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tv   ABC World News Tonight With David Muir  ABC  July 1, 2021 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT

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tonight, the trump organization and its chief financial officer indicted on charges of tax fraud. a dramatic legal moment unfolding in front of the cameras here in new york. cfo allen weisselberg arriving in court in handcuffs. prosecutors unsealing the 15-count indictment, accused him of running a 15-year tax fraud scheme, providing off the books compensation for top executives including apartments, tuition and cars. some of the checks allegedly signed by donald j. trump. the former president responding. jonathan karl standing by. also tonight, the search and rescue effort resumes in surfside, florida. rescuers temporarily pulled off the pile when the remaining part of the south tower began shifting. president biden and the first lady traveling there today, thanking first responders, meeting families of the victims and moments ago, stopping to see
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the growing memorial. alarming news about the covid delta variant. the cdc calling the variant hypertransmissible. the white house preparing to send surge response teams to virus hot spots. tracking severe storms as we come on the air. the heat wave in the west now blamed for more than 70 heat-related deaths. and tropical storm elsa gaining strength and moving closer to the u.s. coast. rob marciano with the timing and the track. the supreme court issues its final decisions of the term. justices issuing a ruling on arizona's voting restrictions. how the decision could effect challenges to other voting laws across the country. news tonight about the massive fireworks explosion during a police sting. more than a dozen people hurt. homes, businesses and cars damaged. the fourth of july getaway under way tonight. gas prices at their highest level of the year and climbing. and the former astronaut trainee and aviation pioneer, after a 60-year wait and at the
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age of 82, she's about to become the oldest person ever to fly into space. good evening and it's great to have you with us on this thursday night. i'm linsey davis, in for david. we begin with the new legal jeopardy for the trump organization and its chief financial officer, accused of compensating top executives off the books to avoid paying taxes in what prosecutors call a sweeping and audacious illegal payment scheme over 15 years. cfo allen weisselberg, one of the trump organization's longest serving and most loyal employee s, a stunning sight as he arrived at the court to hear the charges, handcuffed and escorted by guards. he entered a not guilty plea. he's accused of avoiding taxes on $1.7 million in fringe benefits including rent-free apartments, cars and private school tuition.
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some of the checks allegedly signed by donald j. trump himself. but the former president is not charged. among the potential witnesses in the case, weisselberg's former daughter-in-law, who says her father-in-law knows where the bodies are buried. abc's chief washington correspondent jonathan karl leads us off. >> reporter: allen weisselberg, a man who has spent nearly a half century as a top executive in the company where donald trump made his fortune and fame, was brought into court today in handcuffs. he and the former president's business empire were charged in what prosecutors today called a sweeping an audacious scheme to avoid paying taxes. weisselberg is the trump organization's chief financial officer. >> replacing george this week is my chief financial officer, allen weisselberg. and you think george is tough? wait until you see allen. >> reporter: prosecutors accused weisselberg and the trump organization of compensating top executives off the books so the business and executives could pay less in taxes. weisselberg himself is accused of avoiding taxes on $1.7
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million in fringe benefits over the past 15 years. including a rent-free apartment in manhattan, two mercedes-benz automobiles for him and his wife and private school tuition for their two children. the tuition, the indictment says, was paid by personal checks drawn on the account of and signed by donald j. trump. weisselberg pleaded not guilty. as for donald trump, he says the entire two-year investigation is politically motivated. >> it's a disgusting thing. it's very unfair. >> reporter: one potentially key witness is weisselberg's former daughter-in-law, who is cooperating with investigators. >> he knows where the bodies are buried. he's the one that does the deals. he's the one who knows where every penny goes. >> reporter: trump's former laerichael cohen who turned on trump and did time in prison, says the soon to be 74-year-old weisselberg could turn on trump, too. >> right now, his life is on the line. he's 74 years old.
