In this Fox News Sunday Show With Chris Wallace: Rep. McCaul, Sen. Manchin talk possible foreign ties in Boston bombing; Amb. Oren on latest in Syria
WALLACE: And hello again from Fox News in Washington.
As the investigation into the Boston bombings unfolds, there are new questions about the Tsarnaev brothers. Did they plan more terror attacks? And did U.S. officials miss warning signs before the bombings?
Joining us to discuss the latest on the case, Congressman Mike McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and Joe Manchin, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
And, gentlemen, welcome to “Fox News Sunday.”
SEN. JOE MANCHIN, D–W.V.: Thank you for having me, Chris.
REP. MIKE MCCAUL, R–TEXAS: Thank you.
WALLACE: Before we get to Boston, let’s start with the breaking news. On Saturday, the FBI arrested this man, Everett Dutschke of Mississippi, in connection with the mailing of letters containing the poison ricin, mailing those letters to President Obama, a U.S. senator, and a local judge.
Congressman McCaul, as chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, one, what can you tell us about the investigation, and are you concerned this is the second man they’ve charged, this is the second man they have charged with this crime in less than two weeks?
MCCAUL: Let me say, first, it’s very important to say. This is totally unrelated to the Boston bombing case. It appears these two are blood rivals, that the initial person in custody was set up by this individual, which is why the FBI and the U.S. attorney dismissed the first case and now they’ve found the right guy and have brought him to justice.
I think he should be dealt with harshly, sending ricin to members of Congress and to the president, a very serious offense.
WALLACE: Let’s turn to the continuing investigation in Boston. The FBI now says the toy remote-controllers were used, and I think we have a picture of the components of the bomb, toy remote controllers were used to detonate the bombs, more sophisticated than what’s in that online Al Qaeda-linked magazine.
Congressman McCaul, you have said all along that you believe that there’s a foreign connection to these attacks. What do you have any more information about who and where, and what do you know about the mother’s role?
MCCAUL: I think given the level of sophistication of this device, the fact that the pressure cooker is a signature device, goes back to Pakistan or Afghanistan, leads me to believe — and the way they handled these devices and the trade craft leads me to believe that there was a trainer. And the question is, where is that trainer or trainers? Are they overseas in the Chechen region or are they in the United States?
In my conversations with the FBI, that’s the big question. They’ve cast a wide net, both overseas and in the United States to find out where this person is, but I think the experts all agree that there is someone who did train these two individuals I think is very —
WALLACE: So, there’s somebody that was involved in this plot who is not either dead or captured?
MCCAUL: I think that’s the concern, is there could be a wider conspiracy? You know, Chris, what I find astounding is that, you know, right out-of-the-box, U.S. officials unanimously are saying there’s no foreign connection to this case when in fact the FBI just began its investigation into the case. They just got the computer. They just sent a U.S. team over to Chechen region, and to Dagestan, to interview witnesses.
And yet, the narrative being played by some in the administration is that, no, there’s no foreign connection. It’s just these two guys —
WALLACE: Why would you they push that narrative?
MCCAUL: I have no idea. I don’t know why that is the case, but that early on, there was a rush to judgment. As a federal prosecutor, former, I reserve judgment until the all the evidence comes in. And, again, in fairness to the FBI, it’s doing a good job investigating this. They’re looking into that question.
And I think we owe it right to the American people, and to the victims, to wait and see until the evidence comes in.
WALLACE: Senator Manchin, I promise I’m going to bring you in in a moment, but just I want to ask one more question. We had a picture earlier of the mother who apparently, according to Russian authorities, had become radicalized, was tied to radical Islam. What role do you understand she played in all of this?
MCCAUL: I think she played a very strong role in his radicalization process. I believe she is a person of interest, if not a subject. I do believe if she comes into the United States, she will be detained for questioning. So, I think there’s a connection there.
WALLACE: Senator Manchin, I want to pick up on this point, because federal investigators, right from the start, have kept saying this was a closed terrorist cell, it was just these two guys, they got radicalized themselves. No foreign connection. Why do think they are pushing that narrative and are you satisfied that that’s truth?
MANCHIN: Well, the public safety waiver that they could have used to keep this person contained a little bit more before reading the Miranda rights, I think they pulled the trigger too soon. That’s just my observation of it. And I think there’s more to be had there.
