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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  July 22, 2017 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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at 6:00. >> hope you join us then. like a rag dol on this saturday night, russia connection? a new report says attorney general jeff sessions discussed campaign issues with russian's ambassador during the presidential campaign. contradicting sessions testimony. the heated reaction from president trump. scorched earth. the devastating loss in california as residents return to find their homes in ruins after the worst wildfire of the year. desperate days. the growing anger and deadly protests in venezuela as the government tries to expand its power and crack down on dissent. opioid court. a new approach in battling the epidemic sending drug users immediately to treatment instead of jail. and sweet success. how one young man is building a satisfying life and business by jamming his way to success. "nightly news" begins
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now. >> announcer: from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news" with jose diaz-balart. good evening. a new report out today citing intelligence intercepts which could be an explosive revelation about attorney general jeff sessions. "the washington post" siting unnamed sources says u.s. intelligence agencies intercepted communications between the russian ambassador and moscow. those communiques reportedly show that the ambassador and then senator sessions talked about the trump campaign, something the attorney general has denied. this on a day when president trump fresh off a shakeup in his communications team was hoping to shift focus from russia to things like defense, health care and taxes. our kelly o'donnell has the story. >> reporter: with a cinematic flair, today, the marine one
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landed on the deck of the "uss gerald ford." the 45th president there to honor the 48th and an aircraft carrier bay eier bearing his name. >> may god bless and guide this warship and all who shall sail in her. >> reporter: there were tributes to those in uniform and a nod to former president dick cheney and defense secretary donald rumsfeld. both served under ford. >> they look great. they look great. >> reporter: getting down to business, president trump urged congress to deliver on higher defense spending but added another political plug. >> by the way, you can also call those senators to make sure you get health care. >> reporter: before today's pomp and ceremony, the president launched a twitter blitz. ten tweets, from demanding action on health care to attacking hillary clinton. he even noted that a president has the complete power to
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pardon. a power famously exercised by the president that trump honored today. >> you grant a full, free and absolute pardon onto richard nixon. >> reporter: but president trump insisted the only crime during his administration is leaks against us. today, his frustration seized on a new intelligence leak involving attorney general jeff sessions. >> i did not have communications with the russians. >> reporter: "the washington post" reports that u.s. intelligence officials intercepted russian ambassador kislyak told moscow he had discussed the trump campaign with sessions. a sessions' aide disputed that and said sessions stands by his testimony that he never discussed interference with any campaign. the president has publicly described a frayed relationship with sessions over his recusal overseeing the russia investigation. but the most visible shakeup happened inside the white house where a new communications director anthony
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scaramucci is taking over. and tonight, a new russia challenge for president trump. congressional leaders of both parties announced today an unexpected agreement to vote on a new package of sanctions against russia, iran and north korea. the president wanted flexibility on russia sanctions but congress intends to limit what he can do. that leaves a choice to sign off on sanctions president trump does not support or use his veto and suffer the political fallout of appearing too friendly towards russia. jose? >> kelly o'donnell at the white house, thank you. now to california where eight large wildfires are still burning tonight. many people who got caught up in the biggest of them and were forced to leave are now returning home. some are lucky. many others, however, are not. we get the latest from nbc's joe fryer. >> reporter: the most destructive wildfire in america this year crept within a mile of the historic california tourist town mariposa. >> it's awful all around us. >> reporter: when you live here, a mile can
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feel like mere inches. >> when the evacuation notice came up, i couldn't get back home. it happened so fast. >> reporter: it was gold that originally lured people here in the 1800s. this week, fire chased them away. the evacuation started days ago as angry wind-whipped flames moved closer but mike nolan stayed behind cutting fire lines around his ranch until helicopters and fire trucks showed up. >> he's a hero. he saved our home. i don't know what i'd do without him. >> reporter: today when his wife joanne returned home, her worst fears were extinguished. >> i didn't mind seeing all of the black because i could see my home. >> reporter: others aren't so lucky. the cause still unknown has destroyed 60 homes with 75,000 acres scorched, large enough to be spotted by space. as temperatures cool, crews are making progress. in mariposa, many are returning home. this gold rush town turned temporary ghost town slowly coming back to life.
