tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC January 19, 2021 5:30pm-6:00pm PST
that's going to do it for us. nightly news with lester holt is next. we'll see you at 6:00. tonight, just hours from the inauguration of joe biden, several national guard members removed from the security mission. a dozen troops pulled from duty, some with potential ties to far-right extremists amid concerns about an insider attack tonight, the massive security operation by land, sea, and air.
his solemn message this evening at the lincoln memorial honoring the victims of covid and the emotional sendoff in his home state of delaware biden blinking away tears as he evoked the memory of his late son, beau. tonight the first tests he'll face in office. and the u.s. crossing a once unthinkable milestone. 400,000 deaths from covid. new warnings about the variants spreading in the u.s also where are the vaccine doses and why are some mass vaccination sites shutting down? >> this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt.
>> good evening. washington, d.c., a city surrounded in sharp contrast tonight, welcoming the arrival of the next president, honoring those who have died from covid, and rattled by unsettling discoveries within the ranks of those securing tomorrow's inauguration the pentagon removing from duty a dozen national guard members after their vetting by the fbi. at least two could have been right-wing extremist sympathies worthies about a possible insider attack
bubbling to the surface. but this evening the focus briefly turned to the lincoln memorial where president-elect biden and vice president-elect harris led the nation in an emotional tribute to those we have lost to covid buildings across the country awash in light in honor of the victims as the number of lives taken here in the u.s. climbed above a staggering 400,000. we begin our reporting with tom costello >> reporter: with 25,000 national guard troops in d.c., the pentagon says a dozen have been removed from the assignment ten flagged an fbi background checks for various issues, ranging from minor criminal offenses to more serious concerns two more soldiers identified for what are described as inappropriate texts and messages, possibly expressing right-wing extremist sympathies. >> out of an abundance of caution we automatically pulled those personnel off the line and
make sure that they're not part of the mission set. >> reporter: the fbi has been vetting every guard member worried about potential extremists already in the ranks. >> we're looking for any indication that an individual should not be included in the inaugural events. >> reporter: tonight, washington looks more like the baghdad green zone than the nation's capitol. police checkpoints, coast guard boats on the rivers, roads and bridges leading into d.c. shut down miles of fencing and razor wire more troops arriving by the hour d.c. airspace becoming even more restricted at 8:00 a.m. anti-drone technology in place and state police reinforcements from across the region
>> regardless of what your political affiliation is, doesn't matter, you're going down there to represent not only new jersey but all of law enforcement. >> reporter: meanwhile, more arrests and charges related to the january 6th attack riley june williams of pennsylvania turned herself in the fbi says she stole a computer from speaker pelosi's office and was plotting to send it to russian intelligence emanuel jackson of maryland, the fbi alleges he repeatedly hit a capitol police officer with his fist then used a metal bat on officers vitali gossjankowski found a taser on the ground urging
>> tom, will this increased security last beyond inauguration day >> reporter: yeah, the d.c. homeland security director suggesting the increased security will be around for a while given the ongoing threat 6,600 national guard troops told to be here for at least 30 days. >> tom costello outside the capitol. thank you. the fbi is filing many charges stemming from the riot at the capitol two weeks ago with a focus on who might have been planning for leading it nbc's pete williams is joining us what can you tell us about this >> the fbi singled out a dozen people accused of being members of extremist groups involved in the riot federal prosecutors say this video shows eight or ten people in military-style gear approaching the entrance wearing patches of a militia group called oath keepers. the fbi says a virginia man, 65-year-old thomas caldwell, planned and coordinated at least that part of the capitol siege. no comment from him or a lawyer prosecutors accused two others, a man and woman from ohio, of being part of that group. they say they intended the demonstration to be peaceful the fbi says it has found signs that some extremist groups made plans several days in advance to enter the capitol. lester >> all right, pete williams tonight. thank you. we're hearing from president trump for the first time in
days his taped farewell address before he exits the white house tomorrow morning, as joe biden prepares to be sworn in we start with nbc's kristen welker kristen, what's the president saying >> reporter: well, lester, the president who's dominated the airwaves tonight with that final video calling for people to pray for his successor without mentioning joe biden's name just hours away from leaving the white house, president trump tonight releasing this video. his farewell address to the american people. >> i took on the tough battles, the hardest fights, the most difficult choices, because that's what you elected me to do we restored the idea that in america no one is forgotten because everyone matters and everyone has a voice >> reporter: with this rare nod to his successor -- >> we inaugurate a new administration and pray for its success in keeping america safe and prosperous >> reporter: and the president condemning the attack he's accused of inciting. >> all americans were horrified by the assault on our capitol. political violence is an attack on everything we cherish as americans. it can never be tolerated. >> reporter: but the president now facing growing criticism over his rhetoric before the riot with the top senate republican, again, blasting him today. >> the mob was fed lies they were provoked by the president and other powerful people >> reporter: now an unprecedented second impeachment trial. democrats needing 17 republicans to join them for a conviction and a potential
