Breitbart London editor: Bannon's pleased to be back
This is a rush transcript from "The Story," August 18, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SANDRA SMITH, "THE STORY" GUEST HOST: Breaking tonight, Bannon is out and Breitbart has declared war, but on who or on what remains to be seen? And that's what we intend to find out tonight. Welcome to "The Story," everyone. I'm Sandra Smith in for Martha MacCallum. On the same day, he left the White House, Steve Bannon was back at work inside the Breitbart headquarters reportedly already leading their evening editorial meeting. He just spoke to the weekly standard, where he declared the Trump presidency that we thought we fought for and won is over. We have a very powerful lineup for you tonight.
In moments, we will be speaking to a current Breitbart Editor, Raheem Kassam. He spoke today with Bannon and says, with his ouster, Dems now control the White House. We will also be joined by the Kurt Bardella, he is the former Spokesperson for Breitbart. He says, Bannon will want Trump to feel the pain of his departure. And Howie Kurt is here to break down how this coming battle may reverberate across the media landscape. We will get to all three of them in just moments. But first, without day's events unfolded, and what might lay ahead? We go to our chief national correspondent Ed Henry, live outside the White House. Ed.
ED HENRY, FOX NEWS CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Sandra, good to see you. I can tell you that people close to Steve Bannon tonight -- this is breaking tonight in fact -- are pushing back hard on this notion that Bannon will go to war with President Trump. Instead, I can tell you, a source close to Bannon phone me a short time ago and claim this narrative in the mainstream media is getting out of control.
And then, what the strategist is planning to do is go back, as you said, to his old conservative news site, Breitbart, and go to war with establishment Republicans as well as Democrats. But establishment Republicans like Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and try and help pass the president's agenda. This one source telling me there is "no way Bannon will attack the president," and "will 100 percent have the presidents back." Because this source says, Bannon believes he is "a great man and a great president."
Now, you have to take that with a grain of salt, because remember, Bannon this week claimed he thought his comments were off-the-record when he slammed the president's approach on North Korea, and also Top Aides like Gary Cohn in that spicy interview with the liberal magazine, American Prospect. Though, it seemed a savvy player like Bannon, knew full-well those comments were going to be on the record. Insiders here at the White House tell me, this exit was really about General John Kelly trying, again, to assert some kind of order around here. And frankly, there's a fear among staffers, there may be more head's rolling in the days ahead.
Now, the sense among top advisors, Bannon, did that magazine interview because he knew he was on thin ice with the president, who was already not pleased that Bannon had cooperated with that book that basically suggested he was the leader of their movement. On top of the February Time magazine cover, suggesting Bannon was the "great manipulator," pulling the strings. Which is why the president at that now famous Tuesday news conference at Trump Tower, wanted the world to know he was the one who won the election.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mr. Bannon came on very late, you know that. I went through 17 senators, governors, and I won all the primaries. Mr. Bannon came on very much later than that. And I liked him. He's a good man. He is not a racist, I can tell you that. He's a good person. He actually gets a very unfair press in that regard. But we'll see what happens with Mr. Bannon.
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HENRY: Now, beyond the palace intrigue, the most important note for our viewers tonight may be: what this means for the president's agenda? There were losses for a second straight day on Wall Street because the markets are concerned this will turmoil. I mean, no tax cuts, no big deal on infrastructure -- the kind of things our viewers have been waiting for. One of many reasons why Fox News Contributor, Doug Schoen, a Democrat, told foxnews.com that he wants to see the president deliver an oval office address, heal the nation after Charlottesville but also try -- a path forward to get the agenda back on track. And again, I'll tell you, people close to Bannon tonight are insisting he wants to help the president, not hurt him in getting that agenda passed, Sandra.
SMITH: All right. Ed Henry, so much changing minute by minute here. Thank you. For more on the reaction to Bannon's ouster across the political spectrum, Raheem Kassam, Editor-in-Chief of Breitbart London; Kurt Bardella, is the former Breitbart News Spokesperson; and Howie Kurtz, our Fox News Media Analyst and the Host of "MediaBuzz." Raheem, I have to start with you first, because you have been exchanging words with Mr. Bannon today. When is the last time you spoke with him?
RAHEEM KASSAM, EDITOR IN CHIEF, BREITBART: Just before I came on here.
SMITH: And he said what?
