tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC October 8, 2020 2:06am-2:36am PDT
tonight the high stakes showdown amid the growing covid outbreak in the white house. just a short time from now, mike pence and kamala harris facing off in the only vice presidential debate. for pence, a chance to shake up the race with 27 days until the election. for harris, the most important moment of her political career and the drama before the debate, the campaigning sparring over dividers after pence's possible exposure to president trump. just posted, the president's new video message about the experimental medicine he received and saying it was a blessing from
god as he returns to the oval office today while he is still potentially contagious. stimulus chaos. the president cutting off talks and then a reversal. where do things stand for millions? the alarming covid surge. cases on the rise in over 30 states. emergency operations and evacuations as hurricane delta targets the u.s. after cutting a path of destruction in tourist hotspots. the isis terror suspects known as the beatles brought to the u.s. for trial. why they won't face the death penalty. the top u.s. spy hunter, what worries him most about the election. >> this is "nbc nightly news" the vice presidential debate. here's lester holt. >> good evening. with new covid cases on the rise from the white house to the american heartland, vice president mike pence will debate democratic vp candidate senator kamala harris hours from now in utah. the covid outbreak that sidelined the
president seen in this video released late today turning up the spotlight for tonight's showdown. harris, a former prosecutor hoping to make the case against the administration's covid response, pence an experienced debater looking to close ground in the polls. our geoff bennett has a preview. >> reporter: tonight, we are just hours away. vice president mike pence and senator kamala harris facing off in a historic debate with suddenly higher stakes. coming as president trump recovers from coronavirus, all eyes on the vice president's performance trying to make up ground in national polls and on senator harris who will be facing the biggest test of her political career. and the debate even more critical with both serving as understudies to the oldest candidates to ever lead the republican and democratic tickets. both pence and harris have spent hours preparing with traditional mock sessions according to sources familiar. >> when the president told me he was headed back to the white house he told me to head to utah.
we're looking very much forward to the vice presidential debate. >> reporter: former florida attorney general pam bondi playing harris in the pence practice sessions. the harris campaign subbing one indiana native for another. with former mayor pete buttigieg playing pence. >> i want to thank the people of utah for being so welcoming. in such a warm way. >> reporter: harris making history as the first woman of color on a major party's national ticket. her expected target tonight, the president's pandemic response. an issue where polls show voters prefer joe biden. harris the campaign says will try to offer avoid sparring with pence and instead offer a contrasting vision for the nation. it comes as biden says there should be no additional presidential debates as long as the president is still infected. >> i think if he still has covid we shouldn't have a debate. >> reporter: meantime pence's expected top focus, the economy. arguing the president is best to lead an economic comeback. polling shows voters
give president trump a slight edge on that issue and pence may press harris to say whether biden will add justices to the supreme court. which he earlier refused to answer. >> vote now. make sure you in fact let people know. >> he doesn't want to answer the question. >> reporter: even the debate stage is unprecedented with extra pandemic precautions. including candidates seated 12 feet apart, plus plexiglass partitions. the move which was requested by the harris camp was initially mocked by the vice president's office. if senator harris wants to use a fortress around herself have at it. pence's team ultimately agreeing late tuesday following another positive covid case at the white house. >> geoff, i know the candidates are bringing guests tonight and that's giving us a little bit of a hint to their strategies. >> reporter: the vice president has invited the parents of murdered isis hostage kayla mueller. they have criticized the obama administration of isis
and senator harris invited deborah cattrell, the only democrat running for the salt lake city council. lester? >> thanks very much. we want you to join savannah, chuck, andrea and me for full coverage of tonight's debate starting at 9:00 p.m. eastern/6:00 p.m. time here on nbc. just two days after he left the hospital, president trump was back in the oval office today and releasing a new video saying it was a blessing from god that he got sick because he could experience how well an experimental new treatment works. peter alexander has the latest. >> reporter: president trump tonight still recovering but back in the oval office for the first time since testing positive for coronavirus. releasing this video. >> because i feel great. i feel like perfect. so, i think this was the blessing from god that i caught it. >> reporter: praising the experimental antibody cocktail he received. >> it really did a fantastic job. i want to get for you what i got. i'm going to make it
free. >> reporter: dr. sean conley said he's been fever free more than four days, symptom free over 24 hours and not needed nor received supplemental since initial hospitalization. his doctor providing few other specifics including whether president trump is still taking the steroid dexamethasone to treat the disease. >> he is in very good health. we are pleased with his progress. >> reporter: earlier chief of staff mark meadows hinting the president wanted to get back to the office. >> if he decides to go to the oval we have safety protocols there that are not only from a ppe standpoint but a ventilation standpoint. >> reporter: president trump returns to a west wing that's like a ghost town with many staffers quarantining or working from home. stephen miller, the latest aide to become infected. miller is the 18th white house aide or ally to test positive and part of an indoor cluster that's become a focal point. the president's debate prep sessions, six
positives in that group. including hope hicks, kellyanne conway and chris christie. still meadows insisting to us today they were taking precautions. >> why didn't the white house or perhaps mandate social distancing and mask wearing? >> well, we do mandate social distancing as much as practical and when we're not -- and when we're there. obviously wearing masks when you can't do that. >> reporter: late tonight a first for the new england journal of medicine, the nonpartisan medical journal not naming president trump but slamming the quote current political leaders as dangerously incompetent adding that americans should not allow them to keep their jobs. lester? >> peter alexander at the white house, thanks. millions of americans are in limbo facing financial peril as they wait to see if the white house and congress can agree on some kind of covid relief package. hallie jackson now on where things stand.
