Donald Trump said twice 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?”
Hewitt and Trump went back and forth after that, with Hewitt warning Trump that his critics would seize on his use of “founder” as more example of Trump being loose with words.
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.
“Well, I disagree,” Trump replied, and Hewitt moved on.
The criticism that the policies of President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are mostly originating from right-wing conspiracy cranks like Breitbart.com, Alex Jones, or Senator John McCain. Taking the idea a step further to suggest Obama and Clinton literally founded the terrorist group is something far more nefarious.
Former ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul hit Trump on the comments, saying they mimicked Russian talking points designed to sow anger toward the US and the West.
“BTW, Trumps line that Obama founded ISIS echoes exactly a myth propagated by Russian state-controlled media and bloggers,” McFaul tweeted.
Trump claiming that because President Obama withdrew troops from Iraq, thus creating ISIS, is patently false.
First, Obama was honoring an agreement between Iraq and the United States for a timeline to withdraw troops signed on December 14, 2008 by President George W. Bush. You might remember the press conference to announce the strategic agreement more for Bush dodging a shoe thrown at him than the actual details of the timeline.
Second, will require quick history lesson to show at no time did Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama walk into a room and declare, “Hey guys you know what would be a great idea? A new Islamic caliphate in the Levant!”
ISIS was originally formed in 1999 under the name “Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad” and was greatly expanded in 2003 by former members of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath party who were out of a job after the George W. Bush-lead invasion of Iraq, which was based on faulty evidence. Without a strong-man dictator in the area and a weak Iraqi government, ISIS had a chance to expand even more by pledging allegiance to Osama Bin Laden and changed their name to al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI or ISI) in 2004.
After years of fighting in the Iraqi Civil War and blowing themselves up, in 2011 some members of AQI saw an opportunity in the Syrian Civil War and left on an expedition calling themselves al-Nusra. Al-Nusra joined the Free Syrian Army (FEA), a loose confederation of different factions fighting the Assad Syrian government, and were known to be the largest, best organized, and most experienced, having fought an insurgent campaign against American forces since the start of the invasion of Iraq. This caused many Islamic fundamentalist FEA fighters leave their factions for al-Nusra, where their membership continued to grow. In December 2011, shortly after al-Nusra joined the FEA, President Obama declared the group a terrorist organization, and prevented them from receiving weapons from the US in the fight against the Assad government.
After political infighting Al-Qaeda disavowed AQI, and eventually AQI and al-Nusra merged together under the new name ISIS in 2013.
This is not the first time Donald Trump has made this false claim. Back in January 2nd at a rally in Biloxi, Mississippi he told the crowd that, “Hillary Clinton created ISIS with Obama.” On June 13th in an interview with Fox News and again in a tweet on June 15th, Trump suggested that President Obama was an ISIS sympathizer.
Hugh Hewitt Show:
Speech at National Association of Home Builders: