tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC June 8, 2017 7:00pm-7:30pm EDT
breaking news tonight, striking revelations and allegations from comey. under oath, telling congress he as no doubt he was fired because of a russia investigation. and he believes that president trump clearly tried to derail the michael flynn probe. comey accusing the president of lying and defaming him. >> those were lies plain and simple. >> an extraordinary moment in american history. did president trump commit obstruction of justice? tonight the president's lawyer fires back. predicting autism, doctors say a new brain scan could give parents critical clues in certain kids as young as six months old. and survivors reunion. children who escaped the holocaust together, the amazing st
these years later living just miles apart half a world away. "nightly news" begins right now. >> this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt reporting tonight from washington. good evening. we're glad to have you with us on the day that washington and much of the country stood still. for 2 1/2 hours the nation was riveted as james comey, the exhead of the fbi stood his ground, telling the senate committee he believed the president of the united states fired him because of the fbi's russia investigation. and that the white house had subsequently lied about him and the fbi. comey weaving a detailed narrative about disturbing conversations with president trump including one in which he says the president directed him to drop the michael flynn case. comey's testimony leaving questions of potential obstruction of justice still hanging in the air.
house found some vindication in his words. we have complete coverage starting with chief white house correspondent hallie jackson. >> reporter: commanding a spotlight entirely his, james comey turned it on to the president describing donald trump as not truthful and not credible. >> i was honestly concerned he might lie about the nature of our meeting so i thought it was important to document. >> reporter: those memos provided the basis of comey's testimony today. dramatic, compelling and controversial. >> did the president at any time ask you to stop the fbi investigation into russian involvement in the 2016 u.s. elections? >> not to any using no. >> comey was less conclusive when asked about flynn after testifying that the president said he hoped comey would let flynn go. >> i took it as a direction. i mean, this is the president of the united states. with me alone saying i hope this, i took it as this is what he wants me to do. i didn't obey that but th's
it. >> there's not what he said. >> correct. >> he said i hope. >> those were his exact words, yes. >> did you think that the president was trying to obstruction justice? >> i'm sure the counsel will work toward that. >> reporter: that's a bombshell,. >> why didn't you stop and say, mr. president this is wrong? >> maybe if i were stronger i would have. i was so stunned by the conversation that i just took it in. >> reporter: another startling revelation came in this acknowledgment from comey about the conversation he documented related to flynn. >> i asked a friend of mine to share the kwon content of the memo with a reporter. i asked him to because i thought that might prompt the appointment of the special counsel. >> reporter: that ultimately happened. all of it triggered by a tweet. the president who apparently suspected comey was behind that leak wrote o m
12th -- james comey better hope there are no tapes of our conversation before he starts leaking to the press. >> look, i have seen the tweet about tapes. lordy, i hope there are tapes. if he did, my feelings aren't hurt, release all the tapes. i'm good with it. >> reporter: comey clearly frustrated by the president's explanation for firing him. >> the administration then chose to defame me and more importantly the fbi. by saying that the organization was in disarray. those were lies, plain and simple. >> reporter: his concerns linger about the past administration too and then attorney general loretta lynch appointed by president obama. she met bill clinton on a tarmac when the fbi was looking at hillary clinton and asked comey to call that inquiry a matter. not an investigation. >> as i said before the federal bureau of investigation, we had an investigation open at the time and is a that gave me a queasy feeling. >> reporter: a person familiar with those discussions tells nbc lynch used the word matter to make sure she didn't confirm or deny an investigation and wanted s
who never said at the time he wasn't comfortable with it. capitol hill, captivated by all of it. people lining up starting at 4:00 this morning. a group of fbi employees in the room to give moral support. callings comey's homies and getting a passionate good-bye from their former director. >> it was the honor of my life to serve beside you, to be part of the fbi family. i will miss it for the rest of my life. >> reporter: republicans skittish. still giving the president the benefit of the doubt. >> the president's new at this. he's new to government. and so he probably wasn't steeped in the long running protocols that establish the relationships between doj, fbi and the white house. >> reporter: democrats unsatisfied. >> so the president needs to address the various allegations that have been made and if he doesn't feel that they're accurate he should say so. but if he can't rule out what's said that's pretty damning. >> reporter: breaking
sources have told nbc news jared kushner has agreed to meet with senate intelligence committee staffers mid month on the condition he submit documents and answer questions from the senators themselves at a later time. lester? >> hallie jackson starting us off, thank you. and james comey's testimony has shed new light on the investigations into russian election meddling and where they're going from here. comey's testimony also had a lot of asking did the president commit obstruction of justice? our justice correspondent pete williams has that part of the story. >> reporter: robert mueller the special counsel who took over the russian meddling investigation now has the memos james comey wrote after his meetings with donald trump comey revealed today. comey says the president urged him to drop the inquiry into michael flynn, forced to resign as national security adviser. but is that obstruction of justice trying to interfere with an investigation?
