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Trump, Who Has Never Visited Pulse, Again Exploits the Massacre

Trump, Who Has Never Visited Pulse, Again Exploits the Massacre

Trump, Who Has Never Visited Pulse, Again Exploits the Killing of 49 People

The president-elect used the tragedy to warn of the threat of foreign-born terrorists. Omar Mateen was a homegrown menace.

Donald Trump referenced the Pulse nightclub shooting during a Friday speech about the need to fight "radical Islamic terrorists" in order to prevent further violence against LGBT people.

During a stop in Orlando on the president-elect's victory tour, Trump warned of the threat of foreign-born extremists entering the country to commit acts of violence like the June 12 tragedy. Forty-nine people were killed and 53 injured when Omar Mateen shot up the popular gay bar, which was hosting its monthly Latin Night. Mateen was killed in a shootout with police.

"Let me keep this as clearly as I can: I am going to keep radical Islamic terrorists the hell out of our country," Trump told the crowd of 11,000, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Although Trump exploited the tragedy to promote his far-right agenda on immigration and Islam, his speech ignored one key fact about Mateen. The 29-year-old was a U.S. citizen, born in New York City. His calls for "extreme vetting" and banning immigration from countries where entrants "cannot be safely processed," as Trump promised Friday, would have done nothing to stop the Pulse shooting.

In truth, all immigrants to the U.S. go through an extremely thorough vetting process, with Syrian refugees subjected to months of background checks before entering the country.

This isn't the first time that Trump has attempted to falsely connect the Pulse nightclub tragedy to the specter of Islamic terror. During July's Republican National Convention, he claimed that he would "protect LGBTQ citizens" after "49 wonderful Americans were savagely murdered by terrorists."

While Mateen claimed allegiance to ISIS during a 911 call made prior to the attack, there was very little evidence that he had any legitimate connection to the organization. Mateen, who likely became radicalized through online videos, reportedly didn't know the difference between the Islamic State, Hezbollah, and al-Qaeda, despite the fact that these three militant groups are at war with each other.

Mateen's ex-wife claimed that the shooting was motivated by his repressed sexuality, alleging that the gunman was gay. This claim, although speculative, was corroborated by reports that the shooter had been seen multiple times at the club.

These weren't the only facts Trump, who has a noted history of bending the truth to fit his needs, flubbed on Friday.

The president-elect, emboldened by a boisterous crowd that frequently yelled "Lock her up!" and "Waterboard her!" regarding Hillary Clinton, his Democratic opponent, boasted of the numerous states he claimed to have won decisively, including North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Florida. "Did I blow them out in the Panhandle, or what?" he asked attendees, who he credited for being "nasty and mean and vicious" throughout the race.

Contrary to his statement, Trump won by a narrow margin in Florida, just over 100,000 votes. That amounts to a single percentage point, hardly a landslide victory.

The real estate developer actually lost in Orange County, where Orlando is located. Clinton finished with 60.4 percent of the vote, while he earned just 35.7 percent.

He did even worse in Pine Hills, the community that hosted him Friday, taking just 7 percent of votes.

If he appears to know little about Pulse, that is because, despite his numerous appeals, he has never been there. Although Omarosa Manigault, a former contestant on The Apprentice and Trump surrogate, and Lara Trump, the wife of his son, Eric, have both visited the gay nightclub, the president-elect has yet to appear at the memorial site.

December marked the six-month anniversary of the tragedy, the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

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