tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC July 13, 2017 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT
the next. tonight, trump defends his son. the president in paris again claiming his son did nothing wrong by meeting with that russian lawyer. and tonight, why son-in-law jared kushner is under new scrutiny. last chance. senate republicans reveal their revised healthcare bill with changes made, but already there's doubt over whether it has the votes to pass. stunning confession. the attorney for a person of interest in the disappearance of four young men says his client has made a horrifying admission. blown away. the popular spot where tourists like these gather to feel the blast of jet engines, but now it's led to a deadly tragedy. and bride surprise. a guest she'd never met before appears on her wedding day. and reveals a remarkable connection. "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. glad to have you here tonight. president trump offered an uncharacteristically muted defense of his eldest son today over donald trump jr.'s meeting to gather campaign dirt on hillary clinton from what he believed was a russian government attorney. the president is on a whirlwind trip to paris tonight, but the questions about his son's admission have trailed him. tonight the president answering, saying nothing happened from the meeting, but not acknowledging the explicit emails about the premise of the meeting. russia's support of his campaign. our kristen welker is traveling with the president and has details. >> reporter: president trump dining at the eiffel tower in paris tonight, but unable to shake the russia crisis consuming his white house. >> my son is a wonderful young man. >> reporter: steadfastly defending
his son, donald trump jr., after those revelations he met with a russian lawyer. >> he took a meeting with a russian lawyer. not a government lawyer, but a russian lawyer. zero happened from the meeting. and honestly, i think the press made a very big deal over something that really a lot of people would do. >> reporter: it is highly unusual for u.s. campaign officials to meet with people claiming to represent foreign governments offering opposition research.
it comes as the senate intelligence committee has called on trump jr. to testify. president trump telling reporters aboard air force one, "he should, if he wants to." saying "it was a short meeting and he only heard about it two or three days ago." >> i've had many people call up, oh, gee, we have information on this factor or this person or, frankly, hillary. that's very standard in politics. politics is not the nicest business in the world. >> reporter: and the president attempting to reset relations with france after he and president macron have clashed and had that tense white
knuckled first handshake at the nato summit. but today open hands. president trump even suggesting a willingness to discuss the paris climate agreement after infuriating macron by pulling out. >> something could happen with respect to the paris accord. we'll see what happens. >> reporter: the president has repeatedly disparaged the city of paris, recently saying terrorism has taken over. >> paris is no longer paris. >> reporter: today, a very different tone. >> you're going to have a very, very peaceful and beautiful paris, and i'm coming back. you better do a good job, please. otherwise you're going to make me look very bad. >> and you are always welcome. >> reporter: during a more candid moment going off script speaking to the first lady of france. >> beautiful. >> reporter: the president also touting warmer relations with russia aboard air force one, telling reporters he pressed president putin on election meddling twice and then let it
go because "what do you do? end up in a fistfight with somebody?" the president also saying he will invite president putin to the white house when the time is right. lester. >> kristen welker in paris for us tonight, thank you. the president's son-in-law and senior adviser jared kushner is also facing new scrutiny. kushner was in the meeting with that russian attorney and donald trump jr. and now democrats are questioning why he still has his security clearance or his job. nbc's peter alexander with the controversy. >> reporter: the president's daughter and son-in-law today attending an elite business conference in sun valley, idaho, amid swirling questions about the russian connection and those revealing emails. >> jared kushner should be fired or he should resign. >> he was potentially compromised inside the white house. if he doesn't get fired, then there's clearly a double standard. >> reporter: kushner now under scrutiny for sitting in that meeting during the campaign with a kremlin-connected russian lawyer, later omitting it on his security clearance
form, a form he's amended three times, a kushner confidant tells nbc news, adding more than 100 foreign contacts, all of them previously undisclosed, including the russian am for and the head of a russian state-owned bank. >> that's something no one else would get away with. security would set its hair on fire and would be rubber stamping a denial before the paper -- you know, the ink was dry. >> reporter: kushner's lawyer says the form was prematurely submitted with errors. ultimately the president is the only person who can revoke kushner's top security clearance or fire him. >> he is the president's son-in-law, and so long as he's got the ear and the trust of the president, nothing can touch him. >> reporter: kushner's the one individual in the russia investigation who helped run the campaign, the transition and now works directly for the president. tonight, looking to protect their clients, a source with direct knowledge of the discussions tells nbc news the lawyers for the president, his son and son-in-law have agreed that they and their clients need to be more disciplined when it comes to communicating with one another about the russia case.
