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tv   Early Today  NBC  March 28, 2019 4:00am-4:31am PDT

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this spring, take on even the grimiest messes with the power of lysol. kills 99.9% of germs with 0% bleach. the fbi did what it absolutely had to do. the american people should be glad it's there and proud of it, and the rest is just lying and noise. >> james comey sounds off. the former fbi director sitting down with nbc news for his first interview since the release of the mueller report. why he still has plenty of questions. a breakthrough in the boeing 737 max scandal. the new fix that could get the troubled planes back in the air. one lucky american is three quarters of the way to billionaire status. where the sole winning powerball ticket was sold. and building the wall, not brick by brick but bree by bree. meaning the artist who is using
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cheese to make america "grate" again. "early today" starts right now. good morning. i'm marlie hall. >> and i'm phillip mena. the mueller report may be finished, but the search for answers is just getting started. while his political rivals fight to see the full findings of the spe special counsel, president trump is touting full exoneration. and during a new interview on fox news, the president turned his attention to the beginnings of the mueller probe, saying it was led by treasonous people. >> just in case hillary clinton lost, they wanted an insurance policy against me. and what we were playing out until just recently was the insurance policy. they wanted to do a subversion. it was treason. it was really treason. if the republican party had done this to the democrats, if we had done this to president obama, you'd have 100 people in jail right now and it would be treason. it would be considered treason, and they'd be in jail for the rest of their lives.
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but it worked out the other way, and, you know, it's just -- it's really a horrible situation. >> one of those caught in the president's crosshairs, james comey. >> the former fbi director sat down with our lester holt for his first tv interview since the end of the mueller investigation. here are his thoughts on the special counsel's decision to punt on potential obstruction charges. >> there's the obstruction of justice issue and that tweet from comey just this weekend, standing in the woods. so many questions. what are your questions? >> they're all about the obstruction piece. obviously i want and i think the american people should want transparency on the so-called conspiracy piece. but the obstruction piece confuses me. i think both director mueller and attorney general barr are entitled to the benefit of the doubt. >> let's unpack it here. mr. mueller decides not to make a judgment on that particular issue. does that alone surprise you?
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>> it does. the purpose of a special counsel is to make sure that the politicals, in this case the attorney general, doesn't make the ultimate call on whether the subject of the investigation, the president of the united states, should be held criminally liable for activities that were under investigation. and so the idea that a special counsel wouldn't reach the question and hand it to the political leadership doesn't make sense. i don't -- i'm not pre-judging it. i'm just saying it doesn't make sense on its face, so i have a lot of question. >> do you think it was mr. mueller responsibility to come to a determination on that potential charge? >> well, it was certainly his charge in general to investigate fully and come, if he could, to conclusions. i don't know why he didn't here, and i don't know what combination of law and fact led him to that, which is why i'm going to wait and hear the explanation, which i hope will come. >> and on the issue of whether you need an underlying crime to prove obstruction -- is that a legal principle that you have always understood? >> no. that's part of my confusion.
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i don't think the a.g. said that was the justification. he cited it as a factor, and that's just not been my experience as a prosecutor for decades. every day in this country, people are prosecuted for obstructing justice to avoid embarrassment, to avoid harm to their business, to avoid threats to their families where there isn't an underlying crime that they committed. and you wouldn't want it any other way because if you had to always prove the underlying crime, you would create incentives to obstruct because people get away with both if they successfully stop an investigation. >> you want this whole thing out? >> oh, it has to because the bedrock of the department of justice, which bill barr loves and bob mueller loves and i love is that people have faith and confidence that it's not part of a political tribe. and the only way to establish that and to protect that bedrock of their confidence is to show them your work. and so we have to see it here. >> do you ask yourself why mueller did not subpoena president trump to try to get to the heart of this intent question on obstruction?
