tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC February 26, 2016 7:00pm-7:31pm EST
breaking news tonight. trump bombshell. chris christie shocks the political world by endorsing the front-runner hours after marco rubio unloaded on trump in a wild debate brawl. one of the most dramatic campaign days ever. nbc news investigates amid allegations from rubio the inside story of how undocumented workers worked at the site of trump tower. mass shooting horror. 4 dead, 13 wounded as a gunman opens fire in a workplace. a hero cop taking him down. tonight, what we've learned happened in the hours before the massacre. zika in america. the cdc warns of a surge in cases. the virus is now striking pregnant women here. and fairy tale ending. a little girl's
and a police chase like we've never seen before. "nightly news" begins right now. >> announcer: this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. good evening. what a wild day it has been, one of the most dramatic and intense days of this presidential campaign so far. hours after mocking, ridiculing and challenging donald trump on the debate stage, a rejuvenated marco rubio struck again today but then donald trump struck back with a surprise announcement of new jersey governor chris christie. it was all part of a nasty back and forth war of words between trump and rubio on the trail just four days before super tuesday. nbc's katy tur starts off our coverage. katy, what a day. >> reporter: lester, they say everything is bigger in texas, and this endorsement certainly came as a big surprise. less than a month after he dropped out and just four days to go until super tuesday, chris christie is getting
[000:01:58;00] and trying to lay waste to marco rubio. >> ladies and gentlemen, it is my honor and my privilege to introduce the next president of the united states, donald trump! >> reporter: donald trump added a little jersey pride to his texas swagger in fort worth today. former presidential candidate chris christie officially endorsing the front-runner. >> and i really was happy with this one right here. so, chris, thank you. we love you, man. >> it's all make-believe. >> reporter: less than a month ago christie was trying to tear down trump. >> i never said i could shoot somebody in the middle of fifth avenue and never lose a voter. i never called mexicans rapists and murderers. i never said ban all muslims from the united states. >> reporter: the two often called bullies teaming up to eviscerate marco rubio. >> last night i thought that the deal of the night was when i looked over to rubio, and i said, you
remember, you're a choker and wdo administration. i said you're a choker and you're a liar. >> reporter: trump again mocking rubio's state of the union water bottle gaffe. >> let's talk about our lightweight senator from florida. he doesn't have the talent. he doesn't have the temperament. he can never make us great. >> reporter: the endorsement perfect timing for trump after a bad debate that left him on the defensive for his inheritance, a trump university fraud suit and not releasing his tax returns. the irs has said that there's nothing precluding you in its rules from releasing your taxes -- your tax returns with an audit. >> until my audit is finished, very simple, you're noting if to see anything. when you see it, you're going to see it. but i'm not going to complicate things. >> reporter: christie, a cunning politician who many believe could have bridged gaps in washington, is picking the sure bet. sources familiar with the governor's thinking tell nbc news. but rubio after standing up to trump at the debate isn't going to go down
without a fight. katy tur, nbc news, fort worth, te >> reporter: this is gabe gutierrez covering marco rubio's campaign. today he was riding high until the billionaire dropped the bombshell. how stunning was the christie endorsement? >> stunning? no, look. chris is an articulate guy. donald probably needs a lifeline after last night and he called in chris christie. i respect that. i have more than my fair share of endorsements. >> reporter: this morning in dallas rubio had ripped into the front-runner. >> what we are dealing with here, my friends, is a con artist. >> reporter: mocking a series of trump's misspelled tweets. >> and i only reached two conclusions. number one, that's how they spell those words at the wharton school of business where he went, or, number two, just like trump tower he must have hired a foreign worker to do his own tweets. he called me mr. meltdown. let me tell you something. last night at the
debate during one of the breaks, two of the backstage. he was having a kneltdown. first, he had this little makeup thing applying like makeup around miss mustache, had one of those sweat mustaches and then wanted a full length mirror, maybe to make sure his pants weren't wet, i don't know. >> reporter: rubio's all-out assault coming after last night's republican debate in hues top. he berated trump for his hiring practice. >> if he built the wall the way he built trump towers he'll be using illegal immigrant labor to do it. >> reporter: his inheritance. >> if he hadn't inherited $2 million you know where trump would be right now, selling watches and ipads. >> reporter: and his repetition of campaign slogans and now he's repeating himself. >> i watched him repeat himself five times four weeks ago. >> i saw you repeat yourself five times five seconds to go. >> reporter: rubio faces a steep climb four days before super tuesday. polls show the senator behind trump in all 11 states. what's crucial is rubio's home state of florida on march 15th where one poll has him trailing by double digits. you're guaranteeing that you will win. >> we will win. >> reporter: what happens if you don't? >> we'll win florida.
