tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC April 7, 2019 5:30pm-5:59pm PDT
two stories breaking tonight. another high-level departure from the trump administration. secretary of homeland security kirstjen nielsen is out. what it could mean for his immigration policy going forward. also breaking, an american hostage freed. kidnapped at gunpoint in uganda five days ago, the woman and her driver are now safe. was a ransom paid for their release? three historically black churches burned down just miles apart in louisiana. investigators now looking to see if the fires are connected. and an nbc news exclusive, the father of timmothy pitzen speaks out for the first time after a many claimed to be his
missing son. >> he's alive soi kw he is. >> the family not giving up the search. terrifying video of a lion tamer mauled by one of his own animals. the attack in front of a huge crowd of spectators. why the trainer says he is to blame. and they don't have driver's licenses, but these young racers are already proving they've got a need for speed. ♪ this is "nbc nightly news" with kate snow. good evening to our west coast viewers tonight. with the president calling for a tough new approach on the southern border, late today he announced on twitter that his secretary of homeland security will be leaving her position. in her job, kirstjen nielsen became the face of controversial policies. she's come under intense scrutiny from democrats. while she's publicly supported the president's policies, she's also been berated by him behind closed doors. kelly o'donnell joins us live from the white house. what's the latest? >> reporter: this is no doubt a
major ohio static in the president'sthe president's cabi. frustrations over the southern border. kirstjen nielsen is out tonight as the secretary of homeland security. she was called here for a meeting with the president late today, then later she released her resignation letter where she writes that she hopes the next secretary will have the support of congress and the courts in fixing the laws which have impeded our ability to fully secure america's borders and which have contributed to discord in our nation's discourse. the president announced her departure by tweet, and while he thanked nielsen for her service, that method was a sign on its face of t tensions. sources say the president had heard calls made by the head of the border patrol union as one example that nielsen should step down. the president immediately named an acting secretary, that is the current commissioner of customs and border protection. kevin mcalenan who was confirmed for the post. the changeiels
travelitcoup of days ago. she had been very visible on that trip. and she had, of course, been under fire at different points throughout her tenure over issues like the family separation policy. kate? >> there's new reaction on another issue. democrats setting a deadline for the president to release his tax returns. >> reporter: all about pressure about seeing the president's personal and business taxes. countdown to tax day. not the usual april 15th deadline but this wednesday, when house democrats democrat the irs turn over six years of president trump's tax returns. >> is that all? >> reporter: today a kurt response from the white house. >> no, never. nor should they. nostarter.r: it a >> voters knew the president could haveaxiv returns and didn't anyway which drives the democrats crazy. >> i've been under audits for a
number of years. >> reporter: proper oversight allows them to review how the irs is auditing the president's returns. >> this is a president who has resisted any oversight into his affairs, and so i think the chairman of ways and means has every right to determine is the irs following its own policy and protocols. >> reporter: the other big deadline -- the mueller report. team trump says attorney general barr should release as much as legally possible. >> no republican's pushing back on full disclosure -- i haven't heard of any republican who isn't in support. >> reporter: democrats insist the attorney general review should not remove classified, sensitive, or grand jury information from the nearly pa findings. >> congress has a right to the entire report with no redaction what so ever. so we can see the windows for congress and the public to get some access to the mueller report is fast approaching. the attorney general pledged to
make at least portions of the report available by mid-april. and congress is holding out an already-approved subpoena as a stick if necessary. kate? >> kelly o'donnell, late night at the white house. thank you. in the race for 2020 today, indiana mayor pete buttigieg made revealing comments about his struggle coming to terms with his sexual orientation as he prepares to run as the first openly gay candidate for president. nbc's hans nichols with more. good evening. >> reporter: for the first time, mayor pete buttigieg described in personal storms an internal war, one the 37-year-old was only able to win after he came home from serving in afghanistan. >> when i was younger, i would have done anything to not be gay. if you had offered me ald have swallowed it before you had time to give me a sip of water. if you had shown me exactly what it was inside me that made me gay, i would have cut it out with a knife. >> reporter: he went on to thank
god that there was no pill, no knife. the rhodes scholar didn't come out to his parents until he was 33 and then to his constituents in 2015. the next year, buttigieg won re-election with 80%. a recent nbc news/"wall street journal" survey found that 68% of voters were comfortable with a gay presidential candidate. in some iowa polls, he's in third place. buttigieg, a practicing episcopali episcopalian, seemed to take aim at vice president mike pence saying that anyone who had a problem with who he was actually has a problem with his creator. kate? >> hans nichols, thank you. captivity tonight, an american tourist is safe again. released after she was kidnapped by armed gunmen while on safari in uganda tuesday. we have late details. >> reporter: tonight, her ordeal is over. five days after kimberly endicott's dream vacation to uganda tur inthe woman from guide were ambushed during a game
drive throughatiol park. the suspects used her cell tonight to call her family and donate a half million dollar ransom. endicott and the guide are both safe and in good health. rescued near the park's border with the democratic republic of the congo, a country consumed by rebel systems are. "the new york times" reports the safari company, wild frontiers, paid a ransom for their release. nbc news has not independently verified this. u.s. government policy is to never pay ransom for hostages, but that doesn't always stop families or organizations from doing so privately. secretary of state mike pompeo defended the no-pay policy. >>rost or terrorist regime gives money so they can seize more of our people. we cannot accept that risk. you wouldn't ask that of us. even a small payment to a group in, say, africa to facilitate the killing of tens or hundreds of others including americans or
eporter: tonight president gion. trump welcomed their release with a tweet, but offered no more details. endicott and her driver are still in uganda being interviewed by police about their ordeal. while there's no word about those who kidnapped them. sarah harmon, nbc news, london. in the u.s. we're tracking severe weather in parts of the south and along the gulf coast tonight. residents recorded thunderstorms, flooding, and some possible tornado sightings. there was also hail the size of golf balls smashing into cars and buildings, causing serious damage in some areas. we're joined now by wnbc's dave price for more. 's, not setchf the imagination. we have tornado warnings in and around n strong system will wor tohe north and east over the next 24 hours weakening ever so slightly. tonight we're watching houston all the way over to the mississippi border and up through sections of arkansas.
