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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  January 12, 2016 6:30pm-7:00pm EST

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there is breaking news tonight. iran seizes americans. ten u.s. sailors on two navy boats taken into custody by iranian authorities. tonight the scramble to free them. one last time. president obama's final state of the union address. what he will tell the nation. why he is aiming for a more hopeful tone and what he told matt trump. and our interview from joe biden. the generous offer the president made in one of his darkest hours. tourists murdered. at a center with flock every day. now isis is claiming responsibility. pile-ups. slick roads and chain
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dozens of vehicles in twisted metal. "nightly news" begins right now. - good evening. with the president just hours away from delivering his final state of the union speech in the capitol behind me, the white house is now consumed with the potential new international crisis that threatens to overshadow that speech. ten american sailors and their boats are being held right now by iran. seized after the americans apparently drifted into iranian waters in the persian gulf. it happened around noon eastern time. since then there has been a flurry of diplomatic contact and late word that iran may be moving to quickly try to resolve this crisis. let's get the latest from our pentagon correspondent jim miklaszewski. >> reporter: two heavily armed u.s. navy riverine boats
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u.s. sailors, nine men and one woman were headed for bahrain when they ran into trouble and the iranians. u.s. military officials tell nbc news one of the boats reportedly developed mechanical problems. both boats drifted off course into iranian territorial waters off the island of farsi in the middle of the gulf. according to officials, the iranian coast guard quickly seized the two boats. iran claims once ashore ten americans were turned over to the notorious revolutionary guard. >> any situation is difficult to resolve when it becomes public. >> the seize your sent immediate shock waves through washington and the timing could not have been worse. with only hours before the president's state of the union address, u.s. officials say the iranians acknowledged it was an accident and that the ten americans would be released back to the u.s. u.s. officials say the iranians acknowledged it was an accident and that the ten americans would be released back to the u.s. >> u.s. authorities
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with iranian officials. who have confirmed for us a couple of things. first, they confirmed that the sailors are safe and they have assured us that our sailors will be allowed to resume their journey promptly. >> if not, it could cost iran billion dollars in the nuclear deal with the u.s. to be implemented at the end of the week. >> for iran to do anything but to return the people and the equipment immediately would be a blatant slap in the american's face. >> reporter: and u.s. officials now say despite their assurances, those ten americans will not be released by the iranians tonight, raising concerns here that the detention for the americans could drag on for days. lester. >> jim miklaszewski, thanks. the story playing out against the back drop of years of bad history between the u.s. and iran. but also the delicate nuclear deal. and as he mentioned, the president about to speak to the nation. let's go to andrea mitchell.
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today? >> it has been frantic. politically this could not have happened at the worst time. hours before the state of the union address. when the president planned to talk about the fact that iran had gotten rid of the nuclear fuel and lifting the sanctions was only days away from being implemented. so behind t scenes it was a scramble. secretary kerry ran out of top officials to call minister zarif. explaining they had sailed into the waters by accident. after a while iranian officials called back and promised the release of the sailors promptly. but critics like jeb bush and marco rubio is saying this exposed his iran policy. state officials say it proves exactly the opposite. if this happened a year ago before kerry and iran negotiated the deal, hard-lines would make sure the sailors did not get out at all. they say daylight is when they will get out. >> andrea mitchell,
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and let's turn us to the event that capitol. the president in final preparations for the state of the union. give. as senior white house correspondent chris jansing tells us, the president is expected to strike a very different tone than we've heard in recent years. preparing to address congress and the nation about the state of the union, a president trying to recapture the hope and change of when he first took office. despite the setbacks and gridlock that have helped turn his hair gray. posting a video shot like a hollywood trailer to reach beyond congress and write his own legacy. his message of optimism, trying to rise above the noise andnger of the 2016 campaign as he told matt lauer on "today." >> do you feel you are responsible for a certain hunger out there for the message donald trump is putting out. >> talk to me if he wins and then we'll have a conversation about how responsible i feel about.
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solutions for the divided the nation. the failure to pass tighter restrictions on guns symbolized by an empty chair in the first lady's box for the victims of gun violence. and a culmination more fearful of terrorism 9/11. one of michelle obama's guests, the air force sergeant who leapt in action to stop a terrorist on a train in paris. >> it is something i got to do, give an opportunity to do something good and it worked out. >> reporter: with all of the pomp and circumstance of tonight's address, the president will focus on bigger themes he hoped will be carried on by a democratic successor. >> this is probably his last best hope to try to fame the issues for 2016 in a way that might be more likely that a democrat could get elected to succeed him. >> reporter: a major final challenge to find the voice that moved americans to elect him twice. and we just got our first look at excerpts of the address.
