tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC October 8, 2020 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT
tonight, the shocking plot to kidnap a governor thwarted by the fbi. several militia members accused of conspiring to abduct michigan democrat gretchen whitmer and overthrow the government the man enraged by her restrictions t curb the coronavirus, the surveillance they conducted on her home, the undercover operation that foiled their alleged plan the governor is pointing blame at president trump. also, the president who may still be contagious with covid derailing the second debate next week after organizers take it virtual. his campaign saying he'll do a rally instead. joe biden making other plans and the president's suggestion he might have been infected by gold star families.
biden and kamala harris back on the campaign trail together after harris' showdown with mike pence. the new fallout today from that tense vp debate hurricane delta regaining strength now a major category 3 targeting the u.s., the race to evacuate when and where will it hit? al roker is timing it out. the experimental drug the president said cured his covid, will the fda give it emergency approval and covid on planes, the new research just out, what's your risk in the sky? >> this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. >> good evening. a stunning domestic terror plot to storm the michigan state house and kidnap governor gretchen whitmer has been foiled tonight in a case sending a chill across an already anxious country. state and federal prosecutors announcing the arrests of more than a dozen men who they say targeted the governor over what they saw as her uncontrolled power the men according to
authorities are linked to militia groups and ready to instigate civil war. tonight governor whitmer who drew criticism from the right over coronavirus restrictions is speaking out our pete williams reports. >> preparing to kidnap and possibly kill me >> reporter: the fbi says the target of the plot was michigan's democratic governor gretchen whitmer investigators say five men from michigan and one from delaware met several times beginning in june and talked about storming the state capitol in lansing and taking the governor hostage their main complaint seems to have been state restrictions imposed during the pandemic especially the closing of gyms, they called the governor a tyrant and even considered kidnapping her at her summer house, then putting her on trial for treason. >> members of this conspiracy on two occasions conducted coordinated surveillance on the governor's vacation home. >> reporter: the six were men arrested last night. police and federal agents searched the home governor whitmer today
said the president's refusal to criticize white supremacist groups is heard by them as a rallying cry. >> when our leaders meet with, encourage, fraternize with domestic terrorists they legitimize their actions and they are complicit. >> reporter: investigators say one of the men arrested last night adam fox conducted meetings with the group in the basement of this grand rapids vacuum cleaner store where he lived the fbi says he tried to enlist the help of a militia group meeting with members during a gun rights rally at the state capitol in june. what the men did not know according to court documents is that their every move was being followed by undercover fbi informants after two of the men talked on social media early in the year about carrying out violent anti-government attacks. state police arrested seven other men members of the militia group charged with planning to target the
homes of law enforcement officers and kidnap government officials. >> as a mom with two teenage daughters and three stepsons, my husband and i are eternally grateful to everyone who put themselves in harm's way to keep our family safe. >> reporter: no comment yet from the lawyers for any of those charged with plotting to kidnap the governor but if they're convicted in federal court they could face life in prison lester >> pete williams tonight, thank you. a heated debate this evening over the next two presidential debates themselves after president trump still recovering from covid-19 refused to take part in a virtual debate with joe biden next week. hallie jackson has late details. >> reporter: before the next face-off, a standoff tonight after the presidential debate commission announced next week's miami town hall would go virtual >> i'm not going t waste my time on a virtual debate that's not what debating's all about you sit behind a computer and do a debate it is ridiculous. >> reporter: the president dropping out days after announcing the covid diagnosis and suggesting the debate initially set for thursday should move to the following week with another added october 29th joe biden's campaign is rejecting that
instead calling for the town hall to move to the 22nd saying the president's erratic behavior does not allow him to rewrite the calendar. >> we set the dates. i'm sticking with the dates. i'm showing up i'll be there and in fact if he shows up, fine if he doesn't, fine >> reporter: biden is already set for a separate town hall the night of the next debate, with the president planning a rally that evening eager to get out of isolation and today back in the oval office in the west wing. >> i don't think i'm contagious at all. >> reporter: experts say it's probably too soon for that to be true >> there's science and there's wishful thinking science tells us that it really is usually about ten days after someone is first diagnosed until they're reliably noninfectious. >> reporter: while the white house still refuses to say when the president last tested negative for the virus, a key dat point for determining who else could be at risk, president trump has plenty to say on other topics, appearing in three
