Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump now says his remarks that President Obama is the “founder of ISIS” were “sarcasm,” just one day after repeatedly reaffirming the statement as “no mistake,” and after conservative media figures defended his charge as “100 percent accurate.”
Trump Calls President Obama The “Founder Of ISIS”
NY Times: “Donald Trump Calls Obama ‘Founder of ISIS’ and Says It Honors Him." The New York Times reported that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump told a crowd at a campaign event in Florida that President Obama is “the founder” of ISIS. Trump said, “In many respects, you know, [ISIS] honor[s] President Obama. ... He’s the founder of ISIS. He’s the founder of ISIS. He’s the founder. He founded ISIS.” From the August 10 report:
SUNRISE, Fla. — A day after remarks that appeared to suggest that gun rights advocates harm Hillary Clinton, Donald J. Trump sprayed his fire at President Obama on Wednesday, accusing him of creating the Islamic State and saying the terrorist group “honors” him.
“In many respects, you know, they honor President Obama,” Mr. Trump told a raucous and rowdy crowd in Florida on Wednesday night. “He’s the founder of ISIS. He’s the founder of ISIS. He’s the founder. He founded ISIS.” He added, “I would say the co-founder would be crooked Hillary Clinton.” During an extended riff on the crisis in Crimea, Mr. Trump added extra emphasis on the president’s full name, saying that it occurred “during the administration of Barack Hussein Obama.”
Mr. Trump’s statement was an escalation in his recent criticism of the Obama administration’s handling of the terror threat, as he had previously accused only Mrs. Clinton of having a “founding” role in the terror group. His suggestion that the president was honored by ISIS recalled an earlier controversy when Mr. Trump seemingly implied that the president had some connection to the terrorist massacre of 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. [The New York Times, 8/10/16]
Trump Later Reaffirmed His Claim, Saying His Comment Was “No Mistake”
CNN: Trump Tells Hugh Hewitt, “No, I Meant He's The Founder Of ISIS.” CNN reported that Trump told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on August 11 that “he meant exactly what he said when he called President Barack Obama the ‘founder of ISIS.’” Hewitt tried to help Trump clarify his position, saying “you meant that he created the vacuum [for ISIS].’” But Trump refuted Hewitt saying, “No, I meant he's the founder of ISIS. I do.” From the August 11 report:
Washington (CNN) -- Donald Trump said Thursday that he meant exactly what he said when he called President Barack Obama the “founder of ISIS” and objected when a conservative radio show host tried to clarify the GOP nominee's position.
Trump was asked by host Hugh Hewitt about the comments Trump made Wednesday night in Florida, and Hewitt said he understood Trump to mean “that he (Obama) created the vacuum, he lost the peace.”
“No, I meant he's the founder of ISIS,” Trump said. “I do. He was the most valuable player. I give him the most valuable player award. I give her, too, by the way, Hillary Clinton.”
Hewitt pushed back again, saying that Obama is “not sympathetic” to ISIS and “hates” and is “trying to kill them.”
“I don't care,” Trump said, according to a show transcript. “He was the founder. His, the way he got out of Iraq was that that was the founding of ISIS, okay?”
But the GOP nominee remained steadfast, saying it was “no mistake” what he said, standing by his labeling of the Democratic opponent as a “co-founder.”
“Do you not like that?” Trump asked Hewitt.
“I think I would say they created, they lost the peace. They created the Libyan vacuum, they created the vacuum into which ISIS came, but they didn't create ISIS. That's what I would say,” Hewitt said.
Wash. Post: Trump Says Obama “Was Absolutely The Founder Of ISIS …. All I Do Is Tell The Truth.” The Washington Post reported that Trump reaffirmed his remarks on CNBC as well when he told Scott Wapner that Obama was “absolutely the founder” of ISIS. When asked how he believed his comment would “play in some battleground states,” Trump responded, “ Look, all I do is tell the truth. I’m a truth teller.” From the August 11 interview:
SCOTT WAPNER: I want to ask you about the rally last night in Florida that you reference where you called the president of the United States the founder of ISIS. You said it repeatedly. President Obama is the founder of ISIS, he's the founder, he founded ISIS. Do you think it's appropriate to call the sitting president of the United States the founder of a terrorist organization that wants to kill Americans?
DONALD TRUMP: He was the founder of ISIS, absolutely. The way he removed our troops. Shouldn't have gone in. I was against the war in Iraq even though I was a civilian and no one cared. I was totally against it even though sifs [sic] civilian so nobody cared. I wouldn't have gone into Iraq. That was a horrible mistake. One of the worst mistakes in the history of our country we destabilized the Middle East. We've been paying the price of it for years. But he was absolutely the founder. In fact, he gets in sports they have awards he gets the most valuable player award. Him and Hillary. She gets it too. I gave her co-founder if you really looked at this speech. I think you probably did. But he and Hillary get the most valuable player award having to do with Iraq. And having to do with the ISIS situation or as he would call it ISIL. He calls it ISIL because nobody else does and probably wants to bother people by using another term. Whether it's more accurate or not. Most people call it ISIS; he calls it ISIL. It's ISIS. He was the founder of ISIS and so was she. I call them co-founders.
