Vice President Mike Pence during the debate Wednesday night slammed the Obama-Biden administration for failing to bring home the young American aid worker Kayla Mueller after she was kidnapped by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and later killed during their administration in 2015.
After Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) claimed that the Trump administration made Americans less safe, Pence recounted that the U.S. military had presented former President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden with a plan to save Mueller, but they did decided to wait a month, missing potentially saving her by two days:
The reality is that when Joe Biden was vice president, we had the opportunity to save Kayla Mueller. It breaks my heart to reflect on it, but the military came into the Oval Office and presented a plan and said they knew where Kayla was. Baghdadi had held her for 18 months, abused her mercilessly before they killed her. But when Joe Biden was vice president, they hesitated for a month. And when our forces finally went in, it was clear that she’d been moved two days earlier. And her family says with a heart that broke the heart of every American that if President Donald Trump had been president, Kayla would be alive today.
Mueller’s parents Carl and Marsha were guests of Pence at the debate in Utah. The Muellers were also speakers at the Republican National Convention (RNC) earlier this year, where they themselves criticized the Obama-Biden administration for doing too little.
Mueller’s father said at the RNC, “President Obama refused to meet with us until ISIS had already beheaded other Americans.” He added, “To this day, we’ve never heard from Joe Biden.”
The Muellers have also previously said the Obama administration threatened them with criminal prosecution for potentially violating a U.S. policy against negotiating with terrorists when they attempted to pay ISIS a ransom for their daughter’s release.
President Trump would later name and order the operation that led to the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who had raped Kayla and held her hostage.
Trump would also oversee the U.S. military’s destruction of ISIS’s caliphate in Iraq and Syria.