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he wants to be with his family, not hanging out with a bunch of other inmates. >> reporter: trump told abc news weisselberg is, quote, a tremendous person. they are pressuring him, setting him up. they want him to lie against trump. >> jonathan karl joins us now from washington. and jon, the former president himself not charged today, but prosecutors clearly not finished with this case. >> reporter: in fact, linsey, prosecutors said today that the investigation continues. and this is a sprawling investigation. they have had donald trump's tax returns and other financial records since february and there will clearly be an effort to get weisselberg, who faces up to 15 years in prison if he is found guilty, to flip. donald trump told abc news today that he does not think that is going to happen. linsey? >> known as a very loyal employee. jonathan, thank you. now to the other major headline this thursday night, the search for survivors in surfside, florida, has just resumed after being suspended over fears of a further
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collapse. rescuers temporarily pulled off the pile for the first time in a week. the delay, one more source of anguish for the families of the missing. today, president biden visiting, thanking first responders and rescue crews.eir respects at the makeshift memorial that's grown larger every day. abc's victor oquendo is in surfside once again for us tonight. >> reporter: tonight, rescue efforts resuming at champlain towers south after being suspended for most of the day. crews suddenly evacuating in the early morning hours, fearing what remains of the condominium could come down. >> we're doing everything we can to ensure that the safety of our first responders is paramount and to continue our search and rescue operation as soon as it is safe to do so. >> reporter: shortly after 2:00 a.m., crews finding troubling signs, including widening cracks and movement in a large column hanging at the site. but urfside's mayor says search and rescue is back to work. this as president biden and the
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first lady traveled here to surfside, florida, today. visiting the growing memorial. >> the whole nation is mourning with these families. they see it every day on television. they're going through hell and those who survived the collapse, as well as those who are missing loved ones. >> reporter: biden meeting with first responders and rescue teams. afterwards, spending time privately for hours with grieving families, including batina obias, whose aunt and uncle are among the missing. >> i'm still hoping that there's a miracle, but i also want them to make sure that nobody gets hurt anymore, right? people are risking their lives there. we have to think about them. >> reporter: this evening the death toll stands at 18, including the first children. sisters 10-year-old lucia and 4-year-old emma guara. and there are 145 people still unaccounted for. great-grandparents arnie and myriam among them. their great-grandson holding "surfside strong" sign. the family holding onto hope. >> quite an image. not ready to give up that hope just yet.
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victor oquendo once again joins us live from the scene. it must have been a relief to the families when they got word that the search and rescue was resuming. >> reporter: linsey, miami-dade fire rescue saying following the recommendation of structural engineers, search and rescue efforts have resumed, adding that finding missing loved ones continues to be at the forefront of our operations. linsey? >> victor, thank you. next tonight, the growing alarm about the covid delta variant. the director of the cdc is now calling it hypertransmissible. in just one week, cases are up 10%. the white house is now preparing to deploy surge response teams to hot spots. in more than 1,000 counties across the country, less than 30% of people are vaccinated. and 99% of those who died of covid in the past six months were not vaccinated. 181 million people have now had at least one dose, that's nearly 64% of everyone 12 years and older. here's abc's marcus moore. >> reporter: facing what it
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calls a hypertransmissible delta variant, the white house tonight launching surge response teams to send to virus hot spots. >> to be clear, the federal government stands ready to meet the moment and work with our state partners to respond to the delta variant. >> reporter: the delta variant now behind about 1 in 4 new cases. it comes as the white house plans a fourth of july celebration to mark what the president hoped would be our independence from the virus. >> we are celebrating as a country, at the same time, as we recognize the fact that we're in a serious situation for those who have not been vaccinated. >> reporter: the worst hot spot in southwestern missouri, where a surge of covid patients forced one hospital to transfer nearly two dozen people to kansas city and st. louis hospitals. >> but i'm concern about people gathering and us having even more significant uptick in