I agree with Mike as he evaluates the mother’s — we know the mother’s role, but they play with all sons especially, and I think she was very influential for him. I think there’s so much more to be had. Can we get it now as we could have obtained it before, that will be something we’ll see at the end.
But I would have liked to that process of him of being interrogated to go further than reading Miranda rights as quick as they did. And I would have thought that DOJ could have intervened and stopped that from happening.
WALLACE: So, a couple of points there. One, you’re not satisfied by this argument that there’s no foreign connection here?
MANCHIN: No, I’m not. I mean, and I think anybody looks at. As Mike has said, this pretty sophistication — the sophisticated bomb they made and how they detonated it and things of this sort and I know, I saw the Web site also. I think they were a little bit more advanced than what the Web site would have allowed a person to be.
And also his six months overseas, coming back, and in the Russians intervening, and Russians warning us. Did they tell us all they knew? Why did they withhold information?
There needs to be a tremendous follow-up on this thing, and better coordination.
WALLACE: Let’s talk about the interrogation, because the thing that apparently triggered the judge, the magistrate coming in to the hospital on Monday and reading the Miranda rights and therefore cutting off 16 hours of investigation or interrogation, and then Dzhokhar stopped talking, was the fact that the Justice Department had filed charges. So, the judge had to act. That was the law.
Did the Justice Department make a mistake in filing criminal charges which then triggered all these events?
MANCHIN: I don’t know what the rush to file the charges were. I have not been advised on that, or been informed on that. But I would have liked to have seen that process, of him being interrogated, go much further before the justices dropped the gauntlet, if you will, because that does automatically invokes some rights for the gentlemen and I understand that.
As an American citizen, you want those rights to protect you, but, on the other hand, this man is — it’s a terrorist act. It’s been identified as a terrorist act, and he’s a terrorist. So with that, we should extract all the information we can before we give him rights that American citizens are entitled to.
WALLACE: I want to pick with this picture, Congressman McCaul. This is the younger brother Dzhokhar. He apparently made two trips to Times Square. It came out this week that he told interrogators before he was lawyered up, that they had made a spontaneous decision to go to Times Square.
Was that just talk aspirational or do you have any evidence that that was a serious idea attacking Times Square?
MCCAUL: I think it was a very serious idea. I think — look, when they executed the search warrant, they found up to 10 explosive devices. That indicates to me — and they stayed in the Boston area, but they indicated a second wave of attacks. The individual whose car was hijacked basically told the FBI that they were talking about Manhattan. They’re talking in Russian, but they mentioned Manhattan, which is where the lead came to possibly him going to Times Square.
I feel very certain that they were on their way to Times Square to detonate 10 more explosive devices in New York.
WALLACE: One more question on this before we move on, Congressman McCaul. Two weeks almost, 13 days after the bombing, what is your single, biggest concern about lapses by federal agencies in tracking the brothers before the attack?
MCCAUL: We said I’m going to — I’m going to hold hearings to find out what happened, what may have gone wrong, and what can we do to fix things to make sure this never happens again? That’s the obligation I have to the American people, but also to the victims and their families.
Look, I give great, you know, I commend the FBI, and Joint Terrorism Task Force, and Boston Police, but the fact is, you know, when they got that Russian intelligence lead, they opened up an investigation, and months later closed that investigation. CIA gets this information, the CIA’s got it, FBI’s got it, then DHS has it. The FBI puts up a flag so does DHS, the FBI flag does not go up when he travels to Russia, so they don’t know that he went to Russia.
MCCAUL: The Department of Homeland Security’s flag does go up.
So, what happened in the Joint Terrorism Task Force, which is where it’s supposed to all come together? Did the CBP agent talked to the FBI agent?
I want to know the answer to that question because if the FBI didn’t know about the travel, that just may have reopened that lead, because when he comes back from Russia, he’s clearly radicalized when you look at his YouTube Web site, all the witnesses we’re seeing coming out. And ten nine months later, conducts the greatest terrorist attack since 9/11.
WALLACE: I want to talk about Syria. We’re going to talk about this in the next segment at length with the Israeli Ambassador Oren, but I want to ask you guys about it as well. After stating the use of chemical weapons was a red line this week, President Obama seemed to back off that. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: This is not an on or off switch. This is an ongoing challenge that all of us have to be concerned about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Senator Manchin, as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, are you, first of all, persuaded that the Assad regime did use chemical weapons? And what do you make of the fact that the president seemed to set this marker, Assad stepped over it, and now, he’s backing away?
