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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  March 31, 2017 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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>> that looks nice, thank you. thank you for joining us. nightly news is next. breaking news tonight, laptop bombs, sophisticated explosives hidden in electronics. u.s. intelligence finding a new terrorist threat that may slip past airport security. what does he know? fired national security adviser seeking immunity from the government to testify. and his lawyer says he has a story to tell. what or who does he have to offer? highway inferno triggers a bridge collapse at the height of rush hour, raging out of control, raising concerns of what's being stored under the nation's roadways. attacking cancer. a revolutionary new treatment giving patients a second chance at life. hoop dreams as
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cinderella goes for glory. "nightly news" begins right now. good evening to our viewers in the west. nbc news confirming tonight u.s. intelligence officials have concluded terrorists likely have engineered a way to get explosives into laptop computers that could be smuggled on board an airliner. explaining why laptops were suddenly banned as carry ones at several major airports in the middle east. our justice correspondent pete williams tonight with the story. >> reporter: for the past week, passengers on flights from ten airports in the middle east and north africa have been forbidden to carry on board electronic devices larger than a cell phone. now u.s. officials say one of the reasons for the new restrictions is a new government
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analysis suggesting terrorists developed the means to conceal explosives in laptop computers in a way that could elude security screening. a senior u.s. official says it's the result of analyzing recent attacks on airliners including this bombing of a passenger plane last year in somalia using parts found from that and other recent bombing attempts, fbi experts have reverse engineered how the bombs may have worked. they are worried resulting laptops could have enough battery power to briefly power up fueling screeners. forcing electronics into checked baggage security experts say use different types of screening machines. >> the ones that screen checked bags are better able to detect explosives than ones that screen carrie on. >> reporter: the tsa says evaluated intelligence indicates that terror groups continue to target commercial aviation with smuggling devices and electronics. u.s. officials say they believe terror groups are using some to test designs. this provides clarity why the u.s. and
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british imposed restrictions last week, it doesn't change the assessment of the threat and officials say there are no plans to impose these restrictions on domestic flights. savannah. >> pete williams starting us off in washington. thank you. now to the question consuming the white house and investigators at the highest levels of government, was there any connection between the trump campaign and russia's meddling during the election? tonight the president's former national security advisor general michael flynn once one of his most loyal and trusted advisors says he's ready to talk, ready to reveal what he knows and his lawyer says he has quote a story to tell but not without a promise that he cannot be prosecuted for it. will he get a deal and should the white house be worried? nbc's kristen welker with new details. >> reporter: tonight a new cloud of controversy growing over washington, the senate intelligence
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committee rejecting a request for immunity by president trump's ousted security michael flynn. flynn, who was fired for lying about discussing sanctions with russia's ambassador says he wants immunity for protection against a highly politicized process. his lawyer adding, general flynn certainly has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it, should the circumstances permit. president trump ignored shouted questions about the fiasco today. >> any comment on michael flynn? >> reporter: tweeted this morning flynn should ask for immunity in that this is a witch hunt. some of his fellow republicans disputing that. >> no, i don't think it's a witch hunt. it's mysterious why general flynn is out there saying he wants immunity. >> reporter: immunity could exempt flynn from criminal charges. some lawmakers will only consider it if it helps cast a wider net. >> if, and only if it provided a bigger fish. >> clearly the president is a bigger fish. >> that's right. >> reporter: last year
