Trump's Racist 'Birther' Lies

Donald Trump was a key figure in the racist 'birther' campaign against Barack Obama which suggested that Obama was ineligible to become President of the United States because he was not born in America.

Now this claim was completely false, of course, yet the truth didn't stop Trump and his supporters from trying their best to exploit a deliberate, racially motivated lie.  

Trump is now trying the same tactic with Kamala Harris, the Democratic nominee for vice president, but I suspect that Trump's ugly, race-baiting politics are going to backfire this time around.

US 2020: Biden campaign says Trump 'abhorrent' for fuelling Harris conspiracy

Image copyright - REUTERS Image caption - Joe Biden named Kamala Harris his running mate - she is the first woman of colour on a major party ticket

The campaign team for Democratic White House candidate Joe Biden has issued a scathing response after US President Donald Trump amplified a conspiracy theory about his running mate.

Mr Trump said he had "heard" that Kamala Harris - a US-born citizen whose parents were immigrants - "doesn't qualify" to serve as US vice-president.

The fringe theory has been dismissed by constitutional experts.

The Biden campaign called the comments "abhorrent" and "pathetic".

They noted that Mr Trump spent years promoting a false "birther" theory that ex-President Barack Obama was not born in the US.

Ms Harris, a senator from California, on Tuesday became the first black woman and the first Asian-American to be named as a running mate on a main-party US presidential ticket.

"Donald Trump was the national leader of the grotesque, racist birther movement with respect to President Obama and has sought to fuel racism and tear our nation apart on every single day of his presidency," a Biden campaign spokesman said in an email.

"So it's unsurprising, but no less abhorrent, that as Trump makes a fool of himself straining to distract the American people from the horrific toll of his failed coronavirus response that his campaign and their allies would resort to wretched, demonstrably false lies in their pathetic desperation."

Profile: Who is Kamala Harris?
Why Kamala Harris embraces her biracial roots
How Kamala Harris could help - or hurt - Joe Biden

Ms Harris was born to a Jamaican father and Indian mother in Oakland, California, on 20 October 1964. As such, she is eligible to serve as president or vice-president.

Constitutional scholars have dismissed the fringe legal theory that Mr Trump was referring to.

To be vice-president or president, Kamala Harris "has to be a natural-born citizen, at least 35 years old, and a resident in the United States for at least 14 years", Juliet Sorensen, a law professor at Northwestern University, told the Associated Press news agency. "She is. That's really the end of the inquiry."

Anyone born in the US and subject to its jurisdiction is a natural born citizen, regardless of the citizenship of their parents, says the Cornell Legal Information Institute.
What did Trump say?

After a conservative law professor questioned Ms Harris' eligibility based on her parents' immigration status at the time of her birth, Mr Trump was asked about the argument at a press conference on Thursday.

The president said: "I just 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.

Media caption - Who is Kamala Harris? A look at her life and political career

"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.

"But that's a very serious, you're saying that, they're saying that she doesn't qualify because she wasn't born in this country."

The reporter replied there was no question that Ms Harris was born in the US, simply that her parents might not have been permanent US residents at the time.

Earlier on Thursday, a Trump campaign adviser, Jenna Ellis, reposted a tweet from the head of conservative group Judicial Watch, Tim Fitton.

In that tweet, Mr Fitton questioned whether Ms Harris was "ineligible to be vice-president under the US constitution's 'citizenship clause'".

Media caption - Kamala Harris' childhood home reacts to Biden pick

He also shared the opinion piece published in Newsweek magazine by John Eastman, a law professor at Chapman University in California, that Mr Trump was asked about.
What is the law professor's argument?

Prof Eastman cites Article II of the US Constitution's wording that "no person except a natural born citizen… shall be eligible to the office of president".

He also points out that the 14th Amendment to the constitution says "all persons born… in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens".

Media caption - Joe Biden: Will it be third time lucky in 2020?

Prof Eastman's argument, which he claims is also being made by other "commentators", hinges on the idea that Ms Harris may not have been subject to US jurisdiction if her parents were, for example, on student visas at the time of their daughter's birth in California.

"Her father was (and is) a Jamaican national, her mother was from India, and neither was a naturalized US citizen at the time of Harris' birth in 1964. That, according to these commentators, makes her not a 'natural born citizen' - and therefore ineligible for the office of the president and, hence, ineligible for the office of the vice president," he wrote in the Newsweek op-ed.

Experts in constitutional law have dismissed his claims

In 2010, Prof Eastman ran to be the Republican candidate for California attorney general. He lost to Steve Cooley, who went on to be defeated by Ms Harris, the Democratic candidate, in the general election.

