The anti-Donald Trump Lincoln Project super-PAC is continuing its attacks on the outgoing administration as President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take office against a backdrop of insurrection and impeachment.
The organization, which spent some $67 million trying to peel away conservative voters from Trump in the 2020 election, published a new attack video on Wednesday dismissing the president as a “weakling” who cozied up to dictators during his four years in office.
The president has shown an affinity for authoritarian leaders while at the White House, lauding his relationships with figures such as Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, among others.
This has been especially galling for critics given Trump’s repeated attacks on traditional American allies, including NATO members that have long worked to support U.S. global hegemony.
“Trump wanted to be a strongman, but he’ll leave a weakling—with blood on his hands,” The Lincoln Project wrote alongside the video. “We won’t ever forget it.”
The minute-long video shows Trump meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Putin. The president has been criticized for his warm personal relations with all three men, but the video singles out Sisi.
Sisi is a former army general who led a military coup in 2013, deposing the government chosen by Egyptians in the first free election since dictator Hosni Mubarak was forced from power by the 2011 revolution.
The subsequent army-backed transition government cracked down on activists and members of the Muslim Brotherhood. This influential Islamist group supported the Freedom and Justice Party, whose leader Mohamed Morsi won the 2012 presidential election and was deposed by Sisi’s coup.
Sisi retired from the military and ran for the presidency in 2014, winning with 96 percent of the vote. The Freedom and Justice Party did not take part, having dissolved under government pressure in 2014.
Since his election, Sisi has suppressed domestic dissent and neutered any political opposition. Human rights abuses and corruption are rampant in the country, which remains an important American ally and bulwark against extremist groups in the Middle East and Iran. Cairo enjoys significant American military aid and is a keen customer for U.S.-made weapons.
Trump has expressed public backing for Sisi despite his well documented abuses. In 2019, the president reportedly referred to Sisi as “my favorite dictator” while waiting to meet him at the G7 summit in Biarritz, France.
In 2017, Trump described Sisi as “very close to me” while hosting the dictator at the White House. “We agree on so many things,” Trump said.
“I just want to let everybody know, in case there was any doubt, that we are very much behind President el-Sisi,” Trump added. “He’s done a fantastic job in a very difficult situation. We are very much behind Egypt and the people of Egypt, and the United States has, believe me, backing and we have strong backing.”
His remarks were met with horror among Democrats and human rights organizations, who accused the president of validating Sisi’s authoritarian regime and abandoning all those jailed, harassed or killed for speaking out against the dictatorship.
Among them was American citizen Mustafa Kassem, a New York taxi driver arrested in 2013 and accused of working as a spy and taking part in anti-government protests, which he denied.
Kassem died in January 2020, having undertaken a hunger strike in protest at his continued detention. Kassem had written to Trump asking for help, declaring: “I am putting my life in your hands.”
The Lincoln Project video claims that Trump “didn’t fight for Kassem” under pressure from Sisi. Kassem died from a heart attack induced by his hunger strike and diabetes. The Lincoln Project falsely claims in the video that Sisi “executed” the prisoner.
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