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>> yes, i do. and i don't know the answer to that. i have the same question about how the attorney general could resolve the question, which he says in his letter turns upon the president's intent, without the president having been asked what his intent is. >> then there was your firing. may 3rd, 2017, you go before the senate judiciary committee. you talk about a lot of things, the clinton e-mail server, but you declined to answer questions specifically about evidence of collusion at that point. a couple days later, you're fired. a few days after that, i sit down with president trump. >> in fact, when i decided to just do it, i said to myself, i said, you know, this russia thing with trump and russia is a made-up story. >> what did you think when you heard that? >> i thought that's potentially obstruction of justice, and i hope somebody is going to look at that. again, the president appears to be saying -- i don't know what's in his head, which is why i can't reach the conclusion. what he appears to be saying is, i got rid of this guy to shut
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down an investigation that threatened me. >> up until that point, you had been fired, was it possible that he had fired you simply for the reasons stated in the initial letter, that it was your handling of the clinton affair and nothing more and nothing less? >> anything's possible with this president. it's possible he was lying to me when he told me earlier in the year how well i had handled the clinton thing and that i had taken a beating but behaved honorably. maybe that was a lie, and he really had harbored concern about my violating department of justice norms or something. it doesn't seem likely to me. then obviously his interview with you kind of put that to rest. >> he said the russia thing, and you thought it was because of russia? >> because he said so. yeah, so i did. yes. >> that in your mind would have been obstruction of justice? >> no, potentially obstruction of justice. it's complicated when it's the president of the united states given his authority over the executive branch. but you would certainly be irresponsible not to explore whether that is obstruction of justice. >> comey also told lester he is
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open to testifying publicly before congress about the start of the collusion investigation. meanwhile, president trump is taking a victory lap through the midwest today. he will hold a campaign rally in grand rapids, michigan, tonight, in his first major event since the release of the mueller report. nbc's tracie potts joining us from washington, d.c. with the very latest. we're likely to hear quite a bit about the mueller report today. >> reporter: yeah, the president's not mincing words about this investigation, the investigation being over, himself being cleared of collusion, but also these remaining questions about obstruction. the president says he was cleared. we don't know yet exactly what the report says, but we know that it was inconclusive. president trump continues to criticize the reason behind the investigation. >> this was an attempted takeover of our government, of our country, an illegal takeover. and if it were the other way around, where i was doing it to
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president obama or a democrat, it would be virtually the maximum sentence that you can find no matter where you look, in whatever legal book. >> reporter: now, democrats and the president and lots of other people too want to see that full report. democrats are demanding it by tuesday. it doesn't look like that's going to happen. the latest from attorney general barr is that it could take weeks to extract any possible classified information from that report. but we are hearing from three lawmakers that there are key committees looking into whether or not to subpoena robert mueller to testify here on capitol hill. phillip? >> in the meantime, the president claiming total exoneration. thank you. secretary of education betsy devos is under fire this morning for proposing deep budget cuts that would reshape her department. the idea drawing the most outrage, cutting off funding for the special olympics. >> i have two nephews with autism. what is it that we have a
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problem with, with children who are in special education? why are we cutting all of these programs over and over within this budget? >> well, sir, we have continued to retain the funding levels for i.d.e.a. >> i believe i brought up special olympics -- >> i will address the broader question -- >> or if you could actually address the question i asked. that's even a better way to answer a question. >> under the trump administration's plan, the special olympics would lose nearly $18 million in federal funding. despite the steep cuts to special needs programs, the wisconsin congressman also pointed out the education department requested a 15.5% hike in executive salary appropriations. the lawmakers who ultimately decide on funding say the cuts won't happen. breaking news out of guatemala. at least 30 people have been killed after a truck plowed into a crowd. this happened in the town of solola nearly 100 miles from the capital of guatemala city. the volunteer fire department
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shared this video here of the aftermath. the truck struck a group of people who had walked into a road to check on a neighbor who had been hit by a car. the cause is still under investigation. right now police are trying to i.d. victims. the government has declared three days of mourning for the victims and their families. we now know the punishment a teenager will face after pushing her friend off a bridge. taylor smith pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment for shoving jordan holderson off a 60-foot bridge in washington state. smith has been sentenced to two days in jail, 38 days on a work crew, and a fine of $300. also she must have no contact with her former friend for two years. holderson suffered six broken ribs, and her lungs were punctured in the fall. >> wow. if you are just waking up in wisconsin, first of all, good morning. you may want to check your powerball tickets too because lottery officials say a single jackpot-winning ticket was sold in the badger state and is worth an estimated $768 million. there's your winning numbers,
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16, 20, 37, 44, 62, and the magic powerball that will make you rich, 12. janessa webb is here. are we winning with this forecast, though? >> it depends. if you like the rain with warmer temperatures, the tradeoff here is kind of dicey. we're going to see this line of storms really start to establish across the midwest. this is round one currently making its way into st. louis. so this will be consecutive rain for at least the next 48 hours. forecasting potential two to three inches from st. louis to kansas ci. that's aty lt day for the north. highs are warming back up to 60s, mid-50s. not a bad spring day here. unfortunately going to lose that sunshine compared to the warmer temperatures. >> that's something.
