tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC October 18, 2019 2:07am-2:37am PDT
and the survivors speaking out for the first time were warning signs missed? nbc news investigates one of the nation's largest student loan companies taking employees on a luxury hawaii getaway at a time millions of americans are being crushed by student debt. >> we'd love to talk to you about what you guys are doing here. >> what the ceo said when we confronted him. the new warning, toxic metals that can damage babies' brains found in a staggering amount of baby food. what parents need to know. the tributes pouring in for a long-time congressman and civil rights champion. good evening an embattled president trump may have gotten no favors from his acting chief of staff today who appeared to contradict one of the president's main impeachment defenses, that there was no quid pro quo. mick mulvaney telling reporters the president did hold up military aid to ukraine, at least in part for personal political reasons. he addressed reporters at the very same time a witness directly involved in those ukraine dealings was telling his story in the impeachment
inquiry. kristen welker has details >> reporter: tonight, undercutting the president's denials of a quid pro quo, the acting white house chief of staff, mick mulvaney, with a remarkable admission one of the reasons president trump held up military aid to ukraine was mr. trump wanted them to assist in a justice department investigation into the 2016 election. >> the look back to what happened in 2016 certainly was part of the things that he was worried about in corruption with that nation. that is absolutely appropriate. >> reporter: the president's request was over an unfounded allegation democrats meddled with ukraine's help in the election mulvaney was pressed, was all of this a quid pro quo? which could be illegal. >> we do that all the time in foreign policy i have news for everybody, get over it. there's going to be political influence in foreign policy.
>> reporter: the president has denied there was quid pro quo during his july phone call with ukraine's leader. >> there was no quid pro quo there was no quid pro quo at all. >> reporter: today mulvaney said the delay in military aid was not related to the president's other request, for ukraine to investigate joe biden and his son hunter. >> the money held up had absolutely nothing to do with biden. >> reporter: still, it's all at the heart of the impeachment inquiry which brought another dramatic day on capitol hill the ambassador to the european union, gordon sondland, in the hot seat. >> why was it important for you to show up here today? >> it's always important to show up when congress calls. >> are you here to salvage your reputation, sir? >> i don't have a reputation to salvage. >> reporter: sondland telling lawmakers behind closed doors, president trump outsourced his foreign policy in ukraine to his personal attorney, rudy giuliani in his opening remarks sondland testifying, we were disappointed by the president's direction that we involve mr. giuliani. >> was that a shadow foreign policy >> that -- that's a term you're using, that's a pejorative, a shadow policy here the president is entitled to have whoever he wants to work. >> reporter: late tonight after backlash from some of the
president's allies, mulvaney saying his comments about ukraine were misconstrued, even though they were on camera, saying there was absolutely no quid pro quo between ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 election the president defending him. >> mick is a good man, i don't know, i have not heard anything about that i have a lot of confidence. >> reporter: tonight energy secretary rick perry telling president trump he intends to resign, a move anticipated for weeks. perry is facing a friday deadline to comply with a subpoena from house democrats. lester >> kristen welker, thanks. the other major story developing, the surprise cease-fire in northern syria vice president pence announcing that turkey has suspended its military offensive for five days richard engel is there for us tonight. >> reporter: vice president pence and turkish president erdogan sat stone faced during negotiations but emerged hours later with what president trump declared was a deal that would save millions of lives
a five-day cease-fire which allows for kurdish fighters to withdraw from the war zone once they do, turkey agreed to a permanent cease-fire. >> this is a situation where everybody is happy and i'm happy because there's no fighting we can bring certainly most of our people back home for the first time in many years >> reporter: but u.s. allies, the kurds, are not happy president trump just gave away the kurdish homeland in syria to turkey, their sworn enemy. the so-called safe zone is a 20 mile deep, 250 mile long stretch of land that will now apparently be controlled and patrolled by turkey turkey has been calling for this for years. turkey's president showed a map of what he wanted at the u.n. last september this safe zone fits right on top of where syrian kurds have been living under self-rule they earned their autonomy by
