“He died like a dog. He died like a coward,” Trump said about al-Baghdadi during a press conference Sunday morning. Trump teased the announcement when he tweeted Saturday night that, “Something very big has just happened!”
The president said he was in the Situation Room watching the raid in Syria and described the experience “as though you were watching a movie.”
But compared to the photo of Obama and his staff watching the raid on bin Laden’s compound, the official picture of Trump in the Situation Room on Saturday night looked doctored, almost as if his likeness was superimposed in the original image.
Trump also echoed news reports in advance of his announcement that said al-Baghdadi detonated a suicide vest to kill himself as he was cornered by American forces, blowing himself up and mutilating his body. But, Trump said, testing confirmed the person killed was al-Baghdadi.
The situation was reminiscent of when President Barack Obama presided over the killing of Osama bin Laden. Except, in that case, officials were able to produce video and photo proof of bin Laden’s death. This time around, the American public is forced to take the president at his word, something that many people on social media were finding to be extremely problematic since Trump has a well-documented history of lying.
In fact, a good number of tweets since Trump’s Twitter post on Saturday night have been devoted to pointing out how the timing of announcing al-Baghdadi’s death came as the impeachment inquiry against him has been heating up. With Trump’s history of deflecting when it comes to controversial issues — like possibly being impeached — people could easily be forgiven for thinking he was lying [again], this time around in order to deflect the negative attention he’s been enveloped in over his admitted efforts to get a foreign power to interfere in the 2020 election that he has been campaigning for.
In August, the Washington Post published a report showing that Trump had lied more than 12,000 times during his first three years as president. The Post called them “false or misleading claims,” but they were lies.
However, none of those lies were about national security, a topic at the heart of the announcement of al-Baghdadi’s death.
Still, people on Twitter found the president’s claims hard to believe, perhaps in part because Trump said during the announcement Sunday morning that he had prioritized al-Baghdadi, “From the first day I got into office.”