Donald Trump no longer wants to discuss his lead role in promoting the conspiracy theory that President Obama wasn't born in the United States — his campaign has said they consider it a settled issue.
But a March 2011 radio interview unearthed by BuzzFeed News shows why Trump can't escape his birther past. In the interview, with conservative radio host Laura Ingraham, Trump said he was "proud" to be a birther, discussed the possibility that Obama might be a Muslim, and argued that historical birth announcements for Obama could have been computer-generated.
When Ingraham asks Trump in the interview about Gov. Tim Pawlenty saying he believed Obama is a US citizen, Trump replied, "He doesn't want to be labeled as a birther probably."
"I'm proud to be," he said. "I'm very proud of it. I'm very proud of it. I don't like the term. I think it's a demeaning term to the people that believe he should have a birth certificate. Some people believe he was not born in this country.
"And when people ask me that question, I just can't be sure because nobody knows. How about when his family is arguing over what hospital? You know his family members are arguing over which hospital. Then he writes that letter, supposedly to a hospital, and in the letter he puts a cute little sentence — ’the place of my birth’—and the doctors didn't even know about it. There's something very strange going on here."
Earlier in the interview, Trump discussed the possibility that President Obama might not want to release his birth certificate because it might list him as a Muslim.
“He doesn't have a birth certificate, or if he does, there's something on that certificate that's very bad for him," Trump said. "Somebody told me — and I have no idea whether this is bad for him or not, but perhaps it would be — that, where it says religion, it might have Muslim. And if you're a Muslim, you don't change your religion, by the way. But somebody said maybe that's the reason why he doesn't want to show it. I don't think so. I just don't think he has a birth certificate, and everybody has a birth certificate."
Trump continued, "When you're born in a hospital you have a birth certificate. How about this governor? He said 'I remember when he was born.' He's taking one for the party. They are looking to that guy because this guy remembers when Obama, a poor kid, was born. Give me a break. There's something fishy. When I started out two weeks I said 'I can't be 100% sure.' Well, let me tell you, after working on it for two weeks, I'm a lot less sure than I was two weeks ago."
The month after the interview took place, President Obama released his birth certificate, but Trump continued to doubt the authenticity of his birth certificate well into well into 2015 and 2016.
In the March interview, Trump raised doubt that contemporaneous birth announcements for Obama in local newspapers could have been computer-generated.
“Now, you know, when I hear he took an ad in the paper, his parents, these are poor people,” Trump said. “When did you ever hear of anybody taking an ad in the paper? I see so much fraud in this world. An ad like that could have been staged. I don't mean staged at the time. I mean could have been computer-generated five years ago, eight years ago, two years ago. It could have been computer-generated."
Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Andrew Kaczynski at email@example.com.
Nathaniel Meyersohn is a political reporting intern and is based in New York.
Contact Nathaniel Meyersohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.