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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  March 20, 2017 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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happy first day of spring, everyone. >> thank you for joining us. >> lester holt is next. news tonight. some dramatic developments. president trump's own fbi director shoots down the president's claim about being wiretapped by president obama. also comey confirms for the first time the fbi is investigating possible links between the trump campaign and russia. we have the fallout. also breaking, new rules about the electronic devices being banned on board certain flights. nbc news exclusive. a woman who made a daring leap caught on camera jumping from a moving car trunk to escape her alleged kidnapper telling her harrowing story. super bowl stunner. as the fbi hunts down tom brady's missing jersey and finds a second one that was also missing. tonight, who's being blamed. and memorial mystery. our monday "inspiring america." "nightly news" begins
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right now. >> announcer: from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. good evening to our viewers in the west. the head of the fbi dropped two bombshells over capitol hill today. both however landing at the white house doorstep. james comey in public testimony joined a growing chorus of intelligence officials and lawmakers rejecting president trump's tweeted claims of being wiretapped by president obama before the election. >> i have no information that supports those tweets. and we have looked carefully inside the fbi. the department of justice has asked me to share with you that the answer is the same for the department of justice and all its components. >> then there was this. that the trump campaign has been under an fbi investigation since last summer in connection with russian meddling in the election. >> the fbi, as part of our counterintelligence
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mission, is investigating the russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the trump campaign and the russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and russia's efforts. >> tonight the white house is clinging to the discredited wiretap claim as it works to change the narrative on the russian investigation. a historic day in washington that also includes the first day of hearings for supreme court nominee neil gorsuch. we have it all covered starting with nbc's andrea mitchell. >> reporter: today james comey not only saying there's no evidence to back the president's tweet, claiming president obama had my wires tapped in trump tower, but also saying it's not even possible. >> so president obama could not unilaterally order a wiretap of anyone? >> no president could. >> reporter: as for mr. trump's tweet that, this is mccarthyism by the
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president and presumably the fbi -- >> were you engaged in mccarthyism, director comey? >> i try very hard not to engage in any isms of any kind, including mccarthyism. >> our british allies have called the president's suggestion they wiretapped him for obama nonsense and utterly ridiculous. would you agree? >> yes, sir. >> reporter: the fbi revealing they're investigating possible coordination between the president's campaign and russia's hacking of democrats. a lengthy probe that could lead all the way to the white house. russia's motive? >> putin hated secretary clinton so much that the flip side of that coin was, he had a clear preference for the person running against the person he hated so much. >> reporter: comey's appearance, along with nsa director admiral mike rogers, a tale of two hearings. for democrats it was all about russia and the possible trump campaign connection. >> this was in part an inside job. from u.s. persons. willing american accomplices, or terribly naive ones, or probably both, who
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helped the russians attack our country and our democracy. >> reporter: republicans avoiding the topic of russia, instead going after the leaks of classified information, allegedly from current and former intelligence officials. specifically about fired national security adviser mike flynn and the russian ambassador. >> in theory, how would reporters know a u.s. citizen made a telephone call to an agent or foreign power? >> somebody told them who shouldn't have told them. >> reporter: republicans underscoring the russian hacking did not change the vote count. >> do you have any evidence that russia cyber actors changed vote tallies in the state of michigan? >> no, i do not, but i would highlight we're a foreign intelligence organization, not a domestic intelligence organization. >> reporter: the white house tweeting out that exchange, sparking a realtime fact check from democrats. >> it says, the nsa and fbi tell congress that russia did not influence electoral -- the electoral process. is that accurate? >> we've offered no opinion, have no view, have no information on
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potential impact, because it's never something that we looked at. >> reporter: but after comey's rebukes when the white house was asked if the president would apologize to president obama -- >> no, we're -- we started a hearing, it's still ongoing. there's a lot of things that aren't being covered in this hearing. >> lawmakers also asking why the fbi didn't do more to blow the whistle on russia's hacking and comey saying if he had to do it all over again, he would have walked over to the dnc himself and banged on the door. lester? >> andrea mitchell starting us off, thanks. now that the fbi confirms it is looking into possible links between russia and trump associates, the white house today sought to distance itself from some former senior advisers. for more on the possible russian connection that investigators may be looking into, we turn to nbc news white house correspondent hallie jackson. >> but maybe someday -- >> reporter: the questions president trump tried to shake for months aren't going anywhere. >> i have nothing to do with russia. to the best of my knowledge, no person that i deal with does.
