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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  July 12, 2017 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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so clear. >> it is. >> yeah, it is phenomenal. out of this world. >> thanks for joining us at 5:00. "nightly news" is next. >> see you at 6:00. bye. breaking news tonight. exclusive video showing president trump with some of the key players in his son's russia meeting controversy as the president denies any knowledge of it until days ago. in the hot seat. president trump's pick for fbi director vows strict independence at his confirmation hearing. why he rejects the president's labeling of the russia probe as a witch hunt. cancer breakthrough. the cutting-edge treatment that supercharges a patient's own immune cells. the first child to receive it now cancer free for years. trillion-ton iceberg. one of the biggest ever recorded breaking away from antarctica. is climate change to blame? and taking a mental health day. why so many are applauding one boss's response to something so many workers can
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relate to. "nightly news" begins right now. from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. good evening to our viewers in the west. we're glad to have you with us tonight. president trump says this evening he was unaware until recently of the trump tower meeting held last year in which his son donald jr. hoped to receive dirt on hillary clinton from a russian government attorney. the president defending his eldest son in an interview with reuters just as exclusive nbc video surfaces of the then real estate magnate celebrating with some of the figures now tied to the latest twist in the russian controversy. nbc's peter alexander has the latest. >> reporter: tonight this video shot exclusively by nbc shows donald trump in 2013 attending a birthday party in moscow for his former business partner aras
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agalarov, tied to vladimir putin. also there his son emin, a russian pop star who asked a trust add soviet during the campaign to set up a meeting with donald trump jr. and a russian government attorney. >> you like russians. >> i like russians. i like him. >> reporter: with the white house under siege, the president's now acting as defender in chief. tonight telling reuters, "i think many people would have held that meeting." arguing he does not fault his son. earlier today on twitter declaring don jr. "open, transparent and innocent." calling the russia investigation "the greatest witch hunt in political history." even as the younger trump acknowledges regrets. >> in retrospect, i probably would have done things a little differently. i know more now, but hindsight's always 20/20. >> reporter: trump jr. insisting no meaningful information was exchanged, adding he never told his father about the meeting. >> it was such a nothing, there was nothing to tell. >> reporter: the president's personal lawyer fending off accusations of collusion. >> there's no law that's been violated here. >> there was not a violation of the law here. >> the meeting that took place is not illegal. >> reporter: also
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tonight, asked if he believed putin's denial of election meddling, mr. trump says, "something happened and we have to find out what it is" while touting america's improving relationship with putin. >> there are many other cases where getting along can be a very positive thing, but always putin is going to want russia and trump is going to want united states, and that's the way it is. >> the meeting was an ideal outcome, not for president trump and america's interests, but for putin and russia's interests. >> reporter: tonight president trump says he didn't know about his son's meeting with that russian lawyer until a couple of days ago. the president travels overnight to paris, where he'll meet with the french president and tomorrow he's scheduled to take reporters' questions. lester? >> peter alexander, thank you. after the last head of the fbi was unceremoniously dumped by president trump, the man the president has chosen to replace him was prodded to publicly declare his independence from the white house at his senate confirmation hearing today. chris wray is widely regarded as well qualified to lead the fbi. nonetheless, after the
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messy firing of james comey amid the russian influence investigation, wray faced some unusually pointed questions. our justice correspondent pete williams has details. >> reporter: christopher wray entered the senate hearing room with one overriding mission -- demonstrate his independence from the president who nominated him after firing fbi director james comey. >> i will never allow the fbi's work to be driven by anything other than the facts, the law and the impartial pursuit of justice, period, full stop. >> reporter: he said no one, including donald trump, asked him to pledge loyalty, something comey said the president asked of him. >> it got very awkward. and i then said, you'll always have honesty from me. >> no one asked me for any kind of loyalty oath at any point during this process, and i sure as heck didn't offer one. >> if the president asked you to do something unlawful or unethical, what do you say?