twitter videos over the last 24 hours, he's addressing his treatment, the military and senior citizens but not addressing any of his staffers who now have covid. at least 27 people connected to the administration or campaign have tested positive at least two of them, the president and first lady, gathering to honor family of fallen military members last sunday, an event president trump seemed to blame in part for his infection. >> i met with gold star families. i didn't want to cancel that. i can't back up and say give me room, i want room, give me 12 feet stay 12 feet away when you -- they come within an inch of my face sometimes they went to hug me and kiss me. and they do. and frankly, i'm not telling them to back up >> reporter: melinda kaine's son a marine died in afghanistan in 2010. >> it serves no purpose. it points the finger at gold star families who have already sacrificed so much >> reporter: late
tonight, a memo says the president is responding well to treatment and should be able to return to public engagements starting saturday. lester >> hallie jackson, thank you. both vice president pence and senator kamala harris are back on the campaign trail after their debate face-off while late today joe biden says he's still not willing to answer a key question about the supreme court. geoff bennett has more. >> reporter: tonight joe biden and kamala harris campaigning together in arizona after last night's debate showdown. >> we'll be ready on day one. >> reporter: vice president mike pence holding duelling campaign events in arizona and nevada >> had a little debate with kamala harris last night some people think we did all right. >> reporter: last night the candidates clashing on the pandemic response. >> the american people have witnessed what is the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country. >> when i look at
their plan that talks about advancing testing, creating new ppe, developing a vaccine, it looks a little bit like plagiarism which is something joe biden knows a little bit about. >> reporter: the senator blasting the president's attempts to dismantle the affordable care act. >> if you have a preexisting condition, heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer, they're coming for you. if you love someone who has a preexisting condition they're coming for you. >> reporter: while pence pressing why neither harris nor biden will say i they want to expand the nine-justice supreme court, a move many progressive activists want >> a nonanswer, joe biden gave a nonanswer. >> trying to answer you now. >> the american people deserve a straight answer if you haven't figured it out yet the straight answer is they are going to pack the supreme court. if they somehow win this election. >> reporter: late today biden still refusing to answer. >> you'll know my
opinion on court packing whether the election is over >> reporter: biden said he's not answering because all the headlines would be focused on that instead of what's happening right now. lester >> geoff bennett tonight, thanks. this evening hurricane delta is barrelling towards southwest louisiana to regions still reeling from an already devastating hurricane season morgan chesky is there. >> reporter: tonight, the dash to get ready for delta. the category 3 hurricane now 800 miles wide. >> you know, emotionally i think everybody is just battered and worn down right now. >> reporter: with 24 hours until expected landfall, mandatory evacuations now turning interstates into parking lots. here in lake charles, one of the biggest threats comes from the last storm debris from hurricane laura litters nearly every city block, officials warning it only takes a little wind to turn this into dangerous projectiles. >> i don't know that there's a structure in the parish that doesn't have some type of damage. >> reporter: this sheriff praying the
city is spared. >> we have to wait and see. that's mother nature and that storm will do whatever that storm does. >> reporter: from the air, a sea of blue tarps, roofs ripped off by laura just six weeks ago. >> whole city. >> reporter: clifford washington evacuating with his family. he says he's had enough you would rather move than have to deal with this yet again >> i'm going to move. >> reporter: and tonight here in lake arthur, about 45 miles away, delta could be making a direct hit. meaning up to 15 inches of rain and a 9-foot storm surge lester >> morgan chesky, thanks. al roker is watching the storm hour by hour al, what's the latest track? >> lester, delta's back up to a category 3 storm, 345 miles south of cameron, louisiana, with 11 miles per hour winds it's moving northwest at 12. makes landfall as a category 3 storm near lake charles rain, storm surge for louisiana. and then continues on up into the southeast with a lot of flooding rainfall
