tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC March 1, 2019 5:30pm-6:01pm PST
north of the equator. the santd a barbara scientists guessed it was was they contacted scientists in australia and they confirmed the find. >> mola. >> yes, they came out to check out california. >> "nightly news" is next. tonight the parents of the american college student who died after being held in north korea break their silence, lashing out one day after president trump gave kim jong-un a pass. tonight the president said he holds north korea responsible but still does not blame kim for the death. the deadly terrifying moments as a plane crashes into a highrise apartment building in a busy florida neighborhood leaving tourists scrambling just blocks from the beach. a dramatic crash sends a car flipping into a hotel parking lot, police hunting for the driver of the minivan that left the scene. our exclusive look inside the last isis stronghold in syria as the battle rages tonight. richard engel is there. >> all of the houses
around here have been booby trapped, set up with mines. only a few places that they have cleared are safe to go into. a shocking lack of oversight revealed in our nbc news investigation that may have contributed to numerous carbon monoxide deaths in public housing. >> we could have woke up and the whole community could have been gone, just wiped out. caught on camera, police investigating a shocking violent fight in public between the ceo of the san francisco giants and his wife. in this new, more complicated tax season, our first look at the latest scams that may be targeting you. she was a beloved comedy star on "who's the boss" and "soap." tonight we remember katherine helmond. >> this is nbc "nightly news" with lester holt. reporting tonight from los angeles. good evening, everyone. fresh off president trump's failed nuclear summit with north korean leader kim
jong-un, the parents of otto warmbier are speaking out, delivering a blistering statement, the warmbiers contradicting president trump's comments that he takes the murderous dictator at his word that he did not know about the american college student's brutal treatment until it was too late. tonight the president claims he is being misinterpreted but still not blaming kim for warmbier's death. nbc's kelly cobiella has the latest. >> reporter: tonight otto warmbier's parents blasting president trump. fred and cindy warmbier saying in a statement, we have been respectful during this summit process, now we must speak out. kim and his evil regime are responsible for the death of our son, otto. kim and his evil regime are responsible for unimaginable cruelty and inhumanity. no excuses or lavish praise can change that. the president responding late today tweeting, of course i hold north korea responsible for otto's mistreatment and death. but making no mention of the country's
dictator, kim jong-un. just yesterday mr. trump sparked a backlash after telling reporters in vietnam he takes kim jong-un's word that the dictator isn't responsible for warmbier's death. >> some really bad things happened to otto. some really, really bad things. >> why are you willing -- >> but he tells me that he didn't know about it. >> reporter: today the president took credit for warmbier's release from north korea tweeting, remember, i got otto out. warmbier was just 22 when he was imprisoned in north korea after 17 months in a labor camp, he was freed and brought out on a stretcher. he died days later. critics who have dealt with north korea in the past say it's simply inconceivable kim would be unaware of warmbier's treatment. but the dictator appearing to convince the president otherwise, as a grieving family is forced to relive their anguish. kelly cobiella, nbc news, new york. and tonight the white house is defending president
trump's reported decision to give his son-in-law and senior adviser, jared kushner, a top secret security clearance, overruling the objections of the top white house lawyer and his chief of staff. here's nbc's kristen welker. >> reporter: tonight congressional democrats threatening to subpoena white house documents over reports president trump personally ordered officials to give a top secret security clearance to his son-in-law, jared kushner, overruling the advice of security officials, according to the "new york times." the move prompted both chief of staff john kelly and then white house counsel don mcgahn to write internal memos outlining their concerns. the white house on defense. >> he has the absolute authority to do that. and he trusts jared as one of his members of his senior team. >> reporter: still, the revelations contradicting what the president said in january. >> i don't think i have the authority to do that. i'm not sure i do. but i wouldn't do it. >> reporter: and recent comments by ivanka trump. >> the president had no involvement
