tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC January 8, 2019 5:30pm-6:00pm PST
>> they're everywhere. thanks for joining us. lester holt joins us next with nightly news. >> president trump's address at 6:00. tonight, the president's prime time address to the nation, making his case, demanding billions for a border wall. he says it's a major crisis. critics say it's an elaborate pr stunt. we have late details on what he'll say from the oval office. and surprise news in the mueller investigation. what prosecutors say the president's campaign chairman paul manafort told a russian intelligence operative duri the campaign. and the stunning way we found out. mysterious deaths at the home of a major democratic donor, two in 18 months. he says they were protesters say he is using his powerful political influence to escape scrutiny. there is breaking news tonight from authorities after explosive allegations against music star r. kelly.
my nbc news exclusive. the first man released under the new criminal justice reform law. his roller coaster journey to freedom. >> it's something i've been dreaming about for close to 21 years now. >> tonight, his amazing story and his message about second chances. the vaping epidemic. so addictive, some teens are going to rehab to kick the habit. and a heart-stopping close call. the split-second leap right in the nick of time. >> announcer: this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. good evening, everyone. backed against a wall that many call his wall, president trump will try to go around it tonight. in a prime time speech on border security, he'll try to describe a situation so urgent, so threatening to american security that it justifies the partial government down as well as the financial harm to all those who won't see a paycheck on friday. by tradition, oval officeddress are reserved for issues of weight, and yes, national crisis. tonight democrats, who
are equally dug in on all this, predict instead we'l nd political play by the president, and they're readying their response. tonight. >> reporter: lester, good evening. multiple sources tell nbc news democrats have been invited here to the white house to talk tomorrow, but tonight, those duelling speeches are meant to sell each side to the american people. ahead of the president's prime time pitch, a preview from the vice president with one emphasis. >> a humanitarian and security crisis. a real crisis. end this crisis, address this crisis, speak about this crisis, crisis at our border. >> reporter: but is it a true crisis? the number of people apprehended at the border has dropped dramatically since 2000. president trump says he is considering declaring a national emergency, which he has the broad authority to do. other presidents have, like president george bush after 9/11, barack obama during the swine flu outbreak. but it most certainly
would be met with a legal challenge. another argument from the white house -- >> we have terrorists coming through the southern border. >> reporter: no one coming south in recent history has been charged publicly with a terror-related crime. >> we certainly don't have a terrorist threat along our southern border. we're just not seeing anything that rises to the level historically has constituted a national emergency. >> reporter: in a recent six-month period, agents encountered only six immigrants matching a terror screening database entering through the southern border. the administration has linked its border barrier push to a claim that u.s. officials have blocked about 4,000 known or suspected terrorists trying to enter the country, but that number includes all ports of entry, mostly airports, where a wall wouldn't make a difference. >> this should have been done by all of the presidents that preceded me, and they all know it. some of them have told me that we should have done it. >> reporter: the offices of all four living presidents say that's not accurate. which former presidents told president trump, as he said, that he should have built a wall? all their representatives have denied that that was the case. >> well, you -- i know the president has said that that was his impression from previous
administrations, previous presidents. >> reporter: tonight -- >> the president is going to focus on presenting the facts tonight. >> reporter: democrats worry he won't, because he hasn't, in what they describe as a credibility crisis. >> he has made so many inaccurate statements that i have a hard time believing that he is suddenly going to be scrupulous about the facts. >> reporter: hallie jackson, nbc news, the white house. this is gabe gutierrez near the border. >> -- said cat, you get out. there is work to be done. >> reporter: where laura walsh works for the forest service and is furloughed. >> just not a very great place to be where you're putting federal workers as political pawns. i want to go back to work. >> reporter: sheri kinart is an epa worker in colorado. both of her children have special needs. since the shutdown began, she has already had to stop some of their out-of-pocket therapies. >> i'm hoping that congress will come to their senses and put something through and hopefully the president will compromise. >> reporter: but some of president trump's supporters say the shutdown is worth it.
