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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  March 13, 2018 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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let's hope it goes into april, at this point. >> thanks for joining us. tonight, shock waves as president trump abruptly fires secretary of state rex tillerson and picks the cia director to replace him. a day of chaos and confusion about how it all went down. did tillerson find out he was fired via presidential tweet? and what does it mean for the critical north korea talks,he iran deal, and more? a deadly plunge. >> about 60 feet down in the overpass. we need as much help as i can get. >> a bus filled with students returning from disney world dives off a bridge and down a ravine. a monster blizzard pummeling new england, back-to-back-to-back nor'easters in just 11 days. boston getting buried. and there is more snow in the forecast. shoppers beware,
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you are being secretly tracked at thousands of stores. >> if it could happen to me it could happen to anybody. >> how you could be punished for making too many returns. and she's queen. she wears the crown and is the star of the smash hit show. so why did she get paid less than her on-screen husband? a royal uproar tonight. this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. good evening and welcome to our viewers in the west. the shakeup of president trump's inner circle reached huge proportions today. the president tweeted the end of rex tillerson's reign as secretary of state, firing the country's top diplomat with whom he often disagreed in roughly 70 characters. after tillerson's dismissal, trump is tapping cia boss mike pompeo for the job at a moment of enormous foreign policy challenges, notably talks with north korea. tillerson is's notably
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the highest -- is notably the highest ranking departure from an administration just 14 months on the job. kristen welker begins our coverage. >> reporter: secretary of state rex tillerson learned he was fired at the same time the rest of the world did, on twitter. the president tweeting, mike pompeo, director of the cia, will be our new secretary of state. he will do a fantastic job. thank you to rex tillerson for his service. for months, tillerson's ouster was the source of speculation after he called the president a moron. two sources tell nbc news today it was a slight he never got over and exacerbated their policy differences from north korea, tariffs, russia, and the iran nuclear deal. >> when you look at the iran deal, i think it's terrible. i guess he thought it was okay. >> reporter: the president insisting today. today -- >> it was a different mind set. i think he will be much happier now. >> reporter: the two spoke by phone at noon.
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the president flew from air force one as he flew to california. there were warning signs on friday when tillerson was traveling in africa, an apology tour of sorts for the president's s-hole comments. according to on two white house officials, john kelly called to tell tillerson the president intended to ask him to step aside. kelly called again to stress his departure could be imminent. hours after arriving back in washington today, the secretary of state appearing in the briefing room, solemn and somewhat stunned. >> i'll now return to private life, private citizen. as a proud american, proud of the opportunity i've had to serve my country. >> reporter: sources say tillerson tried to keep his job and now feels angry and mistreated. >> rex and i have been talking about this for a long time. we, we got along actually quite well, but we disagreed on things. >> reporter: the white house says the president wanted his new secretary of state in place ahead of his planned north korea talks. it caps a contentious relationship that at
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times boiled over. the president publicly chiding tillerson and in one instance this past summer, tillerson denying reports he was planning to quit. >> there's never been a consideration in my mind to leave. >> reporter: tillerson now becomes the latest in a long list of high-profile trump administration departures, with the president's inner circle becoming ever smaller. president trump made no mention of the staff shakeup here in san diego. instead, he spent the day viewing prototypes of his border wall and talking to u.s. troops. but tonight some white house officials are still reeling after they were caught off guard with the ouster of tillerson and the president hinting there could be more departures. >> kristen welker in california. so now what? in mike pompeo, he's a former tea party congressman who brings a hawkish approach to the business of diplomacy and something worth noting as the administration
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engages with north korea and revisits the iran nuclear deal. here's our chief foreign affairs correspondent andrea mitchell. >> reporter: an emotional rex tillerson thanked everyone but the president, especially his state department aides. >> they have been extraordinarily dedicated to our mission, which includes promoting values that i view as being very important. which means treating each other with honesty and integrity and respect for one another. >> reporter: unlike tillerson, cia director mike pompeo, a former congressman, graduate of harvard law, get along famously with the president, having more face time than almost anyone. delivering the daily intelligence briefing in person. if confirmed, pompeo would give the state department a fresh start, but would he be willing to challenge the volatile commander in chief? something that got tillerson in trouble. >> i am concerned about mike pompeo's hard-line positions on a number of issues such as on iran, potentially even north
