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tv   CBS Evening News With Scott Pelley  CBS  March 30, 2017 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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captioning sponsored by cbs >> pelley: the russia connection: a former f.b.i. agent gives investigators an ominous clue. >> follow the trail of dead russians. >> pelley: also tonight, intrigue at the white house. secret meetings with secret sources, about secret documents. >> why all the cloak and dagger stuff? >> pelley: a rare famine emergency. the starving look to the heavens for help. danger afoot. why deaths are rising more rapidly among walkers than drivers. >> ignition and liftoff. >> pelley: and cutting the astronomical cost of space travel. the first spacex launch with a second-hand rocket. >> this is a very big deal if they can pull it off.
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this is the "cbs evening news" with scott pelley. >> pelley: this is our western edition. and we begin with breaking news in the investigation of russian meddling in the u.s. election. president trump's first national security adviser, mike flynn, is offering to testify if he is granted immunity from prosecution. flynn, you'll recall, was forced to resign after it was revealed he misled vice president pence about contacts he'd had with the russian ambassador to the united states. we'll begin there with major garrett. >> reporter: "the new york times" named two national security staffers. the report said they gave house intelligence committee chairman devin nunes evidence that trump aides were caught up in surveillance of foreign officials. last week nunes briefed the
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media and the president. at the time, white house spokesman sean spicer said white house staffers were not nunes' source. >> that doesn't really make a ton of sense. so i'm not aware of it, but it doesn't really pass the smell test. >> reporter: today the white house would neither confirm nor deny the "times" report. >> i'm not commenting on the report, major. we're not going to start commenting on one-off, anonymous sources that publications publish. >> reporter: if it were wrong, would you tell us? >> i'm not going to get into it. >> reporter: in a letter, the white house invited the leaders of the house and senate intelligence committees to view classified information it said was relevant to the investigation. the white house said the evidence turned up in the ordinary course of business. adam schiff is the top democrat on the house intelligence committee. he says today's report raises even more questions about the actions of the white house and chairman nunes. >> and they can present it to the white house staff or the president himself at any time. so why all the cloak-and-dagger
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stuff? >> reporter: the white house contends this incidental collection of information on trump transition officials may have broken the law. scott, the two staffers named by "the new york times" did not respond to requests for comment. >> pelley: major garrett at the white house. major, thank you. there are three parallel investigations into the russian attempt to sway the election. one by the f.b.i., the house investigation that major just mentioned, and another by the senate intelligence committee. the senate hearing today opened a window on what the russians have been hiding, and jeff pegues is following that. >> this russian propaganda on steroids was designed to poison the national conversation in america. >> reporter: top democrat mark warner and the rest of the senate intelligence committee heard details today about russia's vast information warfare campaign, which involves at least 15,000 operatives worldwide, writing and spreading false news stories and conspiracy theories online. witnesses said the effort goes
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back years, and often starts with russian-backed media. the ongoing campaign has targeted president trump himself. former f.b.i. special agent clint watts. >> i can tell you right now today, accounts tweet at president trump during high volumes when they know he's online and they push conspiracy theories. >> reporter: many of the fake news stories began with real events. last august during an active shooter scare at new york's j.f.k. airport, watts says russian fake news writers added to the panic. >> we watched social media trolls and gray outlets pump fake stories out which ramped up that fear. >> reporter: the russians also tried to manipulate a protest at a u.s. military base in turkey into a major terrorist attack and tried to sow unrest in the u.s. by inflaming protests such as occupy wall street and the black lives matter movement. the russians also used sophisticated hacking like that of the democratic national committee. cyber security expert kevin
