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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  August 16, 2017 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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white supremacist. we're live on the scene at 6:00. up next, lester holt with "nightly news." tonight, the growing backlash. new fallout after president trump equally blamed both white nationalists and anti-racist protesters for the violence in charlottesville. his business councils disbanding as ceos flee in a mass exodus. more republicans renouncing his message. more confederate statues pulled down. plus new reaction across the country, and our tom brokaw weighs in on it all. also paying tribute to the
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victim killed in that virginia violation. her mother's powerful call to action. military crash. an army chopper goes down off hawaii. the urgent search for survivors. toxic plane danger. rising concerns about what you're breathing when you fly. and honoring the king 40 years since we lost a legend. "nightly news" begins right now. this is nbc "nightly news" with lester holt. >> good evening. it's nice to be with you tonight. there has been no mad rush to the microphones today by surrogates to try to defend president trump as we've seen after past eyebrow-raising
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moments. the shock and surprise over his strident characterizations of the violence in charlottesville reach across the political spectrum tonight. but perhaps the most remarkable rebuke comes from major business leaders walking away from the president's economic advisory groups in protest, forcing mr. trump to pull the plug on the councils which were centerpieces in his signature effort to create jobs in this country. our kristen welker begins our coverage with the fallout. >> reporter: facing a full-scale rebellion by the very ceos he once called colleagues, president trump announced on twitter today he's disbanding two of his advisory business councils. rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the manufacturing council and strategy and policy forum, i am
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ending both. thank you all. the president trying to get ahead of a mass exodus from both councils. eight of the business leaders previously announced they were out because of the president's reaction to charlottesville after mr. trump again equated white supremacists with counterprotesters yesterday. >> not all of those people were neo-nazis, believe me. >> reporter: the latest upheaval began this morning after members of the strategy and policy forum which resulted in a decision to disband. they then called the white house with the news. the president dumping those business leaders publicly before they had the chance to announce the decision. the ceos releasing their own statement today. intolerance, racism and violence have absolutely no place in this country. the vice president rushing to his defense.
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>> reporter: some senior administration officials are still fuming after the president's comments yesterday, and in a sign his inner circle may be getting smaller, the white house says his longtime adviser, hope hicks, will serve as his interim communications director until a permanent replacement can be found. lester? >> kristen welker with the president in new jersey. thank you. now to charlottesville where the violence claimed the life of 32-year-old heather heyer saturday. today a moving memorial service was held for her. the overwhelming message throughout the service, a call for racial harmony and justice, causes that heather herself was so passionate about. nbc's tom costello was there. >> reporter: wearing purple, heather heyer's favorite color,
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they came from across virginia. >> no father should have to do this. >> reporter: heather's father, grandfather, family and friends spoke of her fierce dedication to justice, and then heather's mother spoke of her daughter who police say was killed saturday, mowed down by a car driven by a white nationalist. >> they tried to kill my child to shut her up. well, guess what? you just magnified her. this is just the beginning of heather's legacy. >> reporter: across downtown charlottesville, tributes to an unlikely victim of saturday's violence. at the spot where she was killed, senator tim kaine and charlottesville's mayor insisted hate will not define the city. >> this is c-ville, the cool, easy going, sweet, wonderful, loving, tolerant, dynamic place that people fall in love with. >> reporter: our nation is a nation of immigrants. it is that great mosaic tile that has made us the great united states of america.
