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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  February 10, 2017 5:30pm-6:01pm PST

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we made it. >> enjoy a sunny weekend. bye, folks. on exclusive -- senior u.s. officials say the russian government is considering offering up american fugitive, edward snowden, handing him over to the u.s. to win favor with president trump. caught in a lie? a mysterious phone call and a storm of controversy around trump national security adviser michael flynn. did the vice president give falsenformation on national tv because flynn didn't tell him the truth? breaking news -- after a big setback in court, president trump says he may sign a new order on immigration. dangerously close, several new incidents of drones nearly crashing into passenger planes. what's being done to prevent a tragedy. and bye-bye bao bao, fans rushing to say good-bye. where the zoo's biggest celebrity is
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going. "nightly news" begins right now. >> announcer: this is "nbc nightly news," with lester holt. good evening from los angeles and to our viewers here in the west, we begin with an nbc news exclusive about russia and the possible future of edward snowden. the fugitive ex-nsa contractor who was granted refuge in russia after exposing secrets of some of america's most sensitive surveillance programs. two senior government officials telling nbc news that russian officials are discussing the idea of turning snowden over to the u.s. just a short time ago, snowden himself responded to his return return. but what would russia expect in return for a
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man seen by some here as a traitor and others, a hero? here's senior investigative correspondent cynthia mcfadden. >> tonight, nbc news has learned that the russian government is considering offering fugitive edward snowden as a gift to president trump. this, according to a senior official, who has analyzed a series of highly sensitive intelligence reports detailing russian conversations and deliberations. a second source in the intelligence community confirms the intelligence and notes it has been received since the inauguration. the sources say russia has been formulating various ploys to curry favor with the new president. during the campaign, mr. trump made it clear what he wanted to see happen. >> i think he's a total traitor. and i would deal with him harshly. and if i were president, putin would give him over. >> snowden has been charged under the espionage act and faces at least 30 years in prison. the intel sources tell nbc news the snowden gift would be part of an ongoing russian campaign to disrupt the american system as they did during the election. >> one of the things that putin or the
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russians may see is that they could appear to be offering a gift as a part of warming of relations. but at the end of the day, it creates complication for the new administration. >> complications that might arise during a snowden trial. like reopening the debate about american surveillance and civil liberties. good for the russians. last year, mike pompeo, now c.i.a. director, said prison was not enough for snowden. >> i think the proper outcome would be that he would be given a death sentence. >> we asked mr. snowden's aclu lawyer about his possible return. team snowden has received no such signals and has no new reason for concern. in december, mr. snowden himself said he wasn't worried. >> they're going to be some kind of deal, where trump says hey, look, you know, give this guy to me. as some kind of present. am i worried about it? not really. i know i did the right thing. >> i think this is one of those rare cases where the stakes are so high, the diplomatic implications so deep, that anything can happen.
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i think at the end of the day, moscow holds the cards here. >> the justice department told nbc news the u.s. would welcome snowden's return. the kremlin told us that the talk of returning snowden to the u.s. was nonsense. and the white house? had no comment. and just moments ago, edward snowden reacted to our reporting, tweeting, finally, ir refutu refutable evidence that i never toyed with evidence. >> cynthia mcfadden in new york, thank you. russia is also in the news concerning a storm of controversy swirling around national security adviser michael flynn. despite denials by members of the trump administration, including vice president pence, u.s. officials tell nbc news flynn did discuss sanctions with russia's ambassador before mr. trump became president. nbc's andrea mitchell has details. >> national security adviser mike flynn with a front-row seat at the white house today.