legal experts disagree, it requires showing intent which is hard to prove. >> we won't know until the fbi investigation is over, but i clearly think that this is a very important testimony that will help in the development of the criminal case. >> reporter: watching closely today, congressman adam schiff, top democrat on the house investigation. he says it's telling that the president asked the attorney general and others to leave after an oval office meeting so trump could be alone with comey. >> my sense was the attorney general knew he shouldn't be leaving which is why he was lingering. >> what was among the most striking to me is the president basically telling everyone else to get out of the room. as the former prosecutor that says to me, he is conscious of what he's about to do is improper. >> reporter: comey says he never told attorney general jeff sessions about the meetings because it was thought that sessions would take himself out of the russian case and other reason -- >> i can't discuss it
continued engagement in the investigation problematic. >> reporter: the fbi was looking at whether sessions had a meeting he didn't disclose early last year with russia's ambassador at a washington, d.c. hotel. justice department officials said since said there was no such meeting. comey says president trump showed little curiosity about russia's election meddling after the official briefing in january he said he never asked about it again. lester? >> pete williams, thank you. meantime, the trump team isn't wasting any time in firing back at the fired fbi director. the president's lawyer addressing the media this afternoon saying comey is the one not telling the truth. we get new details on what that's all about from nbc's peter alexander. >> reporter: president trump today off twitter and on message finding a friendly crowd at the evangelical conference. >> because as the bible tells us, we know that the truth will prevail. >> reporter: no mention of james comey. later ignoring
here at the white house. >> mr. president -- >> reporter: do you think he told the truth? >> the president's rebuttal, a combative statement from his private manhattan lawyer, marc kasowitz. >> the president feels vindicate and is eager to continue to move forward with his agenda and with his public cloud removed. >> reporter: he accused comey of lying about mr. donald trump's demand for loyalty and claims he pressured comey to back off michael flynn. >> the president never in form or substance directed or suggested that mr. comey stop investigating anyone. >> reporter: that dispute could easily be settled if the president released secret tapes that he suggested exist. but has yet to produce. kasowitz seized on other points including the statement that comey told mr. trump he was not under investigation. >> mr. comey has now finally confirmed publicly what he repeatedly told president trump
>> reporter: the veteran trial lawyer attacking comey for making public privileged communications with the president. >> mr. comey has now admitted that he is one of the leakers. >> reporter: the president's son don jr. did tweet flynn stuff is bs. adding, very far in any kind of -- any kind of coertion or influence. the strategy going forward, white house veterans insist leave the russia investigation to the lawyers. >> i would allow the white house to be focused on helping the president do the job of being president. and to me that's most important. don't get wrapped around the axle of the investigation. >> reporter: tonight a white house spokeswoman is pushing back after comey blasted the white house for telling quote lies about his dismissal. sarah huckabee sanders flatly declaring the president is not a liar. lester, back to you. >> peter alexander, thank you. for more on the cal and legal fallout, let me bring in chuck todd here in washington and savannah guthrie back
speaker of the house say that the president is a newbie and may not know the ropes of protocol. talk about the political fallout with the democrats and his own party. >> republicans like paul ryan and others who are never big trump fans, but they continue to essentially publicly protect him and that was a sense that he had done that. now the problem is that speaker ryan looks silly especially given the worst aspect is that the president told the attorney general to leave the room. that tells you he knew that that was what he needed to do. i think it actually undercuts the larger issue that paul ryan was bringing up. but look, i think politically today the president survived as far as his base is concerned. outside of washington. james comey though did a lot of damage to the president's reputation here in washington. that is going to leave collateral damage with republicans here in washington for some time. >> let me turn to savannah. if we're talking about obstruction of justice, is there a potential criminal case here? >> ,
