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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  February 27, 2018 5:30pm-6:01pm PST

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the bay area. >> jeff, let's talk about the weather? >> we have a storm coming our way thursday and full details coming up at 6:19 and 6:48 tonight. don't miss it. >> we'll be watching. >> lester holt is next. thanks for joining us. tonight, a nbc news exclusive investigation. top secret u.s. intelligence concluded seven state election systems were compromised bit russian government before the 2016 election, but why weren't those states toad about it? and today a top u.s. spy chief is saying we are still not doing enough to protect your vote. chilling new details about the florida school shooting suspect. the disturbing image found carved into his rifle magazine. massive strike for a fourth day, no school for hundreds of thousands of students. why teachers have walked off the job. buyer beware. the new warning why some of the products you're buying from major online retailers may be
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dangerous fakes. and the first responder who refused to give up for a parkland victim he feared to be dead. >> hey, how old are you? she came around. she told me she was 17. >> how he saved her life. this is nbc nightly news with lester holt. good evening and welcome to our viewers in the west. we begin with an nbc news investigation. an exclusive details of russia's cyber intrusion in the 2016 election that went deeper and wider than the public has been told. we've learned details of a covert russian operation that officials say infiltrated election systems in seven states. this as the nation's top cyber intelligence chief testified the united states has not done enough to combat russian interference in upcoming elections. >> i believe that president putin has clearly come to the
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conclusion, there's little price to pay here. >> with the critical midterm elections months away, is the government doing enough to protect your vote? nbc news senior investigative news correspondent cynthia mcfadden has our report. >> reporter: tonight, nbc news has learned that top secret intelligence, requested by president obama in his last weeks in office identified seven states where there was substantial evidence of compromise by the russians prior to the 2016 election. all part of a broad-based covert operation. three senior intelligence officials tell nbc news, as of january 2017, the states were believed to be alaska, california, arizona, texas, wisconsin, illinois and florida. the intelligence was a synthesis of months of work, as the intelligence community continued to evaluate. however, multiple officials tell nbc news that the states were
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never told of the intelligence assessment that they had been successfully compromised by the russian government. washington did tell several states that a foreign government was probing their election systems. >> i think the obama administration should have been doing much more to push back against the russians across the board. >> reporter: juan zeroti was deputy national security adviser for combatting terrorism under president george w. bush. >> the u.s. was very meek and mild in how we responded to russian aggression. >> reporter: dennis mcdonough strongly disagrees, arguing the administration took many actions to thwart the russians before and after the election. including briefing top congressional leaders about the highly-classified intelligence. >> the administration took a series of steps to push back against the russians, to include far-ranging sanctions, diplomatic steps to push people associated with the russian
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effort out of this country and also warning our friends and allies. >> reporter: officials tell nbc news the states were compromised in a variety of ways. some breaches more serious than others. from entry into state websites by the russians to penetration of actual databases. while illinois itself detected a malicious cyber attack on its voter registration system, exposing the personal information of 86,000 voters, the other six states vigorously deny their election systems were ever compromised, based on their own cyber investigations. all the states and federal officials we spoke to do agree no votes were changed and no voters were taken off the rolls. but six months after the election and eight months after the midterms, many are convinced the russians will be back. the 2016 was a rehearsal, preparing the battle space for a
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future attack. >> we have an extreme sense of urgency on insuring the security of the 2018 elections, because you don't get a chance to do it over. >> reporter: while numerous state election officials told nbc news the department of homeland security has been stepping up their communications with them, many say they worry they're not getting enough information from washington. >> it is hugely imperative that intelligence be shared with state election officials immediately, in order to protect our election infrastructure and the integrity of election results. >> reporter: reluctance to share the information with the states may have been due in part to the classification of the intelligence itself. multiple intelligence officials tell nbc news, pinning it on the russian government came from exceptionally sensitive sources and methods, including human spies and eavesdropping on russian communications. no state election official at
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the time had a security clearance sufficient to present such information. >> it has been an excuse in my opinion for why information or intelligence hasn't been more quickly shared with state elections officials. we've got to fix that right away. >> i think too much of this has happened behind the veil of the government. and much more has to be discussed openly with the public. >> reporter: bradley moss, a lawyer specializing in national security tried to lift that veil. he wanted to find out what u.s. intelligence knew about the russian attempts to compromise the voter system. he sued and won. and just last week received 118 top secret pages, almost completely blacked out. >> the spreadsheets show that there were documented breaches of election networks, and that there was a widespread concern among several agencies in the
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intelligence community about the sanctity and integrity of these election networks. >> reporter: as for the future, juan zeroti suggests a lesson in the past. >> after 9/11, the walls between law enforcement and intelligence services had to be broken down. there has to be a whole of government and a whole of nation approach to dealing with what is an assault on american democracy. >> reporter: while the fbi and department of homeland security say they are taking steps to shore up cyber defenses, the director of the national security agency, admiral mike rogers, was asked today whether the u.s. was doing enough to stop the russians. >> we're taking steps but probably not doing enough. >> why the hell not? >> you're asking a question that's so much bigger than me. >> reporter: so where is the president on all of this? fbi director christopher wray was asked earlier this month. >> has the president directed you and your agency to take
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specific actions to confront and blunt russian activities that are ongoing? >> we are taking a lot of specific efforts to blunt -- >> directed by the president? >> not specifically directed by the president. >> reporter: the white house pushed back today on any suggestion that they're not doing enough, saying president trump is, quote, looking at a number of different ways of making sure that russia doesn't meddle in our elections. meanwhile, the department of homeland security tells us they work to declassify information rapidly and can grant one-day security clearances to state officials when necessary. >> the ominous take away, this might have been a rehearsal, and they might be back. cynthia mcfadden, thank you. and a setback tonight for one of the president's top aides. his son-in-law, jared kushner and other white house staffers may have now lost their ability to see some of the country's top secrets. this raises new questions about the kind of access kushner will and will not have going forward. we get more from our chief white house correspondent hallie jackson.
