Rather than being respectful, composed and modest in the wake of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, Trump instead has chosen to be bombastic, opportunistic and dishonest in his remarks since the tragedy.
Within hours of the massacre that killed 49 people, while bodies still laid in the Orlando nightclub, Trump tweeted, “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism” and then called for President Barack Obama to “immediately resign in disgrace.” In media interviews and campaign speeches in the two days since, he has slammed the entire Muslim populationand made numerous untruthful remarksregarding the country, the Orlando shooter, Democratic presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton and President Obama.
The Republican Party’s urging of Trump to tone down his divisive, hateful and dishonest rhetoric has fallen on deaf ears.
“The killer, whose name I will not use or ever say, was born in Afghan, of Afghan parents, who immigrated to the United States,” Trump said.
The shooter, 29-year-old Omar Mateen, was an American citizen born in New York to parents who emigrated to the U.S. from Afghanistan.
Trump further made arguments against “radical Islam” and once again referenced his proposed Muslim ban (which would prevent all Muslims from entering the country, including those who are already U.S. citizens), making no distinction between violent terrorists and everyday Muslim citizens. He also slammed the country’s current screening process and implied that Obama is allowing the country’s intelligence process to be weak.
“We need to tell the truth also about how radical Islam is coming to our shores. And it’s coming. With these people, folks, it’s coming,” he said. “We’re importing radical Islamic terrorism into the West through a failed immigration system and through an intelligence community held back by our president.”
Trump has repeatedly and wrongfully called Obama a Muslim and frequently questioned whether Obama was born in the United States. On Monday, he called into question Obama’s citizenship and his intelligence.
“We’re led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he’s got something else in mind,” said Trump. “There is something going on.”
Obama lashed out at Trump in a speech on Tuesday, criticizing “this kind of rhetoric and loose talk and sloppiness.”
He also pointed to a major flaw with Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the country: many recent mass murders including the Orlando killer, one of the San Bernardino killers and the Fort Hood killer were U.S. citizens.
“Are we going to start treating all Muslim-Americans differently Are we going to start subjecting them to special surveillance Are we going to start discriminating against them because of their faith” Obama asked. “We’ve heard these suggestions during the course of this campaign. Do Republican officials actually agree with this”
Trump attacked Clinton as well and falsely said that she wants to revoke the Second Amendment.
“She wants to take away American’s guns and then admit the very people who want to slaughter us. I will always be defending the Second Amendment.”
While Clinton has called for stronger gun control, she has never said she will do away with the Second Amendment.
The Democratic presumptive nominee also responded to Trump’s comments and to his tweet following the shooting.
“It was one thing when he was a reality TV personality, raising his arms and yelling ‘You’re fired!’ It is another thing altogether when it is the Republican party’s presumptive nominee for president,” she said Tuesday. “Americans, we don’t need conspiracy theories and pathological self-congratulations.”
Meanwhile, Trump’s fellow Republicans have hoped their presumptive nominee would tone down his language following his hateful words against Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is presiding over the Trump University fraud case. Trump made one speech following his attacks on the judge in which many people described as his least abrasive one yet. But his latest barrage against Muslims leaves the GOP with less hope of Trump turning his rhetoric around for good.
“Everybody says, ‘Look, he’s so civilized, he eats with a knife and fork,'” said Mike Murphy, who served as a top adviser to former GOP candidate and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. “And then an hour later, he takes the fork and stabs somebody in the eye with it.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan, who in the past few weeks has repeatedly tried to separate himself from Trump’s repeated ignorant comments despite endorsing the candidate, slammed Trump’s response to the Orlando shooting. He once again dismissed Trump’s Muslim ban, saying it is not “reflective of our principles not just as a party, but as a country.”
“There’s a really important distinction that every American needs to keep in mind: This is a war with radical Islam it’s not a war with Islam,” Ryan said on Tuesday. “Muslims are our partners. They’re among our best allies, among our best resources in this fight against radical Islamic terrorism.”
Unlike Trump, Ryan made clear the distinction between Muslims and radical Islamic terrorists and he also reiterated who the targets of this tragedy were.
“Let’s be clear: this was another act of war against America by radical Islam,” he said. “At the same time let’s also be clear members of the LGBT community were the targets. They were simply attacked for who they are. This is an ideology that rejects who we are as a country: open, tolerant, free.”
Ryan has yet to distance himself enough from Trump to take back his endorsement.