President Donald Trump on Thursday fanned the flames of a racist lie that Sen. Kamala Harris is not a US citizen and therefore not eligible to become the nation's first Black vice president.
Harris, who is of Indian and Jamaican descent, was born in Oakland, California.
She is indisputably a US citizen.
Trump and his advisers have refused to reject the lie about her citzenship, creating a clear parallel to Trump's racist promotion of the so-called "birther" lie about former President Barack Obama.
President Donald Trump spent years pushing the lie known as "birtherism" that there was doubt about whether former President Barack Obama was a US citizen and therefore eligible to be president.
Between 2011 and 2016, Trump spread the conspiracy. Obama eventually released his birth certificate, which, of course, showed he was born in Hawaii.
On Thursday, Trump promoted a similarly racist lie that Sen. Kamala Harris, the presumptive Democratic vice presidential nominee, isn't eligible to be vice president because her parents were immigrants.
Harris, who is Black and whose parents were Indian and Jamaican immigrants, was born in Oakland, California, and is indisputably a US citizen.
"I heard it today that she doesn't meet the requirements," Trump told reporters, referring to a debunked Newsweek op-ed by John Eastman, a right-wing legal scholar opposed to birthright citizenship. "I have no idea if that's right. I would have thought, I would have assumed, that the Democrats would have checked that out before she gets chosen to run for vice president."
Trump added that Eastman is a "very highly qualified, very talented lawyer."
Under the Fourteenth Amendment, anyone born in the US is automatically a US citizen. And the Supreme Court affirmed the right to birthright citizenship for all, regardless of race and nationality, in its 1898 decision in US vs. Wong Kim Ark.
The majority decision read, "the Fourteenth Amendment affirms the ancient and fundamental rule of citizenship by birth within the territory, in the allegiance and under the protection of the country, including all children here born of resident aliens ….The Amendment, in clear words and in manifest intent, includes the children born, within the territory of the United States, of all other persons, of whatever race or color, domiciled within the United States."
Eastman's fraudulent op-ed went viral online on Thursday and a Trump campaign adviser, Jenna Ellis, shared it on Twitter. When asked about it, Ellis told reporters that Harris' citizenship is "open question, and one I think Harris should answer so the American people know for sure she is eligible."
The president's top adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner refused to reject the lie when asked about it on Friday.
"At the end of the day, it's something that's out there," Kushner told CBS News. "I personally have no reason to believe she's not [eligible]."
Harris' parents earned doctorates from the University of California, Berkeley in 1963 and had lived in the US for several years before their first daughter was born.
Rather than fully endorsing what is clearly a lie, the president and his team are fanning the flames of racism in an attempt to undermine someone who could become the nation's first Black vice president.
The lie also aligns with Trump's contempt for birthright citizenship, which he's falsely said he could unilaterally abolish.
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