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>> reporter: late tonight, nbc news is learning jared kushner is now cut off from highly classified information. according to multiple sources familiar with the memo sent friday. it alerted that it's over. that includes the president's son-in-law and top adviser who's been tasked with mid-east peace negotiations. >> jared kushner cannot receive the president's daily brief. he cannot be involved in national security council discussions about sensitive matters, and he cannot be talked to about our nation's most significant secrets. >> reporter: the white house not commenting specifically on kushner's clearance but saying -- >> he will continue to do the important work that he's been doing. >> reporter: the move? more fallout from a scandal that raised clearance questions after it became public rob porter never received his full clearance amid allegations he abused two ex-wives. john kelly promising to clear up
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the problem even if it affected jared kushner or his wife ivanka trump. >> i will let general kelly make that decision, and he will do what's right for the country. >> reporter: kushner's outside spokesperson tells nbc news no concerns were raised about his clearance application. over on capitol hill, a different top trump adviser, hope hicks was behind closed doors, answering some questions but not all relating to the house russia investigation. now to chilling new details in the parkland, florida, school massacre. tonight nbc news has learned what else the suspect may have been planning to do that could have caused even more death on that campus that day. nbc's kerry sanders is in parkland with more. >> reporter: tonight, nbc news has learned shooting suspect nikolas cruz may have had more plans to unleash more carnage inside his former high school. law enforcement sources say at the time cruz dropped his ar-15,
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he still had five fully loaded magazines, more than 150 unspent rounds. one of the magazines marked with a swastika. inside the school the windows were shattered from inside. investigators believe cruz tried to shoot out the windows, but the hurricane-strength windows would not break. cruz was captured more than two miles away by coconut creek police officer michael leonard. today honored as a hero. >> my heart is very heavy. obviously, i have a child. similar age. and when you, when you come against evil like that, and you have children at home that are about that age, it hits very close to my heart. and it was difficult. >> reporter: the high school now patrolled by armed deputies, in place to protect students who tomorrow, 14 days after the massacre, return to school, like tara and jack hibshman.
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one word to describe your return tomorrow? >> i would say uncertain. >> emotional. >> reporter: when they return, it will be for half a day. they will go to the classroom they were last in when the shooting began to reunite with those who survived. >> kerry sanders in parkland tonight, thank you. there's late word of an agreement to stop the massive teacher strike in west virginia that's kept all public schools closed and hundreds of thousands of students out of the classroom for days now. the dispute igniting a national debate over education. nbc's gabe gutierrez is there with the latest. >> reporter: tonight a dramatic finish. >> teachers will go back to work on thursday. we'll use tomorrow as like a cooling-off day. >> reporter: for four days across west virginia's 55 counties, more than 30,000 school employees went on strike.
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third grade teacher tamatha richardson was fighting for better pay to take care of her son with special needs. >> we're just fighting for our rights. if that's illegal, here we r. >> reporter: their teacher pay ranks 48th in the country. an average salary of $45,000, compared to $58,000 nationwide. >> what's at stake here is public education and the future of west virginia. >> reporter: last week the governor signed off on a 4% pay raise over three years, but these teachers say that's not enough and won't keep up with rising health insurance costs. >> we need our kids back in school and we need our teachers back in school. >> reporter: more than 270,000 students can now get back to class. just a short time ago the governor announced teachers would get a 5% pay raise next year. hundreds have gathered here in front of the state capitol. some celebrating but others not happy that they haven't tackled the rising health insurance costs. still, the first major teachers strike here in over two decades is now over. >> quite a crowd there, gabe gutierrez, thank you. we turn to syria.
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despite the latest attempt at a truce, the assad regime launched more attacks on rebel-held suburbs outside of damascus. more than 500 people have been killed over the past week including dozens in the last couple days. our chief foreign correspondent richard engel has the latest. >> reporter: the u.n.-backed cease-fire and civilian evacuation failed today before they began. the bombs still falling. during brief lulls, a few buses did show up. they were guarded by russian troops. not surprisingly, no one from the rebel-held suburb got on them. there's no trust after russian and syrian forces bombed this area into a wasteland. in ghouta, we found deanna lynn from michigan, the bombs still exploding during our interview. >> children shouldn't be bombed. the bombs, the shells. as you can hear, we're supposed to be in a cease-fire. and they're still bombing.
