Trump refuses to walk back his accusation Obama is "the founder of ISIS": "He was the most valuable player"

"It's no mistake," Trump told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt of his latest controversial statement

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published August 11, 2016 2:28PM (EDT)

Barack Obama, Donald Trump   (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque/AP/Chris Carlson/Photo montage by Salon)
Barack Obama, Donald Trump (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque/AP/Chris Carlson/Photo montage by Salon)

Now that Donald Trump has definitively made clear that no one should expect any so-called "presidential pivot," there shouldn't be anybody in the media who expects an ounce of regret to ever be uttered by the demagogue following any of his outrageous statements.

Still, plenty apparently do.

"Last night, you said the President was the founder of ISIS. I know what you meant. You meant that he created the vacuum, he lost the peace," conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt said to Trump Thursday morning, attempting his best clean up of Trump's pointed accusation against Obama Wednesday evening:

"Is there something wrong with saying that? Why? Are people complaining that I said he was the founder of ISIS?" Trump asked incredulously the next morning, facing his second straight day of national controversy after publicly swearing off any presidential pivot.

Appearing on CNBC's "Squawkbox" Thursday morning, Trump doubled down on his comments after being pressed on whether he felt accusing the U.S. President of creating a terrorist organization is "appropriate."

"He and Hillary gets the most valuable player award having to do with Iraq and having to do with the ISIS situation," Trump asserted, criticizing Obama for "the way he removed our troops" from Iraq.

Later on Hewitt's show, Trump repeatedly rejected the friendly host's off-ramps to a more nuanced and policy-based argument linking Obama to the creation of ISIS (however, flawed).

"I know what you meant. You meant that he created the vacuum, he lost the peace," Hewitt attempted to guide Trump.

"No, I meant he’s the founder of ISIS. I do," Trump stated flatly, standing firm.

"But he’s not sympathetic to them. He hates them. He’s trying to kill them," a shocked Hewitt said, left defending the President.

"I don’t care. He was the founder," Trump insisted.

"They screwed everything up," Hewitt allowed, "But by using the term founder, they’re hitting with you on this again."

"Mistake?" Hewitt tried again.

"No, it’s no mistake," Trump refused. "Everyone’s liking it. I think they’re liking it," he assured the host.

"I give him the most valuable player award. And I give it to him, and I give it to, I gave the co-founder to Hillary. I don’t know if you heard that," he added, repeating a line he has been saying since January.

"I know what you’re arguing," Hewitt tirelessly continued.

"Do you not like that?" Trump shot back.

"I don’t. 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 finally offered Trump.

"Well, I disagree."

Forget the "presidential pivot" people.

By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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