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>> i think everything is getting back to normal as quickly as they can, you know. >> reporter: mariposa sits in the shadow of yosemite national park which for now remains fully operational beneath a smoky sky, a reminder of the threat looming across california. joe fryer, nbc news, los angeles. beyond california, we're following severe weather in parts of the midwest and mid-atlantic tonight. scenes like this outside chicago have been hitting the region for days now. many towns in iowa, wisconsin and illinois are under water and flood warnings continue. severe thunderstorms are in the forecast again tonight and tomorrow for wide areas of the midwest, mid-atlantic and the northeast. new fallout tonight from the shooting death of an australian woman by police in minneapolis as the victim's family and public demand details about what led to her death, a shakeup at the police department is triggering calls for even more changes. nbc's ron mott has our report tonight. >> reporter: chaos.
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>> i hear and understand your objections. >> reporter: minneapolis mayor betsey hodges sought to restore confidence in the city's police force with protesters urging the mayor be next to go. >> we're not going to be tricked by this effort, right? the former chief wasn't doing her job but we understand it's beyond the chief. the problem is institutional. >> the fiance has fought back tears. >> reporter: amid international calls for justice for just -- justine day monday who was shot and killed by the police in the alley behind her home. mayor hodges asked the chief to return home. the mayor returned and said she will not quit her job. >> i will not be resigning. >> reporter: frustrations here and in the verdict's home
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of australia have only grown since damon's death last sunday after she called 911 twice and two officers responded. the officer in the driver's seat said he heard a loud sound as she approached his vehicle. that's when his partner mohamed noor opened fire from the passenger seat killing damond. officer noor has declined to speak to city officials. both officers have been placed on administrative leave and questions remain why they didn't turn on their body cameras during the incident. >> your power is in your pure awareness. >> reporter: the 40-year-old spiritual teacher was engaged to be married. two communities worlds apart now mourning together demanding to know the truth. the mayor has said the shooting should not have happened. in the meantime, officials say a bicyclist near the scene of this tragic shooting and actually watched as officers tried to perform cpr on justine damond is cooperating with the authorities. jose? >> ron mott in minneapolis, thank you. there's a new and not so subtle hint about the north korean threat from mike
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pompeo. he said the most dangerous thing about north korea's nuclear weapons is that kim jong-un controls them. and said the most important thing we can do, he said, is separate the two. not everyone shares that view, notably russia. in moscow, keir simmons discussed the issue in an exclusive interview with russia's foreign minister. >> reporter: tonight, tension over north korea's missile program on multiple fronts. the trump administration preparing to bar american tourists from traveling to the isolated country. the cia director strongly hinting ousting the dictator kim jong-un and the russian foreign minister in an exclusive warning america against such action. >> we don't believe in a regime change anywhere. i hear very enthusiastic voices in the united states including in some parts of this administration that
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the patience has been over and they must do something because the threat is growing and growing and the intercontinental ballistic missile was launched but secretary mattis answering the question bluntly stated that the use of force against the north korean regime would mean a disaster. >> reporter: and sergey lavrov questioning america's intervention in syria. >> after the country has been liberated, the presence of the foreign troops, on the soil of syria would only be legitimate with the consent of the syrians themselves. >> reporter: because america has supported syrian rebels and opposed president assad, the u.s. presence is illegitimate, mr. lavrov says. >> those that have been sanctioned by president assad would suggest that only russia, iran and perhaps hezbollah should be allowed to
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intervene in syria. >> well, strictly speaking, yes. >> reporter: so far, a cease-fire in parts of syria broke up by the u.s., russia and jordan is holding but it's a tense truce where hundreds of thousands have died and a country carved out and russia and iran sensing a kind of victory. keir simmons, nbc news, moscow. and on the syrian issue on the fight against isis, lester holt discussed it at the security conference in aspen with dan coats, the director of national intelligence. >> take syria, for example, as you make gains against isis, is the intelligence community looking forward to, okay, we win here, what's the price of victory, what do we get for it? >> these are tough questions. what's happening in syria right now is just chaos. you've got several actors intersecting with each other.
