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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  November 14, 2019 2:07am-2:36am PST

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the hero firefighter killed in a four-alarm inferno trying to rescue a baby how he saved two other firefighters the father of three just hours away from taking his family to disneyworld. the tragedy at a special needs school, a 13-year-old with autism dying after his family says he was restrained for more than an hour and a half. the new charges tonight. nbc news investigates black market thc vaping pens the frightening mix of toxic chemicals we found in the vapor. >> announcer: this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. good evening the impeachment showdown went live today in the first public hearing democrats rolling out two career and self-described non-partisan diplomats who spelled out a sharp narrative of what they witnessed and what they saw as an effort by president trump to trade critical military aid to ukraine for investigations into his political rivals william taylor revealing another
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potentially troubling phone call involving president trump.itpet. >> reporter: tonight, history on the hill as house democrats make their case against president trump in the first public impeachment hearing in 20 years. >> is this what americans should now expect from their president? if this is not impeachable conduct, what is >> reporter: democrats relying on two top career diplomats to spell out a quid pro quo much of the focus on the july phone call where president trump asked ukraine's president zelensky for investigations into the bidens and the 2016 election but tonight, taylor revealed another conversation involving president trump the next day that he says a staffer recently told him about with trump donor turned diplomat, gordon sondland. m hear president trump on the phone asking ambassador sondland about the investigations mr. sondland told trump the ukrainians were ready to move forward.
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following the call a member of my staff asked ambassador sondland what president trump thought about ukraine. sondland said mr. trump cares more about the investigations of biden. >> reporter: it's a call sondland never mentioned in his testimony getting to the heart of democrats' argument military aid to a white house meeting were being with held until ukraine announced the investigation into the president's political rival. >> neither of these investigations was in the u.s. national interest. both however, were in donald trump's personal interest. >> have you ever seen another example of foreign aid conditioned on the personal or political interests of the president of the united states, >> reporter: the hearing testy at times. >> you, yourself call.
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>> the gentlemen woman will suspend. >> reporter: with republicans denouncing it as a partisan sham. >> i'd like to congratulate you for passing the democrat star chamber additions held for the last weeks in the basement of the capitol. it seems you agreed witting or unwittingly to participate in a drama, but the main performance, the russia hoax has ended and you've been cast in the low rent ukrainian sequel. >> reporter: taylor going back one week before that july phone call recalling a video conference where he says he sat in astonishment when an unidentified budget office staffer said the aid to ukraine was frozen without explaining why. >> all the staff person said was that the directive had come from the presidto in an instant, i realized that one of the key pillars of our strong support for ukraine was threatened. >> reporter: weeks after that call, taylor recounting this conversation with gordon sondland.
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>> ambassador sondland told me that president trump told him that he wants president zelensky to state publicly ukraine will investigate barisma, an alleged ukrainian interference in the 2016 election. ambassador sondland said everything was dependent on such an announcement including security assistance. he said that president trump wanted president zelensky in a public box by making a public statement about ordering such investigations. >> reporter: senior state department official george kent also questioning the role of the president's personal lawyer, rudy giuliani. >> his efforts to gin up politically motivated investigations were now infecting investigation with ukraine leveraging the desire for a white house meeting. >> reporter: republicans defended the president. >> where is the impeachable offense in that call >> reporter: saying he could not be threatening to withhold military aid because taylor testified ukraine did not know aid was being with held until weeks after the july call and
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that ultimately, the aid was given to ukraine without the investigations president trump requested. >> were you wrong when you said you had a clear understanding that president zelensky had to commit to an investigation of bidens before the aid got released and the aid got released and he didn't commit to an investigation. >> i was not wrong about what i told you, which is what i heard. that's all i've said i've told you what i heard. >> and that's the point. what you heard did not happen. it didn't happen you didn't listen on president trump's call and president zelensky's call. >> i did not. >> you never talked with chief of staff mulvaney. >> i never did. >> you never met the president >> that's correct. >> this is what i can't believe. you're their star witness. >> the push to investigate hunter biden given a job with the ukrainian company while joe biden was vice president something kent questioned back in 2015. >> i raised my concern that hunter biden's status as a board member would create the perception of conflict of interest
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i did not witness an effort to shield barisma from scrutiny >> reporter: saying they were not seeking the spotlight and push k bag from the early morning attack from mr. trump that they are never trumpers. >> mr. kent, are you a never trumper? >> i'm a career professional that serves whatever president is duly elected for three republican presidents and two democrat presidents. >> are you a never trumper >> no, sir. >> reporter: the question tonight, will any of this sway divided americans testifying friday, the former ambassador to ukraine and the person that over heard the call, he will testify behind closed doors later this week lester >> peter alexander, thanks. the president as we noted reacting to today's hearing hoaring the turkish president at the white house. and there is late reaction from democrats on all this, too hallie jackson has details.
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>> reporter: today's historic hearing viewed by millions but not the president he says. >> i hear it's a joke. i haven't watched this is a sham it shouldn't be allowed. it's all third-hand information, nothing direct at all. can't be direct because i never said it. >> reporter: he and his white house down playing what they describe as a witch hunt, decrying it as boring and disputing one new key fact about a call on july 26th between e.u. ambassador sondland and the president himself. >> a member of my staff could hear him on the phone asking him about the investigations >> what this call indicates is that the instructions are coming from the president on down. >> reporter: president trump says that's news to him. >> i know nothing about that first time i've heard it. >> do you recall the conversation -- >> i don't recall. no, not at a lite bit. >> democrats say today helped explain to the american public how they believed the president abused his power.
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>> i'm very proud. i think that what has come forth has given us the truth of what happened >> reporter: president trump spent most of the day meeting with the turkish president, a controversial president after the u.s. pulled troops out of northern syria effectively allowing turkish troops to invade triggering tough criticism our kurdish friends were abandoned the president insists otherwise. >> our relationship with the kurds is a good one. >> reporter: for the impeachment hearing, multiple sources acknowledge while bill taylor appeared to be a credible witness, they don't think this hearing changed the game with one person telling me based on today it's doubtful any republicans will break ranks with president trump lester >> all right hallie jackson at the white house tonight, thanks. let's bring on andrea mitchell and chuck todd, the political director and moderator of "meet the press. let me begin with you.
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does this move the needle acknowledging there are more public hearings to come? >> they did today because they got an additional piece of new information that frankly makes you want to see the next episode, which is gordon sondland, the ambassador to the e.u. and the second phone call, here is an eyewitness account or ear witness account of overhearing the president on the phone with gordon sondland. it makes his testimony crucial, lester, to the point of it could be make or break type of crucial i think for the longer portion of this but look, the other part of this is what do the democrats want out of this if you're looking at today through the lens of did they make the case to remove the president from office? it's way too soon to tell on that but they did have a decent enough day one to make you want to see day two. >> andrea, we can't forget about the 2020 race for president. these two are colliding. >> they are colliding because that is why the democrats are narrowing the focus of this to just this issue, not russia and
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president before they know they have very little time to get this case made to the public before they are into 2020 and the republicans' best argument and doubter's best argument is let's let the voters decide. >> andrea and chuck, thanks to both of you. let's turn to the dangerous deep freeze gripping hundreds of millions tonight the weather being blamed for at least nine deaths. gabe gutierrez has the latest. >> reporter: tonight the polar plunge is even deeper. more than 235 million people woke up to frigid wind chills, the dangerous arctic blast shattering more than 100 record lows overnight >> i thought it would be cold but didn't think it would be this cold. >> yeah. >> reporter: in wisconsin, a bus driver noticed two under dressed kids wondering in the frigid conditions and she took action. >> everybody keeps saying that i'm a hero, but i'm also a mother and at the end of the
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day, i would hope somebody would do the same for my kids. >> reporter: new york city set a new record low of 23 degrees breaking the previous record here set more than three decades ago. >> you expect it to be this cold this soon? >> no way. it was, what, 60 degrees last week. >> reporter: colder in nashville than in northern alaska. some areas like mcallen, texas, dropped more than 50 degrees in 24 hours temperatures are now hovering ten to 30 degrees below average for the eastern half of the u.s., but we're forecast to warm up tomorrow, lester. >> gabe gutierrez, thanks. it was brutally cold as fire crews responded to a four-alarm inferno in massachusetts a father of three killed while trying to rescue a baby and his fellow firefighters. nbc's ann thompson has the story. >> reporter: today a somber salute to fire lieutenant jason menard on the day he planned to
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take his family to disney world, but first there was a fire to fight. in bitter cold and high winds, firefighters battled flames at this three-family home early this morning menard and his crews searched for the reported baby. >> on the third floor trying to find an exit get to a window. let us know where you are. >> reporter: trapped officials say he helped a probationary firefighter to a staircase and another to a window, but could not escape himself. >> he was a passionate fire officer that loved being a firefighter. his dedication to the residents of worcester was unwavering. >> reporter: the three firefighters and a resident were taken to the hospital. officials have not determined a cause for the fire tonight, nine people have lost their homes and one firefighter's family, their husband and father ann thompson, nbc news. >> a terribly sad story. there is a state of
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emergency in venice tonight as the historic italian city deals with the worst flooding in more than 50 years. much of venice was submerged because of an exceptionally high tide, one man seen swimming in historic st. mark's square at least one person has died the mayor is blaming it on climate change. the nbc news investigation what is making so many people sick from vaping the cdc singled out a synthetic form of vitamin e in some patients' lungs while it hasn't tested the actual thc vapor, a lab in california has. cynthia mcfadden has the first ever results showing an alarming mix of toxins. >> reporter: tonight at the labs in los angeles, considered one of the top marijuana testing facilities in the world, executives aaron riley and antonio frasier explain they have come up with a brand-new test. >> we wanted to design a system that would be able to provide reproducible results.
