tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC December 8, 2015 7:00pm-7:31pm EST
tonight, tonight, donald trump's muslim ban backlash. the republican front-runner doubling down amid widespread condemnation, defiant as rivals label his plan racist and unconstitutional. is he feeding into exactly what isis wants while rallying his supporters who say he's right? tonight, tom brokaw on the politics of fear and the harsh lessons of history. plus, the money trail mystery before the massacre in san bernardino. thousands of dollars suddenly deposited in the killers' account. also tonight, the alarming rise in distracted drivers beyond texting. what so many say they are doing behind the wheel. the consequences proving to be deadly. "nightly news" begins right now.
>> announcer: from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. good evening, this political season of outrage and provocation has taken what many see as an ominous turn with donald trump's call to use religion as a determining factor as to who can come into this country. legal experts believe his proposal to ban muslims from entry is unconstitutional and it certainly echoes of a dark and shameful chapter of our nation's past. but coming from the leading republican candidate for president, it can't be ignored or dismissed. and now, six days after muslim extremists killed 14 people in california, trump has opened a fault line that cuts across the political landscape and one that some fear could further endanger american security. we have full coverage beginning with nbc's katie tur outside trump tower. hi, katy. >> reporter: good evening, lester. his supporters see strength in donald trump where they have only seen weakness in president
obama. they see him as bringing them into the mainstream and telling them that they are right, there is a reason to fear. on the "uss yorktown" last night, voters were looking for a commander in chief who will keep them safe and donald trump played to their fears. >> donald j. trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of muslims entering the united states. >> reporter: trump fanning the flames again this morning and explaining that customs agents would determine who can come in and who can't. >> they would say are you muslim? >> and if they said yes, they would not be allowed in the country? >> that's correct. >> reporter: trump adding muslim americans, muslim athletes and muslim foreign leaders would be allowed in, while others, including tourists, would not. and today, near-universal condemnation from his opponents. >> he is a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot. >> it's not about the blowhards out there just saying stuff. that's not a program. that's not a plan. >> reporter: one
notable exception, ted cruz. >> i commend donald trump for standing up and focusing america's attention on the need to secure our borders. >> reporter: the plan simply put by trump is simply unconstitutional, according to experts. >> anyone who has read the constitution, has studied the constitution, understands our history knows that it is not permissible for the government to take sides between religions. >> reporter: and despite the outcry, trump supporters around the country stood by their billionaire. >> i think there has to be something put in place. i don't know if it is a complete ban. >> i'm definitely to keep the bad ones out, would be great. >> reporter: for all their fears, muslim americans say they fear becoming a target. >> how could you say that i'm not allowed to come in here, while i was born here, okay, raised here. my friend is mike, johnny, tony.
>> reporter: tiebe rashed is a muslim and former u.s. marine who recently tweeted trump a picture of his military i.d. card. >> we care about america just as much as anybody else here and we are willing to fight and bleed and die for america. >> reporter: his tweet was shared tens of thousands of times. katy tur, nbc news, new york. this is hallie jackson. in the battle for the heart of the republican party, a defining moment. after months of sitting silent on the sidelines, with donald trump anything but -- >> when mexico sends people -- >> reporter: -- the gop establishment now raising its voice. >> normally, i do not comment. >> reporter: rare remarks on the race from the top republicans in congress. >> this is not conservatism. what was proposed yesterday is not what this party stands for. >> and that would be completely inconsistent with american values. >> reporter: former nominee mitt romney condemning trump for firing before aiming. a former spokesperson for george w. bush said he would not give oxygen to trump's
