South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham on Tuesday sharply criticized Donald Trump’s insinuations that President Barack Obama knew more about or sympathizes with the attack in Orlando, Florida, as “highly offensive.”
Federal officials are investigating Sunday’s mass shooting at a gay nightclub Sunday that left 49 victims dead as an act of terrorism. The gunman, 29 year-old Omar Mateen reportedly pledged allegiance to the Islamic State terror group, also known as ISIS.
Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, said in a Monday interview with Fox News, “Look, we’re led by a man that either is, 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,” Trump said. “People cannot — they cannot believe that President Obama is acting the ways he acts and can’t even mention the words radical Islamic terrorism. There’s something going on. It’s inconceivable. There’s something going on.”
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] Graham, a Republican, said he disagrees with Obama on policy issues, but Trump’s comments were out of line.
“He loves his country, President Obama, but he is doing a very poor job at defending it,” Graham said. “Mr. Trump seems to be suggesting that the president is one of them. I find it highly offensive. I find that whole line of reasoning way off base.”
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] Graham has been one of Trump’s most vocal critics in his party. After he dropped his own presidential bid, the South Carolina Republican eventually endorsed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, though he said choosing between Cruz and Trump was like choosing between getting shot or poisoned .
Graham also said that Trump’s reaction to the Orlando attack proved the billionaire mogul does not have the judgment or temperament to be commander in chief. In a tweet after the attack, Trump said he appreciated the congratulations for being right about radical Islamic terrorism. He also doubled down on his call to temporarily ban foreign Muslims from entering the U.S.
“I’ve run out of adjectives when it comes to Mr. Trump,” Graham said.
Other Republicans were also critical of Trump’s comments.
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said his comments were “inappropriate” with people in Orlando still mourning. Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson criticized Trump on Monday for renewing his call for a ban on Muslim immigration.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire said that after reviewing excerpts of Trump’s foreign policy speech Monday in her home state, she continued to disagree with the presumptive nominee about imposing religious tests for entering the United States.
Ayotte said criteria for entry should be “fact-based, evidence based,” but “it should not be based on someone’s religion.”
Ayotte said she was focused on the national security aspects of the response to the Orlando attack, citing the importance of outreach to countries in the Middle East in order to fight ISIS.
“We need to engage the Muslim countries in the area,” Ayotte said in an interview.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, refused to comment Tuesday on Trump’s comments.
Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.