President Donald Trump will refrain from encouraging a false, racist conspiracy theory that Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris is ineligible for run for office after he did just that last week, White House officials said Sunday.
“This is not something that we’re going to pursue,” White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“Actually, Jake, you and a number of the media, y’all have spent more time on it than anybody in the White House has talking about this,” Meadows went on. “I’m more concerned with Kamala Harris’ liberal ideas coming from San Francisco to the rest of America than where she was born or anything else.”
Trump first surfaced the conspiracy theory Thursday when he said at a news conference that he had heard Harris, the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, “doesn’t meet the requirements” to be vice president because she was not a citizen by birth, drawing parallels to his earlier attacks on former President Barack Obama. Trump shared false “birther” theories that Obama was born in Kenya; both theories have been condemned as racist.
Harris, who was selected last week by presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and will be formally nominated this week at the Democratic National Convention, was born in California; Obama was born in Hawaii. The 14th Amendment to the Constitution states: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”
Asked about the president’s comment Friday, son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner doubled down: “I don’t see that as promoting it,” he told CBS News. “But at the end of the day, it’s something that’s out there.”
Speaking from Bedminster, N.J., on Saturday, Trump walked back his statement, telling reporters at another news conference, “It’s not something we will be pursuing” — though he declined to label the claim as false.
“He never brought this up, the campaign never brought it up,” Trump adviser Steve Cortes told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.” “Members of the media have asked him about it, are trying to create a controversy that simply doesn’t exist.”
“I don’t know why it’s incumbent upon him to opine on legal scholarship of the Constitution,” Cortes said. “What he’s saying is we have not made an issue of this, we will not make an issue of this.”
“This is something that the media brings up to him in his press conferences or interview formats,” Trump adviser Jason Miller told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week.” “It’s not something that anyone in our campaign is talking about.”
“It’s case closed. End of story.”
Asked about Trump’s comments Sunday, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) called them “nothing new, nothing surprising.”
“When you have African American women who are rising up in positions that there have never been African American women in before, that people are going to viciously attack them on gender and race,” Booker told CNN. “The words, the gendered words, that this president has been using about Kamala, attacking her in extraordinarily awful ways, just reflects the demeaning, degrading language he’s used about Blacks, about Black and brown places.”
“Kamala Harris has been fighting this fight her entire career. … So if there’s anybody that’s ready for this kind of mess, it’s Kamala Harris.”