bluster. party head reince priebus disagreeing with trump's plan to ban muslims, telling a conservative newspaper, "we need to aggressively take on radical islamic terrorism but not at the expense of our american values." but priebus turned down requests to make that point on camera. >> the pledge. >> reporter: -- months after signing trump's loyalty pledge to the party. today's cautious condemnation coming as the establishment grapples with how to distance itself from trump's language without disowning his supporters, the party's faith tied to the front-runner's fortune. >> exacerbating the battle long existing within the party, for a number of years, no one has wanted to deal with. >> reporter: today, a call from within the gop for the candidate to drop out. >> time for donald trump to withdraw from the race. >> reporter: and from outside the party, a fast and fierce response from democrats. >> silence only empowers bigots. >> the question now is about the rest of the republican
party and whether or not they are going to be dragged into the dust bin of history with them. >> reporter: trump is still leading most polls. and today, a new national one shows nearly 70% of his supporters said they would vote for him if he ran as an independent, trump dangling the poll and the possibility this a tweet tonight, but for republicans, lester, a third-party run would probably split the gop vote and gift wrap the democrats a victory in november. >> all right, hallie. the trump plan, if ever enacted, could come with unintended consequences. many security officials are raising the concern that the act of barring muslims from entering this country would likely inspire more hostility toward the u.s., playing into the hands of isis and ultimately put us in moreanger. we get more on that from nbc news chief foreign correspondent, andrea mitchell. ♪ >> reporter: does donald trump's loose talk about muslims feed into isis propaganda, potentially making america less safe? he says, "we shall render the white house black with our fire, allah willing, we
shall blow it up." the fear, even among critics of the obama strategy, donald trump's rhetoric will alienate muslims at home and abroad. >> i think this whole notion that somehow we can just say no more muslims, just ban a whole religion, goes against everything we stand for and believe in. >> reporter: is trump's message resonating, in part, because of gaps in the immigration and visa systems, painfully clear after san bernardino and the boston marathon bombing investigated by former state police superintendent tim alben. >> what isis or al qaeda or any terrorist group looks for is a weakness that can be exploited. >> reporter: homeland security secretary jeh johnson resisted criticizing trump's comments until today. johnson now sees trump's latest words as a real national security threat. >> when a leading candidate for office proposes something that is irresponsible, probably illegal, unconstitutional and contrary to international law, un-american and will actually
hurt our efforts at homeland security and national security, we have to speak out. >> reporter: trump's talk of banning muslims came just as johnson was greeting muslim american boy and girl scouts. >> the islamic state has targeted the muslim community. working with the muslim community, not driving them away, not vilifying them, not driving them into the shadows is absolutely critical to our national security efforts. >> reporter: defense experts say trump's rhetoric plays right into isis' strategy. >> that's a message that isis actually wants us to spread so they can say, you see, we told you, this is really a clash of civilizations. >> reporter: and it's a message that alienates not only the world's 1.6 billion muslims, but america's arab allies at exactly the moment we need them most to fight isis in the air and on the ground. lester? >> andrea, thanks. we want to bring in our political director and moderator of "meet the press," chuck todd, and our chief foreign correspondent, richard engel. chuck, first of all today, you said trump has
essentially hijacked the republican party, but he's not speaking to an empty room. >> no. >> a lot of people believe in what he is saying and his poll numbers tend to go up after some of his more provocative statement. will that be the case here? >> it could be, short term. what he has done though is made it impossible for him to win a general election. he is not going to be able to attract other parts of what you need if he somehow got the republican nomination. but look, he has created his own lane, if you will, of folks that are feeling insecure, of folks, and we have seen it, it sort of cuts along socioeconomic lines here a little bit, people without a college education, who feel as if this country's changed on them, this country isn't the same. and so at first trump got their support by pointing to immigration, then he pointed to china, now he is pointing to muslims, playing on their security fear. his support from these folks are real. these supporters i think have been brought into the political system by him. and the question is will they be there when it counts for him in the primary? that's a question. but what happens to them if the republican party just throws trump overboard and