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>> first, i would try to talk him out of it, and if that failed, i would resign. >> reporter: wray, age 50, is a former federal prosecutor in atlanta and then a senior official in the george w. bush justice department at a time when comey was deputy attorney general and his boss. wray was careful to defend comey's character, discounting the president's description. >> you don't think director comey is a nut job, right? >> that's never been my experience with him. >> yeah. >> reporter: but wray also said comey was wrong to publicly criticize hillary clinton's handling of classified e-mails when announcing last year that she should not be charged with a crime. wray said he would make sure special counsel robert mueller has everything needed to examine russia's election meddling despite the president's dim view of that investigation. >> i'm asking you as the future fbi director, do you consider this endeavor a witch hunt? >> i do not consider director mueller to be on a witch hunt. >> reporter: he said he has no reason to doubt that russia was cyberhacking the election. many senate democrats
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said they'll vote to confirm him. so despite the strong opposition to how the president created this job opening, it appears that christopher wray will be confirmed by early august with bipartisan support. lester? >> pete williams, thank you. turning now to what's being called a breakthrough in the battle against cancer. today an fda advisory panel unanimously recommended the approval of america's first gene therapy treatment. it actually changes a patient's dna to better fight the disease. a development decades in the making, and it all started with one little girl. nbc's rehema ellis has been following her story. >> reporter: today's landmark decision started with a young pioneer, emily whitehead, now literally the textbook example of this groundbreaking therapy. look at this face. this says i'm happy. >> couldn't be more proud. >> reporter: we met emily a year and a half ago at age 10, still cancer-free after being diagnosed with an acute form of leukemia when she was 5. >> at one point the doctor came in and
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said, you need to call your family in because emily's not going to be here tomorrow. >> reporter: but doctors at the university of pennsylvania and children's hospital of philadelphia developed the car t cell treatment. emily was the first child in the world to receive it. >> she's cancer free. and i couldn't believe it. i just -- i thought it was a dream. >> reporter: here's how it works. from a blood sample, a patient's own immune cells are separated out and then genetically reprogrammed, turning them into superfighters that hunt out and destroy cancer cells. at the fda hearing today, fighting back tears, tom whitehead testified next to emily. >> if you want to see what a cure looks like, she's standing right beside me. >> reporter: this fall the full fda is expected to approve this treatment for relapsing leukemia in children and young adults. it's grueling, but 83% of patients went into remission.
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the ultimate goal, try it on other cancers. >> it's hard for me to even articulate how exciting this is. i mean, this is -- everybody has been working toward this for so long. >> reporter: for emily whitehead today's decision is about hope. >> it's kind of exciting because it will get the treatment to a lot more kids. >> reporter: a historic step in science thanks to a brave young girl. rehema ellis, nbc news. >> pretty amazing, isn't it? at the bottom of the world tonight a massive fracture on the continent of antarctica has caused one of the biggest icebergs on record to break away into the ocean. it's so big it could fill lake erie twice over. nbc news national correspondent miguel almaguer with the extraordinary details. >> reporter: tonight in antarctica a titanic shift in our planet's landscape. a massive iceberg, one of the largest in recorded history, has broken away from an ice shelf known as larsen c. its size is stunning, a block of ice
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weighing 1 trillion tons, roughly the size of delaware. >> that crack has finally gone through all the way and formed an iceberg. and that iceberg is now free to move off into the southern ocean and to melt. >> reporter: nasa is tracking it all, surveying the ice and mapping its movement. though change to ice shelves in the coldest continent on our planet is not unusual, this event is redefining geography. over the last several years scientists watched the rift slowly grow, reaching 120 miles in length, a 2200-square-mile chunk of ice breaking away. that separation is called calving. scientists say for now there is no consensus whether this break is linked to climate change but say the region is in peril. >> antarctica is losing mass at an alarming rate.
