Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski questioned President Barack Obama’s birthplace and citizenship at the time of his admission to Harvard Law School in a CNN panel Tuesday night, asking why the president’s transcripts from Harvard had not been released.
In a panel including former Congressional Black Caucus executive director Angela Rye and host Don Lemon, Lewandowski — a paid CNN commentator — suggested two days before the president’s birthday that Obama had not made his transcripts public to hide the citizenship and circumstances under which he was admitted.
Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii on Aug. 4, 1961, despite allegations from birthers — including Trump — that he was born outside the country. The White House released the president’s long-form birth certificate in 2011.
Rye originally challenged Lewandowski regarding Obama’s comments earlier in the day that Trump was “unfit” for the presidency, bringing up Trump’s old allegation that Obama was admitted under affirmative action to Harvard Law.
“Did he ever release his transcripts from Harvard?” Lewandowski said in response. He ignored Rye’s followup about Trump’s withheld tax returns, adding, "You raised the issue. Did he, did he ever release his transcripts or his admission to Harvard University. You raised the issue, so just yes or no — the answer is no.”
"You’re so out of line right now,” Rye said. “Tell your candidate to release his tax returns.”
“Don’t raise the issue if you don’t want to address it," Lewandowski said. "That’s what happens.”
When Lewandowski continued to ask if Obama released his transcripts, Rye pointed out that he was the first black editor of Harvard Law Review. Lemon then asked Lewandowski about the relevance of Obama’s transcripts to the election.
“Look, the only reason it’s germane is because she brought the issue up and said Donald Trump raised the issue of his Harvard transcripts," Lewandowski said. "And I just simply said, have those ever been released? And the question was did he get in as a U.S. citizen, or was he brought into Harvard University as a citizen who wasn’t from this country?”
“Oh, my God,” Rye said, as another panelist, Bakari Sellers, said Lewandowski was being “blatantly disrespectful.” “You think he’s Kenyan. You think he’s not from here.”
Lewandowski denied the charge, but Sellers persisted. “You just said that, you said that you think he’s not from this country," Sellers said.
Rye jumped in. “So where’s he from, Corey? If he’s not from the United States, where’s he from? ... Hawaii isn’t a country!”
But Lewandowski did not back down, implying Rye was the one uncomfortable about the president’s race. “If that's the issue you're still dealing with, that's your problem, not mine.”