MANCHIN: From what I’ve been told, what I’ve seen in the briefings I’ve had, it shows that they have used it and do have the capabilities. There’s some question after, as we know, Iraq, and how that had gone. So, there are some questions in senators’ minds, I believe.
When you watch the whole thing unfold in Syria right now, we look at Syria from the standpoint, do we send troops in? There’s people advocating that. Do we have give all the support to our allies there, who are the neighbors of Syria, that have the most to lose? The refugee problem that’s a tremendous concern to all of us.
With all that being said, I do not — I would not support boots on the ground. I do support, total support, any way else as far as humanitarian aid to Jordan, to make sure that they’re able, our allies, are able to handle the refugees —
WALLACE: You intervene militarily, if not boots on the ground, no–fly zone, arming the rebels?
MANCHIN: I think what we need to do is coordinate that with NATO and also be able to coordinate that with our neighbors and allies we have over there to their best interest. I really believe that.
WALLACE: All right. Finally, Senator Manchin, you and Republican — fellow Republican Senator Pat Toomey, were the coauthors of this expanded background check that was voted down a few days ago in the Senate. You’re talking now — you’re talking about revising the bill, bringing it back to the Senate floor.
It came out today that your cosponsor, Pat Toomey says, no, I’m done with it. Do you really think that the expansion of background checks can be revised and can be passed by the U.S. Senate?
MANCHIN: I certainly do. The only thing that we’ve asked for is that people would just read the bill. It’s a criminal and mental background check strictly at gun shows and online sales.
The way the law is today, if you go to a gun store, you have a background check done. If you go to a gun show and you go to a licensed dealer, they still do a background check. But you can go to the next table over and have no check at all.
You can online. If you buy a gun out of state online —
WALLACE: But, Senator, respectfully, we knew all that beforehand and your colleagues didn’t vote for it?
MANCHIN: Well, I think — Chris, I think there were some confusion. The first bill that came out basically was dropped, the Chuck Schumer bill, which was all inclusive. Chuck, we talked to Chuck and he backed off that, and we worked on what we thought was a much better bill, especially coming from a gun culture that I come from in West Virginia.
I’ve gone down and worked the bill into the coal fields, into the gun–friendly West Virginians that I hunt with, and sport shoot with. And all of them to a “T,” when they saw the bill, this basically not only protects your Second Amendment rights, it expands your Second Amendment rights.
WALLACE: But, and we’re running out of time, Pat Toomey, cosponsor of Manchin/Toomey, says he’s done with it?
MANCHIN: I don’t think he’s done. I really don’t know. I was with Pat last night and Pat’s totally committed to this bill and I believe that with all of my heart and we’re going to work this bill — when people read the bill, just take time to read the bill. I’ve said this, if you’re a law–abiding gun owner, you’ll love this bill. If you’re a criminal, if you’ve been mentally adjudicated through a court, you probably won’t like it.
But all we’re doing, we don’t infringe on anybody’s rights, individual rights, transfers of families —
WALLACE: I want to make it clear: you’re going to bring this bill back —
WALLACE: — to the Senate floor. And you think it’s going to be different?
MANCHIN: I truly believe if we have time to sell the bill, and people will read the bill, and I’m willing to go anywhere in this country, I’m going to debate anybody on this issue, read the bill and you tell me what you don’t like. We stop registration completely from the standpoint of the felony, with 15 years of imprisonment.
WALLACE: And is part of the idea here that you are going to have it stripped away and separate it from —
MANCHIN: The bill needs to be clean, I believe. That’s my belief, that if the bill runs clean and people can vote on this bill up or down based on the merits of this bill, how it protects a gun, a Second Amendment gun person, a law-abiding gun owner, it’s perfect for that person.
If you’re going to a gun show, you’re going to expect to have a background check. If you’re buying online, whether it’s an out-of-state gun or in-state, a background check. No intervening at all with family transfers or any individual rights whatsoever.
WALLACE: Well, we’ll be covering it. Senator Manchin and Congressman McCaul, thank you both for coming in today, talking with us. And we’ll stay on top of all these issues. Thank you.
MANCHIN: Thank you.
MCCAUL: Thank you.
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