This is a rush transcript from "The Story," June 20, 2019. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SANDRA SMITH, HOST: Hey, Mike. Thank you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT: Iran made a big mistake. They've made a very bad mistake.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How will you respond?
TRUMP: You'll find out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you willing to go to war with Iran over this?
TRUMP: You'll find out. You'll find out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMITH: And that is “The Story” tonight. As the world anxiously awaits the president's response to a startling new provocation from Iran. A direct attack against the United States military.
Good evening, everyone. I'm Sandra Smith, in for Martha MacCallum, tonight. A U.S. Navy drone shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile. Stoking fears of growing conflict in the region. We're told by U.S. officials that the unmanned drone was flying in international airspace over the Gulf of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz.
Iran disputing this and claiming the drone was over its waters. U.S. Central Command has condemned that the attack as unprovoked, dangerous, and escalatory. Top congressional leaders huddling at the White House this afternoon for a classified briefing in the Situation Room as tensions between the U.S. and Iran reach new heights.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, saying the administration is engaged in measured responses. But his Democratic counterpart, Chuck Schumer remains skeptical of the White House's way forward.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, D-N.Y.: The president may not intend to go to war here, but we're worried that he and the administration may bumble into a war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMITH: So far, President Trump has slammed Iran's actions as foolish. Calling it a new fly in the ointment. But he is not convinced it was on purpose.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think they made a mistake. And I'm not just talking the country made a mistake. I think that somebody under the command of that country made a big mistake. I find it hard to believe it was intentional if you want to know the truth. I think that it could have been somebody who was loose and stupid that did it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMITH: Here now, General Jack Keane, chairman of the Institute of the Study of War, and Fox News senior strategic analyst. General Keane, always great to talk to you, especially tonight. How would you characterize the situation between the United States and Iran at this moment?
GEN. JACK KEANE, RET., SENIOR STRATEGIC ANALYST: Well, there's no doubt about it, Shannon. I mean, Sandra. You mentioned that the tensions are clearly increasing here. I mean, I think there's three things that we're dealing with clearly the Iranians have been trying with their provocations to clearly put pressure on a Trump administrations, through our allies and the international community who would dependent on the oil artery of the Persian Gulf to back off on the sanctions.
That's not going to work with this administration. They got a comprehensive strategy to really change Iran's behavior, which is what their intent.
SMITH: So, how do --
KEANE: So, the second thing is happening here, is not only have they interfered with shipping, obviously in the Persian Gulf, now, they've shot down one of our drones. And I'm confident the president is been briefed on all the options that are available to him. And I think there's some things that will condition his choice. One is the fact that it is an asset that was not manned. And we have not had anybody killed as a result of this.
So, that would likely be if he's going to act that would be a measured response limited in scope. And likely somewhat tied to the means that was used to shoot down that drone.
SMITH: Is there any chance that Iran didn't know that this was an unmanned drone on the part of the US military?
KEANE: The people that probably shot it down on working for the IRGC, Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps on the command of generals that work for the supreme leader, not even for military leaders and Qasem Soleimani is probably the most notable of all of that, I think that's far-fetched.
But I think the president may be revealing a strategy when he said it's a mistake in a sense that he'd exercise restraint here to shore up our allied support for a coalition to keep the shipping lanes open.
And obviously, I think Secretary Pompeo and Ambassador Bolton have been working very hard since the provocations began to get allied support. And when you think about it, Europe is dependent on the Gulf oil, Japan is dependent on the Gulf oil. The country that's the most dependent on, it is China.
So, I'm confident they are talking to all of them. And I think they want to eventually shape a coalition that will be able to protect shipping as it goes through this main artery of oil in the world called the Persian Gulf on the Gulf of Oman. I think that is an objective.
Another thing that's really on a table here, Shannon, that's the most dangerous of all is the fact that the Iranians are saying and they're giving notice that they may breach the nuclear deal by enriching uranium beyond a 3.6 percent restriction that is imposed on them as a result of the JCPOA, and they may go as high as 20 percent.
That is a provocation that overwhelms anything we're discussing right now. Because if you get to 20 percent, the pathway to a nuclear weapon at 90 percent is very quick. And that would likely get Bibi Netanyahu's attention and it would absolutely be a call to arms for them that do something about it.
