After spending the last half-decade pushing race-baiting questions about the president’s birthplace, Donald Trump has finally admitted that the Barack Obama was born in the United States of America. But even as the Republican candidate finally comes to grips with reality, Trump’s campaign surrogates are trying to whitewash the racist history of Trump’s birther crusade.
On Sunday Trump’s running mate, his campaign manager, and the chair of the Republican National Committee all appeared on Sunday news shows and asserted that Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign had actually started the birther conspiracy.
Appearing on CBS’s Face the Nation, Trump 2016 campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told host John Dickerson, “This started with Hillary Clinton’s campaign, No. 1. No. 2, it was Donald Trump who put the issue to rest when he got President Obama to release his birth certificate years later. And, No. 3, he said that ‘President Obama was born in this country, period.’”
Conway went on to continue to assert that “associates” of Hillary Clinton had promoted the issue while also crediting Trump for ending the speculation.
Also on Face the Nation, RNC chair Reince Priebus echoed those comments, “[B]y the preponderance of evidence before us, Hillary Clinton or her campaign were definitely involved in this issue. We can’t keep saying it’s not true. That’s ridiculous.”
Meanwhile, on ABC’s This Week Republican vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence pushed the same theory. “I know there's news reports that— traces the birther movement all the way back to Hillary Clinton's campaign in 2008,” Pence told ABC’s Martha Raddatz.
When pressed on whether or not he himself believed those “reports,” Pence responded that he would “let the facts speak for themselves.”
The assertion that Clinton’s 2008 campaign played a role in fomenting the birther conspiracy has been debunked time and time again. According to the website Politifact, the rumors about the Clinton campaign’s involvement come from reports that a former 2008 Clinton volunteer was part of an unsuccessful lawsuit challenging Barack Obama’s eligibility for the presidency on the baseless claim that he was not born in the United States.
While that individual had been a supporter of Clinton’s candidacy in the Democratic primary in 2008, there is no evidence linking her to the Clinton campaign. And her crusade appears to have begun after Clinton had already conceded the nomination to Obama.
The Trump campaign’s assertion that their candidate helped “put to rest” the birther issue is also unfounded, given that Trump continued to question the president’s birthplace and the legitimacy of his documentation long after the birth certificate was revealed.
Another Trump surrogate, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, flat-out denied that fact during an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union. When questioned by host Jake Tapper about Trump’s attempts undermine the president even after his birth certificate was released, Christie responded, "It's just not true that he kept it up for five years."
Trump did, in fact, continue to question the president’s birthplace after 2011 and refused to admit he was born in the United States until this past week.
As Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczinski points out, after President Obama released his birth certificate in 2011, Trump penned an addendum to his book questioning the authenticity of his birth certificate.
In 2012, Trump suggested to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that the president’s birth announcement in a local Hawaii paper could have been faked by his parents.
When asked in 2013 by ABC News’ Jonathan Karl if President Obama was born in the United States, Trump responded “I have no idea.” He went on to, once again, suggest the president’s birth certificate was fake.
“Was there a birth certificate?” Trump asked Karl. “You tell me. Some people say that was not his birth certificate. 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.”
Prior to last week Trump had been asked several times on the campaign trail if he believed the president was born in the United States. Each time he declined to answer.