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flynn was quick to criticize hillary clinton's aids who asked for immunity to testify about clinton's e-mails. >> when you are given immunity, that means you probably committed a crime. >> reporter: an argument then candidate trump echoed on the trail two days later. >> and if you're not guilty of a crime, what do you need immunity for? >> reporter: putting the white house on defense tonight. >> does the president think mike flynn is guilty of the crime? >> he believes mike flynn should go testify. >> reporter: legal analysts weighing in. >> he told them i'm not going to answer those questions without immunity. they don't have a choice. they will have to give him immunity or they won't hear his answers. >> reporter: tonight a former obama aid says some obama officials were so concerned what would happen to key classified documents related to the russia probe after president obama left that in january they created a list of document serial numbers and gave it to congressional leaders. savannah. >> kristen welker at the white house. there is more incoming fire for the white house tonight. questions swirling
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about the mystery sources about the explosive surveillance claims made by devin nunes. now there are reports at least three white house staffers were involved raising the question whether this was all an elaborate cover for the president's discredited wiretapping claims but the congressman is pushing back hard tonight. here is nbc's hallie jackson. >> reporter: tonight more of a mystery than ever before, who was the secret source who told powerful republican devin nunes u.s. spies may have scooped up communications from the trump transition team. the head of the house intelligence committee shooting down reports that staffers played a role in the revelation. >> those reports are mostly wrong. this is something i've known about for a very long time from people who were not affiliated at all with the white house or anybody there. >> reporter: but the washington post is now naming a third white house official who may have been involved. along with ezra watnick and michael ellis. our cameras caught up with eisenburg and
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michael ellis, also named by the "new york times." >> i'm not talking. >> reporter: sharing more about his meeting on white house grounds last week where he viewed classified intelligence reports. >> there were people that probably knew about this, knew about me being there but the fact of the matter is, that doesn't make them the source of my information. >> reporter: his democratic counter part adam schiff visiting white house grounds to see the same reports today. it comes as nunes who worked on the president's transition is batting back criticism he's too close to the white house to lead the congressional investigation. >> it always goes back to who else is going to do it? >> reporter: late tonight, democrat adam schiff who you saw leaving white house grounds after reviewing that intelligence says nothing in those reports warranted a departure from the usual procedures and is now demanding the information be released to the full house intelligence committee. savannah? >> hallie jackson in the briefing room there. thank you very much. let's bring in
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our political director, moderator of "meet the press" chuck todd. with two investigations going on, one into russia and one into trump's surveillance claims and this week both took unfortunate turns for administration, how do they get out of this and move past it? >> at some point they have to accept it exists. i think the biggest problem here is, you have the president who doesn't want to accept the conclusion that russia tried to interfere in the election, and there is going to be an investigation in this. whether he likes it or not. ultimately, that's the problem here. the source of all of the current problems for this west wing right now for this presidency right now stems from the tweet where the president accused president obama of wiretapping him. since that time, this has all been self-inflicted. look, the russia cloud is dark enough by what is already been reported and what's being investigated. this sort of nunes keystone cop situation has made it that much worse.
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and again, it all stems from the fact that the president himself will not accept the idea that there's going to be a russian investigation. >> chuck todd in washington, see you sunday, chuck. georgia's governor declared a state of emergency after a huge fire in atlanta caused part of a major freeway to collapse. tonight, as investigators search for the cause of that fire, there are questions being raised about materials stored routinely under the nation's highways. gabe gutierrez has the latest. >> reporter: the billowing black smoke could be seen for miles. up close a terrifying inferno. >> on the interstate, there is a huge, huge fire. >> reporter: raging out of control until one part of i-85 near downtown atlanta collapsed. >> we are aware of a fire collapsing. >> reporter: a major artery used by a quarter million people every day shut down. >> right now i guess everybody is trying to figure out how to maneuver through the city. >> reporter: today investigators scrambled to inspect the damage.