SMITH: Very interesting, and we do know that Ambassador Bolton, the national security adviser is heading to have a meeting with Netanyahu. So, we'll see what's next as far as that. There was a classified meeting today in Washington. Nancy Pelosi walked out of that meeting and said this, General Keane.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF., SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We have an untrustworthy adversary A. The high tension wires are up in that region for a lot of different reasons. We must act in a way that does not -- that does de-escalate and does not escalate the tensions and the situation there. We must be fully engaged with their allies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEANE: So, General Keane, I heard that from you as well. What does the next 24 to 48 hours look like as far as the response on the part of the United States here?
KEANE: Well, I think that we're probably likely to act here, it would be within that time frame. But I -- clearly, the president statement -- I mean, I paid a lot of attention to it, when he said it was a mistake, our viewers may have forgotten, but during the tanker war in the late 80s when Reagan did take some action, we actually made a mistake.
We had a USS warship shoot down an Iranian airliner in Iranian airspace 290 people killed, 66 of them were children. And we took that for a Tomahawk F-14 that was clearly a mistake by the ship's crew in doing that. And we acknowledged that we made a horrific mistake.
SMITH: Are you suggesting that maybe the president has some sort of intelligence that would suggest that was the case, General Keane?
KEANE: I think it's either one of two things. One, he has some intelligence. But I think it's unlikely because the Iranians, you know, they're a closed society. And I think they -- the leadership clearly knows what's happening.
He may just be developing a strategy to exercise some restraint here to get more allied and multilateral support for keeping the shipping lanes open. And demonstrating to the -- to the allies that what's critical here is the shipping lanes and also he's going to need their support, the pushback on the Iranians. At least the ones that are still in a JCPOA deal, and that's, that's obviously Russia and China.
But as the Europeans involved, that we're concerned about is the U.K., France, and Germany. And that's an issue there when it comes to the Iranians going to 20 percent uranium enrichment which is clearly the worst thing that's -- that could possibly happen out of this.
SMITH: General Jack Keane, thank you. We will see what happens in the coming days, coming hours based on what you just told us.
KEANE: Sorry about the name slip, Sandra.
SMITH: General Keane, you're cut out but you're a busy guy, you know, and you're on a lot of shows. We appreciate your time. Thank you.
KEANE: You're welcome.
SMITH: To see you soon. Here now, Marc Thiessen is a Fox News Contributor and co-host of the American Enterprise Institute new podcast, What the Hell is Going On? Marc, good evening to you. You've been listening to the general there.
MARC THIESSEN, CONTRIBUTOR: Good evening, Sandra.
SMITH: Very serious stuff.
THIESSEN: Yes, yes.
SMITH: Obviously, you heard the warning from Nancy Pelosi. We have to de- escalate the situation. She acknowledged the president does not want war here. Where does this go next, Marc?
THIESSEN: Well, I think -- I think the president is de-escalating it. If you look at what he said, he said that it could have been a mistake, it could have been somebody who was not coming from the top. And so, he is taking a very, very measured approach to this.
But what I'm really appalled by quite frankly here, Sandra is all the people in Washington who are spending so much time trying to blame Donald Trump for this escalation of tensions. You had Joe Biden go out today and say that this is a completely self-inflicted wound.
I mean, Donald Trump didn't put a mine on a Japanese oil tanker, Donald Trump didn't shoot down a U.S. drone, Iran did those things. And the fact is the reason why Donald Trump has had to impose these sanctions is because of the Obama administration's nuclear deal which what happened was Donald Trump came into office, Iran was on the march across the Middle East, in Syria, and Lebanon, in Yemen, in across the whole region, and it was fueled by the pallets of cash and billions of dollars in sanctions relief that came from that nuclear deal.
The promise of the nuclear deal was it's going to improve Iran's behavior and said it had the opposite react effect. So, what Donald Trump did is he canceled the nuclear deal and he imposed massive sanctions on the Iranian regime.
THIESSEN: We've taken away $10 billion of their assets and their no longer have money to fund Hamas and Hezbollah on all these terrorist groups. And so, they're lashing out because they're frustrated that they -- that the sanction that Trump's strategy is working.