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mandia says they stole much more than what has been released on web sites like wikileaks and guccifer 2.0. >> what we've seen publicly released is probably under 1% of what we attribute to the russian government stealing. >> reporter: and the hacking continues. republican senator and former presidential candidate marco rubio. >> within the last 24 hours, at 10:45 a.m. yesterday, a second attempt was made, again, against former members of my presidential campaign team who had access to our internal information, again targeted from an i.p. address from an unknown location in russia. >> reporter: watts also told congress the russians may now be trying to cover their tracks. there have been a series of arrests in russia of cyber- security officials, and a number of mysterious deaths around the world. >> follow the trail of dead russians. there's been more dead russians in the last few months tied to this investigation who have assets in banks all over the world. >> reporter: today russian president vladimir putin denied
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that moscow meddled in the election. scott, he stole a phrase that was made famous by the first president bush, replying to an interviewer, "read my lips: no." >> pelley: jeff pegues in our washington newsroom. as president, of course, mr. trump is the head of the republican party, but today rather than healing the divisions in the g.o.p., he issued a threat to the party's most conservative members. chip reid is at the capitol. >> reporter: a week ago the house freedom caucus gave president trump a standing ovation. and, even after they helped kill the republican health care bill, the president didn't seem angry. >> i'm disappointed, but they're friends of mine. >> reporter: but today he declared political war on his "friends," writing in a tweet, "the freedom caucus will hurt the entire republican agenda if they don't get on the team and fast. we must fight them and dems in 2018." caucus member justin amash of michigan fired back in a tweet
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dripping with sarcasm. "no shame, mr. president. almost everyone succumbs to the d.c. establishment." later he called the president a childish bully. >> it's constructive in fifth grade, but, um... it may allow a child to get his way, but that's not how our government works. >> reporter: reports say caucus member mark sandford was told that the president wants someone to run against him in next year's republican primary. speaker of the house paul ryan told "cbs this morning"'s norah o'donnell he's unhappy that mr. trump now wants to work with democrats to pass health care. >> the president of the united states is saying he's going to work with democrats. >> yeah, i know he's been saying that. i don't want that to happen. you know why? i want a patient-centered system. i don't want government running health care. >> reporter: that prompted tennessee senator bob corker, known for reaching across the aisle to join the circular firing squad, tweeting, "we have come a long way when the speaker of one party urging the president not to work with the
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other party to solve a problem." republican senator ted cruz said republicans need to stop aiming their cannons at each other, but apparently, scott, all it takes is an angry tweet from the president to set the republicans' guns ablazing. >> pelley: chip reid at the capitol. north carolina's controversial law dictating which public restrooms transgender people must use was repealed today. north carolina was under enormous pressure from canceled conventions and companies leaving the state. as mark strassmann explains, change was finally forced by court action-- not judicial, basketball. >> those in favor vote aye. those opposed no. >> reporter: nothing about today's vote to overturn north carolina's bathroom law eased the hard feelings on either side. conservative republican senator dan bishop. >> this bill is at best a punt, at worst it is a betrayal of principle. >> reporter: juaquin carcano, a
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transgender male, also felt betrayed. the democratic lawmaks promised to have our backs, to help protect us, and that was just empty promises. >> reporter: for the last year, north carolina law mandated that people use public bathrooms that match the gender on their birth certificates. civil rights and l.g.b.t.q. groups were outraged. newly elected democratic governor roy cooper promised a clean repeal. but under the new law, state lawmakers can still regulate public bathrooms. and it prohibits local municipalities from passing non- discrimination ordinances through 2020. >> for the win! north carolina! >> reporter: what pressured state lawmakers to act was the state's love affair with basketball. the ncaa set a deadline of today to overturn the law or lose the chance to host ncaa championship events through 2022. >> you resent that basketball seemed to be the priority? >> definitely. that's what's forcing people to
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make a decision over our lives? >> reporter: what's now critical but still unclear is whether companies that have boycotted the state over the last year believe this new law goes far enough. scott, the ncaa said that they hope to make a decision on what they believe some time next week. >> pelley: mark strassmann, thanks. in a major reversal in america's policy on the syrian civil war, today secretary of state rex tillerson signaled that the u.s. will no longer insist on the removal of syria's dictator, bashar al-assad. assad's war on his own people has killed 400,000 and triggered a global refugee crisis. secretary tillerson spoke today after meeting with turkey's president and elizabeth palmer is in ankara. >> reporter: in a brief photo op, secretary of state tillerson wore his best diplomatic smile, and so did president recep tayyip erdogan.
