tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC January 11, 2017 5:30pm-6:01pm PST
we will have more storm coverage at 6:00. now it's lester holt and nightly news. the fiery donald trump comes out swinging. his first news conference in six months. combative exchanges over his business conflicts, russian hacking, u.s. intelligence and slamming the circulation of unverified allegations against him. tonight, what nbc has learned that the president-elect was and was not told. hot seat. secretary of state nominee rex tillerson facing incoming fire over his ties to vladimir putin and russia. a key republican senator relentless. pure chaos. a record-breaking storm emergency, roads into rivers, houses under water and tonight a new threat is moving in. and to the rescue, a heart transplant for batman, a bandage for fido and an x-ray for elmo. a doctor who is inspiring america.
"nightly news" begins right now. >> announcer: from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is nbc news with lester holt. good evening. after months of disembodied tweets as our primary incite into our next president's thinking, donald trump had a long-a waited formal news conference today that was nominated by questions about russian influence, not just in the election but also an ugly and discredited allegation brought to the attention of u.s. intelligence and surfaced publicly last night. at the same time, his secretary of state nominee was getting a tough grilling from senators on capitol hill, the president-elect was facing a slew of pent-up questions from reporters here in new york in a spirited exchange. there were lots of headlines made and we've got it all covered beginning with nbc's hallie jackson. >> reporter: at trump tower, a moment months in the making. but it wasn't washington front and center.
instead, moscow, russia, dominating donald trump's first press conference as president-elect. for the first time, acknowledging what intelligence officials believe about foreign interference in our election. >> as far as hacking, i think it was russia but i think we also get hacked by other countries and other people. >> reporter: the president-elect with reports of a memo originally generated as part of opposition research outlining personal, lewd, unverified allegations against him. >> i'm also very much of a germaphobe, by the way, believe me. >> reporter: but a senior official tells nbc news, trump was never briefed about it, backing up his argument. >> it's all fake news. it's phony stuff. it didn't happen. >> reporter: trump says during the campaign no one on his team had contact with the kremlin. but his political stance toward russia has long been problematic, even in his own party, not that trump's changing his mind. >> if putin likes donald trump, i consider that an asset, not a liability. >> reporter: does russia have any leverage over you, financial
or otherwise, and if not, will you release your tax returns to prove it? >> so i tweeted out that i have no dealings with russia. >> reporter: will you release your tax returns to prove what you're saying about no deals in russia? >> well, i'm not releasing tax returns because they are under audit. >> reporter: while trump did scold putin for trying to meddle in the election -- >> he shouldn't be doing it, won't be doing it. i think it was disgraceful, disgraceful, that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake. >> reporter: it's still not clear whether trump trusts the intelligence analysts he's about to lead. nbc's kristen welker tried to find out. >> do you trust your u.s. intelligence officials and what do you say to foreign policy experts who say you're actually weakening national security by waging this war of words against that community? >> reporter: intelligence agencies are vital and very, very important. >> reporter: also at the podium
today, plenty of paperwork that trump says proves he's doing due diligence to avoid conflicts of interest. how? by giving up his position at the trump organization, turning it over to his adult sons, donald jr. and eric. ivanka trump also stepping away ahead of her move to washington. hiring an ethics adviser to sign off on any deals that could trigger conflict of interest concerns. any profits from foreign governments who book rooms at his hotels will be donated back to the u.s. treasury department and his business won't do any new foreign deals despite just this weekend, he says, the opportunity to do just that. >> i was offered $2 billion to do a deal in dubai, a number of deals. and i turned it down. >> reporter: trump says these steps are sufficient. >> i could actually run my business and run government at the same time. >> reporter: he's right. as president, he's exempt from federal conflict of interest laws but the government ethics
office says today what he's doing is not enough. outside experts agree. >> i think that's more like lipstick on a pig. you know, that might be a nice ornament to put on this trust that he is creating, but it doesn't actually solve the problem. >> reporter: for all the questions trump took, plenty unanswered. like whether he'd keep sanctions in place against russia, how he'd repeal and replace the health care law almost simultaneously. >> most likely be on the same day or the same week but probably the same day, could be the same hour. >> reporter: and who he'll appoint as supreme court justice. >> that will be probably within two weeks. >> reporter: one final question, not asked but maybe no need. will president trump look any different from candidate trump? don't count on it. >> if they do a bad job, i'll say, you're fired. >> reporter: and it was vintage trump today, at times combative and chaotic in the room.