13 million people at risk for hail, high at,he second part of our story as temperatures are up 10 to 15 degrees above normal throughout much of the country including in the southwest. that's going to change rather rapidly as the system begins to work its way on shore and by the time we get to the midweek, we're going to be talking about potential blizzard conditions in sections of the reeks and rain and snow -- rockies and rain and snow throughout areas as far north as the upper midwest. blizzard conditions in april. we'll send it back to you. >> no, thank you. dave price, thank you so much. a deadly accident in phoenix this morning when a fire truck collided with a pickup. three people who were in the truck including a 6-month-old were n stable condition. of the crash. the fire truck was en route to a over the past ten days, suspicious fires have same rurl parish in louisiana. tammy leitner is there for us tonight. ♪ >> reporter: pastor gerald
toussaint's organization is visiting this house of worship. >> what's done in the dark will come to the light. >> reporter: because their church was destroyed. >> why? why? why would they do that? >> reporter: his is the third black baptist church to burn in ten days in the same south louisiana parish. a rural area where religion is present in most homes. >> we're as a communities connected. we all belong to the same district. we all know each other. searching for answers.mallet is do you think this could be racially motivated? >> yes, yes. i think it has something to do with race. >> reporter: her family has been attending st. mary's baptist for generations. her mother and grandfather are buried behind the church. the only thing left,ges. >> i think it's a sign. >> reporter: the atf and fbi have authorities aren't calling it arson yet but say they found suspicious elements at each fire. >> we do believe that crimes have occurred. we believe that the three fires
obviously are not coincidental. they are related. >> reporter: there's a long history of black churches being targeted in the south. pastor toussaint says he believes something good will rise from these ashes. >> this caused us to call each other more than we ever called each other. this caused us to talk to each other more than we ever talked to each other. >> reporter: he says the building is gone, but the church is still alive. tammy leitner, nbc news, louisiana. a 6,000 square-f fllfes and explosion on saturday. workers had been painting inside at the time of the blast which may have been triggered by fumes. w withn-li-threatening injurie. with two days to go before elections in benmin netanyahu h made a controversial new proposal that appears to be aimed at gaining votes and winning a fourth term. critics say the move could jeopardize a long-term solution
to the israeli-palestinian conflict. nbc's bill neely has more from tel aviv. >> reporter: this was a big last-minute promise from benjamin netanyahu in a close race. he says if he's re-elected he'll annex part of the west bank, seized by israel half a century ago, and home to nearly half a million settlers. a pledge aimed at winning votes from the ultra right who called for this for years. his deputy minister says president trump shouldn't be surprised by it. >> the assumptionen before pres obama and even the president bush that thosedereace agreemen angr at netanyahu's pledge. >> this is throwing the region as a whole into the cycle of violence, counterviolence, and chaos. >> reporter: netanyahu is under pressure, and he's using president trump like a running mate.
>> he's tough, he's smart, he's strong -- >> reporter: trump features in election videos, president putin, too. but netanyahu's running scared. the man who's running him close is a man who used to obey his orders -- the former head of israel's army. benny gentz has never stood in any election before now. >> i am confident -- >> reporter: he says opinion polls and the mood of the country tell him he can win. >> i'm confident. >> reporter: netanyahu is close to becoming israel's longest everslection topples the man they call "king b.b." nearly eight years ago the pitzen family endured the unthinkable when 6-year-old timmothy vanished in kentucky. this week, you're probably aware of the cruel twist for that family when a man claimed to be their son and then turned out to be an imposter. tonight we have an e interview with timmothy's father as they try to use all the
renewed attention to find their boy. here's nbc's molly hunter. >> reporter: tonight a renewed sense of hope and a plea from a father. >> he's alive somewhere, i know he is. >> reporter: timmothy pitzen's father jim spoke exclusively to nbc news for the first time after another false sighting since his 6-year-old son went missing in illinois in 2011. >> he's probably in the middle of nowhere, being home schooled someplace, you know, just away from the media and tvs and technology. >> reporter: last week, a man was found i kentucky telling officers that his name was timmothy pitzen and he'd just run away from his kidnappers. after a dna test indicated that he wasn't timmothy, police charged brian rini with making a false statement. according to a criminal complaint, rini told investigators that he wished he had a father like timmothy's because if he went missing, his father would just keep drinking. >> expur o there. get a description of what he may look like at this time out.
