Under pressure from Republican leaders, the Justice Department on Monday afternoon reversed itself and released a full, unredacted transcript of the Orlando terrorist's 911 call on the night of the massacre, calling the morning’s furor over omissions in the document “an unnecessary distraction."
June 20, 2016
An earlier version of the transcript had deleted the word “Islamic State” and the name of ISIS leader “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.” Omar Mateen made the 50-second 911 call in which he claimed responsibility for the terror attack and pledged allegiance to Islamic State's leader at 2:35 a.m. The call came just over a half hour into the June 12 slaughter at gay nightclub Pulse.
“I pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may God protect him [in Arabic], on behalf of the Islamic State,” Mateen says on the new transcript.
The old version had several words scrubbed and read: "I pledge allegiance to [omitted] may God protect him [in Arabic], on behalf of [omitted]."
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., called the earlier decision by DOJ and the FBI to release only a partial transcript "preposterous."
"We know the shooter was a radical Islamist extremist inspired by ISIS," Ryan said in a statement. "We also know he intentionally targeted the LGBT community. The administration should release the full, unredacted transcript so the public is clear-eyed about who did this, and why."
Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott also took aim at the edited accounting of Mateen's statements the night he killed 49 and wounded 53 more.
"This is evil, this is ISIS. It's radical Islam," Scott told Fox News earlier Monday. "At some point, we lost 49 lives here and we lost a journalist who was beheaded by ISIS. We need a president that’s going to say I care about destroying ISIS."
Attorney General Loretta Lynch went on numerous Sunday talk shows with the news that the partial transcripts would be released on Monday, immediately generating controversy from not only elected officials, but media outlets. On Monday, the White House said the decision was made solely by the Justice Department.
“All of the decisions about releasing the transcripts were made by Justice Department officials,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said at the daily press briefing at the White House. “The view of the White House is that we should not interfere with an ongoing investigation and rather that those decisions should be made consistent with the assessment by law enforcement officials about the best way to advance the investigation.”
The FBI and DOJ reversed the morning decision and released the full transcript in an afternoon news release.
"Unfortunately, the unreleased portions of the transcript that named the terrorist organizations and leaders have caused an unnecessary distraction from the hard work that the FBI and our law enforcement partners have been doing to investigate this heinous crime," the organizations said in a statement.