By Nick Gass
June 13, 2016
Donald Trump stepped up his criticism of President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday, castigating them as "weak" leaders with a poor understanding of the threat posed to the United States by Islamic radicalism.
His comments came as a second entity tied to the Islamic State on Monday claimed responsibility for the deadliest mass shooting in United States history, a day after 49 people were killed and 53 wounded in an attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
The Orlando massacre came in the middle of the heated presidential election season, with both Clinton and Trump issuing their own statements condemning the shooting in their own way. While Clinton denounced the attack and called the shooting another reminder that "weapons of war have no place on our streets," Trump reiterated his call to ban Muslims from entering the United States and declared that President Barack Obama should resign because he did not refer to the incident as "radical Islamic terrorism."
On Monday, Trump went further.
"He doesn't get it or he gets it better than anybody understands. It's one or the other," Trump said of Obama on "Fox & Friends," speaking on the phone. "And either one is unacceptable, No. 1, and No. 2, calling on another gun ban, I mean, this man has no clue. First of all, the shooter was licensed. So he went through all the procedures, he was fully licensed to have a gun. So he would have passed the test that the president would have thrown up there. It's so ridiculous. You know, this is a, this is a mentality, this is a state. And you have thousands of shooters like this with the same mentality out there in this country, and we're bringing thousands and thousands of them back into this country, and into the country every year."
Trump defended a much-criticized tweet he sent on Sunday, saying, "Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism."
"No, no, no, I'm getting thousands of letters and tweets that I was right about the whole situation," he said. "I mean, I've been right about a lot of things, frankly."
And Trump again implied that the president was not a trustworthy leader when it comes to fighting terrorism.
"We're led by a man who is a very -- look, we're led by a man that either is, is not tough, not smart, or he's got something else in mind," Trump said. "And the something else in mind, you know, people can't believe it. People cannot -- they cannot believe that President Obama is acting the ways he acts and can't even mention the words radical islamic terrorism. There's something going on. It's inconceivable."
During his effort in 2011 to force Obama to present his birth certificate to prove his citizenship, Trump implied to Fox News that the reason for the president not showing it "because maybe it says he is a Muslim."
"I don't know. Maybe he doesn't want that," Trump said in 2011.
As he did after last December's attack in San Bernardino, California, Trump said Monday that Muslim refugees could be the "all-time Trojan horse."
"I'm starting to think it could happen," Trump said, "because our politicians are so inept and so incapable and our leadership, especially at the top, is just -- they don't know what they're doing. And we're allowing people to come into our country that are no different than this maniac which, I don't know how many people are going to end up dying from this, but no different than this maniac just that just did this to us yesterday."
As for Clinton, she is a "weak person," Trump said. "She's a weak person. She's weak on so many different levels. I just see where the Secret Service agent said she should never be president. He called her almost like a maniac," Trump said, in reference to a forthcoming book by a former agent. " She is not the right person, especially in these times. These are times when you need solidity, you need smart, you have to have smart. But you need, you need something so much different than her. She's just following his exact line, she won't utter the words either, radical Islam. She won't utter the words. He won't, unless you know the words or what's going on, you're never going to solve the problem."
Calling into NBC's "Today," Clinton brushed aside Trump's rhetoric as "obsessed with namecalling" with respect to her decision to call the attacks radical jihadism rather than "radical Islamic terrorism."
"And from my perspective, it matters what we do, not what we say. It matters that we got Bin Laden, not what name we called him," Clinton said. "But if he is somehow suggesting I don't call this for what it is, he hasn't been listening. I have clearly said we face terrorist enemies who use Islam to justify slaughtering people. We have to stop them and we will. We have to defeat radical jihadist terrorism, and we will."
Both terms "mean the same thing," Clinton continued, adding, "And to me, radical jihadism, radical Islamism, I think they mean the same thing. I'm happy to say either, but that's not the point."
"All this talk and demagoguery and rhetoric is not going to solve the problem. I'm not going to demonize and demagogue and declare war on a religion. That's just plain dangerous and it plays into ISIS' hands," Clinton remarked.
Trump also accused Muslim communities of harboring "bad apples" like the Orlando shooter. "They don't report these people. The people know who the bad apples are, where the bad seeds are. And they don't report them," he said. "You'll find out shortly, you'll find out that many people knew that he was bad. Many people knew he had some kind of an idea for an attack. It happens all the time. Almost all the time. We need much better intelligence."
Gen. Michael Hayden, the former CIA and NSA director, remarked on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that Trump's statement Sunday following the attack was “prejudiced, simplistic, and frankly, inaccurate."
President Obama has sought to channel Americans' anger and grief over the attack while being cautious about assigning a motive. Addressing the massacre on Sunday, he said that the U.S. government had "reached no definitive judgment on the precise motivations of the killer,” but described the mass shooting as "an act of terror and an act of hate."
“The FBI is appropriately investigating this as an act of terrorism, and I’ve directed that we must spare no effort to determine what, if any, inspiration or association this killer may have had with terrorist groups," he said.
One terrorist group, however — the Islamic State — has already claimed the Orlando killer as its own.
“One of the caliphate’s soldiers in America carried out a security invasion where he was able to enter a crusader gathering at a nightclub for homosexuals in Orlando, Florida ... where he killed and injured more than a hundred of them before he was killed,” the group said in a broadcast on Iraqi radio, according to Reuters.
The claim of responsibility follows Sunday's announcement by ISIL's Amaq News Agency, which said the attack was "carried out by an Islamic State fighter."
The perpetrator of the attack on the Pulse nightclub, Omar Mateen, was born in New York to Afghan parents. Mateen called 911 in the middle of the attack to pledge his allegiance to the terrorist organization. It is unclear whether the attack has any direct ties to the organization other than Mateen making the public declaration. Dozens of bodies were removed from the building overnight, the AP reported, hours after Mateen interrupted the gay nightclub's revelry.
Other signs, meanwhile, pointed to Mateen being a deeply disturbed individual with a violent history.
His ex-wife, Sitora Yusufiy, told reporters on Sunday that Mateen was "mentally unstable and mentally ill," according to The Associated Press. “He was not a stable person,” Yusufiy, who now lives in Colorado, told The Washington Post. “He beat me. He would just come home and start beating me up because the laundry wasn’t finished or something like that.”
"My personal opinion is that this has nothing to do with ISIS," said Syed Shafeeq Rahman, a Muslim preacher affiliated with the local Islamic Center of Fort Pierce, Florida. Rahman noted that Mateen had attended prayer services several times a week, most recently with his youngest son, according to the AP's report.
Mateen, who lived in Fort Pierce, worked as a security guard for G4S since 2007, the company said.
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