fighting side by side with u.s. forces against isis for nearly five years and losing 11,000 of their men and women. the kurds defeated the isis state, earned their rights, and tonight feel utterly betrayed by president trump. they had a home, until ten days ago when president trump ordered u.s. forces to pull back from the border, effectively allowing the turks to invade. and already tonight the top kurdish command here in northern syria is disputing the terms of the cease-fire, saying they didn't agree to pull back from all of the border areas, just a small portion. so it's possible this cease-fire won't even last five days. lester >> all right, richard engel, thank you. it was during a contentious white house meeting about the syria conflict that house speaker nancy pelosi stood up in front of president trump the photo instantly becoming a new and powerful symbol of their power struggle here's andrea mitchell >> reporter: it's a now-iconic
picture taken as nancy pelosi stood up to walk out of a meeting with the president released by the white house to diminish the speaker, she immediately turned it into a badge of courage and her cover photo. >> at that moment i was probably saying, "all roads lead to putin. a woman warrior cheered by democratic women supporters. that cabinet room meeting on syria dissolving into insults as the president called the speaker a third-rate politician. >> i pray for the president all the time we have to pray for his health this was a very serious meltdown on the part of the president. >> reporter: he responding hours later on twitter, she had a total meltdown in the white house today, it was very sad to watch, pray for her, she's a very sick person it's a relationship that started with his grudging respect, but went downhill quickly, a showdown over the shutdown. >> nancy's in a situation where it's not easy for her to talk right now. >> mr. president, please don't characterize the strength that i bring to this meeting.
>> reporter: then he walked out of a meeting with her when she wouldn't fund his border wall. >> i'm a mother of five, grandmother of nine. i know a temper tantrum when i see one. >> reporter: her applause at the state of the union seen as a clap-back. while their verbal combat is all about policy, the clear undercurrent now is impeachment. lester >> andrea mitchell, thanks, andrea. president trump also finds himself embroiled in a new controversy, the white house announcing next year's g7 meeting of world leaders will be held at a trump resort here's nbc's peter alexander. >> reporter: once every seven years the u.s. hosts one of the most critical summits of world leaders, and next year the president's awarded that honor to a personal property, trump doral, his golf resort near miami. acting chief of staff mick mulvaney quoting what he says a site selection official told him. >> he said, mick, you're not going to believe this, it's almost like they built this facility to host this type of event. >> why has no other g7 been held there before >> because they never looked at it >> reporter: critics pouncing. accusing president trump of granting a lucrative contract to himself.
tonight the white house arguing it's not a conflict of interest. >> the president has pretty much made it very clear, since he's got here, that he doesn't profit from being here, has no interest in profit from being here. >> reporter: all coming after the president recently promoted doral for the gathering. >> it has buildings that have 50 to 70 units in them, so each delegation can have its own building >> reporter: the g7 will be a win for the resort where sales have dropped dramatically since the president took office. lester >> peter alexander, thanks. tributes in washington and far beyond for one of the most powerful and passionate members of congress, elijah cummings, the maryland democrat and civil rights leader who died today in baltimore. geoff bennett tonight on his legacy >> reporter: elijah cummings came to congress from the most humble of beginnings tonight the son of sharecroppers is being remembered as a giant of american politics. >> smart, gifted and i don't think we will see his likeness again >> respect him because of what
he fought for, he believed in. >> reporter: his seat now draped in black >> he was compassionate and considerate, and he meant a lot to us in the city of baltimore. >> reporter: once fiercely defending his hometown - after days of insults from the president. >> we all are sick of this. >> reporter: tonight mr. trump tweeting, his work and voice on so many fronts will be very hard if not impossible to replace cummings credited his parents, both preachers, for instilling in him a moral code. >> when we're dancing with the angels, the question will be asked, in 2019, what did we do to make sure we kept our democracy intact >> he asked us, when we're dancing with the angels, the question will be, what did we do to make sure that we kept our democracy intact he's now with the angels out of pain. >> reporter: elijah cummings was
just 68 years old. geoff bennett, nbc news, the capitol. in california my shake was released allowing anyone in the city with a smart phone to be given a heads up that an earthquake is coming. >> reporter: rolling out statewide today after several serious tremors, california's early earthquake warning system is now public alerting residents this is about to happen. after criticism a similar system failed to warn people in los angeles when this quake struck in ridge crest, the new app is available statewide. >> the app works using gps technology in california. it finds the user's exact location anywhere in the state pin pointing your location by region, then by city. your cell phone should get an alert that a shock wave is on the way.
