The Buzz

McCaskill says Trump and ‘his friend Putin’ are more to blame for ISIS than Obama, Clinton

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri
U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri

Barack Obama the founder of the Islamic State? No, insisted Hillary Clinton surrogate Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, that’s more the work of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.

The Democratic U.S. senator appeared on “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace” to carry the day’s talking points for the Clinton campaign.

First, she defended the presidential nominee against growing charges of conflicts of interest between Clinton’s service as secretary of state and the internationally focused foundation she leads with her husband.

Then Wallace asked her about Trump’s statement last week that Obama was “the founder” of the Islamic State — also known as ISIS, or ISIL — and that Clinton, as secretary of state, was “co-founder.”

When Trump was first asked whether he really believed Obama had founded the world’s largest terror group, he said that he was not being figurative, but rather literal. Then later he insisted that his comments were sarcastic, meant to draw attention to a failed Democratic foreign policy.

McCaskill argued that a vacuum of power in the Middle East, and the subsequent rise of ISIS, stemmed partly from how the George W. Bush administration had been forced to withdraw troops from Iraq. The terms of that withdrawal were determined by Iraqi parliament refusing to grant the U.S. military immunity for its actions there. That launched her into a discussion of the Status of Forces Agreement.

“Trump probably thinks that SOFA, the Status of Forces Agreement, is a gilded couch at Mar-a-Lago. He probably doesn’t even know what SOFA is,” she said.

Then she blamed the disruptions that made way for the rise of the Islamic State on Russian President Putin for his support of the Syrian regime. The brutality of Bashar al-Assad’s government, McCaskill said, fed an environment of resentment that fueled support for ISIS.

“That was the work and the support of Putin, who is Trump’s best buddy,” McCaskill said. “So you can say Trump and his friend Putin are the founders of ISIS, which would probably be more accurate than calling out the commander-in-chief in that way.”

Scott Canon: 816-234-4754, @ScottCanon