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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  February 18, 2019 5:30pm-6:00pm PST

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>> what a wonderful deputy. >> that's very nice. >> always check on your neighbors. >> thanks for joining us. lester holt is next. >> bye. breaking news tonight. new twists in the jussie smollett case. police sources now say two brothers who were questioned and released claim the "empire" actor paid them to stage the attack. protests erupting across the nation on this presidents' day blasting president trump for declaring a national emergency to fund a border wall. >> is there an emergency? >> no! >> is there an ergency? >> no! >> the growing backlash over a dozen states banding president trump lashes out over what he calls an illegal anea after bombshell new claims from the fbi's former acting chief. the wife of a victim killed in the illinois workplace shooting rampage sharing his heartbreaking final message. the dangerous winter storm on the move. millions under threat from the plains to the east coast.
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trapped overnight in quicksand. how one hiker was able to get out alive. the american woman who fled the u.s. to become an isis bride. her desperate new plea from syria. and why one of the greatest photos of the greatest generation is in the news tonight. >> this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. >> good evening and welcome to our viewers in the west. there are new developments tonight in a story of celebrity and a now deeply questioned encounter that has stoked some of this country's most sensitive racial and political flash points. at its center tv actor jussie smollett. police sources say two brothers they questioned and as"empire" star to fake an attack on him last month on the streets of chicago. nbc's miguel almaguer has been following the story. >> reporter: tonight after multiple requests, jussie smollett's attorneys says he will not speak with investigators today. this after two
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brothers ola and abel osundairo captured in this surveillance photo told detectives they were hired by the actor to stage what smollett described as a hate crime. that bombshell from police sources comes after the men, who were not suspects, were released without charges. >> innocence prevailed. all right? my guys are walking home. they're not charged. they are not suspects in this case. >> reporter: one of the brothers, who was smollett's personal trainer, was also an extra on his hit show "empire." last month, smollett says he received this letter containing a death threat. after raiding the brothers' home investigators seized a magazine, stamps, bleach, and a ski mask. potential pieces of evidence. police say recent developments have shifted the trajectory of the investigation. last week smollett remained defiant >> who the [ bleep ] would make something like this up or add something to it or --
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or whatever it may be? >> reporter: after this weekend's developments, his team doubled down saying in part, he has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that jussie played a role in his own attack. if he did, experts say he could face serious trouble. >> making a false allegation of a crime to police is a class 4 felony punishable by up to three years in prison. >> reporter: tonight chicago police say smollett is neither a suspect nor a victim, but he is someone they want to talk to. miguel almaguer, nbc news. also breaking tonight, california poised to become the first state to file a lawsuit over president trump's declaration of a national emergency d a rder . other states tonight lining up behind it. the president's emergency sparked demonstrations in several cities across the u.s. today and our hashe story. >> reporter: from los angeles -- >> this fake wall has got to go! >> reporter: -- to
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denver. and just outside the white house. >> is there an emergency? >> no! >> reporter: backlash boiling over to the president's national emergency declaration. >> stand up! fight back! >> reporter: the president planning to go around congress to get more money for his border wall, including declaring an emergency to divert $3.6 billion from military construction projects. >> we had certain funds that are being used at the discretion of generals, at the discretion of the military. some of them haven't been allocated yet. and some of the generals think that this is more important. >> reporter: but now california will become the first state to sue, joining several advocacy groups who have already gone to court. >> no one is surprised that donald trump is acting beyond his authority.this is just another example. this is just a very egregious example where he's testing the constitution and the separation of powers. >> reporter: the state's attorney general says their case is strengthened by this comment friday. >> i didn't need to do this.
