Exclusive: Rep. Chaffetz on risk of terrorists crossing US southern border

This is a rush transcript from "The Kelly File," September 17, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


REP. JASON CHAFFETZ, R-UTAH: My concern is that the -- I have reason to believe that on September 10th there were actually four individuals trying to cross through the Texas border who were apprehended at two different stations that do have ties to known terrorist organizations in the Middle East. Are you not aware of that?

JEH JOHNSON, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I've heard reports to that effect. I don't know the accuracy of the reports or how much credence to give them. But I've heard reports to that effect.

CHAFFETZ: And I guess that's my concern that you as a secretary, does that information rise to the level of the secretary?


MEGYN KELLY, HOST: All right. So that -- we needed to cut a little bit more of that and we'll going to explain why. That was Congressman Jason Chaffetz today grilling the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security over new information that the congressman has suggesting that four people -- four people known with terror ties to the Middle East, were allegedly caught sneaking over our southern border into the United States one day before 9/11 of this year. And the secretary neither confirmed nor denied it.

Joining us now on "The Kelly File" exclusive, Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz, a member of the Homeland Security Committee.  Congressman, good to see you tonight.

And so, the reason I think we cut that wrong is because you first asked him, you asked him, "Have we ever apprehended anybody who's a known terrorist or suspected terrorist trying to come across the border?" And he said, "Um, sitting here right now, no specific case comes to mind. That doesn't mean there is none, perhaps FBI Director Comey can think of one. But nothing's coming to mind." And then you as a good lawyer zeroed in and said, well, my concern is I believe it actually did happen as recently as September 10th and it was four people who tried to come across and you tried to apprehend them. And only then did he say, oh I have heard reports to that effect. Do I have it about right?

CHAFFETZ: That's exactly right, Megyn. He's the secretary of Homeland Security. You need to know this. He was sworn in on September 23rd last year. It was I thought a simple question, but he says he doesn't know the answer to that. The answer unfortunately is yes. We captured -- there are 466,000 people that have been captured crossing our borders over the last 351 days. Yet by Homeland Security's own numbers 157,000 people got away. And the people we did capture, they come from 143 different countries, 13 were from Syria, six were from Iraq, four were from Iran. We had four people with known ties from a Middle Eastern country captured having already crossed the border, our southern border, in Texas, four people captured from a Middle Eastern Country with known ties to a terrorist country, and he doesn't know the answer to that question?

KELLY: But wait, here's my question to you. Do you believe he didn't know? Or do you believe he did know and wasn't particularly inclined to share with you and the American people the fact that we've now got Middle Eastern terrorists coming across the southern border?

CHAFFETZ: Well, I don't know which one scares me more. Does he not know, is he oblivious to it as the Homeland Security secretary? Or is he going to be deceptive and just try to, you know, run out the clock and not really answer the question? That's not who we are as a country. We have a porous border. We are worried about every story on the news tonight is about ISIS. I'm worried about them actually coming to the United States and crossing that porous border and getting into the homeland.

KELLY: And you pointed out to him that the GAO has estimated there's only a six percent operational control of this border. Only six percent.  And we've got the Homeland Security secretary sitting there talking about how he may or may not be familiar with the report you have in hand about these four terrorists.

CHAFFETZ: And I asked him. I asked him what is the operational control right now on the border? What is the operational control? And he said I don't know. How could he not know? He's the Homeland Security secretary.

KELLY: It's interesting. You know, when you watch that body language, even the clip where he's scratching the nose, that's a dead giveaway. Remember Clapper with the hand to the forehead like "not wittingly" and then he was like -- he was like I think he was even or trying to do like a "Bewitched" to get out of the room. Congressman, good to see you.

CHAFFETZ: Thanks, Megyn.

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