KASSAM: He's pleased to be back. He loves Breitbart. And he loved what he had been doing for so many years, and we all loved him for it as well. I think the president loved him for it for him too, helping charter path to victory for President Trump, and I know he's an avid viewer of this channel. So, if he's watching, it doesn't have to be an either or. Nobody believes that one person was necessarily behind that victory, but we know that Steve Bannon contributed to it in a large part. After the primaries, the President Trump did very well on his own accord, and that the team around him at the time. Steve Bannon came in and added something different, added a little bit of je ne sais quoi to the mix. The path wasn't there before Trump had lost when losing different staff on the transition from the campaign in the primaries to the campaign against Hillary Clinton.
SMITH: Can you provide some clarity to these comments that he has sent me to The Weekly Standard saying, "the Trump presidency that we fought for and won is over. We still have a huge movement and we will make something of this Trump presidency but that presidency is over."
KASSAM: Yes. So, we are playful at Breitbart. And my colleagues all tweeted hashtag war. And what that means is it's a war on the people who are trying to stymie what the president was elected to do. I think Donald Trump has in his heart the importance of the message that he was bringing to his base. But there are people around him that don't share that worldview. There are people around him that actually don't have that populist/nationalist agenda at their heart. And what we're saying, and this is what Steve Bannon is saying there, is that the people that have stymied this, they actually need to take a long, hard look at themselves and realize that they weren't the ones elected by the American people, their agenda wasn't elected by the American people. It was president Trump's agenda that was elected by the American people. And Steve Bannon will work hard to make sure that happens.
SMITH: Did he say, by the way, in the exchange with him today why Trump removed him from the White House?
KASSAM: Well, there's been a back-and-forth with lots of different journalists reporting different things on this. I didn't ask Steve to clarify any of that. There was a talk of him resigned already two weeks ago, rather than it being a today situation. I don't think there's any animosity between the two, by the way. And I think you'll probably find that President Trump wants Steve Bannon's help in the future.
SMITH: You say that though, and the headlines that have since to Breitbart's front page -- Kurt, I'll bring you in here. The headlines on Breitbart.com, right now: Bannon out at White House, get ready for Bannon the bar barbarian; Trump Schwarzenegger 2.0. OK. So, what are we supposed to make of that?
KURT BARDELLA, FORMER SPOKESPERSON, BREITBART NEWS: Well, I think, really if anything, Steve probably feels very liberated right now. That he no longer has to operate under the confines and limitations of working at the White House. Steve isn't meant to serve at the pleasure of anybody, he's meant to serve the pleasure of himself. He is, if anything, a dictatorial type figure. And he's not built to have to ask permission to do or say anything. Now, he's outside of that.
Now, he can be the true self that he wants to be. And you're seeing how that's played out in the last few days with all these stories that he has started doing interviews all of a sudden. I think he's going to be bombastic. I think that they're going to be helpful in a way of taking out all the people that Steve believes are the impediments to Trump successfully implementing his agenda. Unfortunately for Donald Trump, that means most of his staff in the White House, his family, and the Republican leadership in Congress.
SMITH: Kurt, you have called Breitbart, Bannon's weapon of choice. Who will be the target of his attacks?
BARDELLA: Well, I think, right away, you'll see Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, Senate Leaders Mitch McConnell, Senator Jeff Flake, House Speaker Paul Ryan. It's been no secret at Breitbart that they have long existed to try to destroy the political establishment. And they've been very, very hard on the Republican leadership in Congress. And when you look at the failure to repeal and replace Obamacare, the failure to make any real grounds for tax, failure to even pay for the border wall. They're going to point all of the fingers, not at Donald Trump but the people around him -- Congress and his advisors.
SMITH: Howie, you have to think about Steve Bannon leaving that White House, knowing everything he knows that is happening inside those walls. And now returning the same day he leaves the White House and walking right back into Breitbart even heading the evening editorial call. You have to be wondering what happens next?
HOWARD KURTZ, FOX NEWS MEDIA ANALYST AND "MEDIABUZZ" HOST: Yes. He did not even take a five-minute break, did he? Look, I know Steve Bannon. You have to understand, he views this all as the same war. He never thought he was going to last more than a year there. He thought he would continue from the outside. He fought daily battles with what he views as the globalist faction in the White House, Jared Kushner, yes, Gary Cohn, H.R. McMaster, in defense of what he views as his vision of economic nationalism. Now, he will do the same with Breitbart without those restrictions.
As you noticed, Steve Bannon gave very few virtually no interviews while he was in the White House. He did not care what the media thought of him. He'd used as the opposition party, and he will use his platform and his freedom, and the fact that he's now 100,000 times more famous to go after, yes, the GOP establishment in Congress; yes, the officials who work for President Trump, who he sees on the wrong side. So, he's not going to back Donald Trump personally, but he is a disruptor who may make life difficult for the president if he thinks he's being led astray by some of his former colleagues.
