Senator John McCain, the Republican statesman from Arizona, claimed that President Barack Obama is “directly responsible” for the terror attack that left 49 dead and even more injured at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
McCain made his remarks about Obama to a small group of reporters in the hallway on the Senate, in response to a reporter’s question on the gun control debate that has been rekindled on Capitol Hill in the aftermath of the Orlando terror attack.
In response to the question on gun control, McCain pivoted and placed blame for the Orlando terror attack on Obama, citing Obama’s foreign policy for the reason behind the deadly attack.
“Barack Obama is directly responsible for it, because when he pulled everybody out of Iraq, al-Qaeda went to Syria, became ISIS, and ISIS is what it is today thanks to Barack Obama’s failures.”
A reporter pressed McCain for clarification on what McCain meant by stating “Obama is directly responsible” for the Orlando terror attack. McCain then reiterated his point, stating that the withdrawal of troops from Iraq — part of an agreement drafted and put into place by President George W. Bush in 2008 — was the genesis of the terror attack in Orlando.
“He pulled everybody out of Iraq, and I predicted at the time that ISIS would go unchecked, and there would be attacks on the United States of America,” McCain said. “It’s a matter of record, so he is directly responsible.”
Soon after blaming Obama directly for the terror attack in Orlando, which was carried out by 29-year-old Omar Mateen, McCain released a statement saying that he “misspoke,” and that the terror attack at Pulse was the result of the president’s national security decisions, and not the fault of Obama, personally.
“I did not mean to imply that the President was personally responsible. I was referring to President Obama’s national security decisions, not the President himself. As I have said, President Obama’s decision to completely withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011 led to the rise of ISIL. I and others have long warned that the failure of the President’s policy to deny ISIL safe haven would allow the terrorist organization to inspire, plan, direct or conduct attacks on the United States and Europe as they have done in Paris, Brussels, San Bernardino and now Orlando.”
McCain’s statements blaming Obama for the terrorist attack in Orlando follow Donald Trump’s statements on the matter, which not only blame Obama for the attack, but also insinuate that Obama has actual ties to terrorists.
“Look, we’re led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he’s got something else in mind,” Trump stated earlier this week. “And the something else in mind — you know, people can’t believe it. 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.”
Omar Mateen, the shooter who carried out the horrific terror attack in Orlando, was an American-born citizen, but pledged loyalty to the leader of the Islamic State during a 911 call he made. In addition, the Washington Post reports that Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, has stated that Mateen also posted a pledge of allegiance to ISIS on Facebook the day of the shooting, and claimed that the shooting was “vengeance” for airstrikes.
Despite Mateen’s pledges, officials state that they have yet to find any signs that Mateen was directly and officially tied to any sort of terrorist network, and it still remains unclear to the FBI which extremist group he supported. In addition to pledging allegiance to the Islamic State on Sunday, Mateen also claimed previously that he had ties to both al-Qaeda and Hezbollah. This claim would be virtually impossible, since the two terrorist groups are actually violently opposed to one another, and have fought repeatedly against one another in Syria.
Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick, a current House representative and the likely Democratic nominee for McCain’s own Senate seat, issued a statement on Thursday, saying that McCain “cross[ed] a dangerous line in comments that undermine our Commander in Chief on national security issues — at the very moment the president was in Orlando to comfort victims’ families.”
Adam Jentleson, spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, also condemned McCain’s remark, saying it was “just the latest proof that Senate Republicans are puppets of Donald Trump” and stating that “there is no daylight between Senate Republicans and Donald Trump.”
[Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]