Donald Trump, who has been extremely critical of President Obama’s anti-terrorism strategies in the Middle East, stated that Obama is the “founder of ISIS” at a rally in Florida on Wednesday, The New York Times reports. This remark comes only days after Trump’s Second Amendment comments.
According to NBC News, Trump further claimed that ISIS “honors” Obama, and even called Hillary Clinton the “co-founder” of the extremist group. Trump went on to discuss the Russian’s involvement and the crisis in Crimea, stating that this event occurred “during the administration of Barrack Hussein Obama”, which was meant as a jab of the President’s handling of the situation, the Times reports.
In an interview on Thursday morning, conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt asked Trump to clarify his remarks. Hewitt said in the interview that he “knew what [Trump] meant,” adding that Trump meant that Obama “created a vacuum” and “lost the peace.” “No, I meant that he’s the founder of ISIS,” Trump replied.
Trump also held an interview with CNBC, in which he said Obama “was the founder of ISIS, absolutely,” CNN reports. “The way he removed our troops—you shouldn’t have gone in. I was against the war in Iraq. Totally against it. That mistake was made. It was a horrible mistake—one of the worst mistakes in the history of our country. We destabilized the Middle East and we’ve been paying the price for it for years,” Trump added.
A spokesperson from Hillary Clinton’s campaign dismissed Trump’s statement, saying that it was “another example” of Trump “trash-talking the United States,” NBC reports. The White House did not respond to Trump’s remarks.
According to CNN, critics say Obama has downplayed the terror threat and failed to anticipate the rise of the extremist group.
Michael Hayden, former Director of the CIA and NSA, said that Trump made a valid point on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Thursday, NBC reports. “The actions of the Obama administration in withdrawing from Iraq actually set the conditions for the recovery of al Qaeda in Iraq, which then became ISIS. So there’s a very powerful case to be made,” Hayden said.
Early Friday morning, Trump tweeted that his comments about ISIS were “sarcasm.”