the big problem, delta's growing larger and so the tropical force winds extends from galveston to new orleans. by this time tomorro storm surges up to 11 feet and rainfall that could top 15 inches in some local spots lester >> al, thank you for keeping track of it for us in the search for solutions two companies that make antibody therapies hailed by president trump have asked for emergency authorization to give them to more covid patients but is political pressure rushing the process? with more here's kristen dahlgren. >> reporter: on the same day the president touted an experimental antibody treatment as a cure for covid - >> i felt good immediately. >> reporter: -- two companies who make the treatment applied for emergency approval from the fda. eli lilly and regeneron say their antibodies made in the lab mimic the wa the immune system fights infection. >> the antibody blocks that sort of infective nature of the virus by not allowing it to get into cells where it can replicate and,
you know, infect patients. >> reporter: last week regeneron released early data from trials that included 275 people and found patients given the antibody cocktai cleared the virus faster with reduced symptoms but critics like dr. rick bright fear the emergency approval process is being politicized. for people who say they just want access to the same type of world-class care, the same type of medication as the president was given, is that dangerous? >> i would urge caution. you're getting a false message from the president right now. let the scientists do their job. >> reporter: bright was the nih whistle-blower who says he was sidelined after raising concerns of hydroxychloroquine, a drug also touted by the president and given emergency approval the president called him disgruntled but published research later concluded the treatment wasn't effective and could be dangerous. doctors point out the
president took several different medications so it's impossible to know what impact the antibody treatment may have had the stakes are high. stephanie landaverdi's grandfather died of covid just before the president's diagnosis. >> he felt that if the president isn't wearing a mask then we're fine you know he listened to him because he's our leader, right? he is our president. >> reporter: his family now in mourning, worried covid-19 victims are falling prey to politics kristen dahlgren, nbc news, new york. in 60 seconds, making sure your vote counts, our in-depth look at key issues and potential problems as a record number of us vote by mail
battleground will certify their winner. >> reporter: tonight we are just 26 days away from an unprecedented election where nearly 70 million americans are expected to cast mail-in ballots. that's more than twice the number four years ago. those ballots sparking so many questions. >> you'll hear people say they only count those absentee ballots if the results are close. nonsense >> reporter: we went to frank larose the republican secretary of state of ohio for answers. ohio a critical battleground siding with the winner in every presidential election since 1964. first up, can mail-in ballots be manipulated? what about the narrative that says vote by mail is inherently subject to being manipulated >> ohioans know that's not true for example, in ohio you have to prove your identity when you request your ballot, you've got t prove your identity again when you mail in your ballot. >> reporter: but can people game the system and vote both by mail and in person? not according to
larose who says poll workers have a list of those that requested an absentee ballot. >> if you requested an absentee ballot and then you als showed up on election day and said you want to vote in person you'll be given provisional ballot and then they need to make sure that the mailed in one doesn't also arrive and make sure that you vote but only once. >> reporter: bottom line, if the absentee ballot doesn't arrive within ten days, the voter's provisional ballot is counted. what about drop boxes? are the ballots really safe in them larose says they are. >> they have to be under 24/7 video surveillance, they have to b serviced, emptied at least every day by a bipartisan team of elections officials from the county board of elections. >> reporter: then the counting of those absentee votes professor ned foley is one of the nation's leading expert on election law and he says voters should be prepared for the possibility of a blue shift after in-person votes are counted on election night as studies show more democrats vote
absentee and will take longer to count those in many states. >> it seems like that secondary count tends to be more democratic votes in composition than the preliminary count. nothing wrong. nothing nefarious. >> reporter: frank larose is well aware of that so he'll announce how many absentee ballots were cast and how many more they have to count the next step certifying the vote. under a federal law passed in 1887, states have only 41 days to complete their count and report to congress this year it's december 14th. so you're saying there's no contingency, no extension. >> it's got to be done by that date so constitution doesn't give an extension. >> reporter: are you confident that ohio can meet that deadline >> i'm confident that we can meet that deadline. >> reporter: while professor foley says no state has missed the deadline since it was instituted in 1887, in 2020, who knows?
