Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the elder Republican statesman, said President Barack Obama was “directly responsible” for the terror attack in Orlando, Florida, due to his failure to combat the rise of the Islamic State terror group.
McCain’s statement goes beyond the criticism of Obama that has been leveled by his Republican colleagues in the Senate, and echoes remarks made this week by presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, who seemed to connect Obama to the attack in a Monday interview and on Wednesday tweeted an article claiming that Obama “actively supported” the terrorist group that became the Islamic State.
McCain made his remarks in a Senate hallway to a small group of reporters, responding to a question about the gun-control debate that has flared on Capitol Hill since the Sunday-morning shooting that left 49 people and the gunman dead.
He answered the question about guns by citing Obama’s culpability for the attack through his foreign policy.
When pressed by a reporter on the claim that Obama was “directly” responsible, McCain reiterated his point — that Obama should not have withdrawn combat troops from Iraq and should have made a more determined effort to intervene in the Syrian civil war.
Federal law enforcement officials have said the gunman, Omar Mateen, pledged allegiance to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi but they have not disclosed any evidence that Mateen had any direct contact with adherents of the terror group or whether he was specifically directed by the Islamic State in any way.
McCain, who lost to Obama in the 2008 presidential election, is seeking a sixth term in the Senate this year and faces a competitive Republican primary in August.