Donald Trump called the media a bunch of “liars” and “bad people” at a Wednesday rally, slamming the press for reporting on his praise of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein during an event in North Carolina the night before.
“‘Donald Trump loves Saddam Hussein,'” Trump said, pretending to be a member of the press. “‘He loves Saddam Hussein.'”
Trump added that he was asked if he loves Hussein by a reporter at the Cincinnati Enquirer ahead of his Wednesday rally.
“I said, ‘That’s not what I said,” Trump said. “‘That’s not what I said. That’s just the narrative that’s going around. People that saw it thought it was great.
He added that reporters were “liars” and “bad people.”
“What I did say is that he was good at one thing, he was really good at one thing,” Trump said. “That was killing terrorists.”
“He didn’t wait around and give trials that lasted 18 years,” he continued. “And then after 18 years if they had the right lawyer they erect a statue of the terrorist. Not with Trump.
The presumptive Republican nominee said at his Cincinnati rally that he thinks Hussein is a “really bad guy,” but continued to insist that he was “really good” at “killing terrorists.”
“I don’t love Saddam Hussein,” he said. “I hate Saddam Hussein. But he was damn good at killing terrorists and now terrorists, terrorist people go into Iraq — I said yesterday it’s the Harvard, the Harvard University, Harvard for terrorists.”
During his Tuesday rally in Raleigh, Trump promoted a near identical position on Hussein, who was toppled in 2003 and later executed after the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
In a statement Tuesday evening, Jake Sullivan, a Clinton campaign senior policy adviser, slammed Trump’s praise of Hussein. Sullivan noted the ousted leader’s number of human-rights violations.
He would also criticise Trump’s penchant for displaying sympathy toward foreign “strongmen” like Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
“Donald Trump’s praise for brutal strongmen seemingly knows no bounds,” Sullivan said.
“Trump yet again lauded Saddam Hussein as a great killer of terrorists, noting with approval that he never bothered to read anyone their rights,” he continued. “In reality, Hussein’s regime was a sponsor of terrorism — one that paid families of suicide bombers who attacked Israelis, among other crimes. Trump’s cavalier compliments for brutal dictators, and the twisted lessons he seems to have learned from their history, again demonstrate how dangerous he would be as commander-in-chief and how unworthy he is of the office he seeks.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan condemned the remarks soon after during a Tuesday interview with Fox News host Megyn Kelly.
“He was one of the 20th century’s most evil people,” Ryan said. “He was up there.”
“He committed mass genocide against his own people using chemical weapons,” the speaker added, referencing Hussein’s attacks against the Kurds in Iraq.
Maxwell Tani contributed to this report
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