The Slatest

Your Guide to Donald Trump’s Debate Guests, Who Will Not Psych Out Hillary Clinton

Former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell delivers a speech on the first day of the Republican National Convention on July 18 in Cleveland.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Donald Trump campaign CEO Steve Bannon told CNN’s Brian Stelter earlier Wednesday that inviting Malik Obama—the president’s half-brother—to this evening’s debate was only the “appetizer” of what dumb muppet stunts they have in store to totally psych out Hillary Clinton. As Slate’s Osita Nwanevu wrote, it’s “worth asking how Malik’s appearance will in any way rattle the Clintons, who are not the Obamas.” So what’s the main course?

Ace NBC Trump reporter Katy Tur has the menu:


If this is the case, Trump’s essentially trying to recreate the first night of the Republican National Convention. For those who weren’t watching, here’s who these people are:


Ambassador Chris Stevens’ fiancée

This is Lydie Denier, an actress who was now-deceased former Libya ambassador Chris Stevens’ fiancée for a brief time … in 1995. Denier has resurfaced this year in a sensational blitz of conservative news publicity trading on that old connection. Chris Stevens’ real family has asked Donald Trump to stop blaming Hillary Clinton for Benghazi.

“Lone Survivor” Marcus Luttrell

Luttrell is a decorated, retired Navy SEAL who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. When serving in the latter, his team was ambushed, and he was the only survivor. He wrote the memoir Lone Survivor, which was loosely adapted into a movie starring Mark Wahlberg. He spoke at the first night of the Republican National Convention.


Angel Moms

These are the women whose family tragedies Trump exploited at both his speeches at the Republican National Convention to demonstrate his belief that undocumented immigrants are in the country explicitly to kill you and your family. These “Angel Moms,” by the way, are not representatives of the actual group Angel Moms, “a group of mothers who have lost children,” but are instead are affiliated with another group, the Remembrance Project, which “advocates for families whose loved ones were killed by illegal aliens.”

Pat Smith

Smith is the mother of Sean Smith, who was killed in the Benghazi attack. She said at the RNC that she blames “Hillary Clinton personally for the death of my son.”

In psych-out terms, Malik Obama is still the best of the bunch, just because what the hell is that even about? But several of these people, those who have dealt with significant tragedy in their lives only to be used as props, will probably make us feel very sad, just as seeing Juanita Broaddrick, Kathy Shelton, Kathleen Willey, and Paula Jones did at the second debate. None of them seem likely to spook Clinton. Maybe more will be announced? Wake us up when they drag Vince Foster’s coffin into the debate hall.

Read more Slate coverage of the 2016 campaign.