tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC December 24, 2016 5:30pm-6:01pm PST
dry. >> thank you, we'll have more news for you at 6:00. we'll see you then. breaking news tonight. president-elect trump is shutting down the trump foundation. late word after a storm of controversy and an investigation. the nightmare before christmas. slick roads and runways. treacherous travel as millions head home for the holidays, and the last-minute shoppers trigger madness at the malls. holiday tragedies. a pair of house fires claimed the lives of several children trapped, unable to escape. exploding e-cigs. new incidents raising concerns about a safety of a habit soaring in popularity. and jingle all the way. a tv commercial now a christmas tradition where the wind comes sweeping down the plains. you might not be able to get it out of your head. "nightly news" begins right now.
>> announcer: from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news" with jose diaz balart. good evening. i'm peter alexander in tonight for jose. breaking news on this christmas eve as president-elect donald trump is trying to calm the controversy over potential conflicts of interest before he takes the oath of office now less than a month away. tonight trump announced that he'll dissolve the donald j. trump foundation, a charity that bears his name and remains under investigation by the new york state attorney general. nbc's kelly o'donnell brings us the latest on the breaking news from outside trump's estate. >> reporter: the surprise christmas eve announcement. part of a still unfolding plan to detangle the billionaire from a maze of business and family ties that could hinder his new administration. trump's reasoning? he writes "to avoid even the appearance of any conflict with my role as president."
trump praised the foundation's philanthropy. i'm very proud of the money that has been raised for many organizations in need. the new york attorney general launched an investigation in september over how the foundation used its funds. >> it would be incredibly unusual if there were allegations of impropriety by a nonprofit and we didn't investigate. >> reporter: responding to trump's announcement late today, the new york ag said "not so fast." "the trump foundation is still under investigation by this office and cannot legally dissolve until that investigation is complete." trump has blasted the inquiry as partisan. the new york attorney general is a democrat. trump summed up his decision this way. "i will be devoting so much time and energy to the presidency and solving the many problems facing our country and the world, i don't want to allow good work to be associated with a possible conflict of interest." >> kelly, the foundation has a unique history. what more can you tell
us about that tonight? >> reporter: well, peter, a bit of background. it goes back to 1988. there are no employees. trump family members sit on the board. the irs cited the foundation and it paid a fine for campaign contributions here in florida that were deemed improper. peter. >> kelly, tonight a little bit more breaking news. president-elect trump trying to fill out his white house team. another key voice not coming with him. what more do we know about that? >> reporter: fewer than four weeks to go, peter, and many people have seen jason miller on television. who has been a top communications advisor to trump. accepted the position as communes director in the white house. announces tonight he will not be taking that position. saying he's had a chance to spend time with his family. his wife is pregnant with their second child and he's going to put family ahead of his career. but that's a loss to the trump white house because he's been an integral part of their strategy. >> kelly o'donnell in florida tonight. kelly, merry christmas. thank you.
one more note on presidential politics. the prime minister of israel benjamin netanyahu is venting his frustration with the obama administration after a u.s. abstention allowed the u.n. security council to condemn israeli settlements in the west bank and east jerusalem. netanyahu called it a shameful anti-israel ambush and said he is looking forward to working with president-elect trump. secretary of state john kerry said the u.s., quote, acted with one primary objective in mind, to preserve the possibility of a two-state solution." in time for christmas a major winter storm is moving east through the rockies threatening to make last-minute travel tomorrow dicey from the midwest to the plains. it's an ugly forecast, freezing rain, snow, even the possibility of a tornado in places. here is nbc's steve patterson. >> reporter: tonight treacherous conditions for a record number of holiday travelers. in california, a rare rainstorm drenching drought-plagued south. record daily and monthly totals across the region wreaking havoc on washed out roads.
recent wild fires creating poor conditions on area hillsides, making a mudflow mess. >> it makes a shhh sound. you can hear it coming down the street. >> reporter: further north, snow shutting down interstate 5, california's major artery, closed in both directions. in washington state, ice and snow stranded drivers. a winter storm in spokane is sending more than 20 vehicles slamming into each other, including a city bus. drivers here thankful no one got hurt. >> it was pretty scary but i felt safe we were going to bump into these people. >> reporter: in iowa, the blanketing sideways snow sliding tractor trailers and cars off the highway. >> with the storm, last-minute trav will be dicey at best. severe weather from texas to nebraska. snow to the north adding up to more than a foot and freezing rain potential, as well. >> that's happening. >> reporter: in wisconsin, the minnesota vikings' football team trying to make the best of a scary situation.
