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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  May 9, 2017 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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out come up on 6:00 newscasts. >> a lot going on have it all at six nightly news is next. breaking news tonight, president trump has fired fbi director, james comey. a stunning move dismissing the man who's leading an investigation into the president's campaign. late details just coming in. radioactive scare. a toxic tunnel collapse and fear of a disaster at the nation's biggest cleanup site. new alarm about safety. where are the women, backlash as an all male group forms to work on healthcare in the senate. airport melee, in the terminal, chaos and another pr nightmare for a big u.s. airline. and measles outbreak the worst in years, blamed on false information that scared parents into not getting their children vaccinated. the brave young gator girl
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who fought back when teeth clamped down on her leg, how she got him to let go. "nightly news" begins right now. >> announcer: from "nbc nightly news" world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. >> good evening. we begin with stunning late breaking news. president trump has fired james comey as director of the fbi. it comes without warning and sending shock waves across washington this evening, the president dismissing the man who was leading the investigation into his campaign. comey, an obama appointee, with less than four years into a 10 year term when he became a political lightning rod over the last year between investigations into hillary clinton and into possible collusion between the trump campaign and the russian government. we get late details now from our chief white house reporter, hallie jackson. >> reporter: tonight, a stunning development that seemed to come with little warning.
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the president abruptly firing james comey, writing to him, you are not able to effectively lead the bureau. it is essential that we find new leadership for the fbi that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission. a letter from the department of justice explains why this happened. with the deputy attorney general writing, i cannot defend the director's handling of the conclusion of the investigation of secretary clinton's e-mail and i do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken. citing as one example his high profile press conference in july. just today, press secretary sean spicer seemed to dodge when asked if the president still had confidence in his fbi director. >> does the president still have confidence, full confidence in fbi director, james comey? >> i have no reason to believe. i haven't asked him. i don't -- i have not asked the president since the last time we spoke about this. >> then candidate trump praised comey on the campaign trail before this memorable moment earlier this year.
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>> he's become more famous than me. >> reporter: but the sudden dismissal caught some by surprise. three senior fbi and justice officials including some that personally know comey tell nbc news there was no advance warning or knowledge of the firing. tonight, new reaction now from jaime comey was in california. he is heading to the l.a.x. airport. he was told of his termination from a phone call and addressed employees that gave him a round of applause. president trump hoping to head off criticism that this termination was politically motivated. he wrote in that letter while i greatly appreciate you informing me on three separate occasions that i am not under investigation, he agrees in a he should no longer lead the fbi. >> hallie jackson starting us
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off. to pete williams for more details on comey's firing. the fact the president himself was not under investigation, there was a legal distinction in that it was his campaign under investigation. what's the net effect at the bureau right now? >> they're shocked by this. they did not see it coming. we don't know how much notice mr. comey himself got. when we found out about this we called and the fbi director was not there. they did not say where he was. people in this fbi were completely blind-sided. only one other fbi director has ever been fired by a president, that was william sessions in 1993, not so much over his judgment in investigations, had to do with the way he was spending some of the bureau's money what was perceived to be personal projects. this was all justified according to the deputy attorney general because of the way the fbi director handle the e-mail investigation, the news conference, letter to congress, false choice the deputy attorney general says over going public or keeping quiet, all those
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things led to the firing. rob rosenstein, the brand new deputy attorney general has a bipartisan background, cites the facts over 100 department officials had been very critical at the time. he cites that in his letter tonight as reasons justifying the firing although very few of those people at the time said comey ought to be fired. >> what about comey and investigations began under comey, specifically the russian investigation? >> that will clearly go on. interesting tonight, there's been bipartisan support for this move by the president, both the republican, charles grassley and the ranking democrat on judiciary, dianne feinstein, they support the move, but you can expect more calls for a special counsel. >> to chuck todd now, our moderator on "meet the press." there are legal distinctions and then there are optics. how do the optics look? >> the optics look terrible for the white house. director comey had lost confidence with members of both sides of the aisle in the united
