tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC February 19, 2016 6:30pm-7:01pm EST
developing news tonight. mad dash. hours before the vote in two critical states trump under fire for 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 n 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 offer 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 twump leads by five points, 28% to 23%, down from 16 points a month ago and rubio virtually unchanged at 15. the next seven days may provide 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 and then it's back to south carolina next saturday, the 27th, for the democratic primary. a time line that is ratcheting up the urgency in both races.
we've got both races covered starting tonight with nbc's katy tur in north charleston for us. hi, katy >> reporter: lester, donald trump will take the stage here in just a few minutes. it's now less than 24 hours before the state votes, and as you said there are indications that this race could be a lot tighter than many had thought. donald trump losing his commanding lead as ted cruz tries to replicate his win in iwhat. 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. >> reporter: trump has repeatedly claimed on the trail -- >> and i was against going into iraq and i was against it since a long time. i didn't want to go into iraq. >> reporter: this morning on "today" he explained the flip-flop. >> it's 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.
>> reporter: also, a new nbc news/"wall street journal"/marist poll out today showing his lead slashed. >> every time they do a poll, i have a lousy poll. >> reporter: one potential reason, trump's accusations during the debate 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 reaction from voters about his attacks on george w. bush. >> saturday night at the debate his temperament was on display. >> reporter: 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 and 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 ecomments 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 democrat. >> hillary's opponent jumped all over me last night. that campaign has been remarkably fact-free. >> i need you saturday. >> reporter: key to wing here, union workers, 55% latino so both candidates hit a picket line. >> thank you so much. >> reporter: and clinton drumming up union support in the casinos where caucuses are held. >> give us an opportunity to express ourselves, so i'm looking for a candidate, a person that will stand behind us. >> reporter: what do you care about? >> immigration. i'm mexican, you know. >> reporter: that's important? >> that's important, very important. >> i think that's going to be a real problem if she loses here, not just because her lead disappeared because her whole argument is about eel electability. >> reporter: both campaigns already hitting the airwaves in the next state, south carolina. morgan freeman narrating a new hillary clinton ad today. >> she understands that our country can't reach its potential unless we all do. together. >> reporter: with a theme pulling together that seems to imitate a recent sanders ad.
>> our job is to bring people together. >> reporter: clinton garnered the most important south carolina 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 moderator of "meet the press," chuck todd. chuck, 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? >> well, it's fair to call tomorrow shake-up saturday because in many ways this race is going to get shooken 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 tonight 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 -- any time he's losing, it's not a good day for a guy who doesn't believe in lose so he's got a lot on the line and ted cruz can't afford third. a bernie sanders victory in nevada is a bigger deal to him than a clinton victory would be there so shake-up saturday, bottom line. >> we will eel be here to cover it all. chuck, thanks very much. 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. nbc's harry smith looks back at her enormous impact. >> reporter: in larper lea's hometown of monr monroeville, alabama, today, folks put up black ribbons in remembrance of the great author, tourists by the thousands still coming to the old courthouse to see the place so perfectly
detailed in the film, the place where the hero at cuss finch defends an innocent black man. >> and 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 -- 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 scott >> you never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view. >> harper lee, "to kill a mockingbird. request ". >> reporter: 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. miss lee did not publish another book until last year, "go set a watchman" was an early edition of her best-seller and the broadway version of "to kill a mock bid" is in the works, in 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 of that donald trump is now calling for a boycott. nbc's joe fryar has the latest from california. >> reporter: with apple publicly vowing to fight a court order to create software
that would unlook 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 something we consider too dangerous to create. they have asked us to build a back door to the iphone. 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 al love terrorists to establish a safe haven in cyber space. >> reporter: 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, shunned trump all of our interests in being secure. >> reporter: donald trump who sends many tweets from an iphone is calling for an apple boycott until the company unlock the shooter's phone. >> apple ought to give the security for the phone. >> reporter: tech giant now has a week to respond to the judge's order. joe fryar, 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 and threatened to blow bikes off their racks and factored into a construction collapse that crushed a car. flying debris from a high rise forced evacuationed, and the willis tower sky deck was forced to close. well over 100 flights were cancelled 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 a new hint tonight about who the president may be considering for the seat. >> reporter: antonini scalia returned to the court for the last time, his casket carried past 100 of his former law clerks. inside the eight remaining just tises 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 "washington 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
