After years of casting doubt on President Barack Obama’s place of birth, Trump changes his mind - though no apology yet.
The Republican Party’s presidential candidate Donald Trump has finally acknowledged that US President Barack Obama was born in the United States, and his admission quickly drew criticism for perpetuating a racist conspiracy.
"President Barack Obama was born in the United States. Period," said Trump on Friday, reversing his long-held position casting doubt on the veracity of Obama’s birthplace, which was known as the "birther" controversy.
Trump had for years promoted the birther movement against Obama, who was born in Hawaii to an American mother and a Kenyan father, questioning his birthplace and, by association, the legality of his presidency.
In 2012, the New York businessman turned presidential candidate wrote on Twitter that Obama’s birth certificate was "a fraud".
Without offering evidence, Trump on Friday also accused his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton of starting the birther allegations during her 2008 presidential primary campaign.
"She is the one that started it, and she was unable or incapable of finishing it. That’s the way it worked out," Trump said.
Clinton was quick to respond, saying that Trump’s news conference about Obama’s birthplace was a "disgrace", and her Republican rival had expressed "zero regret" for years of "pushing a racist conspiracy theory".
Clinton said in a series of tweets that when Trump tries to "deflect blame" for denying that Obama was born in the US, her Republican opponent was "lying".
"He had the audacity to spout a new lie about the birther movement that he helped to build," the Democratic National Committee said.
Bernie Sanders, who was Hillary Clinton’s rival in the Democratic presidential nomination race, said in a tweet: "The birther movement was about delegitimising the first African-American president in our history."
The head of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), Democratic Representative G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina, called Trump a "disgusting fraud". Other members of the CBC told reporters that Trump has tried to delegitimise Obama, the first African-American president.
Civil rights activist Jesse James pointed out that Trump now owes Obama an apology.
Members of the CBC also held a news conference later on Friday to urge African-American voters to "resist any temptation to support Trump".
Celebrities also voiced their criticism of Trump’s latest stunt. Actress Mia Farrow said: "Listen now to the Members of Congressional Black Caucus and understand the pain Trump is inflicting on our fellow Americans."
Obama declined to comment on Trump, telling reporters he had better things to do.
"I’m shocked that a question like that would come up at a time when we’ve got so many other things to do - well, I’m not that shocked actually," Obama said.
In 2011, Obama, released a long-form version of his birth certificate showing he was born in Hawaii.
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