Trump debate guests include Malik Obama and Patricia Smith

New York Times News Service

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have both tried to rattle each other during the debates by inviting guests who might unsettle their opponent, but Trump, a talented showman running a scorched-earth presidential campaign, has excelled at inviting attention-grabbing guests.

The third and final debate Wednesday appeared to continue that trend. One of his guests was Wayne Newton, after all.

A quick recap of their past guests:

Clinton took a well-known Trump antagonist, the billionaire Mark Cuban, to the first debate in September on Long Island. He will be in attendance again Wednesday along with Meg Whitman, a former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard and a Republican fundraiser.

Trump’s guest list for the second debate in October in St. Louis raised eyebrows. It included three women who have accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault or sexual harassment in the past: Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey and Juanita Broaddrick.

Malik Obama, the president’s half brother, and Patricia Smith, whose son was killed in the attack in Benghazi, Libya, were among Trump’s guests Wednesday. Here is a quick guide to who they are.

— Malik Obama

Obama is a U.S. citizen, a vocal Trump supporter and an estranged relative of the president. Unlike President Barack Obama, he is a Muslim. He runs a foundation named after their father, Barack Obama Sr., that operated in the United States for several years without the proper registration.

Malik Obama appears to hold some controversial political beliefs. He told The New York Times in 2014 that he was a supporter of the former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi. On Wednesday The Times of Israel reported that he also appeared to be sympathetic toward the Palestinian terror group Hamas.

Noga Tarnopolsky, an Israeli journalist, tweeted an image of Malik Obama from the foundation’s website, wearing a Palestinian scarf whose design is often associated with Hamas. It had two anti-Israel slogans embroidered on it, “Jerusalem is ours — we are coming” and “from the river to the sea.”

Malik Obama’s path to endorsing Trump is unclear. He was the best man at the president’s wedding, and as recently as 2013 he described their relationship as “close.” But that appears to have changed.

He told The New York Post in July that he was disappointed in Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for backing the removal of Gadhafi in 2011 and for embracing same-sex marriage. (He is a polygamist but has declined to state publicly how many wives he has.)

He also complained, in an interview Tuesday, of personal slights, telling The Post that the president did not donate money to his foundation and did not receive him warmly on a visit to Washington.

“I went to the White House to say hello,” he said. “As usual, it was a hands-off kind of thing, very businesslike, very formal.”

— Patricia Smith

Patricia Smith is the mother of Sean Smith, who was killed in the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi that also took the life of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. She is a passionate opponent of Hillary Clinton.

During an emotional speech at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, she said she held Clinton personally responsible for her son’s death. She also accused her of lying about the nature of the attack by saying it was in response to a YouTube video that mocked Islam.

“If Hillary Clinton can’t give us the truth, why should we give her the presidency?” Smith said at the convention. “That’s right, Hillary for prison. She deserves to be in stripes!”

Smith and Charles Woods, the parent of another Benghazi victim, Tyrone Woods, filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Clinton in August. The lawsuit argued that their children’s deaths were “directly and proximately caused, at a minimum,” by Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.

A presidential debate watch party held by the Democratic Volunteer Center of Mountain View, in Mountain View, Calif., Oct. 19, 2016. (Jim Wilson/The New York Times)

In an interview in August with right-wing outlet Breitbart News, Smith said that Clinton and the Obama administration “treat me like dirt.” The interview was conducted by Stephen K. Bannon, who is now the chief executive of the Trump campaign.

“I wanted Hillary to explain mainly why she did what she did,” Smith told Bannon. “I want the whole world to know what Hillary would do. She purposely treats me like dirt and will not answer any questions that I have.”

In June, the House Select Committee on Benghazi issued its final report, which found no new evidence of wrongdoing by Clinton in connection with the Benghazi attack.