A timeline of Donald Trump’s birther conspiracy theory about President Obama

Trump was “very proud” to lead this movement.

At a rally earlier this month, Donald Trump took his insinuations that our first African American president is illegitimate to a new level, putting the “president” in “President Obama” in air quotes.

This is nothing new for Trump, who has said he’s “very proud” to be a leader of the racist birther movement. For years, Trump has peddled this lie in order to gain political capital in the Republican Party. It’s been Trump’s way of signaling to the most racist pockets of America that our first African American president is somehow illegitimate.

Take a look at how Trump spread this racist myth about President Obama:

In 2011

Trump was considering running for president. And he made the centerpiece of his shadow campaign President Obama’s place of birth.

March 23, to “The View”

“Why doesn’t he show his birth certificate? There’s something on that birth certificate he doesn’t like.”

March 28, to Fox News

“I’m starting to wonder myself whether or not he was born in this country.”

March 30, to “The Laura Ingraham Show”

“He doesn’t have a birth certificate, or if he does, there’s something on that certificate that is very bad for him. Now, somebody told me … that where it says ‘religion,’ it might have ‘Muslim.’ And if you’re a Muslim, you don’t change your religion, by the way.”

April 7, to “The Today Show”

“I have people studying [the birth certificate] and they cannot believe what they’re finding.”

April 19, to ABC News
“Maybe I’m going to do the tax returns when Obama does the birth certificate,” he said. “I’d love to give my tax returns. I may tie my tax returns to Obama’s birth certificate.” (Trump has still yet to release his tax returns.)

April 27, 2011

President Obama released his longform birth certificate, which should have put an end to this (absurd) controversy.

April 30th, 2011

President Obama had some fun with Trump—taking him down for spreading this racist lie at the White House Correspondents Dinner:

“[Donald] can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter, like: Did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?”

In 2012

Instead of responding to President Obama releasing his birth certificate with humility—or, better yet, apologizing—Trump spent the entire next year trying to prove it was inauthentic. (He failed.)

May 18

May 29, to CNN

“A lot of people do not think it was an authentic certificate. … Many people do not think it was authentic. His mother was not in the hospital. There are many other things that came out.”

May 30

July 18

July 18

July 23

August 6

August 11, to ABC

“Was it a birth certificate? You tell me. Some people say that was not his birth certificate. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. I’m saying I don’t know. Nobody knows.”

May 27

August 29

September 13

October 28

In 2013

He kept tweeting.

May 7

August 22

October 31

December 12

December 19


In 2014

It continued in 2014, too.

May, to Irish TV

“A lot of people feel it wasn’t a proper certificate.”

May 27, to the National Press Club

“He was perhaps born in Kenya. Very simple, OK?”

September 6

November 23


In 2015

In 2015, Trump tried to stay silent on the issue of birtherism—refusing to come out one way or the other. But that didn’t last long.

July 9, to Anderson Cooper

“Honestly, I don’t want to get into it,” he said to CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “I don’t know why he wouldn’t release his records.”

In 2016

Even this year, as a presidential candidate, Trump repeatedly refused to confirm that President Obama was born in the United States.

January 6, to CNN
“Who knows about Obama? … I have my own theory on Obama.”

Trump went on to win the Republican Primary—and, along the way, repeatedly refused to discuss President Obama’s place of birth. On September 15th, the Washington Post finally decided to press him: More than five years after President Obama released his longform birth certificate, would Trump admit that our president was born in the United States?

September 15

“I’ll answer that question at the right time,” Trump replied. “I just don’t want to answer it yet.”

The following day, after tremendous media pressure, Trump decided to answer the question at a press conference.

September 16

Trump acknowledged that President Obama was born in the United States, but didn’t apologize—and, in fact, falsely blamed Hillary for the whole ordeal.

September 26
Trump once again expressed pride in birtherism. “I think I did a good job,” he boasted.

October 15
Trump put the “president” in “President Obama” in air quotes at a rally—once again deeming our first African American president’s presidency illegitimate.

October 19

Trump invited President Obama’s birther half-brother to the presidential debate, in a possible attempt to reignite birther conspiracy theorists.


Trump still refuses to apologize for any of it.

To recap Trump’s birther journey, in 10 steps:

  1. Trump started birtherism—and was a “proud leader” of the movement.
  2. Trump wouldn’t acknowledge President Obama’s longform birth certificate was authentic.
  3. Trump tried to prove the certificate was a fraud.
  4. Trump failed. Badly.
  5. Trump decided to run for president and ignore the issue of birtherism altogether.
  6. Trump couldn’t help himself—and, when asked, refused to say that President Obama was born in the United States.
  7. After media pressure, Trump claimed he’d always believed the longform birth certificate was authentic (even though there is video evidence to the contrary).
  8. Trump falsely blamed Hillary Clinton for birtherism.
  9. Trump once again started taking pride in the birther movement—saying he “did a good job” getting President Obama to release his longform certificate.
  10. Trump still refuses to apologize, emboldening birthers at press conferences and even debates.

As President Obama says, his name may not be on the ballot this November, but his legacy is—and he will “consider it a personal insult” if his supporters don’t show up to the polls and vote for Hillary. After all, just like Trump has tried to discredit President Obama for the color of his skin, he has tried to discredit Hillary based on her gender. In Trump’s words, Hillary “doesn’t have that presidential look.”

It’s up to us to prove Trump wrong.

So, make a plan to vote on November 8—and chip in to help make sure that a “very proud” birther never gets anywhere near the White House.

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