Questions The Media Should Ask Donald Trump After He Finally Admitted Obama Was Born In The U.S.

(If He Ever Does Another Challenging Interview)

In a media event on Friday, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump addressed his history of promoting the racist birther conspiracy theory that President Obama was not born in the United States, saying, “President Barack Obama was born in the United States. Period.”

He also falsely claimed that the conspiracy theory was started by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Trump’s short statement -- which included multiple falsehoods despite spanning only 32 words, as PolitiFact pointed out -- and his campaign’s equally dishonest press release about the issue raise more questions for the media than they answer.

His brief remarks came at the very end of a campaign event (originally presented as a press conference, but no questions were taken) at his hotel in Washington, D.C., in which several military veterans who are endorsing him spoke at length.

In recent months, Trump has largely retreated from granting television interviews to anyone other than Trump sycophants like Sean Hannity and Fox & Friends. Trump also has not held a press conference in nearly two months. But there are several pressing questions that Trump should be asked on camera, assuming he ever allows such a thing to happen again.  

Trump Has Promoted Birtherism For Years; What Changed?

As numerous reporters and fact-checkers have pointed out, Trump and his campaign’s claims that he somehow put the issue to bed by helpfully getting Obama to release his long-form birth certificate in 2011 are complete nonsense. Trump himself has repeatedly pushed the conspiracy since then.

When asked by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer if Obama is a U.S. citizen, Trump said, “Who knows? Who cares right now? We’re talking about something else, OK. I mean, I have my own theory on Obama. Someday I’ll write a book. I’ll do another book, and it will do very successfully.” That was in January.

What has changed in the ensuing eight months, during which he sought and secured the Republican presidential nomination, to change his outlook? As recently as September 15, Trump was unwilling to say that Obama was born in the United States.

The facts surrounding Obama’s place of birth are the same today as they were when Trump first brought up the issue in 2011. The only obvious difference is that Trump is now running for president. What changed his mind?

Does Trump Still Think The Long-Form Birth Certificate Released By Obama Is Fake?

Trump claimed in his statement that “President Obama was born in the United States,” but he did not explain whether he thinks the documentation the president released to prove his birthplace is real. In fact, for years, Trump has cast doubt on the authenticity of these documents, claiming the “birth certificate is a fraud,” and “fake”:

Does he now think those are authentic documents? What changed his mind?

Why Did He Claim That He Sent People To Hawaii To Investigate Obama?

In 2011, Trump claimed he sent a team of investigators to Hawaii to uncover what he described as “one of the greatest cons in the history of politics and beyond.” Trump also said, “I have people that have been studying it and they cannot believe what they're finding.”

This year The New York Times reported that “Mr. Trump apparently never dispatched investigators or made much of an effort to find the documents.”

Did Trump send anyone? If not, why did he lie about it and what they had supposedly uncovered? If he did actually send investigators, what did they uncover?

Is He Still Suspicious Of A Plane Crash That Resulted In The Death Of Hawaii’s State Health Director?

In 2013, Trump tweeted that it was “amazing” that Hawaii’s “State Health Director who verified copies of Obama’s ‘birth certificate’ died in a plane crash today,” adding, “All others lived.”

In fact, authorities said the cause of death for Loretta Huddy was a cardiac arrhythmia due to stress from the crash. The pilot and others on board did not have significant injuries.

Does Trump still apparently believe Huddy’s death was related to Obama’s birth certificate?

Why Does He Surround Himself With Birthers? Will He Continue To Do So?

Trump has surrounded his campaign with individuals who have promoted the birther conspiracy. These include former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, campaign surrogate Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and informal advisers Roger Stone and Alex Jones, among others. In fact, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, who was one of the people who introduced Trump at the event, is also a birther.

If Trump no longer believes in birtherism, will he distance himself from birthers?