Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump continued to insist Sunday that a protester who'd tried to rush the stage at his campaign rally the day before had ties to the Islamic State militant group, citing an Internet video that appears to be a hoax.
The protester, identified as Thomas DiMassimo, attempted to rush the stage at a Trump rally in Dayton, Ohio. He was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and inducing panic.
Not long afterward, Trump claimed on Twitter that "the maniac running to the stage... has ties to ISIS."
During an appearance on NBC's “Meet the Press” Sunday, Trump was asked by host Chuck Todd whether he had gone “over the top” in making the ISIS accusation. Trump replied that he hadn’t.
“No, no, no, no, he was,” Trump said. “If you look on the Internet, if you look at clips, he was waving an American flag... He was walking, dragging the American flag on the ground."
Trump was referring to a video posted on the Internet that shows DiMassimo marching and dragging an American flag. The video appears to depict a protest at Wright State University, which is in Dayton. The video Trump tweeted was overdubbed with Arabic music and text.
But the video appears to be a parody or a hoax, and no law enforcement agency has suggested that DiMassimo has terrorist ties of any kind.
Still, Trump remained adamant.
“He was playing Arabic music,” Trump told Todd. “He was dragging the flag along the ground, and he had Internet chatter with ISIS and about ISIS.”
Trump added that “people” were looking at the video “very seriously now.”
When Todd reminded him again that the video appears to be a hoax and that no law enforcement official has suggested any terrorist ties, Trump remained firm in his contention and the trustworthiness of its source.
“All I know is what's on the Internet,” the GOP front-runner said.