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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  July 7, 2022 6:30pm-7:00pm PDT

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cartridges in brittney griner admitting to having cannabis cartridges in her luggage but said she brought them by accident. the potential prison time could a plea earn leniency? also the growing pressure on the president to bring her home. also, shockwaves in the uk. boris johnson resigning amid mounting scandal. who he is blaming for forcing him out. the father that sponsored a gun permit application for the suspected july 4 shooter, speaking out. why he said he bears no responsibility. my one-on-one with the new york city mayor eric adams. on the surgeon crime in the city and nationwide. we ask, does he consider new york a dangerous city in the two groups he said are holding america hostage. simone biles and megan rubino at the white house today among 17 receiving the nation's highest honor. and from the godfather, remembering james kohn.
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remembering legendary actor james caan this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. good evening, everyone a guilty plea today in a russian court from brittney griner, the american basketball star the biden administration says has been unlawfully held griner admitting to carrying vape cartridges containing cannabis oil into russia her lawyer saying she did so accidentally, hoping griner's contrition will lead to a lenient sentence. as it stands, a conviction carries a possible maximum sentence of ten years in prison. today's development also being seen in this country as potentially the first step in a delicate diplomatic dance to win her release in a prisoner swap. the wnba standout the wnba standout also receiving a letter today from president biden in response to her plea not to be forgotten. andrea mitchell has details. >> reporter: on just the second day of her trial, wnba superstar brittney griner, handcuffed and carrying a photo of her wife, cherelle, pleading guilty to
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charges of drug smuggling four months after russian authorities found vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage. >> she admitted that it was her, hers but she said that it was unintentionally brought to russia. because she was in a hurry as she was packing. >> reporter: the charge against the two-time olympic gold medalist carries a possible ten-year prison sentence. is there some hope this could either shorten the sentence, get her some leniency, or even motivate them to begin negotiating >> being that there was a plea does make us hopeful that this process will continue to move forward. >> reporter: friends are worried about how griner would hold up locked in a russian jail for weeks or even months more during a lengthy trial, ending in almost certain conviction and today the russians said they wouldn't even talk about a prisoner swap until the trial is over. >> i think this was a
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strategy to speed up that process that can sometimes take in their system a long, long time. so that's the idea after this is done, i think they're hoping for a swap. >> reporter: possibly a trade for russian arms dealer viktor bout, a putin favorite jailed in the u.s. embassy officials were with griner in court today and delivered a letter from president biden, a response to her emotional handwritten plea for his help at home the calls growing louder for the president to do more. >> bring her home! >> i can't rest, as her safety is in question i honestly can't rest until she's home. >> andrea, the families of other american prisoners in russia are speaking out, as well >> reporter: they are indeed, particularly the family of paul whelan, an american businessman who has been in prison in russia since 2018, convicted of spying, which the u.s. says is a completely trumped-up charge. his family tells me they're concerned. they are not getting help from the president like griner is the white house says today they are in regular contact with
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the whelans, but clearly, they're not offering a call or a visit with the president. lester >> andrea, thank you. another major story tonight. the downfall of british prime minister boris johnson. today johnson announcing he is stepping down amid mounting scandals but not leaving office yet. keir simmons reports tonight from london. >> reporter: tonight, britain, america's closest ally, descending into uncertainty after prime minister boris johnson's dramatic, defiant downing street statement today, blaming his own party for forcing him out. >> the herd instinct is powerful. when the herd moves, it moves how sad i am to be giving up the best job in the world but them's the breaks. >> reporter: and there we are classic boris johnson, no apology, simply an explanation for why he fought so hard as he spoke outside downing street, opponents booed. [ boos ] the world-famous boris brand, unkempt hair, and love of political stunts even when they went wrong. >> boris, you're going the wrong way! >> this way!
