Donald Trump did not put an end to the ‘birther’ controversy in 2011, despite his claims to the contrary

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during Monday night's debate.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during Monday night’s debate.
(Paul J. Richards / AFP/Getty Images)

Donald Trump said he did a “great job and great service” in raising questions on President Obama’s birthplace, but the GOP nominee continued to stoke doubts about Obama’s heritage long after the president released definitive proof of his Hawaii birth.

“I was the one who got him to produce the birth certificate. I think I did a good job,” Trump said Monday night.

Trump argued that by repeatedly pressing Obama on his birthplace, he was aiding the president. But the insinuation that Obama was foreign-born struck many Americans, particularly in the African American community, as an attempt to delegitimize the first black president.

The “birther” controversy, which posited that Obama was not born in the U.S., was not rooted in Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2008, contrary to claims by Trump. A political candidate in Illinois, Andy Martin, started raising questions about Obama’s birthplace back in 2004.

There is no evidence that Clinton or higher-ups in her campaign stoked rumors in 2008 about Obama being born in Kenya. A campaign volunteer in Iowa was dismissed after forwarding an email questioning Obama’s roots.


And Sidney Blumenthal, a Clinton confidante, encouraged a McClatchy Washington investigative editor to investigate several story lines about Obama’s Kenyan heritage, but emails from the time do not specifically reference his birthplace.

Trump, meanwhile, seized on birtherism in 2011, stating that he had doubts that Obama was a natural-born citizen. Even after Obama released his long-form birth certificate in April 2011, Trump continued to question Obama’s birthplace.

Trump said he definitively ended the birther question in 2011. But as Trump ramped up his own presidential run last year, he demurred on the birther question. He did not decisively state he believed Obama was born in the U.S. until earlier this month.

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