pertaining to my clearance or my husband's clearance. >> reporter: white house security officials initially rejected kushner's application after a background check raised questions about kushner's family business, his foreign contacts, and meetings he had during the campaign. >> if there's somebody out there that's got leverage over him, that could be a very, very seriously compromising thing for a really important venture. >> reporter: and tonight a spokesperson for jared kushner's attorney says they were not aware of any request for or action by the president to be involved in the security clearance process. lester? >> kristen welker at the white house, thank you. it was a terrifying scene today as a small plane crashed into an apartment building, then plunged to the ground in a busy ft. lauderdale neighborhood. nbc's kerry sanders is there. >> reporter: the single-engine plane -- >> that's the wing of the plane! >> reporter: -- had been pulling an advertising ban when the pilot apparently lost control. >> they advise a plane crashed into the building. >> reporter: the piper
pa-25 flying into roger miller's 17th floor condo. >> boom. >> reporter: the plane slammed into his kitchen wall. >> tore a big hole in the room, threw my dishwasher across the room. >> reporter: al amaro watched it fall. >> i go over to where the cockpit is and i saw the fellow lying on the side. >> reporter: the plane dropped to the unoccupied pool deck below. the pilot, a new hire, just a month on the job, was the only fatality. first responders found the plane's banner blocks away. >> it's just a sad, sad, sad, sad event. >> reporter: tonight the ntsb and faa has a team of investigators at the crash site. it could have been so much worse. kerry sanders, nbc news, ft. lauderdale. and late today the ntsb recovered a black box from a cargo jet that crashed near houston last weekend. three pilots died when the boeing 767, used by amazon, crashed into the bay.
the voice recorder will go to the ntsb labs in washington for analysis. a massive coast-to-coast storm is threatening millions this weekend with heavy snow and strong storms. al roker is tracking it for us. what's the timing of all of this? >> reporter: lester, we've got a quick hit of snow through saturday in the northeast from pennsylvania to new england. we could see anywhere from 4 to 8 inches of snow. then a big storm moves into the california coast bringing flooding rains, then rockets across the country. by sunday it's in the mid-atlantic states and making its way up the northeast coast. the european model brings heavy snow to the north and west of new york city, upwards of a foot. the american model keeps the heavier snow closer to the i-95 corridor and back toward the west. that's going to be a really important differentiation when we watch this system. plus we've got severe weather for the south through sunday and temperatures will drop 20 to 30 degrees over the next week. so it's a big weathermaker, lester. >> all right, al roker, thanks.
in florida they're hoping for good weather because the countdown is on for the high-stakes liftoff at the kennedy space center where elon musk's spacex prepares to test launch the rocket it plans to use to carry astronauts. nbc's tom costello is there. >> reporter: sitting on the same pad used to launch apollo and space shuttle crews, the spacex rocket and dragon crew vehicle that nasa is banking on to send americans back to the space station. but first this unmanned test flight to prove to nasa the dragon is safe to one day carry astronauts. >> i can't begin to explain to you how exciting it is for a test pilot to be on a first flight of a vehicle. and, you know, we'll be ready when spacex and nasa's ready for us to fly it. >> reporter: going along for the ride, a mannequin astronaut named ripley, fully wired to monitor the g-forces and stress that a human may one day experience. if all goes well with this unmanned test, spacex hopes to be launching astronauts from the space center
as soon as this summer. american astronauts haven't lifted off in an american rocket since the shuttle was retired in 2011. now spacex and boeing have nasa contracts to do the job. boeing's test flight is set for next month. but even though spacex has already launched 70 successful unmanned missions -- >> tobacco and marijuana -- >> reporter: after ceo elon musk smoked marijuana during a live interview last year, nasa ordered a complete safety review. tonight with dragon sitting atop a falcon rocket, spacex is preparing to prove it's up to the job. tom costello, nbc news, at the kennedy space center. there is outrage tonight over the aggressive tactics used by a drug company to sell more opioids, even making a rap music video with an executive in a fentanyl costume. he testified today at a criminal trial in boston. we get more from nbc's anne thompson. >> reporter: designed to drive sales of the spray version of the powerful opioid fentanyl --
♪ it's therapeutic >> reporter: this parody video is part of a federal racketeering trial. ♪ shout-out to what you created ♪ >> reporter: the founder of the drugmaker insys and four executives accused of paying bribes and kickbacks to doctors, and urging them to up the doses, a process called hitration. ♪ hitration is not a problem ♪ ♪ i got new patients and i got a lot of them ♪ >> reporter: today the executive inside the dancing bottle, former vice president of sales alec burlakoff, testifying against his one-time colleagues. telling the court he followed directions to recruit and bribe doctors. burlakoff pleaded guilty to racketeering. lawyers for the executives deny all wrongdoing. an nbc news investigation last year revealed how bonuses were tied to the strength of prescriptions, with higher payouts for higher doses. former u.s. senator claire mccaskill investigated the opioid maker for two years. >> they're promoting it like it's a soft drink.
