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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  June 8, 2017 6:30pm-7:01pm EDT

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up next "nbc nightly news" with lester holt from washington, d.c. we'll see you back here tonight at 11:00. breaking news tonight, striking revelations and allegations from james comey. under oath telling congress he has no doubt he was fired because of the russia investigation. and he believes that president trump clearly tried 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 6 months old. survivors union. children who escaped the holocaust together. the amazing story of how they found each
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other all 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 told 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. even as the white
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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 out 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 my understanding, no. >> reporter: comey less conclusive when asked about flynn t fired national security adviser after testifying that the president hoped he would let flynn go. >> i took it as a direction. this is the president of the united states with me alone saying i hope this, i took it this is what he wants me to do. diplomat obey that but that's the way i taken
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it. >> he said -- that's not what he said, he said i hope. >> those are his exact words question. >> do you think that the president was trying to obstruct justice? >>'m sure the special counsel will work towards that. >> reporter: that implies the special counsel is looking at whether the president broke the law by directing comey to dial back an investigation. >> 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 if -- by the conversation i took it in. >> reporter: another startling revelation came from comey about the conversation he documented related to flynn. >> i asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter. i asked him to because i thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel. >> that of course ultimately happened. all of it triggered by a tweet. the president who apparently suspected comey was behind that leak wrote on may 12th -- james comey
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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. my feelings aren't hurt, release all the tapes. >> 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 loretta lynch. she met bill clinton on a tarmac when the fbi was looking at headquarter had been 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 so that gave me a queasy feeling. >> reporter: a person familiar with those discussions said that lynch used the word matter to make sure she didn't confirm or deny an investigation and wanted to stay
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consistent with comey who they have said he wasn't comfortable with it. capitol hill, captivated by all of i. people started to line up at 4:00 this morning. a group of fbi employees in the room to give moral support. calling themselves 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 and 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 houses. >> 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 been said that will be pretty damning. >> reporter: and twoal
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sources have told nbc news that jared kushner has agreed to meet with senate intelligence committee staffers mid month on the condition he answer questions from the senators themselves at a later time. lester? >> all right, hallie jackson starting us off. thank you. and the testimony has shed new light into the investigations into russian election meddling an his testimony has a loft people 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, hard to prove.
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>> i think it's certainly evidence of obstruction of justice, we won't know until the fbi investigation is over but i clearly think that this is 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 said 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 a former prosecutor that says to me he is conscious that what he's about to do is improper. >> reporter: comey says he never told attorney general jeff sessions about the meetings. partly because it was thought sessions was about to take himself out of the russian case and partly for another reason. >> there are facts i can't discuss in the
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open setting that would make his continuing engagement if the russian 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 there was no such meeting. comey was asked today if the president ever wanted to talk about any of the fbi's thousands of other investigations during their private conversations. answer -- no. lester? >> pete williams tonight. thank you. meantime t 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 in an evangelical conference. >> because as the bible tells us, we know that the truth will prevail. >> reporter: no mention of james comey. later ignoring reporters' questions here at the white
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house. >> mr. president -- >> do you think he told the truth? >> reporter: the president's rebuttal a combative statement from his private manhattan lawyer, marc kasowitz. >> the president is feeling vindicated and wants to move forward with his agenda and with the public cloud remov removed. >> reporter: he claims he pressured comey to back off michael flynn. >> reporter: the president never informed or -- in form or substance directed or suggested that mr. comey stop investigating anyone. >> reporter: that dispute could easily be settled in the president released secret tapes that he suggested exist, but has yet to produce. kasowitz seized on the statements that he told mr. trump that he was not personally under investigation. >> mr. comey has finally confirmed publicly what he repeatedly told president trump privatery. >> reporter: he attacked comey for
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making public private communications. >> mr. comey admitted he's one of these leaker. >> reporter: don jr. did tweet, flynn stuff is bs, adding very far from any kind of coercion or influence and certainly not obstruction. 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 said that the president is not a liar. lester, back to you. >> peter alexander, thank you. for more on the political and the potential legal fallout from comey's testimony, let me bring in chuck todd here with us in washington an savannah guthrie back in new york. we have a speaker of
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the house a moment say that the president is a new by and may not know the ropes of protocol. talk about the political fallout. >> i think paul ryan and others who are never big trump fans, but they continue to try to essentially publicly protect him. i think speaker ryan looked silly especially given the worst aspect of it is that the president told the attorney general to leave the room. so that tells you he knew that that was what he needed to do there. so i think it actually undercuts the larger issue that paul ryan was bringing up. look, i think politically today the president survived as far as his base is concerned. outside washington. james comey though did a lot of damage to the reputation here in washington and that's going to leave collateral damage here with republicans for some time. >> let me turn to savannah guthrie. also our chief legal correspondent. is there a potential criminal case here? >> well, you know,