>> campaigns throughout the south tomorrow, he's expected to release his own tax returns, and he's calling on the gop front-runner to do the same, but, lester, on a day when rubio woke up owning the news cycle he found himself trumped. >> all right, gabe. regarding some of those allegations by rubio. coming up we've got the inside story of how undocumented worked at the site of trump tower. but, first, i want to bring in our political director and moderator of "meet the press" chuck todd. chuck, our new poll asked registered voters which of the following would be their reaction to trump as the nominee. 51% said scared, 24% said angry, and when you look at numbers like that and you look at that back and forth we just saw a moment ago, what do you make of it? >> i have to say, it feels like every time we think public discourse has deteriorated to a new low, we reach a new low. i mean it really is stunning the back and forth today that we've seen between trump and
rubio. it is -- unpresidential doesn't [000:06:59;00] fact of the matter is you've got to give the trump campaign credit here. this christie endorsement, timing and symbolism are big with endorsements. a lot of times they are overrated but the timing of it was brilliant. you have to say that. it shows you that this is a very sophisticated campaign that trump had. had this in his big of tricks ready to go when he needed it and the symbolism. he's -- chris christie is a card-carrying member of the republican establishment. if you believe there's five stages of grief going on, lester, the fifth stage is acceptance with republicans. christie is a big acceptor. >> republicans soaking up the headlines today, but lest we forget democrat voters in the south carolina primary tomorrow. what do we look for there? >> well, it should be a big win for hillary clinton. if it's not, it shows you that there is life in sanders' campaign. sanders needs to improve with african-american voters, and if he does that, we'll know because he'll come within single digits of her, but if it's a double-digit big win
for her it could be a foreshadowing of a long night for bernie sanders on super tuesday. you. good to see you. shock and horror in another american city tonight, the scene of this country's latest mass shooting. this time four dead including the shooter and 14 wounded after that gunman went on a rampage at multiple scenes. most of the carnage inside his place of work. nbc's miguel almaguer has the developments into the investigation. >> reporter: a chilling video on the gunman's facebook page. police say cedric ford used an assault rifle to hunt and kill his victims. close to 5:00 p.m. thursday two shootings at two intersections. two people are wounded before ford speeds away. he then arrives at work, excel industries. detectives say ford opens fire on a co-worker in this parking lot and then enters the building. >> all of a sudden pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop. >> reporter: ford fires on everyone in sight. >> following people out the back, and i thought he was going to shoot me. >> reporter: 14 are
wounded and 3 killed. 24 minutes of terror only coming to an end when a police officer taking fire as he enters. >> the only reason he stopped shooting is because that officer stopped the shooter. >> reporter: cedric ford had a 20-year criminal history, a felon charged with burglary, grand theft and carrying a concealed weapon. in court documents his ex-girlfriend asking for a protective order saying he's an alcoholic, violent, depressed. it's my belief he's in desperate need of medical and psychological help. police served that restraining order to ford at excel shortly before the shooting. dennis briton jr. shot once thought about his three children as he was rushed to the hospital. >> i didn't want to leave them. i wasn't ready to leave yet. i didn't want to die. >> reporter: tonight heartbreak in this small community for the dead. renee benjamin was 30, brian sadowski 34 and loved rock music and
joshua higbee, 31, a young father who loved his little boy. >> he didn't deserve this. none of the peop >> reporter: tonight several people remain hospitalized including one in critical condition. police say ford was armed with an assault rifle and a handgun. nbc news has learned those weapons were bought by an ex-girlfriend, though not the same girlfriend who filed that restraining order. lester, we are told 200 to 300 people were inside the lawn mower company behind me and had that police officer not engaged the suspect quickly, the death toll could have been so much higher. lester. >> miguel almaguer tonight, thank you. for the first time the cdc is recommending that pregnant women not attend the summer olympics in brazil, ground zero for the zika virus which is linked to birth defects. there are now more than 100 cases in this and our rehema ellis reports several women in the u.s. have contracted t.