>> i do feel like there is a crisis on the border right now. >> reporter: cory griffin lives in alamogordo, new mexico, home to the border patrol facility where a guatemalan child died last month in u.s. custody. >> we also want to extend our condolences -- >> reporter: congressional democrats toured the facility this week. >> and they say we don't need a wall. it's all trump. it's this and that. and then they get in their airplanes and they fly back to the east coast, and they're not affected by it. they're not living day to day. >> reporter: in el paso, activist fernando garcia says this is a manufactured crisis. >> we have a crisis that the president has created. and that crisis is a humanitarian crisis. >> reporter: a recent poll found that about 70% of government workers oppose the including those who support it said they were reluctant to speak for fear of losing their jobs. lester? >> all right, gabe gutierrez and hallie jackson, thank you. let's bring in chuck todd. chuck, you have gained some insight into the president's plan for tonight. what can we expect here? >> well, what we can expect is not a lot of plans, and instead i
think it's more of a case that he is laying out. the president appears to be pretty dug in, lester, on this. and it's my understanding he is not going to announce any sort of plan forward of how to end the shutdown or how to get his wall built. instead, this address tonight and his trip to the border in a couple of days appears to be designed to make the case to the american people to try to find a way to put pressure on democrats to cave here. the president thinks that he can win this political argument. he thinks tonight is about getting the public on his side and creating more pressure on the democrats, but i can tell you this. there are a lot of congressional republicans that do not believe the president's sort of political analysis here is correct. and if anything, there is fear that tonight's speech is only going to make the republican party's problems on capitol hill worse. >> all right, chuck you. our coverage of the president's address and the democratic response starts at 9:00 eastern time here on nbc. as that plays out, the president also has the mueller investigation to
contend with, and there was a surprise twist today in the case of his former campaign chairman paul manafort. pete williams with the latest for us from washington. >> reporter: while paul manafort was serving as donald trump's campaign chairman, he was in contact at least twice with a man named konstantin kilimnik, a former employee of manafort's consulting company, also described by robert mueller as a man with ties to russian intelligence. the new details come in a document filed by manafort's lawyers with some lines blacked out that can easily be read simply by copying and pasting them into a new document. they say manafort shared polling data with kilimnik about the campaign and met with him in madrid to talk about what manafort's lawyers call a "peace plan for ukraine" the country where manafort earlier did political consulting work. these aren't government allegations. they're statements made by manafort's own lawyer in a document intended to refute mueller's claim that manafort hasn't cooperated with investigators since pleading guilty.
but it's impossible to tell from this new filing whether manafort was intending to share campaign information with the russians or just reaching out to his former employee in hopes of lining up future consulting work once the trump campaign was over. lester? >> all right, pete williams, thank you. the russian lawyer who met with trump campaign officials at trump tower in 2016 has now been charged in a separate case. nbc's richard engel has been on the story, tracking it for months. >> reporter: tonight natalia veselnitskaya, the russian lawyer who met at trump tower with president trump's family and inner circle during the 2016 campaign, has been charged by federal prosecutors with obstruction of justice. the charges are not directly related to that trump tower meeting. instead, center on e-mails, first revealed exclusively by nbc news. >> what i wanted to ask you about are these emails, if you could take a look at them.
>> translator: >> reporter: but prosecutors today said those emails are hers, and show that in an attempt to exonerate a client, a powerful russian businessman accused of moneylaundering in new york, she helped write an official russian government document. >> she had an extraordinary level of access that was not at all consistent with her representations that she was essentially an ordinary private defense attorney. >> reporter: we asked veselnitskaya how close she is to top russian officials. you said your relationship with the prosecutor general is what? prosecutors said very nit veselnitskaya was in, quote, secret cooperation with the senior russian official. a reason she and that trump tower meeting are s robert mueller. tonight veselnitskaya says she hasn't read >> richard engel ghnks. the mother of a u.s. navy veteran says he has been imprisoned in iran on unspecified charges since july. nbc's andrea mitchell with more on that
