Political News

Trump closes door on one falsehood, opens door to another

Posted September 17

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event at Trump International Hotel, Friday, Sept. 16, 2016, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

— Even as Donald Trump sought to close the door on the false conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama wasn't born in the United States, he peddled another lie by claiming that his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, was behind it. There is no evidence that is true.

"Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it," Trump declared Friday in a brief statement at the end of a televised campaign appearance in which he touted his new hotel and his endorsements from military veterans.

"President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period," he added. "Now we all want to get back to making America strong and great again."

It was a spectacle that exemplified all the most extraordinary aspects of Trump's unorthodox candidacy: his ability to game the media, his embrace of conspiracy theories, and his pattern of repeating fallacies, even in the face of contradicting facts. And it centered around the "birther" issue that fueled his political rise.

His appearance, in a sprawling ballroom at Trump International Hotel near the White House, turned into a de facto commercial for his campaign and property, as the major cable news networks aired the full event live in anticipation of comments Trump had hyped for hours.

"I'm going to be making a major statement on this whole thing and what Hillary did," he told the Fox Business Network. "We have to keep the suspense going, OK?"

While some backers of Clinton's primary campaign against Obama eight years ago raised the question of Obama's birthplace, Clinton herself has long denounced it as a "racist lie."

"Trump has spent years peddling a racist conspiracy aimed at undermining the first African-American president," Clinton tweeted after his event. "He can't just take it back."

Trump was the most prominent proponent of the "birther" idea, using it to build his political profile and his conservative credentials. Friday marked the first time he said in no uncertain terms Obama was U.S. born, but he left without taking questions and did not explain how or when he'd come to that conclusion.

As late as Wednesday, Trump was refusing to acknowledge Obama was born in Hawaii, saying in an interview that he'd "answer that question at the right time."

Hours later, Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller issued a statement that suggested the question had been settled five years ago — by Trump. Yet the facts do not match Miller's description of the issue.

"In 2011, Mr. Trump was finally able to bring this ugly incident to its conclusion by successfully compelling President Obama to release his birth certificate," Miller said.

"Mr. Trump did a great service to the president and the country by bringing closure to the issue that Hillary Clinton and her team first raised," he added.

In fact, Trump repeatedly continued to question Obama's birth in the years after the president released his birth certificate. In August 2012, for example, Trump was pushing the issue on Twitter.

"An 'extremely credible source' has called my office and told me that @BarackObama's birth certificate is a fraud," he wrote.

Even in January of this year, Trump sounded skeptical when asked whether he now believed the president was a natural-born citizen.

"Who knows? Who cares right now? We're talking about something else, OK?" Trump said in a CNN interview. "I mean, I have my own theory on Obama. Someday I'll write a book."

Trump's reversal comes as he works to win over African-American voters, many of whom have been turned off by his attempt to delegitimize the nation's first black president.

Obama said Friday that he hoped the election would focus on more serious issues — and that he was "pretty confident about where I was born."

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Associated Press writers Ken Thomas and Josh Lederman contributed to this report.

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Follow Colvin and Lemire on Twitter at https://twitter.com/colvinj and https://twitter.com/JonLemire

11 Comments

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  • Mike Smith Sep 17, 2:06 p.m.
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    Clinton supporters != Clinton

  • Sam Nada Sep 17, 11:59 a.m.
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    View quoted thread



    Tough sticking to the point isn't it? We understand...

  • Sam Nada Sep 17, 11:19 a.m.
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    Wikipedia is useful, but everyone knows it's not the standard of truth, particularly in the political arena. Here's another take on the "Clinton started it" myth.

    http://www.snopes.com/hillary-clinton-started-birther-movement/

    But as I said below, even if it happened to be true that some Clinton followers sent some early emails, so what? She never espoused that idea. Trump did, repeatedly, emphatically, undeniably for years. Is he not responsible for what he says and does because maybe some Dem somewhere sent an email years before he latched on to it? "The She Devil made me do it" is an insane defense. But given the pretzel logic of the right it fits right in. The majority believe it, now their main man says it's untrue. What to do? Abandon their belief? Abandon their guy? Admit they've been duped for years? No! Let's blame Clinton! The Simpsons, South Park and the Onion combined couldn't dream this stuff up.

