- During an interview that aired Sunday on HBO, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner deflected when asked whether President Donald Trump’s birtherism claims against his predecessor were racist.
- Kushner would not answer the question directly and said he “wasn’t really involved in that.”
- Trump for years perpetuated a conspiracy theory about then-President Barack Obama being born outside the US to undermine his legitimacy; by law, a US president must be a citizen born in the US.
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In an interview that aired Sunday on HBO, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner would not say whether he thought President Donald Trump perpetuating a conspiracy theory about the US’s first black president’s place of birth was racist.
Jonathan Swan of Axios, who conducted the interview, noted that Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York has referred to Trump as racist and asked whether Kushner has ever seen the president engage in behaviour that would back up that assertion.
Kushner replied, “The answer is no, absolutely not. You can’t not be a racist for 69 years and then run for president and be a racist.”
He added, “When a lot of the Democrats call the president a racist, I think they’re doing a disservice to people who suffer because of real racism in this country.”
Swan then asked Kushner whether Trump’s birtherism claims against former President Barack Obama were racist.
The senior White House adviser, who’s also the president’s son-in-law, did not answer the question directly and said he “wasn’t really involved in that.” Kushner repeatedly deflected as Swan pressed him, and would also not say whether he wished Trump had not been involved in fuelling birtherism or the birther movement.
“Look, I know who the president is and I have not seen anything in him that is racist. So, again, I was not involved in that,” Kushner said, later adding, “That was a long time ago.”
Swan then asked Kushner if he thought Trump’s call to ban all Muslims from entering the US during his 2016 presidential campaign was “religiously bigoted” and was also whether he wished Trump had not done so.
“The president did his campaign the way he did his campaign,” Kushner said, adding, “I think he’s here today and I think he’s doing a lot of great things for the country and that’s what I’m proud of.”
Trump helped spread bitherism for years, tweeting on the subject dozens of times. In 2016, he admitted Obama was born in the US, but then falsely claimed the birther movement began with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The Constitution requires a president to be a “natural Born citizen.”
Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961.
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