Hillary Clinton’s campaign slammed Donald Trump’s commendation of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s ability to kill suspected terrorists.
Speaking in North Carolina Tuesday evening, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee acknowledged that Hussein was a “really bad guy,” but reiterated praise for Hussein, who was toppled and later executed following the American invasion of Iraq in 2003.
“He was a bad guy, a really bad guy,” Trump said.
“But you know what he did well? He killed terrorists. He did that so good. They didn’t read them the rights. They didn’t talk. They were a terrorist — it was over. Today, Iraq is Harvard for terrorism. You wanna be a terrorist? Go to Iraq.”
In a statement Tuesday evening, Clinton Senior Policy Advisor Jake Sullivan slammed Trump’s characterization of the Hussein regime. Sullivan noted the dictator’s numerous human rights violations, and criticised the real-estate mogul’s approbation of 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.
He added: “Trump yet again lauded Saddam Hussein as a great killer of terrorists, noting with approval that he never bothered to read anyone their rights. 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.”
Hussein has rarely found many sympathizers in American political circles.
In an interview with Fox News host Megyn Kelly on Tuesday evening, House Speaker Paul Ryan attempted to distance himself from Trump’s comments about Hussein.
“He was one 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, referring to the dictator’s attacks against the Kurds in Iraq.
Several Republicans lamented Trump’s comments, which allowed the Clinton campaign an opportunity to go on the offensive on the same day that the FBI offered a brutal critique of Clinton’s use of private email servers during her time as secretary of state.
Indeed, the irony of Sullivan taking on Trump the same day as the FBI’s statement about Clinton’s email conduct was not lost on some observers. The senior aide himself sent several emails that were later classified while he served as an advisor to Clinton when she was secretary of state.
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