SMITH: Raheem, how will this Steve Bannon -- how will he be different after now serving seven months inside the White House? Now running Breitbart again?
KASSAM: Well, look, I had a very similar experience to Steve. I did almost the same job for Nigel Farage in the U.K. independence but a smaller scale but went back into Breitbart after that job. And of course, it changes you -- those experiences change you and they make you realize how the process actually works. And by the way, there's not a lot I agree with Kurt Bardella unusually, but he's right. This isn't about Bannon versus Trump, the two are on the same page. This is about the people, as I say, who try to -- who Steve sees as trying to stop the Trump agenda. And actually, the names that Kurt listed there, these are people who have historically been Republicans or Democrats. And that's the White House right now. So, what is Steve going to do having had this experience in there? Well, now he knows who the enemies of the American people are.
SMITH: Ben Shapiro, formerly with Breitbart News. Kurt, says Bannon will return to Breitbart, smash Trump when he disagrees. That doesn't sound so friendly.
BARDELLA: Right. It's all fun and pleasant until there is a disagreement. And Trump is going to be now put in the middle, really, of a conflict between Bannon and Breitbart, and his own advisors, and the leaders in Congress. And where Trump falls on that? Your guess is as good as mine, but it's going to be very interesting to see what type of tweets Donald Trump puts out, what type of outreach to Congress, if any, that he pursues to try to get his legislative agenda through. Certainly, we all know where Bannon is going to come from. It's going to be forceful. It's going to be direct. It's going to be in your face -- smash mouth. That's Breitbart for you, not Steve Bannon.
How will they respond to that? We'll have to see. But Trump's going to have to make a calculated decision here to either continue to try to decide, at least have the appearance of siding with Steve, or do a complete break for him. He's going to get pressure from his advisors to move away from Bannon now, to try to denounce some of the stuff that he's refused up, to try to hit the reset button and use this moment to try to reset the tables and get actually something done. I will be curious to see whether he actually can do that or not.
SMITH: I think we're all curious to see a lot of things, Howie. Like, what a Trump White House looks now, like, without Steve Bannon, Chief Strategist.
KURTZ: Right, Sandra. And beyond the palace intrigue, I mean, you could hire another chief strategist, for example. The thing the president has to have some concern about is not so much Bannon, who will, obviously, be allowed and sometimes contrary voice. But the people who Bannon appeals to, and who Donald Trump appeal to with the economic populism that he ran on in the campaign.
Now, the dark portrait of Bannon as some kind Svengali, who was manipulating Trump, was always way off base, because basically, it was the issues they agreed on, like aggressive trade policy, going after NAFTA, climate change, pulling out of Paris. That's where Bannon had the most influence, where Trump already agreed with him.
Now, we'll see how he does on issues where they don't agree given that what Bannon use as the globalist people, but some would say more pragmatic, are now in ascendance in the new Trump White House.
SMITH: All happening so fast on a Friday evening. Thanks to all you for being here.
KURTZ: Thanks, Sandra.
SMITH: Thank you. All right. Well, coming up, globalist versus nationalist. The war Steve Bannon was waiting in the White House had much to do with those divisions. So, what does his departure mean for Trump's foreign policy? Lt. Col. Michael Waltz and Olivier Knox, here next on that.
Plus, more protest held today and even more is expected this weekend. We'll tell you about the fears of another Charlottesville, ahead. And speak to two men who have been on both sides of this fight. One, a reformed neo-Nazi; and one, a current anarchist. You do not want to miss this.
SMITH: President Trump, holding an important meeting at Camp David today with his national security team; covering issues like the strategy in Afghanistan and the threat of a nuclear North Korea. So, how will the exit of Steve Bannon affect White House foreign policy? This question looms large given the now former strategist advocated policy prescriptions that clashed with many of the military advisors surrounding the president. Here now: Lt. Col. Michael Waltz, is a former Green Beret Commander and Fox News Contributor; Olivier Knox, is Chief Washington Correspondent for Yahoo! News. Colonel, I'll start with you first and ask the big question. So, how does Bannon's exit of affect the foreign policy of this White House?
LT. COL. MICHAEL WALTZ, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR AND FORMER GREEN BERET COMMANDER: Well, you know, how it affected Afghanistan, in particular, is, you know, as reported, Bannon was opposed to continuing engagement there, and really thought we should just pull our soldiers out. It was too hard. We had been there too long. It was too frustrating, and it cost too much.