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very difficult to try to project and stabilize the future for syria at this particular point in time. >> and you can watch much more of lester holt's interview with dan coats on our "nbc nightly news" facebook page. this has been a deadly and chaotic week in venezuela. growing anger and protests there as the country endures its worst economic crisis and for nicolas maduro, it becomes increasingly repressive. part of this is a plan by maduro that would give him even more power. on the streets of venezuela, it's a test of wills that's exploded into chaos. nearly 100 people have
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died in recent clashes between security forces and anti-government protesters. >> i've already lost two friends in the street. every time i go to the streets, i'm afraid. >> reporter: one veteran human rights lawyer says the socialist government is the worst he's ever seen. >> in three months, there have been more than 4,000 people arrested in just three months. >> reporter: on thursday, at least two people were killed during the nationwide anti-government strike. the opposition used whatever they could find, rope, tree branches, set fire to cars and trash and none of it has deterred president nicolas maduro. maduro is moving ahead with a july 30th vote for a special assembly to bypass the opposition-controlled national assembly and rewrite the constitution. critics see this as a blatant power grab taking power away from the democratically elected congress. this week, a symbolic referendum to reject maduro's plan and president trump threatened sanctions and maduro said no one gives venezuela orders. no foreign government today or ever. meanwhile, venezuela's economy has been in a tailspin in a country with the largest oil reserves on earth, basic necessities are almost impossible to find.
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>> my grandmother doesn't have any medicines. we need support from people, from the united states, from the world to just listen to us and help us, please. >> reporter: food is expensive and scarce. >> venezuela people is queuing to buy rice and there is nothing to eat. >> reporter: no easy solutions and no end in sight to the violence. and by the way, what's happening there is having an impact here. the u.s. received more asylum requests from venezuela than any other country last year and the number is on track to be even higher this year. still ahead tonight, one city's bold, new approach to fighting and treating
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the opioid drug epidemic. is it a model for the entire country? also, he became the "home alone" dad. tonight we remember actor john heard and some of his many roles.
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like so many cities, buffalo, new york, is struggling with the opioid crisis, losing one person a day to the drug crisis. a new program is trying to change that with the country's first opioid court. the idea is to start intervention immediately after users are arrested, giving them treatment inside the justice system. it's part of a growing national experiment. gabe gutierrez has the
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details. >> reporter: inside this courtroom in buffalo. >> keep up the good work. >> reporter: this judge is on a personal mission. >> i think our job as a judge is not to hurt people, just to make sure they come out better than they came in. >> reporter: he's presiding over the first crisis intervention court of its kind. unlike typical drug courts, they get into treatment within hours, not weeks. it requires detox, strict curfews and checking in with judge hannah every day for a month. >> our main goal is to keep our participants alive. >> reporter: so far, they've succeeded. since may 1st, none of the nearly 80 participants has overdosed.
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for you, this is a life and death struggle. >> every day. all day every day. >> reporter: he started with addiction to painkillers following cancer treatments and that judge hannah helped save his life. >> when i found out he was a recovering addict, my whole outlook changed. >> reporter: that's right. judge hannah says he himself abused cocaine and marijuana. >> i didn't know i was addicted because it had become so much a part of your life. >> reporter: his program is funded by a three-year, $300,000 justice department grant. >> what makes it unique is that it's one of a kind right now. do i think it can be replicated? most certainly. >> reporter: it's part of a growing movement nationwide to come up with new ways to fight the opioid crisis. eight other states have announced they'll study how to expand treatment within the
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criminal justice system. >> i think the tide is changing in the country that you can't lock away an addict. you have to give treatment. >> reporter: how important is that personal connection? >> i think that's the most important part. the only difference between myself and one of the participants is time. and what you do with that time in between. >> reporter: in this court, the defendants aren't the only ones getting credit for time served. >> we're all going to be here for you. >> reporter: gabe gutierrez, buffalo, new york. still to come tonight, we'll meet a young man who has overcome life's challenges and found the sweet taste of success. john heard has died. the film and tv actor was best known for his role as peter mccallister in "home alone" and the sequel.
