Jonathan Ernst / Reuters
President Obama called Donald Trump's claims that the presidential election could be rigged “ridiculous” and likened the Republican nominee to a child losing a game on the playground.
“If Mr. Trump is suggesting that there is a conspiracy theory that is being propagated across the country,” Obama said during a press conference at the Pentagon on Thursday, “that's ridiculous. That doesn't make any sense.”
Trump has been floating the idea that the November election could be “rigged” during multiple campaign stops this week, at times suggesting that voter ID laws that have been recently struck down by courts are easing the supposed fraud.
Trump has offered no evidence to back up his claims.
“Well, I'm talking about the voter booth,” he told a Florida news station earlier this week. “I mean, we've seen a lot of things over the years. And now without the IDs, you know the voter IDs, and all the things that are going on. And some bad court cases have come down.”
Most recently, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned an ID law in North Carolina that it found had been passed with the specific intent of curtailing access to African Americans.
Evan Vucci / AP
Asked about Trump's comments, Obama pointed out that elections are run by local jurisdictions, not by the federal government, and that Trump's comments suggested a wide-ranging “ridiculous” conspiracy.
“I don't even know where to start in answering this question,” Obama quipped before answering. “I think all of us at some point of our lives have played sports, or played in a school yard or a sand box, and sometimes when folks start losing they start complaining they got cheated.”
Obama also suggested Trump was making the insinuation of a “rigged” election because he was falling behind in the polls.
“If Mr. Trump is up 10 or 15 points on election day and ends up losing, maybe he can raise some questions,” he said. “That doesn't seem to be the case at the moment.”
Obama also defended news reports about the United States sending $400 million in cash to the Iranian government on the same day that four American hostages were released.
“We do not pay ransom for hostages,” Obama said. “We didn't here and we wont in the future.”
The President said news about the payment to the Iranian government, an issue which had been brought up in international courts, had been disclosed to the public in January.
“There wasn't a secret,” he said. “We announced them to all of you. Josh (Ernest, White House spokesman) did a briefing on them. This wasn't some nefarious deal.”
The President said the only new detail disclosed in news reports was that the payment was made in cash, but that it was done in that way because sanctions against the country meant there was no banking relationship between the U.S. and Iran.
“The reason we had to give them cash is precisely because we're so strict on maintaining sanctions, and we do not have banking relationships with Iran,” he said. “We could not send them a check, and we could not wire them the money.”
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