And he has a point to the extent that it has been difficult, and al-Qaeda chose one of the most difficult places in the world to make its stand. But I don't see how we can criticize President Obama for completely pulling our troops out of Iraq and ignoring Syria, allowing the Islamic State to flourish, and then launching attacks all over Europe like we just saw in Barcelona, and inspiring attacks in the United States and not think the same thing is going to happen in Afghanistan. Right next to Pakistan, where you have ten times the population and nuclear weapons.
So, I'm very concerned that that kind of trend may still continue even with Bannon gone. That has been implanted in the president's head. That is too hard and too costly. But what will happen is you will have an Islamic State riots in Afghanistan, in the wake of the Taliban, and we will be worse off than we were after 9/11. So, I think the jury is still out, unfortunately, on whether we need to remain engaged.
SMITH: Meanwhile, Olivier, we are left wondering how different this foreign policy will look with Bannon's absence.
OLIVIER KNOX, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, YAHOO! NEWS: Right. He the most forceful, the most passionate, and possibly powerful voice of skepticism in, sort of, doing things the way they have been done in the country's largest war over nearly 16 years. It's not completely clear. We may find out when the president finally does roll out this long-delayed Afghanistan strategy, you know, this revamp of the war effort. It's not clear at all to me.
But Steve Bannon was definitely skeptical for a couple reasons: one is that, while there's a general consensus that the main goal in Afghanistan is to prevent that from once again becoming a platform for attacks on America and its allies, there's no obvious end point. And so, he was very skeptical of plunging a president who spent a lot of time on this dump, denouncing what he called nation-building efforts. Plunging that presidency into yet another -- what might look like yet another nation- building effort.
SMITH: Colonel, speaking of a major announcement and waiting on such, the press secretary's statement did hinge that an announcement is coming. There's no date on when that announcement will be or what it will pertain to, but we have this excerpt coming out of the White House: "The president is studying and considering his options and will make an announcement to the American people, to our allies and partners, and to the world at an appropriate time." Concerning, protecting America's interests in South Asia. How fast do you expect this to move forward? What's the timeline for an announcement like that? Obviously, with a new strategy, potentially, in place with the absence of the Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon?
WALTZ: Well, I think, you know, time is of the essence. We are and the Afghans are sadly slowly losing in Afghanistan. The Taliban are making gain. ISIS is making gains. We're actually seeing fighters migrating from Raqqa in Syria and Iraq, back over to Pakistan and Afghanistan where they see an opportunity to reestablish the caliphate. So, time is of the essence, but I do welcome that announcement. I think it needs to be clear, unlike it was with President Obama, who announced the surge, but then pulled the rug out from under it in the same speech by announcing its withdrawal.
It needs to be clear that the United States is standing with our Afghan allies. That it's in our national interest. And though, you know, to the point of there being no end date. Look, I think we are in a global war against Islamic extremism, and that is going to take -- you know, since we're fighting an idea, that's going to take generations. The question here is: do we want to fight that war in Kandahar, in Kabul, in Raqqa? Or do we want to fight it in Kansas City, in L.A., in New York? The stakes are high.
SMITH: Fair point. In the wake of everything we have seen this week, the American people just are very concerned right now. And Olivier, leave this op-ed --
WALTZ: And there was a verbal explanation from the president.
SMITH: The tweet coming from President Trump today, "Heading to Camp David for a major meeting on national security, the border, and the military, which we are rapidly building to the strongest ever." Something you could say to people watching, fearing what we saw happen in Europe this week, people are fearful.
KNOX: Of course, and they've been fearful to a greater or lesser extent since September 12th of 2001, the day after the 9/11 attacks. You know, one of the biggest challenges, of course, is that, and you hear this a lot from law enforcement intelligence and military people, is that U.S. government officials and military officials have to be right 100 percent of the time, and the terrorists just have to be right one percent of the time. It's an enormous challenge. There are ebbs and flows in American attitudes. There's a -- the most interesting thing I saw, I think, the other day was the acting Homeland Security Secretary, who said that the administration would not let terrorism become the new normal. I think if you talk to a lot of Americans, they might tell you that it's already the new normal.
SMITH: Unfortunately. Thanks to both of you for being here tonight. Good to see you.
KNOX: All right. Thanks, Martha.
WALTZ: Thank you.