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the 10 to 14 days after the fourth of july weekend. >> reporter: about 1,000 counties have vaccination rates under 30%. >> we expect to see increased transmission in these communities unless we can vaccinate more people now. >> reporter: early data shows nearly all covid deaths in the last six months were in unvaccinated people. in orlando, debbie and mike schafer didn't get the vaccine. then caught the virus in may. >> we were apprehensive because it came out so quickly. and so we just wanted to see if there were going to be any long-term effects. >> reporter: mike says the wait cost his wife debbie her life. >> i don't want her death to go in vain. i wanted to encourage people to help people maybe save lives by getting vaccinated. >> reporter: linsey, these surge teams will focus on communities at higher risk or already experiencing an outbreak and they will do things like expand testing and work or help to get therapeutics to people infected with covid-19. covid-19. linsey? >> marcus, thank you. next tonight, the extreme weather. officials in washington and oregon now reporting at least 79 lives lost to the historic heat. the wildfire threat forcing a state of emergency in oregon. in the east, 20 million people
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under a severe thunderstorm watch, including fedex field in landover, maryland. and a new tropical storm now on the move. abc senior meteorologist rob marciano tracking it all for us. rob? >> reporter: good evening, linsey. we've got a long front that's impacts the northeast and all the way through the front rage of colorado, where flash flood watches are posted. that front bumping into the heat and humidity in the northeast and strong storms there. we have watches that are posted for new jersey and virginia for the next couple of hours and that front makes for more messy weather tomorrow before things begin to cool off. all right, let's talk tropical storm elsa, humming along in the atlantic at 30 miles an hour, that's going to keep it weak for now. watches are posted already for haiti. you can see the track brings it close to florida by the middle of the week. low confidence on those details, but it certainly a storm we'll be watching. linsey? >> we know you'll be keeping an eye on that. thank you so much, rob. next, the major supreme court decision on voting rights. the conservative majority upholding two arizona voting restrictions that opponents claim would unfairly result in
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racial discrimination. with more on what this ruling might signal for the hundreds of other measures like it currently working their way through state legislatures, we go to abc's terry moran. >> reporter: with states across the country passing new laws that make voting more difficult, especially for minorities, the supreme court today gave a green light. by a 6-3 vote, the conservative majority on the court upheld two election laws in arizona. one criminalizes the collection of ballots by third parties, dubbed ballot harvesting by critics. the other requires election officials to throw out ballots cast at the wrong precinct. voting rights activists offered evidence that these laws impact native americans and other minorities more than whites in arizona and claimed they violated the voting rights act. but in today's ruling, justice samuel alito writing for the court, brushed that evidence aside, saying the burden on minority voters was minor. "mere inconvenience cannot be
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enough to justify a violation of the voting rights act," alito wrote. in an impassioned dissent, justice elena kagan writing for the court's liberals declared, "what is tragic is that the court has damaged a statute designed to bring about the end of discrimination in voting. " and in arizona, native american activists said the ruling will make it harder for them to vote. >> only 26% of native americans live on a postal route, meaning you can't get mail at home in most places. and that's why ballot collection matters. >> terry moran joins us now. terry, president biden put out a statement today, saying he was extremely disappointed in the court's decision. terry, the president has made it clear that he and his attorney general merrick garland will be fighting these state measures that they say restrict voting access. what are they learning from this case? >> reporter: they're learning it's going to be harder for the justice department or anyone else to challenge these new laws, to prove that they have a discriminatory impact on minorities. they'll need more evidence, meticulous evidence or evidence they were passed with a discriminatory intent. and that's hard. but president biden in that statement vowed to continue the fight, saying, democracy is on the line. linsey? >> terry, thank you. next, the massive explosion rocking a los angeles neighborhood.
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what was supposed to be a controlled detonation of illegal fireworks by the lapd turned to disaster, causing widespread damage, injuring 17 people, including police officers. abc's zohreen shah is on the scene. >> reporter: tonight, authorities searching for answers after what they call a catastrophic failure when an lapd bomb containment truck exploded during a planned detonation of confiscated fireworks. >> everybody started running and i couldn't find my mom. i was like, mom, where are you? everybody was screaming, going crazy. >> reporter: authorities had seized up to 5,000 pounds of illegal fireworks when they came across 40 soda can-sized and 200 smaller homemade devices. the bomb squad tried to safely destroy part of that stash when the truck ripped apart. 17 people wounded, including ten officers, one atf agent. none of those injuries life-threatening. >> i've been working for atf for approximately 11 years and i've never seen anything like this.