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>> we do not know how the fire started. we do not have any leads at this time. >> reporter: the georgia department of transportation says the locked site was used to store non-combustibles, state-owned construction materials including coils of plastic. this is a look before and after the flames broke out. >> it's no different than having a plastic cup in your cupboard, it does not ignite. it takes something to cause something to burn. >> why are construction materials allowed to be stored under a critical freeway? >> the storage area is not uncommon for any other state to store things under their bridges. >> reporter: last year in new york, a fire erupted under train tracks where a company stored wood and fertilizer products. >> it's a matter of public safety you would probably not want flammable materials under a bridge. >> reporter: around the country, there are about 56,000 structurally deficient bridges including 2,000 on interstate highways. this section of i-85 is not on that list. >> this is going to be really, this is going to be tough. this is going to be
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hard to get to work. >> reporter: tonight as atlanta see as surge in commuters using public transportation, what may be most incredible is no one was hurt. as we take a live look over i-85, you can see the true extent of the damage. authorities say at least 350 feet of both the north and southbound lanes will need to be replaced. today the federal government announced it was setting aside $10 million in emergency funds, repairs could take months. savannah? >> incredible images there, gabe, thank you very much. it is not every day a president of the united states settles a lawsuit that accuses him of fraud but that is what happened today when a judge gave final approval for a $25 million deal to settle cases in which former trump university students said they were ripped off. nbc's anne thompson with details. >> at trump university, we teach success. that's what it's all about. >> reporter: what the ads promised thousands of unhappy students say trump university
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didn't deliver. today walking away with a $25 million settlement approved by a federal judge ending the seven-year legal fight claiming the university used high pressure sales tactics and never taught real estate success. engineer george heinous talking to nbc news last year. >> i was highly deceived. >> reporter: free at first and then students were sold packages that ran 1500 to $35,000. they make 90% of what they spent back. the judge called it a significant and immediate recovery. the same judge, then candidate trump accused of being bias because of his heritage. >> the judge that happens to be, we believe, mexican, which is great. what the judge is doing is a total disgrace. >> reporter: for months on the trail, trump made this promise. >> i don't want to settle cases when we're right. i don't believe in it. >> reporter: as president elect he reversed course and saturday tweeted he didn't have time for a long trial. in the settlement, the trump organization admits no wrongdoing
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and insists many students were happy with the program. tonight george heinous tells us he's happy he'll get most of the $14,000 back but wishes he had his day in court. what do you want to say to donald trump about trump university? >> we both know, man to man, you knew you were taking people for a ride and it just wasn't right. >> reporter: a business lesson learned the hard way. anne thompson, nbc news, new york. there is medical news what's being called a breakthrough technique for treating one of the most common cancers. non-hodgkin's lymphoma. it works by having your own body attack the cancer inside of you. they're hoping this new approach can work on other cancers as well. nbc news medical correspondent john torres has details p.m. >> reporter: he has every reason to keep fighting when last august his cancer, non-hodgkin's lymphoma came back for the third time. >> i would have done anything i could to stay alive and spend more time with my wife
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and daughters. >> reporter: the limb lymph nodes on his neck had grown to the size of golf balls and no treatment options left. he had just six months to live. but then he tried a revolutionary treatment called car t where the patient's own cells, called t cells are removed and reprogrammed by scientists in a lab to be cancer fighters. the super cells are put back into the patient where they can pinpoint the tumor and destroy it. >> we heard about immuno therapy before, what is different? >> those little t-cells become super soldiers with the gps navigation directed against the lymphoma cells. >> reporter: after one treatment, 80% of patients saw their tumor shrink and after six months, one-third saw their tumors completely disappear but there are side effects that last about two weeks. his fever topped 104. he was shaking and couldn't remember how to spell his own name.
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but it took just 48 hours for something amazing to happen. >> all my lymph nodes are melting like ice cubes. >> reporter: and six months after treatment, remission. >> complete remission. >> reporter: he says he's now feeling stronger than ever. >> so this is like a new chance at a new life. >> reporter: and a new breakthrough in fighting cancer. dr. john torrez, nbc news, tampa. still ahead tonight, college decision time and a way for families to save big bucks but you got to be in a hurry. we'll be back.
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we are back with that nail biting ritual for college bound students and families. where will they be accepted and how will they pay? one solution more colleges are embracing, the three-year plan, a way to speed up graduation and save tens of thousands in the process. kristen dahlgren has more. >> reporter: at indi india indiana's purdue university, charlotte tug el is getting ready to graduate after just three years. >> i knew i wanted to come to perdue but could not afford it until i learned of the three year plan. >> reporter: for the accelerated graduation, the out of stater saves more than $18,000. >> the program itself has the road map that they can follow so they know exactly what they need to do. >> reporter: by taking extra classes throughout the year, students can get the same number of credits in less time, and with the average cost of college soaring in the last ten years, it's an idea attracting
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more attention across the country. at nyu, almost 20% of students were already graduating early, so this year, it made the accelerated program official. saving students up to $66,000 and getting them into the work force sooner. >> only are they not paying for a year or a semester's tuition, they are working and earning a salary so that does have a double whammy. >> for some parents it's a big selling point. >> if we can get it done in three years and that much cheaper, it's great. >> critics say students risk missing out on extra curricular activities and experience. josh is a nursing student. >> i wouldn't be getting the patient care that i would need if i cut that experience to three years instead of four. >> reporter: charlotte has managed to fit a lot into three years. >> i was able to write for the student newspaper. i've been in clubs, honors societies, things like that. >> reporter: trying to make these the best years of her life, not the most expensive.
