tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC March 16, 2016 6:30pm-7:00pm EDT
student sentenced in north korea, breaking down as he's ordered to serve 15 years of hard labor. what north korea says he did. a shocking escape caught on camera. a helicopter hijacked at gunpoint flying over a prison as inmates grab hold and hang on for their lives. guards helpless to stop them. and cancer drug outrage. billions wasted as live-saving meds are literally thrown away. patients are paying the price. "nightly news" begins right now. from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. good evening. president obama has made his move and is tonight locked into had a high-stakes stare-down contest with senate republicans over the future of the supreme court. the president has nominated federal appeals court judge merrick garland regard as a moderate to replace the late conservative justice
scalia, but even as the president warned against braintree split sizing the processes, the senate majority leader said there would be no action taken on the nomination. republicans demanding the choice be left to the next president. our justice correspondent pete williams has late details. >> reporter: the president introduced merrick garland as a judge who is decent, modest and even-handed. >> his long commitment to public service have earned him the respect and admiration of leaders from both sides of the aisle. >> reporter: with his wife lynn watching in the rose garden, garland was emotional. >> this is the greatest honor of my life other than leanne 28 years ago. >> reporter: one of his two daughters missed the moment, hiking in the mountains. range when the president called. >> reporter: grandson of russian immigrants garland grew up in chicago. >> my name is merrick garland. >> reporter: as a federal prosecutor he led the team that brought oklahoma city bomber timothy mcveigh to trial.
a moderate voting to uphold environmental laws but often tough on criminals. >> ideologically merrick garland is in the center, maybe a little bit to the left. he seems mostly to be a judicial craftsman. figure out what the law is, not what he might want the law to be. >> reporter: at 63, garland is the oldest supreme court nominee in nearly 50 years, but when nominated for the federal appeals court in 1997, he was confirmed 76-23 with 32 republican votes, i point the administration now emphasizes. >> i simply ask republicans in the senate to give him a fair hearing. >> reporter: but senate republicans continue to insist they won't even consider garland's nomination because the next president should make that choice. >> the decision the senate announced weeks ago remains about a principle and not a person. >> reporter: so far only a few republicans have said they will even meet with garland. >> i would not feel comfortable refusing to meet with the president's nominee to the highest court of
>> reporter: the administration has some hope that if a democrat is elected president, the senate would consider garland's nomination in the closing days. obama administration, and tonight one influential republican, utah's orrin hatch said he's probably be open to that. lester? >> all right, pete. so much being framed by this election. on that note let's turn to who the next president might be after very big nights for both donald trump and hillary clinton. trump won four out of five states up for grabs, except for the big prize of ohio where that state's governor john kasich scored his first victory. the republican establishment is left with limited options to stop trump, including pushing this race all the way to a contested convention. but if that happens, trump is warning of riots. we've got more on all that beginning with nbc's hallie jackson. hi, hallie. >> reporter: hi, lester, good evening. we've learned that in the last 24 to 48 hours the cruz campaign held three meetings across the country about how to get the most delegate support. john kasich brought on
focus on a contested convention and trump staffers met to game out how to pick up marco rubio's supporters. all of them looking ahead at what could happen next in this wild race. three candidates left. donald trump's lead almost three times bigger than it was, now three scenarios for the gop establishment. finally surrender to the front-runner. fight furiously against him or find somebody else to take him on. surrendering to a trump ticket could happen. this was an amazing evening. >> reporter: before new york's primary next month. the billionaire or "morning joe." you have people on the show all the time talking about stopping donald trump who with calling me to work out a deal where they want to become involved. >> reporter: more influence for trump, the party cancelling monday's debate after he said he wouldn't show. he still needs 55% of the remaining delegates but that's better math than ted cruz. for john kasich it's mathematically impossible, unless he and the stop trump
fight to a contested convention. >> for those that worry about a convention, it will be right in the open. there's no closed rooms. >> reporter: even before cleveland, campaigns will security delegates state by state. >> they are going to find out pretty soon that they signed up for a party and ended up in a bar fight. >> reporter: talk cruz and kasich could team up. >> there would absolutely be a place for john kasich, absolutely a place for marco rubio, for many people in the republican field in a future administration. >> reporter: but if that's not palatable or plausible a third option. find someone else, like speaker of the house paul ryan. >> people say what about the -- the contested convention. i say, well, there are a lot of people running for president. we'll see. who knows. >> reporter: his spokeswoman insisting ryan will not accept a nomination, but ryan said something similar before running for vp and house speaker. three scenarios, no one obvious outcome still four months from the finish line. hallie jackson, nbc news, houston. >> reporter: this is peter alexander in
