Transcript

Flood victim advocates keep working after office explodes

Manager of the disaster response unit for Lone Star Legal Aid weighs in on 'The Story'

 

This is a rush transcript from "The Story," September 1, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SANDRA SMITH, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST: Breaking tonight, the nightmare for tens of thousands of Texans is far from over. And that's where "The Story" begins tonight. I'm Sandra Smith in for Martha MacCallum. As Houston's mayor urgently warns everyone on the city's west side to get out, just 25 miles to the east in Crosby, Texas, a raging fire has just broken out at an Arkema Chemical Plant. The Harris County fire marshal's office has urged residents within the one-and-a-half-mile radius of the chemical plant to evacuate the area. And when this will end, is anyone's guess.

The president of the Arkema plant calling these fires "worst-case scenario." Adding that this facility has never had its infrastructure compromised. For more on what we are seeing unfold on Crosby, Texas, Fox's Matt Finn joins us now by phone. Matt, you spent the day there yesterday when these fires first broke out. I know that they hinted that more was expected but of this magnitude?

MATT FINN, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CORRESPONDENT (through telephone): Sandra, what's happening here according to Arkema, they say last week the Arkema was anticipating Hurricane Harvey and they closed shop and brought backup generators. Those generators failed. Then they brought in liquid nitrogen, and that failed. So, right now, they have a theory of nine containers with chemical compounds that are basically exposed to the elements and the heat here in Texas. Wednesday night, there were reports that two explosions on the Arkema Chemical Plant. But then, yesterday, Thursday, Arkema said that there was a chemical reaction -- not necessarily an explosion. However, there was a fire in one of the containers.

The Arkema basically said the remaining eight containers, we do anticipate a fire. And these are highly flammable materials. So, if there is a fire, it's going to be a big one. So, yesterday, there was a 1.5-mile evacuation order sent out to people in that area. Officers went door-to-door. And Arkema basically said, we are anticipating another fire. Now, yesterday there was a lot of conflicting information regarding how dangerous these materials might be for people in this area. The sheriff said, well, it's similar to breathing in smoke from a fire, then an executive from Arkema, at a press conference, said we are working to determine how dangerous these irritants are. But he wouldn't necessarily give detail on how dangerous or how toxic they might be.

SMITH: Matt, if I can jump in there, we have a sound of that moment, that exchange with the executive from the company. Let's listen.

FINN: Yes. Let's listen to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you have a fire that was hydrocarbons, these chemicals are burning. Sometimes, you have incomplete combustion, and you have a smoke. And any smoke is going to be an irritant to your eyes or your lungs or potentially your skin. So, if you're exposed to that, we certainly are encouraging anyone that may be exposed to the smoke coming from this fire to call their doctor or receive medical advice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMITH: It was quite a moment, Matt. I know you were there, and you heard this as well because the reporters there continued to press him on are these fumes going to be toxic for residents who breathe them in? He said they would be an irritant, as you just heard, to your lungs or to your eyes. But he really kind of danced around the idea of just how toxic this would be.

FINN: Yes. People were basically saying he was giving lawyerly answers and not telling people straight up, listen, here's what's in the air, here's what you're breathing in. You know, and then later, Tom Bossert, the Homeland Security adviser said at a press conference in the White House, if you are near or someone who is near those black plumes, yes, it is dangerous, the area is being tested but we would consider that dangerous. So, a lot of conflicting information, which just makes it more worrisome to people in the area, Sandra.

SMITH: Yes. And Arkema describes themselves as a diversified chemicals manufacturer operating in North America at the larger chemical company. They operate in over 50 countries, but they're North American operations. They say that they are a global producer of high-performance materials, industrial specialties among other things. And in that press conference yesterday, Matt, we heard the Arkema executive there say, the smokes toxicity is a relative thing. Still, leaving a lot of ambiguity as to the toxic -- the actual nature of these fumes coming out of there. Have you had a chance to talk to any nearby residents about their concern for these fires and these fumes?

FINN: Well, yesterday we were in that area all day. We were, obviously, not let inside of the evacuation area. There was certainly a sense of worry in the air, but we really couldn't get inside to talk to anybody who has been evacuated or anybody who had chosen to stay. But you know, there are -- this is also -- that 1.5-mile radius also affects highway 9-D. So, as if getting around this Houston wasn't bad enough with all the flooding and all the road closure, now you have a major highway shut down. And we had actually been using that highway to get to some of those really heavily flooded areas to the east as Harvey moved east.

And we are on Houston highway because it has a lot of areas that are very highly elevated. So, the backups in the area were miles, and miles, and miles long headed to Houston. Of course, traffic is not really as big of a concern as someone's health, but it currently is adding trouble and the panic in this area. Now, you know, some people say, well, this executive Arkema was just giving a scientific answer. You know, that the toxicity is relative, and we're testing it, and as soon as we find out we'll let you know. But you know, other people on the ground were saying, hey, can you at least just tell us what's in the air because there are people breathing it in right now, Sandra.

