tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC July 16, 2018 7:00pm-7:31pm EDT
tonit, shock waves. from an extraordinary scene, president trump standing shoulder to shoulder with vladimir putin refusing to say he believes u.s. intelligence over putin's denials. us>> he just said it's nota. i will say this -- i don't see any reason why it would be >> the president instead heaping g aise on putin and blam america. >> i hold both countries responsible. i think that the united states has been foolish. i think we have all been foolish. >> tonight, e former director of the cia calls the president's performance nothing short of so treanous and putin saying he wanted trump to win. >> yes, i did. ye i did. >> tonight how the russian leader answered this -- n do you -- does the russ
government have any compromising material on president trump or his family? >> we have a flood of reaction and richard engel in moscow. what must the russians be thinking? also, a lot of news back home including big trouble for amazon on prime day. missing for a week after her jeep plued off a cliff, tonight how she made it out alive. >> announcer: this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. good evening. it was a stuheing moment in inki today. the president of the united states standing with the leader of russia dismissing his own intelligence experts and their c sions that russia tried to interfere with the 2016 u.s. election. the moment came during a joint f ws conference at the end nearly day-long summit between presidents trump and putin. they apparently spoke of many things, mostly in private. it was putin's complete denial of russian meddling in our election and mr. trump's refusal to fully acknowledge the interference that earned him broad and bipartisan criticism
tonight. the president appearing to place his trust in putin over his owen intell agencies. the implications are enormous. potentially emboldening russia to try and undermine future elections.it as one of the most extraordinary moments between an american president and a russian leader. their meeting framed by friday's justice department indictment of 12 russian agents for election j meddling and tgment of u.s. intelligence agencies including direct of national intelligence dan coats that russia interfered. president trump asked who do yop believe --sident putin or the u.s. intelligence communityw his -- >> people came to me. dan coats camee to and some others. they said they think it's russia. i have president putin. he just said it's not russia. i will say this. n't see any reason why it would be. >> reporter: the president mplimenting an offer fro putin.
instead of turning over the indicted russian agents, russian officials would question the agents themselves with special counsel bob mueller present. >> i have great confidence in my intelligence people. but i will tell you that president putin was extremely st ng and powerful in his denial today. lewhat he did is an incred offer. he offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators with respect to the 12 pple. i think that's an incredible offer. >> reporter: tonight the president's own intelligence chief dan coats shot back with a rare rebuke. we have been clear in our assessment of russian meddling in the 2016 election. we will continue to provide un rnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security. critics like former obama cia director john brennan unleashing. >> it's something that is disgrace and that all americans should be ashamed of that who ormance of somebod holds the title of president of the united states.
>> reporter: electn meddling among the flashpoints that /r helped sink ussia relations. others include rusa's illegal occupation of crimea and the backing of a syrian regime that used chemical weapons. this morning, president trump blaming tensions on the u.s. and the mueller investigation tweeting, our relationship with russia has never been worse thanks to many years of u.s. foolishness and stupidity. now the rigged witch hunt. today asked does he think putin bears any responsibility? >> yes, i do. i hold both countries responsible. i think that the united states has been foolish i think that the probe is a disaster forur country. i think it's kept us apart. it's kept us separated. there was no collusion at all. everybody knows it. people are being brought out to the fore. so far that i know, virtually none of it related to the campaign. they're going to have to try hard to find somebody that did
relate to the campai ntat was a clean campaign. i beat hillary c easily ea and frankly weher. >> reporter: putin revealing for the first time who he wanted to win. ut >> president pin, did you want president trump to win the election? >> reporter: yes, i did, yes, ib diause he talked about bringing the russian relationship back to normal, putin said. was there anything behind it or was he just being honest at that moment? st i think he was being ho and wants to cooperate with trump. hei think trump is somebod thinks will do a lot of good for russia. whether the relationshof will do a loood for america is a different question. >> reporter: those four hours inside helsinki's presidential palace a sharp 180 from um president s tense showdown last week with many nato alliesk >> i te will end up having an extraordinary relationship. i hope so. i have been saying it and i'm sure you have heard over the years and as i campaigned that getting along with russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. >> reporter: putin tonight