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>> reporter: becoming a fatal liability as prime minister his integrity questioned by a cascade of scandals where he was caught lying, including at first denying, then acknowledging, he attended parties during covid lockdowns. but his global impact undeniable controversially leading britain into brexit, and through a pandemic, even hospitalized himself. then allying himself with president biden to support ukraine's president zelenskyy, traveling twice to kyiv. >> your incredible, your incredible resistance >> reporter: zelenskyy expressing sadness at boris johnson's departure today. tonight johnson says he'll stay in office until a replacement is found, but that could take months. uncertainty at such an unstable time for europe lester >> keir simmons in london, thank you. back in this country, we turn to the investigation into
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the massacre at the highland park fourth of july parade the suspect's father now speaking out, defending his decision to help his son get a permit to buy guns and also saying he did nothing wrong. we're hearing new firsthand accounts from heroes on the ground here's maggie vespa. >> reporter: days after authorities say robert crimo iii carefully planned an attack on a fourth of july parade, his father speaking out for the first time, telling the "new york post" he talked to his son 13 hours before the shooting, adding, "that's why i guess i'm in such shock, like, did he have a psychiatric break or something? the father saying he sponsored his son's application for the i.d. card needed to buy guns because he thought he would use them at a shooting range. in the year since, prosecutors say crimo bought five weapons, including the one used at monday's shooting and another later found in his car his father telling the "post" his son bought everything on his own and they're registered to him, adding, "i
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didn't do anything wrong. tonight, officials are not ruling out the possibility that crimo's father could face charges, though at this point no determination has been made about his liability. ♪ meanwhile, this community is only beginning to process the trauma of monday's attack. >> how are your officers doing >> they're devastated. this is our community. >> reporter: highland park police and fire chiefs say many of their staff were in the parade, their families lined the sidewalks. >> we had a couple of firefighters they knew their families were right there where this shooting was happening. so they didn't know whether or not they'd pick up a family member. >> i didn't realize that the mother was also shot. >> reporter: father and son tom and morgan brooks were in an underground parking garage when the shooting started they ran to help. >> just in the plaza, just people lying down that were shot, a couple of dead people. >> reporter: that's when they noticed something under one
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body. >> i saw two people. i saw two heads. so that's when it -- that's when it clicked in my head that there's someone else under him. he was very obviously a child. >> reporter: it was kevin mccarthy lying on top of his 2-year-old son, aidan. tom brooks pulled the toddler out. >> he was saying "shots, shots. he would say, "mom shot, dad shot?" he just kept on saying that >> he was saying, "mom shot, dad shot?" >> he was. kept on saying "shots, shots. >> reporter: kevin and his wife, irina, among the seven who lost their lives that day the brookses say it was clear the dad died saving his son. >> he did what every father should do, and that's protecting his child. >> reporter: maggie vespa, nbc news, highland park. former minneapolis police officer derek chauvin was sentenced today to more than 20 years in prison on federal charges after pleading guilty to violating george floyd's civil rights chauvin is already serving more than 22 years, convicted on state murder charges for floyd's death. as part of the plea deal, he'll serve his sentences concurrently the clinic at the
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center of the supreme court case that overturned roe v. wade closed its doors today, adding mississippi to the growing list of states where abortion is no longer available blayne alexander is in jackson tonight. >> reporter: at mississippi's only abortion clinic, as of today, the abortions are no more. physicians like dr. cheryl hamlin are seeing their last patients for follow-up visits before the clinic permanently closes tonight has this been an emotional time for staff? >> yeah. yeah a lot of hugging, yeah. >> reporter: mississippi is now one of nine states banning nearly all abortions three other states have implemented six-week bans with rare exceptions. >> for women across the south who may be seeking abortions what do you want these women to know? >> i want these women to know that the pro-life movement is very compassionate, genuinely so, and wanting to walk with them in their time of need, getting them the resources that they need. >> reporter: the changing landscape of laws is putting increased focus on the