>> reporter: for weeks the centers for disease control had been on the lookout for pr countries where zika has been linked to microcephaly. today the cdc confirmed nine pregnant american women with zika and is investigating another possible ten. >> we described women who developed zika after traveling, got it from a place where zika is spreading and then are currently pregnant or delivered a child. >> reporter: two pregnancies ended in abortion. of the three babies born, one had the severe birth defect. nationwide the number of zika cases is growing. there are now 24 states and washington, d.c. with confirmed zika virus. at least 107 cases so far, all involving people who have traveled abroad, and now doctors at seattle children's research institute in washington are sounding the alarm that the birth defect linked to zika could be even more devastating than originally feared. in brain scans comparing microcephaly cases, doctors found a baby's brain with zika
was so severely damaged it was almost gone. >> suddenly seeing something this severe and this new in such numbers is unprecedented. i've never seen the like in my career. >> reporter: tonight health officials are warning there could be thousand of zika cases in puerto rico this summer, and the race is on to distribute mosquito protection kits there. rehema ellis, nbc news, new york. still ahead tonight, millions saw donald trump accused in last night's debate of exploiting undocumented workers at the site of his trump tower. what really happened? tonight the results of an nbc news investigation into that. also, you're not just seeing things. that's a unicorn, sort of. and she led police on a wild chase that's now the stuff of legend. you've got to see this one. but i keep it growing by making every dollar count. that's why i have the spark cash card from capital one. i earn unlimited 2% cash back on everything i buy for my studio.
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your medication, astrazeneca may be able to help. now to that controversy that has roared back into the headlines about donald trump and one of the most famous properties that bears his name, trump tower. trump, who vows to deport all undocumented immigrants, was accused in last night's debate of using undocumented labor himself at the site of trump tower. nbc news has investigated what went on there for months now, and tonight nbc news senior investigative correspondent cynthia mcfadden reveals what we found. >> reporter: last night marco rubio let loose on donald trump. >> you lied about the polish workers. >> yeah, yeah, yeah. that was 38 years ago.
