Jumping ahead of investigators, President-elect Donald Trump is blaming Islamic terrorists for deadly violence in Turkey and Germany and vowing anew to eradicate their regional and global networks.
Authorities in both countries were still investigating Monday when Trump issued a pair of statements condemning the attacks, the same day the Electoral College formally awarded him the presidency.
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On Tuesday, the president-elect was set to field potential hires — including a candidate for Veterans Affairs secretary, his most vital unfilled Cabinet position — at the Palm Beach estate where he is spending the holidays.
Luis Quinonez, who runs a company with military and health care ties, is said to be under consideration for VA secretary. Trump is also considering Jovita Carranza, who worked in President George W. Bush’s administration, as his choice for U.S. trade representative.
Carranza served as deputy administrator of the Small Business Administration under Bush.
With just a handful of Cabinet posts to fill, Trump is facing some criticism for a lack of diversity in his senior team, which currently includes no Hispanics. The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials said Tuesday that it was “deeply concerned” at the lack of Hispanics considered for top jobs. Carranza was a member of Trump’s Hispanic advisory council during the campaign.
Earlier Tuesday, Trump was back on Twitter striking out at an insult from Bill Clinton. The ex-president told a suburban New York City newspaper this month that Trump “doesn’t know much. One thing he does know is how to get angry, white men to vote for him.”
The Bedford-Pound Ridge Record Review also reported that Bill Clinton claimed that Trump called him after his election victory over Hillary Clinton.
“Wrong, he called me (with a very nice congratulations),” Trump said in a two-part tweet. The president-elect added that Bill Clinton is the one who “‘doesn’t know much’… especially how to get people, even with an unlimited budget, out to vote in the vital swing states (and more).” The Clinton campaign, he said, “focused on the wrong states.”
That was Trump’s reminder that he defeated Hillary Clinton in such battlegrounds as Pennsylvania and scored surprise victories elsewhere — such as Wisconsin.
The tweets come after a rattling day of violence around the world.
Trump called the brazen shooting of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey “a violation of all rules of civilized order.” He added that a “radical Islamic terrorist” had assassinated the diplomat, Andrei Karlov.
Turkish authorities identified the gunman as Mevlut Mert Altintas, a member of Ankara’s riot police squad, and said he was later killed in a shootout with police. Altintas shouted in Turkish about the Syrian city of Aleppo and also yelled “Allahu akbar,” Arabic for “God is great.”
As for Berlin, where at least 12 people were killed and nearly 50 hurt when a truck plowed through a Christmas market, Trump said the Islamic State group “and other Islamist terrorists continually slaughter Christians in their communities and places of worship as part of their global jihad.”
He added that these terrorists and their networks “must be eradicated from the face of the Earth” and pledged to carry out that mission with “all freedom-loving partners.”
He later tweeted: “Today there were terror attacks in Turkey, Switzerland and Germany — and it is only getting worse. The civilized world must change thinking!” In Zurich, police said three people were wounded when a gunman opened fire in the prayer hall of a mosque before killing himself. But Swiss police said they found no indication the suspect had terrorist ties or had been radicalized.
In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel said of the Berlin violence, “we must, as things stand, assume it was a terrorist attack.”