SMITH: So, an Arkema did warn local residents there that they were on high alert for more fires at this Texas chemical site. What you are looking right now is an update -- to anybody just tuning in. Cowering flames and some jet-black smoke pouring from the flooded Arkema plant, a chemical plant in Crosby, Texas. Valuable organic peroxides exploded around 5:00 p.m. that would be local time. So, you're talking about, just about an hour ago, 6:00 Eastern Time. Pressure valves on the trailers holding the chemicals made loud popping sounds as they were released.

One Arkema spokesperson says you could this a warning sign that more explosions or fires could be coming soon. So, that warning was there, and it still remains there, Matt, as we continue to watch these live pictures out of Crosby, Texas. A major fire happening right now, and you can obviously see the dark plumes of smoke. Matt, you spent the day there yesterday, that warning did come. So, Arkema may say that this is what they warned of.

FINN: Definitely. And that 1.5-mile evacuation radius was put in order. Officers told us they went door-to-door. You know, and so they at least warned the public. They said we do anticipate this coming. And there were actually 16 deputies, I believe, who were in the area, and were injured, and were treated. They described their wounds and pain as standing over a pit of fire. So, if that gives you any idea of what breathing this material might be or feel like, that's how they described it. They were treated and released, according to our understanding, Sandra.

SMITH: And just some background there, they lost power earlier in the week which knocked out their primary supply. I know you detailed that, which has resulted in what we are now seeing -- a major fire happening in Crosby, Texas, at the Arkema chemical plant. Matt Finn, thanks for jumping on with us.

FINN: Sure.

SMITH: All right. While on top of all of this, another monster storm is brewing in the Atlantic Ocean, if you can believe that. We're keeping a close watch on that. Chief Meteorologist, Rick Reichmuth, live in the Fox Weather Center with what may be coming next. Rick?

RICK REICHMUTH, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CHIEF METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Well, Sandra, you know, when you look at our average hurricane season, it peaks around September 10th. We're not quite there yet, we're around ten days away from the peak of this. So, most of our activity, especially on the year that we expect a lot of activity should be happening right around now. That right there is a category three hurricane, that does not happen that far out here across the Atlantic because the waters actually aren't that warm.

Typically, the support of the track of it, it'll continue to pull out towards the west, maybe make a little dip here, and then pull back up towards the northeast. But take a look at that a category four -- resets a forecast coming up from the National Hurricane Center. Somewhere around the lesser into the east, in towards the Puerto Rico area, that's Wednesday into Thursday. A long time to watch this storm. If anybody tells you we're getting -- have a landfall of this storm anywhere in the U.S., they are lying. We can't tell you that at this point.

What we know, is the storm is moving up in that general direction. The waters will get warmer here. Do expect to see this be a very, very strong hurricane, which means that it did have impacts across the U.S. -- It would be very problematic for us, obviously. This is one of the models -- I just want to show this run -- strengthens as it gets over those warmer waters around the Bahamas, gets way too close to the eastern seaboard. That's one model.

The model that we like does kind of similar thing. I will tell you, it is way too early. The atmospheric conditions that will impact this are way out across the Pacific. So, this kind of forecast, 10 days out is not possible. What we do know is we have that long to watch this, and we will continue to track it and bring everyone the latest on this and own that in if we do have impacts across the U.S.

SMITH: All right, Rick Reichmuth. A lot of news developing at this hour, thank you. New and incredible stories of perseverance coming out of Texas tonight. This is a video of the offices of Lone Star Legal Aid. A charitable nonprofit in Houston on Monday. Amid the flooding, the building exploded into flames. But that hasn't stopped them from doing their work.

Sandra Brown is the Disaster Response Unit Manager for Lone Star Legal Aid, she joins us now. Sandra, thank you for being here. You're obviously, incredibly busy right now. But your organization has helped hurricane victims for many, many years. You all of a sudden came into the position where you at your organization needed help.

SANDRA BROWN, UNIT MANAGER, LONE STAR LEGAL AID: Hi, thank you. Yes. You know, at Lone Star Legal Aid, we're the free civil legal aid for the entire eastern third of the state of Texas, and this is our main office in Houston, Texas. And early Monday morning, there was an explosion and fire in the building, and we've had to keep working because this is what we do at Lone Star Legal Aid. We're activated as part of the Federal Disaster Legal Services. And what's happening with us is -- after the building was secured a while later, we actually had to go back into that building to get the disaster flyers for us to have our personnel go to an NRG and the other Red Cross shelters, the shelters in the city of Houston to hand out information. Because at this point, it's so important to get good information in the hands of every survivor.

SMITH: Yes. Timing is everything.

BROWN: Yes, and the information is going to save them legal problems down the road.

SMITH: So, Sandra, you and your workers could have closed shop and gone home or elsewhere, but you went back to work. And not only did you get busy handing out those flyers and getting out your e-mail and your devices, but many of your workers went to the shelters.

BROWN: That's exactly true. That is what we do. We have a memorandum of understanding with the American Red Cross that we're authorized agents and expected to be at those shelters in the event of a disaster. So, we go there to push out the legal information that needs to be done. We've started giving advice to individuals. We're there with our partners --

SMITH: What's the key piece of advice that you're giving them right now, Sandra?

