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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  May 16, 2017 7:00pm-7:10pm EDT

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breaking news breaking news tonight, president trump asked fbi director comey to drop the investigation into michael flynn according to a memo written by the fbi director himself. is it obstruction of justice? justice? a stunning development as we come on the air. also secret telligence shock waves, nbc news learned israel is the source of the information the president gave the russians. fallout all over the world. a better night's sleep. new help for millions unable to rest easy, a revolutionary device patients say is life changing. inspiring america, triumphing after a tragic accident, an acrobat soaring to new heights. "nightly news" begins right now. acrobat soaring to
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right now. >> from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is "nightly news" with lester holt. >> good evening, there's breaking news on multiple fronts involving president trump. new details about the sensitive intelligence the president apparently shared with russian diplomats in a meeting last week and more in a moment. first, the new bombshell that landed on the white house a short time ago, possible evidence the president asked fbi director james comey to drop his investigation into the president's former national security advisor, michael flynn. flynn's contacts with russia are the subject of an ongoing fbi probe comey was leading up until he was fired by the president a week ago. tonight, multiple sources confirm to nbc news the existence of a comey memo detailing the president's request. let's get details now from our justice coem
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>> reporter: according to a memo comey wrote to his own files in february, president trump suggested comey should end any fbi investigation on whether michael flynn lied to the fbi when he denied meeting with russia's ambassador to the u.s. according to the memo the president made his request the day after flynn stepped down as national security advisor. i hope you can let this go the president said according to the memo. he is a good guy. the president told lester holt last week that he had high regard for flynn. >> this man served for many years. he's a general. in my opinion a very good person. >> reporter: the white house says this account first reported by the "new york times" and confirmed by associates of comey is incorrect, the president has never asked mr. comey or any else to end any investigation. the white house officials said in a statement and pointing to a comment made at a senate hearing last week made by the acting fbi director asked if mr. comey's
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firing as fbi director had interfered with its investigations. >> the work of the men and women of the fbi continues despite any change in circumstances, any decisions. any change in circumstances, any there has been no effort to impede our investigation to date. >> reporter: from all indications the investigation of flynn has never stopped into his contacts with the russians. officials say a federal grand jury has issued sympathies in the case. none of this comes from mr. comey directly. he has yet to say anything publicly since he was fired a week ago tonight but he did tell friends and a few people at the fbi about what he wrote in that memo at the time and they're the ones describing it now. people at the fbi strongly believe comey was fired because he wouldn't shut down the entire russia investigation. >> pete, i know you've been talking to legal experts and sources. what are they saying about possible criminal action here? >> not surprisingly, they're saying it depends. first get the
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and not just rely on people who can tell what it said, to see what it said and perhaps talk to mr. comey. it all comes down to the person's intent, what did the president have in mind? did he actually intend to try to shut down the investigation or saying he hoped it would end, lester. >> pete williams tonight, starting it off. thanks. we want to bring in now our political director of moderator of "meet the press," chuck todd, what do you make of all of this? >> this is a gut check moment now for congressional republicans. they've already been taking on a lot of water politically either having to defend or deflect actions by president trump. just today many republicans were not wanting to see any cameras running around capitol hill, not wanting to comment on the story you're about to report on next, this issue of the president sharing classified information for the russians. level. this becomes this -- introduces this idea of obstructi
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now congressional republicans even though it's their own party's president they will have no choice but to start issuing this becomes this -- introduces this idea of obstruction of justice. inclusive's a memo, >> now congressional congressional republicans even though it's their own party's president they will have no choice but to start issuing subpoenas. the president himself made that veiled threat to director comey, then former director comey saying he better hope there aren't tapes. if the white house's version of events is to be believed then the president better hope his tapes are able to do that because this now becomes comey versus the president. i can tell you this right now, comey probably has more credibility on capitol hill than the president. >> chuck todd, appreciate the analysis. now to that other major story you referred to swirling around the white house, concern over the extent of the intelligence secrets president trump shared with russian diplomats. was the information classified? the white house won'
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with our allies before it was give on the russians? the white house won't say. what country gave the u.s. the intel and was the u.s. authorized to share it? same answer. multiple sources are saying it came from israel. our chief white house contemporary, hallie jackson has details. >> reporter: tonight, the white house dodging, deflecting but not denying the president shared classified information with russia. neither is he. >> we had a great meeting with the foreign minister. we will have a lot of great success over the next coming years. >> reporter: now nbc news learned the intelligence he talked about came from israel according to officials naming that country as the key partner that provided the isis information, diplomatic dynamite six days before the president is set to visit jerusalem. the israel ambassador says his country has full confidence in our intelligence sharing with the united states. >> i'm obviously pleased to see ambassador dermer's comment and we appreciate the relationship that we have with israel and
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information we have with them. >> reporter: president trump acknowledging he did discuss with russians facts pertaining to terrorism, airline flight safety but the "washington post" saying it went further with the president describing elements of a specific plot by isis, naming this city in the islac ate's thth.tory whe th r wldhe jeoparmpornt ence adr sury ul'tonrm s t es nog legahich noing a h haresi st was t wh aroia, olroiate e yiha nvtion compromised ur cmassahe ngut lr riause he hadn en >> h brief outhe sour of inatioei t
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