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and that is a climate warming signal that is much more important than this iceberg. >> reporter: tonight scientists say the iceberg will likely have no direct impact on our lives but warn this is a snapshot of our changing world. miguel almaguer, nbc news. closer to home, parts of the upper midwest are bracing for another night of severe weather. flash flooding was widespread today with up to eight feet of water in some places. some drivers found their cars submerged on flooded roads, and a boy in indiana died after being swept away in a swollen creek. air travel was backed up in detroit and chicago, where a small plane slid off a runway. chicago also saw a fantastic display of lightning. the same system caused several tornadoes late yesterday including one that damaged buildings in cedar rapids, iowa. this country's opioid crisis is forcing some to take new and unusual measures. a school district in drug-ravaged ohio will become the latest to keep a heroin antidote on hand starting this
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coming school year. supporters say it will save lives, but critics are worried about the message they say it sends to kids. here's nbc's gabe gutierrez. >> reporter: this school board in akron, ohio voted 5-1 to equip its middle and high schools with naloxone, the heroin antidote better known by its brand name, narcan. >> it's very heartbreaking to have to talk about putting something like this in our schools. but you do hope what you're doing is potentially saving a life. >> reporter: nine states have adopted laws on the use of narcan in schools. some require it, others simply encourage it. the maker of narcan began offering a free carton of the antidote to all u.s. high schools last year. in ohio, the heart of the nation's heroin epidemic, 29 teenagers died of opioid overdoses in 2016. but not everyone thinks narcan is the answer. >> i've never used narcan. won't use it till the courts make me. >> reporter: richard jones is the sheriff in butler county, ohio. he refuses to allow his deputies to carry
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the antidote because he believes it encourages drug use. >> narcan's not a cure-all, and i'm not going to have my guys do it. >> reporter: in akron the school board's only no vote said she was worried about the message stocking naloxone would send to kids. >> it looks like an afrin nasal spray. >> reporter: only trained resource officers will have access to the doses, which cost hundreds of dollars, and will be stored in secured school health clinics. >> hopefully it's one of the things that it's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. >> reporter: tonight as the heroin crisis surges, the debate is raging over how best to protect its youngest potential victims. gabe gutierrez, nbc news. there's a lot more to tell you about here this evening. still ahead, as millions of americans travel this summer, what one airline is now doing to make sure passengers don't get bumped from their flights and avoid nasty confrontations. also the big upset by an american today at wimbledon. the world's number one player taken down.
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back now with the summer travel season in full swing, there's a new effort to ease the anger and frustration from airline overbooking. united says it's trying out a new system to cut down on the problems with oversold flights three months after the world saw that video of the doctor injured as he was dragged off one of their planes by airport security. nbc's tom costello has more.
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>> please see us at the podium prior to boarding. >> reporter: it's an everyday problem in the airline industry. you show up for a flight that the airline oversold. now united airlines is working on a way to keep you and everyone else happy. >> perfect, thank you. >> reporter: while still making money. experimenting with a computer program that i.d.s oversold flights five days in advance, then e-mails frequent fliers with simple itineraries asking if their plans are flexible. if they're willing, they'll be rebooked and offered compensation. united meanwhile could then charge more for the seat. >> it's going to help keep down any interruptions on the day of the flight and make everybody happy if it works. >> reporter: just last week united apologized to a mother for giving away a toddler's seat she paid $1,000 for, forcing him to sit on her lap. in april, united passenger dr. david dao was dragged down the aisle of an oversold plane after refusing to give up his seat. >> oh, my god! >> reporter: ceo oscar munoz told lester holt united will never again remove a seated
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passenger, instead offering up to $10,000 to customers willing to be rebooked. >> and those two combined is one of the solutions because it's not just monetary, it's a combination of when can i get to my destination. >> reporter: today some passengers said they could be flexible for cash. >> if i don't have any prior commitments, then sure, i'd be willing to do it. >> i think that's a better idea than letting me get to the airport, then asking me to change my flight. >> reporter: this pilot program will only be offered to mileage plus customers for now as united looks for oversold flights and flexible customers. tom costello, nbc news, washington. we're back in a moment with big troubles for one of america's best known kids' stores.