BROWN: There are two or three really key things. We need people to understand that they really, really need to register with FEMA and with the SPA before that 60-day deadline is up. Because that's one way to keep their options open and give them very valuable recourse for their recovery. The other really key point is we need to prevent fraud ahead of time.

SMITH: All right. Sandra, all good advice and all the best to you as you will all have to rebuild there, as well as your headquarters. Sandra, thank you for being here.

BROWN: We will. Thank you.

SMITH: Thank you. All right. We've got to get back to this fire. It continues to rage, just 25 miles outside of Houston. Bob Royal, assistant chief of the Harris County Fire Marshal's Office joins us. Thank you for joining us, sir. Can you tell us what can be done about a chemical fire of this magnitude that we continue to see?

BOB ROYAL, ASSISTANT CHIEF, FIRE MARSHAL'S OFFICE OF HARRIS COUNTY: Well, Sandra, we hear it about 4:35. We have reports from our fire unit and law enforcement unit, so we have white smoke coming up from the plant and it quickly turned to black smoke by 5:28. And after that, we had rapid combustion of the materials in the trailers. So, we had two trailers burned this afternoon. We're still in a defensive posture. There's nobody in there. We're not quickly fighting in there. Unlike the first trailer that burned yesterday morning, this time -- I actually received a video from our law enforcement helicopter -- I saw four or five explosions that took place during the combustion. So, we're still on a defensive posture. We are not sending anyone near. We're letting it burn out.

SMITH: So, just a few notes. Company leaders said, Thursday morning, that they had initially considered relocating these chemicals, but then deemed that process too risky. They said this morning pressure valves from the trailers holding the chemicals made loud popping sounds as they were released. A spokesperson there described the release of the pressure valves, you could call this a warning sign that more explosions or fires could be coming soon. So, they sort of called this. But what is astounding, sir, as we look at these live images -- to your point, there's no one yet on the ground fighting this fire, at least that we can see at this moment.

ROYAL: No, ma'am, and that's because of the risk associated with fighting a fire of that nature. Again, a fire with a lot of intensity. And the fire units -- we feel this 1.5-mile radius exclusion zone, so there's no one in there. And the plan all along has been, is if they catch on fire, we let them consume the fuel rather than put firefighters and police officers at risk by trying to go in and fight that fire, and perhaps be hurt by an explosion or another trailer catching on fire, because it burns with its max intensity.

SMITH: Sir, what kind of danger our residence in the direct vicinity, what kind of danger could they be in?

ROYAL: Well, again, we've had this exclusion zone, a mile-and-a-half radius. And we have been able to keep that and the citizens informed about that exclusion zone. We've had road blocks to try to keep people out of the area. And the smoke goes up, it's heavy black smoke. We have talked about that in press conferences. It's widened with hydrocarbons, and it's an eye, ear and nose irritant. And hopefully, we'll keep people far enough away that they're not affected by that.

SMITH: All right. Bob Royal, thank you for jumping on with us. We're going to continue to monitor this situation in Crosby, Texas. A major fire a chemical plant there. We'll keep watching it for you. Meanwhile, Harvey's wrath also creating a desperate need for water.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's no water out of the pool that we're trying to pull it. We are using bottled water for cooking, for washing hands, and for drinking. It's really hard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMITH: As Texans struggle to survive without basic resources, there are serious questions about some political actors promoting certain "relief efforts" in a disgusting attempt to further their causes. Mollie Hemingway and Emily Tisch Sussman are here on that. Plus, President Trump, promising an announcement on his effort to end the Obama-era program protecting so-called "dreamers." The heated debate on that, ahead. And a bombshell ruling in the Penn State death. The shocking decision that the judge just made, and we have the exclusive response from the D.A. trying that case, ahead.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's going on today?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a friend who is unconscious. He hasn't moved. He's probably going to need an ambulance.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SYLVESTER TURNER, MAYOR OF HOUSTON, TEXAS: I'm going to ask you in the strongest of terms because the remaining in your home for the next 10-15 days is simply not in your best interest and neither is it in the best interests of our first responders.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMITH: That the latest warning from Houston's mayor to holdouts who are refusing to leave their homes, despite potentially deadly flooding and toxic waters now plaguing the city. The mayor also stressing that there's still an extreme need for rescue outside the city of Houston as extensive relief efforts that have no doubt exhausted responders are still underway. Rick Leventhal is live in Vidor, Texas, where rescues are currently happening still. Rick?

RICK LEVENTHAL, FOX NEWS CHANNEL SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Hello?

SMITH: Yes. We're here, Rick, can you hear us?

LEVENTHAL: Oh, I hear you, Sandra. Sorry, my IFB wasn't on. Are we live?

SMITH: Take it away. What are you seeing there? Yes, we're live.

