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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  December 21, 2022 4:00pm-4:31pm PST

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breaking news tonight, ukraine's president making a historic visit to washington, d.c. president volodymyr zelenskyy welcomed to the white house today on his first foreign trip since russia invaded his country more than 300 days ago. zelenskyy express ing gratitude to the u.s. for its support. in the oval office he presented mr. biden with a medal from a soldier on the front lines. tonight zelenskyy addressing a joint meeting with congress. our full coverage ahead. the once in a generation storm and extremely dangerous arctic blast impacting holiday travel. nearly 100 million
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under winter alerts across 28 states. governors declaring states of emergency, and are some americans in for the coldest christmas in 40 years? we're tracking it all. former president trump's tax returns about to be made public after a vote by a house committee. what the panel's report reveals. the university of idaho murder investigation. our interview with the police chief. how he responds to fears the case has gone cold. remembering the nfl hall of famer who caught one of the most famous touchdown passes in history. and my report on the mission to help prisoners adjust to life on the outside. >> announcer: this is nbc "nightly news" with lester holt. good evening, the symbolism could not be stronger. the united states and ukraine demonstrating a remarkable bond strengthened by adversity and a common foe. today, an oval office meeting between president biden and ukraine's president volodymyr zelenskyy.
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the ukrainian leader wearing the trademark fatigues that have come to symbolize his wartime presidency. his trip to the u.s. just one day after witnessing the devastation near the front lines of the war. ten months after russia's invasion, mr. biden pledging billions more in military assistance including the advance patriot missile air defense system telling zelenskyy that we will stay with you as long as it takes. zelenskyy using his surprise trip to washington to thank the president and the american people for their support and to make his case for continued assistance directly to congress in a joint meeting this evening. it was zelenskyy's first trip outside ukraine since the war began. a historic day in washington, and it's where we begin with chief white house correspondent peter alexander. >> reporter: tonight a dramatic visit and a historic holiday surprise at the white house. president zelenskyy in his signature wartime green sweater and boots greeted by the president and first
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lady. it's zelenskyy's first known trip outside ukraine since russia's invasion 300 days ago. >> it's an honor to be by your side. >> reporter: this oval office visit a defiant and daring show of solidarity. >> president zelenskyy, the united states stands with the great people of ukraine. we stand with you. >> reporter: president zelenskyy thanking president biden, congress and the american people. >> thanks from our just ordinary people to your ordinary people, americans. i really appreciate it. i think it's very difficult to understand what it means when we say appreciate, but you really have to feel it, and thanks so much. >> reporter: zelenskyy presenting mr. biden with a medal a ukrainian soldier wanted him to give the american president. >> he's very brave, and he said, give it to very brave president.
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>> undeserved but much appreciated. thank you. >> reporter: zelenskyy overnight seen arriving at a train station in poland later touching down at joint base andrews for a red carpet welcome after flying on a military plane with nato allies at times providing fighter jets as an escort officials tell nbc news. his high-stakes trip after he was formally invited to the white house one week ago. the top concern, zelenskyy's security, his ability both to leave and to re-enter ukraine safely. this visit comes at a pivotal moment in the war. just hours ago zelenskyy was on the front lines in eastern ukraine with putin now trying to weaponize winter through punishing air strikes on ukraine's power grid plunging ukrainians into the cold and darkness. after zelenskyy's pleas for air defenses, president biden announcing the u.s. will provide a single patriot missile defense system and will train ukrainians to use it in a third country. today's meeting punctuated by a clear, personal connection. >> his answer is yes.