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>> reporter: but a heavy police presence underscored that tensions remain high here. >> heather's life was not lost in vain. she represented something important and vital that the world needed to hear. ♪ amazing grace >> reporter: susan bro also issued a call to turn anger over her daughter's death into nonviolent action. >> i'd rather have my child, but by golly, if i got to give her up, we're going to make it count. >> reporter: on friday, there will be another memorial for the two state troopers who died on saturday. and we have this late breaking news just coming in now. the governor of virginia is calling on every town and city in the state and the state legislature to remove all confederate monuments. he says they're a barrier to inclusion and equality. lester? >> tom costello with that tonight, thank you. americans responded to president trump's comments about
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charlottesville in actions and words today, both criticizing and defending what he said about the violence. nbc's peter alexander has more on the reaction around the country. >> reporter: before dawn in baltimore, crews taking down four confederate monuments to avoid violent protests like those in charlottesville. >> i said, with the climate of this nation, that i think it's very important that we move quickly and quietly. >> reporter: workers in birmingham on the mayor's orders overnight boarding up a confederate tower. here in leesburg, virginia, this confederate statue still fuels deep divisions. but in the wake of president trump's comments -- >> you also had people that were very fine people on both sides. >> reporter: zach richman defends the president's words. >> when you have violence, you need to call it on both sides. you can't just, you know, close one eye and cherry pick from the other side. >> reporter: is the president getting a bad rap? >> i believe so, yeah. >> reporter: that outrage
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blaring from newspaper headlines. in new york, "sympathy for the devils." in chicago, "fake president." >> definitely makes him less credible as a president to not speak as a leader and bring the country together. >> reporter: superstar lebron james today chiming in. >> it's not about the guy that's the so-called president of the united states. it's about all of us looking in the mirror and saying what can we do better to help change? >> reporter: religious leaders equally emphatic. >> this is a time to stand up and scream loud and clear, that is not who we are. >> reporter: pastor robert jeffress one of the president's evangelical advisers, speaking out on the broadcasting network. >> if we're going to denounce some racism, we sought to denounce all racism. i think that's the point the president was making. >> reporter: tonight a fierce debate sparking anger and action. peter alexander, nbc news, leesburg, virginia. there are a number of terrifying stories still emerging from charlottesville,
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one of them from a synagogue that rabbis say was under siege. dozens of people inside and afraid to leave while outside armed men and marching neo-nazis invoked painful echoes of the past. nbc's gabe gutierrez has that story for us. >> reporter: this was the view saturday from one of the oldest synagogues in the south. >> it was indescribable. i never for a minute ever thought in my life that i would see that on the streets of america. this is our sanctuary. >> reporter: alan zimmerman is the president of charlottesville's congregation beth israel. >> if i'd taken a camera and filmed that in black and white, it would look to people like news reels from 1933 in germany. even now just unbelievable. >> reporter: he and tom gutherz hired a private security guard to watch over services that
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morning. >> it's really something else when that hate really emerging in front of you. when you realize that people came from so far away, from all over, really, to express that hatred. >> reporter: zimmerman told us he saw parades of nazis walking by, some heckling the temple. for half an hour three men dressed in fatigues armed with semiautomatic rifles stood in front. he told congregants it would be safer to leave through the back entrance instead of the front and go in groups. did you feel that your sanctuary was under siege? >> yes. >> reporter: john aguilar, a navy veteran, was not part of the congregation, but he took it upon himself to help keep watch. >> i just wanted to let the jewish community know that they were not alone in this. sometimes you just have to stand up for what's right. >> reporter: we asked zimmerman what he thought of the president's remarks that the violence came from both sides. >> all i can tell you is my heart's sick. >> reporter: he says he never expected to see this in 2017. gabe gutierrez, nbc news, charlottesville, virginia.