LEVENTHAL: We're in Vidor, Texas, which is mid-way between Beaumont and Orange. This community got a year's worth of rain in four days. And to put that in perspective, the Neches River, which runs adjacent to Vidor, the previous record was 13 feet, it crushed it today at 21 feet -- eight feet about normal. So, they got a tremendous amount of water, and you're seeing it on the main street here in town. The rescue efforts are wrapping up for the day because there's a curfew in about a half hour, but you can see all that water down there on the main street.

This is a very difficult to rescue situation because there are dry patches beyond that water. So, you go through that water on a boat, you get to the other side, there's dry land. And then, beyond that, a mile or so down the road, there's more flooded areas, and beyond that, more dry land, more flood, more dry land. So, what we experienced today, we were on a high-water vehicle that was towing a boat -- it would bring a boat through one flood area to the next flood area, and then to the next one, and then they would go out and do their rescues.

And when they pick people up, they would put them back in the boat, and then they would have to tow them back through because the boats can't go all the way from here to there. We saw a lot of resources being deployed out there, including monster trucks, high vehicles that were perhaps six feet of clearance off the ground. So, they were able to get through the high waters and get into the areas where people needed to be picked up and brought back out again. There were airboats in there, military vehicles, along with the duck boats.

The Cajun Navy -- we heard so much about. So, many volunteers out here doing such hard work to try and to these folks who have never seen anything like what they're seeing here in Vidor today. We saw one rescue involving a family that had six dogs, two cats. They had to leave the chickens behind, but all those animals and all those got out to that high-water vehicle -- we drove out with them earlier today. Getting to this town and out of this town is also very difficult, Sandra, because the I-10, a major east-west interstate which feeds this community is shut down in this area because of high waters on the highway itself.

So, there's a lot of challenges out here. And on the ground here in Vidor tonight, the police chief tells us that there's not a curfew in effect, in part, because of some looting concerns. There have been some incidents here, Sandra. And the folks are struggling to adapt and deal with these horrific conditions.

SMITH: Especially, considering the rescue efforts are still underway, those pictures are still so shocking. Rick Leventhal, thank you, Vidor, Texas. There are growing questions tonight about the motives behind certain Harvey fund-raising efforts going on. Controversial Activist Linda Sarsour, under fire for this tweet, which actually links to a left-leaning political action committee. One Twitter user writing, "Wow. Framing donations to an inherently political organization under the guise of disaster relief is pretty awful." And then, there is this from a Texas abortion advocacy group: "Join us is supporting Harvey survivors seeking an abortion but cannot afford it."

Here now with more: Mollie Hemingway, senior editor at The Federalist and Fox News contributor; and Emily Tisch Sussman, campaign director for the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Mollie, some of those tweets, you have to let them sink in. I mean, let's go back to the Linda Sarsour tweet. To her hundreds of thousands of followers, to the #HarveyHurricaneRelief. You could go to the link, and it goes to this Texas organizing project education fund. It's an activist organization and pact, whose chief focus is advancing political goals through elections, Mollie.

MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR AND SENIOR EDITOR AT THE FEDERALIST: Yes. This is a group that has a history of doing tradition political organizing. In the last cycle, they gave all of their funds to electing Hillary Clinton. And that is -- the problem with this isn't that community organizing a political action isn't important, but it's not important while the storm is still going on and while people's lives are at risk.

And it's very important for people to give contributions to groups that actually know what they're doing. My family gives to the Lutheran church for disaster relief and recovery, which has decades of experience doing this type of work -- not political organizing. And people really should get good direction, and this is not a good time for political organizing.

SMITH: Emily, to be exact, the organization spent last year, 2016, nearly $16,000 in support of Hillary Clinton, and nearly $5,000 against trump. Isn't this a bit of a bait and switch?

EMILY TISCH SUSSMAN, CAMPAIGN DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS ACTION
FUND: Well, just to be very clear what he actually linked to is the education fund. And the Texas organizing project is a Grass Roots organization that helps low-income people advocate for themselves. We know that those who are already living at the margins are already the hardest hit, and are going to have the hardest time in the recovery. So, I do think it makes sense to be thinking about people that should be advocating for themselves.

SMITH: Emily, you don't think when people click on that, that they think that that's for humanitarian aid and relief? As a direct result of people of being left homeless in many instances?

SUSSMAN: Look, they can see exactly who they're donating to. If they don't want to, they shouldn't donate. I want to actually note, that is one of the organizations that Linda Sarsour, in particular, advocated for, including the Red Cross, the Texas --

SMITH: Just to be clear, she doesn't put the actual name of the education fund on there, it only links to that. So, you don't see that when you actually see the tweet. But Emily, let's go to this other tweet for the Liles fund. This is -- I mean, it's unbelievable. Joining us supporting Harvey survivor seeking an abortion but cannot afford it?

SUSSMAN: Look, I think part of what we're hearing out of Texas is that when people are going in to help and save one another, they're not talking politics, they're not talking legal status, they're not talking any of that, they're just there to help one another. And no one is making any judgments on one another. We really don't know why somebody may be seeking an abortion either at this time or --

SMITH: Mollie, let me give you an example of some of the negative Twitter reaction to that particular tweet. You've got this: "This is a great investment if you think the biggest problem with Harvey is that it didn't kill enough people." There's another one: "Using a tragedy like this to fill your coffers. Despicable you!" Mollie?