SMITH: I spoke to remember, the president's team this morning, Peter Navarro, suggested that their sanctions, as far as, they are concerned, have worked beautifully on pressuring Iran.
SMITH: As far as that criticism from the former Vice President Joe Biden, 2020 contender, here is him in his own words.
"President Trump's Iran strategy is a self-inflicted disaster." As you said, Marc. "By walking away from diplomacy, Trump has made military conflict more likely. Another war in the Middle East is the last thing we need." So, that has been some of the reaction, Marc.
THIESSEN: Yes. So, look in the mirror, Joe. You're the one who sent -- your administration is the one that sent pallets of unmarked bills to Tehran. You're the administration that lifted sanctions on the Iranian regime that has allowed them to fund Hamas, fund Hezbollah, fund all these terrorist groups, and fund their imperial expansion across the Middle East.
They have never been more irresponsible than they had been in the last two years until Trump came in and cut off their funding. And the other thing that Trump has done, which is responsible is that he has drawn a very clear red line.
It's very interesting. You know, like Jack noted that they shot it -- they'd -- if they did, in fact, choose this target it was an unmanned drone. The reason is the red line that Secretary Pompeo said was if one single American is killed by either Iran or Iranian proxy, there's going to be a military response.
And so, you notice, they didn't -- they didn't blow up a U.S. tanker, they blew up -- they tried to blow up a Japanese tanker. They didn't shoot -- they didn't shoot down a manned a plane, they shot down an unmanned plane. They are boxed in. They're boxed in financially by the sanctions and they're boxed in militarily by the red line that Trump has drawn that we will not --
SMITH: What about some of our European allies that are still doing business with Iran? Should there be more pressure put on them?
THIESSEN: Well, they're doing a lot less business speak. Actually, the European businesses have been leaving Iran and they've been cut -- and we - - these sanctions have been so effective, Sandra. $10 billion since November and Iranian revenues have been cut. We have virtually brought their oil exports down to zero. There, Bloomberg tracks the tankers leaving Iranian ports and they've been almost none.
THIESSEN: So, and that means they don't have money to fund Hezbollah, they don't have money to fund Hamas. They don't have -- they've had to cut the budget of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, the Iranian military. They are hurting and they're unable to carry out the (INAUDIBLE) policy that they were for a long --
SMITH: Final question to you, Marc, tonight.
SMITH: On what the options are that the administration has, and how they can proceed with or without Congress? The New York Times headline tear there, Could Trump use 9/11 War Law to bypass Congress and attack Iran? We know that this article, by the way, it explores that -- it questions whether or not the administration has been laying the groundwork to do just that by tying al-Qaeda to Iran.
Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, they -- Nancy Pelosi walked out of that meeting, making it very clear that their message was they -- that the president can't move forward without congressional approval. What are the options the president has? Final thoughts?
THIESSEN: Well, first of all, he's the commander in chief. And under Article II, he has the authority to use the United States military to strike Iran if they strike us. He doesn't need to go to Congress to get authorization for that. Every president before him, from Bill Clinton to Ronald Reagan has used American force to respond to provocations by terrorist regimes.
So, he doesn't need congressional authorization to strike Iran in a limited strike. And people need to understand, there's a difference between a military strike and going to war. Lots of presidents have launched military strikes.
Bill Clinton launched military strikes. Ronald Reagan launched military strikes on Libya, and it didn't lead to a wider war. Sometimes, a military strike when it's targeted and limited is actually designed to increase deterrence and prevent a broader war.
The danger is if we don't respond, and if we let the -- if they -- if an American is killed and we don't respond, then, that increases Iranian aggression across the world.
SMITH: Right. Right, we'll see it where it all goes. And obviously, we're all on high alert to see what the next steps are on the part of the administration and his team. Marc Thiessen, great to see you. Thank you.
THIESSEN: Thank you for having me on.
SMITH: A twist no one saw coming in the war crimes trial decorated Navy SEAL, Eddie Gallagher. We will speak exclusively with a retired Army captain who served alongside Gallagher in the Middle East and calls him a friend. He joins us next.
SMITH: A shocking twist tonight in the case of a decorated Navy SEAL on trial for murder. A witness called by prosecutors dropping a bombshell in the courtroom by confessing to the murder.
