Trump Camp: Birtherism Was ‘Great Service’ To US, Trump Now Disavows It

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump listens to a question during an interview after a rally in Virginia Beach, Va., Monday, July 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump listens to a question during an interview after a rally in Virginia Beach, Va., Monday, July 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
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September 16, 2016 6:57 a.m.

Though Donald Trump has yet to personally renounce his birtherism, his campaign released a statement Thursday announcing that he now believes that President Barack Obama was born in the United States.

The statement from Trump’s senior communications advisor, Jason Miller, claims that the real estate mogul deserves credit for helping clear up an issue that he himself continuously raised questions about for the past five years.

“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 wrote. “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. Inarguably, Donald J. Trump is a closer. Having successfully obtained President Obama’s birth certificate when others could not, Mr. Trump believes that President Obama was born in the United States.”

The White House released Obama’s long-form birth certificate as proof that he was born in Hawaii in 2008 after critics spread conspiracy theories alleging that he was secretly born in Kenya or was actually a citizen of Indonesia, where he lived as a child. The long-form version was released in 2011 after the rumor mill continued spinning.

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Trump pushed for the release of the birth certificate in multiple interviews, but wrote on Twitter in 2012, a year after the long-form version was made public, that “an extremely credible source” told him that it was a “fraud.” The real estate mogul was pushing the issue in interviews as recently as last year, contrary to his campaign team’s statement that he brought the incident to a close by forcing the certificate’s release.

“He did it for me,” Trump said in February 2015 of Obama making the certificate public. “So in one sense I’m proud of it. Now all we have to do is find out whether or not it’s real.”

The birther movement was seen as racist for casting doubt on the legitimacy of the first African American president. Hillary Clinton has accused Trump of “bigotry” for his prominent role in the movement, and in an email leaked this week, former secretary of state Colin Powell this week wrote, “Yup, the whole birther movement was racist.”

Trump’s team, including running mate Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) and campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, have in recent days said that the real estate mogul renounced those views.

Yet even on Wednesday night, the real estate mogul refused to give a straight answer when asked by the Washington Post’s Robert Costa if he believed Obama was born in Hawaii.

“I’ll answer that question at the right time,” Trump told Costa. “I just don’t want to answer it yet.”

Asked if Conway was correct in claiming that he at least thought Obama was a U.S. citizen, Trump said, “It’s okay. She’s allowed to speak what she thinks. I want to focus on jobs. I want to focus on other things.”

“I don’t talk about it anymore,” he continued. “The reason I don’t is because then everyone is going to be talking about it as opposed to jobs, the military, the vets, security.”

Told that the issue kept being raised in part because of his refusal to disavow the conspiracy theories and that it damaged his support among minority voters, Trump said, “I think it hangs over the reporters.”

The Trump campaign’s statement on the issue was released Thursday. It alleged, as Trump and his staffers have previously, that Clinton’s campaign first brought up questions about Obama’s birth certificate during the 2008 presidential race. Fact-checking website PolitFact found that the birther movement originated with a contingent of die-hard Clinton supporters who refused to support Obama after the former secretary of state dropped out. Neither Clinton nor her 2008 and 2016 campaign staffers have never entertained the theory, according to PolitiFact and Factcheck.org, and Clinton has denounced the birther movement as “ludicrous.”

PolitiFact rated Trump’s claim that Clinton started the birther movement “false.”

Read Miller’s full statement below:

Hillary Clinton’s campaign first raised this issue to smear then-candidate Barack Obama in her very nasty, failed 2008 campaign for President. This type of vicious and conniving behavior is straight from the Clinton Playbook. As usual, however, Hillary Clinton was too weak to get an answer. Even the MSNBC show Morning Joe admits that it was Clinton’s henchmen who first raised this issue, not Donald J. 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. 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. Inarguably, Donald J. Trump is a closer. Having successfully obtained President Obama’s birth certificate when others could not, Mr. Trump believes that President Obama was born in the United States.

Mr. Trump is now totally focused on bringing jobs back to America, defeating radical Islamic terrorism, taking care of our veterans, introducing school choice opportunities and rebuilding and making our inner cities safe again.

This post has been updated.

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