President Donald Trump on Saturday refused to acknowledge that Kamala Harris is eligible to serve on the Democratic ticket and claimed he “just doesn’t know” if there is truth to the bogus conspiracy theory questioning whether she truly counts as a natural born citizen.
“So, I have nothing to do with that,” Trump said when asked by a reporter if Harris is eligible to run for VP. “I read something about it and I will say that he [the author] is a brilliant lawyer … So I know nothing about it but it’s not something that bothers me,” he said, referring to the lawyer who revived birther claims about Harris in an op-ed earlier this week.
“To me, it doesn’t bother me at all. I don’t know about it. …. I read one quick article. The lawyer happens to be a brilliant lawyer. He wrote an article saying there could be a problem.”
When pushed for a second time by the reporter to admit that Harris is, in fact, eligible, as she was born in Oakland, California, Trump simply said: “I have not gone into it in great detail [on it]. If she’s got a problem you would’ve thought that she would’ve been vetted by Sleepy Joe.”
Almost immediately after former Vice President Joe Biden revealed Harris as his running mate, Harris was targeted by already-debunked birther claims that she is somehow not a full-fledged citizen because of her Jamaican-born father and Indian mother. Harris, born in Oakland, California, is without a doubt a natural born United States citizen, despite the claims made by the Newsweek op-ed that sparked a new round of birther conspiracy theories. During the press conference, Trump called the lawyer who penned the op-ed, John Eastman, “brilliant.” The publication issued an apology for publishing the op-ed, but did not retract it.
Trump was vocal for years with his false accusations that former President Barack Obama was not born in the United States. “He doesn’t have a birth certificate, or if he does, there’s something on that certificate that is very bad for him,” Trump said in March 2011. “Now, somebody told me—and I have no idea if this is bad for him or not, but perhaps it would be—that where it says ‘religion,’ it might have ‘Muslim.’ And if you’re a Muslim, you don’t change your religion, by the way.”
Even after Obama released his full birth certificate in April 2011, Trump continued to make false claims for years, regularly insisting in tweets and interviews that the birth certificate released was falsified. “Was it a birth certificate? You tell me,” Trump said in an August 2013 interview. “Some people say that was not his birth certificate. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. I’m saying I don’t know. Nobody knows.” Trump did not admit until he was running for president in 2016 that Obama was born in the United States.