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states senate. as early as 20 minutes before the announcement -- before the firing was announced, lester, i spoke with democratic senator richard blumenthal on the judiciary committee and asked if he still had confidence in director comey. he would not say he did and instead said he had confidence in the fbi. the timing and optics of it, why didn't president trump fire him sooner? that's going to be something democrats say, you should have done it at the beginning, if this was the cause the handling of the clinton investigation was the cause of the firing. the timing now looks like it is connected to russia no matter what the president says. this is where it will become a political hot potato. i can tell you this, lester, the confirmation hearing for the next fbi director is going to be all about russia. watch for this. the increased calls for a special prosecutor or independent investigative committee, some way to essentially depoliticize this russian investigation, get it out of the justice department and out of the fbi in some form
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or another. right now, i think there's going to be a lot of distrust at the fbi no matter the conclusion that's made and perhaps the only way to get credibility back on this investigation is to do it with an independent committee. >> chuck todd on tonight's breaking news. thank you. now to the battle over healthcare in the senate with women's health issues front and center, the senate health commission is under fire for not putting any women on the committee to hammer out their plan to replace obamacare. kristen welker. >> reporter: tonight, a growing backlash on capitol hill as the senate group tasked with healthcare reform met for a second time. at issue, all of the 13 members on the core group are men. none of the five women republican senators were asked to join, democrats pouncing arguing many of healthcare's thorny issues uniquely impact women. >> we know it makes a difference when women are in the room.
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>> reporter: all that putting republicans on defense, senate leaders trying to down play the very existence of a core working group. >> reporter: given all the backlash you're getting why not add some female healthcare colleagues to your working group? >> the working group is all 52 of us. we're having extensive meetings. >> reporter: there aren't any women. >> you need to write about what's actually happening. we're having discussions about the real issues. everybody is at the table, everybody. >> reporter: republicans pointing to the fact that west virginia senator, shelly, invited to meeting today. dodging that question but her colleague maine senator, susan collins weighed in. >> reporter: were you disappointed when you learned there were no women on the core working group? >> i was surprised there were not. >> reporter: the latest criticism coming at the back drop of protests for house speaker paul ryan and blasting house members for their vote. a prescription for controversy
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as healthcare reform moves forward. kristen welker, nbc news, washington. >> i'll be sitting down with president trump on thursday at the white house, obviously a lot to talk about. we hope you will tune into that thursday evening on "nbc nightly news." the chilling sound of alarms blaring at the most contaminated nuclear site in this hemisphere sent workers covering in washington state today. the alarm at the nuclear reservation was triggered when a tunnel housing toxic materials partially gave way. it was a jarring reminder of the existence of lethal sites like it across america. gadi schwartz has details. >> reporter: the sound of sirens at the nation's most contaminated nuclear waste site. >> take cover. >> reporter: then the warning that went across the hamford nuclear reservation. >> take cover immediately. >> reporter: the alarm from a partial tunnel collapse in a tunnel where toxic waste has been covered for decades and
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workers took cover in the vast complex half the size of rhode island and once prepared plutonium for america's nuclear arsenal. >> we've been all cooped up inside these buildings until they gave us the go ahead to go home. >> reporter: officials sending in a robot to inspect the collapse. >> our employees are safe, no evidence of a radiological release. >> reporter: but the emergency highlighting deteriorating conditions at the nation's biggest environmental cleanup near the columbia river. an nbc news investigation found decades of radioactive problem, workers who said they had been exposed to toxic materials suffered from severe health problems. >> i've been diagnosed with pretty bad nerve damage. >> reporter: in 2013, washington's governor announcing several tanks holding radioactive waste from the site were leaking. it's estimated it could take over 40 years and $100 billion for a cleanup, one of the 17 radioactive cleanup sites around
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the country. today, the governor saying it's a serious situation and they're taking every precaution to protect the workers and public but a tunnel collapse warning the nuclear disaster at the site is a constant possibility. gadi schwartz, nbc news. tonight, low cost airlines, spirit airlines is the latest airlines trying to clean up a public relations nightmare caught on video. what started as labor dispute with its pilots union led to hundreds of cancellations, then a fight and people arrested last night at a spirit ticket counter in florida. a judge intervened as the airline is forced to cancel even more flights. here's nbc's tom costello. >> reporter: frustrations at a boiling point inside the ft. lauderdale late monday after spirit airlines canceling dozens of flights and leaving hundreds of passengers stranded. >> terrible.