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states that do allow the procedure. soon, the pink house as it's known in mississippi, will reopen in new mexico they are starting a fund to help women from mississippi and beyond get there >> i'm not going to abandon these women. i mean, there's limits to what i can do, but i'm not going to abandon them. >> reporter: in north dakota, tammy is also preparing for a move she runs red river women's clinic, which today sued to stop that state's trigger law, set to take effect at the end of the month. >> give us some more time >> reporter: she is moving the clinic from fargo, north dakota, to moorhead, minnesota, just 15 minutes away but still a tremendous undertaking. >> this is not simpl packing up a house or an apartment and moving across the city this is learning new rules and regulations, making new forms for a new state, making sure that we are in compliance with the
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new state rules and restrictions >> reporter: and this shuttered clinic joins a growing list with more possibly on the way. right now at least ten states have either bans or restrictions in litigation, or set to take effect in the coming weeks lester >> blayne alexander, thank you. we'll turn now to new concerns about covid. cases on the rise again in at least 20 states, fueled by a highly contagious omicron subvariant tonight, miguel almaguer asks dr. ashish jha, can vaccines prevent another devastating surge? >> reporter: as americans gather, travel, and vacation in record pre-pandemic numbers, the u.s. may be quietly and rapidly moving toward a summer covid surge. >> there's no question in my mind that we're missing a vast majority of infections right now. >> reporter: omicron subvariant b.a.5, the most contagious version of the virus yet, now dominant, making up more than 50% of new cases while there is no alarm at hospitals nationwide, many public covid testing sites have shuttered,
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while at the same time results from at-home test kits are going unreported. >> the truth is there are probably several hundred thousand, 400,000, 500,000 infections a day happening across the country. >> reporter: americans previously infected or protected by a vaccine are catching the virus at a worrisome rate. even the boosted have gotten sick multiple times. >> we are seeing a lot of re-infections within months of prior infections it's a reminder that an infection does not give you lifelong immunity it's also a reminder we're seeing rapid evolution of a virus that's trying to escape that prior infection immunity >> reporter: with testing under way for a multi-pronged umbrella vaccine aimed at stopping future mutations, this fall the u.s. is expected to roll out a booster targeting omicron. are you concerned at all that the new vaccines won't be able to protect americans in the fall? >> i remain an optimistic that however the virus evolves, the new vaccines will provide greater protection
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than the vaccines we have right now. >> reporter: while a new poll shows americans are in majority back to their pre-pandemic lives, tonight around 60% of the nation has already caught covid, a number certain to climb miguel almaguer, nbc news in 60 seconds, my exclusive interview with new york city mayor eric adams as crime rises in his city and nationwide. we ask the mayor, is he living up to his campaign promise to crack down on crime?
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back now with our nbc news exclusive, my interview with new york city mayor eric adams. a former police officer once again on the front lines of the fight against crime. but with crime up, are his efforts working? in new york, the perception that continues to lay out there that this is a dangerous city is it? >> no, it's not. it's not. >> reporter: mayor eric adams was elected promising to clean up new york city's soaring crime. six months later, overall crime is up
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nearly 40% you came into this job saying you were going to fight crime and bring crime down have you been successful >> no, we are incomplete i'm not successful until every new yorker feels safe. >> over a dozen shootings, a couple dozen shooting over the holiday weekend here that doesn't feel safe. >> no, it doesn't. there's not a feeling of safety. we also did something else over the holiday weekend. we removed a substantial number of guns off our streets. >> reporter: he notes homicides and shootings here are down 9%. >> we got to work on those what we call predatory crimes rape, robbery, burglary, grand larceny. here's the real problem. we arrest john on monday for a grand larceny. he's out on tuesday. and he's doing it again on wednesday >> whose fault is that >> it's a combination. our criminal justice
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system the laws that we have passed and the failure to prosecute those who are committing crimes. and judges who are not utilizing the power that they have >> a lot of people say criminal justice reform had to happen because it was disproportionately affecting people that look like us. >> yes, yes. >> how do you strike that balance >> you look at the unique moment. here you have a mayor that was the leading voice of criminal justice reform there are blacks in law enforcement who care we led the fight against the abuse of stop, question, and frisk. we led the fight against prison reform. we led the fight against judicial misconduct this is what we fought for. if i'm saying, hey, we're going too far, you know >> reporter: we walked through a neighborhood in the bronx and talked about how the city has changed since adams became a new york city transit cop in 1984. i was a young reporter here at channel 2 in new york >> i remember. >> i remember that that year, we got close to 1,800 murders in this city now we're down to fewer than 500 a year. >> yes >> some people say it feels like we're slipping backwards >> yes >> what do you say to that >> i think we're