this is not a soft drink. this is death. >> reporter: insys told nbc news the company in no way defends the past misconduct of former employees and is fully cooperating with the government. ♪ anne thompson, nbc news, new york. we want to turn to an nbc news exclusive inside syria where the final battle against isis in that country is under way tonight. our chief foreign correspondent richard engel takes us to the front lines. >> reporter: u.s.-backed kurdish-led forces poured into the last isis stronghold for a final assault tonight to defeat the islamic state. they rained mortars on isis' only remaining territory, the syrian village of baguz is now in ruins. so is the isis dream of a caliphate. one of the top kurdish commanders took us to the front lines here. you can hear the coalition aircraft above. staying in a single file to avoid stepping on isis mines. [ speaking foreign
language ] he's saying that all of the houses around here have been booby trapped, set up with mines. only a few places that they have cleared are safe to go into. this is one of them. inside, we headed for the roof. this was an old isis field clinic. now the kurdish-led forces have taken it over and it's their most advanced position. the commander showed me how isis is completely surrounded. they say the final push will be over soon. the assault had been delayed while the kurdish-led forces allowed the wives and children of isis fighters to leave. 15,000 did. these tonight were the last to leave, escaping the islamic state before it's wiped out completely. kurdish commanders here tell us the remaining isis fighters are dug in in tunnels but that they should be able to root them out within two days. richard engel, nbc news, eastern syria. now to an nbc news investigation.
in south carolina, two people died and more than 400 were evacuated from a public housing complex in january after a carbon monoxide leak. we've learned that federal inspectors are not required to check for carbon monoxide detectors, and critics say that is costing lives. here's nbc's gabe gutierrez with more. >> reporter: when single mother kentara johnson and her three children went to bed, they never thought men in hazmat suits would wake them up. did you have any idea what was going on? >> no. i'm just wondering like, well, it got to be something serious. they're at everybody door. >> reporter: the fire department said deadly carbon monoxide gas had been flowing through her children's bedrooms and this entire housing complex in columbia, south carolina. >> we could have woke up and the whole community could have been gone. like just wiped out. >> reporter: it all started january 16th with two 911 calls from this building. one caller bleeding from his ears. >> 911, what's your emergency? >> my eyes are fluttering and i'm
bleeding. >> reporter: the next day calvin witherspoon jr. and derek roper were found dead. soon more than 400 residents were evacuated. the fire chief said there were no carbon monoxide detectors in the whole complex, but he noted rodent droppings, missing smoke alarms, leaking stoves, damaged ceilings. yet this complex actually passed the housing and urban development inspection a year and a half ago with a grade of 86 out of 100. there's no federal requirement to check for the $20 carbon monoxide detectors but councilmember devine says the city requires them. >> i think it's a gross oversight on behalf of hud. >> reporter: looking through published reports nbc news counted at least 11 carbon monoxide deaths in public housing since 2003. for this story, hud declined an on-camera interview, but in a written statement said it's deeply saddened at the tragic loss of life in south carolina and is currently engaged in a top to bottom review of the decades-old inspection process.
