KEY POINTS

  • President Trump floated the birther conspiracy theory against Sen. Kamala Harris during a White House press briefing
  • Trump was not shy about pushing the theory against President Obama and used it against Sen. Ted Cruz during the 2016 Republican Primary
  • Trump reopening his old playbook was met with almost immediate criticism

Donald Trump has never been one to shy away from controversy . If anything, he appears to welcome the attention it brings him.

His political aspiration arguably started when infamously began purporting the idea President Obama was not natural-born U.S. citizen and his birth certificate was an elaborate forgery. That would have made Obama ineligible to hold the office of U.S. President.

Trump’s conspiracy theory was more commonly known as the birther theory and was widely shared by members of the Republican Party and several conservative media outlets.

Obama and the Hawaii Department of Health easily disproved this theory after releasing an authentic copy of his birth certificate in 2011. Trump also wasn’t shy of using this same tactic against his opponents during the 2016 Republican Presidential Primary, either. Trump accused Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas,  of being ineligible to run for President because he was born in Canada, despite his mother being born in Delaware.

The irony is that by his own argument, Trump would also be ineligible for office as his mother, Mary MacLeod Trump, was born in Scotland and emigrated to the U.S.

Now, following Joe Biden naming Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.,  as his running mate for the 2020 election, Trump has returned to his old tricks to try and discredit his Democratic opponents.

“I just heard it today that she doesn't meet the requirements and by the way the lawyer that wrote that piece is a very highly qualified, very talented lawyer,” Trump said during a press briefing on Thursday. “I have no idea if that's right. I would have assumed the Democrats would have checked that out before she gets chosen to run for vice-president.”

“But that's a very serious, you're saying that, they're saying that she doesn't qualify because she wasn't born in this country.”

Harris’ parents, Shyamala Gopalan and Donald Harris, were both immigrants who moved to the U.S. in the early 1960s to continue academic studies at University of California, Berkley. Gopalan emigrated from India to study nutrition and endocrinology and Donald Harris emigrated from Jamaica to study economics.

The two met while at school and married shortly after, with Gopalan giving birth to Harris in 1964 in Oakland, California.

The “piece” Trump referenced was an op-ed published in Newsweek by conservative law professor John Eastman. He was one of many conservative personalities who also perpetuated the Obama birther theory. Eastman also ran for California Attorney General in 2010, but lost in the Republican Primary to attorney Steve Cooley. Cooley ultimately lost to Harris in the state’s general election.

Trump’s decision to reopen his old playbook was met with almost immediate backlash. Berkeley Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky told CBS News this attempt to promote the conspiracy theory by Trump and his administration was “a truly silly argument.”

“Under section 1 of the 14th Amendment, anyone born in the United States is a United States citizen. The Supreme Court has held this since the 1890s. Kamala Harris was born in the United States,” Chmerinsky said.

“Some conservatives, such as John Eastman, think that is wrong and being born in the country is not enough. [They're] clearly wrong under the language of the 14th Amendment and under Supreme Court precedent.”

It remains to be seen if Trump will continue to push this theory, but given his history, it’s fair to say the public is likely in for a new generation of birthers. After all, when has factual proof ever stopped Trump before?

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden chose Kamala Harris as his running mate, the first woman of color tapped by a major party for the post Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden chose Kamala Harris as his running mate, the first woman of color tapped by a major party for the post Photo: AFP / MANDEL NGAN