tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC February 19, 2016 5:30pm-6:01pm PST
>> yeah, will we get the graphics up? more coming up at 6:00. developing news tonight. mad dash. hours before the vote in two critical states, trump under fire over what he has said about the iraq war. and hillary clinton fighting to hold off bernie sanders. slamming apple. the feds fire back in a fiery battle over cracking the san bernardino killers' iphone and trump calling for a boycott. hoverboard crackdown after dozens of fires, some burning homes to the ground. the government says enough. a major new warning that could lead to an outright ban. walking free. after four decades locked in solitary confinement, a stunning twist in one of the most infamous cases in modern american history. and harper lee dies at 89. we remember the legendary, elusive
author of "to kill a mockingbird." "nightly news" begins right now. >> announcer: this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt, reporting tonight from columbia, south carolina. good evening on the eve of two big votes on the road to the white house. the republicans in a primary showdown here in south carolina where the headline tonight is donald trump losing ground. in a new nbc news/"wall street journal"/marist poll trump now leads ted cruz by just five points, down from a 16-point lead just a month ago. rubio virtually unchanged at 15. the next seven days may provide some clarity in these races in addition to the republicans voting in south carolina, democratic voters will caucus in nevada tomorrow, followed by republicans there on tuesday. then it's back to south carolina next saturday, the 27th, for the democratic primary. a timeline that is ratcheting up the urgency in both races.
we've got both races covered. let's start tonight with nbc's katy tur. she's in north charleston for us. >> reporter: donald trump has just taken the stage. it's now less than 24 hours before this state votes and there are indications as you said that this race could be a lot tighter than many had previously suspected. donald trump losing his commanding lead as ted cruz tries to replicate his win in iowa. donald trump sounding confident to a boisterous crowd in myrtle beach, but the billionaire is still on the defensive. now for a 2002 howard stern radio interview where he said he supported the iraq invasion. >> are you for invading iraq? >> yeah, i guess so. >> trump has repeat repeatedly claimed on the trial. >> i was against going into iraq. i didn't want to go into iraq. >> this morning on "today," he explained the flip-flop. >> the first time the question was ever asked to me. that was long before the war started. by the time the war
started, i was against it. alrea . >> also a new poll out today slowing his lead slashed. >> every time they do a poll, i have a lousy poll. >> trump's accusation that george w. bush lied about weapons of mass destruction. sources within the campaign told nbc news trump has been warned to ease off both by advisers and even phone bank volunteers who were hearing negative reactions from voters about his attacks on george w. bush. cruz, in second, punching up and down, mocking trump with his own words. >> it's easy to say let's make america great again. you can even print that on a baseball cap. but the question to ask is do you understand what made america great in the first place? >> reporter: and again linking marco rubio to president obama in a new ad. >> marco rubio burned us once. >> reporter: the battle for one, two, three getting tense.
all while john kasich and jeb bush struggle to gain traction. bush bringing out his mother again today, trying to bookend a bad week. one bright spot for trump, the vatican clarified the pope's comments today about the front-runner, saying in no way was this a personal attack, nor an indication of how to vote. katy tur, nbc news, north charleston, south carolina. >> reporter: this is andrea mitchell in nevada, where bernie sanders is pulling even with hillary clinton. and as time runs out, the contest is getting nasty. >> i'm not just promising free this and free that and free everything. >> reporter: sanders dialing up his criticism of bill clinton at the msnbc telemundo town hall. >> bill clinton did a pretty good job as president, but let's be clear. i happen to think that our trade agreements from nafta through tpp have been a disaster. >> reporter: the clintons firing back. >> i just don't know where all this comes from because maybe it's that senator sanders wasn't really a democrat until he
decided to run for president. >> hillary's opponent jumped all over me last night. that campaign has been remarkably fact-free. >> thank you. >> reporter: the key to winning here, union workers, 55% latino. so both candidates hit a picket line. >> thank you so much. >> reporter: and clinton donald trumping up union support in the casinos where caucuses are held. >> gives us the opportunity to express ourselves. i'm looking for a person that will stand behind us. >> what do you care about? >> immigration. i'm mexican, you know. >> that's important. >> it's important, very important. >> i think it's going to be a real problem if she loses here not because her lead disappears but because her whole argument is about electionability. >> reporter: both campaigns already hitting the airwaves in the next state, south carolina. morgan freeman in a new ad today. >> she understands our country can't reach its potential until we all do together. >> reporter: with a theme, pulling together, that seems