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but behind closed doors, turkey has some serious bones to pick with the united states. ( gunshots ) top of the list, the war against isis in syria, right on turkey's border. with few soldiers of its own on the ground, the u.s. has teamed up with a battle-hardened kurdish force called the y.p.g. but to turkey, the y.p.g. is a bitter enemy and a terrorist group. it is demanding the u.s. cut off its support, something mr. tillerson would not promise to do. >> what we discussed today were options that are available to us. they are difficult options. let me be very frank. these are not easy decisions. >> reporter: that didn't satisfy the turkish foreign minister, who accused the u.s. of fighting one terrorist group, isis, with another, the y.p.g. ( gunshots ) so much of this region is currently violent and unstable. both turkey and the u.s. want to change that. and at the very end of the news conference, mr. tillerson
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appeared to signal a policy shift to that end. >> i think the status and the longer-term status of president assad will be decided by the syrian people. >> reporter: now, that's what the russians have been saying for some time, scott, although if decided by the syrian people is actually code for elections, it's hard to see how that can work with a quarter of the syrian population having fled the country. >> pelley: elizabeth palmer in the turkish capital tonight. thanks, liz. more than 100,000 people are in imminent danger of starving to death in the east african country of south sudan. the famine emergency is the result of a civil war that has wiped out agriculture and a rainy season that has cut off half the country. the united nations says five million people there can't be sure where their next meal is coming from, but for some it's coming from the sky. debora patta is there.
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>> 917 you're clear to drop. >> reporter: hope for the village of maar is pinned on the skies. the scorched village has not had food for six months. jubilant laborers hired for the day rushed to help sort the supplies dropped by the red cross. it's too dangerous to bring food to maar by road, so air drops are the only way to get some kind of nutrition to this community. food is the latest weapon in the civil war where aid convoys are regularly ambushed by warring militias. despite months of waiting, villagers line up patiently to get their food, including nyaruach chuol. the 110-pound bag of sorghum and beans weighs about the same as she does. the food will help feed her family of ten, now facing a cholera outbreak on top of the food shortages. her father, chuol jotijiok, is
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wasting away. "i have a sore stomach," he says. "there is nothing to eat but leaves and fruit. sometimes i have nothing." but not everyone gets help today. ujiwami bei bol is new to the region and not registered with the red cross. she fled the fierce fighting 300 miles away. "we were sleeping and then the war came to us," she said. "i saw the soldiers shoot my children and burn my house to the ground." heavily pregnant, she fled with her two surviving children, walking for 24 days to find safety. amazingly, she gave birth to a healthy boy in the bush along the way, but bol's gamble didn't work. there is no extra food. "i don't know anyone here," she says. "i just sit under a tree and hope people will help me."
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but everyone here all ready has too many hungry stomachs to fill. there just isn't room for one more. debora patta, cbs news, juba, south sudan. >> pelley: coming up next on the "cbs evening news," why pedestrian deaths are climbing rapidly. proof of less joint pain and clearer skin. this is my body of proof that i can take on psoriatic arthritis with humira. humira works by targeting and helping to block a specific source of inflammation that contributes to both joint and skin symptoms. it's proven to help relieve pain, stop further joint damage, and clear skin in many adults. humira is the #1 prescribed biologic for psoriatic arthritis. humira can lower your ability to fight infections, including tuberculosis. serious, sometimes fatal infections and cancers, including lymphoma, have happened; as have blood, liver,
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sometimes to think that other families are going through what we're going through, but there are thousands and thousands of families doing that. >> reporter: since casey's death, the number of pedestrians dying in crashes have soared, up 22% in the last two years, to nearly 6,000 deaths in 2016 alone, the highest in decades. have people just forgotten on the look both ways? >> people have forgotten to look both ways. they're too busy looking at their phones. >> reporter: jonathan adkins runs the governor's highway safety association which did the study. he said distracted walkers and drivers are the issue. so is alcohol. 15% of the crashes involved a drunk driver, while 34% of those killed were walking drunk. >> we've done a really good job of encouraging people not to drink and drive, but we don't see messaging about not drinking and walking. >> reporter: whatever the cause, the accidents can happen in an instant. this woman was lucky. she survived. but so many others, like casey feldman, never made it home.