HEMINGWAY: Exactly. Funding abortions only make sense if you think the main problem with Hurricane Harvey was that it did not kill enough people. Right now, I think most Americans understand that what we really need to be doing is saving lives, not violently ending them in the womb. And what women need is, clean water, shelter, they need tools for rescue efforts. And they do not need people not supporting them as they face their pregnancies and their families are having growing concerns. But I think, thankfully, most Americans understand that saving lives and not ending it is most important at this time.

SMITH: All right. We've got breaking news this hour. Thanks to both of you for coming on. Still ahead, a bombshell report revealing that the threat of Antifa violence was on the Obama administration's radar in early 2016. So, why was nothing done? That shocking report, ahead. President Trump is expected to announce his decision on the Obama-era DACA program within days. Will he keep his base satisfied? David Wohl and Francisco Hernandez debates that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SMITH: We continue to watch this raging fire at a chemical plant in Crosby, Texas. It is an Arkema Chemical Plant. It just started about 6:00 eastern time, 5:00 local time. This is a chemical plant that had an announcement yesterday that they were having major problems. They've lost electricity early in the week. They've had to make a bunch of changes. They warn this may happen. But right now this fire is raging. You could see the black plumes of smoke going up into the air. And it is not yet being fought.

So this is something we're going to continue to watch as residence has been warned to evacuate that chemical plant in a 1.5-mile radius. Local reports are saying that they are experiencing light winds in the area right now, so it's not pushing the smoke directly into areas around the plants, but there's obviously still concern about that. Arkema officials have acknowledged the fire saying, quote, we will likely see additional incidents. So we're going to keep watching this for you.

Meanwhile, the White House announcing today that President Trump will make a decision on the controversial Obama-era dreamer program on Tuesday, but there's much more to this story than the timing. The bigger picture of what this decision means for Trump, his base, and his opponents, we're joined here in studio by chief national correspondent Ed Henry. It's wonderful to see you.

ED HENRY, FOX NEWS CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Great to see you, Sandra. The key here is we can't get lost on the minutia of DACA. Make no mistake this is not just a fight over immigration. It's a fight for the heart and soul of the Trump America first agenda, and whether it will tilt conservatives or more centrists. Today, the Washington Post reported that the president is chaffing at a safer more moderate and orderly course that retired General John Kelly is steering. And as we hear more and more about the growing influence of more centrist advisors like Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. Think about the last three Fridays and the conflicting signals the president political base has been getting, two Fridays ago, his chief strategist Steve Bannon out. Then, last Friday, a key Bannon ally, Sebastian Gorka suddenly pushed aside.

Last Friday, though, the president also decided to pardon Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a hero to the right for being so aggressive in cracking down on illegal immigration. At that time, one of the president's top advisers told me pardoning Arpaio might give the president some political running room with his base to say, look, he took care of Arpaio, now they have to accept some middle ground on DACA instead of outright ending it. Find a compassionate way to deal with the children of illegal immigrants and that is where in fact it seems to be heading. The president appears to be heading to a compromise after Speaker Paul Ryan, other GOP leaders in Congress urged him not to scrap DACA altogether. Listen to Ryan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL RYAN, U.S. HOUSE SPEAKER: I actually don't think he should do that. And I believe that this is something that Congress has to fix. There are people who are in limbo. These are kids who know no other country. Who were brought here by their parents and don't know another home. And so, I really do believe that there needs to be a legislative solution.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENRY: And punting this to Congress may actually be the smart way to go because President Trump is dealing with this mess right now, because President Obama in 2012 did this by executive fiat. He went around Congress. Now the current administration can undo that, but who knows what the consequences will be. So a legislative fix may give him a more stable outcome. But, again, conservatives could be skeptical of that because he promises as a candidate to end DACA not send it to Congress. And so, that might be kind of a mixed message to his base, Sandra.

SMITH: All right. Very interesting. I think we'll work under the assumption that this announcement could come at any time--

HENRY: Yeah, they're saying--

SMITH: -- but officially they're saying Tuesday. All right, Ed Henry, thank you and good to see you. All right. Here now with more, Attorney David Wohl, and immigration attorney Francisco Fernandez. All right. So David, I'm going to go to you first. The decision coming Tuesday, what will it be?

DAVID WOHL, ATTORNEY: Well, you know, this -- the conflict lies, of course, in the fact, senator, that Mr. Trump has taken a very aggressive stance on illegal immigration in general, the wall, the deportation of violent gang-bangers and other criminals, and, of course, sanctuary cities, the war on sanctuary cities. I suspect, because he does has sympathy for the 800,000 kids, many of whom actually worked hard to maintain their status, I suspect that he will allow them to stay, but what he'll do is strictly enforce the currently existing tenants of DACA, which means no crimes being committed, felonies or misdemeanors, which means not leaving the country and trying to sneak back in, which means, enforcing every little detail and requirement of DACA. And if you violate it, you will be deported. But the practicalities of trying--

(CROSSTALK)

SMITH: Let's stick with that. And how will that go over with his base?