successor. vice president biden said the nominee could be a previously confirmed judge. >> there are plenty of judges who have, 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 scale gentleman's funeral at bat sill can a. natural shrine of the immaculate conception with his son paul celebrating mass. pete williams, nbc news at the supreme court. there's a lot more ahead for us tonight. the crackdown on hoverboards. the hottest fad of the past year in more ways than one. now the fed says 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 confi man: dear mr. danoff, my wife and i are now participating in your mutual fund. we invested in your fund
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big news tonight involving those so-called honchds that were some of the biggest sellers over the holidays. they have 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 conphysical case 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 just so black i couldn't get into the house. >> reporter: cause of the fire, a hoverboard. >> we almost lost two of our children, two of our children almost died because of the christmas gift. >> reporter: 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 product 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 ul 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 current standard. >> reporter: zero? >> zero. >> reporter: in december alone customs and bothered patrol seized more than 1,300 hoverboards at jfk airport. now any hoverboard that arrives at a u.s. port can be phone kiss kated if it doesn't meet the standard and for reports of those falling and breaking bones, safety regulators remain hoverboards are inherently unstable. if you own one, tonight the consumer product safety commission recommends putting it away and demanding proof from the retail their it meets the new safety standards. tom costello, nbc news, washington. we're back in a moment with something the cdc warns americans are not gettin ♪ they say you shouldn't spoil your kids. but your grandkids? how about front row seats to the best show in town?
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and that raises their risk of obesity and heart disease. among other issues 6 a 5% are sleeping seven hours or more. researchers suggest more us need to get to bed at a regular time and turn off tv and electronic devices. as you're probably saying to yourself right now that's probably easier said than done. the last of the prisoners known as angola three is free tonight. albert woodfox has been released as part of a plea deal. as nbc's 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 in louisiana state penitentiary in 1972. prison guard brent
miller was stabbed 32 times. woodfox and herman wallace were convicted of the murder and sent to solitary confinement. prisoner robert king also was convicted for the same crime. king was released in 2001 after 29 years alone in a cell. >> i'm free from angola but i don't feel free as long as albert and wallace are in priss on. >> wall as was set free 2013 and died of cancer two days later and today albert woodfox plead no contest to the killing and was sentenced to 32 years and already had served 45 years so was released. in a statement he said i hope the events of today will bring closure to many. after more than four decades free.
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the newer poll numbers we talked about at top. newscast that show a tightening of the gop presidential race in south carolina underscore how fluid things appear tonight. i dropped in at a local barbecue place during the lunch hour to take my own scientific measure of what's driving people's decisions. want an ice tea. >> sure. >> sweet or unsweet. >> sweet in south carolina. >> it's not hard to found south carolina republicans who haven't made up your minds. >> you're not unusual. >> 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 said their vote may not go to the candidate that they want but rather the person they think they can win. >> do any of you believe in the polls? >> yeah, i do. >> what do the polls tell you right now? >> well, they are telling me that probably going to be between trump and cruz. i was really liking ben carson, but poll-wise i don't think he's going to do
so well anylonger. >> you're influenced by the polls, may not vote for him. 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. >> you watching the polls carefully in. >> i would like to vote for the candidate who has the best chance to defeat hillary and at some point have you to vote for the right person, who is standing up for america. >> were you captivated by trump at any point in the proses? >> i really like 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 that could unite country? >> i wish i could say yes, but all i can do is hope. >> do you see a healer out thereto 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, and so, no, i don't really see
someone who is going to be that middle of the road candidate. >> just some of the things on 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 all of us at nbc news, thank you the passion of the trump. can donald recover from his unholy war with the pope? >> his new interview today about the controversy, now on "extra." donald trump branded the
antichrist. does he now regret picking a fight with the pope? >> with the pope, does it give you pause? >> from morning tv to late night, trump's very bad friday. >> and donald said, of course i'm a christian. do you know how many carpenters named jesus i have working for me? >> plus, what hillary clinton is doing with britney. kris jenner versus kanye. why jenner is dropping the hammer on kanye's wife after the tirade. shannen doherty in tears. her new confessions about her breast cancer battle. >> for me, that was the hardest part. >> and the shocking reason she didn't catch it early. then, new photos. patrick dempsey vacationing with his ex-wife. are they officially back together? plus, why michael strahan is on a crusade to get a.j. a raise. >> this dude is