Trump helps fuel another false and racist birther conspiracy theory

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Sen. Kamala Harris was born in California and thus is eligible to be vice president.

Donald Trump on Thursday helped fuel yet another false and racist "birther" conspiracy theory when he raised questions about Sen. Kamala Harris' eligibility to run on the Democratic presidential ticket — despite the fact that Harris was born in California and is thus unequivocally qualified to run.

His comments came during a news conference from the White House briefing room after a reporter asked Trump about a widely condemned Newsweek opinion piece written by a conservative law professor who questioned Harris' eligibility to run.

"So, I just heard that. I heard it today that she doesn't meet the requirements," Trump said, giving credence to the opinion piece. "And, by the way, the lawyer that wrote that piece is a very highly qualified, very talented lawyer. I have no idea if that's right. I would've — I would have assumed the Democrats would have checked that out before she gets chosen to run for vice president."

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The Newsweek opinion piece that set off the baseless speculation about Harris' citizenship has been panned by legal scholars — so much so that Newsweek had to write an editor's note defending its decision to publish such a baseless and racist piece that set off another false conspiracy theory for Trump to glom onto.

The author, John Eastman, claimed that because Harris' parents were immigrants and not natural-born citizens, she then was not eligible to run for vice president. But that has no bearing on Harris, who was born in California, and thus, thanks to the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, is unquestionably an American citizen who is qualified to be on a presidential ticket.

This is not the first time Trump has questioned whether someone was eligible to run for president.

He was one of the loudest proponents of the false and racist "birther" conspiracy theory about now-former President Barack Obama. That theory falsely claimed Obama was born in Kenya and not Hawaii, and thus was not qualified to be president.

During the 2016 campaign, Trump reluctantly admitted that the theory was false.

Trump also in 2016 claimed Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) was also ineligible to run because he was born in Canada, albeit to American parents.

Shockingly, Eastman — the man who questioned Harris' eligibility — shot down questions about Cruz's ability to run in 2016.

"No serious constitutional scholar adheres to the view that the meaning of the 'natural-born citizen' requirement contained in ... the Constitution applies only to people born on American soil," he wrote in a piece in the conservative publication The National Review.

Trump is not the only Republican giving credence to this new and false "birther" conspiracy.

Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, told CBS News Friday morning of the false conspiracy, "At the end of the day, it's something that's out there."

However, when he was pushed by a CBS reporter about whether he really believed the false attack, Kushner said, "I personally have no reason to believe she's not."

Jenna Ellis, a Trump campaign lawyer, told ABC News' Will Steakin that Harris' eligibility is "an open question, and one I think Harris should answer so the American people know for sure she is eligible."

The Biden campaign, for its part, condemned Trump and his campaign for pushing a new and baseless birther conspiracy.

Biden campaign spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement:

Donald Trump was the national leader of the grotesque, racist birther movement with respect to President Obama and has sought to fuel racism and tear our nation apart on every single day of his presidency. So it's unsurprising, but no less abhorrent, that as Trump makes a fool of himself straining to distract the American people from the horrific toll of his failed coronavirus response that his campaign and their allies would resort to wretched, demonstrably false lies in their pathetic desperation.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.