In moments we talked to a retired Army captain who served alongside Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher on missions throughout the Middle East but first to Chief Correspondent Jonathan Hunt who is live at the courthouse for us tonight. Jonathan?
JONATHAN HUNT, CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Sandra. Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher's attorney acknowledged outside court a short time ago that this trial is not over yet but he clearly feels today marked a major turning point. And it was indeed an extraordinary moment in court. On the stand with SEAL team seven member Corey Scott who served under Chief Gallagher in Iraq in 2017.
Gallagher, of course, is accused of murdering a young ISIS prisoner at that time. Called as a witness for the prosecution, Scott who is a combat medic said he saw chief Gallagher stabbed the ISIS fighter in the neck but then questioned by defense attorneys, he said the stabbing was not what killed the captive. Instead, he said, "I held my thumb over his TT tube until he quit breathing.
Meaning he blocked a breathing tube that had been inserted into the fighter's throat and asphyxiated him. "Why did you kill him?" Timothy Parlatore, Gallagher's defense attorney asked. "Because I knew he was going to die anyway. I wanted to save him from what was going to happen next to him."
Corey Scott replied explaining further that he believed Iraqi troops would torture then murder the prisoner if he lived. "Did chief Gallagher kill this terrorist?" Gallagher's attorney asked in wrapping up. "No," said Scott.
Prosecutors are now treating Scott as a hostile witness accused the SEAL of making the story up after he got immunity from prosecution saying Scott never said anything about killing the prisoner himself in any of his previous interviews with investigators and adding, "You can lie about the fact that you killed the ISIS prisoner because you don't want Chief Gallagher to go to jail." To which Scott replied, "I don't want him to go to jail."
And a short time ago Sandra chief Gallagher and his team emerged from the courtroom behind me with his wife, Andrea, saying her husband will soon be completely exonerated and lashing out at those who she says have done so much damage to her husband and children. Listen here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREA GALLAGHER, WIFE OF CHIEF GALLAGHER: Every one of these witnesses that come up, it's inconsistencies, it's lies, half-truths, and cover-up. They're either covering their lie that they told before, the lie that they told on a stand, or the lie that they're preparing to try to target my husband.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: A short time ago, the U.S. Navy issued a statement which said they will not be dropping the charges of premeditated murder so everyone will be back in this court as this extraordinary trial continues tomorrow. Sandra?
SMITH: It is extraordinary. Jonathan Hunt, thank you for all your reporting on that today. I'm joined now by retired Army Captain Tyler Merritt who previously served with Chief Gallagher in the Middle East and has been working with Gallagher's family to raise money for their legal expenses.
Good evening to you, Tyler, and thank you for being here tonight. What do you make of what happened in that court --
CPT. TYLER MERRITT, RET., U.S. ARMY: Thank you so much for having me.
SMITH: Was this a major turning point in this case?
MERRITT: Absolutely. I was able to speak with former Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik who's been there in San Diego with the family ever since this court case began essentially spearheading the that free Eddie initiative and raising awareness and getting everyone on board with the fact that the truth will eventually set him free. And they finally started going down the path of what that truth is and blatantly clearly he did not murder anyone.
If there's another individual who said that they asphyxiated a wounded combatant then it's kind of hard for Eddie to be convicted of murder.
SMITH: To be clear, Tyler, that witness still testified that Eddie Gallagher stabbed that ISIS prisoner in the neck.
MERRITT: Yes, unfortunately when people start to lie, it's hard to understand where that lie began and where that lie ended. And when there's self-preservation involved, people are saying and do certain things.
Part of his immunity deals that he said that Eddie Gallagher did this thing and that's why prosecutors are obviously not very happy that he's finally come and said, you know what, it wasn't Eddie, it was me.
And to his point, as he said very clearly, Iraqi forces would have killed that individual. That is their policy, and that's been their policy for quite some time since I've been going back and forth to Iraq since 2007. It's not as black and white as everyone wants to understand. This is a combat zone. It's a combat situation.
You're asking Navy SEALs to go to foreign countries and do bad things to bad people. And this is a bad person this is an individual who is trying to inflict harm on our service members. Regardless of the fact that he's 17 years old, that is a military aged male. And regardless of all of that Eddie did not murder this individual. He's an honorable man and what's happened here is an absolute travesty.
