tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC February 8, 2017 5:30pm-6:01pm PST
while. drive safe. >> good night, folks. tonight, the supreme court nominee calls president trump's attacks on the judiciary demoralizing as the president takes aim at the judges holding their controversial ban in their hands. crossing the line? the president goes after nordstrom and the white house accuses the store of an attack on ivanka. nordstrom says that's not true. high-wire horror. a frightening plunge at the circus involving famed daredevil nik wallenda. weather whiplash. record-smashing warmth about to be blown away by a major snowstorm rolling in. and a member of our family shares his family's private battle raising public awareness about how early it can strike. and blessing boxes popping up all over town. an inspiring america. "nightly news begins
right now. >> announcer: from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. good evening to our viewers in the west. president trump's nominee to the supreme court neil gorsuch made big news during a visit to capitol hill today with a head-snapping rebuke of the president over his criticism of the judiciary, gorsuch telling the senator that remarks made by the president about the courts are demoralizing. the almost unheard of criticism of the president by a supreme court nominee coming on what could be the eve of a critical appeals court decision on whether to lift the stay on the travel ban. our justice correspondent pete williams has details. >> reporter: unusually strong criticism tonight from president trump's own supreme
court nominee neil gorsuch about mr. trump's biting critique today of three federal judges. the president was on the attack barely 12 hours after last night's appeals court oral argument on whether to keep enforcement of his immigration executive order on hold. connecticut democrat richard blumenthal said today that gorsuch told him during a courtesy visit that the president's comments were, quote, disheartening and demoralizing. >> he certainly expressed to me that he is disheartened by the demoralizing and abhorrent comments made by president trump about the judiciary. >> reporter: a gorsuch associate confirmed the comments. they followed mr. trump's speech today to a law enforcement group. >> i listened to a bunch of stuff last night on television that was disgraceful. i don't ever want to call a court biased, so i won't call it sbis biased, and we haven't had a decision yet. but courts seem to be so political. >> reporter: he noted that a federal law gives the president power to suspend the entry of any class of aliens to protect national security.
>> if you were a good student in high school or a bad student in high school, you can understand this. >> reporter: how, he asked, could the judges question the legality of his executive order. despite the president's tough talk, legal experts say they doubt his comments will affect the court's decision because the judges would have voted immediately after last night's oral argument. >> they've already made their decision so i think the president's comments wouldn't have any effect at all on what the court's outcome is here. >> whatever the reason for judge gorsuch's criticism of mr. trurp -- trump's remarks today, it could help ease concerns in the senate that he won't be independent of the president who nominated him. lester? >> pete williams in our washington newsroom, thanks, pete. president trump also lashed out on twitter at retail chain nordstrom for dropping daughter ivanka's brand. his attack once again raising concerns of potential conflicts of interest between the oval office and the trump family's
business concerns. we get more from nbc's hallie jackson. >> reporter: tonight, ethics experts sounding the alarm about one of the latest presidential tweets. donald trump writing today, "my daughter ivanka has been treated so unfairly by nordstrom. she is a great person. always pushing me to do the right thing. terrible." it comes after the department store's decision not to buy anything this season from the ivanka trump branded fashion line. a company rep says that's due to sales, not politics, just business. a business, by the way, ivanka trump no longer runs. >> so how is she being treated unfairly if she's not a partner -- >> it's clearly a targeting of her brand. this is a direct attack on his policies and her name. >> reporter: now, new concerns about the president's focus on the family businesses he's supposed to be separated from. >> i think that he's putting the bully back in bully pulpit and it's wrong, it's unethical but also
raises profound legal and even constitutional questions. >> reporter: from voters, so far, mixed reaction. >> i think it's an appropriate use of his fatherly power to defend his family. he's got that right as well as a citizen and as a father. >> step outside of policy to influence the economy through twitter, of all things, is just incredibly inappropriate, from my perspective. >> reporter: nordstrom stock ended the day up about 4%. critics argue all of this comes at a time of other ethical questions, like lawyers representing melania trump in a lawsuit arguing that she stands to lose millions if her brand is unable to capitalize on her once-in-a-lifetime role as first lady. lester? >> hallie jackson at the white house, thanks. there's new fallout after a dramatic moment on the floor of the united states senate. top democrat elizabeth warren silenced by republicans after reading the words of mlk's widown coretta scott king.