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after the president's remarks, white supremacists have come out of the shadows to cheer his message, viewing it as a validation of their own racist beliefs including some here in california, a part of america that you might least suspect. nbc's jacob soboroff has more on that. >> reporter: the southern poverty law center says california has more hate groups than any other state, even in los angeles, where william johnson was elated with president trump's press conference. >> i think there's blame on both sides. and i have no doubt about it. and you don't have any doubt about it either. >> he is the most honest president since george washington and the cherry tree. >> reporter: just watching all this, and hearing trump say all that, you got visibly excited. >> yes. that is an honest man saying what he believes in his heart. >> reporter: and do you believe that donald trump saying things like that will ultimately bring america closer to your goal of a white ethno-state? >> well, i think that america
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needs to take a different direction, whether it needs to come into my direction, i don't know. we have a festering racial problem that's only going to get worse. i think the only solution is separation, but there may be another solution and donald trump is going to, i think, bring us -- help us overcome the racial divide. i think that he will encourage fair-minded deep-thinking people to realize that separation is the only way we can achieve racial goals. >> reporter: would you all be here today and as emboldened as you are today without donald trump? >> well, i've always been emboldened. i've been emboldened for 25 years but the rank and file american is becoming more emboldened. >> reporter: to join your cause? >> to be proud of their heritage. whether it's white, whether it's confederacy. whatever it is. to be proud that you're white and to group together and want to support white issues. >> reporter: president trump claims he has disavowed people
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like johnson, but johnson says that is exactly the group trump has energized. what's next? the white nationalist says the murder in charlottesville will temporarily set back his movement until it emerges stronger than ever before and he credits the president for that. lester? >> fascinating conversation, jacob, thank you. for more perspective, we want to turn to someone who has seen his share of violent and nonviolent resistance in this country. he is our senior correspondent tom brokaw who covered the civil rights movement of the 1960s. i'm curious from your perspective what lessons can we learn from that experience? >> lester, from the beginning of my reportorial career, race has been a dominant, dominant issue for me. i was just thinking tonight for five centuries in this country, race has been a complicating factor in defining who we are. now, as we just heard, we heard the white groups, the white hate groups claiming victory for what they went through. so how do you counter all that? i thought the most dramatic
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example that i saw that still resonates with me was in the 1960s when dr. martin luther king launched the nonviolent movement. and it was a strong moral cause that advanced his cause and alerted the country to the kinds of absolutely unacceptable things that we should not be tolerating anymore. >> tom brokaw with lessons of history. tom, thank you. turning now to another story we're following, the urgent search under way for survivors from the crash of an army black hawk helicopter off the coast of hawaii. the chopper, with five crew members aboard, disappeared last night during a training mission. this follows two other u.s. military air crashes earlier this summer which killed a total of 19 service members. still ahead, as we continue here tonight, new concern about the quality of the air we all breathe on airplanes after several incidents in which passengers and crew members reported feeling sick.
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also the dramatic scenes today on a major highway and the remarkable way it all ended.
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we're back now with a growing safety concern over the air we breathe when we fly. a number of airline passengers and crew members suddenly falling ill in midair this summer due to what experts believe are toxic fume events. nbc's stephanie gosk explains what they are and the danger they pose. >> reporter: a jetblue flight makes an emergency landing in
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buffalo, new york, this month. >> you might have more than one patient there. they're not sure what this smell is. >> reporter: this video from a passenger shows firefighters on board while he starts to feel sick. >> like sharp pain headache. >> reporter: three crew members went to the hospital. jetblue says no mechanical issues were found. the incident sounds eerily similar to something american airlines pilot dennis taser says he experienced in june. >> we all immediately noticed the smell. >> reporter: he says the fumes came from the engine and smelled like dirty socks. >> that can incapacitate a pilot, which takes us out of the game, which is a horrific ending. >> reporter: most planes use a combination of air in flight, a mix of recycled and outside air which is siphoned through the engine. if a seal breaks, the burning oil can mix with the cabin air causing a so-called toxic fume event. >> flight attendants are experiencing headaches, flu-like symptoms, fatigue or short-term and long-term memory loss. >> reporter: a new senate proposal would mandate training
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for crews, change faa reporting rules and require air quality detectors on flights. the bill's sponsors say these toxic fume events happen up to five times a day. the faa's numbers are much lower. in a statement the agency writes, the cabin environment in the vast majority of commercial flights is safe. however, we are concerned that if certain mechanical failures occur, the cabin environment may contain contaminants. >> you are stuck in that metal tube until it gets on the ground. you cannot go somewhere and get a breath of fresh air. >> reporter: with new regulations, flight crews and passengers alike hope everyone will breathe a little easier. stephanie gosk, nbc news, new york. in a moment, a young man's tribute to his father, there for him on the first day of kindergarten and college. whoooo.
