Yesterday, after Donald Trump refused to tell The Washington Post whether he believes President Obama was born in the United States, his campaign released a statement ludicrously claiming that Hillary Clinton started the birther conspiracy theory and boasting that Trump “brought this ugly incident to its conclusion” by forcing Obama to release his long-form birth certificate in 2011.
“Having successfully obtained President Obama’s birth certificate when others could not, Mr. Trump believes that President Obama was born in the United States,” concluded the statement from Trump’s communications adviser Jason Miller.
Trump is now set to deliver remarks addressing the birther issue this morning, which we can expect will repeat some of these same lies.
Trump may pretend, as his campaign has insisted, that he gave up birtherism after Obama made his birth certificate public. That claim is easily disprovable.
As recently as January, Trump was fanning the flames of birtherism, answering a question from CNN on the president’s birthplace: “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,” he added. “I’ll do another book. It’ll do very successfully.”
In 2014, Trump said: “Either it’s fine, or he was born in Kenya, or, in my opinion there’s a very good chance he was born here and said he was born in Kenya. Because if you were born in Kenya, you got into colleges and you got aid. Very simple.”
Then there was the time in 2013 when he insinuated on Twitter that the death of a Hawaii health official in a plane crash was related to a cover up of the facts surrounding Obama’s birth:
How amazing, the State Health Director who verified copies of Obama’s “birth certificate” died in plane crash today. All others lived
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 12, 2013
But even if Trump had given up birtherism in 2011, that still wouldn’t exonerate him from having been a key driver of the racist myth. Trump taking credit for bringing birtherism to its “conclusion” is like an arsonist wanting thanks for a fire he started.
As Brian wrote recently:
For years, Trump has suggested that President Obama fabricated his birth certificate in order to be eligible to run for president. As evidence of this, he has cited the work of Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, “Israeli Science,” the conspiracy theory clearinghouse WorldNetDaily and an unnamed “extremely credible source.”
“He cannot give a birth certificate,” he told radio host Laura Ingraham in 2011. He added: “He doesn’t have a birth certificate or, if he does, there’s something on that certificate that is very bad for him. Now somebody told me, and I have no idea whether this is bad for him or not but perhaps it would be, that where it says ‘religion’ it might have ‘Muslim,’ and if you’re a Muslim, you don’t change your religion by the way, but somebody said, ‘Maybe that’s the reason he doesn’t want to show it.’ I don’t think so. I just don’t think he has a birth certificate and everybody has a birth certificate.”
As well as being a leading proponent of the racist birther conspiracy theory, Trump doesn’t seem to have met any conspiracy theory about Obama that he isn’t willing to entertain. He has speculated that Bill Ayers wrote Obama’s book “Dreams From My Father,” that Obama never attended Columbia University, that Obama is secretly Muslim, and that his wedding ring has an “Arabic inscription” on it.