Donald Trump doubled down on his false claim claim that he put the “birther” theory about President Barack Obama to rest, in response to a question during Monday’s presidential debate.
Trump was long one of the most vocal proponents of “birtherism,” the long-debunked conspiracy theory that Obama was not born in the U.S.
At a news conference this month, Trump finally admitted that Obama was born in the U.S. But during that news conference, he also falsely accused Clinton of originally raising doubts about Obama’s birthplace, and falsely claimed to have put an end to the controversy. There is no evidence that Clinton or her campaign ever pushed the birther argument, and Trump continued to raise questions about Obama’s birth long after the President’s full birth certificate was released.
Asked on Monday why he continued to question Obama’s birth even after his birth certificate was released, Trump said it was because no one “was caring much about it.”
“Well, nobody was pressing it. Nobody was caring much about it. I figured you’d ask the question tonight, of course, but 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.”
In the debate on Monday, Trump again claimed Clinton’s campaign started “birtherism.”
“He has really started his political activity based on this racist lie that our first black president was not an American citizen,” Clinton said. “There was absolutely no evidence for it, but he persisted year after year because some of his supporters, people he was trying to bring into the fold, believed it or wanted to believe it.”
She also mentioned the Justice Department’s 1973 civil rights case accusing the Trump firms of housing discrimination.
“He has a long record of engaging in racist behavior, and the birther lie was a very hurtful one,” Clinton said. “You know, Barack Obama is a man of great dignity, and I could tell how much it bothered him and annoyed him that this was being touted and used against him.”