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it's very debatable whether the conduct we heard described would rise to the level of obstruction of justice and the fact of the matter is our criminal statutes weren't really 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 he would refer it back to congress. there is the department of justice guidelines that say you can't indict a sitting president. so yes, there are legal questions here. but they're going to end up in the political branches with congress if we get there. >> all right, savannah and chuck, thanks to both of you. from coast to coast today the comey hearing was must see tv for millions of americans. american 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 country. >> come around. >> reporter: from the
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morning yoga to the stress of the rush hour commute -- >> why do you believe you were fired? >> reporter: it was the senate hearing heard around the country. at the dentist, getting ready for work and even in bars open early for watch parties. >> let's get on the table at this point. >> there seems to be a lot of smoke. but not fire. >> reporter: this was beltway politics in way that looked more like the nba finals than a senate intelligence committee hearing. >> we had about 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 out for fairs in san francisco, d.c., houston, los angeles, rooting 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 years and we'll still be a country and we'll
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move have moved 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. >> you know -- >> reporter: when it come to cause here in trump country, shoulders shrugs. >> not going to affect my day at all. >> reporter: a nation diverse and watching the spectacle that grows every day. gadi schwartz, gilbert, arizona. on wall street today another record day. the dow finishing up at 21,182 after hitting the all time high. the nasdaq and s&p were up as well. the investors were not rattled by comey's testimony. they're more focused on events right now in europe and markets closed before exit polls showed potentially surprise election results in the uk. back at home in georgia, horror on the roadway when a church bus carying student missionaries
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overturned. killing one and injuring dozens more. it was filled with high schoolers from the alabama church who were reportedly set to fly from atlanta to botswana. police are still investigating the cause but the crash involved one other vehicle. there's more ahead here tonight. news about predicting autism earlier than ever before in babies as young as 6 months. stay with us. needles. essential for him, but maybe not for people with rheumatoid arthritis. 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 der evention can be crucial and now there's a new tool that may be able to predict the disorder earlier than ever in high risk babies. nbc's anne thompson explains. >> reporter: the oldest child evan is autistic. >> every day in my life i wish i could understand what's
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going on. >> reporter: now a new study says brain scans may predict autism in 6-month-old babies, a major risk factor. >> there was a different pattern of connections in those children that went on to have autism versus those who didn't have autism. >> reporter: the study correctly predicted 9 out of 11 children who were later diagnosed with autism. this is the second brain scan study showing it 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 would be treating at time before the symptoms appear and during the time when the brain is most malleable or receptive to treatment. this has great promise. >> reporter: she enrolled her youngest daughter caroline in the study. at 2 she is developing
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as expected with no signs of autism. >> when somebody says this is good, they're meeting this milestone you relax a little bit. >> reporter: study authors caution more research is needed but what could be an important clue to help or thes and -- help doctors and families unlock the autism. anne thompson, nbc news, new york. we are back in a moment with an we are back in a moment with an emotional reunion more ♪♪ he came to the world in the usual way ♪ay ♪ ♪ 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, ♪
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we're back now with the 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 ended up close to each other in the u.s., but they didn't meet until now. kristen dahlgren has their sawyer. >> reporter: it's one of the haunting images of the holocaust.
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children freed from auschwitz. >> we are the witnesses. >> reporter: this little girl friedman was 6 when her mother did the unthinkable. >> she hid me with a dead body. 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 the infirmary. >> reporter: he finally told his story in the book never knowing that the two girls at his side then were just a few miles away today. >> from the moment i saw the book, oh, there was somebody from the picture that's alive. >> reporter: this week they reunited with. >> look. this is -- had the picture for years. i always wondered where are the other people? oh, my goodness, that's me. >> that's you. >> that's me. >> reporter: 72 years after they were last together. >> i just want to hug you guys.
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can we -- can we hug? it's such a long time. >> in 1945 we were there. just like. >> just like this. >> we were standing next to each other and we made it. >> i'll show you my tattoo. we were probably -- >> 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, new jersey. >> what an amazing story. we'll take a break. when we come back a major milestone for a performancer first lady and the sweet performancer first lady and the sweet i miss you babe. performancer first lady and the sweet i wish you were here. i miss home. ♪
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>> how do you process that? >> 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. a family spokesman said they're celebrating a quiet day at their summer home in maine and we wish them the best. happy birthday, mrs. bush. 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 watchi
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the "seinfeld" snub that's gone viral. >> no, thanks. >> jerry talks for the first time about dissing casha. the red carpet meeting that went south fast. >> no thanks. >> we've got seinfeld today, finally explaining why he wouldn't give casha a hug. >> oliver stone versus megyn
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kelly. the oscar winner's shocking slam over their putin interviews. new year's eve with anderson and andy? >> cohen answers the rumors he could replace kathy griffin. >> you know what -- >> "extra" in nashville with country's biggest stars for the cmt awards. blake, luke, carey and jada? >> i love carey underwood. >> baby news to a surprise for nicole. >> big plans. >> plus, a peek inside tim and faith's private island estate. then, bachelorette jojo and her fiancee jordan getting wet and wild in orlando, getting ready to take the plunge? >> we've got an ordained minister with us right now. oprah and jamie foxx, how she came to his rescue during his hard partying hollywood days. now, o

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