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Kamala Harris: Trump campaign starts ‘birther’ conspiracy

The Trump campaign’s Senior Legal Advisor Jenna Ellis pushed a so-called ‘birther’ narrative Thursday that Kamala Harris isn’t eligible to be vice president because her parents weren’t citizens when she was born in Oakland, California. 

‘It’s an open question, and one I think Harris should answer so the American people know for sure she is eligible,’ Ellis told ABC News. 

Ellis’ views on the issue came to light after she retweeted a link to a ‘birther’ op-ed published on Newsweek’s website Wednesday written by right-wing law professor John C. Eastman. 

A Trump campaign spokesman has yet to respond to’s inquiry on whether the campaign stands by her statement.   

Eastman pointed to how Article 2 of the Constitution says only a ‘natural born citizen’ can serve as vice president and president, but suggests there’s some interpretation of the 14th Amendment’s Citizenship Clause that could exclude someone in Harris’ situation. 

He also argued that while the modern view of citizenship includes every person born on American soil, that belief started after Harris was born in 1964. ‘Indeed, the Supreme Court has that anyone born on U.S. soil, no matter the circumstances of the parents, is automatically a U.S. citizen,’ he also wrote.  

Eastman had run as a Republican in 2010 for California attorney general, but lost his primary. Harris ultimately won the position as a Democrat.  

Eastman’s op-ed received tremendous backlash, with many pointing out that it echoed the conspiracy theory pushed by President Donald Trump and others during President Barack Obama’s tenure. 

Josh Chafetz, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center, called Eastman’s interpretation of eligibility as ‘racist nonsense,’ in a post on the controversy.  

Businessman Trump was one of the most prominent voices to push the ‘birther’ conspiracy about Obama, doing so in early April 2011.

Trump, who was mulling taking on Obama in the 2012 election, made a number of bogus claims including that Obama’s ‘certificate of live birth’ was not an actual ‘birth certificate.’ 

The president was trying to push the racist narrative that Obama was born in Africa, where his black father was from. 

Obama countered at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in late April by jokingly showing the audience his ‘official birth video’ – the opening scenes of Disney’s ‘The Lion King.’ 

But days earlier, in a move that showed Obama took the political threat seriously, the White House released the president’s long form birth certificate. 

It wasn’t until Trump was running in 2016 that he admitted that Obama was born in the United States – though he also claimed, falsely, that it was Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign that started the ‘birther’ conspiracy theory to begin with.   

Harris is the second person of color to appear on a major party’s presidential ballot and the second Democratic politician in recent years that Republicans have tried to suggest was born outside the U.S.    

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