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but i'd rather do it much faster. >> it's tough for him to sustain his declaration of emergency when he himself said he didn't have to do this. >> reporter: congressional democrats are planning to take legislative action to block the president and even republicans are divided. >> that is not a tool that the president needs in order to solve this problem. >> the congress is locked down and will not give him what we've given past presidents, so unfortunately, he's got to do it on his own. >> reporter: the white house has signaled the president will likely issue his first veto if congress tries to block him and says he'll eventually win any legal challenge. lester? >> kristen welker at the white house, thank you. the president carried out his own protest today via twitter accusing justice department officials, including the fbi's ex-acting director, of treason after andrew mccabe spoke about conversations involving forcing the president out of office. nbc's hallie jackson has details. >> reporter: tonight andrew mccabe's defending his side of the story, saying when deputy attorney general rod rosenstein
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offered to wear a wire inside the white house to record the president after james comey was fired, it was serious, not sarcastic. >> now he was not joking. he was absolutely serious. and in fact, he brought it up in the next meeting we had. >> reporter: the justice department, in a carefully worded statement, says rosenstein never authorized any recording. but today mccabe is arguing that's not a denial. >> so while the deputy attorney general says he never authorized anyone to wear a wire, that is true. he never authorized it because we never asked him for that authorization. >> you don't think he denied anything you just said? >> i don't think he can. >> reporter: the doj calls mccabe's version of events inaccurate, and president trump today is going even further, describing mccabe's story as deranged and calling it illegal and treasonous that the former deputy fbi director said rosenstein discussed invoking the 25th amendment to remove the president from office. >> if he thought he was serious about
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wearing a wire into the office of the president of the united states, mccabe should have considered locking rosenstein up. or should have gone immediately and said that rosenstein should be removed from office. >> reporter: mccabe was fired from the fbi last year, accused of lying under oath about his interactions with the media. as for all those notes mccabe says he took about conversations he's had, mccabe says they're now in the hands of the special counsel. lester? >> hallie jackson, thank you. in michigan, police are investigating a shooting that left at least four people dead, including children. it happened outside grand rapids today. no arrests have been made but police say they do not believe there is any threat to public safety. in illinois we're learning more about those killed in a separate shooting rampage in aurora. tonight the wife of one of the victims is sharing his final heartbreaking text message to her. nbc's ron mott has been following the story. >> clayton parks. >> reporter: today, five moments of silence. all weekend, somber reflections of respect. five lives violently
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taken by a man who also shot five officers. lost at the henry pratt plant, clayton parks, an incredible father, says wife abbey. russell beyer, a gentle giant, his family says, father of two. vicente juarez, granddad to eight. trevor wehner, a 21-year-old intern killed on his first day. josh pinkard, alive long enough to send one final message. his wife tara honoring the father of three on facebook writing, i received a text at 1:24 from my precious husband that said, i love you, i've been shot at work. >> my husband was wonderful. he was brilliant. he was -- he was the best person i've ever met in my life. >> reporter: police say 45-year-old gary martin, a convicted felon, was ordered to surrender the gun he used shortly after he bought it in 2014 but never did. while sadness reigns, so does gratitude for the brave men and women charging toward danger friday, protecting, serving. ron mott, nbc news, chicago.
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to florida now where a student is facing misdemeanor charges after a confrontation with a teacher that began with his refusal to recite the pledge of allegiance. nbc's gabe gutierrez has the story. >> reporter: kyra talbot's son is a sixth grader at lauten child's middle academy in lakeland, florida. >> my son is the most amazing kid. and the way that he was treated is not fair. >> reporter: earlier this month, according to an affidavit, the 11-year-old refused to stand for the pledge of allegiance, telling a substitute teacher that he thinks the flag and the national anthem are racist against black people. a confrontation escalated. >> i see this case as an example of a larger problem with african-american students being singled out and given more severe punishment. >> reporter: the school district says, to be clear, the student was not arrested for refusing to participate in the pledge. students are not required to participate in the pledge of allegiance. unfortunately, a substitute teacher was
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not aware of this. but the district says that it was a school resource officer who decided to arrest the student. the lakeland police department says, this arrest was based on the student's choice to disrupt the classroom, make threats, and resisting the officer's efforts to leave the classroom. >> this is overwhelming for him, for all of us. >> reporter: tonight a fierce debate over a controversial protest by a young student and whether school officials overreacted. gabe gutierrez, nbc news. tonight we are tracking a dangerous winter storm on the move. millions under threat of floods in the south and bracing for a snowy blast from the plains to the east coast. nbc meteorologist dylan dreyer is monitoring it for us. dylan? >> good evening, lester. heavy rain is going to start to build in from the south early tuesday morning. this is falling on saturated ground so we could see some flash flooding along with the fact that we could end up with about 4 to 5 inches of rain. on the northern side of this storm, this is
