Trump revives racist ‘birtherism’ after Biden taps Harris for vice president
President Trump declined to rebuke the erroneous suggestion that the California-born Kamala Harris may be ineligible to be vice president because her parents were immigrants.
President Donald Trump is reviving “birtherism,” declining to reject suggestions the California-born Sen. Kamala Harris may be ineligible to be vice president because her parents were immigrants.
Trump rode racist “birtherism” to the White House, and he’s revived this odious act after Joe Biden tapped Harris, a woman of color, as his running mate. Trump also leveled the false birther attack on President Barack Obama — the nation’s first Black president — by questioning whether he was born in the United States.
Tragically, Trump in the 2016 contest was assisted by TV and radio shows eager, in the name of ratings, to give him a stage to promote his fake news that he was on the verge of proving Obama was not born in Hawaii.
After Harris was picked on Tuesday, Newsweek published an article headlined, “Some Questions for Kamala Harris About Eligibility” by a law professor, John Eastman, who ran for California attorney general the same year as Harris made her first bid for that office. Eastman lost the Republican primary; Harris won the fall election.
Eastman, a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, suggested Harris might be “constitutionally ineligible” to be vice president because the Constitution requires a president to be a “natural born” citizen.
The Newsweek article is fueling Trump’s “birtherism” resurrection.
Legal scholars like to debate the definition of “natural born,” because the Constitution didn’t define the term.
The matter also flared up when John McCain and Ted Cruz ran for president, because their U.S. parents were outside the United States when they were born — McCain in the Panama Canal Zone, Cruz in Canada. Yet they were eligible to run.
The non-partisan Congressional Research Service, in a 2011 report about the “Natural Born Citizenship Eligibility Requirement” stated that “the eligibility of native born U.S. citizens has been settled law for more than a century.”
Harris was born in Oakland, Calif., on Oct., 20, 1964. Her mother, Shyamala Gopalan, was born in southern India; her father, Donald Harris, in Jamaica. They met in the U.S.
Trump on Thursday was asked about “claims circulating on social media” that Harris is not eligible to be vice president and if he can definitively say whether or not she is “eligible” to run.
Seizing the opening, Trump replied, “I heard it today that she doesn’t meet the requirements.” He praised Eastman as “very highly qualified, very talented lawyer,” though in the same sentence said, “I have no idea if that’s right.”
Trump then asked the reporter to clarify if Harris was born in the U.S. and after being told she was, Trump said, “I just heard about it. I’ll take a look.”
Horrified Newsweek editors on Friday put a note over Eastman’s article.
“This op-ed is being used by some as a tool to perpetuate racism and xenophobia. We apologize. … To many readers, the essay inevitably conveyed the ugly message that Senator Kamala Harris, a woman of color and the child of immigrants, was somehow not truly American.
“The op-ed was never intended to spark or to take part in the racist lie of Birtherism, the conspiracy theory aimed at delegitimizing Barack Obama, but we should have recognized the potential, even probability, that that could happen. Readers hold us accountable for all that we publish, as they should; we hold ourselves accountable, too. We entirely failed to anticipate the ways in which the essay would be interpreted, distorted and weaponized.”
Trump son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner told “CBS This Morning” co-host Anthony Mason on Friday that Trump was not agreeing or disagreeing with Eastman. “He said that he had no idea” whether Eastman was “right or wrong,” Kushner said.
Mason asked, “Why didn’t the president take the opportunity to debunk that theory?” Said Kushner, the enabler: “Let his words speak for himself.”
And they did.