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[ laughter ] >> i agree. [ laughter ] >> reporter: with mr. biden pledging more american assistance. the u.s. has already provided more than $50 billion in aid to ukraine with lawmakers about to vote on an additional 45 billion, but the top house republican says he's skeptical of more taxpayer dollars for ukraine with america facing a possible recession. >> before the election i explained to everybody, no more blank checks for ukraine. >> reporter: zelenskyy tonight saying, he's confident of bipartisan support and answering what his message is to the american people. >> my message, i wish you peace. i think that is the main thing, and you understand it, and i wish you to see your children alive and adult. we really fight for our common victory against this tyranny. that is real life, and
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we will win, and i really want to win together. thanks so much. not want. sorry. i'm sure. [ laughter ] >> peter, russia is reacting to the u.s. sending that patriot missile system to ukraine. >> reporter: lester, the kremlin says that will escalate the war. president biden responds that it's a defensive weapon, and if russia doesn't want ukraine to use it, then it should stop the attacks. lester. >> all right, peter alexander starting us off. let's bring in andrea mitchell. this is a short visit but you could argue it could have long-term consequences. >> reporter: absolutely, lester, there are three big things that both sides were trying to accomplish today. president zelenskyy wants to make a dramatic personal appeal and warn of a new russian offensive, acquiring even more weapons as republicans as you just heard are about to take over the house and warning that there is no blank check. the second big one is
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to project solidarity as support wanes here at home and in winter this europe and the third goal is diplomacy. white house officials say that president biden is not pressuring zelenskyy to make concessions to vladimir putin, but as long as the u.s. gives zelenskyy enough weapons to have leverage against putin, they know eventually there has to be a diplomatic solution, and that's a conversation that really has to happen face-to-face, and today it did, lester. >> andrea mitchell, thank you. tonight's other top story, that massive winter storm and extreme cold moving across the country causing a scramble at airports just three days before christmas eve. chicago in its busy o'hare airport in the crosshairs. tom costello is there tonight. >> reporter: wednesday night, and with snow already hitting a crowded minneapolis airport, chicago o'hare is also running at full throttle. >> we're going to send them to bravo 5. >> reporter: counting down with the storm expected to slow air traffic across the
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region to a trickle within 24 to 36 hours. the cappleman family among the thousands who decided to leave early for florida. >> we looked at our schedules and it made sense just to try to beat it and hopefully not have cancellations. >> reporter: they're waiving change fees and encouraging passengers to rebook if they can. >> this is flight 1865 united airlines service to miami. >> reporter: omar idris runs o'hare's operations. >> this is exactly the kind of glitch you don't need this week, right? >> the timing of the storm is challenging, for sure, but we're ready. we're prepared. we got good procedures, good policies. >> reporter: nationwide passenger volume is approaching 2019 levels. >> we're expecting winds 30 to 50 miles an hour in chicago and midway starting tomorrow. >> reporter: to keep the system moving, the faa command center in virginia has opened military airspace to commercial flights. >> boarding passes. >> reporter: alaska airlines, the country's fifth
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biggest, focuses on the west coast and is also navigating volatile weather. the ceo ben minicucci. >> we operate in a 30 to 40-degree range. you don't know if it's rain or snow, so you always have to be ready. >> right on the edge. >> right on the edge. >> reporter: a lot changed since last summer when alaska was among the airlines forced to cancel flights and cut schedules as they struggled with a pilot shortage. alaska has since signed new labor agreements and hired more pilots. >> and learned a lot in terms of staffing and resourcing in volatile periods so i think we're in a pretty good spot heading into 2023. >> no repeat of the summer meltdown. >> no, we'll make sure we don't let our customers down going forward to 2023. >> reporter: alaska is rolling out new rf technology to speed the check-in process, permanent bag tags. customers simply touch the itinerary on their phones to the tag which then displays the new flight information. >> you'll show up to the airport, drop it straight onto t
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conveyer belt with an agent and get on with your day. >> reporter: back here at o'hare we have 450 flight cancellations today, 5,000 delays today nationwide. tomorrow we're looking at a thousand cancellations already across the country, and that's going to grow as the weather moves in, lester. >> all right. tom, thank you. and with more than 100 million americans under winter alerts right now, let's get the latest track on all this weather from bill karins. bill, where and when? >> let me take you through the winds first. this is my number one concern because power outages will be in the thousands by the time we get to saturday. high winds across the country, but it's the great lakes to the northeast where we could see 50 to 70-mile-per-hour wind gusts that could result in power outages and even coastal flooding in southern new england. the windchill values will dip extremely low through friday morning. negative 6 in dallas. kansas city to chicago you'll try to clean up that snow in negative 30 windchills and east coast saturday morning is when you get your lowest windchills, atlanta, negative 4,