that's why there's been such a tepid response. >> and let me turn to richard. richard, this is obviously all over publications across the world, but in the middle east, isis has made a point of almost embrace the idea of a clash between the u.s. and muslims. how is it being read over there? >> well, people just see that this is a leading candidate. so -- who has the support of a large percentage of americans who is making these hateful comments, who wants to ban a whole religion, have people declare their religion when they arrive at the airport. and that feeds into the isis narrative, that they are the only true muslims, that the only home and safe place that muslims can find is within isis' warm embrace. donald trump is presenting himself as mr. security, but counterterrorism officials i have spoken to think it is absolutely counterproductive, that almost 100% of the intelligence that is gathered about isis in groups like -- and groups like them come from muslim intelligence agencies, come from muslim informers, and you don't want to just alienate
those people, push them aside. so it is not only offensive, offends our allies but counterproductive. >> richard and chuck, thank you for your perspectives. now to the trail of terror in san bernardino and the massacre that sparked this latest round of rhetoric, we are learning more about the two terrorists who killed 14 people and wounded 21, as our national correspondent miguel almaguer tells us, investigators are digging into a mysterious bank deposit before the attack. >> reporter: two weeks before sayd farouk and wife tashfeen malik executed their massacre, nbc news has confirmed farouk received deposits of $28,500 into his bank account, a loan he took out. while it may have come too late to finance the attack, counterterror officials say the cash may have been for their baby and her grandmother to use. >> we several down in the conference room. >> reporter: this is our first image inside the conference room, julie paez accepting an award moments before she was gunned down.
14 were killed, 21 wounded. investigators tell nbc news, farouk and malik practiced at a shooting range for the past year. the fbi and atf tracking the assault weapons farouk used. the guns were obtained from enrique marquez, farouk's childhood friend, who bought them three and four years ago. marquez is being questioned and cooperating. nbc news has learned marquez is a distant relative of farouk's by marriage and was seen at the same mosque on occasion. >> he was, i guess, liked by a lot of people. i mean, he fit in perfectly and he seemed to be learning the religion quite well as well. >> reporter: investigators are also on a paper trail, a trove of documents seized from the terrorists' house, electronics also recovered. the gunmen took special care to destroy cell phones with some data apparently encrypted. the recovery process complicated and slow but may prove critical. authorities say a number of people were seen coming and
going from farouk's garage, a bomb factory where others may have seen his plan of terror. >> sayd farouk's mother is a key person. she lived in the home where a bomb factory was constructed right under her nose. >> reporter: as authorities continue to work this crime scene, investigators are looking for new leads not only here at home but also overseas. they want to know, did the gunmen have any accomplices and was there a plan to attack another location after this one? lester? >> all right, miguel, thank you. there is other news tonight, and another unwanted headline for chipotle on the heels of a multistate outbreak of e. coli linked to its restaurants. tonight, boston college says 80 of its students have been sickened after eating at chipotle, including members of its men's basketball team. chipotle says it thinks the illnesses are the result of a norovirus, stomach bug, not e. coli. still ahead, a growing danger on the road and we are not just talking about texting
behind the wheel. there's something more and more drivers are doing, posing a serious safety risk. also, with donald trump proposing that ban on muslims. tom brokaw offers a poignant reminder of history's ugly lessons about fear and marginalizing groups of people. our research shows that people really like how with directv you could put tvs anywhere and not see cable wires and boxes in every room. why can't we get people to just say cables, schmables? hold on, hold on, i really like what you're doing there because if we just add "schma" in front of something, it just doesn't seem like a big deal. boxes, schmoxes. there you go. cold sore, cold schmore. yes! scotch, schmotch! what? i'll take some of that schmotch! alright. schmank you! (vo) get rid of cable and upgrade to directv. call 1-800-directv.