peter alexander, nbc news, the white house. senate republicans face a crucial battle for votes in their own party this evening after coming out with their latest healthcare bill. this could be the last best chance for republicans to get significant healthcare reform passed. nbc's kasie hunt tonight on what's in the bill and what's not. >> reporter: senate republicans with no room for error tonight. hours after unveiling a new healthcare bill, two gop senators have already said they won't vote for it. >> this bill doesn't repeal obamacare. >> i've been very vocal about my concerns. >> reporter: senator majority leader mitch mcconnell has to convince every one of the 50 remaining republicans to vote yes or the bill fails. what's your bet on whether mitch mcconnell can pull this off? >> well, he's good. he's pulled more than one rabbit out of the hat. >> reporter: to try and win over moderates still on the fence, the new bill includes $45 billion to fight the opioid epidemic, $70 billion more to stabilize insurance markets and help lower income americans pay
for care and keeps some of obamacare's taxes on wealthy americans. >> everybody is looking for an idea that is more republican and does not run into the concept you're taking money from poor people to give it to rich people. >> reporter: but the new bill doesn't restore any of the deep medicaid cuts. and it includes a conservative proposal allowing people to buy cheap catastrophic insurance without required obamacare benefits like maternity and mental health services. >> i have always believed the consumer freedom amendment is the key to getting the 50. >> reporter: mcconnell huddling in his office today with holdouts, trying to convince them they can't walk away from their promise to repeal obamacare. because of americans like loretta thompson who owns a small equipment repair business outside of seattle. insurance deductibles for her 19 employees have quadrupled under obamacare. >> there has got to be a better way to provide insurance for everybody but to also level the playing field so that small businesses aren't at a disadvantage. >> reporter: republican governors are also a critical piece of this puzzle because many have
pressured their senators to protect state money for medicaid. that's on the agenda tomorrow for vice president mike pence when he meets with nevada governor brian sandoval at a gathering in rhode island. lester? >> kasie hunt at the capitol, thank you. there's late word this evening of a shocking, new development in the case of four missing young men in pennsylvania. a lawyer for the person of interest in custody in the case says his client has now confessed to killing all four of them. nbc's stephanie gosk has the latest. >> reporter: in pennsylvania tonight a stunning confession. >> cosmo dinardo gave a full confession to the district attorney. in favor of that, the commonwealth will not be seeking the death penalty. >> reporter: 20-year-old cosmo dinardo tells police he participated in the murder of these four men, according to his attorney. all of them missing since last week. jimi patrick disappeared july 5th, two days before close friends mark sturgis and tom meo. dean finocchiaro was
last seen getting into his car the same night. pennsylvania police are excavating what they are calling a common grave. more than 12 feet deep on a sprawling multimillion dollar estate belonging to dinardo's parents. multiple bodies have been discovered. for now only one identified, 19-year-old finocchiaro. >> those dogs could smell these poor boys 12 1/2 feet below the ground. >> reporter: state and local police, with help from the fbi, have been working around the clock to process this scene. just down this road, friends and family have been gathering daily under a tent, waiting. >> you wouldn't expect anything like this to happen to a kid like jimi, who is such a people person. >> reporter: earlier this week, police named dinardo as a person of interest, holding him in custody after he allegedly tried to sell meo's car. in court documents, dinardo is described by police as suffering from mental illness, at one point involuntarily committed to a mental institution.
