tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC October 30, 2017 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT
next. okay that's going to do it to us. see you back here at 6:00. >> lester holt next with nightly news. breaking news tonight, the first indictments in the mueller investigation. former trump campaign chairman paul manafort and his one-time top aide facing federal charges. also, a former trump campaign adviser pleads guilty to lying to the fbi about his contacts with russians. where does the investigation go now? kevin spacey scandal. the actor accused of sexual misconduct with a broadway star then just 14 years old. spacey's response triggering a major backlash and late word about "the house of cards." two navy s.e.a.l.s under investigation in the mysterious death of a green beret. knocked out. over a million people without power as an intense storm slams the northeast. heart health claim. so many swear by the benefits of soy.
why health officials now say it might not do all you think. and scaring up business. how an enterprising young man turned a haunted house into a college degree. this is nbc "nightly news" with lester holt. >> good evening. and welcome to our viewers in the west. the first shoes dropped today in the federal investigation surrounding the trump campaign and whether there was collusion with russia. the indictments of former campaign chairman paul manafort and his right-hand man rick gates centering on allegations of money laundering and tax fraud and not on their roles in the campaign. at the end of the day it may be the separate plea bargain deal made public today between the feds and a former trump campaign adviser that gets us closer to the heart of the russian influence question. our justice correspondent pete williams has details. >> reporter: paul manafort, former trump campaign chairman, is now a criminal defendant, accused of hiding millions in foreign consulting
fees to avoid paying taxes and failing to register as a foreign lobbyist. robert mueller's prosecutors say manafort and his business partner and right-hand man in the campaign, rick gates, earned more than $75 million from 2006 to 2015 lobbying for viktor yanukovych, the former president of the ukraine, vladimir putin's man in that position but put the money in banks on island nations outside the u.s. to hide from it the government. but the indictment says nothing about manafort's role in the trump campaign. his lawyer angrily calls the charges ridiculous. >> i think you all saw it today that president donald trump was correct, there is no evidence that mr. manafort or the trump campaign colluded with the russian government. >> reporter: manafort and gates pleaded not guilty during a brief court appearance today. the judge set their bail and ordered them to remain in home detention. prosecutors say manafort spent some of his millions on four homes in manhattan, brooklyn, long island, as well as in suburban
washington, d.c. and accused him of spending 900,000 for antique rugs, nearly 1.4 million on clothes and more than 7.6 million in home improvements. legal experts say the charges could persuade both men to help with mueller's investigation of russian interference in the election. >> these defendants are looking at decades in prison. so there's a tremendous incentive for them to come to prosecutors and say we'd like to cooperate. >> reporter: and in a surprise potentially more important, we learned today that a trump campaign volunteer adviser, george papadopoulos, has admitted that he was in touch with russians during the campaign who said they had kremlin contacts and could offer, quote, dirt on hillary clinton including thousands of e-mails. >> it reveals that a trump campaign adviser was communicating with well-connected russians who were offering him dirt on hillary clinton, including e-mails, as far back as april 2016. that's well before we knew that the russians had hacked the democrats. >> reporter: prosecutors revealed today that he was arrested three months
ago at dulles airport and has been cooperating with mueller's investigators ever since. he pleaded guilty three weeks ago admitting he lied to the fbi by denying that he was involved with the campaign when he communicated with the russians who wanted to set up a meeting between trump and vladimir putin during the campaign, which never happened. court documents say a campaign official forwarded one of his e-mails indicating that the campaign was aware of what he was doing. law enforcement officials say that campaign official was paul manafort. a spokesman for rick gates says tonight that he welcomes the opportunity to confront the charges in court, lester. >> pete, two indictments and then a plea deal. what does this say about how mueller's going to play all this going forward? >> this is a very aggressive indictment against paul manafort. his lawyer was right today when he said that the justice department rarely prosecutes somebody for failing to register as a foreign lobbyist. this is just the beginning. based on everything that we've heard about robert mueller's team,