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>> reporter: director james comey is now confirming an fbi inquiry into trump aides' links to the kremlin started last july, months before the election. that's when headlines swirled surrounding people like paul manafort who had business ties to pro-russian ukrainians and today is denying any involvement with the russians. tonight the white house is working to minimize his role. >> paul manafort, who played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time -- >> reporter: but for six months, roughly one-third of the campaign, manafort served as de facto campaign manager. >> i think they may be trying to protect themselves from what they don't know about paul manafort or mike flynn or others around the campaign, but are now known to have had contacts with russians. >> reporter: the administration has long dismissed carter paige, who visited moscow during the campaign, as just a bit player. and today roger stone, a notorious gop operative, demanded his chance to respond to what he calls smears at the hearing. he cut ties with team
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trump in 2015, but raised questions with his tweet last summer. seeming to predict a wikileaks hack aimed at the clinton campaign. >> i have a backchannel communications with wikileaks. >> reporter: to democrats it adds up to this argument, too many connections to be coincidence. to republicans, it's a witch hunt with the white house pointing to statements from former obama administration officials. >> but at the time, we had no evidence of such collusion. >> reporter: it could be years before the investigation's complete. until then its cloud hangs over the trump administration. the shadow of russia looming. hallie jackson, nbc news, washington. all of this brings us to the subject of president trump's credibility, which is one of the most important things a president has, especially when a national crisis arises and the country turns to its commander in chief. now after a string of unproven claims, will this president struggle to keep the trust of the american public? here's nbc's peter alexander. >> reporter: tonight,
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for a president who's often loose with the facts, a moment of truth. after being publicly rebuked by the fbi director for his latest unfounded claim. in mr. trump's insurgent campaign fueled by promises this one likely got lost. >> in this journey, i will never lie to you. i will never tell you something i do not believe. >> reporter: as president those beliefs threaten to undermine his credibility on issues big and small. a white house claim about record crowd size consuming his first day in office. >> the field was -- it looked like a million, million and a half people. >> reporter: assessment photographs disproved. this head-scratching comment last month -- >> you look at what's happening last night in sweden. sweden! who would believe this, sweden! >> reporter: apparent reference to a terror attack, but there wasn't one. the president's demanded an investigation based on his unsubstantiated charge that millions of people voted illegally. then this false claim about his victory. >> i guess it was the
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biggest electoral college win since ronald reagan. >> reporter: but that's just not true. as nbc news pointed out in realtime. >> why should americans trust you -- >> well, no, i was given that information -- i was just given. we had a very, very big margin. >> reporter: it's nothing new. mr. trump's political career was launched on the back of his birther claim against president obama. >> you are not allowed to be a president if you're not born in this country. he may not have been born in this country. >> reporter: what's the cumulative effect? >> when people begin to get skeptical about what a president tells us, it begins to lead to a situation where he is less powerful. >> reporter: also new tonight, the president's daughter ivanka trump is joining her father's team here at the white house. a source familiar with ivanka's plans tells me she will not have an official title or take salary but she will be moving into an office just above her father's. lester? >> peter alexander at the white house, thanks. for perspective on where this leaves us, i'm joined by tom brokaw. you've covered every president since johnson.
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today we got confirmation, this time from the fbi director, that the president is pushing a false story and that his campaign has been under investigation now since july. these are not policy, red/blue issues, but how do they color everything this administration does and says going forward? >> you've got to remember this administration is only two months old, it's got some very important legislation in the works, and yet everyone is focused on whether the president is telling the truth. first of all, about the wiretapping, which everyone says it's not true. and then about any connection he may have with the russians. we don't know that yet. now, people are beginning to murmur watergate. it's a little too early to do that. that took two years, it was built brick by brick. but in fact, there are a lot of outstanding questions here, lester. not just about the integrity of the election but the integrity of the president of the united states, who continues to govern by tweet. which a lot of people find that very hard to believe. but that's the age in which we now live. and we'll see how this plays out. but it's not going to
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go away any time soon. >> tom brokaw, appreciate your perspective, thank you. the other major event today on capitol hill. the senate began confirmation hearings for neil gorsuch, president trump's nominee for the supreme court. but democrats are still seething after the gop refused to hold hearings for former president obama's nominee last year. nbc news justice correspondent pete williams has more. >> reporter: with a hug and a kiss from his wife for good luck, the hearing for neil gorsuch comes just over a year since president obama nominated federal judge merrick garland to fill the vacancy left by the december of antonin scalia. garland never even got a hearing. leaving the seat open for president trump to fill. >> i'm deeply disappointed that it's under these circumstances that we begin our hearings. >> reporter: democrats said gorsuch must stand up for judges given donald trump's stinging tweets about the courts. >> his demeaning and disparaging comments about the judiciary have shaken the foundations of respect for judicial rulings.
