WHITE HOUSE RACE: ANALYSIS

Donald Trump walks back accusations Barack Obama ‘founded’ Islamic State, claiming he was being sarcastic

Trump also said he considered Clinton, his Democratic rival for the presidency, to be the co-founder of IS

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 August, 2016, 8:44pm
UPDATED : Friday, 12 August, 2016, 8:44pm

Donald Trump backtracked on Friday from his assertion that President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton founded Islamic State (IS), saying he was just being sarcastic.

As he often does, the Republican presidential nominee accused the news media of misconstruing something he said. In this case, he targeted CNN, although his comments on the jihadist group and the president were picked up across the news spectrum.

“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 in a tweet.

Anyone willing to sink so low, so often should never be allowed to serve as our commander-in-chief
Hillary Clinton

Trump first made the accusation on Wednesday at a rally in Florida, and repeated it in interviews Thursday. He appeared to be channelling the argument that the US troop withdrawal from Iraq under Obama, with Clinton serving as secretary of state, created a vacuum that allowed IS to emerge and flourish in Iraq and Syria. But Trump did not explain fully what he meant.

He also said he considered Clinton, his Democratic rival for the presidency, to be the co-founder of IS. The Clinton team responded Thursday by calling the assertion outlandish.

“Anyone willing to sink so low, so often should never be allowed to serve as our commander-in-chief,” Clinton wrote in a tweet.

Trump tends to stand by his often freewheeling accusations and assertions. But last month he used the same defence as this time – he was just being sarcastic – after seeming to appeal to Russian hackers to find deleted emails at the centre of a controversy dogging Clinton’s campaign.

And last week he did actually acknowledge an error, which was very rare for him. Trump acknowledged on August 5 he was wrong in claiming to have seen secret Iranian footage of $400 million in cash being delivered to Tehran as payment for the release of US prisoners.

But that widely viewed footage is believed instead to show the moment in January when three of five American prisoners freed by Iran get off a plane in Geneva. In a tweet last Friday, Trump said this is indeed what he saw.