After three attempts I managed to install Debian 8.7.1 on my computer and I am very happy with it.
The issues with my installation attempts were 1) bad ISO, 2) firmware issues, which relates to 3) unable to configure apt during installation. I corrected my ISO problems, found an ISO with firmware, and ran the Debian installer via ethernet. It worked like a charm.
Here are the steps:
Download ISO from Debian (this iso includes firmware and gnome):
insert your USB and locate it with:
wipe the USB disk clean (change sdx to your device):
sudo dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdx
now create the ISO:
sudo dd if=debian-live-8.7.1-amd64-gnome-desktop+nonfree.iso of=/dev/sdx bs=1M
Next turn off your wifi and be sure you are connected to ethernet. Restart your computer and enter boot options (for me that means holding down f12). Choose graphic install. And that's it. Please let me know if you have any questions.