Debunking the birther claim: Obama releases birth certificate
April 15th, 2011
02:37 PM ET
4 years ago

Debunking the birther claim: Obama releases birth certificate

Washington (CNN) – Developer and reality show host Donald Trump has been pushing the claim that President Obama was not born in the U.S. - a myth that has dogged the president since he took office. But everything changed on April 27.

Why? Obama released his original birth certificate. At a press conference at the White House, Obama said the controversy surrounding the issue had become a "sideshow" and that "we do not have time for this kind of silliness. We’ve got better stuff to do."

Read more on the story

See the birth certificate

Speaking in New Hampshire on the same day, Trump said that he is "very proud of myself" on getting Obama to release it. But he adds, "I want to look at it but I hope it's true"

CNN has investigated the 'birther claims' and here are the key points:

Certificate of live birth

The Obama team and the state of Hawaii released a certification of live birth, which documents the president’s birth on August 4, 1961, in Honolulu. This is not the original birth certificate. In Hawaii and other states, original birth certificates are not released when requested later.

CNN has seen a copy of the document and verified that it is official.

The certificate, officials say, allows a person born in Hawaii to get a driver's license, purchase land and obtain a U.S. passport.

What about the signature?

The so-called “birthers” say there's no signature or raised seal on the live birth certificate. But the group FactCheck.org, which viewed the original document, took a picture of the back of it and found there is a stamped signature and a raised seal.

Where’s the original birth certificate?

Dr. Chiyome Fukino, the former director of Hawaii's Department of Health, says she has personally viewed the president's original vital records and verified that he was born in Hawaii.

Former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle, a Republican, has been quoted as saying, "I had my health director, who is a physician by background, go personally view the birth certificate in the birth records at the Department of Health. We issued a news release at the time saying the president was, in fact, born at Kapi'olani Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii. And that is just a fact."

Newspaper birth announcement

The announcement of Obama's birth appeared in the Honolulu Advertiser on August 13, 1961, and a day later in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin: “Mr. And Mrs. Barack H. Obama, 6085 Kalanianaole Hwy., son, Aug. 4.”

Health Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo told the Star-Advertiser in July 2009 that vital statistics such as birth announcements were sent to the newspapers by the Health Department, which received the information from the hospital. These announcements were not sent in by the general public, Okubu said.

Current governor weighs in

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat, was a close friend of the Obamas and has repeatedly said he was around during the future president’s birth and childhood.

What about his grandma’s claims?

Trump makes the claim that Obama's stepgrandmother in Kenya, Sarah Obama, said in an interview that he was born in Kenya. But the interview was done by a man characterized as a “street preacher” through a translator and there appears to be confusion over her answer.

The translator then came back and said Sarah Obama was saying that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii.

What does the Constitution say (or not say?)

Article II of the Constitution states: "No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States."

But it leaves “natural born citizen” open to interpretation and most have interpreted this as natural law - that you inherit your citizenship from your parents.

It also doesn’t address whether one or both parents must be U.S. citizens for their children to be citizens, but most interpretations say one is enough.

"Most scholars, including me, believe that natural born citizenship extends further, to all of those who obtain citizenship at birth by law," writes Gabriel "Jack" Chin in a CNN.com opinion piece. "If this argument is right, then even if Obama had been born overseas, he is still a natural born citizen, because he obtained citizenship at birth through his mother who unquestionably was a U.S. citizen."

It turns out that the U.S. State Department tackles those questions.

According to this document, U.S. laws on becoming a citizen at birth come from two legal principles:

1) Jus soli (the law of the soil): "a rule of common law under which
the place of a person’’s birth determines citizenship. In addition to
common law, this principle is embodied in the 14th Amendment to
the U.S. Constitution and the various U.S. citizenship and
nationality statutes."

2) Jus sanguinis (the law of the bloodline): "a concept of Roman or
civil law under which a person’’s citizenship is determined by the
citizenship of one or both parents. This rule, frequently called
“'citizenship by descent”' or “'derivative citizenship”, is not embodied
in the U.S. Constitution, but such citizenship is granted through
statute. As U.S. laws have changed, the requirements for
conferring and retaining derivative citizenship have also changed."

