Political News

Reversing course, Trump admits Obama was born in the US

Posted September 16

— After five years as the chief promoter of a lie about Barack Obama's birthplace, Donald Trump abruptly reversed course Friday and acknowledged the fact that the president was born in America. He then immediately peddled another false conspiracy.

"President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period," Trump declared, enunciating each word in a brief statement at the end of a campaign appearance. "Now we all want to get back to making America strong and great again."

But as the GOP presidential nominee sought to put that false conspiracy theory to rest, he stoked another, claiming the "birther movement" was begun by his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. There is no evidence that is true.

"Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it," Trump said.

While the question of Obama's birthplace was raised by some backers of Clinton's primary campaign against Obama eight years ago, Clinton 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 Friday event. "He can't just take it back."

Indeed, it is clear Trump's foes will try to keep the criticism of his actions alive. African-American members of Congress held a news conference near Washington's convention center to denounce him immediately after his appearance.

Trump's allegation on Clinton starting the controversy is the latest example of his tendency to repeat statements that are patently false. However, that did not affect his ability to beat more than a dozen challengers in the GOP primaries and has yet to dissuade his loyal supporters.

His statement Friday, in a sprawling ballroom at his new Washington hotel, lasted only a few seconds following a lengthy campaign event featuring military officers and award winners who have endorsed him. That turned the appearance into a de facto commercial for his campaign and property, as the major cable TV networks aired the full event live in anticipation of comments Trump had hyped hours before.

"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?"

For years, Trump has been the most prominent proponent of the "birther" idea. He used the issue to build his political profile, earn media attention and define his status as an "outsider" willing to challenge conventions.

Friday marked the first time he said in no uncertain terms he was mistaken. But Trump did not explain how or when he'd come to that conclusion.

As late as Wednesday, he refused to acknowledge Obama was born in Hawaii, declining to address the matter in a Washington Post interview published late Thursday.

"I'll answer that question at the right time," Trump said. "I just don't want to answer it yet."

Clinton seized on Trump's refusal during a speech Thursday night.

"This man wants to be our next president? When will he stop this ugliness, this bigotry?" she asked.

Hours later, Trump's campaign spokesman Jason Miller issued a statement that suggested the question had been settled five years ago — by Trump.

"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.

The facts do not match Miller's description. 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 took the unprecedented step of releasing his long-form birth certificate in 2011, amid persistent questions from Trump and others.

On the day he released the document, Obama jabbed at Trump, saying, "We're not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers."

The president added Friday that he hoped the election would focus on more serious issues, and said he "was pretty confident about where I was born."

After Trump's event, the GOP nominee invited photographers and a camera on a tour of his new hotel property, without reporters present.

Meanwhile, the backdrop of blue curtains that Trump had spoken in front of collapsed, toppling a row of American flags like dominoes.


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


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


This story corrects the site of black lawmakers' news conference Friday. It was held near Washington's convention center, not at the Capitol.


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  • Sam Nada Sep 20, 7:16 p.m.
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    You avoided the questions. Is Trump lying by saying "Obama was born in the US. Period."?, Or is he too dumb to know the truth after investigating it for 5 years? If Obama was born in the US are all the birthers willing to admit they've been duped into believing a lie all these years, or do you think Trump can't or won't tell the truth?

    Obama didn't need to show a birth certificate because there was no reason to. Proving lunatics wrong is a waste of time. But eventually the mentally challenged brigade became an absurd distraction so he ended it. Even after that Trump tried to use a known falsehood to further his political career by promoting a lie to gain favor with the deranged racists. A pathetic chapter in our political history.

  • Laurence Jones Sep 19, 10:25 p.m.
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    Questions about his birthplace came about in 2007...when he was campaigning against HILLARY.........Huh, funny that!........Why did he wait until April 2011 to present his birth certificate?........There is no hate here sam.....I am just curious.

  • Sam Nada Sep 19, 9:45 p.m.
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    So Trump's a liar and will say anything to get elected? Or is he too stupid to know the truth after spending 5 years "investigating"? Own that.

  • Laurence Jones Sep 18, 7:10 p.m.
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    Obama started the birther movement himself..................................Barack Obama was still 'Kenyan born" as late as 2007 according to his own biography..............


    Own it, liberals.

  • Laurence Jones Sep 18, 7:00 p.m.
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    7 News Stories from 2008 that PROVE Hillary Started Obama ‘Birtherism’

    Read more: http://www.thepoliticalinsider.com/7-news-stories-2008-prove-hillary-started-obama-birtherism/#ixzz4KeRGYyRp

  • Sam Nada Sep 17, 3:48 p.m.
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    Oh good grief. Clinton has never once said anything of that sort. Trump said it repeatedly, emphatically, undeniably for years, and he's somehow not responsible for his words and actions? The right took leave of their senses decades ago, and Trump is just the coup de grace. Good luck.

  • Buster Brown Sep 17, 2:10 p.m.
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    No-what is significant is the fact that Clinton and members of her campaign began questioning Obamas citizenship and place of birth--your efforts and those of your accomplices to detract and deflect from the true responsibility is typical of liberal left wing socalists---individuals who cannot accept responsibility for what they say. Try as you might, this particular issue hangs heavy around Hillarys already burdened neck..

  • Sam Nada Sep 17, 8:47 a.m.
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    The whole "Clinton started it" is a lie, but even it were true, it's meaningless. The whole idea that if one candidate's supporters start a lie then the other candidate gets a pass for pretending it's a fact for 5 years if so preposterous it defies comprehension. You're suggesting that since some Trump supporters are white supremacists, and he's actually re-tweeted some of their ideas, that if Dems now launch a years long white supremacist campaign they'll be off the hook as racists because Trump started it? Sorry, sport, you own what you say, and Trump owned being a birther. No amount of "but someone else started it" makes one whit of difference. It's something a 6 yr old would say. Your entire pretty little sand castle got leveled by a tidal wave.

  • Buster Brown Sep 16, 10:38 p.m.
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    Before people go spouting things that are historically and blatantly untrue, it would serve them well to do a little research. Trump did not start the whole "birther" movement---that dubious honor is held by none other than the icon of the liberal leftist socialist party, Hillary Clinton. She first broached the topic in like 2008 when she was running for the Democratic nomination for President against--wait for it---Obama. And now she conveniently "forgets" that she did it and is trying to blame Trump. How or why people whose intelligence level is a notch or two above that of dried tree bark continue to idolize her, worship her and support her is beyond the realm of rational thinking..

  • Benjamin Kite Sep 16, 8:08 p.m.
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    LOL. Trump obtained new information with his superior intellect and investigative powers. He's even smarter than the FBI. Trust him.