tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC November 20, 2019 2:07am-2:36am PST
university stepping up security after a series of disturbing racist incidents breaking a passenger partially sucked out of the plane and killed the major safety fix the ntsb is demanding. our one-on-one with bernie sanders on the eve of the next debate the 2020 candidate taking aim at multibillion dollar drugmakers >> of course that's what they say. they lied. >> how he would tackle the deadly opioid crisis >> announcer: this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt good evening on the busiest day yet of the impeachment hearings, a parade of diplomatic and national security witnesses testified into the dinner hour four witnesses in all today, including the army combat veteran and ukraine expert who was on that infamous july phone call between president trump and ukraine's president, describing his alarm at mr. trump's requests for politically helpful investigations and why he reported the call to white house lawyers.
peter alexander has details. >> reporter: today house democrats for the first time calling witnesses who were listening in on that july phone call between president trump and ukraine's leader at the heart of their impeachment inquiry. where president trump asked for investigations into the bidens and the 2016 election. >> i found the july 25th phone call unusual because in contrast to other presidential calls i had observed, it involved discussion of what appeared to be a domestic political matter >> reporter: jennifer williams, a state department employee assigned to the vice president's office and lieutenant colonel alexander vindman, the white house's top ukraine expert. >> i was concerned by the call what i heard was inappropriate. it is improper for the president of the united states to demand a foreign government investigate a u.s. citizen and a political opponent >> reporter: vindman, who has recently been the target of personal attacks defending the veteran diplomats who testified last week. >> i want to say that the character attacks on these distinguished and honorable public servants is reprehensible. >> reporter: in
highlighting his own immigrant story, a soviet refugee who became a decorated iraq war veteran, with this message to his family who brought him here from ukraine. >> dad, i'm sitting here today in the u.s. capitol talking to our elected professionals, talking to our elected professionals is proof you made the right decision 48 years ago to leave the soviet union. do not worry i will be fine for telling the truth. >> reporter: but then a different view of the call from tim morrison, a top official on the national security council, who was also listening in and has testified he was not concerned anything illegal was discussed, but worried the call would spark a political firestorm. >> my fears have been realized >> reporter: this morning's hearing getting testy when top democrat adam schiff jumped in to stop republican questions after vindman revealed he had spoken to an intelligence official about the july call. >> what agency was this individual from >> if i could interject here we don't want to use these proceedings -- >> it's our time -- >> i know. but we need to protect
the whistle-blower please stop. >> mr. vindman, you testified in your deposition that you did not know the whistle-blower >> ranking member, it's lieutenant colonel vindman, please. i do not know who the whistle-blower is. >> how is it possible for you to name these people and then out the whistle-blower >> reporter: democrats zeroing in on one of the president's lines of defense that he was trying to root out corruption, arguing the president only mentioned investigations that would benefit him. >> so when the president says now that he held up security assistance because he was concerned about rooting out corruption in ukraine, that expressed in the two phone conversations that he had with president zelensky is that right >> correct a favor, though, before mentioning the investigations he wanted was in vindman's view a demand >> the culture i come
from, the military culture, when a senior asks you to do something, even if it's polite and pleasant, it's not to be taken as a request. it's to be taken as an order. >> reporter: but republicans are defending the president, saying the aid was eventually turned over. >> one, ukraine, in fact, received the aid. and two, there was no investigation into the bidens >> reporter: republicans say no one so far has revealed an impeachable offense. >> ms. williams, you've never used the word bribery or bribe to explain president trump's conduct, correct? >> no, sir >> colonel vindman, you haven't either >> that is correct an impeachment inquiry that the speaker of the house says is all about bribery, where bribery is the impeachable offense, no witness has used the word bribery to describe president trump's conduct. none of them >> reporter: meanwhile, kurt volker, former special envoy to ukraine amending his previous
testimony. volker had said he never told ukrainian officials about any connection between military aid and investigations, even after ukraine learned the aid had been frozen weeks later now acknowledging he became aware key witnesses were telling the ukrainians something different. >> no one had ever said that to me, and i never conveyed such a linkage to the ukrainians i did not know others were conveying a different message to them around the same time. >> reporter: that's a reference to trump donor turned diplomat gordon sondland whose highly anticipated testimony is tomorrow. volker also criticizing rudy giuliani's irregular raised and i rejected the conspiracy theory that vice president biden would have been influenced in his duties as vice vouching for the accuracy of the july call's rough transcript. >> it looks substantively correc to me. >> i certainly would describe it as substantively correct. >> i think in your deposition, you said very accurate? >> correct. >> reporter: and vindman saying he believes the transcript was
intentionally moved to a separate server. >> i didn't take it as anything nefarious >> reporter: republicans questioning vindman's credibility. but democrats say this moment highlighting ukraine's repeated offer for vindman to be their defense minister was a shot at vindman's loyalty. >> to bestow that honor on you, at least asking you, that was a big honor, correct >> i think it would be a great honor. but i'm an american. i came here when i was toddler and i immediately dismissed these offers >> that may have come cloaked in a brooks brothers suit and parliamentary language, but that was designed exclusively to give the right wing media an opening to question your loyalties. >> reporter: vindman owhy he felt comfortable g >> because this is america. this is the country i have served defended, that all of my brothers have served and here, right matters. >> thank you, sir. yield back [ applause ]
>> reporter: the most high stakes testimony will come tomorrow from ambassador gordon sondland who testified he told a ukrainian official that military aid was tied to political investigation. the big question heading into tomorrow, will sondland say that he was acting on the president's orders or doing it on his own? lester >> all right, peter. and for his part, president trump watched at least part of today's hearings and denounced them once again hallie jackson was with the president and joins us hallie, how did he react? >> lester, president trump is happy to see his gop allies defending him here watch. >> i just got to watch, and the i don't know him i don't know as he because it's a scam. had the misfortune of calling him mister and he corrected them. i don't know vindman at all what i do know is even he said the transcript was correct. >> reporter: now the white house twitter account later went afte the judgment of colonel vindman, who by the way still works
for the administration, and the president clearly frustrated, also attacked speaker nancy pelosi, describing her as a grossly incompetent woman. lester >> all right, hallie jackson, thanks very much let's bring back the guy who has been sitting at this desk with me since 9:00 this morning if you're the democrats, if you're the president, where do things stand as of today? >> well, i think you've set everything up pretty well for tomorrow with gordon sondland because suddenly gordon sondland, you have a testimony that frankly nobody is quite sure where it's going to go. you have drama you a reason that people need to tune in they have everything they need here, and he could make huge , depending on how he defends what is clearly changing testimony.thought they might b able to start chipping away at the narrative that everything they did was unusual. today was supposed to be the day you have more republicans saying okay, it was an ideological the republicans didn't get out of morrison and volker what i think they hoped to get. it makes tomorrow huge.