newly buried, news of one of his final remaining cabinet picks, david shulkin, to lead the v.a. he's a democrat currently serving in the obama administration, who, if chosen to lead the veterans affairs department, would be the first to do so without having served in uniform. lester? >> hallie jackson, thank you. let's take a closer look at the firestorm over the explosive but unverified memo that hallie just mentioned that so angered the president-elect. multiple sources telling nbc news that u.s. spy chiefs did not tell mr. trump about the content regarding him during the briefing. cynthia mcfadden explains what we know. >> reporter: tonight, this question, does u.s. intelligence have proof the russians hold compromising information about donald trump and did they brief mr. trump about it last friday? the answer, according to multiple intelligence officials, is no. a senior official tells nbc news that there was indeed a two-page summary accompanying that
classified report on russian interference in the u.s. election which dealt with explosive and unsubstantiated claims that russia had compromising personal information about mr. trump. last night, it was widely reported that mr. trump was himself briefed on the material. but multiple sources, including those involved in the briefing process, tell nbc news that is simply not true. >> i was in the room and the first i heard of any of these wild accusations was when someone printed it off of the buzzfeed website. >> reporter: the friday briefing at trump tower was verbal and led by the director of national intelligence, james clapper. intelligence and law enforcement sources say the incendiary material, originally a 35-page document privately prepared as a smear of mr. trump, was reviewed and, quote, dismissed out of hand as, quote, deceitful by law enforcement and intelligence analysts.
one senior intelligence official saying, "intel and law enforcement officials agree that none of the investigations have found any conclusive or direct link between trump and the russian government, period." last night, buzzfeed published the original 35-page document outraging mr. trump. the president-elect tweeting last night, "intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to leak into the public. one last shot at me. are we living in nazi, germany?" today, exploding at cnn's reporter. >> you're attacking our news organization. can you give us a chance? >> your organization is terrible. >> reporter: what is the reaction from the kremlin with all of these allegations flying around? >> i'm sure they are thrilled. it doesn't make us look like we are a healthy democracy and that we're getting ready for a new president. it makes us look like we are back in scandal. that's good for them. >> reporter: one intelligence official tells nbc news the two-page summary prepared by the intel community was in a
supplement to the classified report. in an annex called disinformation. but why would a summary of disinformation be any part of a top secret report? according to the senior intel source, it was included so mr. clapper could show mr. trump examples of political disinformation if he asked for it. >> he needs to get his team in place, so i think the relationships between the president-elect and the current leadership of the cia, the nsa and, indeed, the director of national intelligence are irreparably broken at this point. >> the admiral says without trust between mr. trump and his intelligence team, we're going to have a, quote, completely dysfunctionality in our national security. as for that 35-page document of lurid disinformation, multiple sources tell us tonight neither the intelligence committee or the fbi are continuing to investigate it. lester?
>> cynthia mcfadden, thanks. we want to bring in moderator of "meet the press," chuck todd. how did the day go for the president-elect? >> i think as far as donald trump and his connection with supporters, i think in many ways he should commanded control at the press conference even though it can feel chaotic. it was on his terms and this is vintage trump and it's the donald we've gotten to know throughout the campaign. i think if you're looking at substance and on the issue of russia, did he do enough today to convince some hawks in the senate republicans, think lindsey graham, marco rubio, john mccain, those folks, that he's going to be tough on putin. and the reason does that matter, simultaneously, rex tillerson, the man who donald trump wants to be secretary of state is being questioned about whether he will be tough enough on putin. so was trump too soft today on putin in order to get his secretary of state confirmed? >> chuck todd, thank you very much. russian influence was a major theme in washington today
as another of the president-elect's cabinet picks found himself in the hot seat today. chuck was just talking about that. the senate confirmation hearing got under way for secretary of state nominee rex tillerson, former ceo of exxonmobil. some of the toughest questions came from a key republican. nbc's andrea mitchell has details. >> reporter: at times today, it felt like vladimir putin was in the hot seat, not rex tillerson. >> if putin were to instigate -- >> your relationship with mr. putin. >> what are you going to say to vladimir putin? >> reporter: donald trump's nominee to be america's top diplomat, a texas oil man with no government experience who has come under fire over his business ties with russia. today, trying to show that he can be tough on russia. >> we must be clear-eyed about our relationship with russia. russia today poses a danger. >> reporter: but not tough enough for a key republican, marco rubio, who came out swinging, asking about putin's record on syria. >> is vladimir putin a war criminal? >> i would not use that term.
