tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC January 7, 2021 5:30pm-6:00pm PST
so we got to be careful out there in the ocean. that's going to do it for us. lester holt joins us next. >> we'll see you at 6:00. >> bye. tonight the growing calls for president trump's removal after he incited the assault on the capitol that left four dead. top democrats demanding vice president pence invoke the 25th amendment to remove the president from office. after one of the darkest days in american history a wave of resignations in his inner circle. the first cabinet member stepping down tonight. the president finally agreeing to an orderly transition of power but could democrats impeach him again? inside the siege new images and new firsthand accounts, the congressman holding a colleague's hand as violent trump supporters storm the heart of our democracy.
the search for the rioters, authorities asking for the public's help. dozens now charged and what we have learned about this man putting his feet on a desk i nancy pelosi's office. capitol police under fire for the massive breach. president-elect biden's strong words condemning the mob that tried to subvert his victory as domestic terrorists. and our nbc news investigation into the dark web fueling this rise of extremism in america. were warnings missed this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. >> good evening, everyone we woke up to a different country today, one that can no longer easily turn its back to the poison that's seeped from the oval office nor the radicalization i fomented that exploded in fury and that stomach turning assault on the u.s capitol and on our congress yesterday now the fallout, resignations from the president's inner circle, loyalties tested
his public voice virtually silenced b social media companies and somber discussions frankly none of us could have imagined in the waning days of any presidency, calls for donald trump's immediate removal from office kristen welker begins our reporting. >> reporter: tonight president trump huddled behind closed doors as a cascade of administration officials say they've had enough, includin his special envoy to northern ireland, former chief of staff mick mulvaney. >> i can't stay here not after yesterday. you can't look at that yesterday and think i want to be a part of that in any way, shape or form. >> reporter: now the first cabinet member resigned, transportation secretary elaine chao, all of it following the overnight departure of first lady's chief of staff. and the deputy national security adviser. and then there's the condemnation from one-time allies including former attorney general bill barr, blasting the president's conduct as a betrayal of his office and supporters and from senator lindsey graham
>> all i can say is count me out enough is enough i've tried to be helpful. >> reporter: this morning hours after praising the rioters, who ransacked the capitol, a shift i tone from the president who released a statement through a spokesperson with twitter and facebook suspending his accounts, the president saying, quote, even though i totally disagree with the outcome of the election nevertheless there will be an orderly transition o january 20th but even with days left in the term top democrats say that's not enough, demanding he be removed from office now through the 25th amendment. >> if the vice president and cabinet do not act the congress may be prepared to move forward with impeachment. >> reporter: one republican joining in. >> the president is unmoored from reality and from his oath. >> reporter: president-elect joe biden -- >> he unleashed an all-out assault on our institutions of our democracy from the outset and yesterday
was but the culmination of that unrelenting attack. >> reporter: tonight the president tweeting out this video. >> to those who engaged in the acts of violence 'destruction, do you not represent our country. a new administration will be inaugurated on january 20th my focus turns to ensuring a smooth transition of power. >> reporter: sources tell nbc news there were informal conversations at the staff level here about invoking the 25th amendment. former chief of staff john kelly saying today he'd support the move lester >> all right kristen welker tonight, thank you. on those calls to invoke the 25th amendment which woul declare the president unfit to remain in office, just how realistic is that. we want to bring in pete williams now. pete, what do we know about this >> the calls have been growing nearly all from democrats to use the 25th amendment and make mike pence the acting president 28 u.s. senators and
107 members of the house have called for it including chuck schumer and house speaker nancy pelosi a president can be declared unable to carry out his duties if the vice president and at least eight of the 15 cabinet secretaries agree. highly unlikely with all of them trump loyalists. some members of congress worry that invoking the 25t amendment further enflame tensions lester >> all right pete williams tonight, thank you, pete. we are learning more about what happened inside the capitol including harrowing accounts of those trying to protect themselves my colleague savannah guthrie after a long evening anchoring coverage last night together is there for us tonight good evening. >> reporter: lester, good evening i was so struck by an interview i heard with a member of the press locked in the house chamber yesterday. she said she calle her mom saying, don't worry. i'm in the safest place on earth but as we know now it was not. 24 hours later, as the sun sets on washington, memories of that mob breaching the capitol still haunting members of congress who were there.
