Trump Campaign Statement Clashes With Recent Birther Claims Made By Trump And Surrogates To The Media

Trump Campaign Statement Clashes With Recent Birther Claims Made By Trump And Surrogates To The Media

››› ››› BRENDAN KARET & JARED HOLT

Donald Trump’s campaign released a statement claiming Trump now admits President Obama was born in the United States, and “was finally able to bring this ugly incident to its conclusion” in 2011. In fact, Trump has pushed racist birther attacks on President Obama after 2011, and campaign surrogates have repeatedly defended his birtherism in the media.

Trump Campaign Releases Statement Admitting President Obama Was Born In The United States; Claims He Stopped Birther Claims In 2011

Trump Campaign Statement: “Mr. Trump Believes That President Obama Was Born In The US.” On September 15, Donald Trump’s campaign released a statement that “Mr. Trump believes that President Obama was born in the United States,” and “was finally able to bring this ugly incident to its conclusion” in 2011 by “compelling President Obama to release his birth certificate”:

[Donaldjtrump.com, 9/15/16]

But Trump Surrogates Repeatedly Defended Trump’s Birtherism In The Days And Months Leading Up To Birtherism Flip-Flop

Katrina Pierson: Trump “Has Said That He Does Not Talk About That Anymore.” On the September 15 edition of Fox News’ The Kelly File, Trump campaign spokeswoman Katrina Pierson repeatedly defended Trump’s refusal to address his birther past in recent interviews, initially arguing Trump “has said that he does not talk about that anymore.” Pierson continued, stating “the media is not going to force Mr. Trump to say anything that he is not ready to say”:

MEGYN KELLY: Why wouldn't he say it when asked tonight?

KATRINA PIERSON: Well, simply because he has said that he does not talk about that anymore. First thing is, Barack Obama is not on the ballot, and not even relevant to this election cycle.

KELLY: Katrina, no. That's not gonna fly.

PIERSON: No, Megyn, this is going to fly.

KELLY: No, that's not gonna fly, does he believe it or not?

PIERSON: This is completely irrelevant -- This is completely irrelevant to the election cycle.

KELLY: It's not completely irrelevant. You have a lot of people in this country, in particular, African-Americans, who feel that that position was a racist position meant to delegitimize the president. I'm taking no position on this, I'm relaying to you what they’ve said, and his own campaign manager came out and said he has shifted his belief on this, and now when asked directly he refuses to confirm that. Why?

PIERSON: And you also have a poll in South Carolina that shows that Mr. Trump is pushing on 30 percent African-American support, and Hillary Clinton --

KELLY: That's a dodge.

PIERSON: And Hillary Clinton has insulted half of the country.

KELLY: That's a dodge.

PIERSON: This is not --

KELLY: Why won't you answer that question?

PIERSON: No, it's not, Megyn. I'm telling you, Mr. Trump has said he's not going to talk about it. I've given you the answer.

KELLY: He said "yet" --

PIERSON: You want to know why?

KELLY: He said “yet.” There's like, a tease baked into it, "I just don't want to answer it yet." Robert, what do you think?

PIERSON: The media is not going to force Mr. Trump to say anything that he is not ready to say. [Fox News, The Kelly File, 9/15/16]

CNN's Corey Lewandowski Revived Trump's Birther Claims That Obama Got In Harvard As Non-Citizen. CNN political commentator and close Trump advisor Corey Lewandowski revived Trump’s claim that President Obama was admitted into Harvard as a United States non-citizen. Lewandowski asked, “did he get in as a U.S. citizen, or was he brought into Harvard University as a citizen who wasn't from this country?”:

DON LEMON (HOST): OK, so you wanted to get in on something Angela was saying.

COREY LEWANDOWSKI: I just think it's important to remember, right, that the president of the United States has an obligation to still govern the country. And if he wants to engage in partisan politics, I don't think this is the right venue for it. He wants to go on the campaign trail with Hillary Clinton, absolutely he has the right to do that.

But that also means he becomes fair game for any retort that Donald Trump wants to put on him. And I just think that the decorum of the presidency of the United States, the East Room is not the place to engage in those partisan attacks.

ANGELA RYE: Don, let me just respond, really quickly to this. Let me be very clear on this. Donald Trump has been attacking the president long before he began campaigning for this important office. He is the one who was the spokesperson for the birther movement, and was calling for transcripts for -- and saying the president was an affirmative action admittee of Harvard. So let's --

LEWANDOWSKI: Did he ever release his transcripts from Harvard?

RYE: By the way, tell me about those tax returns, while you're at it.

LEWANDOWSKI: Well you raised the issue, I'm just asking. You raised the issue, did he ever release his transcripts or his admission to Harvard University? You raised the issue, so just "yes," or "no."

RYE: Corey? Just a moment, I'm going to Beyonce you. Boy, bye. You just so out of line right now, tell your candidate to release his tax returns.

