Kerry claims Al Qaeda 'neutralized' before Mali attack; The role of women in ISIS

This is a rush transcript from "The Kelly File," November 20, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MEGYN KELLY, HOST, "THE KELLY FILE":  Breaking tonight, freedom under assault as terrorists take the world by storm launching yet another deadly attack on innocent people.

Plus, reports just coming in tonight that the Belgium government has now raised its terror alert level to the highest there is in the capital of Brussels.  Warning of an imminent threat.

Welcome to "The Kelly File," everyone, I'm Megyn Kelly.  We are following this disturbing report out of Belgium as we learn more about an attack earlier on a hotel in the African-American nation of Mali.  A hotel frequented by westerners and linked to an American company.  At this hour we can confirm that a number of our fellow citizens were there at the time of the attack and at least one of the dead is an American.  The killers were heavily armed and believed to be affiliated with al Qaeda.  Mali also happens to be a former French colony and the nations maintain close ties to these days making many in France feel that this was specifically meant to be an attack on their interests.

Today's events of course follow a series of high profile assaults by ISIS in recent days.  Starting October 31 when a bomb downed a Russian airliner over Egypt.  All 224 people on board would die including 17 children.  Twelve days later another atrocity, twin bombings tore flew Beirut, 43 were killed.  Two hundred more wounded.  That attack got little attention because the very next day the worst terror attack in French history took place.  The madmen attacked restaurants, a soccer game and a concert hall.  The death toll rising today to 130.  Hundreds more were hurt.  And if not for the efforts of authorities, we could be discussing even more carnage because a number of attacks have been thwarted of since then.

We have also seen propaganda videos promising to bring the death and destruction much closer to home.  ISIS making it clear that's the ultimate goal.  Singling out places like Washington, D.C. and New York City.  This, of course, raising alarm bells.  And while authorities insist there are no credible threats at this time we are seeing security beefed up around tourist attractions.  Capitol Hill lawmakers are being told they should be walking outside as well as a chilling message from FBI director saying, dozens of people in the United States right now are being watched.  Deemed high risk for launching copycat attacks similar to what we saw in Paris. We look at all of this tonight, including what is being done to keep the homeland safe as we head into the busy holiday season.  Plus how all of this is now affecting the 2016 presidential contest.

But we begin tonight with Trace Gallagher in our West Coast Newsroom on this latest terrorist attack today.  Trace?

TRACE GALLAGHER, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  And Megyn terror experts say we are witnessing a bloody confrontation between ISIS and al Qaeda and neither wants to be shown up.  The attack in Mali appears to be the work at least in part of al Qaeda and the Islamic Maghreb or AQIM.  A group that is well aware of how to grab global headlines which is expert say they chose the U.S. owned hotel filled with international guests.  Witnesses say the gunman pulled up to the Radisson Blu in a car with diplomatic plates, got out with AK-47s, killed hotel security guards, took their weapons and went inside shouting "Allahu Akbar," or God is great.  Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  They are Jihadist.  People from Bamako wouldn't do this.  Those Jihadists, they killed everyone, anything that was moving.


GALLAGHER:  The killers apparently had studied the layout of the building and knew where certain gatherings might be taking place.  Most of the bodies were found in the basement or on the second floor.  At one time 170 guests and staff were either being held inside or were trapped.  Some reportedly were asked to quote from the Koran to win their freedom.  Rescue forces later stormed the hotel, rushing survivors to a nearby safe house.  Off duty U.S. military personnel were among the rescue teams.  Watch.


JOHN KIRBY, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON:  This is just U.S. service personnel.  At least one of them that I know of who do what they do so well which is run to the sound of guns and try to help.


GALLAGHER:  The State Department says, 12 Americans were in the hotel at the time.  One of them was killed.  The overall death toll stands at 21, including the gunmen, many French citizens were also reportedly inside the hotel.  Among them, pilots and flight attendants from Air France.  Aside from the presence of western visitors, experts say another reason for the attack may have been that U.N. Diplomats were staying at the hotel trying to hammer out a peace agreement in Mali to quell an ongoing civil war. Back in August Islamist militants also attacked a hotel in Central Mali killing 13 -- Megyn.

KELLY:  Trace, thank you.  Joining me now, Fran Townsend, a former Homeland Security and counterterrorism advisor to President George W. Bush and president of the Counter Extremism Project.  Fran, good to see you.  So now we have had three weeks of terror.  That's what we have seen.  Three weeks of terror and a much more aggressive ISIS and now al Qaeda seeming to want to remind us of its relevance.  You tell me.