SMITH: What did you make of the suggestion that because the prosecution witness had immunity that that's why he came forward with this story as he delivered his testimony?
MERRITT: Yes. I don't think that's what actually occurred. I think that there's things -- when you realize the consequences of your actions, that you're going to send an innocent man to prison, and you see his wife, and you see his children, and you see the hurt that you caused, I'm just glad that he finally reached down and find that moral fortitude and said the truth that he was the individual that is fixated this enemy combatant.
SMITH: Tyler, the first time that I spoke with you and met you in person, it was on our program in the morning America's Newsroom and you were sitting next to Eddie Gallagher's wife Andrea. We had a long conversation then and I know you're very close to the family. Have you spoken to the family since this happened in court today?
MERRITT: No. I spoke with Bernie who was able to call me just briefly right before they went back into court. It's been a rollercoaster of emotions, really extreme highs today I'm hoping that they can go home and celebrate this victory. I'm sure we'll be speaking later on this evening but we're extremely honored to have been able to help out.
The shirts that we've created, it says we have just begun to fight and it's indicative of this phase in the saga. This is the time where we're going to get to the truth and he's going to fight back and we're going to see that this person was wrongfully accused and hopefully we can get him home today, tomorrow, and we don't have to ask the President to intervene again when the prosecutor and the judge should do the right thing and acquit him of all charges.
SMITH: It has been quite something to follow, Tyler, and appreciate you coming on tonight. Thank you.
MERRITT: Thank you so much.
SMITH: All right, next up, unlikely allies come to Joe Biden's defense after 2020 rivals slam his comments on working with segregationist senators. Bill Bennett has some thoughts on that. He'll join us next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WHOOPI GOLDBERG, ACTRESS: If you can beat him, beat him. Don't try to make him out a racist. You don't like some of the stuff he has done? Say that, but you can't call the dude a racist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- Cory Booker has called for.
JOE BIDEN, D-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Apologize for what?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cory Booker has called for it.
BIDEN: Cory should apologize. He knows better. There is not a racist bone in my body. I've been involved in the Civil Rights my whole career. Period. Period. Period.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMITH: Joe Biden refusing to apologize for touting his ability to work with others, saying he found common ground with a segregationist senator. The former vice president also standing by his comments with a phone call with Cory Booker to smooth tensions. And tonight, some unlikely allies are coming to his defense. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.: So, here's the question for the Democratic Party, do you believe Barack Obama picked somebody that was a closet segregationist that had secret racist views? And if he did, why would he do it? I don't believe he did.
Now I don't want Joe Biden to be president for a lot of reasons but one of the things I like about Joe Biden, he's a decent man, there's not a racist bone in his body. He is my friend and what he did back then and what he will do in the future is try to find common ground with people he disagrees with. If that can't be done, America's best days are behind us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMITH: Joining us now Bill Bennett, the host of the Bill Bennett podcast and a Fox News contributor. Bill, good evening to you.
BILL BENNETT, CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Sandra.
SMITH: So, Lindsey Graham coming to Biden's defense, but it's many members of Biden's own party that have gone on the attack on this.
BENNETT: Yes. Interesting here Lindsey Graham say I haven't heard that before. Thanks for that.
BENNETT: And he said he is a decent man. Now this party, the Republican Party will not make him apologize for calling Biden a decent man, you remember when Biden called Pence a decent man he had to apologize.
BENNETT: Now we'll see what happens here. Now I was thinking of that old line, say it is not so Joe or may be just don't say anything at all, Joe, he is just getting himself in trouble. And, Sandra, what happens now?
Because if he backs off of this after this after saying period, period, period, man, then he is folded twice in a row, on the Hyde Amendment and then now this. If he sticks to it, it looks like his opponents for the nomination are not going to give it up. They're not -- they're going to keep pounding it.
SMITH: To that point, here is Kamala Harris.
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS, D-CALIF., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I mean, you know, I've said how I feel about his comments. I think that they were misplaced, and frankly, misinformed, so I've said how I have felt about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMITH: So, it's one thing to ask if Biden is in trouble, it's another to ask if the infighting within the Democratic Party is going too far, Bill.
BENNETT: Well, we are revealing a face of the Democratic Party here. I wouldn't use the words Senator Harris used. I'd say his comments were kind of weird and baffling and kind of inscrutable.