>> all right, chuck, thanks very much we'll save your seat for tomorrow we'll be back with special coverage tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. eastern with that highly anticipated testimony from ambassador gordon sondland meantime, there is breaking news in the death of accused sex trafficker jeffrey epstein after he died by suicide in his jail cell today two guards were charged with making false records to cover up their failure to keep checking on him stephanie gosk has details. >> reporter: at a federal prison in manhattan, jeffrey epstein half hour. instead, prison cameras reveal the accused sex trafficker went unchecked from approximately 10:30 p.m. august 9th until 6:30 a.m. the next day when he was found dead in his cell, according to federal prosecutors. in fact, during that time, no one entered the unit where he was being held the official cause of death remains suicide. now the two guards who were on duty that night face criminal charges, falsifying records and conspiracy
according to the indictment, michael thomas and tova noel sat at their desk, browsed the internet, and moved around the common area. for two hours they appeared to be asleep. one of them had worked a double shift, 16 hours straight both pleaded not guilty when epstein was discovered, prosecutors say, thomas told a supervisor we didn't do any rounds. epstein was being held in an eight-person special housing unit in a cell just 15 feet away from the officers, put there because there were concerns he may want to take his own life after an apparent failed suicide attempt two weeks before. >> this incident was a black eye on the entire bureau of prisons. >> reporter: in a senate hearing today the director of prison kathleen sawyeshe uldn't commet on ongoing fbi and inspector general investigations into epstein's death. >> you say you can't testify about it but the reason you're director now is because the last guy got fired, right >> senator, i can't tell you what i don't know >> reporter: senator ben sasse growing frustrated that epstein's accusers
don't have answers. >> with all due respect, you still have an obligation to speak to the girls who were raped by this guy. >> stephanie, emotions clearly running high at that hearing today. where does this investigation go now >> well, multiple senators, lester, say they're going to urge the fbi and the inspector general to wrap up these investigations quickly and get answers to epstein's accusers, the answers they so desperately need. >> all right, stephanie, thank you. two hostages, one of them an american are free tonight after being held for more than three years by the taliban in afghanistan. richard engel has more on that tonight. >> reporter: american kevin king and australian timothy weeks seen here in a taliban propaganda video were released in a prisoner swap. >> my name is kevin king. >> reporter: "this has been a long and painful ordeal for our entire family, and his safe return has been our highest priority," king's sister wrote in a statement. they were kidnapped at gunpoint from in front of the american university in kabul where they worked. the taliban said king
had been seriously ill. they were exchanged for several members of an armed wing of the taliban known as the haqqani network who had been in afghan custody. it's the same network that held american sergeant bowe bergdahl for five years after he walked off his post and was captured bergdahl was exchanged for five prisoners and later dishonorably discharged from the military there had been an attempt to rescue the professors with an american special ops raid it missed them that was three long years ago. lester >> richard engel, thank you. growing outrage at syracuse university. the campus stepping up security after a series of racist incidents, at least six in less than two weeks. last night a white supremacist manifesto was allegedly sent to students' cell phones in a library after several other incidents, including slurs graffitied on campus the fbi is now investigating. a manhunt is under way outside houston for a suspect on the loose after an armored truck heist outside a
bank in broad daylight took a deadly turn a second suspect was killed in a shootout with the guard police believe the fugitive on the run may have been wounded and could be armed the guard was not injured. we're on the eve of the next democratic 2020 debate on msnbc, and tonight a top tier candidate is speaking out to nbc news about an issue democratic voters told us is very important to them, the opioid crisis. senator bernie sanders tells harry smith how he would confront the epidemic in "what matters. >> reporter: we spoke with senator bernie sanders at a restaurant beside the winooski river in vermont. from our group of democratic voters, we heard a tragically common american story about opio >> well, i just recently lost my son i fought hard. this system's not created to treat that. they pushed him to the side he was clean for a year he went into remission, and he
slipped up i lost him >> it's heartbreaking. i have heard that story over and over again. this is unacceptable, and that industry must be held accountable not only in my view in terms of paying many billions of dollars in fines, but held criminally accountable as well. >> reporter: sanders sees the opioid epidemic as just one of the ailments medicare for all program, addiction treatment would be available to any who need it, regardless of income, and he says the same program would force u.s. drugmakers to lower prices. no american will pay more than $200 a month for their medications. >> reporter: the drug company is going to say well, we're not going have enough money for research and development. >> oh really well, they have a lot of money to put ads on nbc and cbs and abc. they have enough money to give their ceos outrageous levels of compensation of course that's what
they say they lied. >> reporter: treatment, medicare for all and a new hard line with the pharmaceutical industry, some of what matters to bernie sanders. harry smith, nbc news, winooski, vermont. just ahead, some changeir when she was partially sucked out of an airplane window. death of a passenger also the nfl player arrested, accused of punching a pregnant woman we've got a lot more the tell you about stay with us
the ntsb is calling for changes on the 737 aircraft after last year's horrific incident when part of a southwest engine broke apart mid flight, killing a woman after she was partially sucked out of a window. here is nbc's tom costello. feet >> everybody breathe we're almost landing. >> reporter: passengers grabbing for oxygen masks as 43-year-old jennifer sucked out of a shattered window as they tried desperately to pull her back in, the captain declared an emergency.