all of it part of a firestorm over president trump's nominee for attorney general. here is our capitol hill correspondent kasie hunt. >> reporter: a stunning standoff on the senate floor. senator elizabeth warren reading a scathing 1986 letter from martin luther king's widow criticizing attorney general nominee senator jeff sessions' record on civil rights. >> one more technique used to intimidate black voters. >> reporter: republican leader mitch mcconnell interrupting. >> i call the senator to order. >> reporter: invoking an arcane rule that prohibits attacking another senator. >> she was warned. she was given an explanation. nevertheless, she persisted. >> reporter: within hours, that quote became a feminist battle cry already printed on t-shirts. hillary clinton tweeting, she persisted, so must we all. >> reporter: do you think what senator mcconnell did last night was sexist? >> i think what he did was wrong. >> reporter: do you think it was sexist? >> i think reading the words of coretta scott king honors the
senate on the floor of the united states senate. >> reporter: today, other democrats reading the same letter on the floor without interruption. >> intimidating frightened elderly black voters. >> reporter: a mcconnell spokesperson says their remarks were not preceded by a prolonged disparagement of a colleague. the republican senator who held the gavel last night agrees. >> the senator will take her seat. >> this was not about senator warren as a person. this is about the words used on the floor of the united states senate. >> reporter: there have been insults hurled without punishment before. ted cruz once called mcconnell a liar. >> he is not telling you the truth. >> reporter: but can this silencing give her a bigger megaphone? >> it's the first step in your 2020 presidential campaign? >> we're the party of opposition and that is our job. >> she couldn't have written this any better. it gives her a big leg up of all the democrats in washington vying for leadership. >> reporter: the white house tonight is still
defending sessions' record but after all of this, none of the drama on the floor is expected to change the ultimate outcome with sessions expected to be confirmed within the hour. lester? >> kasie, thank you. turning now to the terrifying moments in florida when a circus act involving daredevil nik wallenda went horribly wrong. wallenda himself was not injured, but five other performers were when they plunged to the ground during high-wire rehearsals. we get details from nbc's kerry sanders. >> reporter: tonight, five circus performers were injured following a horrific high-wire fall. >> we're still triaging. we have three confirmed trauma wounds. >> reporter: eight performers from the famed wallenda family were rehearsing an act similar to this one seen in a video shot by nbc news three weeks ago. the show was scheduled to open here in just two days. perhaps the best known wallenda, 38-year-old nik who left viewers breathless with daring walks over the grand canyon and between two buildings in chicago. he was also on the wire today when the group fell.
luckily, he and two others were able to hang on. >> we were about halfway out and that's when it happened. >> reporter: do you know what caused the fall? >> there's no way -- there's no way to know. it was an accident. it clearly was balance. >> reporter: two performers in critical condition after the person on top fell more than 40 feet. >> extremely lucky given the height of the fall that they survived. >> reporter: the family has never shied away from the dangers of their profession. in 1962, a fall during a similar tiered pyramid act claimed the lives of two of nik's uncles. the family was nicknamed the flying wallendas. >> now we know what our ancestors felt. what a nightmare. >> reporter: wallenda says those who were injured will all recover. kerry sanders, nbc news, sarasota. let's turn now to the weather whiplash impacting millions. record-breaking warmth today in the middle of february is about to give way to a big snowstorm set to hit some major metropolitan areas, including new york, philadelphia and boston.