>> ahh! >> reporter: the players stranded after the team's plane skidded off the taxiway in icy conditions. >> we're definitely over the limit now. >> reporter: the vikings having to be rescued from the plane. ice, rain, and snow across the country slowing the way for many trying to get home for the holidays. steve patterson, nbc news, los angeles. there is sad news on this christmas eve. word of two deadly fires claiming the lives of children who were unable to escape. their families left in a state of shock and mourning. nbc's morgan radford has more. >> i have three juveniles upstairs. >> reporter: three children trapped and killed in a house fire minutes before christmas eve. >> it's gonna be a structure fire. >> reporter: flames broke out in a gary, indiana apartment where a 2-year-old, 4-year-old and 5-year-old were pronounced dead. >> i seen the flames. shooting out the window. i heard the kids screaming and yelling
"help, it hurts." man. >> reporter: their mom and an adult male rushed to the hospital. >> we're still going through the debris and checking out probable causes. >> reporter: hours later in pennsylvania, another fire. >> first floor engulfed in flames. >> reporter: this time in a single-family home killing a 5-month-old baby on the second floor and the grandmother and uncle lifeless at the bottom of the stairs. >> for the firefighters it's going to be tough. we're going to get some emotional assistance for them. >> reporter: while authorities search for clues, a fresh reminder of a dangerous reality. nearly 47,000 fires happen during the holiday season. claiming more than 500 lives. tonight sending shock waves of grief. >> man, christmas eve. that's the most heartbreaking thing in the world. >> reporter: a painful start to the holiday season. morgan radford nbc news, new york.
overseas tonight authorities arrested three people, including the nephew of the alleged berlin christmas market attacker. they're suspected of belonging to a terrorist cell and having contact with this man, anis amari. who was alleged to have killed 12 people and wounded dozens more before going on the run. he later died in a shootout with police in italy. in the war against one of the world's most vicious terror groups, the nigerian president is claiming victory over boko haram. the militant islamic group responsible for kidnapping more than 200 schoolgirls just a couple of years ago. today the nigerian army says it's freed nearly 2,000 captives but as nbc news explains, most of those girls remain missing. ♪ holy night >> reporter: hope for a peaceful christmas renewed tonight as nigeria claims to have finally crushed the islamist extremist group boko haram. the president saying the militants are on the run. driven from their last
enclave in the sambisi forest, their hostages freed. for seven years, they've murdered and terrorized in their quest to set up an islamic state in africa. their brazen kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls inspired a worldwide campaign "bring back our girls." two years later, barely any escaped. just 21 released. most still missing. boko haram joined forces with isis last year, becoming its most sinister franchise. >> they actually are far, far more lethal. they were far more lethal than isis was. >> reporter: unlike isis, boko haram's attacks are focused on nigeria and neighboring countries. >> it could be possible that boko haram has been defeated at the base camp. but they may have broken down into smaller units and going underground back into clandestine terrorism. >> reporter: as isis has already proven, losing ground doesn't
mean they can't continue to kill. lucy kavanaugh, nbc news, london. now to the war in syria. we're getting an extraordinary look tonight at the incredible scope of devastation inside aleppo. besieged for so many years. a once bustling city now reduced to rubble. nbc's bill neely was inside that war-torn city. >> reporter: one million people lived here, but east aleppo is a ghost town now. it has emptied. 30,000 people evacuated in just over a week. half of syria's biggest city is destroyed. but aleppo has lost more than that. war turned its ancient sites to battlefields and rubble. this was the grand mosque before the war. this is it today. a thousand years of beauty blown to pieces. gunmen were protected here, but not history. this was the market, the oldest in the world. today it's a charred
ruin. after 1,200 years of business, it's an underground arsenal filled with snipers' nests and spent bullets. this was the citadel, a world heritage site. today it's a camp for victorious syrian troops. its walls breached by shelling. its grounds, where tens of thousands of tourists roamed, in ruins. aleppo was one of the jewels of the arab world. not anymore. its collapse began when rebels seized the eastern half and the regime bombed relentlessly. whole neighborhoods wiped out. people have lived here for 8,000 years. it claims to be the oldest inhabited city in the world. but they won't live here again. amid this waste land, people salvage scraps. they are surviving but the is hardly living. it's hard to say this place is coming back to life after so much death.