  • Pete Muller Sep 17, 11:10 a.m.
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    Yes, it was Clinton supporters in 2008, who brought this birther nonsense up first. But that is completely irrelevant. It is of great relevance though, that Trump took it and turned into a smear campaign against President Obama for 5 years. It is of great relevance that he duped his own followers. In 2012 he told the public that he has irrevocable proof that Obama was not borne in the US. That was one of many lies in that regard. He cannot even be truthful in those pitiful 30 seconds he cowardly states Obama was borne in the US. He had to justify his failed smear campaign with yet another lie. What a pathetic disgrace of a preferential candidate this man is.

  • Ron Coleman Sep 17, 10:55 a.m.
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    Wikipedia says that it was in fact Clinton supporters that started the whole birther thing in 2008. If there are any doubters look it up on Wikipedia and it could be very well possible with Clintons background she could have very well played a part in it. Will never find out for sure because the truth in politics is virtually non existent.

  • Sam Nada Sep 17, 9:56 a.m.
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    Uh, the whole 1st grader line that "she started it" is perhaps the most bizarre tack in this story. First of all it makes all those right wing birther believers out to be brain dead Clinton followers. She said it so we believed it. Really? The person you claim is a liar you blindly followed down the birther rabbit hole? It's a totally absurd defense. Some Trump supporters are white supremacists. He's knowingly re-tweeted some of their messages. If the Dems launched into a multi-year white supremacist campaign would they be off the hook as racists because "Trump started it"? We were led astray by the person we despise, and can't be held responsible. The mind bending idiocy of that notion is staggering. But given Trump, it's certainly no surprise.

  • Kathy Perry Sep 17, 9:46 a.m.
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    "Former McClatchy Editor: ‘We Assigned a Reporter to Go to Kenya’ After Clinton Operative Urged Birther Investigation"
    Yet WRAL, who now is with NBC, runs this untrue biased AP story. smh
    And we know blatantly, that along with all the other MSM, NBC is entrenched with HRC, and fully bias of Donald Trump.
    "Robert Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment, has slammed Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump as "toxic" and "demented" in a private Facebook post that became public "

  • Kathy Perry Sep 17, 9:41 a.m.
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    Au contraire Yet another example, of why the MSM historically has the LOWEST approval rating ever! smh Such a hit piece from the AP, and the FACTS have now PROVEN that they are lying yet they falsely accuse DT of it. smh Guess they missed this FACT!
    "MSNBC, Politico, Bloomberg, CNN, McClatchy and More Confirm: Hillary Clinton’s 2008 Campaign Spread ‘Birtherism’ About Barack Obama"
    OR this FACT
    "David Goldstein of McClatchy reports on two supporters of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 primary campaign against Barack Obama who pushed the false “birther” narrative that Obama was born in Kenya. One of the supporters was Clinton’s longtime confidant Sidney Blumenthal who pitched the story to McClatchy’s former Washington Bureau Chief James Asher."
    HRC , as usual, had her underlings do her dirty work, so as to obtain "plausible deniability" which is she and her disbarred husbands MO for decades now. There is no way that HRC didnt know about the "birther" info being spread by HER staff

  • Jacqueline Cofield Sep 17, 8:42 a.m.
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    Trump does not care about the citizens of the the US...so now that it is close to elections he want to change his thinking. African American and others is not the "the boo boo the clown"" that he think they are...For eight years he strivced on the. so called facts that President Obama was not a US citizen snd mow he is wants to sjhift the blame..if he is as smart snd intelligent as jhe wwants everybody to believe he is then why didn't he check the facts himself.he is boo boo the clown if he thinks the majority believes him..

  • Vince DiSena Sep 17, 8:31 a.m.
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    Thanks WRAL! Some intense breaking news! (sarcasm)

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