Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump on Wednesday accused Hillary Clinton of spreading “death, destruction and terrorism everywhere” during her time as secretary of state, blaming her directly for the rise of Islamic State terrorists in the Middle East.
“The Hillary Clinton foreign policy has cost America thousands of lives and trillions of dollars and unleashed ISIS across the world,” the business mogul said, using alternative name for the Islamic State group. “No secretary of state has been more wrong, more often, and in more places.”
The event came three weeks after Clinton, the presumed Democratic nominee, offered her own scathing speech of Trump as the potential commander in chief, calling him too unstable and “dangerously incoherent” to be trusted with control of the military.
Trump reversed many of those barbs during his New York speech, calling Clinton “volcanic, impulsive and disdainful of the rules set for everyone else.”
But he went further, charging her with with being the force behind every controversial foreign policy decision made by President Obama during her time in his administration.
“Hillary Clinton’s support for violent regime change in Syria has thrown the country into one of the bloodiest civil wars anyone has ever seen while giving ISIS a launching pad for terrorism against the West,” he said.
“She helped force out a friendly regime in Egypt and replace it with the radical Muslim Brotherhood. … Then, there was the disastrous strategy of announcing our departure date from Iraq, handing large parts of the country over to ISIS killers.”
Clinton staffers called the accusations confusing and comical, questioning whether Trump understood the powers and limits of presidential Cabinet posts.
He also blasted her support for the 2004 war in Iraq, again claiming “I was among the earliest to criticize the rush to war, even before the war ever started.” News reports have not backed up that claim, and campaign officials have not provided any proof of public opposition to the war at that time.
And he also blamed Clinton for the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens in Libya in 2012, saying “she started the war that put him in Libya, denied him the security he asked for, then left him there to die.”
That event has been a major point of controversy for Clinton for the past four years, and Trump’s inclusion of the tragedy shows that Republican officials will continue to make it a centerpiece of their attacks through November.
Both candidates have ramped up discussion of national security in their campaign events in the wake of the Orlando, Florida, shooting earlier this month, when 49 club-goers were gunned down by a man claiming allegiance to Islamic State leaders.