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i don't ever want to ride spirit again. >> reporter: deputies arrested three passengers for arresting -- allegedly threatening employees. anger at spirit threatening for days, more than 300 flights cancelled and passengers affected. spirit blames a small number of pilots in a lawsuit of an illegal slowdown to bring pressure of contract negotiations. >> from the beginning of this unlawful action we have seen about 60 flights per day on average cancelled across our network. >> reporter: today, a judge issued a temporary restraining order barring any strike or work stoppage, sickout or slow down. in a statement, the union said its pilots will comply fully. but spirit pilots also want more money. >> the airline says we don't get the kinds of airfares american and delta and united get so we can't pay our pilots what they pay. they say you're just as profitable as they are, why not?
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>> reporter: meanwhile, the suspects were out of jail. >> don't ever use spirit airlines. i was upset. they tried to say i started a riot for being upset. >> reporter: they expect fewer cancellations tomorrow as this deep discount carrier struggles with big league labor issues. tom costello, washington. an amtrak engineer involved in a deadly train derailment will not face criminal charges saying there's not enough evidence brandon acted with criminal inintent or recklessness when the train he operated jumped the tracks in philadelphia two years ago, eight people killed, more than 200 injured. federal investigators say the train was speeding at twice the limit at the time. tonight, south korea has elected a new president, a liberal candidate emerging victorious after months of turmoil and the ex-president out by scandal.
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it has new implications for the u.s. because the man in charge, moon jae-in favors closer ties with north korea and favors sanctions rather than hard line approach and it could put him at odds with the trump administration. measles comeback. who officials are claiming for the worst outbreak in 30 years. >> an alligator goes on attack but messed with the wrong 10-year-old girl. the trick she used that may have saved her life.
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tonight, there's alarming
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news about the worst outbreak of measles in minnesota in nearly 30 years which healthcare officials blame on skeptics, concerned parents who discourage it in their children and many so sick they're in the hospital. nbc's kristen dahlgren has our report. >> reporter: in a minnesota hospital room the consequence of not getting a measles vaccine. 2-year-old and 3-year-old siblings suffering from the virus. how bad does a kid with measles feel? >> they're just miserable. >> reporter: their mother didn't want to show her face on camera but tells us she regrets her decision not to vaccinate. >> very important to get the shots for children. >> reporter: very important to get the shot? >> yes. very important. >> reporter: measles once eradicated in the u.s., now
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exploding in the somalian community. concerned about autism. >> reporter: we spoke so so many people who thought that was greater fear. >> reporter: the nurse fears the outbreak is spreading. >> the virus is unbelievably contagious. >> reporter: children's minnesota hospital is on high alert. >> protect the kids. >> reporter: visitors required to wear masks and in overdrive. measles can be deadly, brain damage, permanent hearing loss and pneumonia. doctors recommend children get two doses of measles mumps and rubella vaccine. at 12-15 months and then again between 4 and 6 years old. the vaccine skeptics who spread doubt in the somali community declined our request for an interview. on its website the vaccine safety council of minnesota says, because there is risk there must be choice. patsy says this is what that choice looks like. >> that's why we vaccinate to
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prevent terrible life-threatening diseases. >> reporter: tonight, minnesota's children caught in the controversy. kristen dahlgren, nbc news, minneapolis. >> we are back in a moment with a scam you need to watch out for, just in time for mother's day.
