Less than 24 hours after giving an interview to The Washington Post in which he refused to renounce his long, demonstrated history with the “birther” movement, Donald Trump on Friday held a brief press conference in which he finally admitted “Barack Obama was born in the United States. Period.” Trump also erroneously claimed Friday that Hillary Clinton started the birther movement, and that he ended it in 2011.
Trump’s meteoric political rise can be attributed, in part, to the fact that for many years he publicly promoted the theory that Obama was born in Kenya, rather than Hawaii. At one point, Trump claimed he had sent a team of investigators to Hawaii to look into the matter. Due in large part to Trump’s agitating, the White House was eventually compelled to release Obama’s long-form birth certificate in 2011. Trump’s efforts are widely viewed as a racist attempt to delegitimize Obama’s presidency.
A Public Policy Polling survey conducted a year ago found 61 percent of Trump supporters believed Obama was not born in the United States.
Trump’s recently installed campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, told a reporter earlier this week that Trump had changed his mind and now believes Obama was born in the United States.
But in the Wednesday Post interview, Trump said, “I’ll answer that question at the right time.
“I just don’t want to answer it yet,” he said.
Trump said Friday that “Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy,” noting also that “I finished it.” Neither statement is true. FactCheck.org and Politifact have both previously investigated this claim, and found it baseless. Clinton has also vehemently denied any connection to the myth. (John Avlon, editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast, did find evidence that a 2008 Clinton supporter helped circulate the rumor.)
In a campaign stop Friday, Clinton emphasized Trump’s history with the movement. “For five years he has led the birther movement to delegitimize our first black president,” she said.