it's very debatable if the conduct we heard described today would rise to the level of obstruction of justice under our criminal laws and the fact of the matter is, our criminal statutes weren't built for a situation like this where a president is potentially accused of firing his fbi director because he wants him to drop an investigation of a staffer. what would likely happen is if the special counsel thought something was wrong here, there was a criminal offense, that he would end up referring it back to congress. there is the department of justice guide lines that say you can't indict a sitting president. there are legal questions here but they'll enup in the political -- end up in the political branches of congress if we get there. >> thanks to both of you. from coast to coast today, the comey hearing was must see tv for millions of americans. many stopping everything to tune in, eyes glued to their screens even holding watch parties to share the experience together. nbc's gadi schwartz samples the reaction across the
morning yoga, to the stress of the rush hour commute -- >> why do you believe you were fired? >> reporter: it was a senate hearing heard around the country. at the dentist, getting ready for work and even bars opening early. >> let's get it on the table. >> it seems like an awful lot of smoke but not fire. >> reporter: this was beltway politics in a way that looked more like the nba finals than a senate intelligence committee hearing. >> we had the same amount of crowd last night for the warriors game but politics it was definitely the busiest we were at 6:00 a.m. >> reporter: for the most part those who turned up for parties in san francisco, d.c., houston, los angeles root on the former fbi director. >> this guy is presidential in a way that i think we have been lacking. >> reporter: but in places like gilbert, arizona, liberals, conservatives, independents, making their way to work agreed on one thing. the debacle is getting way too complicated to follow. >> i'm kind of hoping i'll wake up in a few
[000:13:58;00] on from whatever it is. >> reporter: many feeling that trump should expect loyalty. >> i think comey is full of hot air. and he deserved to be fired. >> reporter: others saying they believe comey's word over the president's. >> definitely a straight shooter. >> reporter: when it comes to russia here in trump country some shoulder shrugs. >> not going to affect my life. >> reporter: it's watching a political spectacle that grows every day. gadi schwartz, nbc news, arizona. on wall street today another record day. the dow finishing up at 21,182 after hitting the new all time high. the nasdaq an s&p were up as well. experts say investors were not rattled by comey's testimony. they're more focused on vents in europe and the markets closed before the exit polls showed potentially surprise election results in the uk. back at home in georgia, horror on the
roadway when a church bus carrying missionaries overturned killing one and injuring dozens more. the bus was filled with high schoolers from an alabama church who were reportedly set to fly from atlanta to botswana. police are still investigating the cause but say the crash apparently involved at least one other vehicle. there's more ahead here tonight. news for parents about predicting autism earlier than ever before in babies as young as six months. stay with us. hritis. because there are options. like an "unjection™". xeljanz xr. a once daily pill for adults with moderate to severe ra for whom methotrexate did not work well. xeljanz xr can reduce pain, swelling and joint damage, even without methotrexate. xeljanz xr can lower your ability to fight infections, including tuberculosis. serious, sometimes fatal infections, lymphoma and other cancers have happened. don't start xeljanz xr if you have an infection. tears in the stomach or intestines, low blood cell counts and higher liver tests and
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♪ tango! for the guy who finds a way. always unstoppable. we're back now with news about something that worries a lot of parents -- childhood autism. early diagnosis and early intervention can be crucial in treating autism. now researchers have thank you tool they may be able to predict the disorder earlier than ever in high risk babies. nbc's anne thompson explains. >> reporter: this woman's oldest child evan is autistic. >> every day of my life i wish i could peek in his brain and sort of understand