tonight, there remains one big question -- why were these four men the victims? stephanie gosk, nbc news, bucks county, pennsylvania. with summer travel season in full swing, the next time you fly internationally, you may experience a strict new security measure at the gate. homeland security is rolling out new biometric facial recognition technology to verify the identity of passengers leaving the u.s., including american citizens. nbc's tom costello explains how it works. >> as you approach the gate, your photo will be taken. please keep your boarding pass out. >> reporter: at washington dulles, long lines for the double decker flight to dubai today. >> one more time, just look straight ahead for me, please. >> reporter: and a new final security check for every passenger who boards. >> can you take your glasses off and look straight ahead. >> reporter: a facial recognition kiosk comparing the outbound passenger's face with all photos already on file in passports,
visas or other sources. >> we've run the fingerprints in advance. we've run the biographic vetting in advance. we know it's accurate and belongs to the person we expected it to. >> reporter: while we were there today, customs officers arrested a passenger, the man wearing a hoodie. an american with an active arrest warrant. congress ordered the biometric upgrade years ago. now testing in washington, houston, atlanta and chicago before rolling out nationally. as homeland security tries to keep better track of who is entering the country and who's leaving. >> the real problem in immigration today is not so much people coming over the border but people overstaying their visas. and we don't have a way of tracking that. >> reporter: the ultimate hope is they can integrate the biometric screening process with the airline check-in process, doing away with paper tickets. in boston, jetblue is already testing biometric check-in. >> it's probably safer, more secure. >> it is pretty cool. i just hope i look good. >> reporter: to address privacy concerns, the kiosk photos of u.s. citizens must be deleted within two weeks.
>> we're in a world where perhaps privacy is less of a concern than violent extremism. >> reporter: as facial recognition goes from tagging friends on facebook to homeland security. tom costello, nbc news, washington. an update on that close call at san francisco's airport that we reported this week. in a report released today, canadian investigators say an air canada plane came within just 100 feet of plowing into a line of planes sitting on the taxiway preparing to depart. canadian investigators also say the sole air traffic controller was busy coordinating with another facility and didn't intervene until one of the planes on the taxiway saw what was happening and raised alarm. hundreds of people have been arrested in the biggest crackdown ever on healthcare fraud. authorities say in all, over $1 billion was billed from the government. among those charged, doctors accused of vastly overprescribing opioids, some of them blamed with causing overdose deaths. we get more from our
justice correspondent pete williams. >> reporter: federal agents in new york suit up in tactical gear preparing to raid a medical clinic in brooklyn. their target, dr. abraham demoz, accused of paying patients to accept treatment they didn't need so he could bill medicare for millions. he pleaded not guilty. it's part of the largest health care fraud roundup ever. more than 412 people in 30 states charged with cheating the government out of $1.3 billion. 120 of them accused of illegally prescribing or distributing opioid painkillers. >> in some cases, we had addicts packed into standing-room-only waiting rooms, waiting for those prescriptions. >> reporter: it's a big factor, prosecutors say, in a national epidemic. an astonishing 59,000 deaths from drug overdoses last year, now the leading cause of death for americans under 50, with opioids responsible for nearly two-thirds of those deaths. >> these are people that don't have
cancer, that aren't in hospice, that might -- you might expect would need high dosages. these are individuals that don't have those conditions. >> reporter: in texas, dr. howard diamond is accused of causing the overdose deaths of five people. he, too, pleaded not guilty. and in a rare move, this oklahoma doctor, reagan nichols, was charged with murder for causing opioid overdose deaths of five people. one of her former patients got hooked seeking pain relief. >> i knew that i was very lucky that i hadn't died. >> reporter: the doctor's lawyer says she'll plead not guilty. and federal agents say when doctors prescribe opioids that aren't needed, those drugs often end up on the street adding to the national epidemic. lester? >> pete williams in washington, thanks. a nobel prize winning champion of human rights in china has died. liu xiaobo was a leading dissident who came to prominence in 1989 during the pro-democracy protests in tiananmen square that were crushed by the chinese government. he spent much of his life in prison or
under house arrest, and authorities would not let him out to accept his nobel peace prize. he was still in custody when he died of liver cancer today at the age of 61. still ahead tonight, beyond the beaches. it's a popular activity for tourists at a leading caribbean destination, but this week it turned deadly. also the handwritten call for help passed through the slot of an atm. we'll tell you how it turned out.