Following furious backlash to the Newsweek op-ed, its editor-in-chief Nancy Cooper stood by the decision to publish, arguing on Thursday that Prof Eastman's article had "nothing to do with racist birtherism" and was instead "focusing on a long-standing, somewhat arcane legal debate".
What do other constitutional experts say?

Berkeley Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky told CBS News, the BBC's US partner, that Prof Eastman's argument about Ms Harris' eligibility was "truly silly".

"Under section 1 of the 14th Amendment, anyone born in the United States is a United States citizen. The Supreme Court has held this since the 1890s. Kamala Harris was born in the United States," he said.

Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School, told the Associated Press: "Let's just be honest about what it is: It's just a racist trope we trot out when we have a candidate of colour whose parents were not citizens."


Trump's Racist Tirades (19/07/19)

Donald Trump's racist tirades against fellow Americans  are not a new phenomenon as this 1968 "Go Back Where You Came From" cartoon from the Asbury Park Press demonstrates.

Trump's Racist Tirades (16/07/19)9

Barack Obama reminds the world what it's like to have a grown up in the White House - one who can poke fun at himself and spar with political rivals without resorting to racist insults and personal abuse.

Donald Trump's was, of course, at the heart of the ugly, racist 'birther' campaign which claimed that Barack Obama was not an American citizen - and not a legitimate president.

So Trump's latest racist rant should come as no surprise to anyone. 


Trump's Conspiracy Theorist (24/08/17)

Here's the former sheriff and 'birther' conspiracy theorist, Joe Arpaio, who is line for a presidential pardon from Donald Trump. 

Trump himself actively encouraged and exploited the ugly 'birther' campaign against Barack Obama which claimed that President Barack Obama was not an American citizen - but a fraud, a foreigner, an Arab or even a Muslim.

Not all Republicans went along with these vile 'dog whistle' tactics and racial smears as the following YouTube clip featuring Senator John McCain demonstrates. 


Trump - Absolute Chaotic Disaster (18/05/20)

Barack Obama has broken with presidential tradition by openly criticising his successor, Donald Trump.

Which is a good thing if you ask me.

Because Trump has shown complete disdain for the rules of civilised behaviour by pouring bile and scorn on his predecessor with his racist 'birther' campaign, for example, which falsely claimed that President Obama was not an American citizen.

Trump now accuses President Obama of being at the head a 'deep-state' criminal conspiracy without a shred of evidence, of course. 

So well done to President Obama for taking the gloves off and telling the truth as he sees it with the following memorable lines: 

"More than anything this pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they're doing. A lot of them aren't even pretending to be in charge."


Coronavirus: Obama criticises Trump administration's virus response
Image copyright - GETTY IMAGES Image caption - Barack Obama has hit out at the Trump administration's coronavirus response twice in recent days

Former US President Barack Obama has criticised his successor Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus crisis.

In an online address to graduating college students, he said the pandemic had shown that many officials "aren't even pretending to be in charge".

It is the second time in recent days that Mr Obama has hit out at the Trump administration's coronavirus response.

He said it had been "an absolute chaotic disaster" during a leaked conference call last week.

The former president also gave an address to high school students that was hosted by NBA star LeBron James and was part of a special programme that featured numerous celebrities including the Jonas Brothers, Megan Rapinoe, Pharrell Williams and education activist Malala Yousafzai.

In his speech to graduates from several dozen historically black colleges and universities, Mr Obama said the Covid-19 outbreak had exposed failings in the country's leadership.

"More than anything this pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they're doing," he said.

"A lot of them aren't even pretending to be in charge," he added.

More than 1,200 people have died with coronavirus in the US over the past 24 hours, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University.

The total death toll now stands at almost 89,000, which is the highest anywhere in the world.

Mr Obama also spoke at length about the impact the pandemic is having on black communities in the US.

"A disease like this just spotlights the underlying inequalities and extra burdens that black communities have historically had to deal with in this country," he said.

African Americans make up a disproportionate number of coronavirus deaths and hospitalisations in the US.
The former president also referenced the killing of Ahmaud Arbery - an unarmed black jogger who was shot and killed by two white men in February - during his address.

He said racial inequalities in the US were made apparent "when a black man goes for a jog and some folks feel like they can stop and question and shoot him, if he doesn't submit to their question". 

"If the world's going to get better, it's going to be up to you," he told the graduates.

Mr Obama has kept a relatively low profile since leaving office in January 2017 and has rarely spoken out about the actions of his successor.

But the pair have been engaged in several back-and-forths in recent days, leading Mr Trump to accuse Mr Obama and his aides of engaging in a criminal effort to undermine his presidency. 

"The biggest political crime in American history, by far!" the president wrote on Twitter last week.

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