Former President Barack Obama asserted on Wednesday that President Donald Trump had led the charge on the racist “birther” movement in 2011 merely for the sake of self-promotion, given how he had publicly complimented Obama several times beforehand.
During an interview with Pod Save America, Obama noted that his successor had actually praised him early on in Obama’s presidency, like when he told CNN host Larry King in April 2009 that the then-President was doing a “really good job.”
“And essentially what happened is because the guy just decided he wanted attention, like whether it was to promote Celebrity Apprentice or whatever, he looked and saw what was being said and he said, ‘oh, if that’s what folks want, I can do that with even less inhibition. I don’t need a dog whistle, I’m just gonna go ahead and say it,'” Obama said on Wednesday.
“And that’s how the whole birtherism shtick came about,” he continued.
During that Larry King interview, Trump had called Obama a “champion” and “sort of a guy that just has a wonderful personality, a good speaker, somebody that people trust.”
Buzzfeed News also noted that the now-president was complimentary of Obama in 2009 in his book “Think Like A Champion” in which Trump said Obama “proved that determination combined with opportunity and intelligence can make things happen—and in an exceptional way.”
“The fact that he accomplished what he has—in one year and against great odds—is truly phenomenal,” Trump wrote.
Several years later, Trump fueled the racist “birther” conspiracy theory that Obama was not born in the U.S. and would repeatedly demand to see his birth certificate. Though the President finally admitted in 2016 that his predecessor was born in the country, he still refuses to take responsibility for his role in promoting birtherism and has in fact floated a similar conspiracy theory about Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s running mate.