At Donald Trump’s Wednesday night rally in Sunshine, Florida, the Republican presidential nominee railed against Hillary Clinton for allowing the Orlando shooter’s father to attend her recent campaign event. As Trump spoke, disgraced former congressman Mark Foley beamed up at him from his seat just behind the podium.
“Wasn’t it terrible when the father of the animal that killed the wonderful people in Orlando was sitting with a big smile on his face right behind Hillary Clinton?” Trump asked, referring to Seddique Mateen’s attendance at a Clinton rally in Kissimmee.
“How many of you people know me? A lot of you people know me. Right?” Trump went on, as Foley raised his hand and waved. “When you get those seats, you sort of know the campaign.”
Foley was a Republican representative from south Florida who was forced to resign in 2006 after lewd emails and instant messages he sent to teenage male House pages came to light. He was in direct view behind Trump for the entirety of the rally.
After the event, Foley told NBC in a text message that he planned to vote for Trump and had longstanding ties to him.
“He’s been a friend of mine for 30 years and one of my biggest contributors,” Foley said.
The former Florida rep told WFOR that he was “sure” that the Trump campaign didn’t know he was attending the rally.
“I’m sure he didn’t .. In [sic] very active with palm beach county republican club,” Foley said in a text to WFOR reporter Tania Francois.
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to NBC when asked if they knew that Foley was present and seated behind the nominee.
Trump and his staff, including running mate and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R), have attacked Clinton repeatedly this week for Mateen’s attendance at her event. In a Tuesday interview on Sean Hannity, Trump said that Clinton did not “disavow” Mateen’s support.
“If that were me, this would be a headline all over the world about Trump,” he insisted.
The Clinton campaign disavowed Mateen’s support after the rally and her staff said they were unaware that he was present.
Campaign spokesman Nick Merrill said that Clinton “disagrees with his views and disavows his support.”
Oddly, Foley himself seemed aware of the focus on Mateen’s support for Clinton. As Business Insider’s Josh Barro pointed out, his last tweet was a link to a story about Mateen attending her event.
Note: Mark Foley’s only tweet in the last week was about Seddique Mateen being onstage at Hillary’s rally. pic.twitter.com/L0QRwO7tGO
— Josh Barro (@jbarro) August 11, 2016