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>> reporter: to doething wish td do, analyze the vapor produced by illicit thc oil they tested seven thc cartridges from licensed dispensaries and six from the black market. >> the illicit card has dangerous sin they the particulars and carbon monoxide and cyanide. >> reporter: that's right, cyanide. not one of them was safe for consumption? fair >> that's very fair to say every single one of them had something, some of them had a cocktail of things that were wrong with them. >> reporter: two of the illicit cartridges were counterfeit products seen here next to their legitimate counterparts. how bad were these these knockoffs? >> they had significant levels they had formaldehyde. >> reporter: the kingpin had cyanide.
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there is no legal product called dank vapes, but according to the cdc, many that got sick used it. >> we found over seven pesticides in the vapes. we found significant levels of vitamin e and we're seeing trace amounts of formaldehyde. >> reporter: the prize for the most pesticides went to the vapor from this illicit thc cartridge maui wowie with 1500 times the legal limit. essentially, you're vaping pesticides >> at that level, yes. >> reporter: finally, a troubling surprise regarding legal thc products, safe when used at standard temperatures they say but many vaping pens allow users to crank up the heat. >> when we ran all of the cartridges at a higher voltage, we noticed there was carcinogens in not all of them but most of them. even including the legal market cartridges >> reporter: un higher the heat, the bigger the vapor puffs and now we know the
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higher the chance of carcinogens. >> you can see more of our investigation tomorrow on "today". just ahead for us tonight, why three educators are facing charges after the death of a 13-year-old special needs student. also, we'll go inside the training program for some highly valued members of the military headed for active duty stay with us
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we're back with three educators charged in the death of a 13-year-old student nbc sam brock has more. >> reporter: a call for justice for max benson, a 13-year-old autistic boy who headed off to a northern california school last fall and never came home now a teacher, two administrators and the guiding hands school face charges of involuntary manslaughter, all pleading not guilty. question. >> reporter: the boy's family
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says he was restrained after he claims he spit to another student, brought to the ground in a takedown maneuver and held for an hour and a half california officials revoked their license and some parents stand by the charged educators. >> with a life tragically shortened they will consider this case of special needs restraint. sam brock, nbc news los angeles. we'll take a short break, those who serve, heroes in the making, which dogs had the right stuff.
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you've seen the headlines about conan the hero military dog that helped take down a leader of isis base in san antonio where dogs train for their turn in battle he i these pups are in the running to be america's next heroes their mission, join the ranks. of more than 3,000 military
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working dogs >> what we look for in the puppies is the drive to move towards things that move, bite them and possess them. >> reporter: or something as simple as a water bottle teaching pups to work through distraction before getting a bite of a hot dog. the stars shepherds and the belgium dog intelligent and athletic labs trained to sniff explosives and narcotics and for the navy, jack russelld sense of smell art for tight spots. >> it's like a natural instinct. they have a sense. they know what something is going down. >> reporter: after proving they can bite, tackle and track almost anything, the toughest part for trainers, saying good-bye. >> these dogs are irreplaceable. they come with the capability that no human has. >> reporter: a battle tested best friend ready to play hero no matter what morgan chesky, nbc news. >> we thank them for their
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service, as well. coming up, final thoughts americans tonight finding themselves packing the same stadium. we'll have that.
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some final thoughts before ina tching thens find themselves course, impeachment a potential removal of an elected president is no game a ns thas about as serious as it gets by its nature, it's also political a political process and brought its own unique dynamics but the stakes are too high to not give it our undivided attention it certainly has ours and we'll continue to report and follow this important story >> roman: all right. fresh pot. there you go. >> eric: thank you. >> roman: anything for my son. >> eric: yeah? well, i'm happy
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to hear you say that, because i want to know if you want to support this year's pledge drive to the horton center. >> roman: oh, my. it's been a year? >> eric: mm-hmm. >> roman: seems like yesterday we just had the last one. >> eric: yeah. >> roman: of course i'll contribute. how's the drive going? >> eric: well, i'm happy to say people give generously. >> roman: well, everybody knows how important the center's services are, especially in difficult times. i] what are you doing? you have had your nose in that laptop for days. what are you so focused on? >> victor: you are still the man. >> maggie: victor! >> victor: iced tea. i was just having some iced tea. >> maggie: iced tea that smells like 30-year-old scotch, even from here. >> victor: sorry.
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>> maggie: oh, you don't have to apologize, and you don't have to lie. i know all about your secret stashes. >> victor: you do? >> maggie: uh-huh. your hiding places aren't so hidden. what are you celebrating? >> victor: ciara. my granddaughter has finally come to her senses and severed all ties with tec on our plan. >> ben: you went to victor? >> ciara: i told my grandfather that i had given up on you, that i thought you were still a killer, and that i didn't love you anymore. >> ben: it must have been so hard for you to lie like that. >> ciara: it was worth it. ben, he was so happy. you should have seen the look on his face, and now, hopefully, he'll let his guard down, and i'll be able to prove that he's really the one who killed jordan. >> ben: oh, my god. you're incredible. the way you fight for me--
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i don't know how to thank you. >> ciara: it's a no-brainer, ben. i love you, and you're innocent, and you've already spent way too much time in this place. >> ben: yeah, but proving that it was victor behind my sister's death?ell, i'm movig in and my ears open, and maybe i'll get lucky and find something that'll get you cleared and get you back home with me,


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