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texting that's posing a danger. as nbc's gabe gutierrez reports, more drivers than ever say when they're behind the wheel, they are actually surfing the internet. >> reporter: the results can be devastating. a school bus crash in missouri, another in tennessee, and the wreck that changed kim schlaws' life. >> jessica was a college student, kelly was a cheerleader. >> reporter: she lost her two oldest daughters, 18-year-old jessica and 13-year-old kelly when an illinois state trooper lost control of his vehicle and smashed into their car. he was on his phone and his computer. >> they had friends, they had family, they had lives, hopes and dreams, like we all do. >> reporter: a new survey from state farm shows a troubling trend. while drivers report talking on a hand-held cell phone have actually decreased the last six years, texting while driving has gone up and surfing the internet while behind the wheel has more than doubled, now admitted by 29% of drivers, leading at&t to
launch its own campaign, "it can wait." many companies are now developing apps that disable calls, texts and web browsing while a car's in motion. right now, 46 states ban texting while driving, but many police agencies say enforcement can be tough. >> i suspect it is probably distracted driving. if you don't actually see the violation, then it's a lot harder to prove. >> they were rendered virtually unrecognizable. >> reporter: kim now travels the country on a mission to stop distracted driving. >> it can happen faster than you can blink. you look down at your phone and you look back up, you can travel the distance of a football field. >> reporter: the stakes, she says, could not be higher. gabe gutierrez, nbc news, atlanta. we are back in a moment with an incredible on-stage moment alongside u2 in paris, a first since terrorists struck that great city. ♪ our parents worked hard so that we could enjoy life's simple pleasures. now it's our turn.
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tonight in the pacific northwest where days of storms have brought record rainfall in and a flood emergency tonight in the pacific northwest where days of storms have brought record rainfall in and around portland, pushing rivers above flood stage in parts of washington and oregon. forecasters say the line of storms and flood risk will continue for several more days at least. a moving moment in paris when the american band, eagles of death metal, took the stage for the first time since the terror attacks in that city last month. the band joined u2 on stage last night at an arena just a few miles from the batalclan theater. eagles of death metal were playing the batalclan on november 13th when attackers burst in and killed 89 people. and a lot of people paused today to remember another rock and roll hero. 35 years ago tonight, john lennon was heading home from a recording session when he was shot to death in front of his new york city apartment building. he was just 40 years old and just launching a comeback after five years out of the public eye. he left behind a wife, two sons and generations of fans who will never forget him. at the vatican tonight, an
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♪ finally tonight, we return to our lead story, the uproar ove finally tonight, we return to our lead story, the uproar over donald trump's proposal to ban muslims from entering this country. in the heat of the political moment, some perspective. history is replete with examples of what happens when fear and intolerance take hold and an entire category of people is marginalized. tom brokaw offers reflections now on the hard lessons of the past.r >> reporter: donald trump's promise to ban all muslims from coming to america is more, much more, than a shouted campaign provocation. trump's statement, even in this season of extremes, is a dangerous proposal
that overrides history, the law and the foundation of america itself. in my lifetime alone, we have been witness to the consequences of paranoia overriding reason. during world war ii, law-abiding japanese-american citizens were herded into remote internment camps, losing their jobs, businesses and social standing, while an all-japanese-american division fought heroically in europe. at the same time, in germany, a regime that declared war on its own citizens if they were jewish. and germany paid the ultimate price, defeat and history's condemnation. but after the war, america still had to learn about demagoguery the hard way. senator joe mccarthy's reckless anti-communist witch hunt -- >> it has been labeled -- >> reporter: -- making ever-more outrageous claims, damaging reputations, until one day -- >> have you no sense of decency, sir?
>> reporter: all of that while african-americans, whose ancestors came here as slaves, were treated as second- or even third-class citizens, in uniform and out. yes, the jihadists are radical muslims, but they're minority in a world with 1.5 billion muslims. even so, defeating isis will be long, hard and expensive, perhaps even more so now because isis is likely to use donald trump's statements as a recruiting tool. kareem khan, a muslim, responded to a different kind of recruiting, 9/11. an american citizen, he joined the american army to show that not all muslims are fanatics. he was killed in iraq in 2007 by an ied, just 20 years old. mr. trump cannot exclude him from america. he has a permanent home here in section 60 at arlington national cemetery. >> tom brokaw with something for us to think about. that will do it for us on this