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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  May 19, 2017 6:30pm-7:01pm EDT

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weekend. up next, "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. see you back here tonight at 11:00. . breaking news tonight, brand-new bombshells. a report that president trump told the russians that comey was quote a nut job, and firing him took the pressure off the russia investigation. the white house not denying it. another report that the probe has reached a current senior white house official close to the president. a significant person of interest. pleading guilty, anthony weiner breaks down as he admits sexting a minor. he much time he could face. cyber insurance, as hikers strike, a new way to lock in protection. kill them all, what investigators say the times square driver told them about mowing down a crowd as shocking new video emerges. and the end of an era for the greatest show on earth. "nightly news" begins
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right now. >> announcer: from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. good evening. in a week of fast and furious developments regarding the russia investigation, we can add two more breaking as we come on this friday night. there is word now that the law enforcement investigation is now looking at a current white house official as a person of interest in the case, the name not yet made public. that news coming late today as we separately found out president trump expressed relief to russian diplomats over his firing of james comey from the fbi. suggesting it had taken off some of the pressure he's experienced over russia. more on both stories now starting with national correspondent peter alexander. >> reporter: during that oval office meeting with senior russian officials last week, president trump ripping into the fbi director he just fired calling james comey
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crazy, a real nut job read a document summarizing the meeting explaining the firing mr. trump said, i faced great pressure because of russia. that's taken off. adding i'm not under investigation. the report less than an hour after the president boarded air force one creating new domestic turbulence. the conversation reinforcing suspicions mr. trump's decision to fire comey was based on the fbi's collusion between the trump campaign and russia, a point the president hinted at with lester last week. >> 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. >> reporter: the white house tonight not disputing "the times" account. press secretary sean spicer arguing by grand standing and politicizing it comey created pressure on our ability to engage and negotiate with russia. mr. trump denied cooperation with russia. >> the entire thing has been a witch hunt and there is no
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collusion. >> reporter: on wednesday a smirking vladimir putin dismissing the white house meeting as political skiz frie political schizophrenia. for president trump, the bombshell capping another whirl wind week of crisis. >> probably the greatest concern that i have is that the white house doesn't seem to understand that lose lips sink ships. i think the president has got to learn he can no longer have the behavior that he's had in the past that he's got to taste his words before he spits them out. >> reporter: tonight the white house says the russia investigation would have always continued with or without james comey and again, they insist the real story here is that the country's national security has been undermined by the leaking of private and highly classified conversations. lester? >> peter alexander, thank you. to the other major headline we mentioned, late word that the investigation into russia's election medmad meddling reached inside the west wing to look at a current
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white house official as a person of interest, though the name is not made public. we get more from justice correspondent pete williams. >> reporter: sources say the activities of a current white house official whose name was not revealed are now under investigation as the effort to examine russia's meddling in the presidential campaign reaches a new stage, news first reported by ""the washington post"". >> that's important because there is talk of former trump associates or advisors but the investigation reaches into the white house. >> reporter: officials disclosed that s subpoenas that have been issued for former national security advisor michael flynn and trump campaign chairman looking at the financial activities and possible ties to russia. this is the first time as far as publicly known that investigators have looked at a current white house official. tonight in a statement the white house says quote as the president has stated before, a thorough investigation will confirm there was
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no collusion between the campaign and any foreign entity. secretary of state rex tillerson, attorney general jeff sessions and trump's son-in-law jared kushner acknowledged they had contact. rod rosenstein spent the morning briefing members on the firing of fbi director james comey. rosenstein decided months earlier comey should go and talked about it last winter with jeff sessions during the trump transition. all this comes just as robert mueller begins taking control of the russia investigation as it reaches a more active face s subpoenaing issues that doesn't mean a crime has be committed. this more active phase means investigators are trying to reach
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the answer, not that they reached conclusions, lester? >> thank you. as all this plays out here at home, president trump is headed overseas. his first international trip since taking office. it's a critical nine-day journey to the middle east and europe. his first stop, saudi arabia and our chief white house correspondent hallie jackson is there. >> reporter: followed thousands of miles by his most recent controversies, president trump aiming to avoid more with mind fields ahead on every step of his international marathon. five countries, nine days, no room for error. >> this trip is ambitious to the point of being naive in terms of what he can accomplish tangibly. he will be greeted as the president of the united states, but that doesn't take him away from the drama at home. >> reporter: the journey beginning in saudi arabia where the president will call on the arab world to unite on islamic extremism. >> it was said quote, islam hates us so again, he's the last person on earth that should be lecturing muslims about our own
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religion. >> reporter: stop two, israel to reassure a crucial ally after the president shared sensitive information they gathered about a laptop bomb plot with the russians, and in bethleh bethlehem, plans to prod the palestinians and israelis on a path to peace and off to rome for a face-to-face with pope francis. the pope criticized building walls as not christian and candidate trump criticized the pop. >> for a religious leader to question a person's faith is disgraceful. >> reporter: in brussels, stop four a nato summit where leaders are reportedly prepping to keep speeches short to hold the president's attention, looking for his commitment to alliance. more questions come in sicily at major economic forum with the president's promise to overturn unfair trade policies in the spotlight. now a critical test of his america first policy. >> america first does not mean america alone. >> reporter: a president under pressure to prove the