>> people may remember from movies that the idea of the death asteroid hitting planet earth fortunately th astronomers say the chances are infinitesimal but that's sort of how you have to think about this year's election you have to hope that the asteroid misses so the disaster doesn't happen. >> reporter: one variable, a daunting number of lawsuits with more expected that could dramatically slow down the process. lester >> all right cynthia, thank you. up next, a surprising new finding about the air you breathe on planes. they do one of the most difficult jobs there is,
even in normal times. our frontline health care workers. and when these heroes lack the resourder prop fifteen makes corporations pay their fair share. to invest in our communities, in our clinics, in the essential workers who treat everyone- rich, poor, and in-between. whether it's this pandemic or the next health crisis,
vote yes on prop fifteen. for all of us. with tens of thousands of airline workers currently furloughed and talks for more relief money in limbo, airlines are putting out new research aimed at reassuring wary travelers. here's tom costello. >> reporter: the deadline for a deal passed eight days ago pushing 32,000 airline employees on to the unemployment line. while the president now says he'd support targeted aid for the airlines, house democrats are insisting on a much bigger package that also helps small businesses and families >> there is no standalone bill without a bigger bill. >> reporter: airline ceos are growing frustrated. >> that can't happen before the election that's going to have a seriously detrimental impact on our abilit to continue to provide essential service to the country to help it come out of this coronavirus. >> reporter: united flight attendant david fears the savings won't last.
>> at the end of the day we're not sure to make rent or go and buy groceries. that is a very, very real challenge. >> reporter: hoping to encourage travelers to return, the world's airlines and airline manufacturers have new research suggesting the risk of infection inside a fully loaded plane is very low. air inside a plane flows from top to bottom, pulled down by gravity, researchers say the air washes out airborne particles including viruses then runs through filters similar to those used in operating rooms removing more than 99% of particles, the air is cycled every two to three minutes with fresh outside air much faster than an operating room researchers say that air flow creates the equivalent of seven feet of separation, even between passengers sitting shoulder to shoulder >> the risk of onboard transmission appears to be low. >> reporter: the challenge, convincing passengers when just 30% believe it's safe to fly the airlines say if the government comes through with an aid
>> comes up with a steal. >> reporter: are hoping their shooting guard kendrick nunn will help stage a comeback nun and faithful fans like him. >> hey, miami heat, we heard there's a nun on your team. he's pretty good >> reporter:these holy hoopsters make a habit of sinking shots and praying for heat victory >> we've got some nuns ready to go. >> reporter: a backup bench that typically packs pews instead of stands attending heat games in spirit this season, virtual guests of the team showing the students another type of devotion. >> they think it's exciting to see their principal to shoot a hoop and to be on instagram. and for their theology teacher to do a slam dunk yeah, that's pretty amazing. >> reporter: sister margaret ann first a fan favorite using a chainsaw to clean up debris in hurricane irma the sisters want their videos to bring light to a dark time. >> it might just give a little bit of encouragement to say that we are going to make it through this.
>> reporter: fans like these a true gift from above. catie beck, nbc news >> go heat >> that's what i call team spirit. that's "nightly news." thank you for watching i'm lester holt. please take care of yourself and each other. good night right now at 6:00. a high pressure hose and an unsecured door. details about the deadly accident involving a san francisco firefighter. >> how do you campaign during covid-19? the ways the pandemic is changing the election. >> paranoia about the election. >> i feel like fema a-- people are concerned. >> how election leaders are easing everyone's nervous as
voting gets under way. >> good evening. thanks for being with us. >> it's still happening and appears to be getting more violent. talking about attacks against asian americans. on the rise since the pandemic started. specifically elderly asian women. what's being done about it. i'll have the story later in the newscast. >> election day is november 3. it's on right now. voters are casting ballotings and those votes are being counted across the bay area. the registrar says it's a hectic time. it's working to get the ballots distributed and trying to reassure the public the process is safe. >> we go behind the scenes. >> we are trying not to disrupt those who have come here to the
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