WOHL: I don't think it might go over real well with some on the right. No question about that. But the reality is Mr. Trump has a lot to get done, a lot of the laws to pass--

(CROSSTALK)

WOHL: -- cooperation with some of the people who won't cooperate unless he goes a certain way with respect to DACA.

SMITH: Francisco, would you be happy with that compromise?

FRANCISCO FERNANDEZ, IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY: Well, there's no compromise. I think President Trump has drawn the line and throw it to Congress. Guys, we are 17 years into doing something about this issue. Nobody wants to punish these kids, right. We have to give them due -- they're going to make me rich. I mean, really. Let's talk about this, guys. It's time to get off the pot and do something about immigration reform. Whatever you do, good, bad, or ugly, do something. But you know what? President Trump, nobody -- he feels for these folks, these young men and women that were brought here through no fault of their own. Just go and give them residency, green card, citizenship, whatever it is. Let them earn it.

SMITH: Francisco, I want to stay with you for a second, because the fact that the president hasn't made the announcement. First, he suggested it was coming -- it could come this afternoon. He didn't do that. And then the White House said it's coming Tuesday. The fact that he hasn't put something out there means, perhaps, he's conflicted. What do you think he's most conflicted on?

FERNANDEZ: The problem is, he's written a check on border, on sanctuary cities, on border wall and all of these things, and he can't deliver them without Congress. Now, he ran for president, assuming that the Republican Congress, House and the Senate were going to go with him, and they're like turning their backs on him because they're chicken. You know, and quite frankly, President Trump draws the line. Put your proposal, he had a template proposal, get somebody to sponsor it, and let's get down in negotiation, do the right thing for the country. It doesn't matter what you do, just do something.

SMITH: You know, David, Sarah Sanders in the White House press briefing today said, reiterated, that the president's heart will be in this decision.

WOHL: It will be. And he really does care about kids. You know, I think Secretary Rex Tillerson has that idea too. Make sure that they're working and the idea of service, or a requirement, or perhaps an option of joining the armed services for some of these kids. Show their patriotic tendencies I think is a fantastic idea. I think it's going to work out in the end. But it's going to be stricter, tougher requirements for the kids who really want to be Americans, who wants to stay in this country, and I think it will pan out in that direction.

SMITH: Francisco and David, thank you.

FERNANDEZ: But in the end we've got to talk about the elephant in the room. We've got to do something about this. We can't just keep patching it up.

SMITH: All right, we've got to leave it there, guys. Thanks. Coming up, a new report tonight revealing that long before their recent violence, the FBI and Homeland Security were warning about Antifa. Lawrence Jones and Richard Fowler are here on why some are pointing fingers at the Obama administration. Plus, outrage following new developments in the case of the hazing death of the Penn State student, Timothy Piazza. We will hear exclusively from the district attorney prosecuting this case.

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SMITH: There's breaking news tonight in the Penn State hazing death case. A judge deciding today to drop the most serious charges against the 18 Penn State fraternity brothers accused in the death of 19-year-old Timothy Piazza, involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault are now off the table. The judge also allowing four of the students to walk free, 14 others will stand trial on charges that could still results in jail time. But there's obviously disappointment for the Piazza family tonight. Here now in an exclusive interview is the district attorney trialing this case, Stacy Parks Miller. Stacy, thanks for being here tonight. Have you had a chance to speak to Timothy's parents?

STACY PARKS MILLER, CENTRE COUNTRY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Yes, sure. They were with us today in the courtroom, so they were there with us when the news came out.

SMITH: And is there anything you can share with us, their thoughts on this decision?

MILLER: Well, I think they're really happy to see 16 people move forward because two other people waived. A there are still lot of charges moved through. But, I mean, just like us, I think there is a measure of surprise that the grand jury had already found these charges in, and a bit of disappointment that we're going to have to go back to the drawing table. I mean, the charges that we've originally brought, particularly the manslaughter charges, we believe are appropriate and the grand jury thought so. So now we have to go back to the beginning on some of those charges.

SMITH: And what exactly does that entail, going back to the beginning? How will you respond?

MILLER: Well, in Pennsylvania, district attorneys and law enforcement get a second chance if they think the first judge made an error of law, and that's precisely where we're at. In fact, we have a situation where another legal body already found probable cause. So, you know, we're prepared to represent those charges back. And so, you'll start right over, ask for a new judge, and you'll have the hearing again.

SMITH: I heard you say you have a lot of respect for the judge in this case. So why do you think that such a poor judgment was made, if you think that there was one?

MILLER: I don't try to get into the mind of the judge because some things are very confusing legally, so I can't guess from some of the charges that he found on the one -- the two we feel had the most charges. One charge has a reckless element that is present in manslaughter, so the theory if he found that one and manslaughter should have come, too. I don't know. I don't think we'll figure it out. I don't think it's really worth it to figure it out because the next round will not be in front of him.

SMITH: Now that these frat members have been cleared of the most serious charges involved with this pledge is death, will any of them see jail time?