WAPNER: Not only do you not think it was an issue --
TRUMP: Because of the way he got out as bad as it was when they went in, they should have never gotten in. He shouldn't have gotten in the way he got out -- he shouldn't have gotten out the way he got out was a disaster what he did.
WAPNER: But how do you think --
TRUMP: Is there something wrong with saying that? Are people complaining that I said he was the founder of ISIS?
WAPNER: I’m wondering how you think that's going to play in some battleground states.
TRUMP: I don't know. Whatever it is it is. Look, all I do is tell the truth. I’m a truth teller. All I do is tell the truth. If at the end of 90 days I fall in short because I’m somewhat politically correct even though I’m supposed to be the smart one and even though I’m supposed to have a lot of good ideas, it's okay. I go back to a very good way of life. It's not what I’m looking to do. I think we're going to have a victory, but we'll see. [The Washington Post, 8/11/16]
Conservative Commentators Defended Trump’s Comment By Explaining How It Might Be True
On CNN’s New Day, Rudy Giuliani Defends Trump: The Notion That President Obama Founded ISIS Is “True” And “Legitimate Political Commentary.” On CNN’s New Day, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani told host Chris Cuomo that Trump’s charge that Obama founded ISIS is “true” and “legitimate political commentary.” From the August 11 edition of CNN's New Day:
CHRIS CUOMO (CO-HOST): With all the legitimate angles of attack on the current state of play with ISIS and the United States, why go the route of saying that President Barack Hussein Obama founded ISIS. He didn't found ISIS. And then he says “ISIS honors Obama. ISIS doesn't ”honor Obama." Why say those things?
RUDY GIULIANI: Well, first of all, I think what he's saying there is legitimate political commentary, legitimate political --
CUOMO: But it's not true.
GIULIANI: Well it is true in the sense that, before Obama, ISIS was an almost unknown, small little organization. He even called it the JV. Totally wrong. And here's why it happened. Because he withdrew the troops from Iraq. General Petraeus had secured the eastern part of Iraq. It wasn't in turmoil, it wasn't in revolution, it wasn't breeding terrorists. He had gotten the support of the Sunni tribes. When we pulled out and the Obama administration and our secretary of state were unable to get a security of forces agreement for our troops, that's when ISIS formed. [CNN, New Day, 8/11/16]
Fox’s Hannity: Trump’s Charge Is “100 Percent Accurate,” Because Obama And Hillary Clinton “Created The Opening” For ISIS. On Fox News’ Hannity, host Sean Hannity told Oliver North that he believes Trump’s charge that President Obama is the ‘founder of ISIS’ is “100 percent accurate” and that he “agrees with Trump’s comment” and has “said it for a long time.” From the August 11 edition of Fox New’s Hannity:
SEAN HANNITY (HOST): It’s very interesting because -- I agree with that, I’ve said it for a long time. They created the opening, the vacuum for ISIS because Hillary voted for the war\, she was part of politicizing that war. They gave back, literally handed back to ISIS Mosul, Ramadi, Tikrit, Fallujah, and they also had the financial resources to spread there their reign of terror.
It’s a very unique positionand I think his charge is 100 percent accurate. We should have stayed. We wouldn’t have the problem with ISIS, the vacuum that was created there and in Syria. [Fox News, Hannity, 8/11/16]
On CNN, Kayleigh McEnany Defends Trump: Obama In A Sense Is The Founder Of ISIS. On CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, Kayleigh McEnany defended Trump, saying President Obama “opened up room for ISIS to grow” and “in that sense he is” the founder of ISIS. From the August 10 edition:
JOHN BERMAN (GUEST HOST): Let's talk about what Donald Trump said. Kayleigh McEnany, Donald Trump called President Obama “The founder of ISIS.”
KAYLEIGH MCENANY: Well, look, he opened up room for ISIS to grow, by not leaving a stay-behind force in Iraq, by invading Libya, invading Syria, allowing ISIS to grow from a small contingency to 40,000 strong. So, in that sense he is. And let's not forget when Hillary Clinton called Donald Trump an ISIS propagandist. So, you know the other side isn't completely innocent of throwing around ISIS accusations, but I think in this case, this accusation is far more accurate than Donald Trump being an ISIS propagandist.
