Republican nominee Donald Trump, after months of refusing to discuss his involvement in the "birther" movement, has finally stated he believes President Barack Obama was born in the U.S.
During his announcement, Trump stated that it was Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton who started the conspiracy theory that Obama was not a natural-born citizen and that he was the one who ended it by prodding the president into producing his birth certificate.
Both of these assertions are factually wrong.
On Sept. 16, Trump made his statement during the opening of his new Trump International Hotel in Washington D.C., USA Today reports.
“Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy,” Trump said, according to The New York Times. “I finished it.”
Trump concluded: “President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period. Now, we all want to get back to making America strong and great again.”
The business mogul had spearheaded the birther movement in March 2011, when he made a blitzkrieg of media appearances openly questioning President Obama’s origins, according to The New York Times.
“Why doesn’t he show his birth certificate?” Trump asked during an appearance on ABC’s “The View.”
“I want to see his birth certificate,” he told Fox News.
“I’m starting to think he was not born here,” Trump concluded to NBC News.
After Trump’s vocal embrace of the birther movement gained traction, Obama produced his physical birth certificate. Trump claimed credit at the time for helping settle the issue.
The version of events that Trump has offered during his latest statement do not align with the facts.
Clinton did not start the rumors that Obama was born in a foreign country. Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checker PolitiFact debunked this assertion, noting that the 2007 Clinton campaign memo that the Trump campaign has pointed to as evidence had explicitly stated, “We are never going to say anything about [Obama’s] background.”
The other piece of evidence the Trump campaign has produced to support the GOP nominee’s assertion, an email chain sent by Clinton supporters in June 2008, also does not prove that Clinton herself had started the birther movement.
While the email chain did assert that Obama was not born in the U.S., Clinton had already conceded from the 2008 race three days earlier. The email chain was started by a collection of her supporters who were attempting to convince others to support 2008 GOP nominee John McCain instead of Obama, even though Clinton had already endorsed her former primary opponent.
When it was discovered that two Clinton volunteers had been sending similar emails, they were asked to resign and the campaign publicly condemned their actions.
Trump’s assertion that he had helped end the birther movement in 2011 is also factually incorrect. The real estate developer continued to publicly question Obama’s birthplace on his Twitter account until at least November 2014, Slate reports.
“An ‘extremely credible source’ has called my office and told me that [Obama’s] birth certificate is a fraud,” Trump tweeted in August 2012, more than a year after Obama had produced his birth certificate.
“How amazing, the State Health Director who verified copies of Obama’s ‘birth certificate’ died in plane crash today,” Trump tweeted in December 2013. “All others lived.”
“Attention all hackers: You are hacking everything else so please hack Obama’s college records (destroyed?) and check ‘place of birth,’” Trump tweeted in September 2014.
Clinton blasted Trump’s latest statement during an appearance at the Black Woman’s Agenda Symposium in Washington D.C., ABC News reports.
“For five years, he has led the birther movement to delegitimize our first black president,” Clinton said. “His campaign was founded on this outrageous lie. There is no erasing it in history.”
Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont was equally unconvinced during an interview on CNN.
“Look, this is pathetic,” Sanders said in response to Trump’s announcement. “And this goes to the root of what Trump’s campaign is about ... it’s about bigotry.”
President Obama was visibly amused when told by reporters that Trump had acknowledged that he was a natural-born citizen.
“I was pretty confident about where I was born,” Obama responded.
An Aug. 29 Public Policy Polling survey found that Trump's favorability among African-American voters was at zero percent while 97 percent had an unfavorable view of the GOP nominee, according to The Hill.