it's like li there are more charges coming against paul manafort. >> all right. pete williams tonight. thank you. president trump swiftly reacted to the indictments on social media and once again claimed there was no collusion with russia. as the white house sought to distance him from his former campaign advisers. let's get more from our chief white house correspondent hallie jackson. >> reporter: trick-or-treat is the only question president trump's answering tonight. the white house strategy now, distance and deflect. president trump tweeting today, sorry, but this is years ago, before paul manafort was part of the trump campaign. but why aren't crooked hillary and the dems the focus? >> today's announcement has nothing to do with the president, has nothing to do with the president's campaign or campaign activity. >> reporter: sanders is correct that paul manafort's indictment never explicitly mentions the trump campaign, but it does accuse him and rick gates of misleading the government, a felony, even after they joined team trump in spring 2016. >> paul manafort has done an amazing job. >> reporter: as for
george papadopoulos, his plea agreement directly relates to his work for the campaign, a role the white house today tried to downplay as limited. papadopoulos was never paid but he was named a campaign foreign policy adviser last march. >> george papadopoulos, he's an oil and energy consultant. excellent guy. >> reporter: ten days after that comment, this meeting. papadopoulos face-to-face with jeff sessions who led that national security advisory board at the time and then-candidate donald trump. >> did he remember anything about the meeting the reaction from papadopoulos given that he's talked about his great memory? >> i don't believe that he went into detail about the meeting itself. he remembers it taking place. but we didn't go into anything beyond that. or any specifics. >> reporter: the papadopoulos plea the clearest link yet between the special counsel investigation and the trump campaign. >> these two indictments and the guilty plea by papadopoulos put this matter closer to the white house than we've ever known it to be before. >> reporter: the white house says the president has no plans
to fire the special counsel and says it's too early to talk about potential pardons. but remember, here at home the white house wanted to be talking about tax cuts, yet again instead it's the russia investigation dominating the day. lester? >> hallie jackson at the white house, thanks. there's late word this evening about the scope of russian interference in the 2016 campaign. new revelations about how the russians used facebook at the height of the presidential election reaching 126 million americans, an eye-popping number. nbc's jo ling kent has the brand-new details for us. >> reporter: tonight, facebook revealing that 80,000 posts from russian-backed facebook accounts reached potentially a third of all americans between 2015 and 2017. facebook saying that approximately 126 million people may have been served one of their stories at some point during the two-year period. those posts came from 120 fake russia-backed pages and at first only reached 29 million users, then through likes and
shares reached 126 million americans. these posts would have been difficult, if not impossible, for facebook users to identify as coming from russia. particularly if they were something that was shared or liked by a friend of theirs on facebook. >> reporter: facebook says we shut these accounts down and began trying to understand how they misused our platform. the content was separate from the 3,000 targeted ads paid for by russian entities. >> this could be the beginning of a tidal wave of misinformation efforts and propaganda efforts from foreign actors. >> reporter: facebook, google and twitter are facing congressional investigators over the next two days here in washington. lester? >> jo ling kent on capitol hill, thanks. tonight a federal court in washington has blocked president trump's move to ban transgender people from serving openly in the u.s. military. the president announced several months ago he intended to reverse the policy of the obama administration. transgender service members sued to block the ban and a judge
agreed to halt the ban until their case is resolved saying that the plaintiffs are likely to prevail in court. tonight there's a scandal swirling around actor kevin spacey. the hollywood star accused by a fellow actor of sexual misconduct. spacey allegedly forced himself on a future broadway star, anthony rapp, when rapp was just 14 years old, and spacey's response to that allegation has triggered a backlash of its own. we get details from nbc news senior national correspondent kate snow. >> i will not -- >> reporter: the show kevin spacey is best known for, "house of cards" will end after its sixth season netflix announced today. the two companies behind the hit show said in a statement they're deeply troubled by the new allegations against spacey and that executives met this afternoon with cast and crew to ensure that they continue to feel safe and supported. kevin spacey was a 26-year-old on broadway when a 14-year-old boy, also appearing on broadway, told buzzfeed, spacey invited him to a party at his apartment.