>> oh, you lied 38 years ago. i guess there's a statute of limitations on lies. immigrants did do much of the initial work on the crown jewel of his empire in new york, trump tower, which raises the question is donald trump a hypocrite? is it accurate to say that trump tower, the construction of it, began on the backs of polish workers who are unpaid? >> oh, absolutely. it's constructed on the blood, sweat and tears of the polish brigade as they were known in the industry. >> reporter: back then attorn wendy sloan sued donald trump, his company and others claiming they failed to acknowledge at least 150 undocumented polish men working off the books. donald trump testified and was asked what working off the books in the construction industry meant. his response, i really don't know. >> reporter: they had no protective equipment, no helmets, hard hats. >> reporter: in his 1990 testimony donald trump denied he knew the workers were illegal. did it ever come to your attention that any of those polish
workers were illegal aliens? >> i really still don't know that. nobody has proven to illegal aliens. >> it seems he was saying in essence that everybody else in town knew what was going on on his own job site and he didn't. >> reporter: daniel sullivan, a labor relations consultant who had been convicted of tax evasion, testified that during the demolition trump himself knew he was using illegal workers on the site. >> there's no question in my mind. i mean, he said it to me point blank. >> reporter: nbc spoke with sullivan in 1989. he has since died. >> donald's lying. flat out. he knew exactly what was happening. >> reporter: one of those workers says he was promised $5 an hour but wasn't paid for all of his work. must have been angry? >> very angry about that. >> reporter: he was one of only a few polish workers with a green card. several undocumented workers testified at
the time they were making only $4 an hour while the american union workers were were nd foot pai months of work, but at the time were too afraid to protest outside the building. >> they are looking for not legal people so that people are very afraid of all of that. >> reporter: mr. trump told us it was the contractor's responsibility to pay the demolition workers, not his, and a federal court agreed. still, he never reported the workers or tried to get them deported. mr. trump also told us he would have done nothing different. again, last night, defended himself. >> i've hired tens of thousands of people over my lifetime. >> many from other countries instead of hiring americans. >> let me talk. i've hired tens of thousands of people. he brings up something from 30 years ago. it worked out very well. everybody was happy. >> you paid $1 million. >> the law was totally different. it was a totally different world. >> reporter: in spite
of what rubio claims what trump ultimately paid to settle the matter was sealed by final ruling on yet another case involving the polish workers and trump tower, the u.s. court of appeals wrote that in the end time generally reveals what a falsehood hopes to hide. but when it comes to mr. trump's appeal among voters consider this. mike, one of the polish workers who didn't get fully paid, told me he thought donald trump might be a very good president and was considering voting for him. lester. >> cynthia mcfadden tonight, thank you. we're back in a moment with that irs hack, far worse than we were first told. how you'll be able to tell if your data was stolen. your body was made for better things than rheumatoid arthritis. before you and your rheumatologist move to a biologic, ask if xeljanz is right for you. xeljanz is a small pill for adults with moderate to severe ra for whom methotrexate did not work well. xeljanz can reduce joint pain and swelling in as little as two weeks,
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the irs says it will notify the affected taxpayers in the coming days. passing tonight to note tonight. tony burton, who was best known for playing apollo creed's trainer in the "rocky" movies has died. burton was a successful prize fighter of his own as a young man before moving into acting, appearing in six "rocky" films in all. he was 78 years old. the 88th academy awards are this sunday and it's one of the most competitive in recent history. many are betting leonardo dicaprio will take home his first best actor oscar for "the revenant" and brie larson is the best actress favorite for "room" and overshadowing is all the controversy. some like spike lee and will smith are boycotting the ceremony over the lack of color in the top acting categories.
tell a fairy tale day, and do we ever have the right story for the occasion. it's about a belov had some thinking maybe just for a split second are unicorns real? nbc's joe fryer has our tale. >> reporter: one can only imagine what drivers in rural california were thinking when this galloped into sight. >> the calls were coming in as a unicorn running around out there on the roadway. >> reporter: it happened once upon a team in medeiras ranchos, california where this creature led police on a three hour chase. >> avenue 12 and road 33, the owner is trying to corral her. >> reporter: turns out the unicorn was a phony. she's a pony. her name is juliet and she belongs to 5 yelled tatum. >> reporter: juliette wears the horn to pose for professional pictures with children and during the shoot this week she made a
run for the rainbow. >> she got afraid and runned away. >> reporter: and dashed through orchards and darted in be stealthier than we would have imagined. >> reporter: a situation reminiscent of last year's llama drama in arizona. juliet was eventually wrangled by a neighbor with a horse that lured the majestic pony out of hiding. >> the call came out that the unicorn was in custody. as tense as the situation was, that was the comedic relief that was needed at the time and i laugh and i cried. >> reporter: while juliet escaped the wrath of the law, tatum was not so generous. >> she got in a time-out because she was being a bad pony. >> reporter: her unicorn horn is now gone replaced with two other horns, but at least everyone in this fairy tale lived happily every after. joe fryer, nbc news. >> and that will leave us with a smile on our face on this friday night. i'm lester holt reporting from los