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will argue that the future we want will only happen in we fix our pl ticks. you won't hear him name donald trump or call out any other republicans. but senior aides have acknowledged to me that the republican rhetoric absolutely played a part in how this speech was written. lester. >> chris jansing, we'll see you with the coverage later in the president's speech. and while the president prepares to address the nation, those who to succeed him are shifting into overdrive on the campaign trail. they have less than three weeks until the iowa caucuses. as nbc's hallie jackson reports, republicans are already unleashing attacks on what they expect to hear from the president. >> reporter: skipping the state of f e union? soerntd ted cruz. >> i think there is a canadian curling contest on. >> reporter: instead firing away at president obama. at a second amendment rally in new hampshire. >> why not join your colleagues tonight. >> tonight is no surprise what the
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>> my prediction is we'll see heights of demagoguery that the president has not reached in his final farewell state of the union. >> others taking aim at the president's leadership. >> he can't be thrilled with me. and frankly, you know, the country is a mess. and we're going to straighten it out and we're going to make america great again. >> the state of the union is way too pessimistic for the american people. they do not believe that it is good. and it needs to change. >> the state of the union will not be a call to action tonight. it will be fantasy wish list by a president who has failed us. >> reporter: on the democratic side, not hitting president obama, but hillary clinton hugging him and distancing herself from rival bernie sanders. >> we have a big difference over guns. you know that. if you go around saying you stand up to special interest, stand up to the most powerful special interest, the gun
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sharpest attacks yet, echoed by her daughter on the first campaign trip. the hint, assign the race getting tighter and so does sanders. >> it could be that the inevitable candidate for the democratic nomination may not be so inevitable today. >> reporter: a pair of new polls show sanders leading now in both iowa and here in new hampshire. but nationally, our online tracking survey has hillary clinton up by double-digits over all. and on the republican side, it is donald trump still dominating. >> hallie jackson, thank you. seating behind president obama tonight as always will be the vice president. today joe biden spoke exclusively with savannah guthrie about the loss of his son bowe and thoughts about hillary clinton and donald trump and the 2016 race. >> reporter: for the eighth president and the eighth time as vice president, joe biden tonight takes his seat.
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but with his heart still heavy from the loss last year of his son beau. >> i think people are wondering how are you doing? >> we're doing well. we're focusing on the inspiration beau was >> reporter: he confided beaus may become too sick to support his family, only with the president. sell the house and be in good shape. he said don't sell that house. promise me you won't sell the house. he's going to be mad at me saying this. he said i'll give you the money. >> reporter: tell me how your relationship with president obama has evolved over the years? >> it is family. and he's become family. and i think probably no vice president or president on a personal basis closer than he and i have been. >> reporter: but now with a year lefef in office, joe biden sizes up a presidential field he is no longer part of it, calling hillary clinton new to a key progressive issue propelling bernie sanders, income inequality.
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years she's been policy. she has good ideas but envelope. >> and as for donald trump? >> do you think he could be elected. >> yes. divisive. >> he is divisive. and that is not healthy. we do best when we act as one america. >> reporter: but joe will be his last in the white house. a decision he recently said he regrets every day. >> was it hard to hear him say that? >> it was because i know how he feels. but, you know, i've always said joe would make a great president. >> work, he said, he could continue beyond the west wing. >> is there no scenario in which you could see yourself getting into this race in 2016. >> i learned never to say no. if i win the lottery. i'm only joking. that was a joke. >> savannah guthrie with the vice president at the white
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turning now to chuck todd, nbc political news director of "meet the press." what are we going to mean. >> if joe biden wins powerball, it would just be enough to run for president. it is the final state of the union but first peach of the campaign for president obama. this is issues tonight he wants to put on the campaign trail and forcing his democratic successor forcing them to embrace but he is the message he wants to spend the year campaigning on. and so i think that is the proper way to put this in the context. look, there is a laundry list. they are proud of that. but it is really about the agenda that barack obama would be running on if he could run for a third term. >> you'll join me later on as well as andrea for live coverage of the president's final state of the union address at 9:00 eastern here. a deadly suicide attack at istanbul's historic district.