story. >> reporter: american michael white is in an iranian prison tonight, held for the last six months without any word from iran. his mother telling nbc news he is a navy veteran, and she only learned three weeks ago from the state department that he was alive. she filed a missing person's report when he went to see his iranian girlfriend and didn't make the flight home. at least three other americans have been in iranian jails for years. a fourth, former fbi agent robert levenson disappeared from iranian territory more than a decade ago. among the u.s. prisoners, former diplomat baquer namazi and his son. >> feel extremely abandoned and hope. >> reporter: getting them out could be harder because of renewed tensions after president trump pulled out of the iran nuclear deal last year, and secretary of state mike pompeo in jordan today wants to crack down further on iran. >> we are redoubling not only our diplomatic, but our
commercial efforts to put real pressure on iran. >> reporter: tonight iran not responding to our requests for comment. lester? >> andrea mitchell, thanks. for the second time in less than 18 months, a body has been found at the home of a prominent democratic activist and donor. nbc's miguel almaguer has details on the investigation. >> reporter: the 911 call came from here, an unidentified black man dead from an apparent overdose, found inside the west hollywood home of prominent democratic activist ed buck. it's the second time a body has been found inside his apartment. gemelle moore, an escort, od'd there in 2017. >> arrest him now! >> reporter: overnight protests erupting. advocates from the gay and black community accusing buck of using political influence to elude arrest. >> it is exceedingly rare to have in an 18-month time span, two individuals, two death investigations from the same apartment. >> reporter: buck has rubbed shoulders with high-profile democrats, but made headlines after
moore's death, when the coroner found drug paraphernalia in the apartment. moore's mother blamed buck. >> i just think he needs to be stopped before someone else dies in his apartment. >> reporter: buck's attorney says the victim who died here this week had been a friend for 25 years and arrived at the home under the influence. but tonight, the sheriff's department says the case is under investigation, as detectives also revisit the death from 2017. miguel almaguer, nbc news, west hollywood. there is breaking news tonight from authorities in illinois, after explosive allegations against music star r. kelly. our rehema ellis has late details. rehema, what can you tell us about this? >> lester, i can tell you that authorities are, as you points out, speaking out about decades of allegations against the singer, surrounding charges of domestic abuse and sex with minors. in a press conference tonight, the cook county state attorney urged any potential
victims of kelly to come forward. the allegations against kelly are back in headlines after the new lifetime docu-series "surviving r. kelly" was released this weekend. it details the singer's 2008 child pornography trial in which kelly was found not guilty, and addresses recent allegations from parents who say they're trying to free their daughters from kelly's influence. the state attorney says it is trying to determine if anyone is in danger, and if there is enough evidence for prosecution. r. kelly has denied all allegations. lester? >> rehema ellis, thank you. almost lost in the latest round of partisan bickering from washington was the sweeping bipartisan criminal justice reform bill signed into law last month. the first step act promises to roll back sents offeer last year, after his first early release proved short-lived. tonight in our new series "justice for all," my exclusive interview with him. >> hey, how y'all doing? >> reporter: matthew charles has seen this movie before. the broad smiles, the hugs, the taste of
newfound freedom. >> i'm home. i'm thankful. i'm grateful. >> reporter: this time he hopes he is home for good, walking out of a kentucky detention center thursday night after a combined 22 years in prison for selling crack cocaine. his 35-year sentence reduced retroactively, thanks to president trump's first step act, a sweeping criminal justice reform bill signed last month. so what's it like to be free? what's it like to walk along this river and see the trees? >> ah, it's unexpressible in words. i mean, it's something i've been dreaming about for close to 21 years now, 22 years now. >> reporter: in 2016, he was released after the obama administration changed sentencing guidelines for crack-related crimes. but the sentence was failing to account for prior convictions. matthew yanked back to prison after spending two years rebuilding a life on the outside.
>> i was never bitter, never angry. i understood, you know, their perspective on what the law stated and what could be applied to me and what couldn't. >> reporter: while serving time, he was a model inmate, with not a single disciplinary infraction, a judge noting his undisputed rehabilitation, but legally, the justice system recognized just one matthew charles. his record also includes a slew of other felony convictions, including domestic assault, kidnapping, and burglary, making him a career offender. can bed? >> when i look at it now, no, sir. i'm like when i think back on it or reflect on it, i'm like wow. i hate it. >> this is a prepaid call from charles. >> reporter: i spoke with charles by phone last june while he was still behind bars. are you rehabilitated? >> yes, sir. i asked you whether you were rehabilitated when we talked on the phone.