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korea. so he needs to as secretary of state also stand up to the president. >> reporter: and speaking a may deadline on the iran nuclear deal and the talks with kim jong-un, pompeo will be home alone. tillerson's legacy a hollowed-out state department. 38 key ambassadors not appointed. 16 vacancies as assistant secretaries. and all six under secretaries will be vacant including one fired today. >> i think pompeo is someone who understands the need to work on the morale of the organization he's leading. in that sense, it could be a welcome change. >> reporter: the other big change, cia veteran gina haspel, who would be the first woman to lead the agency, highly respected there. but as the former head of covert operations likely facing a controversial confirmation because she carried out bush white house orders to water board detainees in secret prisons. just like tillerson, pompeo will have to share foreign policy duties with the president's son-in-law, jared kushner. but veteran diplomats believe that pompeo will be better
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at navigating the complicated politics in the white house. >> thank you, andrea. there was another significant departure in the trump administration. you may not recognize the name, but he was president trump's closest aide, one of the closest people to him for years, and now he's been fired while under investigation by the secret service, within hours, he land ed a new role in the trump campaign. nbc's peter alexander explains. >> reporter: he was the man closest to the president, johnny macatee, his body man, abruptly escorted off the grounds. mcentee is under investigation for serious financial crimes, including two law enforcement officials. his security clearance in limbo for some time, according to one of the officials. the white house refusing to comment on what a senior aide calls a personnel issue. the 27-year-old former
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college quarterback's ouster -- >> the biggest thing with quarterbacks, if they can make all the throws. >> reporter: -- months after rob porter faced allegations that he denied. a process tonight slammed as deficient by the house democrat on the oversight committee who's demanding more details and documents on white house background checks. mcentee's departure strips of president of another aide following the recent resignation of communications director hope hicks. still, the body man will stay in the president's orbit. hours after it became public mcentee was under investigation, mr. trump's re-election campaign announced him as the senior adviser. and tonight nbc news has learned more about how that decision unfolded. the president called mcentee after he was fired, telling his former aide he thought it was unfair but asking mcentee to join his 2020 re-election
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campaign. >> thanks. police in alabama are investigating a terrible accident. a bus carrying high school band members home from disney world somehow flew off the highway and down a steep embankment, killing the driver and seriously injuring students on board. it happened on i-10 between mobile, alabama, and pensacola, florida, near the state line. tom costello with the latest on the investigation. >> reporter: it happened just before sunrise. >> i'm going to need some help. we've got a full charter bus. multiple, multiple injuries. >> reporter: rescuers rushed to eastbound i-10, then rappelled down a steep embankment to cut open the chartered bus with dozens of victims inside. >> about 60 feet down in the overpass here. we need as much help as i can get. >> reporter: on board, the channel view high school band returning to houston after competing in disney world. most of the 40 students and six adults were asleep when at 5:30 a.m. a
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sudden, violent crash as the bus flew down the median and embankment, the driver dead at the scene. helicopters and ambulances rushed three dozen students and adults to hospitals in florida and alabama. >> it was just a massive effort when we had that many individuals to take care of and triage and get to hospitals. >> reporter: at the high school in houston, the second bus arrived late today. erica cortez's daughter hazel plays cornet in the band. >> it was really hard to hear that call. luckily she was on the other bus. she was okay. >> reporter: tonight the ntsb has joined the police investigation. among the questions, did the veteran driver fall asleep or suffer a medical emergency? the bus company pledging to fully cooperate. tom costello, nbc news, washington. >> an awful sight there. the first day of spring is a week away. but you'll forgive the good folks in new england if they just don't believe that. tonight much of the
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northeast getting pummeled by the third nor'easter in just 12 -- just 11 days, bringing blizzard conditions to many and more snow in the forecast. morgan radford is in the thick of it tonight. >> reporter: a one, two, three punch for new england. caught in the cross hairs of its third nor'easter in less than two weeks. in massachusetts, a blizzard declared at logan airport where over 800 flights were canceled. >> please remember to be careful even after the snow's stopped. >> reporter: on the road, power lines bursting into flames. trucks losing control on slippery highways. snow totals reaching as high as 23 inches in some parts. conditions authorities haven't seen since the blizzard of 2015. >> we had four or five weeks in a row with major blizzards. we've been through this before. >> reporter: along the coast, high tides and concerns of flooding. residents anxious for it to stop. >> we're ready for flowers and warm weather. >> reporter: across