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nationals including eight german tourists. the u.s. has condemned the attack suffered by a key nato ally. richard engel is in istanbul for us tonight. >> reporter: good evening, lester. turkish officials say the suicide bomber was a syrian national, saudi-born and he recently entered turkey from syria and refugee. police say they identified him by his fingerprint. nearly all of the victims, ten killed, 15 injured, were from group. they were in the old city visiting monuments when the suicide bomber approached them and explosive. isis hasn't formally claimed credit for this attack. but unfortunately the city has become something of a cross-roads with isis going through here on the way into and out the turkish government has sometimes cracked down on the militants and critics say other times turned a blind
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>> richard engel in istanbul. thank you. those low prices at the pump could fall even further after oil prices drop below $30 a barrel today. it was brief but notable. because oil hasn't traded that low since december of 2003. many investors are betting that china's volatile markets will curb demand for fuel and the price could fall even more. a blast of wininr weather and white-out conditions contributed to massive pile-ups in several states today. shutting down some big highways. and trapping drivers in their cars. the biggest was at the indiana-ohio border. it involved some 40 cars, including several semis. another crash in indiana involved at least 15 vehicles after a tractor-trailer rolled over. there is a lot more to tell you about here tonight still ahead. new questions about who made the call to stand down when the authorities could have captured el chapo months ago. also the president's word smith. how he took the president's
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there is new fallout from the capture of one of the most wanted men in the world as we go inside of the secret hideout where el chapo was taken into custody after an hours-long fire fight. there are new questions about the clandestine meeting between el chapo and sean penn. did the meeting delay his capture. nbc's gabe gutierrez is in mexico where el
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hours of freedom. >> reporter: in an interview with rolling stone, joaquin el chapo guzman described himself as a god-fearing family man who loves his mother and wants to die of natural causes and hasn't done drugs in years. he said freedom is beautiful. on friday it ended after a fierce gun battle at this safehouse. in his home state of sinaloa. >> as we walk up the stairs, we could see many bullet holes. this is one of the bedrooms inside of the home. and an interesting detail here is what is laying on the bed. several dvd copies of a movie starring kate del castillo. >> she is the soap opera star who sean penn said facilitated an oct meet between him and the drug lord. now there are conflicting reports on how much of a role that played in his capture. mexico's attorney general said it was
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revealed guzmzm's location. penn and del castillo were seen in these surveillance videos. mexican marines were preparing to move in. but to ensure the two actors would not be harmed, the raid was called off. it is unclear who made that call. days later when the operation did take place, el chapo had already escaped. it would be months before agents found him. multiple u.s. sources tell nbc news penn played no role, even inadvertently in last week's raid. instead, they say, the key was a tip from the police. >> sean penn as he said himself was there interview. any u.s. government effort to apprehend el chapo. >> mexican officials tell nbc news that he is being held in isolation isolation, not on the ground floor to prevent another escape. gabe gutierrez, nbc news, mexico. we're back in a moment with a major recall on children's cold medicine. we'll tell but the cause them to
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changes. a flurry of activity over the last few days that peter alexander got to see first-hand, rare access of how it all comes together. >> >> reporter: in the final hours leading up to the state of the union, cody keenan is trying to keep up with the president's last-minute edits. >> describe the feeling when tonight is done? >> relief. pride in what everyone has done here. >> reporter: behind the president's speeches, keenan is the man tasked with translating images into the words. >> this is where the magic happens. this corner basement office. no windows. the white house doctors give me vitamin b. >> the chicago native takes his boss's hand-written notes like these, and turns them into powererl presidential prose. >> if prayer were made of sound, the s ses over england that night would have deafened the world.
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midst of a coffee-filled writing binge, including a meeting in the oval office with the president. the final days of a two-month marathon to prediction 2,000 words. >> where did you watch last year's state of the union. >> at this desk. >> with? >> chicken tenders and a buzz wiser. >> from the director of speech writing six years later. stare at a blank piece of paper, what is going on in your mind. >> fear, that you don't know what to say and hope you could make it into something nice. >> knewtown and tucson where others struggled to find words. >> reporter: keenan friends say, writes from the heart. he met his fiance who is a researcher who fact-checks his speeches. >> so she gets paid to tell me i'm wrong. >> how does that go? >> it is tense around time.
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union has never been stronger. peter alexander, nbc news, the white house. >> that will do it for us tonight. a reminder we'reack on at 9:00 eastern for state of the union. i'm lester holt. thank you for watching and good night. the era has ended. >> david bowie's ex-wife in tears and new details about the

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