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with mother's day approaching this weekend, retailers are warning consumers of a scam quickly spreading through social media, coupons offering big savings like $50 or 50% off are part of a fishing scam to swipe private information. the digital coupons look so real many are falling victim. nbc news national contemporary core respondent miguel almaguer has our report. >> reporter: tonight, some of the nation's biggest retailers, chains like target, best buy and walmart warn consumers searching for a deal thieves are looking to steal their private information. this so-called mother of all scams spreading across the web just before mother's day. $70 off at kohl's, $75 at bed,
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bath and beyond, a $50 savings at lowe's. sign up for these coupons and you could lose more than you bargained for. >> these coupons are very authentic looking. >> reporter: coupon clipper, stephanie nelson warns, click the links and you'll be asked for a name, credit card and identity information. >> it's identity theft, if you're giving your information to a hacker or scammer you're talking about getting your bank account cleared out. that's serious stuff. >> reporter: the fishing scam is hitting social media. bed, bath and beyond saying we're partnering with facebook to have these coupons removed. >> millions of people fall for these scams. you're talking about billions and billions of dollars. >> reporter: to protect yourself, experts say never give out private information for a coupon. if an offer looks suspicious, call the company directly and ask if it's real. eporter: with $24 billion to be spent on mother's day, cyber
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thieves are hoping to take many to the cleaners while many shop for mom. miguel almaguer, los angeles. when we come back, the amazing story of a brave girl attacked by a 9 foot gator and what she learned on a field trip that helped her fight it off. president trump )s new move..
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===take vo=== firing fbi director james comey - we )re tracking his visit to los angeles where he just boarded a plane at lax. ===jess/take vo=== plus:
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mystery solved. investigators identify a girl found in a century )s old coffin -- in san francisco. ===next close=== that )s next. finally tonight, an incredible survivor story. it began as a fun day of swimming for a 10-year-old girl and her family at florida park when suddenly she was attacked by an alligator. the young girl fought back using a trick she learned in the past that may have saved her life. nbc's kerry sanders has her story. >> reporter: she is 4'7", 71 pounds, when this 8'9" alligator clamped on her leg, she fought back. >> i tried hitting it on its forehead to let me go and that didn't work and as a plan b, i thought of what they taught in gatorland. >> reporter: it would be a life saving lesson. >> the tip of their nose is super sensitive. they open right up. >> i sticked my fingers up its
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two nostrils and it had to open its mouth to let my leg out so it could breathe. >> what do you think that alligator thought was going on? >> well, i thought he thought i was like this ginormous piece of chicken. >> reporter: the brave third grader was sitting in about 18 inches of water at a county park saturday when without warning the gator attacked. what do you make of the presence of mind your daughter had to think about this in such a horrific situation? >> i think she showed everybody a lesson, showed me a lesson. >> reporter: park managers have closed the designated swimming area for now. gator warning signs and a lifeguard may not be enough. >> at nemours children's hospital 13 stitches, puncture wounds and a black and blue leg, this girl is undeterred. >> look, this is the future. i will be running and walking. >> reporter: we have no doubt about that. kerry sanders, orlando. >> brave young girl. that will do it for us on a tuesday night. i'm lester holt.
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for all of us at nbc news, thank you for watching and good night. a power play by president trump -- as he fires f-b-i director james . right now at 6:00 we're following breaking news a power play by president trump as he fires fbi director james comey. we're told comey was caught off guard and boarded a the private plan taxiing at lax. the news at 6:00 starts right now. dpeeng thank for being with us. i want to show you of the private plane again again. washington rocked by president trump firing of the fbi director james comey. james comey inside that plane, taxiing now at lax leaving los angeles. mr. comey did not appear at an
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event that he was supposed to appear. again, he was scheduled to speak at an fbi recruiting event this evening in hollywood set to deliver keynote address about the importance of the fbi's work. but as you can see, mr. comey did not go to the event. in fact his motor keyed went in the opposite direction to leave just a short while after being fired. you're looking at video mr. comey boarding the private plane before it took off. outraged democrats are calling the removal nixon yan and they say it is a big mistake petition tie the dismissal to the investigation to russian ties to members of the trump administration. again fbi director comey stunned by the news we hear said he was hand delivered letter to the fbi's offers in washington. but mr. comey was already here in california when he received word via telephone and also some reports that he heard


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