to imtame a recent sanders ad. >> our job is to bring people together. >> reporter: clinton garnered an endorsement, veteran congressman jim clyburn. >> my heart has always been with hillary clinton. >> reporter: but before clinton gets to south carolina, she has to get out of nevada. a loss here to sanders after barely winning iowa and that huge loss in new hampshire would damage her argument that she is more electable. lester. >> andrea mitchell, thanks. we're joined now by our political director, the modera moderator of "meet the press," chuck todd. let's take a look at what's online for tomorrow. depending on the outcomes, what's at stake here moving forward in the campaigns? >> it's fair to call tomorrow shake-up saturday because in many ways, this case is going to get shaken up depending on the results tomorrow. marco rubio has a ton on the line in south carolina. he's got every endorsement you want in south carolina. he has spent more money than anybody else. he appears to be the man with some momentum. third place is not a
victory this time. he has got to get in first or second. donald trump, he obviously can't -- anytime he's losing is not a good day for a guy who doesn't believe in losing, so he's got a lot on the line. and ted cruz can't afford third. as abouts about victory in nevada is a bigger deal to him than a clinton victory would be there, lester. shake-up saturday, bottom line. >> we'll be here to cover it all. author harper lee, a literary icon who wrote one of the most defining novels in american culture has died at 89. her 1960 book "to kill a mockingbird," about racial injustice in the deep south, is treasured by generations of readers and is still taught in classrooms around the country. tributes poured in today for the beloved author, and nbc's harry smith looks back at her enormous impact. >> reporter: in harper lee's hometown of monroeville, alabama, today, folks put up black ribbons in remembrance of the great author. tourists by the thousands still come to the old courthouse to see the place so perfectly detailed in
the film. the place where the hero, atticus finch, defends an innocent black man. >> in our courts, all men are created equal. >> everybody wants to be atticus. everybody wants to be the defender of the weaker, and i think that's one of the reasons why it will live on forever. >> reporter: perhaps the most important story in american literature, "to kill a mockingbird" captured the injustice and humiliation of racism. profound and difficult truths made palatable by the narrator, young scout. >> you never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view. >> harper lee, "to kill a mockingbird." >> truths made evident in english classes across america for more than 60 years. >> there's an important message to be learned from harper lee's book, being true to one's self and making the right choices. >> reporter: while america loved her book, harper lee was
no fan of celebrity. not even oprah could persuade her to do an interview. ms. lee did not accomplish another book until last year. "go set a watchman" was an early draft of her best-seller, which disappointed fans for its less flattering portrayal of atticus. but a broadway version of "to kill a mockingbird" is in the works. in an america where race matters and has always mattered, her words have never rung more true. harry smith, nbc news, new york. the battle pitting apple versus the feds has ratcheted up to another level tonight with the justice department slamming the tech giant for refusing to help unlock the san bernardino killers' iphone, saying the company is only worried about its reputation. tonight, apple is firing back, and on top of all that, donald trump is now calling for a boycott. nbc's joe fryer has the latest from california. >> reporter: with apple publicly vowing to fight a court order to create software
that would unlock syed farook's iphone, today federal prosecutors filed a motion arguing a judge should force the tech giant to comply. the government says apple's refusal appears to be based on its concern for its business model and public marketing strategy, something the company denies. earlier this week, apple ceo tim cook posted an open letter saying, the u.s. government has asked us for something we do not have and we consider too dangerous to create. prosecutors responded to that today, arguing the court order does not require apple to provide a back door to every iphone or hack its own users. prosecutors contend apple could maintain custody of whatever software it builds. the white house also weighing in. >> we don't want to allow terrorists to establish a safe haven in cyberspace. >> reporter: but senior apple executives feel today's filing is frivolous as the company hasn't even responded to the court order yet. many tech companies
