Thursday's White House press briefing left many feeling deja vu in terms of Donald Trump and his connection to the "Birther" conspiracy theory. On the heels of an op-ed in Newsweek by John C. Eastman, a Republican lawyer claiming Kamala Harris might not be eligible to be vice president. This claim is reportedly due to her parents' citizenship status when she was born, with many quickly calling the claim false and criticizing Newsweek for publishing the piece.
Trump didn't criticize or deny the claims, instead choosing to call Eastman a "a very highly qualified, very talented lawyer" during Thursday's briefing. "So I just heard that. I heard it today. That she doesn't meet the requirements and by the way the lawyer that wrote that piece is a very highly qualified, very talented lawyer," Trump said to reporters. "I have no idea if that's right. I would have assumed the Democrats would have checked that out before she gets chosen to run for vice president."
Holy shit. Trump pushes a baseless, birther-style theory about Kamala Harris that holds she's not a citizen because birthright citizenship isn't a thing.
"I just heard it today that she doesn't meet the requirements ... I have no idea if that's right." pic.twitter.com/ZIXYrleuVf— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 13, 2020
The president also called the claims "very serious" despite facts and reporting proving it false immediately. And while he didn't go as far as he did when he claimed Barack Obama couldn't be president because he wasn't born in the United States, he still managed to bring up the controversy in a way that thrusts him right back in the middle.
He also took a moment to say he'd never heard of the claims despite mentioning the author of the Newsweek piece was a "very highly qualified" lawyer. He also instantly gave the ilusion of credibility to the op-ed by saying he'd "look into it." Birtherism is one of the modern political scandals that sticks in the minds of many thanks to Trump's connection to it in 2011. He was one of the loudest voices claiming Barack Obama wasn't an American citizen and was born in Africa. The racist accusation led to Trump claiming he had people looking into Obama's birth certificate, while other Right Wing operatives like Newt Gingrich and Dinesh D'Souza ran with the concept in the run up to the 2012 election.
The Atlantic ran a story on Trump's connection to the conspiracy theory and how television news helped sustain it thanks to inviting Trump onto their shows. "He doesn't have a birth certificate. He may have one, but there is something on that birth certificate—maybe religion, maybe it says he's a Muslim; I don't know," Trump told Fox News in late March 2011. "I have people that have been studying it and they cannot believe what they're finding," he added during an NBC appearance in April.
It also stands as the moment that kicked off Trump's current political status, which is interesting as we inch closer to the 2020 Election in November. We will see it become an actual campaign point or will it be ignored by Trump despite his past connections? Should be interesting.