Donald Trump’s first response to the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando was to congratulate himself “for being right on radical Islamic terrorism.”
His second response was to accuse President Obama of complicity.
“Look, we’re led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he’s got something else in mind,” Trump told Fox News early Monday. “There’s something going on. It’s inconceivable. There’s something going on. … He doesn’t get it or he gets it better than anybody understands — it’s one or the other and either one is unacceptable.”
It’s an extraordinary insinuation. But it’s also the logical extension of the particularly virulent anti-Muslim rhetoric Trump has employed throughout the campaign. Trump’s rhetoric is not simply anti-Muslim; it has its roots in far-right conspiracy theories that hold that Islam itself is an enemy of the United States — and has tentacles at every level of our government.
Trump has elevated those views to the forefront of his campaign to the White House, but he has been a megaphone for them for years.
As far back as 2011, Trump took to Twitter to complain directly to Obama that he had “abandoned Israel” and “engaged the Muslim Brotherhood,” the Islamist Egyptian political party.
He then blamed Obama for promoting the Arab Spring and began to refer to the Muslim Brotherhood as the president’s “allies”:
Following the mass shooting in Fort Hood, Texas, Trump deemed Obama’s classification of the killings as “workplace violence” as a defense of “radical Islam”:
By February 2012, this had morphed into Trump outright claiming that Obama “loves radical Islam”:
Two months later, Trump responded to Obama meeting with the Muslim Brotherhood-led Egyptian government by proclaiming that the president’s “friends are enemies of the US and @Israel.”
In the spring of that year, Trump began a crusade to seek Obama’s birth certificate, with the clear implication that the president wasn’t born in the United States (and presumably isn’t Christian, either).
In September, Trump took a joke by the pop star Madonna and used it to imply that Obama was Muslim, a revival of birtherism that also called into question the president’s religion:
Trump justified his signature anti-Muslim policy — his call for temporarily banning Muslim migration to the United States “until we can figure out what’s going on” — by citing Islamophobic kingpin Frank Gaffney.
Gaffney is a former minor Reagan administration official who runs a think tank called the Center for Security Policy (CSP) that is dedicated to uncovering the supposed Muslim plot to take over the United States.
Trump cited a CSP poll claiming that a quarter of Muslim Americans believe violence against the American homeland is justified. But the poll had no statistical validity — it was based off of a “non-probability based, opt-in online survey.”
Gaffney’s fingerprints were also on comments made Monday by Trump’s longtime informal adviser Roger Stone.
In an interview with Breitbart News, Stone pointed to Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin, warning that “there’s going to be a new focus on whether this administration, the administration of Hillary Clinton at State was permeated at the highest levels by Saudi intelligence and others who are not loyal Americans.”
The idea that Abedin is a sleeper agent for Islamist movements or foreign countries originated from Gaffney and his work at the CSP. This crusade was briefly taken up by a small group of House Republicans led by Rep. Michelle Bachmann, R-Minn., who claimed that the presence of Abedin in Clinton’s inner circle confirmed that the Obama administration had been infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood.
This earned a rebuke by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who said that the accusations were “sinister.”