Trump backs down from ‘birtherism’; campaign falsely accuses Clinton of starting conspiracy

WATCH ABOVE: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has finally said that President Barack Obama was born in the United States

*Editor’s Note: This story was updated to reflect that Donald Trump acknowledged Friday that President Barack Obama was born in the United States. 

Donald Trump finally admitted Friday, after five years of promoting the false idea that Barack Obama was born outside the United States, that the president was in fact born in the U.S.

“President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period,” Trump said in speech Friday. “Now we all want to get back to making America strong and great again.”

Trump’s attempt to distance himself from the long-debunked “birther movement” conspiracy followed a campaign statement that sought to put an end to the issue.

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For years, Trump has be a vocal proponent of the so-called “birther” movement, which promoted the false and discredited idea that Obama was born outside the U.S.

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President Barack Obama was born Aug. 4, 1961 in Hawaii.

However, it appeared Trump was having trouble saying the words himself and in an interview with the Washington Post Thursday refused to acknowledge Obama was born in Hawaii.

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

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But as Trump attempted to remove himself from the controversy, his campaign statement made several inaccurate and false statements regarding Trump’s position on birtherism.

“Hillary Clinton’s campaign first raised this issue to smear then-candidate Barack Obama in her very nasty, failed 2008 campaign for president,” Miller said in the opening line.

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Trump’s campaign founded on ‘lies’ of ‘birther movement’: Clinton
Trump’s campaign founded on ‘lies’ of ‘birther movement’: Clinton

This claim has been widely debunked by both fact-checkers at Politifact which it called “false” and at the Post who called it “ridiculous.“According to Politifact, there is no evidence the Clinton campaign started the birther movement although there is evidence some Clinton supporters circulated emails questioning Obama’s birthplace.

The statement went on to portray Trump’s support of the birther movement as a “great service” to the United States.

“In 2011, Mr. Trump was finally able to bring this ugly incident to its conclusion by successfully compelling President Obama to release his birth certificate,” Miller added in the statement, which is also false.

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“Mr. Trump did a great service to the president and the country by bringing closure to the issue that Hillary Clinton and her team first raised,” he continued. “Inarguably, Donald J. Trump is a closer. Having successfully obtained President Obama’s birth certificate when others could not, Mr. Trump believes that President Obama was born in the United States.”

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For years, Trump has repeatedly questioned whether Obama was born outside the U.S., even after the White House released Obama’s birth certificate. For example, he was pushing the issue on Twitter.

“An ‘extremely credible source’ has called my office and told me that @BarackObama’s birth certificate is a fraud,” Trump said in a tweet in August 2012.

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Trump has also said during his campaign that while he no longer talks about the “birther” issue he has refused to retract his previous comments.

“I don’t talk about it because if I talk about that, your whole thing will be about that,” he told reporters last week. “So I don’t talk about it.”

Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton responded sharply to the ongoing controversy calling it the “racist birth movement.”

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“President Obama’s successor cannot and will not be the man who led the racist birther movement. Period,” she wrote on Twitter.

On Friday, at a rally in Washington, D.C., Clinton demanded an apology from Donald Trump on behalf of voters over “lies” he spread about Obama’s birth certificate.

“For five years, trump has led the birth movement to delegitimize our first black president,” Clinton said. “His campaign was founded on this outrageous lie. There is no erasing it in history.”

*With files from the Associated Press