FRAN TOWNSEND, PRESIDENT, COUNTER EXTREMISM PROJECT:  Absolutely, Megyn.  And I think we ought to race ourselves for a protracted period of increased violence.  You know, 2015 is been the most violent terrorist year on record since 9/11.  And that's not going to stop.  I intelligence analyst were not surprised to see al Qaeda try to stage this grand attack in Mali because they do want you to know they are still deadly and not forgotten.  Let's remember, we haven't mentioned yet, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula that's the al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen that the President and the administration has described as the single greatest danger to the United States.  And they are operating in an unobstructed environment in Yemen because of the ongoing conflict between the Houthi and the Saudis. And so, you have got this al Qaeda affiliates quite deadly, quite capable.  And we see the continuing rise of ISIS.

KELLY:  Uh-hm.  You have another message from ISIS today.  We've seen what now, four messages from ISIS since the Paris attacks.  What does that tell you?

TOWNSEND:  Well, you know, Megyn, it's interesting to me.  Obviously ISIS had a propaganda planned for the post-Paris attack.  They plan to be successful.  They had these videos, clearly these messages in the can and intended to put them out, one at a time of the following week.  You know, as I've said to others in the administration, you have to take them at their word.  Now, I understand that there is not what the administration is calling specific and credible threats.  That means they don't have a date, a place, and a time.  But the fact that they had these four videos ready to go, threatening the United States, I would be taking pretty seriously right now.

KELLY:  And because, what does that mean?  Because we heard the FBI director come out yesterday and say there is no credible threat.  There is no credible threat.  And yet, we are tracking all these guys and we don't have enough resources.

TOWNSEND:  Well, that's exactly right.  Look, you know, it's interesting.  Director Comey used some coy language.  He told you that he is tracking dozens.  Well, that's what I told you earlier in the week.  He can track about 60 to 70.  But that's a dozen, and that's a couple of dozen.  That doesn't account for what about the rest of the 250 foreign fighters.  What about the other 900 or so subjects of investigation that are ISIS related.  You know, if he had enough resources something like Garland, Texas wouldn't happen where these terrorists, you know, they wound up getting killed because of a security guard.  But they had been under the FBI surveillance and they fell off the radar because they didn't think they were that important.  The FBI makes these judgments every day about what to cover because they don't have enough resources to cover them all.

KELLY:  And then, on top of everything, on a day in which we see al Qaeda back at it, shooting up this hotel and hostages and only those we're told who could recite the Koran were allowed to leave with their lives.  You have got Secretary John Kerry Fran, coming out today, the same day, talking about how we have neutralized al Qaeda.  I mean, just last week President Obama is talking about how ISIS has been contained.  And then we see what we saw in France and today John Kerry says we have neutralized al Qaeda at the same time they are doing this at an American hotel in a former French colony.

TOWNSEND:  Well, this from Secretary Kerry who early on in the week, you know, made the misstatement that at least the Charlie Hebdo attack had some justification, right?  I mean, so John Kerry is not exactly claiming his strength, I mean, when he is making references to terrorist groups or terrorist attacks.  It's clear to the American people, al Qaeda is not contained, by the way, ISIS is not contained.  These both pose directs threats to the United States.  And, you know, the administration and the President in particular have made this big fuss about refugees and the, you know, the Republicans and the American people seems to be afraid of 3-year- old orphans.  Well, the fact is, own director of National Intelligence James Clapper in September said, he was concerned about the threat of terrorists infiltrating cells into the flow of refugees.  So, apparently there are senior members of his own administration that worry about the very same thing.

KELLY:  Fran, thank you.

TOWNSEND:  Thanks, Megyn.

KELLY:  Well, just hours after today's attack, ISIS sent a new warning threatening, quote, "Our soldiers are near you."

Up next, "The Kelly File" investigates the ISIS threats happening right now in the United States.  With the man who wrote nearly every homeland security law in New York after September 11th, Michael Balboni.

Plus, new information tonight on the woman who Intel today was thought to be Europe's first female suicide bomber.  "The Kelly File" takes a closer look at the growing threat of women within ISIS.

And President Obama coming under new fire for his rhetoric and tone following the Paris attacks.  While some say the President is misreading what the nation needs right now from its commander-and-chief and what it means as the terror threat grows.


PRES. BARACK OBAMA, D-UNITED STATES:  Folks want to pop off and have opinions about what they think they would do, present a specific plan.