in a moment, al roker here with the forecast. but first, here's nbc's blake mccoy. >> reporter: a 55-car pileup snarling the commute north of boston. crunched metal the result of black ice that sent cars sliding. >> the roads were blankets of ice. it was brutal. >> reporter: today's mess comes ahead of a fast-moving storm that could bring up to a foot of snow tomorrow for parts of the northeast. it will feel like weather whiplash. record highs set today in d.c., baltimore, philadelphia and new york city. tomorrow, those same cities will see temperatures plummet by as much as 30 degrees. airlines have already canceled more than 2,000 flights. >> we may see blizzard-like conditions. >> reporter: down south, cleanup is under way after storms there spawned an ef-3 tornado, the most powerful ever recorded in new orleans. amanda stockfelt strapped her 8-week-old baby in a
car seat as the tornado approached. >> it was literally trying to suck her up and the only thing i could think of was, i can't let go. >> reporter: a stunning tale of survival as tonight the severe weather threat moves north. tonight here in boston, an army of salt trucks is rolling out ahead of this storm and school has already been canceled for boston and new york city. lester? >> blake mccoy, thank you. al roker is at the map. al, it was a no coat day around here. not the same tomorrow. >> i know. it's going to be such a big, big change. 13 states, 53 million people under some sort of winter weather advisory, watch or warning and even blizzard warnings for parts of long island and massachusetts. 6:00 a.m., the snow is going pretty well from d.c. up to new york. but because it's so warm in d.c., they won't get that much. by the afternoon, we start to see those winds increase, up to 35, 40-mile-per-hour wind gusts. snowfall rates, 1 to 2
inches per hour. we may hear thundersnow from new york all the way to boston. it moves -- it's a quick mover. that's the one good thing. it pulls away as the snow tapers off but still problems for commuters in boston and new england. washington and baltimore, less than an inch. 6 to 8 in philly. 8 to 12 in new york. lester, anywhere from 8 to 12 inches throughout much of new england. >> i know you'll have the latest in the morning on "today." see you then, al. thank you. still ahead, the fight against cancer hitting close to home for one of our own. craig melvin on his brother's brave battle and how it challenges what we've been told about screening for colon cancer. also, thinking inside the box. the big idea inspiring a small town in texas and america.
we're back now with an important and very personal story about fighting colon cancer, specifically the kind that strikes before the age of 50, which doctors call early onset. african-americans are twice as likely to develop it as white patients and a recent study shows they are less likely to survive. one of the families impacted is our own craig melvin's. >> we ought to take time out of our schedule and pray sometimes. >> reporter: my big brother lawrence is a pastor in spartanburg, south carolina. faith has guided him his whole life. he's been diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer at age 39. >> i couldn't get my head around it being you. you've always -- no smoking. >> yeah. >> no drinking. >> yeah.
>> no partying. >> yeah. i was like man, gosh, i should have been drinking and smoking. i should have been getting all of the other stuff in, too. >> reporter: he's still cracking jokes just like when we were kids although his doctor removed a baseball size tumor from his abdomen in october but the cancer had spread. >> this is the lining of the abdomen. >> reporter: his doctor sees a troubling increase in early onset cases, meaning patients under 50. >> we're expecting that these incidents will continue to rise and may increase by 50% over the next 15 years. >> reporter: and doctors can't figure out why. so they tell the families of early onset patients to start screening ten years before the age their loved one was diagnosed. >> as soon as you hit 29, it's time to get the colonoscopy. >> i'm 37. >> reporter: this is part of the problem with early onset cases. the american cancer society says most people should start getting regular colonoscopies at the age of 50. for higher risk
groups, it's 45. no help to lawrence and our family, including his wife angela and their two children addie and lawson. >> it's hard for me to look at that little boy who is like, where's my dad and just think he doesn't know what we're dealing with. >> reporter: but there's encouraging news from lawrence's latest rounds of tests. >> our goal was to stop its growth. we certainly accomplished that but i think, even better, we're seeing shrinkage of the cancer. >> reporter: the doctor even showed us where it's shrinking. >> but the cancer's still there? >> yeah. he's indicated that there is no cure for colon cancer. like cutting grass, to cut it back, cut it back until eventually it just dies. >> reporter: back in south carolina, he's determined. >> this is the only fight i'm focused on. >> yes, i got you. >> evicting cancer from me. >> craig, this is personal stuff, i get. but i want you to know i learned something i didn't know and i bet a lot of people didn't. that's why your brother went public.