dismissing suspicions that russia has compromising information on the president. >> does the russian govement have compromising material on president trump or his family? >> reporter: i did hear this rumor, he said. it is hard to imagine nonsense on a bigger scale than this. >> i have to say if they had it, it would have been out long ago. >> we only have their accounts of what happened because president trump and putin spoke for more than two hours behind closed doors with just translators in the room. president trump said there is the possibility of future meetings and he's hopeful for progress of nuclear proliferation among ot issues. the backlash at home waslmost immediate and the flood of reaction continues int the evening on both sides of the aisle. we get it now from our chief white house correspondent hallie jackson. >> reporter: the president may have liked his own performance in finland, but on capitol hillo many others di >> i did not think this was a good moment for our country. >> his behavior is so
inexplicable a so against the interests of the united states.r >> rr: democrats and republicans calling out the president for not calling out vladimir putin. >> i bel community and also the house intelligence community that russia meddled in it.we hould do everything we can to hold them accountable. >> i thought it was shameful. i never thought i would see an american president throw the intelligence community under the bus like that. >> i never would have thought a u.s. president would get duped by f themer kgb hands. >> reporter: senator john mccain described the president's meeting as one othe most disgraceful performances by an american president in memory. house speaker paul ryan insisted the president must appreciate si that ris not an ally. to the president, the kremlin could be even though they interfered with the 2016 el, tion, according to the f cia, nsa, and virtually everyone else in the intelligence community. that includes the president's
own top advisers. >> everybody who has looked at the classified information says there is no doubt the russians tried to affect the election. >> this was an aggressive action taken by the senior leadership inside of russia. >> they are trying the undermine western democracy. >> reporter: president trump iv seeming totheir words the same weight as the kremlin's. >> they said they think it is ssia. i have president putin. he just said it's not russia. >> rorter: and defending the discussion as necessary for a better relationship. >> nothing would be easier politically than to refuse to meet, to refuse to engage. but that would not accomplish anything. as president, i canns make decisi foreign policy in a futile effort to appease cs partisan cri >> reporter: in this case, when it comes to putin, the president is taking pass. >> he certainly treated him with kid gloves compared to the way t heated our allies. he gave up an opportunity to co ront russia on the nefarious
activities they have engaged in that threaten u.s. interests. >> reporter: even some of the ident's friends are not happy with what happened. newt gingrich is saying the president should clarify his helsinki comments, calling them the most serious mistake of his presidency. as for republicans on capitol hill, lester, they may speak ains to now, but it r be seen if and how they'll back up the words with actions. >> you were in the room. you had delegations from both sides there, reporters from russia and the u.s. what was the atmphere like? >> it was dramatic and wild even before it started. right before the u.s. delegation walked in thereas a moment when one reporter was forcibly removed from the room for heckling journalists and waving a sign about a nuclear ban treaty situation.it as what happened after that, the president's comments that i think were most striking. the president, no condemnation of putin, praising putin instead. the president talking about a usck of focus really on the 2018 elections and whata might
do then. frankly it was one of the most extraordinary days in a presidency that's full of them. >> thank you very much. >> reporter: now to the view from russia just three days enafter the indic of 12 russian agents for the attack on our election. tonight top russian officials aren't even trying to hide their excitement over the ouof the summit. our chief foreign correspondent rich d engel has made his way to moscow. >> reporter: tonight, state-sponsored russian tv is pouring praise on president vladimir putin calling him a master of rhetoric, a more skilled negotiator than president trump. russia's foreign minister in gushing cathe meeting fabulous, better than super. the r.t. network accused by u.s. intelligence of a propaganda campaign to sway the u.s. electi, its editor in chief saying rusa and the u.s. now meet as equals. >> every president has to have a chance to considerimself a winner. let's give president trump that chance and let'sive president