you said you were. what does that mean to you? >> i would say i was first changed and then rehabilitated. it made me want to obey the law and be a better person. >> reporter: today, the 52-year-old father and grandfather is getting used to his new normal. one of his first stops less than 48 hours after getting out, the local food pantry where he used to volunteer. >> i just want to continue to help and bless people. my heart is truly for the poor, for the homeless, for those that are in need. these people need to know that they are loved, no matter what their situation is. >> reporter: charles' uplifting story has moved thousands, but the law that freed him only eases sentences for those in the federal system, a small percentage of the more than two million people serving time nationwide. >> we will obviously need more reforms both state side, but this on the federal and state side, but this is a good first stop. >> reporter: giving other rehabilitated inmates hope that they too can start over. >> i'm still trying to
process all of this, you know, and i'm excited. and some of it is unbelievable, still, you know what i mean? >> i love you. >> i love you, too. >> matthew charles with me in nashville earlier today. and coming up, the vaping epidemic so serious teens are turning to rehab to beat their addiction. then new developments after a teacher is caught on camera dragging a student with autism. his parents outraged.
back now with a new turn of the vaping epidemic in america, so addictive that some teens are turning to rehab. with more, here is nbc's catie beck. >> reporter: at the peak of his addiction, 15-year-old luka kinard was spending $150 a week to support his vaping habit. >> i noticed this is getting out of control. >> reporter: his parents noticed too. a stellar student on track to become an eagle scout, suddenly withdrawn and unmotivated. >> he went from being a straight a student to an f student. >> reporter: luka was one of the 3.5 million
middle and high school students using ecigarettes, intended to be a safer alternative to smoking. but experts like sharon levy say for teens, it can be addictive, and the impact on their developing brain still unknown. >> they're getting very high nicotine levels in their bloodstream, and that's causing them problems with things like paying attention and focusing. and that's really new. >> reporter: now at her addiction clinic, she is seeing a surge in teens struggling to kick the habit. >> we're seeing more mental health and psychiatric problems that are happening immediately. >> reporter: after luka says excessive vaping caused him to have a seizure, his parents sent him to a 40-day treatment program where group counseling taught him healthy ways to cope with anxiety and stress. >> we're grateful to have him back. we questioned whether we ever would. >> reporter: later this month, the fda will discuss therapies for teens with nicotine addiction. for luka, where there another opportunity to start life back up. >> reporter: -- there was hope. catie beck, nbc news.
caught on camera, police tending to a disabled car on a highway in ohio when a vehicle slams their cars. first responders jump over a barrier a split second before they would have been hit. no one was seriously injured. tonight, a kentucky teacher has been fired after she was caught on camera dragging a boy with autism down a school hallway, prompting outrage from parents. kristen dahlgren has that story. >> reporter: this is the video angel nelson saw of her 9-year-old son allen, dragged down a hallway by his teacher. >> i was in shock, and i was very traumatized. for this to happen in front of all of his classmates. >> reporter: the family's attorney subpoenaed the video after being told what happened. >> get up. >> no. >> reporter: nelson
says allen, who has autism, suffered a sprained wrist in the incident last october. >> he had an outburst, and they were trying to remove him from the classroom, but she restrained him the wrong way. >> reporter: in a statement, the school district says it followed established safety protocol as soon as the situation became known. the teacher was removed from the school. the teacher is expected to be charged with fourth-degree assault tomorrow morning as the family now tries to heal, hoping no other parent has to see something like this. >> i never want this to happen to another child, ever. >> reporter: kristen dahlgren, nbc news. >> we'll be back with more right after this.
office tonight, plus the democratic response. that's at 9:00 eastern, 8:00 central. for now, that's "nbc nightly news" for this tuesday. i'm lester holt. for all of us at nbc news, thanks for watching and good night. now: good evening and thanks for joining us. i )m raj mathai. . the news at 6:00 starts right now. good evening. thank you for being with us. >> we are now moments away from president trump addressing the nation from the oval office. the president will talk about his proposed border wall and the government shutdown. looking at a live picture at the white house, not just mr. trump though. we'll hear from a response from nath president might call a national emergency over what he says are thousands of suspected terrorists coming into america from the u.s. and mexico border. he wants $5 billion in funding for the proposed wall. democrats though are not budging. let's bring in lester holt who is anchoring our special coverage from new york.
good evening, everyone. tonight the president will be speaking shortly from the white house, the first prime time speech from the oval office. an extraordinary moment that comes in the midst of a partial government shutdown already the second largest in u.s.r t wall. the shutdown now in day 18. it left some 800,000 federal out