While promoting his newest hotel in Washington, D.C. on Friday, Donald Trump finally put to rest the birther controversy he has so often fueled with persistent suggestions over at least five years that President Obama was really born in Africa.
“President Barack Obama was born in the United States – period,” Trump said out loud, at last.
In a more than 30-minute appearance, Trump spent 20 seconds reversing himself on the birther issue.
“I’ll answer that question at the right time,” he told the newspaper. “I just don’t want to answer it yet.”
After Trump’s brief remarks Friday, Democratic Rep. Gregory Meeks, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, accused Trump on CNN of pulling a PR stunt to benefit his new Washington, D.C. hotel. Earlier Friday, Trump acknowledged as much when he teased on a morning TV news show that he wouldn’t talked about his birther controversy at that moment because he wanted to “keep the suspense going” for his hotel opening.
Obama – who provided his verified short form birth certificate first in 2008 and his verified long form birth certificate again in 2011 – icily responded Friday morning.
“I’m shocked that a question like that has come up at a time when we have so many other things to do,” the president said. “Well, I’m not that shocked actually. It’s fairly typical. We got other things to attend to. I was pretty confident about where I was born. I think most people were as well. My hope would be the presidential election reflects more serious issues than that.”
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Meanwhile, Clinton, who is back on the campaign trail after battling pneumonia, addressed the issue while giving a speech at the Black Women’s Agenda Symposium Workshop in Washington, D.C. Friday.
“He’s trying to restrain himself and clean up his image. But as Maya Angelou once said, ‘When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.’ “
“And we know who Donald is,” she continued. “For five years he has led the birther movement to delegitimize our first black president. His campaign was founded on this outrageous lie. There is no erasing it in history. Just yesterday, Trump again refused to say with his own words that the president was born in the United States.
“He is feeding into the worst impulses – the bigotry and bias – that lurks in our country,” she also said.
“Barack Obama was born in America, plain and simple, and Donald Trump owes him and the American people an apology. There is no new Donald Trump. There never will be. Donald Trump looks at President Obama after eight years as our president, he still doesn’t see him as an American. Think about how dangerous that is.
“Imagine a person in the Oval Office who traffics in conspiracy theories and refuses to let them go no matter what the facts are. Imagine someone who distorts the truth to fit a very narrow view of the world. Imagine a president who sees someone who doesn’t look like him and doesn’t agree with him and thinks that person must not be a real American.”
Trump’s campaign said in a statement Thursday that he settled the birther controversy in 2011 “by successfully compelling President Obama to release his birth certificate.” But in reality the GOP nominee continued to raise questions about Obama’s citizenship even after the president released his birth certificate.
Here are some of Trump’s tweets on the topic over the years:
As recently as 2014, Trump was still suggesting that Obama’s birth certificate was a fake.