putin the same chance. >> reporter: president trump gave him that chance, despite nt the new indictfor election meddling, indictments so specific they listed names, even addresses.ed we traveo one of them in moscow. this imposing building is officiallyer military unty. the indictment says inside of it was the headquarters o 26165, the russian military intelligence unit charged with having the primary responsibility for the hacks on e democratic party. it is located in a high security area, mainly of military buildings. the army's general command is a few blocks away. russian officials dismd the american evidence. >> maybe they did it, maybe not. maybe they existed, maybe not. i don't know. but i cannot trust your organizations ke fbi, cia and on and so forth. >> reporter: this has been -- >> excuse me.ru i cannot them at all. >> richard, we have heard the imications from president trump after this meeting. what are the implications for
presidenputin? >> well, they are big. for putin this was not just a good meeting. it was a moment. as a kgb agent he watched the collapse of the soviet union, considered it a historic wrong and has been waiting for russia to rise again. many in this country tonight believe that moment as come. lester? >> all right, richk d engel, thu. let's bring in o chief foreign affairs correspondent andrea mitchell with what's coming out. of this summ >> it's not good, lester. the president came to helsinki with a low bar, a low challenge really. just challenge vladimir putin for the election hacking. instead he showed he was not willing to stand up to the russian leader. tonight, foreign diplomats are saying for the fst time in 70 years they cannot depend on an american president. that creates a real crisis for american foreign policy. it is profndly demoralizing to american intelligence professionals and diplomats around the world. one top career diplomat who
served presidents of both paies said that press conference was thet single m embarrassing performance by an american president on the world stage that he had ever seen. >> pretty strong reaction. >> yeah. exactly. >> thank you. president trump again today whanding with putin criticized the special counsel's investigation calling it a witch hunt and saying it damages our n y. those words, despite a slew of indictments by mueller. our justice correspondent pete williams now on where the investigation stands. >> reporter: as of tonight robert mueller has been the special counsel for 14 months, racking up a string of guilty pleas and indictments. he's twice charged individual russians by name with election meddling. 13 russians and three russian compies accused of a disinformation campaign on social media. a california man pleaded guilty to helping them get u.s. bank accounts. and in the latest charges, ru ian intelligence officers are accused of hacking into ngmpaign computers and lea stolen e-mails to embarrass the democrats.
an operation prosecutors say has a clear connection to the russian government. >> the defendants worked for two units of the main intelligence directorate of the russian staff known as the gru. >> reporter: still unanswered - did americlp the russians meddle in the campaign? three former trump campaign officials and advisers pleaded guilty to other charges. michael flynn for lying to the fbi about hisit conversations the russian ambassador during the transition. george papadopoulos. former campaign foreign policy adviser for lying about his contact with russians during the campaign. and richard gates, former deputy trump campaign manager for lying federal agents about hi loheying work on behalf of t russian-backed government in ukraine. he has agreed to tell mueller what he knows about paul whnafort, a former trump campaign chairmaled that lobbying effort for ukraine. he has steadfastly refused to cooperate with mueller and goes on trial next week.
alex van der zwaan went on record and pleaded guilty. a graduate student in the u.s. i was charge being an unregistered agent for russia. maria butina is accused of developing relations with conservative politicians and the nra to establish a back channel for russian government interests. her lawyerays she's not a foreign agent and offered to cooperate with investigators. lester? >> pete wi iams in washington tonight, thank you. the is a lot more ahead. big trouble for amazon as a surge of shoppers try to take advantage of one of the biggest al days of the year. also an incredible story of survival. missing for a week, how a woman was found alive after her jeep plunged off a cliff. hope you can stay with us. a and now for the rings. (♪) i'm a four-year-old ring bearer with a bad habit of swallowing stuff.