he's probably about 145, 150 pounds, between 5'10" and 6'3". >> reporter: timmothy would be 14 now, missing for eight years after his mother amy fry-pitzen picked him up from school early. they went to the zoo and water park before she took him to a hotel and killed himself. >> lost the family that day. >> reporter: she left a note saying "timmothy is fine, you will never find him." believing that is just not something his father can do. >> you can't give up hope. as soon as you giveen u -- what? declare him dead. i mean, i'm not going to do that. >> reporter: molly hunter, nbc news. still ahead tonight, the lion tamer attacked by one of his own animals. the terrifying moments caught on camera. - where's a woman's place?
a frightening moment at a circus in ukraine recently when a lion attacked his tamer in front of a big crowd. nbc's kathy park has the story, and a warning that some of this footage may be hard to watch. >> reporter: a circus show in eastern ukraine took a terrifying turn when one of the stars decided to go off script in a crowd filled with adults and young children in march. [ screams ] >> new video shows the moment this lion pounces on to his handler, biting down on his arm, wrestling him to the grounds as spectators screamed in horror. s ] 32-year-old hamad akge cat befod other lions. out of the arena along with the incredibly, he gets back on his
feet. the attack left deep scratches on his arm and shoulder, but he doesn't blame the lion. a sixth generation trainer, he shows no fear when working with them. [ speaking non-english ] >> reporter: peta responded to the attack with an online post writing, "this isar from surprising with circus animals suffering psychologically when forced to perform." kouta calls the lions his children, trusting them more than people despite the whe training the next generation of america's bravest.
7% of the 1.1 million american firefighters are women. but times are changing thanks in part to a camp in california. here's nbc's morgan chefsky. >> reporter: climbing the ladder wasn't easy for erin reagan. women make up less than 1% of the force. >> here frar from people on the street each now, oh, they let you do that? >> because i was a female, i had to prove myself i think order that than a lot of my counterparts. >> reporter: both veterans of the department they look for a way to attract more women to fire-fighting and launched girls fire camp. >> go get 'em. >> reporter: an interest to spark interest in young women and bridge the gender gap. >> they're out there. they are out there, and it's just showing them, hey, this is how you get there. and yes, you belong. >> two rows behind me, hustle -- >> reporter: the annual one-day camp serves girls from ages 14 to 19. giving them a chance to walk in the boots of firefighters who have already blazed a trail. n 45 pounds of
gear. >> whoa! >> reporter: wield hoses, power chainsaws, and learn the life-and-death choices firefighters face every day. >> rachel coleman, i'm 16. this is what i want to do. >> reporter: this is rachel coleman's first time at the girls camp. >> evedy it's always better to give back to your community rather than take. it's what i want to do. >> good! >> reporter: even more inspired to serve after meeting women living their dream and hers. >> i don't have a dream or a goal that you can write down on a piece of paper. >> go, go, go! >> for me the dream is that people feel welcome. >> reporter: nbc news. when we come back, the daring kids putting pedal to the metal. - where's a woman's place?
finally tonight, they are young, they are fast, and they just might be the future of racing in america. here's steve patterson. >> reporter: they scorch through corners at breakneck speeds. negotiate split-second turns, and deploy ferocious tactics to win at all costs. all, of course, before bedtime. >> winning. >> reporter: your favorite part is winning, huh? this is what organizers call quarter midget racing, souped up racers sponsored by big-time companies. >> i love the speed, and i'm very competitive. >> reporter: piloted by pint-sized drivers like 13-year-old danica del monte. >> i do win. i am trying to be one of -- to beat one of my main competitors. >> reporter: the many gearheads push speeds up to 50 miles per hour. none have driver's licenses, but all of them are serious about racing. >> these are future nascar kids right here.
>> reporter: kids here often skid and spin out and crash. i noticed he said "when i crash," not "if i crash." >> it happens. >> reporter: yet all involved say it's one of the safety child activities around. >> they're strapped in with a five-point harness. they flip all the time, they don't care. they think it's fun. >> reporter: sonny phillips leads the only special-needs quarter midgets program. her sonn >> it's just a great way to have fun, and i like the adrenaline rush. winning. having fun, so i st decided to give it a go. rock on, baby. the rush is thrilling. i was so fast. that i was on fire. these fast and furious phenomes learning life lessons at top speeds. steve patterson, nbc news, san jose. and that is "nbc nightly news" on this sunday. lester holt will be back with you tomorrow when you'll want to check our exclusive look "inside
catholic church in the east bay for more than 30 years. right now at 6:00 -- he was a devoted leader of the catholic church in the east bay for more than 30 years. tonight, parishioners are saying farewell to the man they knew at father j. the news at 6:00 starts right now. i'm terry mcsweeney. >> i'm vicki ngyuen. a vigil is under way honoring the beloved from a