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new york at 2. the snow with this storm is not that impressive by standards of the great lakes. we will see some areass 6 to 12 inches, but f we get that snow and the freeze coming behind it watch out, black ice is going to be a huge issue as we go throughout the day friday. >> all right. bill, thank you. let's get to the release of former president trump's tax returns and new accusations that the irs failed to audit mr. trump properly. ryan nobles is following this. ryan, what are we learning? >> reporter: well, lester, that may be the biggest revelation. under the trump administration the irs failed to audit the then president's taxes which is agency policy. they also show that the trumps paid zero dollars in taxes in 2020 and then only paid $750 in taxes on two other years. now, the reason for this lack of tax liability is because the trumps claimed millions of dollars in business losses. now, republicans were very critical of the release of the trump taxes saying that it sets a dangerous precedent, but democrats counter that
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this situation is unique, and they are now pushing for legislation that would make it mandatory under the law that the irs audit sitting presidents, presidents and they're also offering up the resources to make it happen. lester, we asked the irs for comment and they declined to do so, lester. >> ryan, thanks. also tonight, the former crypto mogul accused of one of the largest financial frauds in history is being returned to the u.s. after his arrest in the bahamas. the next question, will he be granted bail? here's gabe gutierrez. >> reporter: tonight, the one-time crypto king is heading back to the u.s. after agreeing to be extradited from the bahamas. former billionaire sam bankman-fried faces charges including wire fraud and money laundering stemming from the dramatic collapse of his massive cryptocurrency exchange, ftx. >> this case is one of the biggest financial fraud cases to ever come through the federal court system. >> reporter: billions of dollars vanished when the crypto firm imploded suddenly last month. bankman-fried denies
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that ftx misappropriated customer funds when it made loans to another one of his companies, alameda, a hedge fund. >> i made a lot of mistakes that are things i would give anything to do over again. i didn't ever try to commit fraud on anyone. >> reporter: investor rebecca gallagher says she lost nearly $1.5 million in ftx's collapse and flew to the bahamas to look bankman-fried in the eye. >> all my dreams for my retirement are out the window unless i have some kind of restoration, and it's the same for thousands of other people. >> reporter: a key question now, whether bankman-fried will be granted bail while he awaits trial like bernie madoff was. a former prosecutor says this case will come down to intent. >> at the core of it this actually isn't a case about cryptocurrency. it's a case as old as fraud is, which is a ponzi scheme.
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>> reporter: bankman-fried is expected to make his first u.s. court appearance tomorrow. lester. >> all right, gabe, thank you. in 60 seconds the murder mystery in idaho six weeks after the killing of those fourur college s students. whwhy the chieief of police tolold us the case has not gone coldld. thatat's next. (l(limu squawkwks) he's's a naturalal. ononly pay foror what you u . he's's a naturalal. ♪♪liberty. l liberty. liberty. l liberty.♪♪ your brainin is an amamazing th. bubut as you g get older,, it naturally b begins to c ch, causining a lack o of sharpn, oror even trououble with r r. thanankfully, ththe breakthrhron prevagagen helps y your bran and actualally improveves mem. the secretet is an ingngredit originalally discovevered.. in jellyfifish. in c clinical trtrials, prevagen h has been shshown to improrove short-t-term mem. prevagen. . healthier r bra. better l life.
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all right. we're back now with a mystery that has kept a city on edge for more than a month. the unsolved murders of four university of idaho students. tonight the police chief is speaking out about the frustrating search for answers to our steve patterson. >> reporter: six weeks later, the murder investigation of four university of idaho college students seemingly stuck in neutral. no publicly known suspects or motive and every week questions outweigh answers. >> it's a complex case. >> reporter: despite the public's impression, moscow police chief james fry says there is movement in the case. he just can't talk about it. anything new in the investigation? >> what i can tell you
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is this case has not gone cold. we're still receiving hundreds of tips daily. we are following up on those tips. we're still building that picture. >> reporter: police say one of those pieces is a white hyundai elantra in the area at the time of the murders and investigators asked the public for help who responded with thousands of tips, but hopes were dashed yesterday when police looked at a car matching the description and found it was unrelated. another threat unraveled. the public desperate for any information. >> i know that's very frustrating. it's frustrating to family members and the community, but our end goal is to bring somebody to justice. >> reporter: that frustration in part leading to a surge of internet sleuths, online communities trying to crack the case themselves. police say it's led to misinformation. they've had to spend resources dispelling them. how much does that interfere with your investigation? >> i think rumors always hurt us in an investigation. but it's our job to go back and utilize our resources and to continue to vet those.
