Trump’s Obsession With Diminishing Obama’s Role in Killing Bin Laden Isn’t New

Let’s look at the tweets.

President Barack Obama reads his statement on the death of Osama bin Laden from the East Room of the White House on May 1, 2011.Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

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As President Donald Trump announced the death of ISIS founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi this morning, it was impossible to avoid comparisons to President Barack Obama’s May 2011 announcement that Navy SEALs had killed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Trump was clearly thinking about that key moment of his predecessor’s presidency as he asserted that Baghdadi had been a threat “long before I took office” and that the ISIS leader had been “the biggest one we’ve ever captured.” He also repeated the false claim that he had identified bin Laden as a threat before 9/11.

Trump’s attempts to diminish Obama’s role in taking down bin Laden aren’t new. In the years following the raid, he frequently took to Twitter to suggest that Obama was taking too much credit for getting bin Laden. The very first mention came in November 2011, in which Trump appears to sanction the waterboarding of al Qaeda leader Khalid Sheik Mohammed for the sake of gathering intelligence on bin Laden. (The Obama administration had banned this form of torture; Trump has since tried to resurrect the practice.)

Later that year, Trump went on CNN to talk about why Obama didn’t “deserve credit for killing bin Laden.” In the spring of 2012, he reiterated that point on CNBC and in a tweet that cited an article from Breitbart

In September 2012, a Navy SEAL who had been part of the bin Laden mission published a tell-all autobiography that contradicted some details of the Obama administration’s telling of the raid. Trump called Obama’s “story a big lie.”

On the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, Trump emphasized that a Navy SEAL killed bin Laden, setting up a new round of attacks on Obama as the 2012 election neared.   

After Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney congratulated Obama during a debate for “taking out Osama bin Laden,” Trump railed against the president for taking credit for bin Laden’s slaying. He declared that the debate was the first time Obama used “we” instead of “I” in describing the terrorist leader’s death. (It was not.)

And Trump also used the bin Laden raid to take a shot at Vice President Joe Biden, tweeting that “even the SEALs who killed bin Laden” didn’t like his future political rival. 

 

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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