he picked me up like a groom picks up the bride over the threshold, actor anthony rapp said, and then he lays down on top of me. rapp, who is best known for "rent" and now on "star trek discovery" told nbc news he came forward now standing on the shoulders of the many courageous women and men who have been speaking out. spacey responded on social media, i'm beyond horrified to hear his story. i honestly do not remember the encounter, but if i did behave then as he describes, i owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior. but the statement went on with spacey revealing for the first time publicly that he's had relationships with both men and women. i choose now to live as a gay man, he wrote. that language brought an avalanche of criticism. i'm sorry that kevin only saw fit to acknowledge his truth when he thought it would serve him, actor zachary quinto tweeted. no, no, no, no, no. you do not get to choose to hide under the rainbow, wanda sykes wrote. >> the fact that he
responded the way he did and also conflating it with him coming out as gay has really only made this scandal worse. >> reporter: lester, kevin spacey has a big studio movie out in early december. the current climate now directors and producers and talent, actors in hollywood are thinking about whether they want to work with kevin spacey. >> kate snow, thank you. in a surprise move, former american p.o.w. sergeant bowe bergdahl testified today at his sentencing hearing. he broke down on the stand, apologizing to military personnel who were wounded while searching for him after he left his post in afghanistan in 2009 saying he never intended anyone to get hurt. bergdahl was captured by the taliban and held captive five years. he has pleaded guilty to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. he faces up to life in prison. tonight the navy is investigating the mysterious death of a green beret found strangled while on assignment in the west african nation of
mali. and under scrutiny are two navy s.e.a.l.s. investigators are trying to determine if an american soldier was killed by two fellow service members. it's a highly unusual case and our pentagon correspondent hans nichols has details. >> reporter: tonight the mysterious death of 34-year-old army staff sergeant logan melgar taking a stunning turn. the navy now investigating if two navy s.e.a.l.s were involved. melgar, a father of three, was found dead in the house he shared with two unidentified s.e.a.l.s at an american embassy compound in mali on june 4th. the likely cause of death, according to military officials, strangulation, investigated as a homicide. the navy criminal investigative service declined to discuss an open case. according to "the new york times," the two s.e.a.l.s are members of s.e.a.l. team six, the elite unit that killed osama bin laden. questions about melgar's death come as the pentagon is still trying to determine what happened in the niger mission that left four soldiers dead.
when contact with the enemy was considered unlikely. >> we're going to see a great increase in the number of special forces missions, for certain, trying to track down the group that carried out this ambush. >> reporter: sergeant melgar had been stationed in mali on a secretative counterterrorism mission. late word tonight of yet another mission in africa, a key suspect in the 2012 deadly attack on the u.s. compound in benghazi has been captured by navy s.e.a.l.s. he's being taken to the u.s. where he'll face trial. lester. >> hans nichols at the pentagon. thank you. tonight power crews are working quickly to restore power after an intense storm rolled through the northeast leaving over a million homes and businesses in the dark. some districts forced to cancel school. wind gusts reached over 60 miles per hour along the new england coast. trees knocked down from new jersey to maine. in a stunning turn of events, officials in puerto rico are scrambling to find a new company to rebuild their power grid after the governor decided to cancel a $300 million contract with
whitefish energy. nearly 70% of the island remains without power amid growing questions over how that small company landed the deal to begin with. nbc's gabe gutierrez is there. >> reporter: 40 days after maria, this house outside san juan is still in shambles. the woman who lived here, marianne medina, gave birth after the hurricane. her son, jomar, has never seen his home or known a life with electricity. now governor ricardo rossello is choosing to scrap the island's controversial contract with whitefish energy amid audits and congressional investigations. >> it had become a significant distraction. >> reporter: but replacing whitefish could delay restoration by 10 to 12 weeks. rossello is blasting the army corps of engineers for what he calls a lack of urgency. >> that's why the mutual aid assistance from the state of new york and the state of florida are going to be critical.
>> reporter: critics of the whitefish deal, like san juan's mayor, are asking why mutual aid wasn't brought in sooner instead of rushing a $300 million contract. >> it is corruption. somebody greased the wheels. >> reporter: the head of the power authority here insists there was nothing illegal and that whitefish had been doing its job. the company's ceo, andy techmanski, told nbc news his critics were on a witch hunt and that he landed the deal with the help of linkedin, not anyone from the trump administration. >> we're here doing actual work. >> reporter: now, officials say other companies, like oklahoma-based cobra with its own $200 million contract, will have to fill the void. gabe gutierrez, nbc news, puerto rico. there's a lot more to come. still ahead, for years you've been told it helps prevent heart disease, but now the fda is pushing back on claims about this product found in everything from coffee to salad dressing. also, pop star selena gomez opening up for the first time about the life-saving gift she got from her
back now with some surprising health news. for the first time ever the fda says it wants to revoke a health claim the agency once approved that said drinking soy protein milk or eating other soy foods can keep your heart healthy. nbc's rehema ellis explains why they're taking a second look at that. >> reporter: for millions of americans who've trusted that consuming soy is good for their heart, this is a surprise.