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>> she was beginning her life. she was about to become that reporter. and it was all taken away in just a few seconds. >> reporter: this increase comes as communities across the country are working to become more walkable. scott, the majority of these crashes happen at night, often on rural or suburban roads. >> pelley: kris van cleve for us tonight. kris, thanks. coming up, for millions march is going out like a lion. your eyes work as hard as you do. but do they need help making more of their own tears? if you have chronic dry eye caused by reduced tear production due to inflammation, restasis multidose™ can help... with continued use twice a day, every day, one drop at a time. restasis multidose™ helps increase your eyes' natural ability to produce tears, which may be reduced by inflammation due to chronic dry eye. restasis multidose™ did not increase tear production
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high winds could affect millions of people tonight from the midwest to the gulf. in louisiana today, a waterspout took a spin on lake pontchartrain. the storms move into the northeast tomorrow. next, what goes up must go up again. type 2 diabetes, listen up. we're not professional athletes. but that doesn't mean we're giving up. i'm in this for me. for me. along with diet and exercise, farxiga helps lower blood sugar in adults with type 2 diabetes. lowering a1c by up to 1.2 points. do not take if allergic to farxiga. if you experience symptoms of a serious allergic reaction such as rash, swelling, difficulty breathing or swallowing, stop taking and seek medical help right away. do not take farxiga if you have severe kidney problems, are on dialysis, or have bladder cancer. tell your doctor right away if you have blood or red color in your urine or pain while you urinate. farxiga can cause serious side effects
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they work fast and don't taste chalky. mmmmm...amazing. i have heartburn. alka seltzer heartburn relief chews. enjoy the relief. >> three, two, one-- >> pelley: spacex launched another falcon 9 rocket this evening, and it became the first rocket booster of its kind to be used a second time. manuel bojorquez is at the kennedy space center. manuel? >> reporter: well, scott, that falcon 9 rocket took off from that pad behind me and minutes later landed back on earth after
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delivering a satellite into space, proving that reusability could save millions in future launches. >> we have commit and we have liftoff. >> reporter: kennedy space center's pad 39a has launched space history, from apollo-- >> the space shuttle spreads its wings. >> reporter: --to the space shuttle. >> liftoff of the falcon 9. >> reporter: now spacex is hoping to achieve another milestone. >> you can see it descending there. >> reporter: by relaunching a used rocket, the falcon 9, after successfully landing it on earth last year. >> that's going to help lower costs. >> reporter: cbs news space consultant bill harwood. >> just like a science fiction movie, coming down with that tail of fire and landing bull's- eye right on the target. >> reporter: a spacex rep compared it to launching a pencil over the empire state building and having it land on a plate on the other side, with the tip pointing up. spacex has stuck the landing eight out of 13 times.
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but it's still risky. although this rocket landed back on earth about a year ago, spacex says it can have them ready for relaunch in about four months. the goal is to make that even faster. gwynne shotwell is spacex president and c.o.o.ooas you land, taking it over to the launchpad and reflying it again, we might be a couple years away from that, but that's certainly the intent, as well. >> reporter: but reusing a rocket is only the first step before the giant leap spacex hopes to make, a mission to mars. manuel bojorquez, cbs news at kennedy space center. >> pelley: and that's the "cbs evening news." for all of us at cbs news all around the world, good night. captioning sponsored by cbs captioned by media access group at wgbh
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rejecting the idea of increased gas taxes and fees to repair our roads. this evening, they are sending a clear message in our exclusive poll. it could be a huge road block new at 6:00 california voters are rejecting more taxes to repair state infrastructure. it could be a roadblock for governor brown. >> people unwilling to pay for crumbling roads. kpix 5's melissa caen has the results of our exclusive poll. >> reporter: yeah. liz, i'm here in san francisco. we just did not have it go too far to find evidence of california's crumbling roads. you can see the potholes and the bumpy roads. now, the california department of transportation is in charge of fixing and maintaining california's highways. while the caltrans budget has been getting smaller the state's budgets has been getting bigger. now the governor says it's time to get to work on the roads and he wants drivers to pay. the poll shows that's not going
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over. >> you know when you get older, you deteriorate more. did you know that? [ laughter ] >> you have to go to the doctor more often. you have to fix stuff. >> reporter: that was governor brown's pitch for a new round of taxes to repair the state's roads. his proposal would mean a 12- cent per gallon gas tax increase on an existing 18-cent tax on gas vehicle fees up an average of $48 based on the value of the car and electric cars would pay $100 extra every year since they don't pay gas taxes. to generate $5 billion annually for road repairs. >> you're going to hear a lot about taxes and a big amount of money. yes, you know, it's not chimp change. >> reporter: the average driver would pay $10 a month but our exclusive poll found that the public has ub especially about increasing the annual v