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new england, more than 200,000 people remain without power. >> we've put candles in the bedroom and shut the door and use that for heat. >> reporter: in new york, neighbors still digging out. while authorities in connecticut monitor dangerous highways. >> we're concerned about a drop in temperature and what that could mean fairly quickly. >> reporter: hoping 16 inches of snow doesn't turn to ice. meanwhile, in boston some are trying to make the best of the wintry mix even though another wave could be around the corner. >> kind of erratic, but that's boston, i guess. >> reporter: while the worst of the storm ends tomorrow, snow will continue to fall throughout the rest of the week. even though with all this snow here already on the ground, it's hard to imagine that spring is just a week away. lester? >> all right. hang in there. thanks very much. the city of austin, texas, on edge as police intensify the hunt to identify a suspect in the string of three package bombings in less than two weeks. today police raising the award for information to $65,000.
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authorities also identifying the victim killed in one of two blasts yesterday as 17-year-old drelynn mason. two others were injured in explosions which police believe are all connected. in florida, prosecutors say they'll seek the death penalty for nikolas cruz, the accused gunman charged with killing 17 people at marjorie stoneman douglas high school. schools across the country are preparing for mass walkouts tomorrow, far bigger than similar demonstrations last month. this time organizers say they're planning nearly 3,000 walkouts. students demanding more action to combat gun violence. the plot thickens in the uk where yet another critic of vladimir putin may have met with foul play, this time with deadly consequences. it comes after a russian ex-spy and his daughter were poisoned with a nerve agent in an apparent assassination attempt earlier this month, which has british police asking questions of the kremlin.
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>> reporter: british counterterrorism police tonight guarding the london house where a russian exile and critic of vladimir putin was found dead. the cause, say police, unexplained. nikolai glushkov was 68 and a close friend of boris berezovsky, a billionaire who fled feeling he'd be mother's durdered after clashing with putin. he was found hanged five years ago. glushakov wrote he's sure he was killed. now he, too, is dead. counterterrorism police are leading this investigation, they say, as of precaution. but they say there's no evidence to link this to the poisoning of another russian. former russian spy sergei skripal was poisoned with a nerve agent. he and his daughter seriously ill. >> it is highly likely that russia was responsible.
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>> reporter: british prime minister theresa may giving russia a deadline of midnight tonight for answers. president trump backing britain, threatening consequences. >> it sounds to me that it would be russia, based on all the evidence they have. >> reporter: russia's foreign minister says that's garbage. it won't heed any deadline and wants samples of the nerve agent used. the crisis deepening. britain ready to expel russian diplomats and to impose new sanctions. bill neily, london. back at home, a high-stakes political battle is playing out right in the heart of what some call trump country in pennsylvania's special congressional election. democrat conor lamb faces trump-backed republican rick saccone in a district trump won by 20 points in 2016. but the most recent polling showed lamb heading into today with a slight edge in a race many view as a referendum on the president and potentially a bellwether for november's midterms. still tonight,
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who's watching you when you make a return? how big chains like best buy are secretly keeping tabs on what you bring back and could punish you for it. a new controversy over one of the stars on a show on netflix.
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tonight we have a new consumer alert about some of the country's largest store chains. when you make a return, chances are your shopping history is being closely watched. it's because stores are trying to combat fraudulent returns. but in the course of doing so, many consumers say they're being unfairly banned from making returns. nbc news national correspondent miguel almaguer has what you should be aware of. >> reporter: if you've ever made a purchase and a return, the retail equation may be watching. a third-party company working with more than 34,000 stores, formulates a consumer's risk score by crunching the numbers on what you buy and return and
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calculates potential limits on what you can bring back. >> if it can happen to me it can definitely happen to anybody. >> reporter: jake sakar returned three cell phone cases at best buy. he followed store policy and had a receipt, but his $87 return raised red flags, banning him from making a return for a year. >> i understand how they can be concerned with consumer abuse, but you have to have more of a human touch to it. >> reporter: according to "the wall street journal" your risk score will climb if you return a high dollar amount, return an item that tends to get stolen or return an item close to store closing. as for best buy, they say stopping returns is very rare and apologize to anyone inappropriately affected. but for some, the point of no return is already here. miguel almaguer, nbc news, los angeles. and still to come here tonight, united airlines apologizing
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to a family of pet owners for a tragedy in the air.
