Donald Trump again at Monday night’s debate accused a Hillary Clinton ally of spreading the birther rumor about President Obama during the 2008 campaign, when Clinton and Obama were competitors.
Trump said that a “highly respected reporter at McClatchy (went) to Kenya to find out” whether Barack Obama was born there.
Obama was born in Hawaii. Trump announced he believed that earlier this month after five years of pushing the birther rumor.
“If you look at CNN this past week, Patti Solis Doyle was on Wolf Blitzer saying that this happened,” Trump said at the debate. “Blumenthal sent McClatchy, a highly respected reporter at McClatchy, to Kenya to find out about it. They were pressing it very hard.
“... I got him to give the birth certificate. So I'm satisfied with it. And I'll tell you why I'm satisfied with it.
Here’s what is known:
Two supporters of Clinton reportedly shared the claim that Obama was born in Kenya, and thus was not eligible to be president. One was a volunteer in Iowa, who was later dismissed, according to Patti Solis Doyle, who was a 2008 Clinton campaign manager.
The other was longtime Clinton confidante Sidney Blumenthal, according to James Asher, an editor in McClatchy’s Washington bureau in 2008. Asher has said Blumenthal suggested the news organization look into Obama’s roots, and Asher said he asked a Nairobi-based reporter to look into the tip. McClatchy last week reported that there is no direct proof that Blumenthal shared the birther rumor, though Blumenthal did share other ideas about Obama with Asher, according to an email. The reporter said he didn’t have any knowledge of who shared the tip. Asher has said he recalls the conversation clearly, but has no record of it.
“This is false. Never happened, period,” Blumenthal told Fox News earlier this month. Blumenthal added: “Donald Trump cannot distract from the inescapable fact that he is the one who embraced and promoted the racist birther lie and bears the responsibility for it.”
The Clinton campaign has denied all of those accusations.
At the debate, Clinton said, “He has really started his political activity based on this racist lie that our first black president was not an American citizen. There was absolutely no evidence for it, but he persisted, he persisted year after year, because some of his supporters, people that he was trying to bring into his fold, apparently believed it or wanted to believe it.”
After five years of questioning Obama’s citizenship Trump announced this month that he believed the president was born in the United States.
At the Monday debate, Trump said he did both Obama and the country a service by getting the first black president to release his birth certificate.
“Nobody was caring much about it,” Trump said. “But I was the one that got him to produce the birth certificate. And I think I did a good job.”