what's going on. >> reporter: now a new study says brain autism in 6-month-old babies who have older siblings with autism. >> there was a different pattern in those who went on to have autism versus those what that didn't have autism. >> reporter: it focus on 59 infants and correctly predicted nine out of 11 who would have autism. this may be possible to predict autism in high risk babies long before symptoms start to emerge at the age of 2. what kind of difference could this early predictor make? >> treating earlier is better. if we were, we'd be treating at a time that the symptoms appear and at time when the brain is more malleable or receptive to treatment. this has great promise. >> reporter: she enrolled her youngest daughter caroline in the study. at 2 she is developing
as expected with no signs of autism. this is good, they're meeting this milestone you relax a little bit. >> reporter: study authors caution more research is needed but this could be an important clue to help doctors and families unlock the mystery of autism. anne thompson, nbc news, new york. we are back in a moment with an emotional reunion more than seven decades in the making and three incredible stories of survival. just the other day ♪ ♪ he came to the world in the usual way ♪ ♪ but there were planes to catch and bills to pay ♪ ♪ so i moved my meeting saw him walk that day ♪ ♪ he was talking 'fore i knew it, and as he grew ♪ ♪ he'd say i'm gonna be like you, dad ♪ ♪ you know i'm gonna be like you ♪ ♪ well he came home from college just the other day ♪ ♪ he said i can't thank you enough for paying my way ♪
♪ what i'd really like dad is to borrow the car keys, ♪ nd the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon ♪ ♪ little boy blue and the man in the moon ♪ ♪ when you comin' home, dad? i'll be home in ten ♪ ♪ and we'll get together then. ♪ ♪ you know we'll have a good time then. ♪ hey richard, check out this fresh roasted flavor. looks delicious, huh? -yeah. -and how about that aroma? -love that aroma! umph! -craveability, approved! irresistibly planters. umbrellas!! you need one of these. you wouldn't put up with an umbrella
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and virginia progressives agree. who stood up to the nra after the virginia tech shooting. dr. northam led the fight to stop the republicans' transvaginal ultrasound law. ralph is a leader for education, expanding pre-k for thousands of families in virginia. ralph northam: making progress means taking on tough fights, and as governor, i won't let donald trump stand in our way. we're back now with a story of an unprecedented reunion. they were just children when they survived the horrors of the holocaust. all three photographed in one of the indelible images from auschwitz. by chance, they all ended up close to each other here in the u.s. but for 72 years they didn't meet again until now. kristen dahlgren was there and has their incredible story. >> reporter: it's when of the haunt -- one of the haunting images of the holocaust,
children freed from auschwitz. >> witnesses. >> reporter: this little girl was just 6 when her mother did the unthinkable. >> she hid me with a dead body and she told me not to move. >> reporter: sarah ludwig just 4 in this video. >> i was a very gutsy kid. i was able to survive. don't ask me how. >> reporter: this is michael bornstein and his grandmother. >> my grandmother hid me in an quote/unquote infirmary. >> reporter: he told he story in the book, never nothing the two girls at his side then lived a few miles ago today. >> from the moment i saw the book, i said, oh, there was somebody from the picture that's alive. >> reporter: this week they reunited. >> look. this is -- this has a picture and for years and i always wondered where are the other people? >> oh, my goodness, that's me. >> that's me. >> reporter: 72 years after they were last together. >> i want to hug you guys.
can we hug? such a long time. >> 1945, we were there. >> reporter: just like this. >> just like this. we were standing next to each other and we made it. >> i'll show you my that too. >> in our memories forever. >> >> reporter: now they're sharing happier times. children and grandchildren which leads to one more connection. >> she was the first grade teacher of my grandchildren. >> reporter: brought together by a book forever bound by history. finally getting their chance to celebrate survival. >> nice. >> reporter: kristen dahlgren, nbc news, north caldwell, new jersey. what an amazing story. when we come back, a major milestone for a former first lady and the sweet wish from her husband. i miss home. ♪
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ameriprise interview yet. "sunday night with megyn kelly." finally here on this very busy night of news, happiest of birthdays to barbara pierce of rye, new york. that was the tweet today from former president george h.w. bush to his wife of 72 years. he says, i'm still the luckiest guy in the world. a family spokesperson says the couple is celebrating by spending a quiet day at their home in maine. we appreciate you spending part of your evening with us. that is "nightly news" for this thursday night. i'm lester holt. from all of us at nbc news, thank you for watching and good