SMITH: All right. Well, still ahead, new details at this hour on the deadly terror attacks in Spain. We're live on the ground with the latest as manhunt now spans the entire continent of Europe. Plus, as protests in raid right now in cities like Durham, North Carolina, threats of an ugly clash are developing in one major American city. Why are some fearing a repeat of Charlottesville, ahead? We'll hear from two men coming from very opposite sides of all of this; a former neo-Nazi recruiter, and a current anarchist. They join us next.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm trying to make myself more capable of violence. I'm here to spread ideas, talk, in the hopes that somebody more capable will come along and do that.
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SMITH: Breaking tonight, a powder keg situation developing in one of our nation's biggest and most historic cities, following a day of racially charged protests in areas like Durham, North Carolina. All eyes are now on Boston, where thousands are expected to clash tomorrow in a protest of a right-wing rally. Boston's mayor, issuing this warning:
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MARTY WALSH, MAYOR OF BOSTON: The courts have made it abundantly clear, they have the right to gather no matter how repugnant their views are. People should not confront these rallies. So, we're urging everyone to stay away from the common.
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SMITH: Ahead of these protests, Antifa leaders had been condoning violent demonstrations. We'll hear it from an ally of that movement, along with a former neo-Nazi in a moment. But first, Trace Gallagher live in our West Coast Newsroom with a back rounder for us tonight. Trace.
TRACE GALLAGHER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Sandra, just to set the table on this. First, you have the Boston free-speech rally at Boston Commons, which was planned long before last week's violence in Charlottesville. Some are billing it as a right-wing rally, but they self-identify as libertarians and conservatives made up mainly of students and young adults in their 20's, who claim they have no desire for White Supremacists, Nazis, or members of the KKK to attend. Then, you have the counter protesters beginning with Answer Coalition Boston, that's a liberal anti-war, anti- racist group that says it has 3,000 people planning to attend. And the Black Lives Matter's Facebook page shows that 12,000 people have RSVPed to attend the rally on their behalf. The governor of Massachusetts says, authorities have one goal in mind. Watch.
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CHARLIE BAKER, GOVERNOR OF MASSACHUSETTS: We're going to do everything we can to make sure that tomorrow is about liberty and justice, and about freedom and peace. And yes, the right for people to peacefully gather and assemble.
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GALLAGHER: Except, at some point during the day, all of these groups will merge together at Boston Commons. And there's more fuel to the fire, left- wing anti-fascist protesters known as, Antifa, might also be attending. Antifa is the group that Donald Trump referred to as the alt-left -- a name they do not like. Antifa is also known for dressing head to toe in black and destroying property like they did try to shut down a right-wing speech at Berkeley a few months ago.
On top of that, the National Director of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan told the Boston Herald that some of its local members are also planning to attend. Now, the Boston mayor disputes that saying, there is no talk of any KKK. In all of this, there is a bit of an olive branch. A Boston free-speech member claimed on Facebook that he invited a BLM member to speak. It's unclear if that invitation was accepted. But if things get rowdy, an estimated 500 police officers will be on hand along with numerous security cameras and a police commissioner who has given fair warning to all that there will be zero tolerance for violence or the gathering will be shut down. Sandra --
SMITH: All right. Trace, thank you. Joining me now with their intimate insight into some of the extreme groups causing so much chaos in this country right now, Frank Meeink, a former skinhead leader and neo-Nazi recruiter, and Scott Crow, anarchist, former Antifa organizer and author of Setting Sights, histories and reflection on community armed self-defense. Scott, I will go to first, because I think a lot of people don't really understand what this group stands for, Antifa. What is their intention, what is their goal?
SCOTT CROW, FORMER ANTIFA ORGANIZER: Well, Antifa is a set of ideas, it's not a group. That's a misnomer that the media keeps putting on it. It's a network of people with similar ideas. Anybody who wants to stand up to white supremacist or anybody who wants to stand up for racism, or stop communities of color or immigrants or women for being attacked by white supremacist is Antifa. It could be your mother. It could be your brother, sister, down the street. It could be the grocery store clerk. It's not always anarchist. But what it is, is that Antifa is willing to say, no, no --, you cannot do this. It's not hate speech. It's not free-speech. Hate speech is what gets people killed. As we see over and over. People like Dylan Ruth, who walked into a church and murdered people, because of the sentiments that are being expressed like in the people in Boston. That stuff doesn't have a place. That's what Antifa believes. And that's where Antifa's ideas come from.
SMITH: Frank, is that in line with your thinking on this?
