During the third Democratic presidential debate, on Saturday, Hillary Clinton claimed that Donald Trump “is becoming ISIS’s best recruiter. They are going to people, showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists.” This is not exactly true.
According to the Washington Post, the Clinton campaign backed up the candidate’s claim by referencing a quote from Rita Katz, the executive director of the SITE Intelligence Group. “They love him from the sense that he is supporting their rhetoric,” she told NBC News earlier this month. “They follow everything Donald Trump says. When he says, ‘No Muslims should be allowed in America,’ they tell people, ‘We told you America hates Muslims and here is proof.’”
However, Katz was speaking specifically of social media. Neither the Post nor the Associated Press could find evidence of an ISIS-produced video including footage of Trump. Indeed, Katz told the Post, “ISIS didn’t feature Trump in a video, but ISIS supporters and recruiters have used Trump’s rhetoric to promote ISIS’ ideas and agenda.”
“If you go back and look at social media, if you look at what’s going on, they are definitely pointing at Mr. Trump,” her campaign chairman, John Podesta, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” But he cited no IS videos.
Palmieri said on ABC’s “This Week,” ‘’She didn’t have a particular video in mind, but he is being used in social media.”
When his claim about a video showing “thousands and thousands” of Muslims celebrating 9/11 was debunked weeks ago, Trump dug in his heels on the assertion about “plenty of people cheering.” He repeated that position Sunday. Asked about IS recruitment videos, he told ABC: “She just made it up.”
So, it seems likely that the first part of Clinton’s claim—that Trump is “ISIS’s best recruiter”—is at least partly true. They’re not putting him in videos, though. (Not yet, at least.) Which is to say: there’s no need to make things up when the truth is as awful as it is.