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but tonight under fire now admitting he might have talked to the russian ambassador about obama's sanctions before president trump took office. despite repeated denials from flynn and others in the administration. >> the only conversation that general flynn had was one, to wish him a merry christmas, two, to express sympathies for the loss of life that occurred during the plane crash. >> they did not discuss anything having to do with the united states' decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against russia. >> tonight nbc news is learning from intelligence sources that flynn did discuss sanctions with the russian ambassador. now flynn's spokesperson saying he can't be 100% certain it did not come up. officials tell nbc news pence based his defense of flynn entirely on what flynn told him. >> that he would mislead the american people about what he discussed with the russian ambassador. that makes him, i think, if true,
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patently unfit for office. >> the timing of flynn's calls and texts with the russian is critical. just as the obama white house was expelling 35 russian diplomats for the election year hacking. >> the fact that this telephone conversation happened on december 29th, the very day that the obama white house imposed the sanctions, clearly implies that that was the subject of the phone call. >> the next day, instead of retaliating, vladimir putin surprisingly declined to respond. mr. trump tweeting great move on delay by v. putin. i always knew he was very smart. tonight on air force one, the president was asked about the reports about flynn. >> i haven't seen that, i'll look at that. >> tonight democrats want to know if the fbi has transcripts of the calls with the russians routinely intercepted by the u.s. the intelligence committees are investigating. but intelligence sources say no one has concluded that flynn broke any laws. lester? >> andrea mitchell in washington. the trump white house is planning its next move over the controversial travel ban after last night's defeat in a federal appeals court. late today the
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president himself said he's considering signing a new immigration order. our justice correspondent pete williams has more. >> no presidential criticism today for judges and the courts, instead, a hint of something new in the legal fight. on a flight to florida with japan's visiting prime minister, mr. trump said he would respond to the legal challenges by coming up with a revised executive order next week. >> we'll win that battle. but we also have a lot of other options, including just filing a brand new order on monday. >> administration officials say they will not take the fight to the supreme court for now. many legal experts say that makes sense. >> i think it's a losing case. so you go up to the supreme court, you've got three losses in a row. that's not smart legally and it's really not smart politically. >> the move to revise the january 27th order follows yesterday's unanimous defeat before a federal appeals court. the judges said mr. trump's order violated the constitutional rights of people here. green card holders and foreign visitors, including college faculty and students.
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the executive order could be narrowed to cover only people overseas, who have never applied for a u.s. visa before. from the seven countries deemed to present a higher risk for potential terrorists. more legal trouble for the administration comes in an entirely separate lawsuit over the travel restrictions. brought by the state of virginia. making similar claims about harm to its residents. >> we've got students and university employees and professors. they are unable to travel abroad. >> the judge hearing that case seemed sympathetic. the judge hearing it said they clearly is have defects and are overreaching. >> reporter: if the president revises a new order or issues a new one, he might have a chance getting it past the courts, but the legal system says all issues are still on the table.
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lester? and on a cold winter day there's nothing but warmth at the white house today. during the meeting between president trump and japan's prime minister. the president pledged a close economic and military cooperation with japan, all while tensions played out across the country about some of the president's policies. nbc news white house correspondent hallie jackson has more on this tonight. >> a political bromance, budding with a double hug and double hand-clasp between donald trump and japan's prime minister. the two showcasing the strength of their alliance before heading to the winter white house for some golf at mar-a-lago. shinzo abe showering praise on the president's business acumen. highlighting japanese investments here, even name-dropping trump tower. but it's not clear if the president understood all of it without a translation earpiece. that came later. both leaders announcing they're now working toward a new one-on-one trade
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agreement with president trump fresh off talks with another asian power -- china. >> it was a very, very warm conversation. >> the president promising to honor the one china policy, which does not recognize an independent taiwan. for president trump, a reversal. >> i don't know why we have to be bound by one china policy. unless we make a deal with china. having to do with other things. >> his shift, a sign his administration hopes to settle concerns in asia. as here at home, unsettling signs of anger at his administration are boiling over. new education secretary betsy devos, physically blocked from a d.c. public school today. >> shame, shame! >> other demonstrators flooding republican town halls across the country. like in deep red georgia and in utah where voters demanded congressman jason chaffetz, who heads the house oversight committee, do his job and investigate