FRANK MEEINK, FORMER SKINHEAD LEADER AND NEO-NAZI RECRUITER: Yeah. I mean, but -- I remember when I was coming up in the movement, Antifa was just starting, and there're other groups like antiracist action. And they kind of have liked a membership. But, you know, he is correct that they don't have like a set rules and membership, you don't pay dues or anything like that. He is correct--
SMITH: Who funds them?
MEEINK: What's that?
SMITH: Who funds them?
MEEINK: Who funds them? I mean, they fund themselves, really. I mean, they're not very -- What do they have? They don't have -- I mean, they never have anything. They don't have banners. They don't have any -- you know, new places they own or anything. It's just a group of people that get together and sometimes, a lot of times, just cause trouble. They did with us, too, back in -- this is -- you know, '92, '93, when I would go and do marches. Obviously, I don't believe that stuff now, but I would walk and have a clan rally -- I would have the banner, and people would throw bottles at us and stuff. And I never ducked a bottle once and thought, whoa, I better rethink my beliefs here. It doesn't work that way. It makes me more stronger with what I was doing. So it kind of goes against sometimes with--
SMITH: So Scott, you did not want to call this a group. Is it fair to call it a movement?
CROW: It's a movement. It's actually overlapping movements.
SMITH: You were involved with Antifa for almost 30 years. How were you first introduced to this concept?
CROW: By the rise of white supremacy and neo-Nazi's in Dallas, Texas, in 1985, 1986, where the largest -- the confederate hair skin grew out of there, the largest neo-Nazi organization in the U.S. history. And they came there. We had to fight them. We had to get them out of the streets. We had to get them out of the spaces. Punk rock clubs, industrial music clubs, all the places were taken over, and they were driving this ideology. So it started with that. Since then, I've worked with antiracist action, which isn't actually an Antifascist group, on and off with this. I even took up arms against white militias after Katrina who were killing black people, because I don't think that it is right for you to use hate speech and then murder people.
SMITH: Frank, I want to get back to Frank, because I know that the FBI and the police are very interested in hearing from you, and how to stop this movement. What do you tell them?
MEEINK: How to stop the neo-Nazi movement?
SMITH: What we're witnessing happening in this country right now, no matter what the movement, these groups that intents to deploy chaos on American cities.
MEEINK: It all depends on what type of group you're going to go after--
SMITH: Antifa, start with that.
MEEINK: Antifa, they are interested sometimes because of the damage to property. They don't have a whole department looking at these guys. It's just when they know that there's going to be something going on. It's not a huge thing, but they do because they know that they will cause property damage and trouble and violence. So there is not a big movement, but more for the neo-Nazi stuff, because the neo-Nazis -- getting guns. They have more guns. And portray stuff that more goes to people dying than just be riots.
SMITH: So Scott, we've got to leave it there. But violence is this part of the solution for this movement.
CROW: In the short term, violence is met with violence. But that's not the world that anybody wants to live in, except for maybe white supremacist, but Antifa does not.
SMITH: OK. Thanks to both of you for coming on tonight. Still ahead, the former I.T. aide to Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been charged with a host of crimes tonight. The latest defense from his legal team. Blame Fox News, really? That reporting ahead. Plus, all of Europe on high alert tonight as the manhunt continues for the terrorist behind yesterday's deadly attacks across Spain. New fears tonight that multiple jihadists may have slipped into France. We will go live to Barcelona, next, on the frantic manhunt.
SMITH: Breaking tonight, a massive manhunt underway for the driver behind the horrific Barcelona terror attack, 14 people in total are dead and more than 100 injured across three separate attacks, the Spanish police say are all connected. Sadly tonight, we are learning that 42-year-old Jared Tucker from California is among those killed in this senseless act. Foreign affairs correspondent Benjamin Hall is live in Barcelona with the frantic search to bring terrorists to justice. Benjamin?
BENJAMIN HALL, FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Sandra. Well, it is here on this street, Las Ramblas, where this all began yesterday, 5:00 PM, that white van careering down the road to the pedestrians behind me. As you say, 13 were killed on that occasion. Including a 3-year-old boy and also that American, Jared Tucker, 42-years-old. His father spoke to the press today about the moment they found out that he was dead.
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UNINDENTIFIED MALE: They showed him some pictures of some of the people that were killed during the attack. And they recognized one of the pictures as Jared.