a death toll thought to be in the tens of thousands after years of air strikes. but, frankly, the exact figure may never be known. half of aleppo's people are now refugees. homeless and traumatized. aleppo has fallen. it will take a generation to build it again. bill neely, nbc news aleppo. back now to politics. a look at one of the pressing issues facing the next president. health care for america's veterans. donald trump has yet to announce his pick to head the department of veteran's affairs. he's already vowing to shorten the wait time to see a doctor and improve veteran's access to private health care. still, as our pentagon nichols explains, there are plenty of questions about how that will work. >> reporter: on his way to the white house, donald trump appealing to america's 22 million veterans. >> one of the big problems is the wait time. vets are waiting six days, seven days, eight days. >> reporter: part of
trump's plan, give every vet the option to go outside to a private practice of their choice. similar options already exist for some veterans. the biggest choice? veteran's choice. dave meyer tried at home many minnesota for an eye exam. >> it took longer than if i would have went to the va. >> reporter: the program was designed for vets like meyer. those who live more than 40 miles from the closest va. it's also for anyone who faces a wait time of more than 30 days. >> it would be good if we could get more local va help, but the program they have isn't working for us. >> reporter: congress created the $10 billion program after a 2014 scandal revealed some veterans were dying waiting for care. nationally wait times of more than 30 days are down. that's in part because doctors like lawrence goldberg, a non-va ophthalmologist in florida, are helping to clear the backlog. >> they're putting these people off and holding back until
they're in dire straits with their vision and then sending them to me because they're not getting taken care of at the va expeditiously. >> reporter: some doctors complain they're going months before getting reimbursed by the va and may not continue in the program. >> first few patients it took over six months to get paid. they kept denying it. >> reporter: the response from the va? in the past two years va has increased access to care both inside va and through our work with private health care providers. for meyer who drives vets to appointments across minnesota, he said the best way to endure is by helping one another. >> any time you're sitting at home feeling sorry for yourself, go spend a day at the va. there's always somebody that's got it worse. >> reporter: as for the future of veteran's care, trump can ask congress to extend the program beyond next summer, expand it for all veterans, or create something entirely new. hunts nichols, nbc news, minnesota. tonight carrie fisher remains in
intensive care at a los angeles hospital one day after the "star wars" actress suffered a heart attack on board a flight from london. her family rushed to her side. there's been an outpouring of support from friends and fans and former co-stars. among them han solo himself. harrison ford in a statement to "the hollywood reporter" writes "i'm shocked and saddened to hear the news about my dear friend. our thoughts are with carrie, her family, and friends." exploding e cigarettes. new scares caught on camera as more and more people start vaping. growing concerns about safety.
in california, it began with a bus passenger rushed to the hospital after an e cigarette exploded in his pocket. investigators suspect a lithium-ion battery used to power the device is to blame. some lawmakers are talking about the possibility of a recall. we have the details from gadi schwartz. >> reporter: a terrifying bus ride in fresno, california as a passenger on the right's e cigarette explodes in his pocket. it's the latest case of an exploding lithium-ion battery used in e cigarettes causing severe burns. this week in the uk, investigators releasing this video from inside a store where an e cigarette ignites over a baby stroller. the fda reporting nearly 100 cases of exploding e cigarettes since 2009. e cigarettes also raising alarm in the skies. last week an american airlines flight was
forced to land after a small fire on board. >> it was a lithium-ion battery that caught on fire from an e cigarette. >> reporter: currently e cigarettes are allowed in carry-on bags but cannot be charged or used and cannot be packed in checked baggage. but the tobacco vapor electronic association calls these incidents 100% avoidable. retailers saying most explosions are caused by overcharging the batteries. making modifications to small vaporizers or the lithium batteries touching the metal in spare change in your pocket. preventable with specialized carrying cases. in new york senator schumer is calling certain types of e cigarettes ticking time bombs. >> we haven't seen a single recall for any brand of e cigarettes. while the devices go boom, the industry is silent but the feds are silent, too. that's why i'm sounding the alarm. >> reporter: the fda and faa still evaluating how to regulate the growing number of e cigarettes and batteries sold every day.