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we'll take it. >> it works. a pair of rescued baby sea otters have been adopted. mara and gibson found a new home at the georgia aquarium after being found stranded near the california coastline. the aquarium was chosen because of its ability to provide 24-hour care. the infants will spend some time getting used to their new surrounding before joining the aquarium's other sea otters. >> so cute. just ahead on "early today," a giant in politics. we'll tell you which state now has bragging rights for the tallest lawmaker. and boeing takes another step toward getting the troubled 737 max back in the air. ok, i'm ready...
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seattle, and there an awful lot of 737 maxes sitting out here parked, ready to go to their customers. but as you know, the entire global fleet is grounded. now boeing is making a very big step, hoping to get a software upgrade fix through so they can start flying again. as more 737 maxes rolled off the assembly line, boeing was giving hundreds of airline pilots and executives a look at the urgent upgrade to fix the software suspected in two fatal crashes. >> we're working with customers and regulators around the world to restore faith in our industry. >> reporter: here's what the pilots will see. a simple indicator warning the outside sensors disagree on the plane's angle of attack. if the mcas system pushes the nose down like the indonesian plane, it will stop if the pilots override it. boeing says max pilots can learn the new system in just 30 minutes. meanwhile, the acting faa chief defended the certification process, which allows boeing to certify much of its own work. >> our certification processes
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are extensive, well established, and have consistently produced safe aircraft designs for decades. >> reporter: the faa still has to approve boeing's software upgrade and its plan to use ipads to retrain pilots rather than a simulator. that all could come within a week or so, but actually getting approval to fly the plane with all the regulators around the world, that could take weeks if not longer. just ahead, why police are saying sorry to justin bieber. and building a border wall costs a lot of cheddar. the artist using cheese to make america "grate" again. next. >> get it? without sacrificing results? try olay total effects for a 7-in-1 solution. its unique formula is packed with vitamin b3, e, and c to naturally renew skin cells for a visibly healthy glow. in fact, a single dose provides more vitamin b3 than 50 cups of kale which is proven to improve 7 key areas of visibly healthy skin.
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mc . on march 23rd, the day before the mueller report was delivered, trump was at 41.9%. but today with the collusion cloud lifted, that number has soared to 41.9%, which is a difference of -- let me see -- nothing matters anymore. >> we've known that for a while. had mueller found collusion, it probably would have been 41.9% physical comedy from colbert.
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pop star justin bieber has had his fair share of run-ins with the law but on wednesday he says he was questioned by a police officer because of his shoes. bieber posted about the encounter. of course where else? instagram. he said a cop stopped him because they thought his tan and oregon off-white nike sneakers were stolen because of its design feature. justin said the officer asked, why do you still have that security tag on your shoe, then? bieber said, hey, man -- here's the quote -- bro, not man, bro, it's just fashion. >> those are some cool kicks, though. >> they are. you know like baseball caps, people leave the sticker. i don't know what's up with that. it's just part of it. >> it's just a thing. >> it's fashion, bro. an l.a.-based artist is taking a cheesy approach to making a statement. he's stacking blocks of spoiled cheese at the u.s./mexico border in san diego county. he says his point is not to be political, but he wants to start a real conversation about problems within the immigration process. the cheese wall has 200 blocks
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and is 25 feet long. the artist is seeking donations and selling products on cheesewall.com in the hopes of extending the wall to 1,000 feet. i would imagine there's some kind of odor that goes along with a wall of spoiled cheese. >> good luck with that. just ahead, we'll tell you about a new york city councilman who is taking the job to new heights. you're watching "early today" on a thursday. ♪ ♪ baby do you like the way i werk it now? ♪ ♪ baby come on and let me show you how ♪ ♪ werk it now ♪ werk it now ♪ werk it now ♪ baby watch me werk it like ♪ werk it now, werk it now, woo ♪ ♪ werk it now ♪ baby watch me werk it like ♪ baby, baby, baby ♪ baby watch me werk it now starting a business means i have to be well rested, every night of the month. always overnight pads have up to a 2x larger back
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good morning, everyone. happy friday eve. it's time to start thinking about the weekend here. across the east, midwest, we are following our next system here, bringing heavy rain to ohio, mississippi, and tennessee valley. potential for severe weather. but the tradeoff, there is going to be that warm-up. look at all the 70s and near 80-degree temperatures across the south. now, we're going to dry out across the west coast highs to southern california to finish out your spring break. that transitions more into the northeast for saturday afternoon, but, man, everyone's going to be talking about daytime highs. they are back in the 70s. we start to clear out for the upper midwest, and then that cooler air makes a final comeback. >> it's coming back. >> sorry. >> it happens. but today here's the good news. today is opening day. 15 parks. we have that to look forward to. >> and the weekend. >> that's right. just ahead, the remarkable story of an american hero who received his country's highest military honor. .