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looking for a hotel that fits... ...your budget? tripadvisor now searches over... ...200 sites to find you the... ...hotel you want at the lowest price. grazi, gino! find a price that fits. tripadvisor. there was little doubt that tom cruise was badly hurt when he fell short during that roof jumping stunt in london filming
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"mission: impossible 6," and today paramount studios confirm that cruise broke his right ankle. paramount says the film's production will halt while the 55-year-old star recovers. and caught on camera, a shocking moment of impact on a kansas freeway. a semi ramming into a traffic barrier. the truck sent skidding down the road. it burst into flames, as you can see. the driver was trapped inside, but fellow motorists helped him out. police are investigating the crash as a possible medical emergency but incredibly the driver only has minor injuries from the crash itself. here's something a lot of us can relate to, emotional moments walking our children to their first day in school. charles brockman iii of plano, texas, thanked his dad with a post on twitter sharing a picture of them when he started kindergarten years ago and another taken just last week at freshman move-in day at mississippi state. the tweet has been liked by hundreds of thousands, and it's not hard to see why.
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we're back in a moment with our enduring devotion to the king now 40 years after his death. ===jess vo===
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a protest is growing outside a bay area sheriff )s office -- over a tweet the department says was an accident. ===raj /take vo=== and 3 years after a high- profile dog-napping... the poodle vanishes again. ===next close=== next. finally tonight, 40 years ago america lost an icon, the
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king himself, elvis presley. even after all these year, he remains one of the best-selling artists of all time. and he still has fans all shook up as thousands descended on graceland to prove that elvis lives at least in their hearts. here's nbc's catie beck. ♪ everybody let's rock >> reporter: the king of rock 'n' roll gone 40 years. his legacy unforgettable. ♪ return to sender >> reporter: his music unmatched. ♪ viva las vegas ♪ you saw me crying >> reporter: elvis presley's country gospel voice, the signature swivel of his hips. ♪ the world couldn't help falling in love. >> i did. i grew up loving elvis. >> reporter: a burning love for nancy craft, president of an elvis fan club in houston, texas. >> when i get to heaven, there will be two people that i'll be seeing. first, my husband. and then elvis. >> reporter: she's one of an estimated 80,000 fans in
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memphis, tennessee, this week, for the 40th anniversary of presley's death. the annual event lets fans relish artifacts of the past. nancy travels there twice a year with her friend dolores. since 2001 planning every outfit and hour of elvis week. >> let's wear jailhouse rock on sunday. >> that is one thing we have a lot of, and that's t-shirts. >> reporter: at graceland, members reunite. at the mansion, the museum, beside jumpsuits. there's singing. ♪ i can't help >> reporter: the pilgrimage culminates with a candlelight vigil at the gravesite. >> it just touches your soul. we'd love for him to still be around and still be sharing. ♪ falling in love >> reporter: catie beck, nbc news, memphis, tennessee. ♪ with you >> we appreciate you spending part of your evening with us.
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that is "nightly news" for this wednesday night. i'm lester holt. for all of us at nbc news, thank you for watching, and good night from los angeles. tension at thes departnent. more than a hundred people are rallying in oakiland...anbd more are right now at 6:00 tension at the sheriff's department. these are live pictures of more than 100 people rallying in oakland and more are expected to show up. this group upset about a sheriff's department social media link to a white supremacist. the news at 6:00 starts right now. good evening and thanks for being with us. i'm raj mathai. >> i'm jessica augeri. we've been tracking this story for over an hour. reaction is mounting because of a tweet that went out monday night. the alameda sheriff official twit account retweeted one of the nation's most prominent wipe
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supremacis supremacists. he said it was an accident. the latest on the people showing up today say they are upset with what happened and they are not -- they aren't taking this apology. >> reporter: and more of them seem to be turning out as this rally continues. let me show you now how densely populated this group is. this was supposed to start half an hour ago or so. right now you can see the crowd is actually kind of moving into the street, crowding into the street. one of the lanes is blocked. cars continue to barely squeeze by kind of here on the shoulder. again, this is a demonstration that is based on this tweet. let's go ahead and show you the reason why these people are here and demonstrating against the alameda county sheriff's departme department. this is is the retweet of the twitter page of richard spencer. at the time the alameda county sheriffs deputy says they were


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