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dealing with different challenges those were different times. the courts were on our side prosecutors were on our side. >> you don't feel like you have allies? >> hell, no. hell, no i don't believe that innocent new yorkers and police officers, we don't have those allies we had back then. >> reporter: mayor adams, a democrat with some sharp criticism of progressive prosecutors. there is a narrative from the right that liberal, that progressive prosecutors are allowing crime to flourish do you agree >> yes there's two battles that are happening in our country and our city right now you have the far right that states, give everyone a gun no matter what. you have the far left that states, everyone that uses a gun should not be held accountable. these two groups are not the majority of americans. and they have actually held our country and our city hostage these two groups don't realize, they're coconspirators to the public safety crises that we're facing in our city and country. >> part of my
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conversation with new york's mayor adams. when we come back, from "the godfather" to "elf," remembering james caan
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tonight, movie lovers are remembering actor james caan, who died last night. the cause was not announced. gabe gutierrez now on the kid from queens who made it big in hollywood. >> you got to get up close like this -- ba-bing! you blow their brains all over the nice suit. >> reporter: he was the ultimate tough
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guy. >> take it easy, take it easy. >> reporter: james caan, best known for his unforgettable portrayal of the hot-headed sonny corleone in "the godfather" made him leap off the screen. caan played the oscar-nominated role so convincingly that many of his fans thought he was italian. in fact, his parents were jewish immigrants from germany, and caan grew up in queens, new york he'd already been acting for years when he broke through in 1971's made for tv movie "brian's song. >> this thing i got's bad, i know that. >> reporter: his resume and bad boy reputation grew. in 1990, he starred alongside kathy bates in the stephen king thriller "misery." no stunt doubles in this fight scene. >> she had me pinned twice. but i got out. >> reporter: in 2003, he introduced himself to a new generation. >> i think we should call security. >> good idea >> i like to whisper,
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too. >> reporter: playing will ferrell's workaholic father in "elf." >> just who the heck are you, and what is your problem >> reporter: tonight movie legend al pacino is remembering him as a great actor, brilliant director, and a dear friend. james caan was 82. gabe gutierrez, nbc news. when we come back, a celebration at the white house as 17 people are awarded america's highest civilian honor
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finally tonight, they changed the
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country. not just on the field of play, but also in the halls of power kelly o'donnell now with the americans awarded the presidential medal of freedom. >> reporter: extraordinary lives of accomplishment and character. gifted americans whose sacrifice, talent, and vision is lifted up today with the highest civilian honor a decorated olympian who found balance as a mental health advocate a war hero turned political force. the first woman to deploy with a bomber unit a technology trailblazer who put the world in our hands. activists for equality when icons of civil rights needed legal help, they called fred gray. >> one of the most important civil rights lawyers in our history. >> reporter: from gymnast simone biles. >> at age 25, the youngest person ever to receive the medal of freedom. >> reporter: to soccer
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great megan rapinoe's other scoring goal endurance of another kind gabby giffords' sheer will to survive powers her cause to stop gun violence >> gabby is one of the most courageous people i have ever known. >> reporter: honoring service to others through faith, healing, and commitment to country. the late senator john mccain wife, ambassador, cindy mccain says this moment keeps his legacy alive. >> i love the fact that people will remember my husband for what he was, and that's a true hero. >> reporter: the medal of freedom cannot be won. it is only earned. and what that takes can truly inspire us all. kelly o'donnell, nbc news, the white house. >> what a proud moment that's "nightly news" for this thursday. thank you for watching, everyone i'm lester holt. please take care of yourself and each other. good night
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tire right now on nbc bay area news tonight. san francisco has a new bay area district attorney. she says she'll be a tougher district attorney. >> violence and repeat offenders will no longer be allowed to victimize. hate crime will no longer be tolerated. >> brooks jenkins urges people to recall her former boss. she joins us live to talk about what she plans to do to make san francisco safer. former exec found guilty on all counts today. we're breaking down the verdict. and why this trial was so different from the one for


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