KELLY:  Well, a terror army known as ISIS issuing yet another threat to the United States homeland today suggesting in a new propaganda video just released that, quote, "Our soldiers are near you and you will not live in security as long as you are fighting us and bombing us with your planes."  And while FBI Director James Comey has spent the better part of this week insisting there is currently no credible threat to the United States, more than 70 ISIS related arrests made on American soil since 2013 suggest this kind of threat has been walking among us for months.  And in a moment I will be joined by Michael Balboni, the man who wrote nearly every homeland security law in New York after September 11th.

But first Trace Gallagher reports from our West Coast Newsroom.  

GALLAGHER:  And Megyn, raising the stakes even more as the FBI's new concern that the reason fewer Americans are traveling to Syria to join ISIS, is because ISIS is now urging them to stay home and kill where they are.  Intel agencies also worry about those who went to Syria and Iraq to fight with ISIS and then came back home bringing weapons and explosives training with them.  So, for the FBI homeland security and Joint Terrorism Task Force, it is an all hands on deck scenario from now until the holidays are over.

And the numbers explained why.  Currently the FBI is handling some 900 ISIS investigations that includes all 50 states.  Dozens of radicalized individuals are being, quote, "Intensely watched because they were deemed a high risk for Paris style copycat attacks."  Since 2014, 18 ISIS inspired plots have been disrupted here in the U.S.  And a new ABC "Washington Post" poll shows that 81 percent of Americans say a major terrorist attack in the U.S. will likely happen in the near future.  In recent days, ISIS has made threats against President Obama, the White House, and Times Square.  The FBI calls that mostly propaganda.  Listen.


JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR:  The threat here focuses primarily on troubled souls in America who are being inspired or enabled online to do something violent for ISIL.


GALLAGHER:  Troubled souls but remember around the clock surveillance on just one ISIS sympathizer can take up to 30 federal agents -- Megyn.

KELLY:  Hmm.  Trace, thank you.

Joining me now with more, Michael Balboni who assisted and advised on the security for the Rebuilding or the World Trade Center among other projects.  Michael, great to see you.

So, this threat, I mean, the latest threat is, okay, our soldiers are near you, you will not live in security as long as you are fighting us and bombing us with your planes.  It's basically completely meaningless because if we stop fighting them and bombing them with our planes but continue allowing women to go to school, we're going to get bombed.  Allowing any sort of freedom we are going to get bombed.  I mean, what they stand for is exactly the opposite of everything we stand for and they will going to continue to bomb us until we annihilate them.

MICHAEL BALBONI, SENIOR FELLOW HOMELAND SECURITY AND LAW ENFORCEMENT: In addition there is no negotiating with them.  Should anyone decide that this is something of an engagement you should enter into.  They demonstrated they have no interest in that whatsoever.  And they are targeting civilians where they live.  And they are trying to get the most vulnerable and the weakest of any society, including the U.S.

KELLY:  Uh-hm.  So we are talking about and we're going to get into this in the next segment.  But there was this manifesto on how in particular women are supposed to live.  You know, ISIS.  And guess what you are allowed to be educated in religious studies until you're nine and then you need to stay home and just produce future Mujahideen.  So, this, until we live like that, we are going to be threatened by these people.  But the question is, how do we protect ourselves against them while they are so determined to murder us because we haven't annihilated them and they are here in the United States.

BALBONI:  So, the thing now is kind of a necessary evolution of our security system.  We need a refresh.  As you know you can't have a security apparatus that eliminates all risks.  It's more of a management of a risk. What we need to do is refresh a lot of the things that we are doing.  And this was the wakeup call in Paris.  We had the Mumbai attack but that was kind of removed.  So we knew about the active shooter.

KELLY:  Intelligence.  You are talking about intelligence.

BALBONI:  Intelligence and how we protect our infrastructure.  Our airports, our soft targets.

KELLY:  We're not going to have, you know, metal detectors outside of restaurants and even if we did, it wouldn't stop what we saw in Paris.

BALBONI:  You are actually right.  So it's many things.  It's intelligence.  But there are ways to make issue -- make theaters and restaurants and stadiums less attractive as a target.

KELLY:  How?

BALBONI:  So, you are in a theater.  Maybe you take the tickets and you tie them to an individual.  Maybe take the names that people who buy them, you put them against a data list.  Something like you do with the airport.

KELLY:  They're going to be afraid if they get arrested?  They will put on a suicide vest and die.

BALBONI:  Well, part of the problem is of course is that but you have to see something say something campaign and the local police here in New York City.  Very sophisticated.  Very well resourced police department.  You have got to work with the public.  What are seeing out there?  It's so crucial for people to pay attention to their surroundings?