gondolas from one side to the other lifting them, at times, almost horizontally. plenty of harnesses, rope, and several hours to finally get all the passengers to safety. so if you haven't found the perfect gift yet, it's safe to say you're pretty much out of time. malls were packed today, though. stores were offering last-minute deals. americans are expected to shell out $655 billion this november and december. that's a jump of more than 3% over last year. get this, 10% of holiday shopping comes after christmas when stores push to clear those shelves of excess inventory. you're not too late. just in for the folks at norad tracking santa's sleigh around the world where it's already christmas in many places. santa and his reindeer making stops in sydney, moscow, and athens. he's on the way here which makes a good time to remind the kids, including my own, santa is still keeping tabs on who is naughty or nice. so just be good for goodness sake! when we come back, name that tune. about everybody can
holidays are here. ♪ rudolph the red nosed reindeer ♪ but in oklahoma a tradition that would make even irving berlin jealous. ♪ jewelry is the gift to give because it's the gift that lives and lives so give the gift you know can't fail from bc clark's anniversary sale ♪ >> reporter: music to their ears for 60 years. the bc clark jewelry store jingle. ♪ savings you can't ignore ♪ when you hear it, what do you think? >> i think christmas. i think snow. >> it's one of those that can drive you nuts but it gets you in the christmas season. >> reporter: even this oklahoma boy knows the tune by heart. >> literally since i was born i remember hearing that jingle on the radio. ♪ so give the gift you know can't fail at bc clark's anniversary sale ♪ >> reporter: bc clark started his business back in 1892, before oklahoma was even a state. fast forward to 1956, when the family spent $300 on a jingle. ♪ since 1892 >> reporter: now beloved by generations.
>> we had no idea we would still be playing that jingle today. >> reporter: some use it in their christmas displays or as their ring tones. ♪ even the city's hockey team sang it. >> what is funny, people don't view it as an advertisement. they view it as a christmas carol. >> reporter: i'm in oklahoma city and turn on the radio and what do i hear? ♪ jewelry is the gift to give because it's a gift that will live and live ♪ give the gift you know can't fail from bc clark's anniversary sale ♪ [ applause ] >> reporter: is it the best 300 bucks you ever spent? >> absolutely. no doubt about it. >> reporter: a christmas jingle that lets you know you're home. now that's okay. ♪ anniversary sale kevin tibbles nbc news oklahoma city. that's a jingle that sticks. good luck getting that out of your head tonight.
that's "nbc nightly news" for this saturday. i'm peter alexander reporting from washington. from all of us here at nbc, we wish you a merry christmas and happy hanukkah, too. have a good night. right now at six: a chilly holiday on tap for the bay area. right now at 6:00, a chilly holiday on tap for the bay area. the news at 6:00 starts now. good evening and thank you for joining us this saturday. i'm vicky nguyen. we begin with the weather. people in the bay area will be bundling up tonight as they
gather for christmas eve and the first night of chanukah. >> it's going to feel a little more winter doct-like, for calia standards anyway. in the peninsula and the tri valley, staying in the 40s, the south bay as well. we're expecting overnight lows to drop to the 20s and poll tss the 30s for the north bay. santa rosa and napa, the possibility of 27 to 32 degrees. that's why the national weather it w service has issued a freeze warning from midnight until 8:00 a.m. christmas morning. please bring your pets indoors. temperatures remain in the 40s, and they'll stick around in those 40s overnight. if you're heading to christmas in the park, i know it's looking beautiful out there. nice clear skies ov