What does he mean when he says James Eastwood, the segregationist senator from Mississippi, a Democrat, when he says he never called me son or boy, he always called me son, is that relevant? Has there been an issue of a young white guy being called a boy? It just -- it doesn't parse.
I think part of what's going on here, Sandra, and the reason they are jumping on him, is Joe Biden is reminding this Democrat Party of what it was. This was the segregationist party. This was the party that had the Klan baked in 1924.
You know, for a hundred years after Lincoln, if you were a black man or woman and you wanted support and solace in this country, it was the Republican Party since Lincoln that did it and they don't want that old wound opened back up.
SMITH: Very interesting. I mean, there is a question of whether or not Biden's own strategy is backfiring on him here, I just wonder wouldn't an apology help?
SMITH: I mean, they are telling him to apologize, would that change things for him?
BENNETT: When he says, you know, emphatically I didn't say anything wrong and Cory Booker should apologize, all that will change. That if you push on this guy he'll fold.
Let's go back to the general point, the principle that you can work with someone with whom you fundamentally disagree, vehemently disagree, violently disagree has been a staple of politics, you know, to get a piece of legislation passed, to win a war.
I was looking at Churchill, again, there's always a reason to look here at Churchill, Churchill said, remember this great phrase, "If Hitler invaded hell, I would find a way to get a good word about the devil in the House of Commons." You know, he would take any ally against Hitler.
You know, this is the way the world works in part, but that 70s Democratic Party is not something that the 2019 Democratic Party wants to hear anything about. And I agree with Lindsey Graham. Barack Obama would have his vice president a racist, classic or in the open? Crazy. Crazy.
SMITH: That's a good question. As you said for Democrats to ask themselves as they criticize the frontrunner for their ticket. Dr. Bill Bennett, always great to talk to you. Thank you.
BENNETT: Thanks, Sandra.
SMITH: All right.
BENNETT: Thank you.
SMITH: The 2020 Democrat who just echoed Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez by comparing President Trump's threat of mass deportation to being Jewish during the Holocaust. Matt Gaetz after the break.
SMITH: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez not the only Democrat comparing what Jewish people faced in Nazi Germany to the situation at our southern border. Listen to what 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARIANNE WILLIAMSON, D-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Ladies and gentlemen, I'm a Jew. We are raised to say never again. It's happening.
Now there are some people who would say to me, I think this Jewish analogy you've really gone too far there. This is not the same type of situation at all. But ladies and gentlemen, some of those people will be deported to places so dangerous that it actually is no different.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SMITH: Joining us now is Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz, a member of the armed services committee. Congressman, good to see you tonight. Thank you for being here. So, I mean, even she suggested that she was going to be criticized for going too far, did she?
REP. MATT GAETZ, R-FLA.: Yes. This is probably the most attention that the Marianne Williamson presidential campaign will ever get, and it's indicative of what's going on, on the primary side of the Democratic Party. She's just trying to be a little bit more outrageous to get attention.
When I look at my colleague Alexandria's comments, I would certainly agree that the conditions on a lot of these border processing centers are horrible. They -- it is the worst state of the human condition that I have ever witnessed.
And the worst state was an unconditioned AIDS clinic in Haiti, and so this is pretty bad. But we should never compare the challenges that we face today to the extermination of six million Jews and when we do that, when we invoke the Holocaust or concentration camps with great frequency, then it undermines and tribalizes the true horror that existed at that time.
And so, I hope that Democrats will agree with the Trump administration's $4.2 billion request for humanitarian assistance and then rather than sensationalizing around bad conditions we can actually make them better for people.
SMITH: Well, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez you mentioned her controversial comments and she did not back down from those, in fact, she doubled down on them with this tweet, saying, quote, "We are calling these camps what they are because they fit squarely in an academic consensus and definition. History will be kind to those who stood up to this injustice." She writes. So, say what you will, kids are dying and I'm not here to make people feel comfortable about that."
And that of course is after she received a lot of backlash for referencing those detention centers and comparing them to concentration camps, Congressman.
GAETZ: Well, Sandra, in politics many of us can use language that goes over the line, I'm certainly not immune to that, I had to apologize for it on this show a time or two as a matter of fact. But I think that when we do make mistakes, we need to own up to them and clarify our remarks, and as you pointed out, that's not what Alexandria did.
