After starting his event an hour late, after discussing his new Washington DC hotel, and after more than 23 minutes of introductions from seven retired members of the military, Donald Trump on Friday admitted that President Obama was born in the United States — and lied twice while doing so — after pushing the conspiracy theory he was not since 2011.
"Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it. I finished it. You know what I mean. President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period," was the sum of Trump's comments on the issue Friday.
Trump refused in a Washington Post interview on Thursday night to admit Obama was born in the US. His campaign then issued a statement saying that he did believe Obama was born in the US. Trump has raised questions about Obama's citizenship as recently as 2016.
On Friday, Hillary Clinton slammed Trump for refusing to say Obama was born in the US in his own words, adding that Trump owes the president an apology.
"For five years, he has led the birther movement to delegitimize our first black president," Clinton said. "His campaign was founded on this outrageous lie. There is no erasing it in history. Just yesterday, Trump again refused to say with his own words that the president was born in the United States. Now Donald's advisers had the temerity too say he's doing the country a service by pushing these lies. No, he isn't."
"Donald Trump looks at president Obama after eight years as our president, he still doesn't see him as an American," she said.
"Think of how dangerous that is," she continued. "Imagine a person in the oval office who traffics in conspiracy theories and refuses to let them go, no matter what the facts are. Imagine someone who distorts the truth to fit a very narrow view of the world. Imagine a president who sees someone who doesn't look like him and doesn't agree with him and thinks that person must not be a real American."
Shortly before Trump spoke, Obama addressed the controversy during a media photo sessions from the Oval Office.
Obama said he has "no reaction and I'm shocked that a question like that would come up at a time when we have got so many other things to do. I'm not that shocked, actually. It's fairly typical. We got other business to attend to. I was pretty confident about where I was born. I think most people were as well. And my hope would be that the presidential election reflects more serious issues than that."
Mary Ann Georgantopoulos is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Mary Ann Georgantopoulos at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ruby Cramer is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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