KELLY:  How about that?  Because one of the things that Fran has said, our last guest is that the FBI was never really meant to be doing what they are doing now.  They were supposed to be fighting like the mob and the white collar crime.  Yes.  And now we have them sort of as a domestic CIA where they are supposed to be unearthing terror plots and Comey even though he yesterday tried to put us at ease has been on the record for months saying, we don't have the resources and we are not built for this right now.

BALBONI:  You mentioned in the last segment 900 cases where people are being surveilled.  That's an enormous amount of resources that you have to apply to it.  The FBI is not able to do that by themselves.  They have got to rely on local law enforcement.

KELLY:  But we are not.  Are we?  Are they partnering?

BALBONI:  In some cases they are.  Some cases they are not.  You know, you see this kind of a flair up of the Boston bombing.  There was a lot of disgruntled people back and forth between the Boston PD and the FBI.  But the Joint Terrorism Task Forces are groups that really trying to combine those different agencies and try to work together at the very least on intelligence sharing.  But again, you can do a better job of saying --

KELLY:  Here is my question to you.  How?  Who gives the order?  Is that from President Obama?  Who gets them?  Who changes the system now in the wake of Paris?

BALBONI:  That's a great question.  It's multiple levels.  Obviously it comes from the Departments of Homeland Security who are supposed to be the adults in the room in terms of what intelligence gets done and how to resource folks.  But at the end of the day --

KELLY:  Jeh Johnson?

BALBONI:  It's the governors, it's the mayors and the major cities to make sure that their departments have the right training, the right equipment and don't get stagnant in terms of their security protocols.

KELLY:  Uh-mm.

BALBONI:  But also with the airports.  You know, we still have vulnerabilities out there that we have got to address.  And this is a good time to do it.  Michael, good to see.

KELLY:  Good to see you too.

Well, we are following developing news at this hour as Belgium raises its terror alert to the highest level that we have seen.  Warning of an imminent threat.  That just happened as we came to air.

Up next, "The Kelly File" goes to the city in Belgium where the ringleader of the Paris attacks grew up, dubbed by some as the terror capital of Europe.  Fox News Benjamin Hall is next with what his investigation has turned up.

Plus, new information tonight on the woman thought to be Europe's first female suicide bomber as "The Kelly File" takes a closer look at what she really did in connection with this attack and at the threat of women in ISIS.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Where's your boyfriend?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  He's not my boyfriend.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  He's not my boyfriend.



KELLY:  Breaking tonight.  Belgium raises its terror alert level to the highest level possible in the capital of Brussels tonight warning of a, quote, "eminent threats."  The European city has been a focus for police in the last week after it was discovered that that's where the ringleader of the Paris terror attacks grew up.

Fox News Benjamin Hall has spent the week in the Brussels community of Molenbeek talking to people who knew the ringleader and his associates.  He just filed this report from Belgium.

BENJAMIN HALL, FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT:  Megyn, we have been on the trail of the terrorists who got away.  Salah Abdeslam here in Brussels.  In the protests, we've tracked down people who knew the attackers, who grew up with them and who knows what lies behind that vicious crimes.  We walked around the Muslim District of Molenbeek today parts of which have been described to us as no-go zones.  What we learned was that the killers had long been petty criminals and robbers and how for many the shift to Jihad had happened only in the last year.  One man we spoke to had grown up with Ibrahim Abdeslam and even rubbed with him.  And now believed that the shift to Jihad should have been obvious.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through a translator):  He would go on and on about Jihad with loads of guys around.  He would sit in his bars and smoke marijuana and watch videos of gun battles and go on about how he wanted to join.  For the last year he talked about nothing else.

HALL:  The bar he referred to is this one Del Beguines which was owned for 15 years by Ibrahim.  There they served alcohol, played loud music and stayed up late in stark contrast to the supposed Islamic principles.  Three weeks before the attack he suddenly sold it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through a translator):  There were some who believed this radical stuff and others who don't really.  He fully believed it told everyone about it saying it was sorted to him to go Syria that he was definitely going to paradise.

HALL:  This man says it was remarkable that the police were never alerted but not surprising.  He told us that the district has no police presence.  That they are able to operate easily here without worry and that the authorities have no control.  It seems as if the catalyst for all of this was the mastermind Abaaoud, before he came on the scene the others were considered meek.  Some even quite reserved.  But as he returned from Syria he emboldened the others and led them down the well-trodden path for petty criminal to Jihadi -- Megyn.