before republicans uncork the confetti here, what might have been donald trump's coronation could instead be a contested convention where no candidates won a majority of delegates. those delegates you keep hearing about -- >> unanimously. >> reporter: yeah, those guys. based on t primaries and caucuses the republican party will assign more than 2,400 of them. right now trump is trouncing the competition but still has a long way to go to secure a simple majority. >> he needs to win 55% of the delegates going forward. that's not undoable, but it's also not -- not a layup. >> reporter: today trump warned bad things would happen if he doesn't get the nomination. >> if we're 20 votes short or if we're -- if we're, you know, 100 short and we're at 1,100 and somebody else ask at 500 or 400, i don't think you can say that we don't get automatically. i think you'd have riots >> reporter: last time a heated primary season ended without a clear nominee, 1976. ronald reagan challenging incumbent president gerald ford, but ford convinced
lock up his bid on the first ballot. trump could try to do the same. that floor fight would happen here at cleveland's quicken loans arena, home of lebron james and the cavaliers where a contested convention this summer would be the political equivalent of overtime. here's how it works n.first round most delegates are bound to vote for the candidate they represent, but if there's no clear winner they keep voting and more and more delegates become free agents to pick whoever they want, and get this. the party's delegates get to create additional rules one week before the convention. there's nothing to stop them from making it easy for a new name to be added to the mix. an astounding race now potentially on track for a chaotic conclusion. peter alexander, nbc news, cleveland. let's turn over to the democratic side now. hillary clinton scored a clean sweep of bernie sanders last night, winning five states, including ohio and florida and building her sizable delegate lead. clinton, now turning her sights on targeting trump and he's targeting her right back.
on a nasty fight already beginning. >> reporter: game on. hillary clinton and donald trump going after each other as though they were already their party's nominees. today trump firing off this i dicu clint a weak commander in chief against putin and isis, showing her barking like a dog as she told a joke on the campaign trail. the tag line. we don't need to be a punchline. after clinton ridiculed trump in her victory speech. >> our commander in chief has to be able to defend our country, not embarrass it. >> reporter: clinton's strategy, don't get in the mud with trump as some of his republican rivals did, go after him on policy, on immigration, the ban on muslims, embracing torture, highlight how he dodges questions about foreign policy. today on "morning joe." >> who are you consulting with consistently so that you're ready on day one? >> i'm speaking with myself, number one,
good brain, and i've said a lot of things. my primary consultant is myself, and i have -- you know, i have a good instinct for this stuff. >> reporter: clinton's campaign spokesman telling me today -- >> with hillary innn geral election matchup, the contrast will be clear on issues of who supports a minimum wage increase, who supports pay equity for women, who supports defending the president's executive actions on immigration. >> reporter: the risk trump's ability to make his rivals play defense. he's ready to keep hitting hillary hard. >> frankly hillary is a disaster, you know that. you know she's guilty. we have numerous polls that show me beating here'sly and i haven't even started on her yet. >> reporter: but before clinton can fully engage trump, she has to win the nomination. today her campaign says bernie sanders won't be able to overtake her, a claim sanders' strategists strongly reject vowing to fight on. the open question. how much damage can sanders do to clinton before the bigger battle she expects with donald trump? lester?
an american student from the university of virginia has been sentenced to 15 years in hard labor in north korea after he was convicted of stealing a sign while at a hotel with his tour group. he was shown in a video presented by the north koreans as a confession and later seen breaking down as he learned his punishment. our chief foreign correspondent richard engel has details. >> reporter: 21-year-old otto warnbier looked disoriented at the top court where the university of virginia student pleaded for a light sentence. life. >> reporter: he didn't get one. 15 years hard labor. human. i have made the worst mistake of my life. >> reporter: but his crime, a human rights group, was more like a college prank. the ohio native allegedly stole a propaganda banner from his hotel.
confession it was for a church group back home in exchange for a used car. north korea found him guilty of subversion. former governor build richardson who has negotiated with north korea in the mast is working to secure his release. >> i'm trying to get him released hon humanitarian grounds but keep the politics, the bad relationship between the u.s. and north korea out of the equation. >> reporter: the warmbier family has stressed that their son has apologized and called for his release. the white house today accused north korea of holding him as a political pawn. lester. >> richard engel tonight, thank you. now to one of the wildest prison escapes we've ever seen, all caught on camera, the video under wraps for quite some time just released though showing inmates escaping not by hopping a fence or digging a tunnel. instead they hopped a ride aboard a helicopter that landed right on the roof. nbc's blake mccoy has the tape.
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