you should get that alert before the ground even starts to shake. after a series of jolts this week, this morning millions took part in the great shake outearthquake drill. it was 30 years ago today the landscape changed in california after the quake killed 63. tonight looking back on the past, the state is preparing for the future at a time when every second counts. now to our nbc news investigation, the crisis of soaring college debt $1.6 trillion in federal and private student loans now owed by 45 million americans. as many struggle to repay, we confronted the top executive from one of the best-known lenders, sallie mae bank, who was celebrating with top sellers at a luxury resort in hawaii here's nbc's catie beck. >> reporter: on the shoreline of maui's wailea beach, at the luxurious fairmont hotel, sallie mae executives and more than 500
employees on a five-day paid trip celebrating a record year, $5 billion in student loans to 374,000 borrowers. we confronted sallie mae ceo ray quinlan. >> we'd love to talk to you about what you guys are doing here. >> i'd be certainly happy to talk to you, i'm late for a meeting -- >> reporter: he says this is an annual sales meeting, and while they didn't pay for employees' families to attend - >> we said, maui's a pretty nice spot if you want to stay extra days, have family, it's on you. >> reporter: while they enjoy the nice spot, many of the students sallie mae has lent to find themselves in a desperate one. >> what is your balance right now? >> $304,000. >> that's a mortgage for most people. >> i try not to think about it too much, because when i do, i find it hard to breathe. >> reporter: working mother paige mcdaniel used a sallie mae loan 20 years ago to pay for a
business degree. six years ago, the company offered her a private loan for her master's with a higher variable interest rate when the bill came she couldn't make the $1,500 a month payments mcdaniel was hopeful to work out a plan with sallie mae. >> they essentially said, so sorry, we'll put a lien on your house, garnish your wages if you don't make those payments. >> reporter: nine years ago mcdaniel and her husband filed for bankruptcy, but six years later, she was still deeply in debt bankruptcy erases some but not all of student loans. >> they wanted over $2,100 a month at that point. >> reporter: in 2014, sallie mae, inc., split into two companies, sallie mae bank and navient. both are currently being sued by the attorney general of illinois, accusing them of deceptive subprime lending, a failure to offer proper repayment options, and faulty collection practices
navient denies the allegations sallie mae bank seeks to dismiss the suit saying in part, we believe navient, a separate and independent company from sallie mae, is responsible for all liabilities at issue the current sallie mae bank says it wasn't making loans when paige took hers, yet the website boasts, helping america pay for college for more than 40 years back in hawaii, quinlan defends company practices. >> did you guys give any consideration, the optics, to how a student who might be struggling, might see a bunch of executives in hawaii with their families as sort of -- >> having an annual planning session in recognition of accomplishments for our sales force is something that has been done i'm going to say since the company was founded, 1972, and recognition of hard work, it's an important piece of planning i think we're done. >> reporter: mcdaniel's struggle far from done. she's hired an attorney to argue bankruptcy should have cleared her debt because it was a private loan. >> not just my generation. it affects my children
how am i going to send them to college? >> reporter: a common question at the heart of a crisis catie beck, nbc news, maui we've got more to tell you about tonight. the race against time to secure the hard rock hotel as a new video raises questions about potential warning signs before that deadly collapse also the alarming new findings about what's in baby food how you can protect your children.