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john heard has died. the film and tv actor was best known for his role as peter mccallister in "home alone" and the sequel. he also was in "big" and "pelican brief" and in "the sopranos." his role as a crooked detective won him an emmy. he was found in a hotel room where he was recovering from
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back surgery. the cause of death has not been determined. john heard was 71 years old. and a beloved member of the nbc family has died. jim vance served in area. we'll be right back. plap
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finally tonight, we're going to meet a man who's an example of how young adults with special needs can make a transition from school to a productive role in the workforce. he makes jam in texas. but before you think it's just a little at-home operation, nbc's jo ling kent tells us it's become a sweet success, and a hot one at that. >> reporter: nolan stillwell knows that to make a perfect jam, first, you need to pick the perfect pepper. and it helps to have a pepper patch in your backyard. >> okay, how about if you pour. >> reporter: welcome to the headquarters of
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sweet heat jam. this commercial kitchen provided free of charge by a texas church is the bustling center of nolan's jam empire. >> nolan is really gravitating towards food, like he liked to cook in the kitchen. he'd be throwing his towel over the shoulder and saying bam. >> you need some measuring stuff here. >> reporter: christine stillwell worried about whether her son nolan, who has down's syndrome, would be able to find a meaningful job. so sweet heat jam the stillwells created their own opportunity. >> i think that every parent of a special needs child should never underestimate what their young person can do. >> reporter: so nolan, what's your favorite part about making the jam? >> i like it here. >> reporter: you like it here? >> yeah. >> reporter: this kitchen, you did this. >> yes. >> reporter: with 13 flavors, most of them a mix of fruit and nolan's spicy peppers,
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business is good. sweet heat jam is selling thousands of jars a year. and nolan has hired a team, four employees and four rotating interns, all young adults with disabilities. how does it make you feel to work here at sweet heat? >> really happy. they understand our disability. >> all right. let's load her up. >> reporter: nolan's dad randy helps with deliveries. >> so there's our invoice sheet. >> reporter: to heb, the largest grocery chain in texas. nolan's jam is available in six heb stores. >> which one is this, buddy? >> reporter: lucky shoppers can sometimes get a sample from the jam man himself, enjoying the spicy sweet taste that carries an important message. jo ling kent, nbc news, katy, texas. tomorrow on "nightly news" with kate snow, a severe labor shortage on many farms. the impact of immigration policy and politics.
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i'm jose diaz-balart. reporting from new york, thank you for the privilege of your time. good night. an emphasis on safety. the family of a man who disappeared along the san right now at 6:00, an emphasis on safety. the family of a man who disappeared along the san mateo county case want changes made along devil's slide. the news at 6:00 starts right now. good evening everyone thank you for joining us terry mcsweeney. >> peggy bunker. the family of a man believed to
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have gone off the road near devil's slide is calling for safety barriers along the section of highway. >> 22-year-old richard moss has been missing since may. today the family held signs along the highway urging caltrans to act. kristy smith has more. >> reporter: this family is still out there looking for answers. but one thing they know for sure is that they do want a barrier put up on this stretch of road. they were out there today with supporters who say they will keep coming out until something is done. >> it turned to anger. >> dan moss disappeared along highway 1. he believes more needs to be done to improve safety for drivers. >> we want those temporary barriers put up immediately from the north end of -- the north end of the beach where it's straight all the way up to the tunnel. >> his 22-year-old son richard moss drove the area last seen in may. there were severance and then

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