Donald Trump’s political career is littered with half-baked conspiracy theories but perhaps his ugliest to date is also one of his earliest. Before he ever announced his intention to seek the Republican nomination for president, Trump spent years spreading the right-wing lie that our first Black president was illegitimate because he allegedly wasn’t born in the United States.
Completely divorced from reality, the accusation took deep root in the parts of the country that believe on a primal level that only a white man should ever be President of the United States. To this day, Trump has not apologized for helping propagate the conspiracy and even discussed it behind the walls of the White House.
Now, Trump is repurposing birtherism to smear Senator Kamala Harris, the woman of Black and Indian descent who Joe Biden has selected as his vice-presidential running mate. During the White House press conference today, Trump was asked for his thoughts on a recent disgraceful article written by John C. Eastman. One Trump campaign aide has already boosted the article, indicating that it’s likely gaining traction inside the president’s inner circle.
The article, entitled “Some Questions for Kamala Harris about eligibility,” concocts a convoluted Constitutional argument that Harris may not be able to serve as president or vice president because although she was born in Oakland, California her parents were allegedly not fully naturalized citizens at the time of her birth. The article eschews the traditional law and logic that holds that anyone born on U.S. soil is a citizen. Conservatives often use the dehumanizing term “anchor baby” to describe such people.
When asked about the eligibility claims about Harris, Trump dove right in.
“So I just heard that. I heard it today that she doesn’t meet the requirements. Uh and by the way the lawyer that wrote that piece is a very highly qualified, very talented lawyer,” Trump said, immediately leading credence to the idea by praising the writer.
“I have no idea if that’s right,” Trump went on. “I would have assumed the Democrats would have checked that out before she gets chosen to run for vice president. But that’s very serious, you’re saying that, they’re saying that she doesn’t qualify because she wasn’t born in this country.”
The final part misrepresnts the article, which never claims that Harris wasn’t born in California. Here we see Trump adding his own spin on the idea, presumably in the hopes that the lie will catch on with his followers.
This is naked racism in action but it’s also a clear indication that the Trump campaign has no idea how to attack Harris. They’re desperate to build a negative narrative around her and lacking good ammunition they’re resorting as they often do to flirting with white nationalist canards.
Holy shit. Trump pushes a baseless, birther-style theory about Kamala Harris that holds she’s not a citizen because birthright citizenship isn’t a thing.
“I just heard it today that she doesn’t meet the requirements … I have no idea if that’s right.” pic.twitter.com/ZIXYrleuVf
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 13, 2020
Trump is now floating his racist birther conspiracy against Kamala Harris.
Trump: "I heard it today that she doesn't meet the requirements. And, by the way, the lawyer that wrote that piece is a very qualified, very talented lawyer."
Kamala Harris was born in California.
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) August 13, 2020
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