>> his military targeted schools. >> i would want more information before reaching a conclusion. >> i find it discouraging your inability to cite that. which i think is globally accepted. >> reporter: and putin's human rights record at home. >> do you believe that vladimir putin and his cronies are responsible for ordering the murder of countless dissidents, journalists and political opponents? >> i don't have sufficient information to make that claim. >> none of this is classified. these people are dead. >> reporter: the former exxonmobil ceo did get a boost from a democratic national security icon, former senator sam nunn. >> i don't think knowing the leaders of russia and china and the middle east is a disadvantage. i think it's an asset. >> reporter: at times, tillerson appeared tougher on vladimir putin than the man who would be his boss, even acknowledging that putin probably authorized the election year hacking. but this could all come down to one republican vote and
committee. all eyes will be on marco rubio who told me tonight he's not yet decided how he will vote. lester? >> andrea mitchell on the hill tonight, thank you. a very busy day in washington that also included day two of the confirmation hearing for attorney general nominee senator jeff sessions of alabama and no less drama in this fight as african-american members of congress spoke out today against the nomination. our justice correspondent pete williams has details. >> reporter: senator cory booker, democrat of new jersey, became the first ever to testify against a colleague's nomination. >> i want an attorney general who is committed to supporting law enforcement and securing law and order but that is not enough. >> reporter: joining him is congressman john lewis of georgia who survived police beatings and civil rights marches. >> it doesn't matter how senator sessions may smile, how friendly he may be, how he may speak to you. we need someone who can stand
up, speak up and speak out for the people that need help. >> reporter: a former republican attorney general, michael mukasey, praised sessions, so did the president of the fraternal order of police and two men who worked with him when he was u.s. attorney in alabama. but the chairman of the congressional black caucus said putting the all-black panel at the end was a snub. >> to have a senator, a house member and a living civil rights legend testify at the end of all of this is the equivalent of being made to go to the back of the bus. >> reporter: still, sessions appeared headed for confirmation with a senate vote likely early next month. pete williams, nbc news, washington. just nine days now until president obama leaves the white house and last night he said his good-byes to the country in an emotional farewell address from his adopted hometown, chicago. >> my fellow americans, it has been the honor of my life to serve you. i won't stop.
in fact, i will be right there with you as a citizen for all my remaining days. >> as the president concluded, he thanked a tearful first lady and praised daughters sasha and malia and how they handled the white house spotlight. and a program note, you can see my one-on-one interview with the president as he prepares to leave office in our primetime special, "barack obama: the reality of hope" at 10:00/9:00 central. still ahead, the storm and region ravaged by floods after a one-two punch of heavy rain and record snow. also, the emergency that brought first responders rushing to an infamous american landmark.
we're back now with yet another crippling punch delivered by the record-breaking storm system in the west triggering major flooding, shutting down highways and as nbc's miguel almaguer reports from the impact zone, a new threat is on the way. >> reporter: today, rescues in hollister, california, people and livestock ferried to higher ground just ahead of a swelling creek. >> 2:00 this morning my nephew called me and said i think my room is under water. >> reporter: in the wet northwest, record snowfall, a foot of it in portland. flights grounded, commuters trapped on the roads. >> we've only got a quarter of gas so we're almost out. we've been using that so we're almost out. >> reporter: in colorado, avalanches along i-70.