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going to be very snowy and very messy, especially as we go into tuesday afternoon and tuesday evening through illinois into indiana. this will also affect the appalachians, washington, d.c., up into new york city, before it changes over to rain. we could end up with about 4 to 6 inches of snow through d.c. higher amounts in the appalachians and also across central and northern new england. but in the middle here you can see we will pick up about 1 to 2 inches of snow before that changeover. lester? >> all right, dylan. thank you. overseas tonight, ukraine, its military backed by the u.s., is preparing for a potential showdown at sea with russia. nbc's bill neely is in ukraine reporting from the front lines. >> reporter: resisting russia. ukraine's navy now drilling for possible confrontation. fearing russia will attack at sea. as it did last year, ramming and seizing ukrainian ships. arresting two dozen sailors who are still in a russian jail. it's a conflict on land, too. ukraine's army took us
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to a frontline war where they're battling russian-backed separatists. >> all russian officers? russian commanders? >> oh, yeah. >> reporter: it's a killing ground. trench warfare that's claimed 13,000 lives. russian snipers, they told me, just 300 yards away. a december cease-fire dead. this is a cease-fire in name only. broken thousands of times along this front line every week. the trump administration supplies weapons to ukraine. the u.s. now preparing new sanctions to a. this the main flashpoint between russia and the west, an almost forgotten war with deadly potential. bill neely, nbc news in eastern ukraine. returning back home to the wave of women shaking up american politics. and friends has teamed up to make history. nbc's kristen dalgren
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has their story. >> reporter: in denver, colorado, a major shakeup in state government may be thanks to some good old-fashioned girlfriends. >> do you want anything to drink? >> reporter: kerry donovan. tammy story. faith winter. britney peterson. jesse danielsen. >> showed up in this awesome black dress -- >> reporter: now known as the fab five. friends first who all became state senators, helping flip the chamber to a first in the nation female-led majority. >> we knew that the success of one of us depended on all of us making it into the senate. and we made it. and we made it. >> we came into these races knowing that we were in the fight of the state. these were some of the closest races in the entire country. >> reporter: with opponents spending millions on negative ads, the group staa text chain spirits up. >> we all kind of kept each other in the loop and immediately reached out when horrible things were happening. it's a deep
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relationship with what we've gone through together. >> reporter: when faith decided to come forward with harassment accusations against a fellow lawmaker, britney, the one she stood up for as a bridesmaid, was naturally the first call. how much did having colleagues that were also friends, how much did that help you? >> you need that support network. you need those friends. you need that friendship. and when we're down here during session and we're working 70, 80 hours a week, you don't want a life without friends. >> reporter: friends now ready to get down to business. >> what do you think you guys will accomplish? >> i think we will have the ability to pass so many more bills that will be helpful to families. paid family leave has been a bill that's been unsuccessful in getting through both chambers. and i think we have the ability now, just in that one bill alone, that will be so helpful. >> reporter: always knowing they'll have each other's backs.
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kristen dahlgren, nbc news, denver. there's more to come tonight. she fled america to marry an isis fighter. now she is pleading to come home. we'll have her story. then trapped in quicksand. one hiker's amazing story of survival. and the iconic photo from the end of world war ii. why so many are talking about it tonight.
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next for us tonight, as isis makes its land stand in syria, two women, one american, one a brit, who fled their countries to become isis brides, now say they're desperate to come home. they're among more than 4,000 women who joined isis. nbc's kelly cobiella has the story. >> reporter: tonight hoda muthana, an isis bride from alabama, says she has a son and wants to come home. the british newspaper "the guardian" obtained an audio-only interview with her in syria. her father confirms it is his daughter's voice admitting she
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made a mistake. in the interview she says, i know i've ruined my future and my son's future, and i deeply, deeply regret it. muthana ran away, joining the islamic state in syria in 2014, urging terrorist attacks against the united states. her family condemns isis and their representative says muthana was brainwashed by online propaganda. >> recruiters were basically grooming her for this. they cut her off from her friends, from her family, from her mosque. >> reporter: brit shamima begum wants to come home. she was 15 when she and two friends fled britain to become jihadi brides in 2014. now with a brand-new baby, shys she was getting into. >> i actually didn't know a lot of the injustice that was going on to muslims and nonmuslims in the islamic state. >> reporter: both could be tried for supporting terrorism but say they're prepared to face justice if they ever get home. kelly cobiella, nbc news, london. coming up, as we continue tonight, two dramatic rescues. one occurred in an icy
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lake, the other in a major national park. how a hiker was saved from quicksand.