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president trump. [ do your job! >> other protesters pushed lawmakers over the president's promise to get rid of the health care law, and today the person who will oversee that overhaul was sworn in. former congressman tom price, now the head of health and human services. lester? thank you. with the president expanding immigration enforcement along our southern border, there are growing fears among undocumented immigrants that they could be suddenly forced out of the sunt and in -- country and in many cases tearing their families apart. as nbc's gadi schwartz reports, it's already happening as others wor worry. >> today a family reunion but it's only temporary. guadalupe garcia's two american children have travelled to mexico to be with her. after she was deported this week, the first high-profile removal during president
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trump's administration. >> i thought the united states would be united. >> reporter: but gaudalupe says her children can't stay in mexico because it's too violent. and in this florida apartment, another mother, theresa, makes dinner for her children. four were born in the u.s. one was born in mexico. and recently, 8-year-old kelly heard a knock on the door. it was immigration officials with questions for kelly's mother who is undocumented. kelly, so traumatized she had a panic attack and was hospitalized. her father has been detained. she is now terrified of losing her mother as well. the fears of separation are traumatizing for children, warn the american academy of pediatrics. >> you're really threatening the health of children by placing them in situations where they're chronically worried about the fear of being separated from their parents. >> reporter: while every day on the southern border, families emerge from the brush. she's saying she has to escape the violence in el salvador because
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once kids become six, seven, eight years old, they're brought into the violence, they're brought into the gangs and they'll be killed. mothers trying to shield their children, whom they later find more trauma in the fear of family separation. gotti schwartz, nbc news. here in california, much of the west, severe weather remains a big concern tonight. another downpour hammering large parts of the state. and while the rain is welcome here in southern california, they can't catch a break in the north where the wet weather has triggered mudslides and flooding. miguel almaguer has the latest. >> this is a week of extremes. today, 80-mile-per-hour gusts whipping flames in colorado. wicked wind in wyoming, toppling a big rig on to a police cruiser. widespread flooding in idaho, swallowing cars and homes. mudslides crushing them in washington state. >> i heard just a loud boom. >> reporter: tonight in california, it's a torrent of rain
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leaving many on edge. floodwaters here sweeping away cars. near fresno, a man in his 70s reached by a rescue team just in time. not far away in kern county, another team reaching this woman, but couldn't save a man submerged in this vehicle. overnight, floodwaters keep rising as strangers try to help each other. >> it's too strong, i couldn't go get him. >> reporter: hillsides are giving way outside san francisco. homes, sliding off their foundation. >> the whole hillside came loose. >> reporter: outside sacramento, a freight train off the tracks. 23 cars into the water. now the wet weather is making its way south. reservoirs are gushing, and some are crumbling under pressure. california's second-largest reservoir on the verge of overflowing. but parts of this state still desperately need water. tonight, california suffering from a deluge and a drought at the same time. miguel almaguer, nbc news, los angeles.
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still ahead tonight, danger in the skies -- close calls involving airliners and unmanned drones, with several incidents in just the last two weeks. also, the spectacular show expected tonight. three good reasons why you might want to look up.
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tonight nbc news has learned of a series of recent close calls in the nation's skies between unmanned drones and passenger planes. some of them carrying hundreds of passengers. at least four serious
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incidents in just the past two weeks. and experts continue to warn about the risk of a drone taking out a cockpit window or even an engine. we get more from nbc's tom costello. >> reporter: the most serious incident occurred just yesterday. 4:35 p.m. at washington-dulles. just as an air france boeing 777 was coming in for a landing, a drone suddenly buzzed the cockpit. >> we have a drone at about 100 feet. >> you said it was off your right side or left side. >> left side, just above my head. >> reporter: the tower then immediately warned the next plane. >> we've just had a report of a possible drone, about 800 feet. >> on wednesday, another close call involving a giant lufthansa airbus a-380 taking off from houston. just 800 feet off the ground, a drone came within 100 feet. in honolulu on
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thursday, a drone came within 50 feet of a private plane, another close call in jacksonville. while pilots reported 1200 close calls in 2015, that number jumped to more than 1800 last year. five a day. >> if they impact an airliner or another airplane, they're going to do the same amount of damage or more than birds. >> reporter: the challenge, radar doesn't pick up most drones. while the faa has been testing potential drone detection systems, an actual system could be years away. in virginia today, jc silvey was flying his drone for photography. but he's also a commercial airline pilot. >> the biggest danger is it taking out an engine. it definitely could throw the blades in the engine. >> 722,000 drones are now registered with the faa. tens of thousands more may not be. and owners not aware they need to stay away from planes and airports. tom costello, nbc news, washington. in just a moment, one of a parent's worst nightmares, a school bus collision, this one seen from the inside.