When it comes to children dying, let me give you a sad reality, a lot of children are going to die over the increasing temperatures in the summer months in Arizona and Texas and other border states because we don't have the facilities to house people inside.
And when he put people on 120-degree concrete, and then put a blue tarp over their head it's simply insufficient to maintain vulnerable human life. And that's why I just don't understand, like I know there is a lot of disagreement about the wall and asylum laws, but why is it the Democrats are opposing the president's request at least you have the humanitarian assistance so that we don't have these deaths.
It sort of makes me wonder whether or not politicizing the deaths is, you know, by some deem to better option than actually preventing them by working with the administration. I certainly hope that's not the case.
SMITH: Well, we know that political debate will continue. Meanwhile, Congressman, if I could ask you about the news with Iran, obviously Republicans tonight are reacting, just put a statement, the Leader McCarthy just put out a statement the Republican response and how they want the administration to move forward after that what they call this provocation.
Iran directly attacking the U.S. assets, the drone, the unmanned drone over international waters which has now been confirmed. And in this response, McCarthy writes, "there must be a measured response to these actions." What needs to happen in response to this, to the shooting down of this unmanned drone?
GAETZ: We do not need to go to war with Iran over an unmanned drone until we have more information. You saw the president's statements about this being potentially a mistake and accident. I know Iran has claimed credit for this and so it's troubling.
But I am done with this endless unconstitutional regime changed wars in the Middle East. I mean, the Middle East is 3.5 percent of global GDP and we are just obsessed with this area of the world.
SMITH: Should there be no response?
GAETZ: No. Look, I think we can -- you know what we need to do to respond? Engage China to actually bring Iran to the table, to stop developing their nuclear program. I think that that would be the most effective response and there is a reason to do it because 80 percent of China's oil comes through the Strait of Hormuz. So, they have a lot more skin in the game than we do.
But I do not believe that it is necessary to have a response that leads to war. Now of course, there are military options that are on the table, but when it comes to putting U.S. troops on the ground at a greater extent in the Middle East, that's not something I believe is constitutional or effective.
SMITH: Got it. We hear you on that. Congressman Matt Gaetz, thank you.
GAETZ: Thank you, Sandra.
SMITH: All right. Well, the Supreme Court ruling today on the fate of a World War I memorial cross in Maryland pictured there. Shannon Bream has the details on that, next.
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MARTHA MACCALLUM, ANCHOR: Justice Kavanaugh this is going to be his first sort of religious liberty test issue that he will deal with. And it comes down to whether or not the government is showing a preference for a religion in this monument. Right?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. And over the years, people have said this is a very mottled part of the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court because there is not a clear directive. They've decided cases on other public memorials and displays, but it's actually very hard to understand for a lot of folks.
Even Justice Thomas has said, it's anyone's guess what we would expect people to do, so people really want to get a clear final rule out of this.
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SMITH: It is a case that we have been following and paying close attention to for some time. And today the Supreme Court deciding the fate of a 40- foot World War I monument in the shape of a cross, ruling it can stand and does not constitute government endorsement of religion.
Justice Samuel Alito writing in his opinion, quote, "The cross is undoubtedly a Christian symbol, but that fact should not blind us to everything else that the Bladensburg Cross has come to represent. For some, that monument is a symbolic resting place for ancestors who never returned home. For others, it is a place for the community to gather and honor all veterans and their sacrifices for our nation."
Here now is Shannon Bream, host of Fox News at Night and chief legal correspondent. A head of your show tonight and aside this morning. Shannon, what a case this was and we have been following it. What was the result?
SHANNON BREAM, HOST: Yes, we have for years. So, depending on your viewpoint the ruling today from the Supreme Court is either a big win for religious liberty or a landmark setback for separation of church and state.
That monument to fallen soldiers have stood there for nearly a century. But for the past five years the American Humanist Association has been trying to tear it down, that group has argued that it does amount to a government endorsement of a specific religion, in this case Christianity.
They said that's not fair to veterans of other faiths or no faith at all. The court heard these arguments back in February and the majority clearly not persuaded. In a serious of fractured opinions, the court ultimately came to this conclusion, the cross does not violate the Constitution, it is staying put.