>> what's more so frustrating more than being displaced and on fixed income, that is they treat us like they don't care. >> reporter: tonight they're staying with her mother, and this housing complex is set to be torn down. gabe gutierrez, nbc news, columbia, south carolina. tonight family and friends and fans are mourning the loss of katherine helmond, best known for playing opposite judith light and tony danza in the sitcom "who's the boss." she was also in hit shows, "soap," "everybody loves raymond," and "coach." katherine helmond was 89. just ahead for us tonight, shocking video of the ceo of the san francisco giants in an altercation with his wife. also the top tax scams the irs is warning of right now. and a miracle player makes a triumphant return to the mound "inspiring america."
incident unfolding this afternoon. miguel almaguer has more. >> oh my god! help! >> reporter: the video captures the altercation between the san francisco giants ceo and his wife at a public park. the short clips posted by "tmz sports" show larry baer appearing to pry a cell phone out of his wife pam's hand as she falls to the ground and he steps over her. with sfpd questioning witnesses, baer told "the san francisco chronicle," my wife and i had an unfortunate public argument related to a family member, and she had an injured foot and she fell off her chair in the course of the argument. >> never give up. >> reporter: baer, who's also a principal owner of the giants, said the matter was resolved. but tonight major league baseball says it's looking into the incident. just last season, mlb suspended star addison russell for 40 games after domestic violence allegations, which he denied. >> oh my god! help! >> reporter: tonight
witnesses tell nbc news the couple, who have four children, were in a heated fight before the altercation. baer calls the quote squabble embarrassing, while police investigate. miguel almaguer, nbc news. we will take a break here. we're back in a moment with the biggest tax scams of the year. and new terrifying video of a hit and run and the search for the suspect tonight.
we're back with dramatic video of a hit-and-run crash in sarasota, florida. surveillance footage shows a van heading into traffic colliding with a car sending it rolling. the driver of the car is in critical condition. police are searching for the suspect. a warning tonight about scammers taking advantage of the new tax law confusion. the irs giving nbc news the exclusive first look at some of the top scams out there. here's kristin dalgren. >> reporter: this year the irs says the schemes are more sophisticated than ever.
>> these scams share one thing in common, and that is, they're able to dupe smart, unsuspecting people into losing their money. >> reporter: look out for scammers filing a fraudulent tax return, even depositing it in your own bank account, then posing as the irs to reclaim it. or using malware to track keystrokes on your computer, gaining access to sensitive files. kyle duer got a voice mail. >> they said they were the irs, they listed off the balance that i had with them and that they were issuing a warrant for my arrest. >> reporter: the caller knew his name, where he lived, even his driver's license info. so he made a $400 debit card payment. >> it was pretty intimidating as far as the information that they had. >> reporter: but he got suspicious when the scammers then started asking for gift cards. >> any government entity, like the irs, will not accept payment in the form of gift cards, period. >> reporter: other things the irs won't do? they generally don't call or e-mail. you'll usually get a letter. they won't ask for a
credit card number over the phone or e-mail. they won't threaten to immediately have you arrested. they won't demand money without giving you a chance to question or appeal. bottom line, if it sounds suspicious, it probably is. kristin dalgren, nbc news, new york. up next here tonight, what some are calling a miracle on the mound.
>> reporter: the scary moment last april. chicago. >> farquhar is in the dugout -- >> pitcher danny farquhar suddenly passing out from brain hemorrhage. just six weeks later he spoke to us with wife lexi by his side. >> i never doubted that he wasn't going to be okay. i knew it was going to be different, i knew it was going to be a struggle. >> reporter: now, eight months further along, the 32-year-old hurling again for the yankees, pitching a second simulated game. solid except for one that got away. did that guy go yard on you? >> yeah. >> reporter: no matter, farquahr says he feels like the old danny. the custom protective hat is new. >> there's always setbacks. you have your tough days. you have your days where you don't want to go to the gym. i don't have a day where i don't want to go to the park, which is great. >> reporter: he's hoping to make the opening day roster. manager aaron boone likes what he sees. >> for being this warm, gentle, kind of joyous guy that he is when he comes to the ballpark, there's a real focus and a determination when he gets between the line.
>> reporter: his family's been cheering every milestone reached. >> you look back, like wow, this was a lot of steps that i had to get to this point. >> reporter: bouncing back with his trademark fastball after life threw him a curve. ron mott, nbc news, tampa. >> tomorrow will be his first time back on the mound since his collapse in a major league game. that is "nightly news" for this friday. i'm lester holt. for all of us, thanks for watching and good night.