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>> reporter: but 10,000 tips later no arrests. only hope from a community haunted by a killer still on the loose and a pledge from their police chief. >> we are committed to this case. we are committed to solving this case. >> reporter: steve patterson, nbc news. up next, we'll pay tribute to the nfl legend who made one of the greatest plays of all time. and the price you papay, holidayay edition, , how smalall businesssses arare countingng on this seasonon of givingng to be a season o of buying.. evenen if you gogot ppp and it onlnly takes eighght minutes s to qualify. i went o on their wewebsite, uploadaded everyththing, and i i was blown n away by what ththey could d . by what ththey could d . has s helped bususinesses get t over a bilillion dollas and we c can help yourur business s too. qualifify your bususiness fr a big g refund in n eight minun. gogo to to g get starteded. powewered by innnnovation reref. gogo to to g get starteded. at chewy, you can save on all the gifts you need for the gifts that keep on giving.
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a giant of pro football has died. franco harris, the pittsburgh steelers hall of fame running back, who caught the pass that t ricocheteded into hisis hands andnd came t to be knownwn as ththe immaculalate reception, it was 50 years ago this week and was the game-winning play against the oakland raiders. in 13 nfl seasons harris won four super bowl rings with the steelers. he was 72. also tonight, just a few days left for holiday shopping, and this season many small businesses are hoping sales will rebound from the pandemic despite inflation. catie beck now with the price you pay. >> reporter: customers at red barn mercantile in alexandria, virginia, can find anything from a card to a couch. >> do you guys have any questions about the rugs? >> reporter: the eclectic small business welcoming a return to the register this season after feeling the squeeze of slowed shopping during the pandemic. >> it was rough. >> reporter: owners
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like amy rutherford now hopeful for a comeback. >> thank you. >> it's been a nice rebound for us. i've got new customers coming through my door. >> reporter: and for small shops the holiday season is make or break. >> we will do half of our business in the last three months of this year. >> reporter: but now another pinch. inflation, higher costs to rutherford and her customers. >> shipping prices and cost of goods, it's across the board. >> reporter: while the national retail federation expects shoppers to spend between 6% and 8% more than last year, inflation accounts for most of that. 70% of consumers are taking inflation into consideration this holiday season and about half are buying fewer gifts as a result. >> in terms of shopping, yeah, i would say, yes, actually, we did cut back. >> i'm cognizant of where and what i spend money on. >> reporter: but rutherford says her
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finally for those
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re-entering society after spending time re-entering society after spending time behind bars, the world can be a dizzying place, but sometimes help can be waiting just around the corner. at this busy bronx, new york, intersection, a bus waits for some at risk of going nowhere. >> we look for young people that might be coming home from jail that might be involved in things in the street or anyone who just needs help and can't find opportunity. >> reporter: it's where 22-year-old tyrese nacho found himself after he was incarcerated. >> i was just needing help to find some work. i needed -- i just needed a job. >> reporter: the program is called shifting gears, a mobile outreach effort by the youth justice network. the bus parking in neighborhoods across new york city outfitted with computers and other tools to help those newly released find their bearings. this is general help, or is it specific to finding a job, for example? >> a handful of
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things. a lot of these young people who are just as involved don't have a support system. they don't have someone to make phone or someone to bring they don't have someone to bring them to a dmv. show them how to get a license. >> reporter: messiah ramikussson was incarcerated as a young age and works as an advocate for others. how important is it for you to let them know what you have been through? >> i believe it's very important so they can know that i'm not just someone just talking about something that i haven't been through. all the external factors that come into play when you're being released from prison or jail. >> reporter: under a different name, the program began its work inside new york's rikers island jail. then the pandemic struck. >> the jail closed its doors to all service providers, and that's where the idea of a mobile bus since we couldn't get into rikers. >> reporter: now a safety net of workers and resources stand ready to catch those in need on the outside. it seems like the word
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has really gotten around about this here in the neighborhood. >> we have to show them that there is hope. >> reporter: waiting at a critical crossroad. >> it was basically right here, and i walked past. they gave me a flier. i came back. and that's "nightly news" for this wednesday. thank you for watching, everyone. i'm lester holt. please take care of yourself and each other. good night. . - life is uncertain. everyday pressures can feel overwhelming it's okay to feel stressed, anxious, worried, or frustrated. it's normal. with calhope's free and secure mental health resources, it's easy to get the help you and your loved ones need when you need it the most. call our warm line at (833) 317-4673
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or live chat at today. this is an nbc news special report. here's this is. lester holt. >> good evening. we are coming on the air to cover a historic


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