mcconnell vote to convict could sway many meanwhile, nbc news has learned the president's sendoff at joint base andrews tomorrow will be missing some top republicans including vice president pence. a white house official telling nbc news it's not possible logistically since pence unlike the president is going to president-elect biden's inauguration tonight, republicans grappling with the question, how big a role will former president trump play in the future of their party? kristen welker, nbc news, the white house. career, joe biden on the cusp of being sworn in as america's 46th president. his last trip from wilmington to washington before becoming commander in chief. >> i know these are dark times, but there's always light. that's what makes this state so special. that's what it taught me. >> reporter: biden today emotional speaking at the armed forces reserve center named for his late son, beau. >> i only have one regret, he's not here because we should be introducing him as president. >> reporter: tomorrow during this unprecedented moment of crisis, biden's advisers tell nbc news his inaugural address will focus on the theme of unity. biden set to take the oath in
front of a socially distanced capitol and an empty national mall now transformed into a field of flags. the confirmation process for some of biden's cabinet members now under way. >> without further action, we risk a longer, more painful, recession now. >> reporter: and late tonight, a powerful moment of mourning at the lincoln memorial's reflecting pool. 400 columns of light to honor more than 400,000 victims of the coronavirus. >> let us shine the lights in the darkness along the sacred pool of reflection, remember all whom we lost >> reporter: and you can see those lights behind me tomorrow another show of unity joe biden inviting congressional leaders from both parties to join him at church his first stop on inauguration day. lester >> it was quite an emotional evening. all right, peter, thank you. as the country passes that terrible milestone of 400,000 deaths, a sobering prediction tonight that the toll could quickly go much higher miguel almaguer has the latest. >> reporter: just as some hospitals in the nation's hardest hit regions begin to see the onslaught of covid patients stabilize, tonight in more than a third of the country doctors are now detecting at least one variant of the virus within weeks, the cdc says the highly contagious uk strain will dominate the u.s., but in california, three
mutations have already been discovered >> the finding of a variant like this really increases the urgency for us to get, collectively for us to get the pandemic under control. >> reporter: while virus mutations are not unusual, they can accelerate the pandemic much still needs to be learned, but with the uk strain more contagious, it will lead to more infections and likely more hospitalizations and deaths vaccines, though, remain effective. >> the coronavirus, itself, sars-cov-2 is here to stay, but we hope that with these effective vaccine programs that they become a conversation like the flu. >> reporter: as the u.s. surpasses a staggering 400,000 deaths, the incoming cdc director says another 100,000 could die in the next month. and now at a faster rate, more children are testing
positive 2.5 million so far in struggling states like georgia, overall deaths are up 142% >> we are treating patients in the hallways there are many days where we have to start the treatment in the ambulances. >> reporter: here in l.a. county, air quality officials are easing restrictions to allow for more cremations. 2,700 bodies are being held here at the coroner's office and at local hospitals. lester >> all right, miguel, thank you. a stark reminder of what we still face comes as the vaccine effort picks up. it's still far behind what we expected by now. with growing concern about the supply stephanie gosk has that part of the story. >> reporter: 1 million shots a day, it's a goal within reach according to health officials. last week, the country averaged roughly 700,000. >> we're ready to do this >> yep, we are. >> reporter: today al roker joined the ranks of the vaccinated. >> that's it >> that's it. >> reporter: still only a third of the vaccines distributed have actually been given.
where are the majority of those doses? >> yeah, so, i mean, i think those doses are spread out. many of them in the long-term-care facility program, some of them in hospitals. >> reporter: to fix the lag, the country is shifting, widening the pool of eligibility and opening up public vaccination spots. despite logistical hurdles, picking up the pace and now running into supply problems today florida's miami-dade county temporarily closed a mass vaccination site because it ran out of doses. >> we're now giving vaccines out faster than we're getting it, and we have the capacity to do a lot more. >> the production's still going like this. it's not going like this i think we anticipated that when we scale up and we go out to larger populations, our production would go up, but it's not. >> reporter: and the cries for more are growing louder >> we need more vaccine. we need more vaccine we need more vaccine i mean, it is frustrating. >> there just hasn't been good communication and transparency around what the ultimate supply is. >> reporter: do you
run the risk of opening this up to a larger population without enough doses to satisfy that demand and people just getting frustrated with this process? >> yeah. we don't have the supply to meet the demand right now >> reporter: the hope is that another vaccine will be added to the mix soon former fda commissioner scott gottlieb sits on pfizer's board. >> j & j vaccine could be a real game changer in terms of additional supply in the market. >> reporter: if all goes smoothly, he says, approval could come as early as february stephanie gosk, nbc news. our parent company, comcast nbc universal, wants to help you plan your vaccine. you can visit planyourvaccine.com or use your phone to scan that qr code on your screen there. you'll soon find all the vaccination information you need so when it's your turn, you'll be ready to go. in just 60 seconds, as joe biden takes office, the major changes and challenges ahead on critical issues.
takes his oath tomorrow, he will illegally as young children to stay mere the proposed bill would allow so-called dreamers to immediately apply for a green card others could get temporary status for five years and apply for citizenship three years after that biden also said he'd help reunite the hundreds of undocumented children still separated from their parents after crossing the border among migrants, anxiety has mounted since president trump took office.