>> what i felt just 24 hours ago in the capitol behind us is something that i haven't felt since i was in afghanistan. >> reporter: congressman jason crow, a former army ranger, trapped inside the house gallery and comforting his colleague. >> to think that as a member of congress in 2021 in the u.s. capitol on the house floor that i was preparing to fight my way out of the people's house against a mob is just beyond troubling. >> reporter: fight your way out >> yeah. >> reporter: did you snap back to that kind of mentality what could i use how would i get out? >> i did i had a pen in my pocket and was thinking about how we were going to fight our way out. >> reporter: elsewhere, thi stunning video of rioters breaking through doors and walking down the hall. all filmed by itv correspondent robert moore. >> they were intoxicated with the
sense to outwitted the capitol hill police, the sense they had defeated if like the washington establishment. >> reporter: tonight, new images of protesters overwhelming police officers and the damage they left behind this is where the senate parliamentarian works. senator jeff merkley tweeting this video of his ransacked office and we are also learning more about the woman who was shot and killed by capitol police ashley babbott seen here with a pro trump group heading to the capitol in this video obtained by tmz. she was a decorated air force veteran who served in iraq and afghanistan. the officer who shot her is placed on administrative leave pending an investigation. meanwhile, members o congress are now demanding answers about the massive security failure with crowds able to overrun what's supposed to be one of the country's most secure buildings. >> if this had been a military operation the commanders would be instantly relieved of duty
>> savannah, it is so striking the hear from military veterans in congress about their experiences. >> reporter: there are a lot of recent veterans who are now members of congress in that mind-set today. one told us today i thought could i grab the marine sword in my office battle mode in the last place they ever expected, lester >> yeah. all right. savannah guthrie in washington, thank you. there's late word the chief of capitol police is resigning as many members of congress demand to know why the polic were so outmanned by the huge mob with more on that here's tom costello. >> reporter: the priority tonight, for the fbi and d.c. police, finding th people who joined wednesday's insurrection hundreds of officers and agents are examining social media photos and video clips asking the public, area hotels and airlines for help. >> these images depict individuals engaged in various acts of violence >> reporter: so far prosecutors brought charges against 55 suspects, 8 involve gun charges, 1 suspect arrested with a semiautomatic weapon and 11 molotov cocktails.
another man identified himself, 60-year-old richard barnett of arkansas pictured with his feet on a desk i speaker pelosi's office and holding one of her letters among charges that the prosecutors coul press against the mob trespassing, destruction of federal property, mail theft, federal rioting, assault on a police officer, federal gun charges and insurrection today the police union and members of congress called for capitol police chief david sund to step down >> there was a failure of leadership at the top of capitol polic and i think mr. sund -- he hasn't even called us since this happened >> reporter: in a statement he said the force was prepared for first amendment protesters but was met by assailants they attacked with pipes, discharged chemical irritants and took up other weapons. late today sund resigned but congres is demanding answers why weren't more capitol police officers deployed? why weren't they wearing riot gear? why did it take so
long to request backup from d.c. police many asking why this video clip appears to show capitol officers letting the mob through barricades >> i was stunned, couldn't believe what i was watching. >> reporter: former nypd commissioner bill bratton. >> i think there's going to be a lot of blame to go around and quite clearly a lot of people will lose their positions as a result of this. >> reporter: tonight the fbi is investigating whether sensitive national security documents were stolen from the capitol. when asked whether prosecutors may charge president trump with encouraging the mob to storm the capitol building the doj said rather pointedly today it is ruling nothing out. lester >> yeah. we see the new barricades in place tonight. all right. tom, thanks. the police response to rioters at the capitol is being compared to the more aggressive police responses we saw during last year's social justice protests with more on that here's gabe gutierrez. >> reporter: when the rioters rampaged