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leader of the free world really is. this is a president, remember, who enjoys routine so a lot of folks will be watching to see how he handles this whirlwind week that is anything but routine. the white house working to frame the trip as historic with aids hoping to provide a reboot for the president. lester? >> hallie jackson in saudi arabia, thank you. tonight we're learning chilling details about the horrifying crash in times square in new york where the driver who mowed down a crowd of people told investigators. it comes as video emerged of the car barrelling down the sidewalk. we do want to warn you, the images are disturbing. nbc's rehema ellis has details. >> reporter: it's stunning new video, dramatic scenes from several surveillance cameras posted online. the images so horrifying it's difficult to watch. it all happened after the driver made a sharp right turn accelerated and then barrelled down a crowded sidewalk in times square. 20 pedestrians hit,
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mowed down and tossed into the air. the driver stopped only after he crashed into a metal post. 18-year-old alyssa elsman killed, her 13-year-old sister hospitalized. survivors still in disbelief over what happened. >> i'm alive. >> i'm so traumatized. >> reporter: today the driver richard rojas was arraigned and charged with murder, attempted murder and aggravated vehicular homicide. authorities say he has a past criminal record. he was arrested just last week for pulling a knife on someone. questions tonight about why he wasn't still behind bars. >> i know he pled guilty. i know he was released. we'll have to look -- it was in the bronx so we have to look at that. >> reporter: according to prosecutors, rojas said at the time of yesterday's arrest he smoked marijuana laced with pcp and said i want to kill them, adding officers should have shot him to stop him. tonight, police say
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there is no evidence that he was connected to any terrorist organizations, but they are still searching for a motive to this horrible crime. rehema ellis, nbc news, new york. disgraced former congressman anthony weiner broke down in court today as he pleaded guilty to exchanging sexually explicit messages with a 15-year-old girl and a short time later we learned his estranged wife huma abedin filed for divorce. kristen dahlgren tells us how much time he could face behind bars. >> reporter: one-time congressman anthony weiner will soon have a new title, registered sex offender. the disgraced politician pleading guilty in federal court to transmitting obscene material to a minor admitting to sending racy test to a 15-year-old last year, including one photo with his own child next to him. breaking down as he read a statement saying i have a sickness but i do not have an excuse.
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weiner is married to huma abedin. it was the investigation into weiner that threw the presidential campaign into turmoil when james comey revealed clinton e-mails discovered on weiner's lapt laptop. in 2011, weiner dere si -- resigned from congress. >> today i'm announcing my resignation from congress. this is why i'm in the race. >> reporter: in 2013 he ran for mayor of new york until he was caught sexting again. their drama captured in a documentary. today abedin officially filed for divorce seeking full custody of their 5-year-old son. it's still unclear how weiner's status as a sex offender could affect a custody battle and he may have to be off probation before he can visit his child's school. the government seeking between 21 and 27 months in prison. >> a defendant doesn't plea because they don't want a messy trial. they play because they think it's better for them they will get
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less time in jail. >> reporter: weiner will be sentence in september and one more blow in the stunning fall from grace, the seri serial sexter forced to surrenderer his cell phone. >> millions are under a severe weather threat from texas to ohio. in northern tennessee wide-spread flooding trapped three school buses and 17 students had to be rescued. a different extreme in the rockies where spring snowstorms have brought up to 42 inches to some areas. but in the northeast, the opposite, scorching temperatures in new york and boston where they are experiencing some of the earliest heat waves on record. we'll take a break in a moment, but first, we want to tell you after seven years, sweden has now dropped its rape investigation against wikileaks founder julian asang. today's announcement, he remains a wanted machine and we get more from bill neely.
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>> reporter: julian assange emerged. >> sen yeven years would charge, why my children grew up without me? that is not something that i can forgive. >> reporter: but today he said was a victory. sweden's prosecutor dropping rape app gages he denies. the seven-year stand off with sweden may be over but assange isn't leaving yet. although british police want him, it's the american justice system that stands between him and freedom. >> the proper war is just commencing. >> reporter: and war was at the heart of what assange did. he published videos and hundreds of thousands of secret u.s. files about the iraq war. intelligence agencies and lawmakers are still furious. >> wikileaks walks like a hostile
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intelligence service and talks like a hostile intelligence service. >> reporter: attorney general jeff sessions determined he should face trial. >> yes, it is a priority. >> reporter: but first, britain has to extradite him. >> i would imagine that the u.s. would like to get him on a plane shackled to u.s. marshals as quickly as possible. >> reporter: but this could take some time. >> that would depend upon british process. >> reporter: tonight he's back inside the embassy, a long way from freedom or justice. bill neely, nbc news, london. we'll take a break here. still ahead, cyber insurance. the growing trend that can help you recover after hackers steal your personal info. why you may already have it and not even know it. also, if you own a drone or thinking about getting one, we'll tell you about
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keeping your personal information safe from cyber criminals has become a daunting challenge. one recent survey minds seven out of ten americans have little or no confidence that their online data is secure, so insurance companies are offering a policy that can provide some peace of mind if you get hacked. nbc news business and tech correspondent jo ling kent explains. >> the hackers are threatening to wipe out i cloud. >> critical computers shut down in this attack. >> give these crooks too much information, and they will drain your bank account.
