Trump blames 'Islamic terrorists' for attacks in Turkey and Germany

A German police officer secures the site of an accident with a truck at a Christmas market in the west of Berlin on Monday 2016. Photo by REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

PALM BEACH, Fla. — Jumping ahead of investigators, President-elect Donald Trump is blaming Islamic terrorists for deadly violence in Turkey and Germany and vowing anew to eradicate their regional and global networks.

Authorities in both countries were still investigating Monday when Trump issued a pair of statements condemning the attacks, the same day the Electoral College formally awarded him the presidency.

By Tuesday morning, Trump was back on Twitter striking out at an insult from Bill Clinton. The ex-president told a suburban New York City newspaper this month that Trump "doesn't know much. One thing he does know is how to get angry, white men to vote for him."

The Bedford-Pound Ridge Record Review also reported that Bill Clinton claimed that Trump called him after his election victory over Hillary Clinton.

"Wrong, he called me (with a very nice congratulations)," Trump said in a two-part tweet. The president-elect added that Bill Clinton is the one who "'doesn't know much'… especially how to get people, even with an unlimited budget, out to vote in the vital swing states (and more)." The Clinton campaign, he said, "focused on the wrong states."

That was Trump's reminder that he defeated Hillary Clinton in such battlegrounds as Pennsylvania and scored surprise victories elsewhere — such as Wisconsin.

The tweets came after a rattling day of violence around the world.

Trump called the brazen shooting of Russia's ambassador to Turkey "a violation of all rules of civilized order." He added that a "radical Islamic terrorist" had assassinated the diplomat, Andrei Karlov.

Turkish authorities identified the gunman as Mevlut Mert Altintas, a member of Ankara's riot police squad, and said he was later killed in a shootout with police. Altintas shouted in Turkish about the Syrian city of Aleppo and also yelled "Allahu akbar," Arabic for "God is great."

In Berlin, where at least 12 people were killed, Trump said the Islamic State group "and other Islamist terrorists continually slaughter Christians in their communities and places of worship as part of their global jihad."

He added that these terrorists and their regional and worldwide networks "must be eradicated from the face of the Earth" and pledged to carry out that mission with "all freedom-loving partners."

He later tweeted: "Today there were terror attacks in Turkey, Switzerland and Germany — and it is only getting worse. The civilized world must change thinking!"

In Zurich, police said three people were wounded when a gunman opened fire in the prayer hall of a mosque frequented by Somali immigrants.

Trump vowed during the presidential campaign to go after the Islamic State group, but repeatedly declined to fill in the public on his plan.

His statements came at the end of a day in which he was formally elected president by the Electoral College, clearing the way for his Jan. 20 inauguration. Trump also announced his candidate for secretary of the Army on Monday and held a round of transition meetings.

He was expected to hold additional transition meetings at his Palm Beach, Florida, estate on Tuesday and Wednesday.

His choice of Army veteran and fellow New Yorker Vincent Viola to be Army secretary will put another billionaire in a leading position in the new administration. Viola is a West Point graduate who joins a list of people with military backgrounds already bound for the Cabinet. Trump's picks for defense secretary, homeland security secretary, national security adviser and deputy national security adviser are retired military.

Viola was the first member of his family to attend college. He was trained as an Airborne Ranger infantry officer and served in the 101st Airborne Division. A lawyer, he started multiple businesses, became a billionaire and bought the Florida Panthers hockey team for $250 million in 2013.

Trump has already tapped several wealthy businessmen for jobs, including fast-food executive Andy Puzder to be secretary for the Labor Department, billionaire investor Wilbur Ross for Commerce, financier Steven Mnuchin for Treasury and Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn as his top economic adviser.

Trump still has numerous other posts to fill, such as U.S. trade representative. Among those he met with on Monday at his Mar-a-Lago estate was Robert Lighthizer, a deputy U.S. trade representative in the Reagan administration, Trump's aides said.

Trump is spending the run-up to Christmas with his family.

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