>> number one engine failure boeing 737, 149 souls on board. >> reporter: once on ground, investigators found a fan blade inside the left engine had broken apart in flight, tearing off a piece of the engine cowling, or casing, that shattered jennifer riordan's passenger window she left behind two children and her husband michael. >> she was genuine and pure to her core. >> reporter: it was the second fan blade to break off a southwest 737 in less than a year. investigators determined a metal fatigue crack had gone undetected for years southwest immediately inspected all of its similar fan blades and found 16 additional cracks today the ntsb called on boeing and engine maker cfm to make design changes and protect planes from similar failures >> we are to take something very tragic and try to learn from have to got others don' through this. >> reporter: boeing says it's working on a that would fully address the safety recommendation from the ntsb
a miami dolphins running back was arrested today and charged with battery ron mott has details >> reporter: miami dolphins' mark walton out of a job tonight after south florida police charged him with aggravated battery. the nfl player accused of allegedly punching his pregnant girlfriend multiple times in the face and head >> i believe that he is innocent of these charges. >> reporter: the team released the 22-year-old, who has had a troubled historyour play these matters very seriously. earlier this month, walton was suspended standard and take four games by the nfl for violating the league's substance abuse policy during the off-season, walton was arrested thncluding a misdemeanor weapons charge the nfl, despite tougher punishments, continues to wrestle with domestic violence involving its players. ray rice never played
in the league again after tmz released video of him beating his fiancee in 2014, also caught on cam by tmz sports, kareem hunt of the cleveland browns kicking a woman last year. he was suspended eight games this season. >> there is a lot that still needs to be done they're willing to give these guys multiple chances or excuse the behavior because they can play. >> reporter: violence carried off the field yet again. ads me
time to say bye-bye to bei bei. no passport, but we're getting him ready to go >> reporter: giant pandas were gifted to the united states in 1972 under a cooperative agreement between the national zoo and china, those born here like bei bei are sent to cna a. >> i would miss you if you went super far away >> reporter: and keeper marty diere has spent months preparing bei bei for his excellent adventure, a 16-hour flight aboard his very own panda express. kevin tibbles, nbc news, washington. >> best of luck, bei bei. that's "nightly news." i'm lester holt. >> abigail: chad? chad? hey, wake up. >> chad: yeah, i'm up. >> abigail: i can't sleep. >> chad: i can help you sleep. >> abigail: oh, seriously? how could you think about sex
at a time like this? >> ben: ciara, what's g i overhd grandpa and xander talking when i was moving my stuff in the mansion last night. yeah, grandpa said that he hired xander for doing him a huge favor. >> ben: which could be code for... >> ciara: xander killing jordan on victor's behalf. and now that i live at the mansion, i have plenty of access to xander's personal and business files, so don't worry, ben. i will find something. >> ben: but xander is a dangerous guy, ciara. if he finds out that you're onto him-- >> ciara: i gotta go, bye. >> xander: ciara, who was on the phone? >> chad: it's kinda hard not to think about sex when i'm lying next to my beautiful, sexy wife. >> abigail: okay, wait, stop.
just listen to me. i just--i feel so unstable right now. i mean, all this stuff with stefano being so unresolved, i mean, it's just--it's all i can think about, and it's driving me crazy. how is it not driving you crazy? >> chad: you drive me crazy. >> abigail: okay, can we just talk about this, please? >> chad: mm-hmm. >> abigail: he said that he would meet you face-to-face on one condition, right? what's the condition? that was 12 hours ago, chad. >> chad: okay, listen. i know my father, and he is gonna reach out when he's ready, okay? >> abigail: this is--do you understand what's happening here? he is up to the same games that he's always doing, these twisted games. it's not fair. if it's even the same person. come on, really. >> hope: where's a bloody footman when you need one?