are now defending apple. >> i think the government's interest in surveilling people, while it's an important interest, shouldn't trump all of our interest in being secure. >> reporter: donald trump, who sends many tweets from an iphone, is calling for an apple boycott until the company unlocks the shooters' phone. >> apple ought to give the security for that phone. >> reporter: the tech giant now has a week to respond to the judge's order. joe fryer, nbc news, los angeles. powerful wind gusts, near 70 miles an hour, swept through chicago today. winds so strong, some on the street like this woman needed help to keep from being blown over. it knocked down street lamps, threatened to blow bikes off their racks, and a construction collapse that crushed a car. the willis tower sky deck was forced to close. well over 100 flights were kanszled or delayed, and more than 100,000 were left without power in northern illinois. thousands paid their last respects today to justice
antonin scalia as he lay in repose in the supreme court's great hall. among the mourners, president obama and the first lady. as for who might replace scalia on the court, nbc's pete williams reports on new hints tonight about who the president may be considering for the seat. >> reporter: antonin scalia returned to the court for the last time, his casket carried past 100 of his former law clerks. inside, the eight remaining justices gathered with the scalia family for a prayer from his son paul, a catholic priest. >> blessed are those who have died in the lord. >> reporter: another son, christopher writes in the wa post about once getting out of mowing the lawn to attend a track meet. quote, so he did it himself after reminding me that a supreme court justice probably had better things to do. president and mrs. obama came to pay their respects as did more than 4,000 people who waited in long lines. also here, washington, d.c. appeals court judges, including two, sri srinivasan and patricia millett, mentioned as possible
successors. vice president biden says the nominee could be a previously confirmed judge. >> there are plenty of judges who have -- who are on high courts already who have had unanimous support of the republicans. >> reporter: one obvious possibility, judge jane kelly of iowa, unanimously confirmed in 2013 with the support of the judiciary committee chairman, republican charles grassley, who just happens to be from iowa. >> i'm pleased to support her confirmation. >> reporter: tomorrow justice scalia's funeral at the basilica of the national shrine of the immaculate conception with his son paul celebrating mass. there is a lot more ahead for us tonight. the crackdown on hoverboards. they're the hottest fad of the past year in more ways than one. now the feds say none on the market is safe. what to do if you have one in your home. also the man who is now tasting freedom after four decades in solitary confinement.
big news tonight involving those so-called hoverboards that were some of the biggest sellers over the holidays. they've also been involved in dozens of fires across the country, some having burned homes to the ground. today the consumer products safety commission is taking dramatic action, announcing none of the hoverboards currently on the market is safe, and it could soon confiscate or recall every one of them. nbc's tom costello has details. >> reporter: it was a very close call for a family of six in nashville. the fox family's home
destroyed by fire. two of their children trapped inside managed to escape by jumping out of second-story windows. >> when the door opened, the smoke and the flames, it was so hot, that the smoke was so black i couldn't get in the house. >> reporter: the cause of the fire, a hoverboard. >> we almost lost two of our children. two of our children almost died because of a christmas gift. >> reporter: it's just one of at least 52 hoverboard-related fires in 24 states. >> it's on fire! >> reporter: destroying at least two homes and a car. in december, the nation's airlines banned them. for months, the consumer products safety commission has been testing all makes and models, diagnosing why the lithium ion batteries can suddenly overheat and catch fire. today the agency notified hoverboard manufacturers, importers, and retailers that all hoverboards must comply with new u.l. safety standards and threatened to confiscate or recall any of them that don't. elliott kay runs the agency. >> is there any hoverboard on the market that you think is safe right now?
>> i'm not aware of any that meet the current standard. >> zero? >> zero. >> reporter: in december alone, customs and border patrol seized more than 1,300 counterfeit hoverboards with potentially dangerous batteries at jfk airport. now any hoverboard that rievs at a u.s. port can be confiscated if it doesn't meet the new standard. meanwhile, with dozens of reports of users falling and suffering broken bones, safety regulators remained concern that hoverboards are inherently unstable. if you own one, tonight the consumer products safety commission recommends putting it away and demanding proof from the retailer that it meets the new safety standards. tom kos ticostello, nbc news, washington. >> we're back in a moment with something the cdc warns americans are not getting nearly enough of.