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>> reporter: activists say president bashar al assad's regime attacked ghouta this weekend with chlorine gas, and a u.n. study reportedly claims syria's chemical weapons program seemingly dismantled is getting help from north korea. north korea allegedly used a nerve gas to assassinate kim jong-un's half brother in a malaysian airport last year. the assad regime and russia deny they've used chemical weapons in syria where once again today calls for a cease-fire went unanswered. richard engel, nbc news. still ahead tonight. the new warning about some of the items you buy on well-known websites that could be counterfeits and harmful to your health. then a miraculous and emotional moment. how a first responder describes saving a florida student others thought had died.
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at at&t, we believe in access. the opportunity for everyone to explore a digital world. connecting with the things that matter most. and because nothing keeps us more connected than the internet, we've created access from at&t. california households with at least one resident who receives snap or ssi benefits may qualify for home internet at a discounted rate of $10 a month. no commitment, deposit, or installation fee. visit att.com/accessnow to learn more. we're back now with a buyer beware alert.
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a new investigation finds some of the biggest names in online shopping are selling products that aren't what they seem. nbc business correspondent jolene kent explains how to avoid the trap and what to do if the item you just bought turns out to be a fake. >> reporter: tonight some of the popular products sold on america's top online retailers, amazon, walmart, ebay and new egg are really counterfeit products according to a report from the government accountability office. of the 47 products tested, 20 were fake, including urban decay makeup. yetti travel mugs and phone chargers supposedly certified. some of the fake chargers posed a threat of electrocution. the counterfeit mugs may have high concentrations of lead. and the fake cosmetics could contain cyanide, arsenic, mercury, lead, urine and rat droppings. the bogus makeup looks identical. >> we selected items that are
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available generally on a variety of websites. we also looked for the prices that were not that far off of retail. >> reporter: l'oreal, which owns urban decay and yeti say they have robust programs to protect safety. the companies selling the products all tell nbc news they certainly for bid the sale of counterfeit goods and are taking swift action to address customers' complaints. >> if you have any concerns that the item is not authentic, contact the retailer and get a refund. the unusual hailstorm that took everyone by surprise. and the new storm and flood threat.
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back now with a developing story. a terrifying hazmat situation at a military base outside washington, d.c. fire officials say 11 people felt ill after an envelope containing an unknown substance
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was received and opened at ft. myer. one official says some marines reported itching of the hands and face with one suffering a bloody nose. three people were taken to the hospital. there is severe weather to tell you about. not snow but hail. several inches in sacramento, california. it came down for an hour and caused chaos on the roads. to the east, more than 10 million people are under flood watches tonight from texas to kentucky. and while the economy has improved over the last year, some kids may be seeing things differently. an annual survey by a big dental insurance company found that the average payout by the tooth fairy has declined from an all-time high of $4.66 per tooth in 2016 to just $4.13 last year. when we come back, a first responder recalls the moment he save a student shot multiple
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times in florida. those who serve is next. more thn
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just three days. and ice agents describe who they )re picking up. plus some call it "concierge healthcare." how the pioneers of tech, could be changing the future of health. that )s next right now at 6: finally tonight, we've heard about failures in preventing and responding to the parkland school shooting, but we heard from a girl who was severely wounded in the attack that reminded us of what also went right, thanks to the paramedics who wouldn't give up. some of those who served. >> i'm madeline woofard. >> her story could have gone so many ways. the outcome would have been written in the minutes and hours that followed, by those who rushed to her aid. >> when the call came in, we were almost dumbfounded.
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>> putting their own lives on the line, lance ojeda and his team rushed to the site. they found maddy inside. >> at first it was thought she had deceased. she looked very pale. >> she had been hit three times, including a shot to the chest. >> i looked at her, i gave her a stern rub. i go, hey, how old are you? no response. second sternal rub, hey, how old are you? she came around. she told me she was 17. >> ojeda made the split-second decision to rush maddie to broward health north as she clung to life. after three surgeries, maddie is expected to make a full recovery and return to school next week. >> i'm so grateful to be here, and it wouldn't be possible without those officers and first
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responders and these amazing doctors and especially all the love that everyone has sent. >> a love that will endure for a lifetime. >> that is nightly news for this tuesday night. i'm lester holt. for all of us at nbc news, thank you for watching, and goodnight. : we have new information about the latest immigration sweep in the bay right now at 6:00 we're following breaking news. we have new information about the latest immigration fears in the bay area and beyond. >> president trump wants to dock down on undocumented citizens. affthose arrest have criminal
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convi c convictions. damian, there is palpable fear in that area tonight. >> reporter: you, that news not going to sit here. this area already been hit hard economically in the last couple of day and they blame it all on the fears of the i.c.e. operations. yesterday business dropped by more than half. >> it's been really slow. >> reporter: same thing down the street at the tax office. a few customers today. half as many as monday. >> based on all the comments and social media comments about immigration visiting households in our neighborhoods and also businesses. >> reporter:

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