Donald Trump says his investigative team is still digging up evidence that President Obama was born in Kenya (or, at least, wasn’t born in Hawaii).
In a letter blasting the New York Times for blasting him, Trump lays out his evidence. He also accuses the liberal press of being complicit in what may be the “greatest scam in the history of our country.”
Here’s Trump’s case:
* Obama’s grandma said on tape that Obama was born in Kenya, Trump says.
* Hawaii has only produced a “Certificate of Live Birth” for Obama. That’s not the same thing as a birth certificate, Trump says.
* Obama’s family doesn’t know or won’t say which Hawaiian hospital Obama was born in, Trump says.
Trump also tells the New York Times that people keep “calling him up” and urging him to get to the bottom of this–and that he’s not going to rest until he does.
OK, we’ll admit it, we’re curious. We thought this whole thing had long since been put to rest. For example, even Bill O’Reilly thinks Obama was born in Hawaii and that Donald Trump is a loon (or, rather, a genius promoter who is singlehandedly boosting the ratings of his hit TV show).
So, hasn’t it been put to rest?
If not, can we just put it to rest? What would it take to actually put it to rest? Let us know, and if it won’t cost us Trump’s fortune to do it, we’ll put it to rest.
UPDATE: Courtesy of a reader, here are FactCheck.org and Politifact.com analyses of this question. FactCheck analyses the “certificate of live birth” that Trump dismisses and concludes that Obama was born in Hawaii. Trump’s investigation, therefore, hinges on there being a difference between the “certificate of birth,” which is a “short-form” document drawn from a database, and the original long-form version created by a hospital, which has not been produced.
UPDATE 2: Gail Collins of the NYT, who Trump insulted in his letter to the paper, refutes Trump’s points one by one, as well as his claim that he has an investigative team studying the question. Obama’s grandma, Collins says, misunderstood the question she was asked, and later clarified that Obama was born in Hawaii. Web conspiracy sites obviously don’t include the clarification in their tapes. Collin’s analysis of the “certificate of live birth” vs the “long-form birth certificate” notes that the certificate is what Hawaii produces when someone asks for a copy of a birth certificate. This leaves open the possibility that the certificate of live birth is incorrect or based on a doctored database. But that’s presumably a possibility with any document the government produces.
UPDATE 3: Politifact.com followed up their original analysis (from 2008) with another in 2009 addressing all the questions that were raised when Obama produced the form above, which is now referred to by birthers as the “short-form” document. Politifact makes a persuasive case against there being any meaningful difference between the “long-form” and “short-form” documents, saying that the two are basically just different looking versions of the same thing. The quote a Hawaii civil servant saying that, if Obama hadn’t been born in Hawaii, the certificate of live birth would show that. They also note that Hawaii’s department of health placed two ads in local newspapers when Obama was born (not Obama’s family–Hawaii’s department of health). In other words, if someone wanted to have faked the fact that Obama was born in Hawaii, they would have had to have had cronies within the Department of Health who duped two newspapers AND faked the data in a state database way back in 1961.
UPDATE 4: Factcheck.org weighs in again, this time going straight at The Donald:
If Donald Trump worked for us, we’d have to say: “Donald, you’re fired — for incompetence.” The successful developer and TV celebrity says he’d make a good president, and maybe he would — we take no stand either way about that. But when it comes to getting facts straight, he fouls up again and again on the basics of President Barack Obama’s birth. As a rookie reporter, he just wouldn’t make it.
- He claims the president’s grandmother says Obama was born in Kenya. In fact, the recording to which he refers shows Sarah Obama repeatedly saying through a translator: “He was born in America.”
- He claims that no hospital in Hawaii has a record of Obama’s birth. Hospital records are confidential under federal law, but Honolulu’s Kapi’olani Medical centre has published a letter from Obama calling it “the place of my birth,” thus publicly confirming it as his birthplace.
- He insists that the official “Certification of Live Birth” that Obama produced in 2008 is “not a birth certificate.” That’s wrong. The U.S. Department of State uses “birth certificate” as a generic term to include the official Hawaii document, which satisfies legal requirements for proving citizenship and obtaining a passport.
- He claims that there’s no signature or certification number on the document released by Obama. Wrong again. Photos of the document, which we posted in 2008, clearly show those details.
- He says newspaper announcements of Obama’s birth that appeared in Hawaii newspapers in 1961 “probably” were placed there fraudulently by his now-deceased American grandparents. Actually, a state health department official and a former managing editor of one of the newspapers said the information came straight from the state health department.
- He claims “nobody knew” Obama when he was growing up and “nobody ever comes forward” who knew him as a child. “If I ever decide to run, you may go back and interview people from my kindergarten,” Trump said. Well, two retired kindergarten teachers in a 2009 news story fondly recall teaching a young Barack Obama.
The evidence that Obama was born in the U.S.A. is so overwhelming that we haven’t had much to say lately about the sort of bogus claims that Trump repeats. Hawaii’s top official in charge of vital records stated long ago, for example, that the confidential records underlying Obama’s official birth certificate show that he was born in Hawaii and is “a natural born American citizen.”
But when a leading prospect for the Republican presidential nomination embraces and repeats these spurious claims and groundless conspiracy theories on national television, we are forced to wade into this swamp once again. For details of where Trump goes wrong, and full documentation of the facts, please read on to our Analysis section.
Bottom line: Anything’s possible, but we’re now pretty much satisfied. Trump and others who keep harping on this issue have no more evidence to suggest that Obama wasn’t born here than they do any other president. If the original birth documents exist–and it wouldn’t be proof of anything if they didn’t–and if Obama could compel them to be released, we don’t know why he wouldn’t just do it. But even if he did, the story would then be that someone doctored them.