MILLER: They could still see jail time on the charges that remain. Make no mistake about that. The result in this case is a death, unnecessary death, a grueling death of a very lovely young man, and he will not see the highlight of his life. So that counts in sentencing. So, yes, it's still very serious charges with jail time facing these young men. But, you know, we still to make sure the right charges are there.

SMITH: It's my understanding is the current FBI attempt to recover the suspected deleted footage from the fraternity security system that could provide more evidence to this case. Thank you for coming on with us tonight after that decision was made.

MILLER: And thanks for having me.

SMITH: Thank you. Also tonight, a bombshell report revealing the Obama administration knew about the violent extremist group Antifa, but did nothing to stop it. Politico reporting that back in early 2016, quotes, authorities believed that anarchist extremists were the primary instigators of violence at public rallies against a range of targets. They were blamed by authorities for attacks on the police, government and political institution. Here now, Lawrence Jones, host on the Blaze TV and a conservative commentator. Richard Fowler is a nationally syndicated radio show host and Fox News contributor. Lawrence, if this was known while Obama was president, why was nothing more done about it?

LAWRENCE JONES, BLAZE TV HOST: One word, politics. A lot of these groups, these extremist groups have the same ideology at the left. The only difference is they use violence to evoke that ideology. Many of the left want to silence people and that means speech. And hate speech is protected by the constitution. What we've seen with this group, Antifa, is promoting violence. And part of the reason why the left and the Obama administration did not prosecute them is because those are some of the same people that are involved with their groups as well.

SMITH: Why are you hearing such silence on this on the part of the left, Richard?

RICHARD FOWLER, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I'm not sure you've hearing silence on this. I think a lot of them have condemned them. Nancy Pelosi condemned them last week. And this article talks about the fact that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security notified local and state officials about Antifa. And let me be very clear here for folks at home, Antifa doesn't represent the left. They've been very clear, and a lot is a box article where a person who analyze Antifa, talks about they're outside the system. They don't believe they're in the system at all. They're against the entire American--

(CROSSTALK)

FOWLER: Excuse me, I'm talking.

SMITH: Richard, finish your thought.

FOWLER: They're against the entire American system and what it stands for, and that includes the Democratic Party, that includes the progressive movement, that includes democracy--

SMITH: We don't have much time, so I want to get Lawrence back in here. Lawrence?

JONES: We got it, Richard. We got it, Richard. I was in Ferguson. I did in most of these protests -- even if its black lives matter. And I see the same Antifa anarchist marching with these people. So my question is very simple, Richard. If Democrats don't support them, why are members of Congress and Democratic leaders marching with them at the protest and not tell them to go home when they're burning up cities?

FOWLER: OK, excuse me. First of all, Nancy Pelosi has come out and condemned them.

SMITH: OK, you're naming one Democratic leader, Richard. We've already heard that before. Hold on, Richard. Even this piece in the Chicago Tribune today, the Democrats silence on Antifa is dangerous. It talks about what it calls the disturbing silence from leaders of the Democratic Party. You're naming one leader. Who else has spoken out?

FOWLER: There's other Democrats who have spoken out against Antifa--

JONES: Who?

FOWLER: Excuse me, I'm talking. Antifa doesn't represent the Democratic Party. They condemned the Democratic Party. Not to mention the fact that I've been to Black Lives Matter protests in Washington, D.C., in Baltimore, in Ferguson, in Chicago, you've name it and I have not seen Antifa there. So maybe we're on the same protest.

SMITH: Lawrence, if something had been done in early 2016, based on this report that it was known, would we be seeing a different situation today?

JONES: Most definitely. And the question still remains, Sandra, why aren't law enforcement involved when these decisions are made? These people should be prosecuted. We saw in this program just the other day where they're throwing pee at law enforcement officers--

SMITH: All right, guys, we've got to leave it there. Hey, Richard, Lawrence, thanks to both of you for being here. We've got breaking news tonight. I want to let you know that we've a presser coming up on that fire that has been raging down in Crosby, Texas. That chemical fire. We're going to go to that presser when it begins. I don't believe it has begun yet. All right, it's getting ready to start right now. Are we going to take a quick break? All right, we're going to stay on this. So to remind everybody -- all right, it's starting now. Let's tune in.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: I'm the assistant chief for operations for the Harris County fire marshal's office. Shortly after 4:30 PM this afternoon, we got a report from our fire units and law enforcement units that have been holding the perimeter at the Arkema Chemical Plant east of Crosby, that we had a column of white smoke coming up from inside the facility. It turned to a light brown color, and then eventually to a heavy black color somewhere around 5:30. After that, we had an intense combustion of the materials in one of the trailers that we had been talking about for several days now. And that fire subsequently spread to a second trailer. So two of the remaining trailers on the property have now burned.

This afternoon, or this evening, unlike the events that we saw yesterday morning, from your news reports, your video feed from your helicopters, I personally witnessed what looked like, probably, at least four explosions. And these explosions, I saw fireballs associated with them, and then I saw matter that was pushed outward. So today, a little more violent than what we saw yesterday morning. Both trailers have now been consumed. We had a heavy, black smoke column going up. As you can tell there's very little wind this evening. The smoke column went straight up and has dissipated into the atmosphere. So with that, I will let the representative address here from Arkema, Mr. Rennard to address any other statements that you might want.

