Major media outlets compared disgraced congressman Mark Foley to the father of Orlando shooter Omar Mateen in their coverage of Trump’s Florida rally Thursday.
Trump invited the comparison when he attacked Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s decision to allow Seddique Mateen in the crowd behind her during a rally earlier this week.
“Wasn’t it terrible?” Trump asked the crowd. “He was sitting with a big smile on his face right behind Hillary Clinton … When you get those seats, you sort of know the campaign.”
Trump then turned to the group behind him and asked, “How many of you people know me? A lot of people know me.”
Former Rep. Mark Foley of Florida was sitting right behind Trump, and raised his hand when Trump asked who knew him.
Foley was forced by Republican leadership to resign after several underage male pages came forward to allege Foley pressured them for nude photos. Foley fought the allegations, but accepted a resignation letter that was presented to him by Representative Dennis Hastert.
“The improper communications between Congressman Mark Foley and former House Congressional pages is unacceptable and abhorrent. It is an obscene breach of trust,” Hastert said in a joint statement with then majority leader John Boehner.
Foley told NBC that he had a longstanding relationship with the Republican nominee. “He’s been a friend of mine for 30 years and one of my biggest contributors.”
Clinton rejected any knowledge that Mateen attended her rally, and spokesman Nick Merrill told NBC that Clinton “disagrees with his views and disavows his support.”
Survivors of the shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando attended the Clinton rally that Mateen attended. Jacobi Ceballo told Click Orlando, “I’m outraged, for him to come back to Orlando, where his son created devastation, was also mind-blowing. If I would have known that, I would have not come.”
“The rally was a 3,000-person, open-door event for the public. This individual wasn’t invited as a guest, and the campaign was unaware of his attendance until after the event,” the Clinton campaign said in an official statement.
The Trump campaign hasn’t addressed Foley’s presence at the rally.
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