KELLY:  Benjamin Hall, thank you.  We are also learning more tonight about the female Jihadi involved in that seven hour standoff with police the other night.  During which thousands of bullets were exchanged and three suspected terrorists were killed.  Her name is Hasna and she is reportedly the cousin of the ringleader.  She was believed to be the suicide bomber Tuesday night.  That's what the French officials told us. But now they are saying she was not a suicide bomber but was indeed killed by the blast and was part of the group inside.  Listen to this dramatic exchange she had with police moments before she died.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Where's your boyfriend?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  He's not my boyfriend.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  He's not my boyfriend.


KELLY:  Joining me now to discuss the role of women in ISIS is Jessica Stern.  She is author of "ISIS: The State of Terror."  Jessica, thank you for being here.  And so today we learned from the French officials that she is believed to have been part of the ISIS terrorist group in there but didn't have the suicide vest on.  That was a man.  However, the use of women in ISIS is growing.  And how exactly are they using them?

JESSICA STERN, AUTHOR, "ISIS: THE STATE OF TERROR":  Well, most of the women go to ISIS and fulfill traditional roles.  They go wanting to be mothers of jihadist, wives to jihadist.  Some of them end up being passed from husband to husband.  Some of them are secular and we reinvent themselves and they are converted to this version of Islam.  Some are observant Muslims who also are converted.  Everybody who joins ISIS really is a convert --

KELLY:  And many of them are outcasts.  I mean, they are not necessarily mainstream, even in radical circles.

STERN:  well, what we're finding is that there is no one picture of who joins.  I mean, I think if there is one thing we could say about all of them, they ever young women who want to reinvent themselves.  But, some are outcast.  So this young woman that we thought had detonated this suicide vest, she was not particularly observant.  She put a picture of herself up on the internet, essentially naked with a necklace.  She apparently was a drinker.  We also know there are, on the other hand, very successful secular girls who have been recruited by into ISIS.

KELLY:  So it's a chance to sort of say goodbye to your former lifestyle and say hello to Allah.  But you tell me because when I look at the it recruiting materials here and the way they treat women, they promise them the wives, the fighters get promised wives which could mean it's basically a chance for sexual intercourse even if you don't marry the woman and the women are promised the joys of religious reading, math and natural science at age seven until they have to switch over to being taught only Islamic history by age 13.  And at the meantime -- in the meantime they sit there and point the finger at the western woman for the nerve to work beside men, go to college and for having the nerve to leave their, quote, "cell in the home."

STERN:  It is hard for us to understand why that might be appealing.  But I think it is appealing to some young women.  And the surprise, I think, is not the women who are utterly disgruntled living on the edges of society.  The surprise is when we see medical students joining or girls who are doing very well in school.  That's the bigger surprise.

KELLY:  What is the lure?  I mean, they treat them with such disdain.  I know that they have used, you know, mentally challenged individuals as suicide bombers and that's about how they think about women as well.

STERN:  Yes.  I think that we see that suicide bombers are often the people that the leaders see as expendable.  And that's why I imagine that ultimately we will see female suicide bombers.  We will see expendable people used as suicide bombers, mentally challenged, women, foreign fighters are often used in that way because they are seen as expendable.

KELLY:  Wow!

STERN:  I think for women -- for some of them, they believe not only that they are going to live in the only true Sharia based state, which is what ISIS advertises that it's offering, but they also see themselves as being on a humanitarian mission to help the Syrian people or just to participate in the creation of this utopia.

KELLY: They are going to be as part of the Sharia state. The question is what kind of life does that bring? Jessica, thank you.

STERN: Thank you.

KELLY: A big development tonight on the campaign trail. Why frontrunner Donald Trump is now seeking to clarify remarks he made in an interview he gave, as should say, regarding Syrian refugees and the possibility of a national registry for Muslims. Plus, the commander-in- chief, coming under new fire for rhetoric, attacking Republicans over the refugee crisis, instead of uniting the nation in the wake of a terror attack on one of our closest allies. Up next, Chris Stirewalt and Howie Kurtz on why some are suggesting President Obama is misreading what the nation needs right now.


KELLY: Breaking Tonight. President Obama, facing new fallout for his response to last week's Paris terror attacks from Democrats and Republicans. Mr. Obama, coming under fire for his message and his tone describing the attacks as a mere setback in the fight against ISIS, and seeming to many to be more concerned with attacking Republicans than uniting a grieving and concerned country. Watch.


OBAMA: What I do not do is to take actions, either because it is going to work politically or it is going to somehow, in the abstract, make America look tough. Or make me look tough. And maybe part of the reason is because every few months I go to Walter Reed and I see a 25-year-old kid who is paralyzed or has lost his limbs. I cannot think of a more -- more potent recruitment tool for ISIL than some of the rhetoric that's been coming out of here during the course of this debate.