through the capitol, communities of color couldn't help but notice something. >> suppose this had been a black lives matter rally, suppose this had been people of color storming the capitol. >> reporter: a large crowd of white demonstrators breaking into the hallowed halls of congress, a stark contrast to the heavy militarized police response to the unrest after the deaths of george floyd and breonna taylor and when kentucky state representative atika scott we arrested herself. >> to see in d.c. that white mobs were ability to take over the capitol building and have a slow response from law enforcement, it was extremely disturbing. >> reporter: during the george floyd protests president trump tweeted, when the looting starts the shooting starts. yesterday -- >> go home we love you. you're very special. >> reporter: this video of an officer posing for a selfie is also fueling anger. >> no one can tell me that had it been a group of black lives matter protesting
yesterday they wouldn't have been treated very, very differently. >> we would have been met with tremendous force. >> reporter: wayne carmason is a former member of d.c.'s national guard. >> it just shows that people are more privileged than other people, colored people as simple as that. >> reporter: today michelle obama described the difference in law enforcement responses as painful lester >> gabe gutierrez tonight, thanks. the images of the capitol have many people asking how do we make sense of it and how do we explain it to our kids here's kevin tibbles. >> reporter: the nation awoke and our flag was still there but the aftershocks reverberate. >> it's a nightmare. it's a nightmare. >> reporter: from chicago -- >> it's heartbreaking. it's disgusting. >> ridiculous. it's a gross abuse of the system. >> reporter: to atlanta -- >> it's sad to watch our country almost being torn apart. >> reporter: headlines shout chaos, insurrection, siege.
words never associated with american democracy. if adults are having trouble comprehending this, what are we telling our children >> i don't know how to put it to her. to be honest. >> reporter: schools now prepared to explain. in denver they will offer counseling in new jersey teachers pledge it to be their duty to prepare students on how government should function and in chicago episcopal priest erica prays with parishoners and has this advice for parents. >> you don't want to hide it, no. and you do want to make sure that they know that they are held close and safe. >> reporter: tonight, many are also holding close that beacon of hope so many believe their nation still represents kevin tibbles, nbc news, chicago. while most global leaders have reacted in horror others are criticizing american values. richard engel is in london how's this playing out, richard
>> reporter: lester, this was an absolute gift for dictators and strong men around the world, a way to show that they're no worse than the united states. a militia leader in iraq whose supporters in the past stormed iraq's parliamen had his followers out on the street denouncing what happened the president of zimbabwe who came to power in the coup said the u.s. does not have the moral authority to criticize him. iran said what happened showed that the u.s. electoral system is flawed russia which has a president for life criticized what happened so america's rivals saw what happene and they saw a opportunity and they're taking it. >> richard engel in london with a view from overseas tonight, thanks, richard. no shocking many didn't find the assault on the capitol all that surprising. peter alexander reports. >> reporter: what we
witnessed didn't look like america it looked like an insurrection rioters storming the u.s. capitol legislators hiding in fear and the president's angry loyalists occupying the houses of congress making sure the constitutional operation of government could not go forward. >> the senate will come to order. >> reporter: faced with a guaranteed defeat among both democrats and republicans, president trump just hours earlier urging the crowd to fight harde and directing protesters toward capitol hill >> we're going to walk down and i'll be with you. because you'll never take back our country with weakness. you have to show strength. >> reporter: behind it all a chie executive more connected to the fantasy of how he lost than the reality of having been voted out of office. baseless allegations of a stolen election attempts to throw out votes that were legitimately cast. >> that was a rigged election we're still fighting it and you will see what will happen. >> reporter: even before that, an unwillingness to commit to the peaceful transfer of power, it's all easier to understand if you see this as a series of deliberate acts over the last several years. a president embracing conspiracy theories and declining to
disavow qanon. >> i know nothing about qanon. i do know they're very much against pedophilia. >> reporter: refusing to condemn white supremacists. >> you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides. >> reporter: emboldening a white nationalist group that quickly embraced his support. >> proud boys, stand back and stand by. >> reporter: we may have had anger in the system but nothing like this happened under any other president. diffusing this moment will not happen overnight. america's history is still being written with new wounds to the heart of our democracy and no indication how this ends. peter alexander, nbc news, the capitol. in just 60 seconds, the calls for such an assault went on for weeks our nbc news investigation is next.
