 1950s. ♪ she won three grammys for her recordings of her writings. she was also nominated for a pulitzer, a tony, even an emmy for her role in the landmark tv mini series "roots." >> grow as tall as a tree and i will still be your grandmother. >> reporter: but her place on the world stage didn't come easy. her life struggles fuelled her work. >> you can stumble and fall and fail and yet somehow, miraculously rise and go on. >> reporter: her devastating childhood was depicted in her popular book "i know why the caged bird sings" following sexual abuse at a young age, she refused to speak for six long years, but when she finally did, she was unstoppable. angelo was the first to deliver an inaugural poem since rosa parks in honor of president clinton. >> say simply, very simply, with hope good morning. >> reporter: her last message on twitter just a few days ago,
listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of god. in a statement today, oprah winfrey called maya angelou a mother, sister, friend, adding, she will always be the rainbow in my clouds. and young people in her hometown honored the poet using her own words. >> the free bird leaps on the back of the wind and floats down stream until the current ends. >> the cage bird sings with a fearful chill of things unknown. but longed for still. >> and his tune is heard on the distant hill, for the caged bird sings of freedom. >> reporter: maya angelou defied descriptions and probabilities as an artist as she succeeded in virtually everything she did. she inspired an awful lot of people along the way, and she also helped a bunch of young girls over the years believe in their own beauty, brian, including me. >> this was a tough one today, but at least we had her in our
more powerful words last night from the father of one of the six killed in that shooting rampage in california last friday night. richard martinez, who lost his 20-year-old son, told a large crowd at uc santa barbara the nation learned nothing from the sandy hook school shooting, and he wants to prevent more deaths from gun violence with a movement based on three words, not one more. the oldest ever member of the house of representatives has been defeated in a gop primary in texas. ralph hall has represented his dallas area district in the house for 34 years. he's 91 years old, and last night he went down to a tea party challenger roughly half his age. his defeat and the impending retirement of john dingell of
michigan means that come january, there will be no world war ii veterans left serving in congress. and an incredible piece of video out of south dakota. we know storm chasers take on a certain amount of risk doing what they do, but in this instance, one of them was shooting video of a thunderstorm while sitting in his car when he was hit in the arm with a bolt of lightning, passed all the way to the ground below where it left a small crater. he made it through. he's okay. his arm is sore, he concedes he's very lucky. he is in no hurry to test the theory lightning never strikes in the same place twice. when we come back here tonight, we are hot on the money trail as the cash give away goes on.
finally tonight, it's the latest rush in california. an anonymous millionaire is using social media to tell people where to go to find cash that he has stashed away. he says he wants to give back after his own financial success, and he says this is just the beginning. nbc's miguel almaguer has our report tonight from san jose. >> reporter: they are the tweets
that brought a city to its knees. >> any in there? >> reporter: a social media scavenger hunt fuelled by twitter. >> i'm looking. >> reporter: that has treasure seekers in bushes, climbing trees and racing down san jose city streets. they are all after envelopes like this one stuffed with cold cash. >> $120, thank you. >> reporter: the man behind the tweets using the handle @hidden cash wants to remain unanimous, though his social experiment is anything but. in six days he has well over 160,000 followers. he could be anyone and maybe watching the hunt as it happens speaking to reporters via e-mail, the donor says he's between 35 and 45 years ago years old and made millionaires in the real estate market and is now paying it forward. he's left cash taped to trees,
parking meters, under benches, with clues on twitter. >> are you guys looking for the cash? yeah! >> reporter: alex spotted the cash and made a dash on live tv. ktvu channel 2 in the bay area was lucky, too. >> he found it! >> reporter: with the scavenger hunt beginning in san francisco friday. >> if you don't get dirty, you can't find money. >> reporter: the cash was fanned across some of san francisco's most popular landmarks, though few would have even noticed. >> thank you, hidden cash guy. >> miles found his envelope taped under the popular ramp bar. >> it's all awesome. i think it's great. >> reporter: with the money give away said to be moving to la and new york city. >> it made my week. >> reporter: the cash won't change your life, but it will make your day. >> found it! >> reporter: miguel almaguer, nbc news, san jose. that's our broadcast on a wednesday night. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. one last reminder, we're back on the air tonight live at
10:00/9:00 central for our exclusive conversation with snowden, and, of course, we hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening. good night. nbc bay area news starts now. rig now at 6:00, the race to lead the bay area's biggest city and the big money going into that fight. good evening, and thanks for joining us. i'm jessica aguirre. >> and i'm rauj mathai. it's not politics but money. that's what political analysts are saying as we head to the final push to next tuesday's primary election. there are five candidates. damian trujillo joins us at city
hall which is a familiar spot for four of these five candidates. >> reporter: it's only $1 million for the primary election and another million for the main election in november. these candidates here at the city hall have six days to convince voters they should be the next mayor. the signs are everywhere in san jose as a crowded field of candidates enter the last leg of the primary campaign. pat peretti sees the signs every day across the street from his shop. but he's been dismayed by a political system he feels needs a tune-up. >> it's hard to have faith in our politicians the way things are going. >> reporter: it's voters like him that the candidates will have to win over. four of the candidates are council members who are aligned for the most part with chuck reed. county