US Elections 2016

Trump admits Obama was US-born, claims Clinton started rumours

Mr Trump repeated his claim that it was Mrs Clinton who started rumours about Mr Obama's birthplace.
First Lady Michelle Obama campaigning for Mrs Clinton at George Mason University in Virginia on Friday. She said Mrs Clinton was the only candidate able to meet the demands of "the highest-stakes, most 24/7 job that you could imagine".PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Mr Trump repeated his claim that it was Mrs Clinton who started rumours about Mr Obama's birthplace.
Mr Trump repeated his claim that it was Mrs Clinton who started rumours about Mr Obama's birthplace.
First Lady Michelle Obama campaigning for Mrs Clinton at George Mason University in Virginia on Friday. She said Mrs Clinton was the only candidate able to meet the demands of "the highest-stakes, most 24/7 job that you could imagine".
Mr Trump repeated his claim that it was Mrs Clinton who started rumours about Mr Obama's birthplace.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Clinton says Republican rival owes President an apology for pushing false theory for years

WASHINGTON • Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has acknowledged for the first time that President Barack Obama was born in the United States, ending his long history of stoking unfounded doubts about the nation's first African-American president, but also seeking to falsely blame Democratic rival Hillary Clinton for starting the rumours.

"Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it...You know what I mean," Mr Trump said on Friday at his newly opened luxury hotel in Washington.

"President Barack Obama was born in the United States. Period."

This is not the first time that Mr Trump has accused Mrs Clinton of sparking speculation over Mr Obama's birthplace, an assertion that has been repeatedly disproved by fact-checkers who have found no evidence that Mrs Clinton or her campaign questioned Mr Obama's birth certificate or his citizenship.

Mr Trump was speaking at a much-hyped televised event where he gave a lengthy plug for his new hotel before acknowledging that Mr Obama was born in the US.

TELLING SIGNS

When you're making life-and- death, war-and-peace decisions, a president can't just pop off... If a candidate is erratic and threatening, if a candidate traffics in prejudice, fear and lies on the trail, that is the kind of president they will be.

FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA, on Mr Trump's unsuitability as president.

His remarks, lasting 35 seconds, included no apology, and he did not disavow the "birther" movement that he effectively led for more than five years.

When asked about the renewed controversy, Mr Obama said: "I was pretty confident about where I was born. My hope would be that the presidential election reflects more serious issues than that."

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said "with regard to an apology, I don't think the President much cares".

Mrs Clinton, however, said Mr Trump owed the President an apology for promoting the false theory.

"For five years, he has led the birther movement to delegitimise our first black president," she told a gathering of black women.

"His campaign was founded on this outrageous lie. There is no erasing it in history."

She did not directly address Mr Trump's accusation that her 2008 campaign promoted the same theory, but her current campaign flatly rejected that claim.

Mr Trump has questioned Mr Obama's US citizenship - a legal prerequisite for becoming president - since at least 2011. He has demanded to see the President's long-form birth certificate and other records.

He has also claimed that Mr Obama - whose father was a Kenyan Muslim - founded the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group.

In April 2011, Mr Obama released his birth certificate, showing he was born in Hawaii.

Mr Trump congratulated himself by saying he had "accomplished something that nobody else has been able to accomplish". But he did not revise his position, and repeatedly questioned the validity of the birth certificate.

The charges helped to launch his political career, propelling him onto the national stage and winning him fans on the far right.

First Lady Michelle Obama, in a rare appearance on the campaign trail to plead with young voters to support Mrs Clinton, issued a cutting critique of Mr Trump as an unserious and dangerously unprepared candidate for president.

She never mentioned Mr Trump by name in her speech at George Mason University in Virginia, but her comments were unmistakably aimed at the Republican presidential nominee.

"When you're making life-and- death, war-and-peace decisions, a president can't just pop off," she said in what could be a crucial swing state.

"If a candidate is erratic and threatening, if a candidate traffics in prejudice, fear and lies on the trail, that is the kind of president they will be."

She cast Mrs Clinton - herself a former first lady and Mr Obama's one-time rival - as the only candidate capable of fulfilling what she called "the highest-stakes, most 24/7 job that you could imagine".

THE WASHINGTON POST, NY TIMES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 18, 2016, with the headline 'Trump admits Obama was US-born, claims Clinton started rumours'. Print Edition | Subscribe