the snowiest january in 100 years. >> we should have been in washington like three, four days ago already. >> reporter: on this brutal weather day, people found new ways to get around. this epic storm system is still stressing the region tonight. emergency teams are out as levees breach and roads wash out. tonight, rivers are receding but with a new storm moving in, the threat isn't over yet. the water flooding so many of these communities actually has receded as quickly as it came. people were actually inside these vehicles here in hollister when they were pushed right off of the road. while the water will recede when they return, the damage, lester, will be here for several days. >> miguel almaguer, thank you. we're back in a moment with a heavy price a major carmaker will have to pay for deceiving customers.
tonight, volkswagen is paying a price and a pretty big one as the company pleads guilty to criminal charges related to the major emissions cheating scandal, cheating on pollution tests and destroying evidence to try to cover it up. vw will pay $4.3 billion, the largest ever penalty against an automaker in u.s. history. the feds also say six vw employees have been indicted by a grand jury. firefighters rush to the scene of an infamous landmark in our nation's capital, the watergate complex. flames and smoke could be seen shooting out of the 13th floor where a fire broke out of a vacant apartment. smoky conditions remained afterward on several floors but no injuries reported. a day after her husband's farewell address to the nation, michelle obama is checking off a farewell of her own. her final appearance on "the tonight show" starring jimmy fallon as first lady with a few thank you notes. ♪
===jess/vo=== plus we investigate statements donald trump made at today's news conference. ===jess/next close=== aim. finally tonight, no matter what your age, going into the hospital for surgery can be awfully scary and certainly more so for kids but a team of doctors is helping ease young fears by making their favorite toys part of the operation. our kevin tibbles has more now in our "inspiring america" report. >> do we have a new heart? >> reporter: it's a nail-biter of an operation. after all, batman is having a heart transplant. >> i'm glad the stuffing didn't spill all over the table. >> blood type is o positive. >> reporter: and this batman is extra special because he belongs to 6-year-old payson who is also about to get a new heart. >> he's going to think it's really cool that everything he went through, batman went through as well. >> reporter: at the children's hospital of wisconsin, kids
don't face the fear of surgery alone. >> and when that child hears that his toy is also going under a procedure, it kind of really relieves some of the anxiety and stress. >> reporter: most children know the cartoon doc mcstuffins and how she saves toys, but these real live docs will stitch up anything. >> monsters to teddy bears to rabbits. >> reporter: now, that's something you don't learn in med school. 12-year-old zach had his heart operation at age 2 with his best friend elmo by his side. why do you think you brought elmo to the hospital? >> so i wouldn't be so scared. >> reporter: back then, elmo also had his x-rays done. >> look at that. >> reporter: when payson came out of surgery with his new heart beating away, his crime-fighting pal was recovering right there beside him. they are both doing just fine together. kevin tibbles, nbc news, milwaukee. and that's going to do it
for us on a wednesday night. i'm lester holt. for all of us at nbc news, thank you for watching and good nighte rain...but no relief on the ground . right now at 6:00, a brief break from the rain, no relief on the ground. collapsed roads and flooded fields, just part of the latest damage from the bay area's biggest storm in years. the news at 6:00 starts right now. good evening and thanks for being with us. the bay area still recovering from these powerful storms and more rain is on the way. we have a team of reporters across the bay area covering the many problem spots. we begin with jeff ranieri, how much of a break time do we have? >> we have about another 6 to 8 hours until more consistent
rainfall moves in, right now what we're seeing on the doppler radar is light rainfall, still kicking up roadways on the roadways tonight. more showers from santa rosa down toward san rafael. the largest flooding concern still remains right now at least widespread on the russian river from bridge haven over to mira bell heights. this is where the river has continued in flood stage for the past couple days and will continue into flood stage tonight. the good news we're learning is, it should crest around 37.8 feet, at least within the next few hours, and then we'll wait for friday for a dramatic drop in that river level. >> we have the timing on the new storm system coming our way. we'll talk about totals and get a check of what all of this rainfall has meant for the rainfall season in our year, that's coming up throughout this hour. >> we'll see you shortly. among the biggest trouble spots is the north bay, the national