tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC January 12, 2016 5:30pm-6:00pm PST
after the state 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 lauer about donald trump. and our terview with joe biden. the generous offer the president made in one of his darkest hours. tourists murdered a deadly suicide bomb at a center where thousands of visitors flock every day. now isis is claiming responsibility. and massive pile-ups, slick roads and chain-reaction crashes in several states, and dozens of vehicles in heaps of twisted metal.
right now. good evening. with the president just minutes 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 speech. ten american sailors and their boats are by iran. seized after the americans apparently drifted into iranian waters in the persian it happened around noon eastern time. since then there has been a flurry of diplomatic contact and now late word that iran may be moving to quickly try to resolve let's get the latest from our pentagon correspondent jim miklaszewski. >> reporter: two heavily armed u.s. navy riverine boats like these with ten u.s. sailors, nine men and one woman, were headed for bahrain when they ran into
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 persian 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 far more difficult to resolve when it becomes public. >> reporter: the timing could not have been worse. with hours before the president's state of the union address, u.s. officials say the iranians acknowledged that the ten americans would be released back to the u.s. have been in touch with iranian officials who have confirmed for us a couple of things. they have confirmed that the sailors are safe and they have sailors will be allowed to resume their journey. >> reporter: if not, billions of dollars in
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 face. >> reporter: and u.s. ships conducted exercises alongside the carrier harry s. truman. and 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 mik mentioned, the president about to speak to the nation.
mitchell now. what is going on behind the scenes today? >> it has been frantic. politically this could not have happened at a worse time. hours before the state of the union address. when the president had planned to talk about the fact that iran had gotten rid of the nuclear fuel and nuclear deal lifting the sanctions was only days away from being implemented. so behind the scenes it was a scramble. secretary kerry ran out of a meeting with top officials from the philippines 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 republican critics like jeb bush and marco rubio are 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-liners in iran would make sure the sailors did not get out at all. they say daylight is when they will get out. >> andrea mitchell, thank you. and let's turn us
brings us to the capitol. the president in final preparations for the state of the union. the last he will ever 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. >> for the last time 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 and anger 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 it. >> he will talk about 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 than at any time since 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. >> i think it is one of the greatest honors to save people's lives and something i got to do, was given an opportunity to do something good and i took it and it all 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 frame the issues for 2016 in a way that might be more likely that a democrat could get elected to succeed him. >> reporter: a major
find the voice that tonight the president will argue that the future we want will only happen if we fix our politics. now, you won't hear 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 want 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 the union? senator ted cruz. >> i think there is a canadian curling contest on at the same time. firing away at president obama. rally in new hampshire. colleagues tonight. >> tonight is no surprise what the
my prediction is we'll see heights of demagoguery that the president has not reached in his final farewell state of the union. >> reporter: gop candidates making the case to give their first state of the union, 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 on gun control, and in doing so 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, stand up to the gun lobby. >> reporter: the sharpest attacks yet, echoed by her daughter
trip. the hint, assign the clintons see 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. seated 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 beau 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. a heartbeat from the
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 rather than the loss. >> reporter: and his son aled, he confided fears that beau may become too sick to support his family, only with the president. >> jill and i will 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 left in office, joe biden sizes up a presidential field he is no longer part of calling hillary clinton new to a key progressive issue propelling bernie
inequality. >> for the last five years she's been engaged in foreign policy. she has good ideas but bernie is pushing the envelope. >> and as for donald trump? >> do you think he could be elected? is it possible? >> yes. >> you said he is divisive. >> he is divisive. and he would acknowledge he is very divisive. and that is not healthy. we do best when we act as one america. >> reporter: but joe biden said this office 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. everybody said i could retire. i'm only joking. that was a joke. >> savannah guthrie with the vice president at the white house today. turning now to chuck todd, nbc
moderator of "meet the press." what are we going to hear? >> if he wins the powerball, it would just be enough to run for president. it is the final state of the union but first speech 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 it is the message he wants to spend the year campaigning on. the proper way to put 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 on nbc. a deadly suicide attack at istanbul's historic district. killing ten foreign nationals including eight german tourists.
the attack suffered by a key nato ally. our chief foreign correspondent 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 registered as a refugee. police say they identified him by his fingerprint. nearly all of the victims, ten killed, 15 injured, were from a single german tour group. they were in the old city visiting monuments when the suicide bomber approached them and then detonated his explosive. isis hasn't formally claimed credit for this attack. but unfortunately the city has become something of a cross-roads with isis and other militants going through here on the way into and out of syria. the turkish government has sometimes cracked down on the militants and critics say other times turned a blind eye. lester. >> richard engel in
those low prices at the pump could fall even further after oil prices drop below $30 a barrel today. it was brief but very 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 winter 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 tractor-trailer rolled 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 wordsmith. how he took the president's handwritten notes and turned them into
union address. 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 joaquin el chapo guzman was taken into custody after an hours-long firefight. 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 chapo spent his last hours of freedom.
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 20 years. he said freedom is beautiful. on friday his freedom ended after a fierce gun battle at this safe-house. 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 october meeting 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 essential because it revealed guzman's
penn and del castillo were seen in these surveillance photos obtained by a mexican newspaper. 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 to conduct an interview. he was not there as part of any u.s. government effort to apprehend el chapo. >> mexican officials tell nbc news that he is being held in isolation, not on the ground floor to prevent another escape. gabe gutierrez, nbc news, los mochis, mexico. we're back in a moment with a major recall on children's cold medicine. we'll tell you about the mistake that could
overdose. there is a major recall to tell you about regarding children's liquid cold medicine. it is made by a company called perrigo and sold as a store brand by my chains. cvs, rite aid, dollar general and kroger are affected by the recall. the dosage cups that come with cherry and grape flavors have incorrect measurement markings and that could lead to an overdose. a full list could be found on our website. up and up it goes. the jackpot for tomorrow night's powerball drawing is now reaching $1.5 billion. but the odds of winning remain the same. which is why it is $1.5 billion. it is about one in 292 million, the odds. the jackpot is already more than twice the previous record. when we come back, rare access behind the scenes, inside of the white house with the man who takes notes from the leader of the free world and turns
man. the speech writer making last-minute changes. a flurry of activity over the last few days that peter alexander got to see first-hand, rare access showing 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 the land of hope and dreams. >> this is where the magic happens. this corner basement office. no windows. the white house doctors give me vitamin b. >> reporter: the 35-year-old chicago native takes his boss's hand-written notes like these, and turns them into powerful presidential prose. >> if prayer were made of sound, the skies over england that night would have deafened the world. >> reporter: we caught up with him in the midst of a coffee-fueled, 48-hour writing binge,
the oval office with the president. the final days of a two-month marathon to perfect 2,000 words. ,000 words. 6,000 words. >> where did you watch last year's state of the union? >> at this desk. >> with? >> chicken tenders and a budweiser. >> from obama campaign intern to director of speech writing six years later. >> the moment you 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. >> reporter: his speech helped to heal cities like newtown and tucson, where others struggled to find words. >> reporter: keenan friends say he 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 state of the union time. >> reporter: with all but the finishing touches complete, the state of this union has never been stronger.