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we're back now with a dramatic rescue on the ice after two clydesdale horses fell through a frozen lake in eastern pennsylvania over the weekend. emergency responders cut a rescue path and were able to lead the horses out with ropes. the two had escaped from a nearby farm. another harrowing rescue to tell you about. you don't hear about this very often. a hiker spending all night in the brutal cold in a national park after he got trapped in quicksand. nbc's gadi schwartz has details. >> reporter: in a remote stretch of zion national park, a helicopter hovering over a man who was trapped in quicksand. 34-year-old ryan osman rescued after stepping into this area of quicksand and unable to pull his leg free. miles away from cell service, his girlfriend leaving him with warm clothing and
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hiking out for nearly four hours before being able to call 911. it took rangers two hours to free him, a group having to spend the night in a storm that brought frigid conditions and 4 inches of fresh snow before the helicopter reached him. >> the place that he was stuck, he was in water, running water, up to like his knees. >> reporter: quicksand rescues are extremely uncommon but do happen. in the netherlands a 9-year-old had to be rescued by 10 firefighters. last year a woman was trapped in santa barbara with firefighters becoming stuck themselves trying to free her. the chinese military rescuing a man trapped up to his nose. another rescue in a wintry desert and a remibut .gadi schwartz, nbc news. >> absolutely frightening. we'll take a break. and next why this iconic photo is in the headlines tonight. the mistake f
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to just walk off with it. and they )ve been waiting for crews to clear a mess for days. the south bay families trapped by a mudslide.
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today we learned of the passing of a man in one of the most enduring images in american history taken in times square as america celebrated the end of world war ii. harry smith has tonight's "snapshot." ♪ >> reporter: it was a picture that captured the emotions of a nation. elation. unbridled joy. happiness of a kind a lot of people weren't sure they'd experience again. times square filled in minutes as word spread of victory over japan. people could barely contain their happiness. >> the biggest, noisiest celebration in new york's history! >> reporter: yes, there was a lot of kissing. on leave from duty aboard a destroyer in the u.s. navy. >> i was in new york, and they announced the war over. well, i had a few drinks and i guess i must have been pretty high, and i guess when i saw the nurse i grabbed her. >> reporter: her name,
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greta zimmer friedman, a dental assistant whose family fled austria before the war. others claimed they were in the picture. an historian found, no, it was george and greta. if you were an american on august 14th, 1945, you saw yourself in that photo. years of shared sacrifice and loss. the loneliness. the sorrow. the country and her people had given their all, and that feeling that day was sealed by a kiss. harry smith, nbc news, new york. >> a moment in history and a photo that will live on. that's "nightly news" for this monday. i'm lester holt. for all of us at nbc news, thank you for watching and good night. the move just made in t
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right now at 6:00, suing the trump administration one more time. the move just made within the last hour by california's attorney general. plus -- >> we've been trapped up here. >> trapped by a the families in the south bay waiting for days for crews to clear a mess. >
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. that gun taken at sfo belongs to someone who trained police. it's on the streets tonight after it was taken from a baggage carousel. tonight, the owner said he did everything by the book. nbc's damian trujillo is there with questions about who is to blame. the airline or the man transporting that gun, damian? >> reporter: jessica, the man has a gun permit and he does not want to be identified but he does train police officers. the man says he checked in his gun with tsa and unitedirline at the air las vegas. as is protocol. the gun arrived on a different flight when his flight was delayed and now the gun is missing. >> this is a nightmare for anybody who owns a firearm. >> the man, we'll call him

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