authorities in new orleans are planning to use explosives to clear damaged cranes at the hard rock hotel construction site this as new video raises questions about whether warning signs were missed before that deadly collapse. here's gabe gutierrez. >> reporter: this grainy video posted on social media claims to show the future hard rock hotel two days before it collapsed an apparent worker says in spanish "a concrete slab is sagging and the posts supporting it are bent. the fire chief says investigators are now trying to verify the video
>> that will certainly be part of the investigation and our evaluation of what caused it. >> reporter: authorities confirm a third person had died. >> i'm just lucky to be here. >> reporter: steelworker derek tate was buried under the rubble on the eighth floor until rescue teams dug him out. >> i could have been left there. i wouldn't be able to -- i wouldn't be here telling this story today. >> reporter: crews are now in a race against time and will use explosives to bring down two cranes that are precariously leaning over the site, which is managed by citadel builders. a spokesman for the company tells nbc news it has not been able to verify this video, adding, we cannot overstress that while we await the implementation of the plan to secure the site, one thing that can be just as dangerous as the tower cranes is false information. >> somebody needs to be held accountable for it. >> reporter: tonight derek tate is out of surgery but still in shock. gabe gutierrez, nbc news. up next for us, what an alarming new study found in baby food and how you can protect your kids.
now to a story every parent with an infant should hear a new report finds a staggering amount of baby food may contain toxins that could negatively impact your baby's development abc's blayne alexander with the alarming details >> reporter: toxic chemicals damaging to baby brains are likely in the food you're feeding your infant according to a new study released today researchers tested 61 brands of baby food purchased right off the shelves from 17 grocery stores 95% of the baby foods they tested contained toxic metals, including arsenic and lead according to the fda, those metals accumulate in the body and have been linked to lower iq and behavior problems in kids. >> there's no requirement for the government to regulate them. children are exposed day after day every time they sit down to a meal, and the harmful effects can add up. >> reporter: some of the biggest offenders, fruit juices and teething biscuits, along with rice-based foods like puffs and cereal
the toxins seep into our food from soil and water, and while the fda has set limits around arsenic in food like rice, they are only guidelines. so what can parents do fda says remove as much as 60% of arsenic in rice by boiling it in extra water and rinsing it before serving lester >> all right, blayne, thank you. up next for us, congressman elijah cummings and his message that will resonate for generations. 3w4r57
>> so my mission is one that comes out of a vision that was created long, long ago it is a mission and a vision to empower people to make people realize that the power is within them that they too can do the things that they want to do and there's a poem that karen mitchell said many, many years ago that i say sometimes 20 times a day. and it's a very simple poem but it's one that i live by. it says, i only have a minute. 60 seconds forced upon me, i did not choose it but i know i must use it, give account if i abuse it, suffer if i lose it. only a tiny little minute, but eternity is in it. and so i join you as we move forward to uplift not only the nation but the world may god bless you all, and may god bless america.
♪ they said you can't leave, ♪ she said, yes, i will, ♪ they said don't see him, ♪ she said, his name is bill ♪ she's on a road and it's all uphill ♪ ♪ she's a wild one, ♪ with an angel's face, ♪ she's a woman child in a state of grace, ♪ ♪ when she was three years old on her daddy's knee, ♪ ♪ he said you can be anything you want to be, ♪ ♪ she's a wild one, ♪ runnin' free ♪ she has future plans, ♪ and dreams at night, ♪ they tell her life is hard, ♪ she says that's all right, yeah, ♪ ♪ she's a wild one, ♪ with an angel's face, ♪ she's a woman child in a state of grace, ♪ ♪ when she was three years old on her daddy's knee, ♪ ♪ he said you can be anything you want to be, ♪
♪ she's a wild one, ♪ runnin' free [cheers and applause] >> kelly: give it up for my band, y'all! come on! [cheers and applause] i love, y'all! welcome to "the kelly clarkson show"! [cheers and applause] i absolutely come alike to my childhood dreams were just made. i love that song by faith hill. not only was her first single, but also her first number one back in 1994 when i love country music. i love it now, i just really loved it then. let's find out who requested. i was trying to sing with you earlier. there you are. give it up. [applause] tell everybody what your name is. >> my name is kelly rogers. >> kelly: oh, my gosh, very nice name you have. y