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>> reporter: a 27-year-old arrested, charged with posessing a destructive device. authorities say he wanted to resell the fireworks ahead of the fourth of july, comes as some steps are canceling fireworks celebrations because of extreme wildfire danger. linsey? >> zohreen, thank you. tonight, the great fourth of july getaway is already under way, nearly 48 million americans are expected to travel and most of them, more than 43 million, will drive. now when they head out, in addition to heavy traffic, they may also run into higher prices at the pump and even some gas shorta shortages. so, when's the best time to leave to avoid some of those bumps in the road? here's abc's gio benitez. >> reporter: tonight, despite the highest gas prices so far this year, the traffic is back from coast to coast. more people expected to take to the roads this fourth of july holiday than before the pandemic. >> the national average is $3.09 and we expect it to increase ahead of the holiday weekend. >> reporter: airports are also packed. 3.5 million travelers eager to get back into the air and off to
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their holiday destinations. >> july 1st is going to be the busiest day since covid started but it will only have that record for four days because july 5th is going to break it. >> reporter: the busiest airports? chicago o'hare, l.a.x. and mccarran airport in las vegas. but air travel is still getting up to speed in spots. american dealing with a pilot shortage and the tsa also has staffing issues. >> because of the fact that there are shortages in staffing, you know, there are going to be long lines. just be patient. >> reporter: and linsey, experts tell us that the absolute worst time to get on the road is tomorrow between 4:00 and 5:00 p.m. then again on monday at the same time for the drive back home. linsey? >> people eager to get back out there. gio, thank you. when we come back, news tonight on bill cosby. where he went on his first full day of freedom. and princes william and harry reunite at a tribute for their mother, princess diana.
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the estranged brothers making a rare appearance together at kensington palace, unveiling a bronze statue of diana on what would have been her 60th birthday. it features her with two young children, representing her charity work around the world. when we come back, the astronaut waiting 60 years to launch into space. at 82, her wait is almost over. my name is douglas. i'm a writer/director and i'm still working. in the kind of work that i do, you are surrounded by people who are all younger than you. i had to get help somewhere along the line to stay competitive. i discovered prevagen. i started taking it and after a period of time, my memory improved. it was a game-changer for me. prevagen. healthier brain. better life. since suzie's got goals, she'll want a plan to reach them. so she'll get some help from fidelity, and she'll feel so good about her plan,
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first female inspector for the faa. and in the 1960s, she was the youngest member of the mercury 13. the first group of women put through rigorous astronaut testing. tests that i had, i can do it - and i can do it just as well as anybody else. >> she says she passed all those exams better than faster than any of the men who later went on to become nasa's first astronauts. but the mercury 13 never made it into space. the program was canceled. >> i never had any bad feelings. i knew i was going. sometime i will go. >> and now, after nearly 20,000 hours of flight time and 82 years on this planet, it's finally happening. >> we're going to fly you up into space on the very first flight. that's your -- >> reporter: funk is set to join amazon ceo jeff bezos on the first human flight on his blue origin rocket later this month. >> you're going to be an astronaut. >> finally! >> bezos and the blue origin
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team documenting the moment. >> we open the hatch and you step outside, what's the first thing you say? >> i will say, honey, that was the best thing that ever happened to me and give you a hug. >> set to become the oldest person in space, funk still paving the way for the next generation. >> the only thing a woman needs to compete in a man's world is ability. go for everything you can. higher, faster, longer. >> higher, faster, longer, go wally funk. we will be watching and cheering. thank you so much for watching. i'm linsey davis. for david and all of us here, good night
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the alameda company behind -- have gone publicgone publicgc could help establish the u.s. as a leader in a global space race. >> san francisco is ready to put on a big fireworks show but are they ready to handle big crowds? i am cornell bernard. i we'll have that story. in the amount of shade on the street be a sign of how much money your neighbors make? you will be surprised at with the trees can tell you.tell you.
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what is old is new again. after pausing for the pandemic, san francisco revives itself in time for the fourth of july. with old favorites, we are seeing some old problems. a good evening. thank you for joining us. your watching abc7 news at 6:00 live here and whatever you stream. we are happy to report on economic recoveries in the bay area because they are a part of building a better bay area. that is a spectators are expected to flock to san francisco this weekend but is the city ready to handle it? cornell bernard is live along the embarcadero with the story tonight. cornell? >> reporter: hey, dan. the waterfront is definitely reopening. this weekend the city will put on the first fireworks show in two years. with so many car break-ins, it is a problem in the city. is the city ready to handle the big crowds? one family we talked to today says they are not so surso sursr >> a big deal. a huge deal. >> the original experiences back. orord reopens to the general public thursday.


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