Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump revoked the Washington Post’s press credentials June 13, after the newspaper ran an online article titled, "Donald Trump suggests President Obama was involved with Orlando shooting."
The Washington Post has since tweaked its headline — now it reads "Donald Trump seems to connect President Obama to Orlando shooting." Other media outlets made similar deductions from Trump’s comments, or they took the comments as a suggestion that Obama has sympathies that stop him from vigorously fighting terrorism.
In a June 14 interview with Fox's Sean Hannity, Trump far overstated what the Washington Post wrote about his insinuations.
He said, "I just terminated, took away the press credentials of the Washington Post. I mean, they said — they made the statement that I said that Obama — essentially, Obama went in and shot the people. I mean, what they do, that is the most dishonest paper."
What exactly did Trump say about President Barack Obama and his ties to terrorists, including the perpetrator of the Orlando massacre?
There are two relevant exchanges from June 13, starting with a phone interview Trump did with talk show Fox and Friends.
Commenting on his recent call for Obama to resign, Trump said:
"He doesn't get it or he gets it better than anybody understands — it's one or the other, and either one is unacceptable."
He also said in the same interview:
"Look, we're led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he's got something else in mind. 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."
Trump then called into the Today show on NBC, where host Savannah Guthrie asked him what he meant by his earlier comments on Fox and Friends.
"Well, there are a lot of people that think maybe he doesn't want to get it. A lot of people think maybe he doesn't want to know about it. I happen to think that he just doesn't know what he's doing, but there are many people that think maybe he doesn't want to get it. He doesn't want to see what's really happening. And that could be."
"Savannah, why isn't he addressing the issue? He's not addressing the issue. He's not calling it what it is. This is radical Islamic terrorism. This isn't fighting Germany; this isn't fighting Japan, where they wear uniforms. These are people that come out; you have no idea who they are, and he doesn’t want to discuss it, he doesn’t want to properly describe it."
Trump made another comment in the same vein the next day, June 14, when he told the Associated Press that Obama "claims to know our enemy, and yet he continues to prioritize our enemy over our allies, and for that matter, the American people."
In none of these comments did Trump clearly tie Obama to the Orlando shooting or terrorism in general, nor did he say outright that Obama has terrorist sympathies. As CNN’s Jake Tapper put it, Trump created "an allusion to a more nefarious motivation that Trump did not specify."
But his vague, suggesting language leaves plenty of room for people to draw that conclusion.
Nexis transcript search, conducted June 14, 2016
Washington Post, "Donald Trump seems to connect President Obama to Orlando shooting," June 13, 2016
NBC, "Trump: Maybe Obama 'Doesn't Want' to Stop Terrorism," June 13, 2016
CNN, "Trump should clarify comments about Obama and terrorism," June 13, 2016