LEWANDOWSKI: Don't raise the issue if you don't want to address it.

RYE: Two words, tax returns. Tax returns.

LEWANDOWSKI: Harvard University transcripts. You raised the issue, did he ever release them?

LEMON: OK, let me ask you something. Let me ask you something -- What is the importance of Barack Obama's Harvard transcript?

LEWANDOWSKI: It's not, she brought the issue up.

LEMON: I'm asking you, how is -- hold on. How is it germane to the election, and the American people?

LEWANDOWSKI: Look, the only reason it's germane is because she brought the issue up, and said Donald Trump raised the issue of his Harvard transcripts. And I just simply said "have those transcripts ever been released?" And the question was "did he get in as a U.S. citizen, or was he brought into Harvard University as a citizen who wasn't from this country?" [CNN, CNN Tonight with Don Lemon, 8/2/16]

Senior Trump Advisor Says There’s “Nothing Wrong” With Trump’s Birther Attacks On Obama. Senior Trump campaign advisor Rep. Jack Kingston (R-TX) said he did not believe Trump “did anything wrong” by questioning whether President Obama was a U.S. citizen and demanding a long-form birth certificate. Kingston said the press should “accept an apology and just go with it”:

JOY-ANN REID (GUEST HOST): Joining me now is senior adviser to the Trump campaign Jack Kingston, former Republican congressman from Georgia. Congressman, thank you so much for being here, appreciate it.

JACK KINGSTON: It's great to be with you, Joy.

REID: So, let's talk about that. Donald Trump said he regrets anything he may have said that has caused personal pain. And then Kellyanne Conway, who's the new campaign manager, said that he may reach out to those that feel offended.

So, let's just go through some of the things he's said that have caused not just personal pain, that have actually hurt him. Probably the thing that has hurt Donald Trump the most with African Americans who don't know his, you know, personal history, things like housing discrimination, is the birtherism. Saying that Barack Obama is not an American citizen, which he started saying as far back as 2011. "Why doesn't he show his birth certificate?" Demanding to see his papers. Do you think that's something that Donald Trump regrets?

KINGSTON: I don't know. I'm wondering if Hillary and the Democrats regret calling on Mrs. Trump's citizenship. Maybe that's the same.

REID: I don't think the Democrats have questioned Mrs. Trump's citizenship.

KINGSTON: Oh, absolutely. Joy, absolutely, they have.

REID: Wait hold on a second, hold on a second sir, that's an excellent tactic.I have to tell you, I used to do campaign communications, so I know shifting the subject to something else is a great tactic. But you didn't answer my question.

KINGSTON: Let me say this, let's talk about --

REID: Let me go to the next one. Let me go to the next one --

KINGSTON: But, Joy, -- but Joy, my job is to present our side, and now you just had a panel that agreed with you, so --

REID: Right, but I'm asking you a question and you didn't answer.

KINGSTON: I just -- well, okay, we're going to reset. You go ahead.

REID: I just want to ask you, do you think that he regrets the birtherism? You can just say yes or no.

KINGSTON: I don't think he did anything wrong. I think he raised a question, but the reality is --

REID: Wait, do you still question whether the President of the United States is a citizen?

KINGSTON: I think the press -- let me say this, I think you guys should accept an apology and just go with it. I mean, this is what the left has been demanding. He made an apology. Now, I frankly would love to see Hillary Clinton apologize to the family of the dead soldiers from in Benghazi, when she told them that it was caused by a video, which was an absolute, positive lie. Wouldn't it be nice if she said "You know what? I was Secretary of State, I am responsible, your sons' deaths as not -- were not caused by a video." [MSNBC, All In with Chris Hayes, 8/19/16]

Roger Stone Claims He’s Advised Trump To Invoke Questions About Obama’s Birth Certificate. Trump advisor and political trickster Roger Stone told Yahoo! News’ Michael Isikoff that he told Trump “there’s a lot of questions” about President Obama’s birth certificate. Stone told Isikoff that Trump told him he would “talk about it””:

MICHAEL ISIKOFF: How about the birther allegations about Barack Obama? Did you discuss those with Donald Trump?

ROGER STONE: Only in the sense that after learning about them, Donald Trump asked me what I thought and I said, “Well, there’s a lot of questions here.” He said, “Well, I’m going to talk about it.” Now, no one tells Donald Trump what to talk about or what not to talk about.

ISIKOFF: Did you help him on his research on that?

STONE: I did not.

ISIKOFF: Did he send private investigators to Hawaii to look into those allegations?

