Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said in a statement released Thursday that he “misspoke” when he told reporters President Barack Obama was “directly responsible” for the mass shooting in Orlando.
McCain’s remarks came as Obama was visiting with the victims of the 49 victims in the shooting. Omar Mateen, a 29 year-old born in Brooklyn, was later shot and killed by SWAT officers.
“I misspoke. I did not mean to imply that the President was personally responsible,” McCain said in the statement. “I was referring to President Obama’s national security decisions, not the President himself.”
McCain’s initial comment seemed to echo a sentiment shared earlier in the week by Donald Trump, who suggested that Obama was secretly working with extremists. Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, was quick to share McCain’s comments on Twitter.
Read McCain’s full statement below:
“I misspoke. I did not mean to imply that the President was personally responsible. I was referring to President Obama’s national security decisions, not the President himself. As I have said, President Obama’s decision to completely withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011 led to the rise of ISIL. I and others have long warned that the failure of the President’s policy to deny ISIL safe haven would allow the terrorist organization to inspire, plan, direct or conduct attacks on the United States and Europe as they have done in Paris, Brussels, San Bernardino and now Orlando.”