Trump re­cy­cles racist ‘birther’ at­tack on Har­ris

Prez re­fuses to de­bunk in­flam­ma­tory ar­ti­cle

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - LYNN SWEET lsweet@suntimes.com | @lynnsweet

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 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 a “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 ad­viser 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.

JIM WAT­SON/AFP VIA GETTY IM­AGES

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump pumps his fist as he speaks Fri­day to the City of New York Po­lice Benev­o­lent As­so­ci­a­tion at the Trump Na­tional Golf Club in Bed­min­ster, N.J.

Sen. Ka­mala Har­ris

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