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Politics

Trump Says His "Obama Founded ISIS" Remark Was Sarcasm

The Republican presidential nominee repeatedly said Obama was the founder of ISIS in speeches and interviews.

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Donald Trump said Friday that his comment calling President Obama the founder of ISIS was "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 on Thursday had doubled down on his statement made at a Florida rally, calling President Obama the founder of ISIS. "He was the founder of ISIS and so was [Hillary]. I call them cofounders," he told CNBC.

Trump, asked if calling Pres. Obama the "founder of ISIS" is appropriate: "He is the founder of ISIS, absolutely."

Trump told his supporters at the Florida rally that ISIS "honors" Obama. "He's the founder of ISIS. He’s the founder of ISIS. He’s the founder. He founded ISIS," adding, "I would say the co-founder would be crooked Hillary Clinton."

When asked by CNBC if it was appropriate to call the sitting president of the US the founder of a terrorist organization that wants to kill Americans, Trump responded, "He was the founder of ISIS, absolutely. The way he removed our troops, shouldn't have gone in."

He called Obama and Clinton the "Most Valuable Players" in the Iraq and ISIS "situation."

He also criticized Obama for calling the terrorist organization "ISIL," saying, "He calls it ISIL because nobody else does and probably wants to bother people by using a different term."

He continued: "He was the founder of ISIS and so was she. I call them cofounders."

He then asked the interviewer, "Is there something wrong with saying that? Are people complaining that I said he was the founder of ISIS?"

Trump also claimed that he was "totally against" the war in Iraq and called the US invasion into Iraq "a horrible mistake."

"I wouldn't have gone into Iraq. But that mistake was made," he told CNBC.

However, Trump's previous statements contradict his claim. In 2002, when asked by Howard Stern if he would invade Iraq, he said "Yeah, I guess so." He also called the invasion "“tremendous success from a military standpoint" one day into the war.

Through the years, Trump has shifted his position on the war.

Trump also argued with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt about what he meant when he said Obama founded ISIS. After Hewitt told Trump that Obama "hates" ISIS and "is trying to kill them," Trump responded, "I don't care. He was the founder."

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In an interview Thursday, Hewitt told Trump that he knew what the presidential nominee meant when he said Obama founded ISIS. "You meant that he created the vacuum, he lost the peace," Hewitt said.

Trump responded, "No, I meant he's the founder of ISIS. I do. He was the most valuable player."

Hewitt then argued, "But he's not sympathetic to them. He hates them. He's trying to kill them."

"I don't care," Trump replied. "He was the founder. His, the way he got out of Iraq, was that, that was the founding of ISIS, ok?"

Responding to Trump's comments, Clinton's senior adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement Thursday, "This is another example of Donald Trump trash-talking the United States. It goes without saying that this is a false claim from a presidential candidate with an aversion to the truth and an unprecedented lack of knowledge."

Sullivan said that Trump was echoing the "talking points of Putin and our adversaries" to attack American leaders, while "failing to offer any serious plans to confront terrorism or make this country more secure."

Trump also told CNBC that "it's ok" if he lost the presidential election because he would go back to "a very good way of life."

Evan Vucci / AP

Trump said, "I'm a truth teller. All I do is tell the truth. And 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 ok. You know, 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."

He later said, "at the end, it's either going to work or I'm going to have a very very nice long vacation."

In response to the backlash to his comment that the "Second Amendment people" could stop Clinton from appointing Supreme Court judges, Trump told CNBC, "Nothing was said wrong and only the haters tried to grab onto that one."

He also refused to comment on whether he made a mistake criticizing the Muslim parents of a slain American soldier, saying, "You'll have to define what a mistake means." He said the the controversy about his comments on the Khan family had "been put to bed for a long time."

Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at tasneem.nashrulla@buzzfeed.com.

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