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>> reporter: judge gorsuch vowed to be independent, going where the law takes him. >> a judge who likes every outcome he reaches is probably a pretty bad judge, stretching for policy results he prefers, rather than those the law compels. >> reporter: some scholars say gorsuch could turn out to be further to the right than justice scalia was on issues like the rights of criminal defendants. >> i don't think you can expect to get exact same kind of ideology from neil gorsuch, but republicans and conservatives are going to be very happy with him. >> reporter: if confirmed he could be on the court by early april, perhaps in time to decide whether president trump's executive order on immigration is constitutional. pete williams, nbc news, at the supreme court. tonight nbc news has learned the government is about to announce new restrictions on electronic devices banned on board certain overseas flights into the u.s. nbc's miguel almaguer is in our los angeles newsroom with late details. miguel, what can you tell us about this? >> lester, good
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evening. one federal official tells nbc news the new temporary electronic restrictions is based on threat intelligence. tomorrow homeland security will officially announce the changes for passengers flying into the u.s. from overseas on certain flights. the temporary rules will restrict some devices to checked bags. in a now-deleted tweet, jordanian airlines warned passengers would not be able to carry on laptops, tablets, cameras, and other electronics, but cell phones and medical devices would be exempt. u.s. officials say laptops have long been a source of concern but declined to be specific about the nature of the threat or how long the restrictions would be in effect. we're told they would not apply to u.s. airlines, only foreign carriers operating flights from certain countries directly to the u.s. lester? >> miguel almaguer, thank you. still ahead, speaking out. the kidnapping victim caught on camera jumping from the trunk of a moving car talks exclusively to nbc news about her harrowing ordeal. how something she saw on social media helped her daring escape.
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the big new twist in the mystery over tom brady's stolen super bowl jersey. stay with us.
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we're back now with an nbc news exclusive interview with a woman seen in a video making headlines across the nation. she was kidnapped, forced in the trunk of her own car, then made an incredible leaping escape that was caught on surveillance video. now she's opening up about how she fought her way to freedom. nbc's kerry sanders has her story.
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>> reporter: a remarkable escape. stuffed in the trunk, 25-year-old britney diggs leaps to safety from a moving car. >> that was like the scariest thing i've ever had to deal with. >> reporter: the nursing student says she was forced into her own car at gunpoint last tuesday night, outside her apartment. >> he made me drive him to another side of town, he tried to rob two other couples. >> reporter: with those attempts failed, britney says he ordered her into the trunk, found her atm card, and gave her an ultimatum. >> give me your pin number or i'll kill you. >> reporter: at several atms the card failed. at one he reportedly was able to withdraw $100. >> in my biggest fear, he was going to drive this car into a river, i'm going to drown, nobody's going to know i'm in this trunk. >> reporter: that's when she made the decision she had to get out. britney diggs may owe her life to a federal
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law passed in the year 2000. it says all trunks have to have a release latch just in case somebody is trapped inside. >> i remember seeing a video on facebook a couple of years ago talking about trunk latches. i got the bright idea to use my insulin pump light. i found the latch, popped the trunk, popped the latch, i stepped out instead of rolling out. >> reporter: birmingham police have a fuzzy image of a suspect, while britney says until he's caught her nightmare will not end. >> i try to -- i try to put it in the back of my head so i can just, you know, get through the day. >> reporter: kerry sanders, nbc news, birmingham, alabama. >> one brave lady. we're back in a moment with twin toddlers whose all-night party has made them a viral video sensation.
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david rockefeller has died. a billionaire philanthropist, he was the last of his generation, the sixth child of john d. rockefeller jr., the namesake of this building.
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the rockefeller family, an american dynasty, starting with standard oil cofounder john d. rockefeller that now includes a sprawling network of businesses and charities. david rockefeller was 101 years old. we turn now to that super bowl stunner. law enforcement officials say they've cracked the case of tom brady's missing jersey, swiped from the locker room after the game. and that's where several twists begin. nbc's anne thompson has the whodunit. >> patriots win the super bowl! >> reporter: tom brady engineered the greatest comeback in super bowl history. >> brady has his fifth! >> reporter: only to lose his game jersey. >> wait, did someone take my jersey? >> reporter: the jersey, said to be worth $500,000, recovered earlier this month in mexico, along with brady's jersey from the new england patriots super bowl xxxix victory. the crime allegedly caught on a fox sports camera and aired this afternoon on the show "undisputed." today in houston where the game was played the police moved quickly to claim victory. >> our major offenders
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division, you know, it's like the texas bravado. you came to the wrong state. >> reporter: the jerseys are now in the fbi's boston office for authentication. the agency involved because of the international nature of the crime. as for the suspect, the nfl identified him as a credentialed member of the international media. a mexican newspaper company flagged one of its own executives who resigned last week. a blow to all the honest sports media. >> the fbi was looking for tom brady's jersey. you are not going to get away with this, you are going to get caught. >> reporter: the nfl says it's reviewing locker room protocols, so the league protects the shield and the shirts. anne thompson, nbc news, new york. meet the pair of party animals who have become a viral sensation with millions. their twin 2-year-old boys caught on camera escaping from their cribs and throwing what amounts to essentially a late-night bash. even after their parents broke it up twice. mom and dad say they decided to spy on the boys after hearing a whole lot of giggling coming from their
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room. they've got a handful. when we come back, the touching answer to a mystery that stretched for over a decade, "inspiring america" is next.
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for over a decade it was a beautiful fixture along the roadside in one california community. no one seemed to know who created or maintained it. then something unexpected happened and the touching reason behind it all became clear. our joe friar with help from our bay area station kntv has our "inspiring america" report. >> reporter: for a dozen years the edge of this property, owned by chevron, was the scene of a mystery. >> i would see it from time to time. >> reporter: company executive joe lorenz remembers well an elaborate roadside memorial along the fence filled with flowers, angels, and so much more. >> we would see it was being maintained but we'd never see who was maintaining it. >> this is how it looked before. >> reporter: caesar with the neighborhood council was equally curious. >> all we knew is it belonged to someone who was very much loved. >> reporter: when the property needed an upgrade, the memorial's future was in jeopardy. chevron posted a note hoping to hear from the anonymous
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caretaker, and finally did. >> just -- changed my whole life. >> reporter: ray olsen created the tribute to honor his only son, also named raymond. in 2003 the young man was killed in a crash involving a drunk driver. his loyal father tended to that memorial in the middle of the night so no one would see him, always afraid it might someday vanish. never imagining this. >> shows you people still do care. the world has hope. >> reporter: after hearing ray's story, chevron and the neighborhood teamed up to build a permanent memorial in a park. >> that's ray's bench. we said, this is your spot, ray, you no longer have to come at night. >> never even thought to dream about something like this. >> reporter: with this, ray feels he can finally accept his son's death. >> knowing that you've given life and hope to a father, and knowing that you've made somebody's life better, it's an amazing, amazing feeling to have. >> reporter: a mystery solved. >> you're my brother now. >> thank you. >> reporter: and a
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father freed. joe friar, nbc news, richmond, california. >> a touching story. that's going to do it for us on a monday night. i'm lester holt. for all of us at nbc news, thank you for watching and good night. right now at 6:00. take a lack. the rain is back. our satellite radar lit up in green. a lot of action coming our way including some thunder and lightning. the news at 6:00 starts right now. thanks for being with us on this monday. i'm raj mathai. >> and i'm jessica aguirre. yes, the wet weather is back, bringing with it rain and puddles. this was just from a few hours ago in san jose. this is what it looks like right now in san francisco and san jose. keefe meteorologist jeff ranieri joins us now. the rain is coming down.
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>> it's two systems that we're tracking throughout the next 48 hours. the first cold front is offshore right now. it's the instability out ahead of it that is firing off the activit activity. i want to take a closer picture. the bulk is in the north bay and the east bay right now. we'll zoom in and look at the heavier pockets. we have that area near oakland pushing into burkely. that will continue into lafayette at 6:30, danville through 6:29 this evening. and then down near the coastline in the santa cruz mountains, we have heavier pockets developing. sar th sar to ga we'll likely see wind gusts at 15 to 35 miles an hour, light hail and lightning. a

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