KELLY: Among the critics, The Washington Post, Michael Gerson, who declared, "It is almost beyond belief: A commander-in-chief, in a time of national testing, deploying limbless soldiers as a rhetorical trump card against his political opponents. Obama expressed more obvious relish for his own partisan battles and for the nation's military goals." Joining me now Chris Stirewalt, our Fox News digital politics editor, and Howie Kurtz, host of Media Buzz on Fox News channel. Good to see you both. So, it wasn't just Gerson, who is a Republican, but Eugene Robinson, Eugene Robinson. The Washington Post liberal columnist came out and said, "His tone was all wrong. He was patronizing. Other times he seemed annoyed and almost dismissive." And what a turn that is, Chris, from what we have seen from other presidents in times of national crisis.

CHRIS STIREWALT, FOX NEWS DIGITAL POLITICS EDITOR: Well, look, I think in this case, the president has done this so many times, has done this so often with so many issues, he won a doggone election on it. I don't think he has another setting anymore when it comes to dealing with Republicans. Even at a time whereas you say, the traditional, the norm in sort of a patriotically gracious way that the president does is, as long as you can, you unite people and you bring them together, but this is what the president does. When the going gets tough and there is scrutiny on his policies, you smash your opponent right between the eyes, call him a bad guy, question his patriotism, and then step back and watch the press come in and cover the dog pile.

KELLY: It's like, Howie, he thought that if he just looked at all of us and said like, "Just fine, some setback. It's what you know, it is fine. The policy is working." And don't be such racists when it comes to the refugees. We were gonna be like, "Oh, I think maybe we are making too big a deal out of the 130 people dead in Paris." Are we making -- right? I mean, that was the tone.

HOWIE KURTZ, HOST OF "MEDIABUZZ": I can't remember a time when a president so totally missed the moment, misread the country's mood as Barack Obama has done. Now, I understand him not wanting to fuel a sense of panic, and he also, I don't have a problem with him invoking the cost of war or saying that sending ground troops in long-term strategy may not make sense. But at that news conference in Turkey, when the reporters were riled up and confrontational in a way we have rarely seen in this administration, it's because they weren't buying the answers which were essentially stay the course, morph of the same, everything is under control.

KELLY: You know Chris, we've heard some folks this week, basically compare him to Neville Chamberlain, Peace in our time. On our show, we've heard that. And then this came out of Gerson's piece today. "The United States has a president whose wartime leadership is apparently inspired not by Winston Churchill or Franklin Roosevelt, but Rachel Maddow." And basically, being detached from reality and in particular, just what the American people are feeling. They have real fears of terror and they have real fears of what might happen if we let in the Syrian refugees and it doesn't make them all racist.

STIREWALT: I bet you Rachel Maddow would have known better than to give that speech and.

KELLY: She is a Rhodes Scholar.

STIREWALT: She is a Rhodes Scholar and she probably loves America. I have never met her, but I bet she loves America. Look, this president loves America, but he has no way, he cannot figure out a way to tolerate it. The way that half of America is, in his mind set is always against him. They are always wrong. And they need to be corrected before the country can move forward. Look, this guy has serious problems with his foreign policy. It has been.

KELLY: Well, look at this. OK. So look at this on that score. I want to get this on the board. Look at his approval on terrorism that just came out ABC poll. He is now at 54 percent disapproval on how he is handling it. Only 40 percent approve. And this is -- and actually, when it comes to his overall rating on terrorism, it's the worst of his career and 57 percent say they disprove of how he is handling ISIS in particular, almost 60 percent of the country, Chris.

STIREWALT: And if you know that reporters will always want to cover everything through a racial lens if possible. If you know that you can dangle that in front of a press corps that wants to see things in racial terms and wants to talk about Republican bigotry, then you do it. You throw it out there, they jump on it. And maybe they won't talk about your dire approval rating and the problem with your strategy.

KELLY: That's what happened, Howie. Just this week, a CNN reporter was suspended after she sent out some tweets saying that, with the House passing that bill, to slow the flow of Syrian refugees that the Statue of Liberty hung her head in shame. I mean, that's -- the press corps is buying it, many of them hook, line and sinker.