here in the guatemalan side of the border, patience is wearing thin we were there in 2018 as another caravan marched north. the trump administration would later require migrants to stay in mexico while they applied for asylum opponents of biden's proposal say it amounts to amnesty. >> if you're going to reward people who broke the law in front of everybody else who respected it, it sends a bad signal. >> reporter: immigration reform fizzled in congress during the bush and obama administrations. democrats now say it's a priority gabe gutierrez, nbc news, washington. i'm andrea mitchell in washington where the president-elect will be facing threats on all sides china, russia, north korea, iran america's reputation abroad after the insurrection of the capitol. and white house pressure on diplomats and intelligence officers that's about to change, said joe biden's nominee for director of national intelligence, avril haines the first woman to lead the country's 18 spy agencies. >> when it comes to intelligence, there's no place for politics ever.
>> reporter: haines was appointed by a republican, dan coats, forced out by president trump for telling the truth about vladimir putin haines promised to work with the fbi on the threat from qanon, said a new iran nuclear deal should include missiles, and the u.s. should take an aggressive stance toward china. a warning underscored today by tony blinken, biden's nominee for secretary of state. >> there is no doubt that it poses the most significant challenge of any nation state to the united states. >> reporter: but he must also restore the morale of diplomats after the trump years. >> they have been treated with disdain, smeared, and forced out of public service. there has been a stunning loss of expertise, steep declines in morale. >> reporter: because of the insurrection, the biden team is hoping to get its national security cabinet in place this week late today, republican senator josh hawley who led the electoral college challenge is blocking the homeland security
nominee over immigration policy even though homeland security is the lead agency for the inaugural. lester >> all right, andrea, thanks. and a programming note, joe biden's grandchildren talk exclusively with jenna bush hager tomorrow on "today." up next, big changes to the s.a.t.s just announced. what your kids need to know
general manage porter after he admitted to sending unsolicited texts to a female reporter in 2016 while with the chicago cubs. the mets owner treated there should be zero tolerance for this type of behavior. also tonight, the college admissions process could get a little less stressful now that major changes are coming to the s.a.t. due in part to the covid pandemic kristen dahlgren on what's going away >> reporter: tonight, a rite of passage for most students who plan to go to college is changing again the college boards now writing off the optional essay section of the s.a.t. as well as specialized subjects like biology and foreign languages. >> think this is a sigh of relief for high school students. >> reporter: the essay introduced in 2005 was for a time central to the admissions process. but in recent years many big institutions have made it optional >> some of the criticism is that some students, especially diverse students, won't be able now to set themselves apart.
>> the good news is that for diverse students, low-income students, that are the center of the college board admission, our advanced placement courses are more widely available than ever before. >> reporter: high school senior, yugi, took the test three times but that wasn't easy for him or his peers. >> the main -- went to pennsylvania, people going all around just to find a site. >> reporter: last year schools like harvard and upenn dropped s.a.t. and a.c.t. requirements due to covid. some on social media now calling for an end to the test altogether the college board defending the standardized test that like so many things will now look different after covid. kristen dahlgren, nbc news okay listen to this the jackpot for tonight's megamillions drawing is now $865 million. while the powerball has reached $730 million the total, almost $1.6 billion and it could be yours. or maybe not up next, the inauguration bands "inspiring america.
>> reporter: the drum line from biden's alma mater, the university of delaware, will participate in the presidential escort to the white house. following a tradition of inaugural marching bands. on the scale of one to ten, how excited are you? >> easily a ten. i'm super excited. >> may even have to go up to 11 i mean, this is just a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. >> reporter: howard university's drum line will escort their alum, vice president-elect kamala harris. what's the historical impact to you? >> i feel like the school in the future will be able to look back, this is the first and it's not the last. >> reporter: as one of the nation's historically black colleges and universities, high energy and showmanship are at the center of their performance. ♪ ♪ other schools joining in, too. florida a&m university prepping to kick off an online celebration tonight. >> this is a big honor. ♪ >> reporter: hoping music will bring people together to honor
our nation's next leaders. rehema ellis, nbc news. >> and we invite you to join us for our special all-day coverage of this historic inauguration tomorrow morning starting at 7:00 a.m. and a special edition of "nightly news" tomorrow night that's "nightly news" for this tuesday. thank you for watching, everyone i'm lester holt. please take care of yourself and each other good night and power outages. i'll show you when the wind gets out of here, and what i'm seeing about a colder storm, even some
low snow. that's next. and then running out of vaccines. >> there is not enough vaccine yet that we could administer to keep us safe from these immediate surges. >> the dire warning from san francisco's top doctor and the reason he is optimistic about the future. the news at 6:00 starts right now. thank you for joining us. i'm jessica aguirre. >> and i'm janelle wang. as jessica just mentioned, we are 15 hours out from witnessing one of the key pillars of our democracy, transition of power. just after 9:00 a.m. tomorrow, joe biden will be sworn in as our 46th president. a live look at the u.s. capitol building, the grass in front and along the national mall is lined with small flags from all 50 states. they represent the americans who can't attend the inauguration due to safety concerns and the pandemic. normally the night before the inauguration, the president-elect attends a concert at the lincoln memo