today the fda said it wants to remove a health claim on labels of hundreds of soy protein products. labels that say the products can reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol. >> that science is somewhat inconsistent and does not rate the standard that we would allow for an authorized health claim. >> reporter: it's stunning because 18 years ago the fda said the opposite, but tonight cardiologists agree, studies since then no longer show strong proof. >> no one is saying that soy protein is unhealthy. we're just not -- we're saying you can't expect some special benefits from the soy protein. >> reporter: the multibillion dollar soy industry is pushing back. in a statement saying, they're disappointed and soy protein can be an important part of a heart-healthy diet. for michelle hendricks, it's all very confusing. >> the trouble at the grocery store is that nothing is really
clear when i'm trying to make a choice for my family. >> reporter: the fda's final decision expected next year, making sure health claims on food labels are true. rehema ellis, nbc news, new york. we'll take a short break. then coming up, she caught a home run but didn't get to keep it long. the real story behind this viral world series moment.
then we found out how many years that money would last them. how long do you think we'll keep -- oooooohhh! you stopped! you're gonna leave me back here at year 9? how did this happen? it turned out, a lot of people fell short, of even the average length of retirement. we have to think about not when we expect to live to, but when we could live to. let's plan for income that lasts all our years in retirement. prudential. bring your challenges. back now with an nbc news exclusive. pop star selena gomez speaking out for the first time after a kidney transplant she says saved her life. gomez suffers from lupus, which attacked her kidneys. last month, in an emotional post on social media, gomez revealed her best friend francia raisa had donated her kidney. gomez told our savannah guthrie that raisa gave her the ultimate gift. >> as soon as i got the kidney transplant, my arthritis went away. my lupus, there's
about a 3 to 5% chance it will ever come back. it was hard, but it was incredible. that's something that i needed, my body needed, i needed it. and -- >> you feel it? >> it's great. >> pretty remarkable friendship. and a viral moment during the world series in houston when an astros fan caught a home run ball. it was hit by the dodgers. then it was ripped from her hand by another fan and thrown back on to the field. a lot of people watching. they went to social media to express their outrage, but it turns out they're actually in-laws, and the woman says she's only mad that she didn't get to throw it back herself. up next, celebrating halloween with a young haunted house mastermind who is turning big scares into big business. south bay community.
we investigate a neighborhood mystery that led to this truck. plus, former trump campaign staffers indicted. our political analyst explains what it means for the whitehouse. next. finally, with halloween just about here, tonight we meet a young business mogul with an idea so good it's scary. it started when he was in high school, a freshman. now it's such a screaming success it's paying for college. here's kristen dahlgren. >> reporter: it's one of the nation's scariest haunted attractions. but the two people screamin' acres may have been most
frightening for? carol and joe. >> i never expected this many people. >> be ready to go at 6:45. >> son jacob was in ninth grade when he asked to turn his family's sweet petting farm and orchard into this. when you went to your parents at 14 and said, i want to turn your farm into a haunted house, what did they say? >> they were hesitant. >> reporter: but they agreed, wanting jacob to learn about business. what he learned is that people love to be scared. >> it was amazing! >> reporter: and what started as a small haunt is now huge. 95 actors, four makeup artists and thousands upon thousands of screams. >> every square inch top, bottom, floor, ceilings about as good as it gets. >> reporter: weekend nights are spent at the elaborate attraction, jacob now spends days in business school. who is paying for your education? >> well, that would be myself. >> reporter: every penny of his education earned here in what jacob says is now profitable enough to
be his career. >> i'm superproud of him. >> reporter: it turns out the stuff of nightmares can sometimes build dreams. >> you guys enjoy yourselves? >> reporter: kristen dahlgren, nbc news, madison, wisconsin. >> good for him. that's "nightly news" for this monday night. i'm lester holt. for all of us at nbc that makes me wonder, these witnesses we're bringing in congress, how truthful are they with us if they're willing to lie underoath to fbi agents. >> a pistol development for president trump. the indictment for former aides and advisers. local lawmakerings and analysts responding. the news at 6:00 starts right now. good evening and thanks for with you go us on monday raj mathai. >> jessica aguirre and court hearings and coughing up pleas. the fbi ongoing russia
investigation. form trump campaign manager and paul manafort and gates have been indicted on 12 counts. the charges include conspiracy against the u.s. and money laundering. they concealed millions in payments. we are learning for former campaign adviser george papadopoulos secretly pled guilty to lying to the fisher about communicating with the kremlin connected russian. niece are the first charges stemming from special counsel robert mueller's probe into possible ties between the trump campaign and russia. so compass the impact for the current administration. some bay area lawyers and politicians say the papadopoulos news may be more damaging than the maercht indictment. >> there are a lot of layers here and misdirection from both parties. nbc bay area scott budman joins us and is tracking the latest out of washington, d.c. even at this hour, scott. >> jessica and raj the news is just beginningit