we're back with a popular pastime at an airport in the caribbean where people get incredibly close to jet airliners taking off to feel the powerful wind created by the thrust of the engines. but now for the first time that fun activity for tourists has turned deadly. we get more from nbc's gabe gutierrez. >> reporter: on the caribbean island of st. maarten, it's been an unofficial tourist attraction for years, beach goers gathering right next to the airport runway watching planes land just feet over their heads and take off right in front of them. the powerful engine thrusts often blowing tourists into the water at maho beach. this dramatic video from 2012 showing one woman being tossed into a concrete barrier. she survived. but on wednesday an unidentified 57-year-old woman from new zealand traveling with her husband and another couple was killed when she was blown into the same wall. >> she was the only one who slipped or lost her grip.
>> reporter: a journalist on the island says more than a decade ago authorities installed larger signs and double fencing to warn tourists to stay away from the dangerous area. >> we call them thrill seekers. >> reporter: why can tourists get so close? because the location of the airport is so unusual. the beginning of the runway is just 160 feet from that fence where they gather and about the same distance from the waterline. >> the velocity of the wind behind a jet engine at takeoff is well in excess of 100 miles an hour. >> reporter: tonight officials in st. maarten says police patrols are on alert urging thrillseekers to avoid a risk that for the first time has turned deadly. gabe gutierrez, nbc news. we're back in a moment with the emmy nominations. did your favorite show make the cut?
while helping build a habitat for humanity home in canada. a spokeswoman says carter, who is 92 and a cancer survivor, became dehydrated while working in the hot sun. he was taken to the hospital as a precaution. habitat's ceo says the former president told those at the site he was okay. the nominations have been announced for this year's primetime emmy awards. tied for the most nods at 22 are "saturday night live," which got a big boost from the election season, and hbo's cowboys and androids drama "westworld." hbo got the most nominations overall with 111, followed by netflix with 92, and nbc with 64. customers got quite a surprise in texas when an atm paid out much more than cash. it was also dispensing written notes with urgent pleas for help. turns out a worker got trapped in the room leading to the back of the atm without his phone or key card. so he slipped the notes through the atm's receipt slot.
finally tonight, the story of a remarkable surprise for a bride at her wedding. the bride is also a mother who had recently lost her son, and when an unexpected guest showed up, it became a story from the heart. here's nbc's catie beck. >> reporter: marriage vows in an open field under alaska's mountain sky. a dream wedding for bride becky turney. but wildest dreams never imagined what would happen just before "i do." >> we have a seat saved for our son, tristan, who couldn't make it. >> reporter: a seat saved for becky's late son who died at age 19, tristan, an organ donor who gave life to several others. >> one of those young men who received his heart is here today. >> reporter: a stunning surprise at the altar, meeting the young man now alive because of her son's heart. embracing a stranger, but one who carries a precious part of her.
>> he physically brought my son's heart to my wedding. it's just amazing. >> reporter: becky's husband kelly planned the surprise gift after jacob made contact online months before. >> building that relationship with jacob has probably been one of the most amazing parts of this whole process. >> reporter: jacob, born with a congenital heart defect, had his first transplant at 2 years old. after a heart attack at 20, he needed a new one to survive. >> i'm very aware of how much of a gift this heart is and that, you know, not everyone gets a gift like this. >> reporter: and becky says her wedding gift, to know jacob, will keep giving for the rest of her life. >> it's incredible. to get to be a part of his life and watch tristan's legacy live on. >> reporter: days after the wedding, jacob seems one of the family. stirring memories of a life lost, making new ones. >> huh? >> yeah. that's so cool. >> reporter: with a life saved.