Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D., Hawaii) said President Donald Trump supports al Qaeda during the Democratic debate Thursday night.
"The problem is that this current president is continuing to betray us," Gabbard said, "We were supposed to be going after al Qaeda, but over years now not only have we not gone after al Qaeda, who is stronger today than they were in 9/11, our president is supporting al Qaeda."
Gabbard has previously said that President Trump's foreign policy was protecting al Qaeda and that the president was serving as the "protective big brother of al Qaeda." She has also compared members of the Trump administration to al Qaeda, including National Security Advisor John Bolton and former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.
Gabbard's own views on the Middle East have come under scrutiny during her presidential run, especially as it relates to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In 2017 Gabbard met with Assad, known as the Butcher of Damascus, in a visit she did not disclose to House leadership in advance. Gabbard has said that Assad is not an enemy of the United States and has declined to call him a war criminal. NPR reported that Assad was responsible for 98 percent of the over 300 chemical attacks during the Syrian civil war.
Gabbard has been hit by Sen. Kamala Harris's campaign as "Assad's cheerleader" after Gabbard said Harris was unfit to be president. In the spin room after the debate, Harris pointed to Gabbard's coziness with Assad as reason not to even need to reply to her criticism of Harris's record on criminal justice.