President Donald Trump has told a Hollywood-esque story about Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s death over the weekend, repeatedly claiming the ISIS leader ran crying from the U.S. military raid that killed him. The problem is, nobody can figure out where the hell that notion came from.
Some have suggested the commander-in-chief — a man famously fond of fabrication — made it all up.
From nearly the moment the news of Badgdadi’s death was made public, Trump said he died “running into a dead-end tunnel, whimpering and crying and screaming.” And he didn’t back off the claim when asked for more info at a press conference on Sunday.
“I don't want to talk about it, but he was screaming, crying and whimpering. And he was scared out of his mind,” Trump told reporters when asked about the comments.
Officials have shied away from backing the president on that claim, mostly because they can’t figure out where the president got the idea.
Five senior unnamed Trump administration officials who watched Trump’s address on Sunday said they had no idea where the president came up with the detail that the ISIS leader was crying, according to a report from The Daily Beast. The officials were reportedly messaging things like “uh where is he getting that?”
On the record, officials have dodged talking about Trump’s characterization of Baghdadi’s final moments.
“I know the president had planned to talk down to the unit and unit members,” General Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters. “But I don’t know what the source of that was. I assume it was talking directly to unit and unit members.”
Acting Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, meanwhile, said he didn’t “have those details.”
It’s possible, but unlikely, that Trump spoke with troops who carried out the raid. Two senior officials told the Daily Beast it was possible Trump talked with the commandos who were on the ground, but that has rarely happened in past operations.
And while Trump was able to watch an overhead livestream of the raid on Baghdadi, that video did not include audio or capture footage inside underground tunnels, according to a report from the New York Times.
“Rule of thumb: If a Trump story involves a man crying, the man likely did not cry,” Dale tweeted. “He has repeatedly invented male tears — to make opponents sound ‘weak,’ to make supporters sound fawning.”
Cover: President Donald Trump speaks in the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)