>> he said if anyone takes anything away from this, if you have a family history and you look like me and you, talk to your doctor and get tested. he'll go back to md anderson this weekend for another checkup. he goes every two weeks to get chemo. he's had eight rounds so far and five more until another scan and our hope is that we get another great report next year. >> please send him our regards. you're 37 and you're going for a colonoscopy? >> next month. >> all right. thanks. we'll take a break. when we come back, he shoots, he scores. you won't believe when a high school player pulled off on the basketball court. ball alon well, when you
hear that music, it can mean only one thing. believe it or not, we're one year out from the winter olympics in pyeongchang, south korea, not to be confused with pyongyang, the capital of north korea. let's get down to business, which is exactly what is happening in the host city. american olympic hopefuls are already there and so is nbc's
keir simmons. >> reporter: from seoul's neon lights to pyeongchang's snowy slopes, excitement is building here for an olympics that promises to be both high tech and high flying. 16-year-old snowboarding sensation chloe kim is one of the rising stars. >> it's awesome. my side of the family lives here and the fact that the 2018 olympics will be here is pretty crazy. >> reporter: neighboring china, japan and south korea, seoul will be soon around a 17-minute train ride from the olympic park to pyeongchang. constructing this line cost $3.7 billion. high-speed trains will deliver people to the olympic venues at 186 miles per hour. >> reporter: south korea moving fast, building new venues and two athletes' villages. team usa's brightest taking test runs this week and russia is here, too, but not yet cleared to compete
after a massive doping scandal. then there's the region's politics. are you worried north korea may threaten the games? >> i don't think so. >> reporter: team usa hoping for a successful games led by fresh faces like figure skater nathan chang and familiar ones like lindsey vonn and shaun white. a year to go and the olympic clock is ticking again. keir simmons, nbc news, pyeongchang. in california, an amazing basketball feat. rising high school star lamelo ball sinking basket after basket after he led his team to victory last night. when it was all said and done, he had scored 92 points all by himself. and it runs in the family. oldest brother alonzo is a star at ucla. when we come back, boxes full of blessings.
finally tonight, a growing phenomenon around the country and especially in one small texas town. they're called blessing boxes and people are stocking them full of goodies for strangers. nbc's jacob rascon explains why so many have been popping up recently in our "inspiring america" report. >> reporter: the town of big spring, texas, is not very big, except when it comes to kindness and what they like to call the blessing box. food, personal hygiene items, diapers free for anyone, any time. this single mother of four just lost her job. >> i tell them, this is for us, you know, for anybody. and they don't have to feel shame or anything. >> reporter: insurance salesman eric built the box after reading about a similar project in another city. >> there's been times when i was the one who needed the extra meal. at the end of the day,
everybody goes through needs. >> reporter: inspiring neighbors to set up their own boxes. others simply donate their groceries. >> i always try to get something that the kids might like, fruit cups, applesauce. >> reporter: in less than a month, big spring has gone from eric's one blessing box to more than a dozen. >> that's what i wanted to do. it's, let's move together as a community and change the city as a whole. >> reporter: and not just the city. nobody's sure where the original idea came from. but in recent months, dozens of blessing boxes have popped up around the country. a godsend for the carmona family, especially joshua. >> it's his birthday. >> reporter: it's his birthday today? >> yes. >> reporter: happy birthday. for special occasions, the birthday blessing box. no matter how small, every box of kindness counts. jacob rascon, nbc news, big spring, texas. >> another reminder, there's a lot of good out there. 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 night. ==raj/take vo== right now at 6: overcome by mud. a pregnant wom everything just got washed away with mud. >> overcome by this mud. a pregnant woman had no one to turn to, so she turned to facebook live. the spider, specialized piece of equipment used to clear up a mess tieing up traffic. >> the news at 6:00 starts right now. >> the problems just keep piling up, even more rain is on its way. a bay area driver swerved off
the road and landed upside down as you can see here. that's when another driver jumped into action one of the stories from our team of reporters covering this micro climate weather alert. >> you talked to that guy with the pickax, talk about quick thinking. >> the two rescuers didn't have time to think about it over too much they jumped into the water and started moving they did all the right things to save that driver before it was too late. >> we heard a bunch of skidding, and i thought, oh, my god. >> the car landed upside down in the creek. >> i thought, whoever's in that car is in trouble. who is the young man in site hitting the window under the water. we couldn't get the door open. >> rich