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some remarkable video out tonight showing a school bus accident that could have been a lot worse. this is surveillance video from inside the bus in dayton, ohio, as an suv slammed into it. at an intersection. the impact as you saw sent students flying across the aisle and tipped the bus on its side. remarkably, there were no serious injuries. tonight it's the kind of thing stargazers dream up, a triple treat in the sky, an eclipse, a comet and a full moon all in the same night. the penumbral lunar eclipse will occur at the same time a full snow moon and later comet 45-p will make a fly-by. visible from about 7 million miles away. and from the category of great expectations, word that george and amal clooney are going to have twins. their long-time friend after matt damon told
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the "today" show that the clooneys are expecting the babies in june. a first for clooney and his wife. when we come back, why so many are trying to get one last look at a beloved part of the family. at the national zoo. >> announcer: "nbc nightly news" is brought to you by weather tech. up and sllows a bay aaer opens
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highway. new faout tonht from tstorms. ==jessica/2shot== vandalized. us statues ==jessica/vo== why se pple belie these ctures of uni may havesparked next at 6.ate.===jess/next clos
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finally tonight, there are plenty of touching goodbyes taking place at the national zoo these days. that's because bao bao, the giant panda that has delighted visitors for more than three years now, is about to begin a new chapter in china. kristen dahlgren went to the zoo this week for one last look. >> reporter: at washington's national zoo, she is the hottest celebrity. >> she is very cute and little and she loves to eat bamboo. >> reporter: bao bao is the ultimate reality star. born in front of the cameras. her big milestones captured live on the zoo's panda cam. her first steps. her first snow. >> she's kind of our
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little miracle girl. >> reporter: her trainers say now she acts like a teenager. >> we used word sassy. she has a lot to say. >> i know. zookeeper lori thompson has been from bao bao from the beginning. >> go ahead! >> reporter: she leads her through activities, like painting, all voluntary. designed to help stimulate use of bao bao's psuedo thumbs, something she also uses for holding bamboo. training geared to this moment when the 3-year-old will hop a plane headed to china. part of a longstanding agreement. all cubs born in the u.s. move to their native land to take part in a breeding program. >> the goal is to get more pandas back in the wild so as our pandas won't actually go into the wild, but perhaps their offspring will. >> reporter: they've taught bao bao by hand signals, so there's no worry about a language barrier. >> good girl. >> reporter: on february 21st, a
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trainer and plenty of bamboo will be right by her side. until then, crowds will gather to bid farewell. >> bye-bye, panda. >> reporter: to the girl who captured our hearts and grew up before our eyes. kristen dahlgren, nbc news, washington. and that's a whole lot of cute. that's going to do it for . right now at 6:00, nbc bay area exclusive. vandalism at the catholic diocese. the news at 6:00 starts right now. good evening. i'm raj mathai. and i'm jessica aguirre. the vandalism on a religious statue after the diocese made a public show of support for its muslim brethren. damien trujillo is live tonight with a story you'll only see on
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the bay area. >> this is the statue standing off in front of the front entrance. his hand has been sawed off and jesus's fingers have been sawed off. this comes amid hundreds of letters indiocese, all possibly tied to a show of solidarity. the vandalism happened just after the martin luther king holiday. that's the day that the bishop of san jose met with muslim leaders in a show of sl darety. these are 3pictures of the meeting. nbc bay area has learned the defacing of the statue outside the diocese was accompanied by hundreds of pieces of hate mail aimed at the diocese over this meeting. >> and yeah, then they cut off jesus's fingers. >> reporter: we shared these pictures with c.a.r.e. mayor


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