stephanie gosk has more. >> reporter: extremist groups well-known to law enforcement were calling for violence at the capitol for weeks, according to an analysis done by advance democracy, inc. accounts o qanon told supporters to arm themselves and declared january 6th independence day >> what we saw on the capitol was really the internet come to life so we saw proud boys, we saw qanon people, we saw militia men all sort of convening at the president's call. >> reporter: a number of rioters openly displayed symbols of militia groups and images embraced by white supremacists like the crusader cross and the confederate flag police identified this man, a known qanon conspiracy theorist as a person of interest and this man wearing a sweatshirt with a qanon slogan as recently as this fall the department of homeland security warned in its annual assessment that domestic violent extremists could
mobilize quickly to threaten or engage i violence after the 2020 presidential election in that same report the agency called them the most persistent and lethal threat to the homeland >> the intelligence was there that the threat was articulated and known. you have to ask yourself those who counter the threat on the ground were not prepared to do so. >> reporter: in other words, there were warnings the storming of the capitol should not have been a surprise stephanie gosk, nbc news up next, new clues into how covid spreads.
we're learning more tonight about why covid may be spreading so fast. here's miguel almaguer. >> reporter: as a record number of americans remain hospitalized, tonight a new "jama" study finds 59% of all covid transmission comes from asymptomatic individuals. and now in san diego county an explosion of cases of the more contagious variant of the virus. >> your risk is actually greater today than it was the day before yesterday and the day before that. >> reporter: with the national guard deploying in hot spots states like arizona and mississippi to vaccinate health care workers, los angeles county remains the nation's epicenter. >> none of us want it over more than the people working in the hospitals. >> reporter: outside l.a., methodist hospital activating crisis standards of care patients here may have limited options for care and should
consider advanced health care directives like a do not resuscitate order. at some hospitals, triage teams have even identified covid patients unlikely to survive who could be taken off ventilators and moved out of the icu to make room for others tonight this hospital may be the first in the area but it likely won't be the last to initiate crisis standards of care. california is in need of a lifeline. lester >> all right miguel, thank you. we'll be back with some final thoughts. finall,
has it ever happened to you something traumatic happens, a close call behind the wheel, for example, and only later after that initial shock does it strike you and sink in just how close you came to disaster that's the feeling i woke up with this morning. i suspect i'm not alone. as i swiped through more harrowing accounts of those who were inside the capitol, scanned new pictures and video clips that emerged overnight, yesterday's trauma suddenly became fresh again. i shudder to think how close to the edge our democracy teetered in a sustained, violent spasm of pure and simple revolt and terror the fact that it happened at a time our country is already at its most vulnerable, suffering under this soul crushing pandemic is not only un-american, it's cruel. and to think that it was all fanned by a
campaign of lies and phony conspiracies from guardians of democracy simply rips your heart out democracy, however, prevailed in the wee hours of the morning the electoral vote confirmed and in 13 days we will have a new president. just as the framers intended that's "nightly news" for this thursday. i'm lester holt. thank you fo watching, everyone right now at 6:00 the chaos at the capitol is over. now the reconciliation begins. >> now tempers must be cooled. and calm restored. >> president trump new mess and to usher in the new president. >> and he has seen a lot in his years in politics. nothing like this. >> i worry great deal about how fragile our democracy was. >> one on one with former
secretary of defense. >> and twitter backs down. but facebook gets tougher. the new social media restrictions on president trump. >> the news at 6:00 starts now. good evening. thanks for being with us. >> she spoke with the bay area protesters. protrump supporter who traveled for the protest. >> we have heard a lot from local law enforcement inside the capitol building. when it was stormed. tonight you'll hear from one of those protesters. she says she was roughed up. why she says she would do it again. >> we'll start at the white house. in a in statement from president trump. he will ensure a peaceful transition of power. had posted a video message on twitter this afternoon. >> the demonstrators who
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