STONE: He said he did so I must believe that he did. [Yahoo! News, Unconventional Live, 7/20/16]

Rudy Giuliani Refuses To Say Trump Should Apologize For Birther Statements. Trump advisor Rudy Giuliani refused to answer whether Trump should apologize for claiming he believe President Obama’s birth certificate was fake. Giuliani told CNN’s Jake Tapper that “if everybody apologized for all the things they said in politics, all we would be doing on television shows is apologizing”:

JAKE TAPPER (HOST): I have to say, in interviews many African-Americans say they are still troubled by Mr. Trump having suggested over and over falsely that the first African-American president was born in Africa and, thus, ineligible to be president.

[...]

As you say, it was resolved in 2011 when he released his birth certificate. Donald Trump talking about this as recently as February of last year at CPAC saying that he thinks the birth certificate is false. Should he just apologize for this to let, if he really wants to reach out to minority voters?

​RUDY GUILIANI: You know, if everybody apologized for all the things they said in politics, all we would be doing on television shows is apologizing. Maybe a lot of the Democrats should apologize for calling Donald Trump a racist and calling him all kinds of terrible names and​ -- ​it gets a little silly. [CNN, State of the Union, 9/4/16]

And Trump Has Repeatedly Pushed Birther Conspiracy Theories After 2011

Trump: “An ‘Extremely Credible Source’ Has Called My Office And Told Me That [Barack Obama’s] Birth Certificate Is A Fraud.”

[Twitter, 8/6/12]

Trump: “Why Do The Republicans Keep Apologizing On The So Called ‘Birther’ Issue? No More Apologies -- Take The Offensive!”

[Twitter, 8/27/12]

Trump: “How Amazing, The State Health Director Who Verified Copies Of Obama’s ‘Birth Certificate’ Died In Plane Crash Today. All Others Lived.”

[Twitter, 12/12/13]

Trump To CNN’s Wolf Blitzer: “A Lot Of People Do Not Think It Was An Authentic [Birth] Certificate.” Speaking to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in 2012, Donald Trump said that “a lot of people do not think it was an authentic [birth] certificate” released by President Obama:

WOLF BLITZER (HOST): I don’t understand why you’re doubling down on this birther issue after the state of Hawaii formally says this is the legitimate birth certificate, he was born in Hawaii. Why are you going through all of this, Donald?

DONALD TRUMP: Well, a lot of people don’t agree with that birth certificate.

BLITZER: But if the state of Hawaii authorizes it -- if the state of Hawaii authorizes it, Hawaii says this is official, he was born in Hawaii on this date, here it is, why do you deny that?

TRUMP: A lot of people do not think it was an authentic certificate. A lot of people --

BLITZER: How can you say that if this --

TRUMP: You won’t report it, Wolf, but many people do not think it was authentic. [CNN, 5/29/16]

Trump To ABC’s Jon Karl: “I Have No Idea” If Obama Was Born In US, “Was It A Birth Certificate? You Tell Me.” In a 2013 interview with ABC’s Jonathan Karl, Trump stated “I have no idea” if Obama was born in the United States. Trump continued, saying “I don’t know. Was it a birth certificate? You tell me. Some people say that was not his birth certificate”:

JON KARL: You said a lot of things over the years that people say just make you not serious. One of the big things is on the birth certificate –

TRUMP: Why does that make me not serious? I think that resonated with a lot of people.

KARL: But you don’t still question that he was born in the United States, do you?

TRUMP: I have no idea.

KARL: Even at this point?

TRUMP: Well I don’t know. Was it a birth certificate? You tell me. Some people say that was not his birth certificate. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. I’m saying I don’t know. Nobody knows. And you don’t know either, Jonathan. You’re a smart guy. You don’t know either. [ABC.com, 9/7/16]

On Fox, Trump Suggests Newspaper Announcements Of Obama’s Birth In Hawaii Were Faked. Trump Told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren in 2012, that Obama’s birth certificate was faked.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN (HOST): I thought that you were satisfied, he met the constitutional requirements. Now you want these other records, and I’m trying to figure out why, it’s like you want to see whether -- what kind of student he was, or is there you were something you’re looking for? And is --

DONALD TRUMP: Greta, why are you speaking for me? I wasn’t satisfied. I never said I was satisfied.

SUSTEREN: Oh, you weren’t?

TRUMP: I never told you I was satisfied.

[...]

SUSTEREN: There was a newspaper report that this child had been born, at the time the president had been born, in Hawaii.

TRUMP: Yes.

SUSTEREN: And there would have been no way to sort of create that fiction.

TRUMP: You’re wrong.

SUSTEREN: I’m wrong?

TRUMP: Many people -- it’s a well-known fact that many people, in order to get certain benefits of the United States, would put out those reports, and they’d put em out when people aren’t even in the country. That happened many, many times. And if you read the facts, and if you understood this, you would know that. You wouldn’t even be asking that question. [Fox News, On The Record with Greta Van Susteren, 10/24/12]

Trump: “Attention All Hackers: You Are Hacking Everything Else So Please Hack Obama's College Records (Destroyed?) And Check 'Place Of Birth.'"

[Twitter.com, 9/6/14]

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