that raises their risk of obesity and heart disease. among other issues, only 65% are sleeping seven hours or more. the researchers suggest more of us need to get to bed at a regular time and turn off the tv and electronic devices. as you're probably saying to yourself right now, that's easier said than done. the last of the prisoners known as the angola three is a free man tonight. albert woodfox has been released as part of a plea deal. as nbc jacob rascon tells us, it's been a hard fought battle to gain his freedom. >> reporter: few may ever understand freedom like albert woodfox. released tonight on his 69th birthday after his attorneys say he spent more time in solitary confinement than any other prisoner in american history. it started with a prison riot at louisiana state penitentiary, or angola, in 1972. prison guard brent miller was stabbed 32 times. woodfox and fellow
inmate herman wallace were convicted for the murder and sentenced to solitary confinement. prisoner robert king got the same penalty for a different crime. they became known around the world as the angola three, spending decades in 9 by 6 foot cells even as woodfox and wallace's convictions were overturned twice for inadequate representation and charges of racial discrimination. king was released in 2001 after 29 years alone in a cell. >> i'm free from angola. i don't feel free as long -- >> wallace was set free in 2013. he died of cancer days later. today, albert woodfox pleaded no contest to the killing and was sentenced to 42 years. but he had already served 45 so was released. and in a statement, woodfox, who has always maintained his innocence, said, i hope the events of today will bring closure to many. after more than four decades, free. jacob rascon, nbc
those new poll numbers we talked about at the top of the newscast showing a tiengting of the gop presidential race here in south carolina underscored just how fluid things appear to be here. i dropped in at a local barbecue place during the lunch hour today to take my own unscientific measure of what's driving people's decisions. >> want an iced tea? just one day before the primary, it's not hard to find south carolina republicans who haven't made up their minds. >> so you're not unusual in that? >> i don't think i'm the only one. i think a lot of people are starting to give another look to some of the candidates. >> here at doc's barbecue, many folks told us their vote may not go to the candidate they want, but rather the person they think can win. do any of you believe in the polls? >> yeah, i do. >> so what do the polls tell you right now? >> well, they're telling me that it's probably going to be between trump and cruz. i was really liking ben carson, but poll-wise, i don't
really think he's going to do so well any longer. >> so you're influenced by the polls? you may not vote for him? >> right. i think it may be a wasted vote, so i may go elsewhere. >> how about, you robert? >> i can't help it. i'm looking at who has the best chance of winning. >> are you watching the polls carefully? >> i would like to vote for the candidate who has the best chance of defeating hillary, but at some point you got to vote for the right person. who is standing up for america? >> were you captivated by trump at any point in this process? >> i really liked listening to him, but at the end of the day, you know, just his demeanor just doesn't speak leader of the free world to me. >> is there anybody among the candidates you think could unite the country? >> i wish i could say yes, but all i can do is hope. >> do you see a healer out there among this republican lineup? >> i wish i could say so, but honestly, no. i feel like trump is so polarizing. cruz is so far right that i don't think he'll be able to bring the democrats and republicans together. so, no, i don't really
see someone who is going to be that middle of the road candidate. >> just some of the things in the minds of south carolina republican voters on this night before the primary. that will do it for us on a friday night. i'm lester holt reporting tonight from columbia, south carolina. for===raj/2-shot=== that breakn vallejo where 9 nbc bay area begins with breaking news. >> that breaking news is in vallejo where a 9-year-old child is among four people who have been shot. i'm raj mathai. >> and jessica aguirre. bullets rang out near port street and mcclain avenue. at least one of the four people shot has died. >> nbc bay area cheryl hurd joins us at the scene with the latest details. cheryl. >> reporter: well, crime investigators are still on the scene of this qaudruple shooting. crime tape is surrounding the area where it all happened in
the 500 block of porter street. now, this video was shot shortly after the shooting. a child was grazed with a bullet. we believe that he is between 5 and 9 years old. caught in the crossfire. a man was taken away on a stretcher. a woman was shot in the hand. we believe that she is the boy's grandmother. neighbors telling me tonight that they heard a barrage of bullets right around 4:00 this evening. >> an unknown subjects came by and shot up the blackmon t mont carlo behind me multiple times. two male adults were shot. and seriously injured. one who was declared dead at the scene here. >> reporter: now, police are looking for a maroon sedan that was seen fleeing the area at a high rate of speed. family members arriving