Running from the majority Justice Alito added this as well. he said, "The cross is undoubtedly a Christian a symbol, but that fact should not blind us to everything else that the Bladensburg Cross has come to represent. Destroying or defacing the cross that has stood undisturbed for nearly a century would not be neutral."
Well, Justice Ginsburg noting that the memorial now sits on public land she dissented today. She was joined by Justice Sotomayor writing this. "By maintaining the Peace Cross on a public highway, the commission elevates Christianity over other faiths and religion over nonreligion."
OK. So, tonight we are also awaiting a decision on whether the Trump administration has a legitimate reason for adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census. The justices are also weighing two cases, one from North Carolina another from Maryland on the issue of partisan gerrymandering.
So, depending on how broadly or narrowly they rule in that case, it could actually impact control of the House in next year's election. So, we are going to get the next round of opinion at 10 a.m. Eastern tomorrow morning. Sandra, I'll be there.
SMITH: So, we will be awaiting that. We'll see you in the morning, Shannon. Meantime, when it comes to the Maryland cross, what sort of reaction have you seen and heard so far to that today? I know the Maryland governor spoke out a Republican praising the ruling in a statement and called it a great victory.
BREAM: Yes. And we talked to folks on both sides today, of course, there were a number of veterans who have been part of this. The American Legion has led the fight over this cross for years to try to preserve it. So, it was interesting to see some of those veterans who have been on the roller coaster back and forth through the court system with this.
And one of them told me today, he said, I finally feel vindicated that maybe we won't have to keep fighting every time one of these monuments comes under attack. He felt very assured by it. You know, various other groups who had opposed this including the Interfaith Alliance who told me, they actually thought that this endangers religious freedom here in the U.S. because they say there's to blurred a line now they think between the government and religion.
SMITH: The cross will continue to stand. Shannon, we'll see you in the morning.
SMITH: And we'll see you tonight and then in the tomorrow morning.
SMITH: Thank you, Shannon. OK. Well, a live report from the Pentagon as the United States weighs option on Iran, we'll have that for you next.
SMITH: The nation on high alert at this hour waiting to see what move the Trump administration will make next, if any, in response to the latest provocation from Iran.
National security correspondent Jennifer griffin is live at the Pentagon with the latest there tonight. Jennifer, good evening.
JENNIFER GRIFFIN, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Good evening. Sandra, competing narratives from Iran and the Pentagon about where the drone was shot down. Iran's foreign minister tweeted this hand-drawn map and some coordinates that would have put the drone about eight miles off the coast of Iran in Iranian waters.
The Pentagon responded with a map showing a flight path and a denial that unmanned drone was over Iranian territory, claiming it was in international waters. Roughly 20 miles from Iran shoreline. This air force video shows the moment of impact and then the spiraling wreckage.
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JOSEPH GUASTELLA, COMMANDER, U.S. AIR FORCES CENTRAL COMMAND: This attack is an attempt to disrupt our ability to monitor the area following recent threats to international shipping and the free-flow of commerce. Iranian reports that this aircraft was shut down over Iran are categorically false.
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GRIFFIN: The Iranians released this video in response of what they say was the advanced surface-to-air missile used to shoot down the American drone. The chairman of the joint chiefs arrived at the White House with military options for the president. The president gave himself and Iran's leaders an out, perhaps to get them to the negotiating table.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT: I find it hard to believe it was intentional if you want to know the truth. I think that it could have been somebody who was loose and stupid that did it. We'll be able to report back and you'll understand exactly what happened. But it was a very foolish move. That I can tell you.
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GRIFFIN: Congressional leaders have now been briefed and the Democrats leaving those meetings at the White House appear to accept the White House version of events. Tonight, they warned about bumbling into a war. Sandra?
SMITH: Jennifer Griffin at the Pentagon for us tonight. We'll see what happens over the next 24 or 48 hours. Jennifer, thank you.
That is “The Story” for us tonight. Thank you so much for joining us. It's been a busy news day. Started the day with us, end the day with us. We appreciate that. I'll see you again tomorrow bright and early. Join Bill and me on America's Newsroom 9 to noon. Thanks for joining us on “The Story” tonight. Tucker Carlson is up next.
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