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kristen dahlgren, nbc news, west lafayette, indiana. we're back in a moment with late word of a recall involving a life-saving medication.
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there is late word tonight of a recall involving the epipen, the device used to treat people having severe allergic reactions. milan, the company that sells epipens announced the recall of certain devices in the united states after two reports outside the country of epipen's failing to activate. the company said testing here has not found any defective units but the recall now includes the u.s. out of an abundance of caution. you can find more on the recall devices on our nightly news facebook page. if you like your coffee strong, this is going to get your heart racing even faster. americans can now get what is called the strongest coffee in the world. it's known as black insomnia from south africa while the typical coffee has 150 milligrams of caffeine. black insomnia clocks
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in at 702 milligrams. doctors say it's not for everyone but some of us could use it in the morning. and tonight, the retirement home is getting a new shade, it's yellow, dandelion yellow getting booted from the classic crayola 24 piece. retired and replaced with something in the blue family crayola says. it's the first time the company swapped out a color in the box of 24. so burnt sienna, you're safe for now. when we come back, down to the final four in college basketball and we're with the big underdog. a rooster there for the first time.
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finally tonight, it's the biggest weekend in college basketball as march madness is down to the final four and one of the teams is this career's cinderella at the big dance ready to go all the way. ron mott is in arizona. ♪ >> reporter: for south carolina, they've struck up the band. a pitch perfect cheer for the school's first trip ever to the final four, a confident cinderella. cocky, too? but will practice make perfect for the seven-seeded underdogs?
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>> it's a cool story, the cinderella title. the game has to be played and we'll come out and compete. >> reporter: this week a party welcoming them home to colombia after making the final four, beating a number two, three, and four team to get here. next up, number one gonzaga. every year some of the tournaments most spine-chilling moments are among the most unexpected victories. north carolina state in '83. villanova two years later. monumental upsets. now a chance for the gamecocks to crow their way to the top. their coach frank martin runs the roost famous for his fiery outbursts of colorful emotion, all in the name of love. >> what is tough love? i don't know what tough love is. people love you, they tell you the truth. they don't lie to you. >> reporter: at this stage of the game, though, no room for slipups, slippers, yes, and for the cinderella, they must fit perfectly. >> it's march madness, you know, anyone can win.
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>> reporter: for this is no time to quit. >> go gamecocks. >> reporter: ron mott, nbc news, glendale, arizona. >> looking forward to the game. that will do it on friday night. i'm savannah guthrie in for lester. for all of us at nbc news, thank you for watching and have a right now at 6:00, doubling efforts to make oakland safe after a deadly apartment fire, but does it come too late. tonight, what the city knew about that building months before the fire. i'm jessica aguirre. >> i'm raj mathai. newly released documents show that nearly three months ago a fire inspector recommended that oakland apartment building be shut down because of fire danger. >> and now today, we hear from
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survivo survivors for the first time. a lot has happened, scott. >> reporter: yeah, you're right, jessica. within the last two hours at the law office here in oakland we met a family member of one of the victims. as you said, big changes in oakland tonight. also questions being asked as to why people were still living in the apartment building when fire broke out on monday. a group of those affected by monday's deadly apartment fire spoke out for the first time today. >> we're grief stricken. >> reporter: as the city of oak land announced it's making big changes to its fire prevention unit, saying it will double the size of the agency responsible for inspecting buildings and finding potential hazards. oakland also released e-mails between the city and the owner of the burned buildings. some of which detailed violations found during recent inspections. another which

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