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united airlines is apologizing for a heartbreaking incident in the sky when a dog died aboard a flight from houston to new york last night. a flight attendant had reportedly ordered the dog's owner to store her pet carrier in the overhead bin with tragic consequences. tonight united said pets should never be placed in overhead bins, expressed condolences to the family, and is investigating to make sure this never happens again. there's royal drama tonight surrounding the hit netflix show "the crown." claire foy starred in the first two seasons give viewers a glimpse into the early reign of queen elizabeth ii but producers just revealed that her on-screen husband got paid more than she did. they say that's because matt smith who played
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prince philip was more well-known because of his previous role on "dr. who." they will be played by different actors as they age, but producers say going forward, no one gets paid more than the queen. speaking of empowering women, when we come back, how these young girls are learning to become their own superstars on life's big stage. stormrange,
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and what you )ll need to know for tomorrow. plus her last appearance was canceled for fear of violence, but tonight all systems go. what ann coulter plans to talk about in just one hour- that )s next right now at 6: rain in the bay area. finally tonight, at a time women are being encouraged to speak out and stand up for themselves, we end with creative ways some teachers are using to empower young girls. >> hey, go! >> reporter: they're loud, playful and funny, but what's happening here is really serious. >> what are you learning here, right here?
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>> you're learning collaboration, never to give up. >> reporter: in the bronx with the help of a non-profit, 8 to 13-year-old inner city girls are learning improv in a class called "funny girls." >> i thought it was a comedian thing that you just needed to be funny, and i was like uh-oh. >> reporter: why is improv so important in everybody's life? >> there's no right or wrong. wrong in improv. fail ire's held at bay, and every contribution that the girls make is valued. >> reporter: this 9-year-old gets it. recently she stepped out of her comfort zone and got the lead in her school play. how does that make you feel about yourself? >> it makes me feel, you know, good. >> reporter: her mom always knew reina was meant to take center stage but needed a little push. >> made her more confident. she had it, but she was scared. >> reporter: funny girls, finding their voice and learning their value at an early age.
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rahaima ellis, nbc news, new york. >> we appreciate you spending part of your night with us. that is "nightly news" for this tuesday night. i'm lester holt. for all of us at nbc news, thank you for watching, and good night. rain in the bay area. snow in the sierra. we )re tracking the latest storm right now at 6:00, rain in the bay area, snow in the sierra. we're tracking the latest storm and what's shaping up to be a wet week. the news at 6:00 starts right now. thanks for joining us, i'm terry mcsweeney. >> i'm jessica aguirre. this morning's rain has come and gone but there's more on the way. a live look at san francisco where it is wet. chief meteorologist jeff ranieri has been with us all day, an early look at the forecast, what's in store for the rest of the evening and tomorrow? >> i think a few more disturbances moving in across the bay area giving us on again, off again rainfall. storm ranger, mobile doppler
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radar, we're tracking areas of showers. i want to take you to the most consistent, that has been over oakland on telegraph avenue. also on broadway. moving off to the north and the east. that would continue rainfall through piedmont into 6:04, also into orinda at 6:29 tonight. as we get you towards the coast, we are also monitoring another batch of rainfall. this would keep rainfall into bodega bay through 6:35, santa rosa 6:46. rainfall totals impressive the past it were hours, over 1 inch in los gatos. santa rosa .87. fremont .35. burlingame coming in at .30 inches. not only the rainfall but there is two more disturbances out here we are following. we'll have the full timeline on this plus what this means for the sierra and where we could pick up over 3 feet of snow. two updates this the hour, one at 6:19 and

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