Flashback: Trump Congratulated President Obama Personally on Osama bin Laden Raid

The Associated Press
Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press

Democrats deliberately omitted President Donald Trump from their congratulations Sunday on the successful raid that killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS). But Trump had congratulated then-President Barack Obama in May 2011 when he announced the raid that killed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Trump’s full statement emphasized the need to put country ahead of party as the nation celebrated, as follows:

I want to personally congratulate President Obama and the men [and] women of the Armed Forces for a job very well done. I am so proud to see Americans standing shoulder to shoulder, waving the American flag in celebration of this great victory.

We should spend the next several days not debating party politics, but in remembrance of those who lost their lives on 9/11 and those fighting for our freedom. God Bless America.

Moreover, Trump congratulated Obama even though the president had infamously mocked him mercilessly just hours before the raid, at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner (WHCD). Obama said on that occasion:

And I know just the guy to do it -– Donald Trump is here tonight!  (Laughter and applause.)  Now, I know that he’s taken some flak lately, but no one is happier, no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald.  (Laughter.)  And that’s because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter –- like, did we fake the moon landing?  (Laughter.)  What really happened in Roswell?  (Laughter.)  And where are Biggie and Tupac?  (Laughter and applause.)

But all kidding aside, obviously, we all know about your credentials and breadth of experience.  (Laughter.)  For example — no, seriously, just recently, in an episode of Celebrity Apprentice — (laughter) — at the steakhouse, the men’s cooking team cooking did not impress the judges from Omaha Steaks.  And there was a lot of blame to go around.  But you, Mr. Trump, recognized that the real problem was a lack of leadership.  And so ultimately, you didn’t blame Lil’ Jon or Meatloaf.  (Laughter.)  You fired Gary Busey.  (Laughter.)  And these are the kind of decisions that would keep me up at night.  (Laughter and applause.)  Well handled, sir.  (Laughter.)  Well handled.

Say what you will about Mr. Trump, he certainly would bring some change to the White House.  Let’s see what we’ve got up there.  (Laughter.)

(Screens show “Trump White House Resort and Casino.”)

Other Republicans were generous to Obama, too, putting patriotism ahead of politics.

As the New York Times noted:

WASHINGTON — President Obama drew praise from unlikely quarters on Monday for pursuing a risky and clandestine mission to kill Osama bin Laden, a successful operation that interrupted the withering Republican criticism about his foreign policy, world view and his grasp of the office.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney declared, “The administration clearly deserves credit for the success of the operation.” New York’s former mayor, Rudolph W. Giuliani, said, “I admire the courage of the president.” And Donald J. Trump declared, “I want to personally congratulate President Obama.”

The Times observed that Republicans praised Obama even though it was clear the raid would help him politically.

Later in 2011 and 2012, Trump walked back his praise for Obama somewhat:

As of Sunday morning, former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and former HUD Secretary Julián Castro had congratulated U.S. forces while pointedly excluding President Trump from their congratulations.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

This post has been updated to include Obama’s remarks from the 2011 WHCD, and his later 2011-2 tweets.

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