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HALL: Eight hours after that initial attack, another attack in a beachside town 62 miles south of here called Cambrils, in that occasion five terrorists wearing fake suicide bomb belts attacked and rammed their card car into pedestrians and police. They were all killed, four by the same police, and among them was the driver of the white van. But nevertheless, police believed that this was a wide set of at least 9 jihadist, and they fear there may be more out there. But Barcelona very much trying to come together today. It was only 24 hours that Las Ramblas was open again, and there was a minute of silence today with the prime minister, Rajoy, and the king of Spain, Felipe the six. So Barcelona trying to get back to normal. Nevertheless, that worry there may be more members of this cell still out there. Sandra.
SMITH: All right. Thank you, Benjamin. Live in Barcelona, Spain, for us. Deadly vehicle attacks like this are on the rise across Europe, as ISIS has made this one of their hallmarks. And the big fear tonight, and attack like this on American soil. Here now, Mubin Shaikh, former jihadists turn undercover operative, and Benjamin Ryberg, research director at the Lawfare Project. Mubin, I want to start with you first, and I'll ask the question many at home are wondering tonight, after a very long week. How vulnerable are we to attacks like this here on U.S. soil?
MUBIN SHAIKH, FORMER JIHADISTS: Well, I mean, like you indicated, Sandra, ISIS has put out these calls for a long time now, probably since 2014, or certainly since 2014, near the end of the year. Now dead spokesperson Mohammed al-Adnani, he said, you know, attack the Americans, the British, the filthy French, the Canadians. Anyone fighting ISIS, basically. So what we've seen in the past -- the three years since is exactly that. I mean, they're followers and ISIS accolades. Fan boys, you know, basically taking up those instructions and doing what they've been told to do.
In the U.S., the threat is the same generally. It's very easy to use a vehicle and drive over people. I mean, it's unfortunate that it took an event like, you know, Charlottesville to kind of remind people that even though it's a different kind of vehicle attack, the idea that you can do that so easily and with so many people packed into one area -- these kinds of injuries are very likely.
SMITH: And Mubin -- Benjamin I'll bring this to you, people hear every time at these attacks -- the terrorists were known to authorities, or there were red flags on social media. That stands out once again with this attack this week. We find out that they were vocal on social media. There were red flags there.
BENJAMIN RYBERG, LAWFARE PROJECT RESEARCH DIRECTOR: Exactly, that's correct. And it becomes difficult because you go online, you can see in a second that there is a fountain of, frankly, crazy extremists, radical, anti-Semitic, etcetera, postings all over the internet. Of course, not all of those people are going out and committing terror attacks. So it does creates a challenge as far as which of those people are going to do something illegal versus who is just venting themselves on this public forum where nobody can find them?
But yes, as you mentioned, we did learn that the two alleged attackers in Spain that they had posted over the past few months anti-Semitic content, ranting about the Israeli occupations, supposedly. And the brother, Moussa, even reportedly said that he wanted to be king of the world one day. And on his first day, he would kill everybody except the devout Muslims. Again, this is all reported, but this is what we see again and again and again. And hopefully we can get better working with social media companies working with law enforcements at figuring out how better to identify what's a red flags.
SMITH: And Mubin, we also learned that these aren't just carried out on a whim. These are planned attacks. Like this was -- and it makes you think there's a time frame in which authorities could step in and stop something like this. Even though it is a low-tech hard to stop type of attack. But how much planning are you learning was involved with these particular terrorists and these attacks?
SHAIKH: Yeah. I mean, just very quickly, to reinforce the earlier point about known to authorities, again, I mean, we know lots of people, right? Authorities know a lot of people. And what warrants surveillance on one may not warrant surveillance on another. And so, I reassert that point that it's definitely a problem. Social media companies have to work with law enforcement. I think this is starting to happen as more and more pressure comes on these social media companies.
But back to the planning issue, look, they had a plan A, B, and C. Wednesday night was home explosion, they were making -- it was a bomb making factory basically. Initially, they wanted to rent a bigger truck and use that possibly to drive into people, get out, detonate the vehicle and be able to continue assaulting the city. It's very similar to what you saw in Paris, you've had the Bataclan attack. You've got the cafe attacks, and then the final attempt on the stadium that night. So these kinds of small teams, simultaneous hits, these are the kind of tactics you're going to see more and more coming out of ISIS in Europe.
SMITH: Not good to hear on this Friday evening as we all head off for the weekend. That manhunt is underway and continues tonight. Thanks to both of you for being here tonight.
RYBERG: Thank you.
SMITH: All right. Well, a federal grand jury charging a former aide to Democratic congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz with everything from bank fraud to conspiracy. So why did the congresswoman stand by him for so long? And why is his attorney now blaming Fox News? David Wohl and Zac Petkanas are here next.