KURTZ: I don't think the press corps is buying the president's approach to ISIS. But I do think there is obvious liberal bias, and that was a classic example with the CNN global affairs correspondent of siding with the president on Syrian refugees. And I think that he showed more passion in talking about the refugees and where he sees himself as sort of a calming voice against the rising tide of intolerance than he did about taking the fight to ISIS. And finally, the -- I understand that he needs to pushback against Republicans who are savaging (ph) on this. But for him to mock Republicans when he is trying to unite the country at this terrible time after Paris, I think just struck the wrong note.

KELLY: Because it's not just the Republican candidates who feel that way. The American people are very concerned about the flow of refugees and the polls show that too. Good to see you both.

KURTZ: You bet.

STIREWALT: Thanks, Megyn.

KELLY: Well, the Trump campaign is now looking to clarify the frontrunner's remarks. After a series of interviews that suggest the GOP frontrunner would be open to a national database of Muslims here in America. Rich Lowry and Alan Colmes on that, next. Oh look, they are getting along. That's sweet.


KELLY: Breaking tonight, 2016 GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, seeking to clarify controversial remarks regarding Syrian refugees. Yesterday, Trump appeared to suggest he may be open to a national registry of Muslims in the United States.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should we have a database system that tracks the Muslims in this country?

DONALD TRUMP, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There should be a lot of systems beyond database. We should have a lot of systems.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But it is something the White House.

TRUMP: Oh, I would certainly implement that. Absolutely.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you actually get them registered in the database?

TRUMP: It would be just good management. What you have to do is good management procedures.


KELLY: Then just hours ago, Mr. Trump attempted to clarify right here on Fox.


TRUMP: Basically, the suggestion was made and it certainly, something we should start thinking about. But what I want is a watch list. I want surveillance programs. Obviously, there are a lot of problems. I want a database for the Syrian refugees that Obama is going to let in.


KELLY: Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review and a Fox News contributor. Alan Colmes is host of the Alan Colmes show. So it is clearly a dial back because now he is saying just a registry for the Syrian refugees, but before he was saying, for Muslim, which has been very controversial. And even Marco Rubio who was on the program the other night with us, didn't really pushback on the suggestion Trump made earlier on having mosques closed down that had radicals in them -- your thoughts.

RICH LOWRY, NATIONAL REVIEW EDITOR: Well, I don't think he quite said the database thing. He should have been much clearer as soon as.

KELLY: It was a reporter who put that in his mouth.

LOWRY: Right.

KELLY: Yahoo reporter.

LOWRY: But if you read that exchange closely, it seems as though Trump is talking about the wall and the reporter is talking about the database. Now, as soon as he heard database, he just should have said no, it's never going to happen. It's going to be unconstitutional. We can't do that. But you look on at a host of these issues on surveillance, and especially on the Syrian refugees, Donald Trump is much closer to the center of gravity of the American public opinion than the president of the United States.

ALAN COLMES, THE ALAN COLMES SHOW HOST: You have got to be kidding me. He talked about ID's. We're talking about -- this hearken the back to Nazi Germany. This is what they did to the Jews. The Jews in this country is absurd and not enough Republicans stood up and said -- by the way, Jeb Bush said it was deplorable. He gets credit for saying that. The others, Ben Carson said, "We should be ID'ing everybody. I mean, that's not the country we live in.

LOWRY: No, I think everyone has said.

COLMES: There's a lot of.


LOWRY: I think everyone has addressed the database, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Bush. We are not going to have a database.

KELLY: We're not gonna have it.

LOWRY: It's clearly.

KELLY: But there is a constitution will not allow that.

COLMES: No, we are not going to have it. But the fact that he said it and there's not enough pushback on it, this is outrageous.

KELLY: What do you think the Democrats are doing with this? Because there has been a lot of talk about databases and Muslim registration and closing mosques.

COLMES: I'm not happy with the 47 Democrats who voted against the SAFE Act, the fact that they might as well become Republicans. This is not the kind of country we should keep people out. These refugees and the people there, they are trying to get away from the people we are fighting.

LOWRY: Alan, we keep.

COLMES: Democrats either?

LOWRY: We keep refugees out all the time. Don't quote me on the exact numbers, but there's something like 2.5 million Afghan refugees. And in the last fiscal year, we let in 750 of them.

COLMES: Yeah, we have.


LOWRY: So are we a horrible country because we didn't let them all. Let 70,000 refugees in a year. That's a perfectly fine number.

COLMES: Right.

LOWRY: And you are not (inaudible). If you just want to stick with that number.

COLMES: I'm not saying we should let everybody in any, but I'm saying10,000 from Syria makes a lot of sense.

LOWRY: What's the.

KELLY: Let me.

LOWRY: What's so magical about the number 10,000?

