Robert Costa reports that yesterday Donald Trump was asked a direct question about whether or not he believes that President Obama was born in Hawaii. He refused to answer.
In the interview, conducted late Wednesday aboard his private plane as it idled on the tarmac here, Trump suggested he is not eager to change his pitch or his positions even as he works to reach out to minority voters, many of whom are deeply offended by his long-refuted suggestion that Obama is not a U.S. citizen. Trump refused to say whether he believes Obama was born in Hawaii.
“I’ll answer that question at the right time,” Trump said. “I just don’t want to answer it yet.”
When asked whether his campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, was accurate when she said recently that he now believes Obama was born in this country, Trump responded: “It’s okay. She’s allowed to speak what she thinks. I want to focus on jobs. I want to focus on other things.”
At an event last night, Hillary Clinton called him out on it.
“He was asked one more time, ‘Where was President Obama born?’” Clinton said to the audience at a black tie affair at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s 39th awards gala. “And he still wouldn’t say Hawaii. He still wouldn’t say America. This man wants to be our next president? When will he stop this ugliness, this bigotry?”
Then the Trump campaign issued a statement from Senior Communications Advisor Jason Miller.
“Hillary Clinton’s campaign first raised this issue to smear then-candidate Barack Obama in her very nasty, failed 2008 campaign for President. This type of vicious and conniving behavior is straight from the Clinton Playbook. As usual, however, Hillary Clinton was too weak to get an answer. Even the MSNBC show Morning Joe admits that it was Clinton’s henchmen who first raised this issue, not Donald J. Trump.
In 2011, Mr. Trump was finally able to bring this ugly incident to its conclusion by successfully compelling President Obama to release his birth certificate. Mr. Trump did a great service to the President and the country by bringing closure to the issue that Hillary Clinton and her team first raised. Inarguably, Donald J. Trump is a closer. Having successfully obtained President Obama’s birth certificate when others could not, Mr. Trump believes that President Obama was born in the United States.
The entire statement is chock full of lies. For starters, it has been repeatedly debunked that Hillary Clinton started the whole birther issue. Fact checkers at the Washington Post called that claim “ridiculous.”
The idea that Trump “closed” this issue in 2011 is also a flat-out lie. In 2012 he congratulated Sheriff Joe Arpaio for proving “the ‘birth certificate’ is a fake,” and tweeted this:
How amazing, the State Health Director who verified copies of Obama’s “birth certificate” died in plane crash today. All others lived
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 12, 2013
Here he is in 2014:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 23, 2014
I’m not sure what their definition of “closer” is, but Trump’s behavior on this issue doesn’t fit what the rest of the world thinks that word means.
On the idea that Trump did a great service to the President and the country with this whole mess, I’m going to simply remind you of how one American reacted with raw pain and outrage at what Trump did. Here is Baratunde Thurston:
Donald Trump STILL can’t admit that our first African American president was born in this country, regardless of what his campaign says. He’s also the guy who told us this:
Don't believe the biased and phony media quoting people who work for my campaign. The only quote that matters is a quote from me!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 28, 2016
From what we’ve seen of this man, it is clear that he is constitutionally incapable of admitting mistakes. Beyond that, his supporters have been inflamed about this for years now and don’t want him to. That is the man who is running as the Republican nominee for President of the United States. Crackpot doesn’t even begin to describe him. He’s deplorable.
Update: Trump says he’s going to make a statement about this today – indicating that it will be an attempt to blame it all on Clinton.
“I’m going to be making a major statement on this whole thing and what Hillary did,” Trump told Bartiromo. “But no, she is the one that started it and she was unable or incapable of finishing it. That’s the way it worked out. But I got him to release his birth certificate. So we will have a big statement and I hope you’re going to be watching.”