SMITH: All right. Well, developing tonight, new details about the former I.T. aide of Democratic congresswoman and former DNC chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Imran Awan was just indicted on federal charges including bank fraud and making false statements. But now, his lawyer is pointing the finger at Fox News, stating, quote, throughout the past two weeks, right wing media including Fox News reported illegal activity committed by my client in relation to his dedicated service to the United States House of Representatives. Today, it is quite clear that every last one of those reports were utterly false. We look forward to reading the right-wing media's retractions. Here now, David Wohl is an attorney and conservative commentator, Zac Petkanas is a former senior DNC adviser. David, to you first, blaming the conservative media, what do you think of that?
DAVID WOHL, ATTORNEY: Sandra, did you mean to tell me that Fox News didn't issue this indictment? Did you open up a new department or something? Of course not. A grand jury issues the indictment in this case. But Sandra, you know, on its face, this is a very ordinary case. Bank fraud, could very well have been handled in state courts. But for Mr. Awan ties to Pakistan, but for his ties to the Democrat National Committee, but for the fact that Debbie Wasserman Schultz -- five months after the criminal investigation was known, kept him on as her I.T. person. Now, thinking back on cases I've handled with similar textures and landscapes--
WOHL: -- he is not the big fish they're going after. They may well get him to flip state evidence and go after who they really want. And I've got some ideas on who that might be.
SMITH: Why would she continue to employ this aide during an investigation to David's point, Zac?
ZAC PETKANAS, FORMER SENIOR DNC ADVISOR: Heck if I know. I mean, it was--
SMITH: It doesn't look good.
PETKANAS: I think as they say D-U-M-dumb from a P.R. standpoint. So I have no insight into that. I mean, everyone else got rid of him, but she didn't. So again, not particularly smart from a P.R. perspective. However, I do think that it is not the right way to go. And I think it's a little concerning about any attempts to try to tie this to the DNC and what happened with Russia and the collision investigation there. I think that's probably an intentional attempt to use the word, email, I.T., DNC, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and let's try to, you know, conflate these two things. I think that's a problem.
SMITH: So you're not addressing her blaming the right-wing media circus fringe for the attention on all of these. That this is all just a distraction she says from the Russian investigation.
WOHL: Well, you know, interestingly enough, Sandra, last year if you remember Jim Comey is doing the investigation into the Clinton campaign and the email scandal, he ran into some smash servers, some smash Blackberries, and never recovered the evidence. Interestingly enough, when they issued a search warrant on the home of Mr. Awan, they ran into some smashed servers as well. Fortunately, they're going to get the information of this, and they apparently recovered the information. So there's those ties to that, and there are the ties to Wasserman Schultz, and there's ties to her keeping him on. Why did she keep him on when that criminal investigation is going on? My guess is, perhaps, she wanted to talk to him a little bit about what happened and what's going on--.
WOHL: -- because she's not the big fish. As I've said, he's a small potato in this big federal investigation. And by the way--
SMITH: All right. Zac, what's your respond to that.
WOHL: -- we don't have Loretta Lynch as A.G. anymore. It's now Jeff Sessions, and look out.
SMITH: All right.
PETKANAS: I mean, this is exhibit A in what's going on here. You take the word email and I.T. and you throw in smashed servers, and you throw in DNC, and you throw in Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and, oh, my God, it's altogether with this. There's no evidence to suggest anything like that. What we do know is that this guy and his wife were charged with bank fraud. He's in front of court right now. And it looks like the judicial process is moving along the way that it's supposed to be moving along. What it is concerning to me that there seems to be a concerted and delivered effort to disingenuously tie these things together in attempt to muddy up this--
SMITH: Zac, do you blame Fox News too?
PETKANAS: I most certainly do not. I think that this is lawyer, lawyers is what that was.
SMITH: Ronda Stance says, a Republican down in Florida, was on Fox & Friends earlier and said we have to investigate how our systems may have been compromised. So, not a laughing matter, obviously, David.
SMITH: Last word to you.
WOHL: No, absolutely not. And I think that's true, and I think the problem is that this man may have had direct connections in contact with classified information in these computers. So we don't know yet--
SMITH: We've got to leave it there. Happy Friday to you both. Thanks for being here. We'll be right back.
SMITH: Thanks for being a part of "The Story," tonight. Let me know what you think about tonight show, tweet me at Sandra Smith Fox. Have a wonderful and safe weekend. Tucker Carlson is up next.
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