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a jaw-dropping turn of events today at wimbledon. the number 1-ranked player in the world, andy murray, losing in an upset to sam querrey, who is now the first american men's player to reach the wimbledon semifinals in eight years. nbc's joe friar has the thrill of victory. >> reporter: with a 118-mile-an-hour ace american sam querrey conquered the world's top-ranked tennis player, andy murray, a wimbledon upset that seemed to stun even querrey. >> i'm still in a little bit of shock myself. that last point i was so happy to hit the serve and i'm just thrilled right now. >> reporter: while murray, who's british, had the home court advantage, querrey, the tournament's 24 seed, is gaining covert support. >> i'm rooting for sam. quietly. >> i think sam has a really good serve. >> reporter: querrey is a california native, a lanky 6'6" big serve player who's found success though not necessarily stardom on the court. >> he's really just playing with a lot of confidence, and i think, you know, the
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further he gets into this tournament the more loose he is because he's got nothing to lose. >> reporter: he's the first american man to reach wimbledon's semifinals since andy roddick in 2009. >> it feels great. i mean, this is a dream come true, and to be in the semifinals and to have it be at wimbledon makes it even a little more special. >> reporter: this is familiar territory for venus williams, who takes center court tomorrow. at 37 she's the oldest woman to reach the semifinals here since 1994. this fortnight marks 20 years since her wimbledon debut, but this year she's dealing with the emotions of last month's headline-making car crash. now she's fighting for her sixth wimbledon title while another american looks for his first, hoping to shock the world again. joe friar, nbc news, london. tough times for another retailer in this country as gymboree announced it will close 350 of its stores. the kids' clothing chain filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month. the closings represent
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about a quarter of the stores under the gymboree name. the chain has faced growing competition from other retailers who are moving into children's clothing and from online retailers. we've got a new twist to the story we first reported last week involving that photo that investigators from the history channel say shows amelia earhart alive and well after surviving a crash landing in the marshall islands back in 1937. researchers in japan say they found the same photo, publish in a japanese book on the pacific islands in 1935, two years before earhart crashed. the history channel says it's exploring the latest developments and will be transparent in its investigation. when we come back, who hasn't needed a mental health day? we'll go to one company where they're actually embracing that concept. next at 6: beware of a social
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media trap. ===jess vo=== the trick thieves are using to lure people into a robbery ===raj vo=== plus a new look at the near miss at sfo this animation shows how close a jet came to landing onto an occupied runway ===next close=== next. finally tonight, a woman in michigan just might have done more to highlight the importance of mental health in this country than anyone else recently. simply by what she told her boss when she called in sick recently. and it drew a surprising response that has touched so many others. here's nbc's kevin tibbles with the
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story. >> reporter: in the go, go, go of today's pressurized work world madeline parker did something many wouldn't have the courage to do. >> i took a mental health day. >> reporter: madeline works in ann arbor, michigan for the internet chat company olark. she sent this message. "i'm taking today and tomorrow to focus on my mental health. hopefully i'll be back next week refreshed and back to 100%." but truth be told, she was also a little worried. >> a lot of people don't think that mental health is health. they think that you aren't trying hard enough and that's not how it works. it's an illness. >> first thing that went through my mind, it's like wow, that takes a lot of bravery. >> reporter: to her surprise the ceo replied all the way from palo alto, california. "you are an example to us all and help cut through the stigma so we can all bring our whole selves to work." >> you're already trusting people to stay home when they have the flu. trust them to stay home when they're not mentally all there. >> reporter: madeline, who battles depression
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and anxiety, now knows not to be anxious about needing time. her tweet of her boss's reply touched tens of thousands. mental health is just as serious and real as physical health. "very important to break that stigma." "any jobs where you work?" her advice to companies? >> make sure that people know that this is a safe space and that mental health days are allowed and that mental health is health. because it is. >> reporter: for this employee taking the time to heal the mind makes for a healthier workplace. kevin tibbles, nbc news, chicago. >> we appreciate you spending part of your evening with us. 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. right now at 6:
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a set up -- via facebook. promising to buy or sell popular >> next thing you know he pulls a gun and say i shoot you. >> a setup via facebook. they robbed victims at gunpoint. the news at 6:00 starts right now. good evening and thanks for being with us. i'm raj mathai. >> i'm jessica augeri. they used facebook marketplace. some thieves with a pension of sneakers are? jail accused of pulling off nine armed rob res. jodi hernandez joins us with exclusive details on the crime spree and now it happens.
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>> reporter: jessica, that robbery series took place in richmond and rodeo over a six-month period. most of them involve the popular shoes y ereezys. there is a brand-new exchange zone to keep folks safe. >> it's really popular. real light. >> reporter: he shows us what he says are the hottest sneakers on the market. the adidas kanye west collaboration called yeezeys. when he put up some for $680, he got an instant bite. a buyer that wanted to meet up to do the deal in the parking will the of this richmond shopping center. >> shopping mall. there is burger king. there is a bank. so it seemed to be a really safe place, you know. >> reporter: instead of handing over cash for the shoes, the

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