Trump administration facing rise in terror attacks

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," December 22, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


PRESIDENT-ELECT DONALD TRUMP: It's an attack on humanity. That's what it is. It's an attack on humanity. And it's got to be stopped.


SHANNON BREAM, GUEST ANCHOR: All right, that was president-elect Donald Trump today talking about the attack in Berlin. Let's bring in our panel to talk about that and more: Steve Hayes, senior writer for The Weekly Standard; Julie Pace, White House correspondent for the Associated Press, political reporter Jonathan Swan, and Charles Hurt, political columnist for The Washington Times. Good to see you all.

Steve, I'll start with you. He has not minced words in any of his statements regarding this issue throughout the campaign and now in the wake of these attacks, what does it mean going forward? What do you think it will mean as far as translating into policy, you know, we're going to wipe these people off the map? How does that work?

STEVE HAYES, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: That's a really big question. I think it's one of the real open questions of the Trump administration. He has made no secret of the fact that he rejects President Obama's willingness or eagerness to wait a few days, even after we have information in some cases, to declare a terrorist attack, a terrorist attack, to call radical Islamic terrorists radical Islamic terrorists. But what's unclear in talking to a lot of the people who are going to be advising Donald Trump about this is exactly how things are going to change on a day-to-day basis. I don't think anybody should doubt president Trump's resolve to solve the problem, to address the problem. We just don't know much about the specifics at this point.

BREAM: And today at Mar-a-Lago he had some very important meetings on a number of issues, but there was a picture that they issued with a number of military leaders, top officials there who had met with him. We understand that he is getting plenty of briefings, although there's been a lot of controversy over that, Julie. But these real world events speed up the need for some focus.

JULIE PACE, ASSOCIATED PRESS: They absolutely do. In about four weeks these are going to be issues that he's not just expected to talk about but he is expected to make policy decisions around.

And he talked in the campaign about the rhetoric that he believes that the American president should use. Certainly that is an easy piece for him to address. But that doesn't actually solve the problem. And I think that he is going to have to really start to get more detailed. World leaders are going to be calling him when events happen in their country, wondering what the American response is going to be. And we assume he is discussing that in his private meetings but none of those details are yet being revealed.

BREAM: Maybe we will find out on Twitter. Maybe that's how the world will find out.


BREAM: It gives him an immediacy. It breaks through layers and filters that he has not been a fan of and people have definitely attached to that, and it's worked in appealing to a lot of folks.

Jonathan, Julie mentioned world leaders. Right now, of course, German Chancellor Angela Merkel really in a tough place. Trump has been critical of her. How do you perceive their relationship proceeding?

JONATHAN SWAN, JOURNALIST: This is one of the most interesting storylines that people should watch. Trump himself doesn't believe in the European Union as a project, Steve Bannon doesn't believe in the European Union as a project. Angela Merkel is a stunningly weak leader at the moment. She opened the borders, refugees and migrants. And she's also working with the European Union in Brussels that's issuing, literally dictating quotas of migrants for countries. And you're seeing Hungary, you're seeing Slovakia push back on this.

We are watching as the Trumpism arrives in Washington, you are watching the crumbling of the European project. And these two things happening over the Trump administration is going to be one of the most fascinating stories.

BREAM: How do you see this playing out, Charlie? As we watch a number of the European countries now have serious concerns and backlash within their own internal elections.

CHARLES HURT, THE WASHINGTON TIMES: I think Jonathan is exactly right. But one of the things we do know about a lot of these attacks is they would have been prevented had policies been in place such as what Donald Trump has talked about, about this vetting from places where we know people -- there are really terrible people who want to kill civilized people, who want to kill people who are Christians, who want to kill people who believe in freedom.

And I think that that -- and this is a big reason why he won the election, that -- you get in a lot of trouble making that claim. He got into a lot of trouble making that claim and making that -- suggesting that policy. And of course, all of us would like to pretend like we don't need such measures in place. We would like to not have borders. We would like to have neighbors that are nice and not -- but that's not the fact. The fact is there are these people who are trying to kill civilized people. And putting measures in place to make sure that those people that we -- that come here for humanitarian purposes or whatever are completely, thoroughly, vetted is a very important first step.

HAYES: Did you just say, we would like to not have borders? Should I start calling you "open borders Charlie"?

BREAM: If we had nice, good neighbors. There's a big caveat there. If we had nice, good neighbors.

HAYES: That's what he said.

BREAM: That's what this is, fair and balanced.

HAYES: Let me build on Charlie's point. There was an interesting report today on a website called Breaking Defense by James Kitfield who is a well- known national security reporter, really one of the best ones. And he was -- it was a profile of Mike Flynn, the new national security adviser. And in this report that Kitfield had, he talked about the national intelligence council and the NIE, the National Intelligence Estimate that they were preparing in 2012 in which the U.S. intelligence community was prepared to declare by consensus that Al Qaeda was no longer a threat to the United States.

BREAM: In 2012?

HAYES: Think about where we are today and how wrong that calculation was. They couldn't come to a consensus in part because Mike Flynn, who is going to be the national security adviser, objected and said Al Qaeda has actually doubled its strength. He made strong arguments that kept that from happening.

But the fact that you have so many people supporting I think the ideological outcome of what President Obama wanted, which was in effect to say, the war on terror is over because we say the war on terror is over, it's a reminder of just how wrong the Obama policy is and I would say to a certain extent, the intelligence assessments that supported that policy.

BREAM: People, of course, will point to his jayvee statement about ISIS to back up that particular theory.

I want to talk a little bit about this suspect, because apparently he traveled into Italy in 2012, made it to Germany in July of 2015. He did eventually apply for asylum. Apparently it was not granted. He was going to be deported at one point. He was arrested. He was being held. But because of all the phony I.D.'s and the inability to identify exactly who he was, Julie, they let him go.

PACE: One of the most I think troubling details that we have seen from German officials is that he had so many different identifications, so many different points of origin that he was claiming when he was dealing with officials there. And that is part of the complexity of this issue. Europe faces an even bigger challenge in the fact that you have so many countries who do essentially have open borders. You can travel so freely between countries. That's a different situation than we have here, but it gets to a similar issue, which is that you are not just talking about simple solutions. You can't just put up a wall at the border. You can't just say you are going to deport people who are living here illegally because you have people who in some cases do have multiple identities, in some cases have managed to skirt the system. And that's where we need more information from Trump as he is going to be moving forward on these policies.

BREAM: Asked today about his immigration policies or plans, he said something about -- what's happening is disgraceful. He said, "You know my plans all along. I have been proven to be right, 100 percent correct." Jonathan?

SWAN: Trump loves to say that. He said it about Anthony Weiner. He was very eager to dictate a statement when the whole thing went down with Huma and Anthony Weiner because he's like being predictive.

But just to pick up on one of Julie's points, it's exactly right, I was talking to a source, a senior source in the Republican foreign policy committee on the Hill. And they were pointing out that Europeans have terrible surveillance because there's this culture of privacy there. So this is another complexity. And it's a long running complexity in the relations there. So what's Trump going to do about that? And how is that going to play out? It's very hard to see how this is all going to wash out.

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