>> reporter: white house whiplash tonight with president trump now open to a series of smaller deals to provide pandemic until after the election. >> it is hard to see any clear sane path on anything that he is doing. >> reporter: democrats accusing the president of playing politics with the white house now looking at piecemeal plans for things like the paycheck protection program and $1,200 stimulus checks. >> speaker pelosi continues to throw out all kinds of reasons for the failure on the negotiations other than looking in the mirror. >> reporter: president trump who shifted his stance on the stimulus before, laying out his latest position as part of a tweet storm covering topics ranging from russia to religion to the race for president. pelosi calling the new stimulus strategy a missed opportunity blaming his behavior on drugs the president is taking for the covid diagnosis. >> there are those who say that a steroid has an impact on people's thinking. >> reporter: no stimulus deal at all means no checks for people to cash and spend, no new money for testing or for
schools or to help renters, no loans to mom and pop businesses like restaurants. it is estimated 100,000 of them have already closed permanently like stoddard's in boston where the owner had to lay off 35 employees. >> the partisanship is just totally ruining everything for us. we need people to come together to save our livelihoods. >> reporter: an area where washington could compromise? relief for the airline industry. brittany riley and her husband peter hope so for their family's sake, both flight attendants and furloughed in massive wide layoffs last week. what is your message to congress now and to the president? >> get it done. >> 8:00 in the morning i was checking my phone just worried about the future, the future of my children. we dipped into savings that are supposed to be for our kids. and i just don't know if we'll recover from that if nothing gets done. >> reporter: late tonight, we learned speaker we loi so and
secretary mnuchin talked about an airline relief bill. lester? >> . >> hallie, thank you. as states deal with increasing covid situations the situation is especially alarming in wisconsin. public health officials are trying to contain a surge there. with more on that here's gabe gutierrez. >> reporter: at st. mary's hospital in green bay doctors are sounding the alarm. >> the situation in wisconsin best way to describe it is awful. >> reporter: this doctor along with more than 200 other health officials sent a letter to local politicians urging them to discourage reckless disregard of basic public health measures. a month ago wisconsin was seeing 800 daily cases of covid-19. now it is more than 2,300. over the last two weeks cases have risen in 32 states. >> i would say every hospital is one bed away from being over capacity, some are already over it already. >> reporter: among the lives lost, heidi, a teacher who planned to
hold class via zoom even after her covid diagnosis. she died five days later. >> when i think of her i just think of purely kind to the soul. i think of somebody who is so kind and every sense of the word. >> reporter: today wisconsin's governor announced the opening of a 530-bed field hospital at the state fairgrounds and tomorrow a new statewide order limits crowds inside bars and restaurants to 25%. >> wearing a mask is simply not enough to flatten the curve. once again, i'm calling on wisconsinites to hunker down and stay home as much as. >> reporter: but the move reignited a fierce political debate. in this key battleground. president trump had planned rallies here last weekend before his covid diagnosis. this summer the state supreme court agreed with republican lawmakers and threw out the democratic governor's stay-at-home order. many business owners say the economy can't withstand another shutdown. >> it's like no matter
what precautions you take is it something to hide from. >> reporter: this week the green bay packers announced lambeau field will not allow fans until further notice. >> it is affecting the businesses around here and we are struggling but pushing through. >> reporter: the surge in covid cases here that began about a month ago on college campuses has now spread to all corners of this state. lester? >> gabe gutierrez, thank you. tonight, the gulf coast is bracing for yet another hit as hurricane delta heads toward already storm ravaged louisiana after slamming into mexico. let's get more from morgan chesky. >> reporter: tonight a dangerous preview of hurricane delta. the storm lashing mexico with winds topping 100 miles per hour. tearing down piers and washing boats inland. >> it was just like so calm and then it just started down pouring rain. >> reporter: nicole and jake's wedding tough enough in a pandemic. their cancun honeymoon
now turned upside down. and forced to sleep in a resort restaurant for safety. >> there are no ferries, no airplanes, nothing leaving or coming into the island for two days. >> reporter: in louisiana, where delta could make landfall -- >> we can't get a break from the weather. >> reporter: thousands still cleaning up from hurricane laura. >> 2020 has been one of my worst, devastating years of my life. i'm smiling but on the inside i'm crying. i just keep on praying. >> reporter: tonight here in lake charles even if delta doesn't make a direct hit, these damaged neighborhoods at risk of even minor wind or rain. lester? >> thanks. let's turn to al roker now. what's the latest on this thing? >> lester, we have hurricane watches and tropical storm watches from texas all the way to mississippi. this storm system now a category 1 storm moving northwest at 17 but it will restrengthen to a 3 sometime early friday morning making landfall friday
afternoon into category 2 storm with inundating storm surge, flooding, will be a real mess, looking at the storm surge anywhere from 4 to 11 feet along the louisiana coastline. anywhere from 10 to 12 inches of rain possible and with landfall of delta, lester, this will be the tenth landfalling storm setting a record for a season. lester? >> we have seen this movie before. al, thanks. one of the most high profile terrorism trials in decades, two men accused of helping isis kill 27 people including 4 americans extradited to this country and in court today. retirement is an opportunity to fill each tomorrow with moments that matter. and a steady stream of protected income can help you secure the life you've planned. for more than 150 years, generations have trusted the strength and stability of pacific life with their tomorrows.