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we are back now with some of the other news back home including a rocky start to one of the biggest shopping days of the year -- amazon prime day. so many people trying to take advantage of deals that the website crashed. c our businerespondent jolene kent has the latest. >> reporter: tonight, amazon not quite primed for its much ci anted day of sales. the online shopping giant's site crhing just minutes into 3 hours of deep discounts. we got exclusive access into t prime day war room earlier this month. they said everything was under control. >> this is like our super bowl. >> reporter: instead of products people saw apology puppies. shoppers outraged, pointing out the company had year to prep. some glad they're saving money. amazon saying they are working to resolve the iue quickly. the sloweatart could tn the estimated $3.6 billion
amazon is expected to rake in on prime day one. what does an outage do to amazon on prime day? or>> every minute counts f amazon being down on prime day. they are litllally losing ns of dollars the longer the site stays down. >> reporter: the overall amazon effect isn't bad news for competitors who saw sales jump 35% on prime day last year. some may take advaage of the glitch. target, walmart, and ebay rolling out their own low prices hoping to entice those without prime. k joleneent, nbc news, new york. up next, a lava bomb slams through the roof of boat in hawaii. we have pictures from the scene when we come back. (burke) at farmersthwe've seen almost eveg so we know how to cover almost anything. even a "cactus calamity". (man 1) i read that the saguaro can live to be two hundred years old. (woman) how old do you think that one is? (man 1) my guess would be, about... (man 2) i'd say about two hundred. (man 1) yeah... (burke) gives houseplant a whole new meaning. and we covered it.
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guel almaguer has the harrowing details. >> reporter: it was a miracle angela hernandez walked away from her jeep after plunging 250 feet off a cliff. then she clung to life for a week. >> we just found word that my sister was found. >> reporter: hernandez was driving the coast in big sur when she crashed onto the rocky beach below.s i ill in my car and i could feel water rising over my knees, she writes on facebook. seriously injured, she used her wits to find water. >> she actually found a hose from the vehicle and used that as a straw to drink water from a natural spring nearby. >> reporter: finally on day seven -- >> i heard a faint c for help. >> reporter: hernandez saw hikers chelsea and chad moore. >> she said she woke up that morning and knew it was going to be a good day. >> reporter: firefighters hoisted hernandez to safety. i
so happy. i'm so happy. >> reporter: the hernandez family is thankful she's alive and grateful for newriends de in the most unlikely of places. miguel almaguer, nbc news. >> what an ordeal. in hawaii tonight, at least 23 people were injured after authorities say a so-called lava bomb hit a tour boat on the big island. a flying chunk of molten rock slammed through the roof of the boat near the kilauea volcano ndat caused so much damage destruction as it erupts. several people were taken to the hospital by ambulance. only one of the injuries is said to be serious. we'll take a break and be back with final thoughts. what we witnessed today here in helsinkimoment. but he has plans today. so he took aleve this morning. hey dad. if he'd taken tylenol, he'd be stopping for more pills right now. only aleve has the strength stop tough pain for up to 12 hours with just one pill. tylenol can't do that. aleve. all day strong.
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u.s. right now leaving this part of the world spinning in unfamiliar directions. it's been a trip unlike any other by an american president in which mr. trump realigned our long-held concepts of friends and adversaries --u. the a foe, russia to be trusted. the give and take of partisan politics we report at homesn't always pretty, but it is on our y il and as americans we defend the process, as me it gets. helsinki was the world stage. the bar, in this case our security and sovereignty was higher. as much as wvalue peace and dialogue, russia's well documented offenses struck at the hearof the democracy we proudly cherish. is a lot to sort out abo the implications of today's summit. tonight as politicians line up to applaud or condemn the president's performance, it is ftuseful to remember it is the judgment of history that has the last word. that is "nbc nightly news" for monday night. i'm lester holt reporting from helsinki. i'll see you from new york tomorrow.