Donald Trump suggested Monday that President Obama is oblivious to issues of terrorism—and he seemed to suggest in the process that Obama might sympathize with the suspected gunman in the deadly Orlando nightclub shooting.
The unsubstantiated insinuations, in a series of interviews Monday morning, came from the Republican presidential candidate who once led calls for the release of the President’s birth certificate and has more than once indulged conspiracy theories about Obama’s faith and heritage. On Monday, just one day after a gunman killed 49 people and wounded 53 others in Orlando—the worst mass shooting in American history—Trump said on Fox News that he believes there’s “something else going on.”
“Look, we’re led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he’s got something else in mind,” Trump said. “People cannot, they cannot believe that President Obama is acting the way he acts and can’t even mention the words ‘radical Islamic terrorism.’ There’s something going on. It’s inconceivable. There’s something going on.”
Trump was referring to Obama’s refusal to utter the words “radical Islamic terrorism,” a term Obama has argued in the past elevates groups like ISIS as religious groups instead of terrorist groups, while playing into the hands of people who want to paint the U.S. as at war with Islam as a whole. In a tweet sent out Sunday, Donald Trump said the president should “immediately resign in disgrace” if he does not say the words.
In statements delivered in the White House Press Briefing Room on Sunday, President Obama did not say the words “radical Islamic terrorism.” The President did, however, call the shooting in Orlando an “act of terror” and an “act of hate.”
“He doesn’t get it or he gets it better than anybody understands — it’s one or the other and either one is unacceptable,” Trump said Monday.
Trump made additional appearances on the Today show and Good Morning America on Monday. Trump told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie “there are many people that think maybe he doesn’t want to get it,” though he said he thinks Obama “just doesn’t know what he’s doing.”
“He’s not addressing the issue. He’s not calling it what it is. This is radical Islamic terrorism,” Trump said.
He also rediscussed a plan he put forward in December to ban Muslims from entering the United States. The shooter in the Orlando nightclub, Omar Mateen, was Muslim but he was an American-born U.S. citizen.
“We have many people coming in whose hate is equal to his and just as bad and even worse, frankly, and we have to stop people from coming in,”Trump said on Good Morning America.
Trump has been under fire for his response to the brutal terror attack. On Sunday, he sent out a self-congratulatory tweet thanking followers for congratulating him on being “right on radical Islamic terrorism.”
On Monday, Trump doubled down on his comments telling Fox News “I’ve been right about a lot of things, frankly. … I was right about many, many things.”
Trump will discuss terrorism in a speech on Monday, scheduled for mid-afternoon.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest addressed Trump’s insinuations during Monday’s press briefing, saying President Obama’s record on counter-terrorism “speaks for itself.”
“And that record includes a lot of dead terrorists,” Earnest said Monday. “This president has made his number one priority keeping the American people safe…the president has done that in a way that is smart, that is tough and that makes this country safer.”