BERMAN: ISIS was Al Qaeda in Iraq, which was founded after 2003, 2004, before Barack Obama was president. You know, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi is the founder of ISIS, in fact, not President Obama. [CNN, Anderson Cooper 360, 8/10/16]
Fox’s The O’Reilly Factor: Eric Bolling Suggests To Trump That Obama Is "An Enabler Of ISIS.” On Fox News’ The O'Reilly Factor, guest host Eric Bolling told Trump that “some people are saying” President Obama is “maybe not the founder” of ISIS “but possibly he’s an enabler of ISIS.” From the August 11 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
ERIC BOLLING (GUEST HOST): Just a few hours ago, Hillary Clinton suggested you were just repeating Vladimir Putin's talking points.
DONALD TRUMP: Well, I didn't know about Putin saying anything about it, but everybody knows that first of all we should have never -- and I have been saying from the beginning, we should have never got into Iraq. But once we were in, we should have never left the way we left, Eric. We took -- we just left it open, and that's when ISIS really came about, big league. And now they're in 28 different countries. The president has been trying to play down ISIS like it's not that big of a deal, like they are not as powerful. We should knock them out, we should knock the hell out of them. He's not willing to do that. As far as I'm concerned, and I will say it, and I will say it to anybody that wants to listen, he is a founder of ISIS. They must love him, because without him you wouldn't have the threat, the horrible situation going on around the world with ISIS.
BOLLING: Some people are saying maybe not the founder, but possibly he's an enabler of ISIS, where I think you might get some agreement even on the Democrat side.
TRUMP: Well, I'd call him a founder. Look, ISIS could have been knocked out, it could have been knocked out pretty swiftly. The way he got out -- we shouldn't have been in Iraq, but we shouldn't have gotten out the way we got out, where he gives a date, where he said this is when approximately, and then even in detail when we're leaving. He -- look, he has been as a president a disaster, bad judgment, but really bad judgement -- as said by Bernie Sanders, bad judgment is Hillary Clinton. Bernie Sanders said she suffers from bad judgment. She certainly does. You can throw Libya into the puzzle, you can throw plenty of other things into the puzzle. The two of them have been catastrophic for our country, and he is the founder, and she is right there with him. [Fox News, The O’Reilly Factor, 8/11/16]
On Fox’s The Kelly File, Sebastian Gorka Says Trump “Is Absolutely Right” If He Means That Obama “Facilitated The Growth Of ISIS.” On Fox News’ The Kelly File, conservative terrorism pundit Sebastian Gorka told guest host Sandra Smith that Trump is “absolutely right” that President Obama “facilitated the growth of ISIS.” From the August 11 edition of Fox News’ The Kelly File:
SANDRA SMITH (HOST): What do you think that Donald Trump meant when he said that President Obama is the founder of ISIS?
SEBASTIAN GORKA: Well, I’m not his spokesman. I’m not part of his campaign, so let him talk for himself, but if he means that the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton facilitated the growth of ISIS into the most powerful jihadi insurgency the world has ever seen, his is absolutely right. Let's just look at the facts. In 2008 when this senator from Illinois became the president and afterwards appointed Hillary as his secretary of state, at that moment in time, ISIS didn't exist. Al Qaeda in Iraq, the forerunner of ISIS, was one regional franchise inside Iraq. When we withdrew our troops, when we started to cook the books on intelligence, as you hear from the CENTCOM analyst, then we facilitated the rise of ISIS with these false red lines in Syria that meant nothing. All the things were put in place by this administration to help this former Al Qaeda franchise become a trans-regional insurgency with more than 80,000 fighters today. That's fact. [Fox News, The Kelly File, 8/11/16]
But One Day Later, Trump Reversed Course, Saying He Was Just Being Sarcastic
CNN: “They Don’t Get My Sarcasm?” Trump Walks Back His Comments After Repeating Them Numerous Times. CNN reported that Trump “attempted to walk back the widely criticized false claim” that Obama and Clinton were the “co-founders” of ISIS when he tweeted, “They don’t get my sarcasm?” From the August 12 CNN report:
Washington (CNN) -- Donald Trump on Friday attempted to walk back the widely criticized false claim he repeatedly made over the last two days that President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were “co-founders” of ISIS -- saying he was being sarcastic.
Trump tweeted Friday morning that the media was missing his sarcasm.
“Ratings challenged @CNN reports so seriously that I call President Obama (and Clinton) ”the founder" of ISIS, & MVP. THEY DON'T GET SARCASM?" Trump wrote.
Trump's attorney Michael Cohen told CNN's Chris Cuomo on “New Day” on Friday that his boss would have to speak for himself on the issue of Obama and ISIS, but decried the media for over-analyzing Trump's words.
“Only Mr. Trump can answer and will answer for his tweet and statement,” Cohen said.
“The mainstream media wants to pick on every single word. Again, I think Mr. Trump will answer this question better than anybody else, and I think it should be left for him to answer.” [CNN.com, 8/12/16]