RICHARD RENNARD, ARKEMA EXECUTIVE: Thank you very much, chief. Again, my name is Richard Rennard. I'm the president of the acrylic business for Arkema. As the chief mentioned today, we did have two of the containers on the site that were engaged. This played out like we expected it to. With the loss of refrigeration capability the material inside of the containers began to degrade, heated and, of course, that ultimately caught fire and burned. Again, I want to thank you guys for helping us get the message out to your viewers. We want to make sure that everyone continues to respect the 1.5-mile evacuation zone. This is critical for your safety and, of course, the safety of the citizens of the area is what we're most focused on. In addition, for those who did not have a chance to see our CEO at a press conference this morning, and during that conference he mentioned that we're bringing additional resources to the area to help the local residents and those affected by the incident, to deal with all of the issues resulting from this incident. Again, the safety is our most important concern and with that, I'm happy to take a couple questions if you have any.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Were the two trailers touching or join at any way? Did they go up together?

RENNARD: The two trailers were next to each other. There about -- I'm guessing about 20 to 25 feet apart. The one container became engaged and then the heat from that container was what actually initiated the combustion and ultimate fire from the second trailer.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: And it seems as though those two trailers were very close to another building, kind of a warehouse.

RENNARD: That's right.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Was that warehouse compromised at all?

RENNARD: The warehouse didn't look from the photography that we've seen -- again, we're 1.5 miles -- or 4 miles away from the facility here, but a 1.5 mile from -- on the perimeter. But it doesn't look like that building was engaged. That building actually is empty. And so, there's no product or material inside that building.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Are there any other trailers that are near a building like that?

RENNARD: No. The remaining six trailers are in a more remote location with other plant. And the condition of those trailers, we don't have refrigeration capability on those. So we fully expect the same thing to happen with those containers that we saw today. The product is going to ultimately warm up. It's going to begin to degrade and then it's going to catch fire.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: It seems as though, based on the area that we saw today from the news helicopters that the floodwaters had gone down.

RENNARD: That's correct.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Does that change your game plan at all?

RENNARD: Well, we were contemplating if there were any other solutions that we could consider given that the floodwaters receded much more quickly than we were originally told they would. Basically, based on what happened today, we're expecting the remaining six containers probably to become engaged sometime quickly.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: When?

RENNARD: I'm about to say, the temperatures of both containers -- can you hear me? Sirens in the background. The temperature in one of the containers -- it's getting very close to where we think we could start to see that one container begin to degrade. If that happens like what we saw earlier today, we can see all six of these containers ultimately engaged pretty quickly.

UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are the implications of that, if all six go off at once?

RENNARD: Well, you'll see the same thing that we saw--

UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: With the two?

RENNARD: -- with the two, yeah.

REPORTER: To a greater extent? I mean, is there potential for more damage in the surrounding area?

RENNARD: No, we think the 1.5-mile evacuation zone is a safe distance to be away from the facility.

UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: Could there be a potential spreading to be on the containers to the plant itself?

RENNARD: No, we do not believe so.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Who's monitoring the downstream effect--

RENNARD: Yeah, we have air quality monitoring ongoing. The EPA is also doing some air testing for us, and water testing as well.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: And what's the danger of this product moves into the water supply or moves out of your perimeter?

RENNARD: We don't expect it to moving out of our perimeter. It's going to burn.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: All of it will burn?

RENNARD: All of it will burn.

UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are the air test so far?

RENNARD: We've had no reports of any positive tests for--

(INAUDIBLE)

RENNARD: Hydrocarbons. We're testing for FOC's. Organic compounds, total organic compounds.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: So what then -- the first responders who've experienced all that stuff, what were they experiencing if the air monitoring didn't detect anything, what were they experiencing?

RENNARD: So they were inside the 1.5-mile evacuation radius when they smelled the smoke. And their symptoms were they had, just like the chief described, they had burning sensation in their throat, burning sensation in their eyes. Most of the symptoms that we expected that they would feel -- if they're outside the 1.5-mile radius zone, we do not expect anybody to experience any of those symptoms.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: I know this was essentially a second plan that was ultimately compromised by flood waters, the generators ultimately were flooded out, I think, if I follow it correctly. What's been done to learn from this?

SMITH: All right, that's an executive from the Arkema Chemical Plant, where you have been witnessing that fire there that is basically as the Harris County fire marshal said, has basically put itself out. You can still see the black plumes of smoke going straight up, very little wind. He said that it didn't put residence that would be in the direct area in trouble or at risk, but they still encourage a 1.5-mile evacuation zone there. And they say they do expect more explosions of those kinds. All right, that's the latest on the Arkema Chemical Plant. We've been watching that fire for you. Thank you so much for joining us on "The Story" tonight. Have a wonderful Labor Day weekend. Tucker is up next.

END

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