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entered pleas. also tonight, two british men suspected of helping isis kidnap and murder 27 people including 4 americans have been brought to u.s. soil, appearing in federal court ahead of the most high profile terror trial in decades. here's pete williams. >> reporter: federal prosecutors say these two men, alexanda kotey and el shafee elsheikh helped isis in syria carry out kidnappings and brutal murders. among their victims the justice department says were four americans, aide workers kayla mueller and peter kassig and journalists steven sotloff and james foley. the accused terrorists were brought to the u.s. late today. two years after the capture by kurdish forces and after authorities in london allowed evidence gathered by british investigators to be used in court here. >> today is a good day but it is also a solemn one. today we remember the four innocent americans whose lives
were taken by isis. >> it almost feels miraculous. at times i despaired whether it would ever happen. >> reporter: in this video aired by nbc news over the summer, they admitted abusing people held by isis. >> i've hit most of the prisoners before. >> reporter: they said they got an email address from kayla who went to syria to work out a hospital and it was used to send an email to the parents a ransom demand. >> she was in a large room, dark, alone. i saw she was very scared. >> reporter: the two shocked the hostages with tasers, beat them with sticks, forced them to witness murders and staged mock executions. >> their role within the isis terrorist organization was that of being part of a brutal hostage taking scheme. >> reporter: to get british cooperation for putting them on trial here the u.s. agreed not to seek the death penalty so the maximum punishment if convicted is life in prison. lester? >> thank you. up next, the top spy hunter's concerns
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with humira, remission is possible. with 27 days until the election, america's top spy hunter is concerned about foreign efforts to influence the vote. he spoke out at a rare interview with our richard engel. >> are you seeing any efforts ramping up from russia or china to try and sway the election one way or the other that americans should be wary of?
>> we're very confident that our election infrastructure and posture is resilient. we're not worried about changing votes at scale but we are worried about influence of the american voter and the ability of the american voter to understand where they should get real information, especially when they're voting, how to vote, where to vote, be patient when you vote, be prepared. >> he says china wants biden to win while russia prefers trump. is russia putting out disinformation to help get president trump elected? and is china actively engaging in the disinformation campaign to help vice president biden? >> yeah, they all are and i would throw iran in there. vladimir putin at the end of the day wants our country to eat itself. he wants mass chaos in the u.s. as does china but not from an economic perspective. we see all three countries -- iran, china and russia -- all engaged in enhancing and
exacerbating protests on the west coast. >> you said vladimir putin wants chaos in the united states, turmoil. just go outside. did he win? >> i think we right now are helping him facilitate getting him to smile every day. the most important thing we could do this november and currently now is vote. is show vladimir putin and xi jinping and the ayatollah we make the decision. >> he said they're also trying to dig up unflattering information about candidates, campaigns and prominent americans. the best solution he said is for voters try not to be distracted by the noise because it may be put there on purpose. lester? >> richard engel, thanks. up next, a trail blazing american scientist who's "inspiring america." are you ok?
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in tonight's "inspiring america" the american scientist who broke barriers on the way to winning a nobel prize today, one of four americans to win this week. here's stephanie gosk. >> reporter: when they called from sweden to tell dr. jennifer doudna she'd won, the berkeley scientist slept right through it. >> i actually heard about it from a reporter. >> it really was a surprise? you didn't see this coming? >> who could see something like this coming? right? no, i didn't. >> reporter: the truth is she probably should have. dr. doudna won the nobel prize for the groundbreaking work on something called crispr.
>> i describe it as surgery for the cell. you know? it is sort of making precise changes to the code of life. >> reporter: the hope is that precise alterations in dna can lead to breakthroughs in devastating diseases. the first sickle cell patient was nearly symptom free a year after treatment. >> to see the work having a real world impact like that, it's really powerful. >> reporter: she shared it with another woman. what is your message today for young scientists, especially women? >> my message is go for it! >> reporter: regardless of who may doubt you. >> i remember my high school guidance counselor asking me what do you want to do? i said, i want to be a scientist. he said, girls don't do that. i said, this girl's going to do that. >> reporter: wouldn't you know? stephanie gosk, nbc news. that's "nightly news." please be sure to join me tonight for full coverage of the vice presidential debate at
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