KELLY: Let me just get back to the Muslim question here because we had on the show the other night, a very ugly exchange at a mosque. They were gonna -- the plans for a mosque out in Virginia. And people were standing up with this community and saying, "All Muslims are terrorists. You are all terrorists." And there is a question now in some circles about whether these Republican candidates, and Democrats for that matter, have an obligation to improve the rhetoric on this, so that the messaging is better.

LOWRY: Well, anyone who would do that, go and shout at Muslims in that way is a cretin and it is completely wrong, but that's entirely different thing than saying we should not.

COLMES: Really encourage more people to hate America by doing that.


KELLY: Sorry. We'll be right back. Dinesh D'Souza. Don't go away.


ANNOUNCER: From the world headquarters of Fox News, it's "The Kelly File" with Megyn Kelly.

KELLY: Well, he was convicted of campaign finance violation and sentenced to eight months in confinement, where he spends his night sweeping at a facility with men convicted of murder, rape and other crimes. And now Dinesh D'Souza is talking about the lessons he learned during that time. It's the focus of his new book, "Stealing America," and it may not have been the lesson, the Obama administration was hoping for.


DINESH D'SOUZA, AUTHOR AND FILMMAKER: The criminals don't say they're innocent. It's not like in the (inaudible). What they say is we did it. We're guilty, but we're sort of the small fry. In fact, we're the stupid criminals because we got caught. They say the big criminals are out there. They're at large. The system actually never goes after them because they run the system.

KELLY: They think the system is corrupt. And we're seeing some of that belief and some of that anger in the 2016 election, as people just say they've had it. They've had it with the way government runs and they've had it with career politicians.

D'SOUZA: Yes. So then I do think that politics in general does show these corrupt tendencies, but I also think what we've seen in modern progressivism, the way that the Democratic Party has evolved. I'm not so much talking about Truman or Kennedy or even Jimmy Carter, I'm talking about the new Democratic Party under Obama and Hillary. What you have seen here is politics being used in a very powerful way to make people rich, to accumulate enormous amounts of power in the way Hillary was scorned when she said, "I came poor. I was dead broke."

KELLY: I know you argue in the book, that foreign policy, in your view, is a distraction for the president. And this is something that has critics hit him on this week, when they said we made those remarks about the attacks in Paris, and first of all, he didn't even get to them until a few minutes into his address. And the most emotion, the most passion he showed in all of those remarks was when he was defending the Syrian refugees as opposed to talking about the dead, the innocent who had been killed on the streets of Paris. Why, why do you think that is?

D'SOUZA: Well, contrast Obama with Hollande. Hollande is like Obama, they both on the left. They both tend to minimize foreign policy threats, but the moment it happened when there is blood on the streets in Paris, Hollande becomes like Winston Churchill and he begins to talk the language of barbarism, "I'm going to get rid of these people. I'm gonna wipe them off on the face of the earth. I'll be merciless." Obama, on the other hand, it sounds like he is reading from his tax return. He seems serene. He seems detached. He seems almost annoyed that we're even talking about it. And I think it's because his progressives are about the business of stealing America, they're appropriating the wealth and power of America. And so this other stuff is like a distraction for them. It's like a bunch of guys are robbing a bank.

KELLY: But even if worst critics don't say that Dinesh. Even his worst critics say, he may have that affect, but it is because he doesn't want to get more involved in the Middle East. And this, he knows what this is going to do. It's going to increase the calls by the Republicans and others to get more involved in the Middle East.

D'SOUZA: I think that's right. And in fact, I, myself have given an ideological understanding of Obama. He's rebalancing the wealth and power of the world. He wants to diminish the imprint of American foreign policy. So I don't deny that ideological dimension. But I also think it's true, that here you are Obama, you're trying to in his own words, remake America. And now suddenly ISIS, suddenly I got appropriate more resources for defense. Suddenly, I've got to turn my attention to something that doesn't fundamentally interest me. That's my point, it isn't just Obama is incompetent, it's that his attention is focus on something else.

KELLY: So Dinesh went in to confinement and made all of the detainees, probably what you call, Republicans. And they made you a cynic, Dinesh. They made you a cynic.

D'SOUZA: Well.

KELLY: Stealing America is the name of the book. Good luck with it.

D'SOUZA: Thank you.

KELLY: Thank you.


KELLY: We'll be right back.


KELLY: Over the past week, we have witnessed the worst of humanity as well as the best. The first responders and civilians who helped the bleeding and scared, the American and French people are resilient and brave. In the face of mass murder and more threats jut days ago, the French responded with this moment, very moving. Thank you for trusting Fox News for your coverage.

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