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in today's top stories, the ohio man convicted of the deadly charlottesville car attack is due for sentencing in july. after pleading guilty to 29 federal hate crime charges. james alex fields jr. rammed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters at a white nationalist rally, killing one woman and injures dozens more. the 21-year-old was already convicted in state court in december for killing anti-racism activist heather heyer at the unite the right rally in august of 2017. sentencing in that case is also scheduled for july. nearly half a century after getting divorced, a single mom is getting $150,000 in child support payments. toni anderson was left to raise
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her 3-year-old daughter, laine, alone after her husband left them. after disappear for five decades, he was finally tracked down in california. there's no statute of limitations for child support payments. a judge ordered him to pay $160,000, but the lawyers settled on $10,000 less. anderson said this was big-time closure for both of them and a nice little nest egg for her. >> about time. deserves it. president trump on wednesday awarded the medal of honor to a soldier who gave his life to save others. nbc's legislation ter holt has his story. >> reporter: army staff sergeant travis atkins was born to be a soldier. >> dedicated to being an infantry soldier. >> reporter: he fought in the 2003 iraq invasion, came home, went to college. but it wasn't enough. >> he realized that the army was his calling. >> reporter: he deployed back to
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iraq, this time supporting the army's elite delta force. on june 1st, 2000, staff sergeant atkins spotted two insurgents wearing explosive vests. with his bare hands, he pinned one to the ground, absorbing the blast. sergeant atkins lost his life but saved three others. his son trevor was just 11 years old. >> my dad did something great, you know. it's not that he's gone. it's that he did something fantastic, and it needs to be remembered. >> reporter: and he was. getting the nation's highest honor for his ultimate sacrifice. >> so well deserved. our thanks to lester holt for that report. at 6'10", you can't miss this new york city councilman. in fact, he's now the guinness world record holder for his height. he's been named the world's tallest politician. robert cornegy jr. rose to the occasion to secure the honor from the previous record holder, a deceased british politician who stood at 6'7" 1/2 inches. but cornegy, whose height was
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confirmed by two doctors says he's not even the tallest member of his family, believe it or not. >> we thought abe lincoln was pretty tall too. not so much anymore. thanks for watching "early today." i'm phillip mena. >> and i marlie hall. 'm to simone, i leave the van gogh. to harrison, the wine collection. grace, you get the beach house, just don't leave the lights on, okay? to mateo, my favorite chair. to chris, the family recipes. to craig, this rock. to jamie, well, let's just say, enjoy the ride. the redwoods to the redheads. the rainbows to the proud. the almonds to walter. the beaches to the bums. and the fog to, who else, karl. i leave these things to my heirs, all 39 million of you,
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on one condition. that you do everything in your power to preserve and protect them. with love, california. welcome to thursday morning. this is the latest, tracking rain. we'll have a look at the forecast and when the clearing will be coming. we'll look forward to that, won't we? good morning to you. thank you for joining us. i'm laura garcia. >> i'm marcus washington. let's talk about the weather, the last part of the storm. >> this the last little bit. once it moves through, we've got about 24 hours of this rain that will be very spotty before we dry out in time forth weekend. as we take a look at storm ranger, mobile radar, we can see heavier rain moving through parts oe

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