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>> reporter: it seems every week another hack attack is threatening your personal information. now a new tool in the fight against cyber criminals, cyber insurance. banks and credit card companies cover losses if your account is hacked, aig, nationwide and pure are insurers with cyber policies to reimburse additional losses when hackers demand money to unlock data. they provide expert advice and cover payments. for other breaches, consulting and helps restore lost data. cyber insurance benefits typically cost about $100 a year, roughly 10 to 15% of your homeowners insurance premium. in arizona, attorney martin discovered his homeowners insurance included cyber insurance after his identity was stolen by cyber criminals trying to get his tax refund. >> it's something beyond oh my gosh. it's like this is a really serious problem. >> reporter: do you
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really believe that cyber insurance can protect you from more innovative criminals? >> no, but they can help you solve the problem as it progresses. >> reporter: some peace of mind but one that isn't necessarily for everyone. >> when you look at cyber insurance and decide if it's worth buying it, you really need to look specifically at the coverages. >> reporter: to build the best personal defense before the next hacking story fun in art class. come close, come close. i like that. [ music stops suddenly ] ah. when your pain reliever stops working, your whole day stops. awww. try this. for minor arthritis pain, only aleve can stop pain for up to 12 straight hours with just one pill. thank you. ♪ come on everybody. you can't quit, neither should your pain reliever. stay all day strong with 12 hour aleve.
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back now with that frightening incident aboard an american airlines plane, a passenger carrying a laptop reportedly tried to charge the cockpit during a flight today but taken down by crew members and an off-duty police officer. the military scramble jets to escort the plane. it landed safety. the man taken into custody in a moment
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captured on camera by another passenger. sources say the man is from turkey and had brief security at lax while appearing intoxicated but assessed and allowed to board the flight. if you're one of the growing number of people who own drones in this country, listen up. an appeals court today streak down an faa rule requiring owners to register their drones with the government, meaning if you have a drone as of now you don't have to register it. the faa put the rule in place in 2015 amid reports of close calls between drones and passenger planes. an eye-popping record in the art world, a 1982 piece sold for $110.5 million last night. the highest price ever paid for an american artist at auction. the untitled painting of a skull was bought by a japanese billionaire after a t ten-minute bidding war to guests in the room. when we come back, one last day at the
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weekend, the ringling brothers will take the final bow. nbc's kerry sanders takes us to one last show under the big top. >> welcome to the greatest show on earth! ♪ ♪ >> reporter: hard to believe, maybe because it seems like it's always been there but after 146 years, this circus is coming to town one last time. so what did you see that you liked? >> tigers. >> reporter: tiger. those amazing moments that had us holding our breath, gasping and giggling. now vivid mental snapshots the next generation will not share. >> it's a shame. it's an american icon. >> reporter: also vanishing, a way of life. 7-year-old adriana is a fifth generation circus performer. >> i'll miss
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everything. >> reporter: grant was president when ringling brothers wowed our nation. tickets cost just 50 cents. >> what it brought to towns all over this country were the wonders of the world. >> reporter: but ringling says today the digital generation wants youtube. persistent animal rights protest led the circus to retire the elephant acts last year and unexpectedly, audiences stopped coming. with the closing the other animals will go to sanctuaries or european circuses. >> we're heart broken. we love doing what we do. >> reporter: the final shows are sold out. one last chance to oh and awe and make lasting memories. >> i'm glad she gets to experience it at least once. >> reporter: the big top folding up forever. >> to the greatest show on earth! >> reporter: kerry sanders, nbc news, baltimore. >> that is going to do it for us on a friday
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night. i'm lester holt. for all of us at nbc news, thank you for watching and good night. johnny depp on trump. talking about orlando bloom about his ex katy perry. pirates mania shuts down hollywood now on "extra". ♪ extra, extra johnny depp in the middle of total pandemonium and mario has got it. from his funny presidential spoof to his fifth time as jack
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sparrow. and he breaks katy perry news to ex orlando bloom. >> i didn't know she was doing that. >> yeah. >> taking a public swipe at taylor swift? breaking couples news. jim garner's first interview since officially filing divorce from ben. shawn hannity on the death of his father figure roger ailes. >> why didn't you fire me? >> plus, the lost video he he doesn't want you to see. >> don't show it to "extra", "extra". the new date spoof. >> me and jennifer lopez in a dance class. >> wait until you hear who the teachers are. plus, what got julia roberts blushing? >> it is sweet but embarrassing. and renee is with new mr.


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