–CNN’s Brian Todd and Gabriel "Jack" Chin contributed to this report


Filed under: Birthers • Donald Trump • President Obama
soundoff (147 Responses)
  1. JoBleaux

    Yeah, these "birthers" are just making themselves look stupid. They look like loonie conspiracy theory morons, which they are. Do these idiots think the FBI, CIA, Secret Service, RNC and half a dozen other agencies didn't look into this when Obama was running for president??? What utterly stupid people.

    April 15, 2011 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  2. CaliforniaBC

    Well that should about do it...unless of course if you're a birther. No amount of evidence will convince them that Obama was born in Hawaii because it has become a religion to them. You cannot change the minds of those who have been brain-washed by faith.

    April 15, 2011 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  3. james Miller

    Does anyone really believe this would even remotely be an issue if Obama were a white, Republican ???? --- Really !!!!!!!!

    April 15, 2011 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    Time to just start ignoring these idiots. Enough reporting on it. You paradoxically lend this idiocy legitimacy by even bothering to address it. Besides, every single thing said above will simply be ignored and dismissed out of hand by people who desperately DESPERATELY want to be able to disqualify Obama in 2012 or sooner....whose brains kicked into denial overdrive when a black dude won the election. Either you believe on faith or you reject it on fact at this point. Time to move on.

    April 15, 2011 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  5. SuperGus

    Again CNN isn't telling the entire truth. A certificate of live birth IS NOT the same as a birth certificate. A certificate of live birth says that a child was brought to the hospital alive. A person can deliver a child in one location and go to another and get a certificate of live birth. So the question still remains.

    April 15, 2011 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  6. Tulsa

    stupid birthers.

    April 15, 2011 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  7. adam

    yup, I'm yet another "birther"

    April 15, 2011 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  8. Rudy NYC

    How would you like to have your birth certificate posted on the World Wide Web so that anyone can make a copy of it?

    Maybe Trump would like to announce the results of his investigators on his show. He has really offended black voters. I heard a co-worker describe Trump as looking like a villian from the old "Batman" series starring Adam West, "The Trumpeter".

    April 15, 2011 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  9. Debby

    What I don't get is why Obama doesn't have a copy of his own birthcertificate. I and my whole family have theirs. I use my passport and birthcertificate when I travel overseas.

    April 15, 2011 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  10. Kry

    pure garbage

    April 15, 2011 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  11. GI Joe

    Tell that to the wrinkled old hag in Arizona that passed that stupid law and got a hug from McSongbird (who was NOT born in the US), Yep, she's the same one that has turned prisons over to corporations (for profit, based on the number of "illegals" they can lock up).

    April 15, 2011 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  12. cmb

    Birther respons: Well, yeah, but . . . . .

    April 15, 2011 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  13. Donnamay

    In Washington State an "official" stamped birth certificate issued by the Dept. of Health IS THE ONLY LEGAL BIRTH CERTIFICATE accepted. Why do these "birther" nuts keep insisting on an "original" birth certificate – there is NO SUCH THING. Move on to REALLY IMPORTANT issues, please.

    April 15, 2011 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  14. Thank God I am a Democrat

    Thank you CNN for going to the trouble but none of this matters. The birthers will never believe this anyway.

    April 15, 2011 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  15. OMG

    So the president isn't allowed to get a copy of his original birth certificate, only a computer generated receipt saying they have it on file. What a load of crap!!! Thank you CNN for exposing what a complete fraud the news media is.

    April 15, 2011 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  16. Blaum

    Absolutly none of this....... negates the simple fact that this man is still a pretty crappy president.

    April 15, 2011 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  17. Lisa Mitchell

    This whole thing is just duuuuumb! The President provided what he needed to provide, to whom he needed to provide it to, and the information was validated. Clinton and McCain would have made sure that Obama would have never stepped foot into the White House, had there been any doubt of the mans citizenship.
    Obama isn't providing Trumps requested documents because he doesn't answer to that clown, and Obama has way too much class to engage in Trumps effort to create suspicion, fear, and hate. Typical Republican bully!

    P.S. Can someone PLEEEASE tell Trumps makeup team that the foundation he is wearing is not the right shade for him!! Uuuuugh! He reminds me of the little junior high school girls that have not been taught how to apply make-up!

    April 15, 2011 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  18. thomas

    REALITY SHOW NATION !
    The Tea Party spin , the Truth is Our President was born in the USA. The Truth is there were no weapons of mass destruction . The Truth is the GOP can't take the TRUTH !

    April 15, 2011 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  19. Nartok

    very simple answer here.. I have had to produce my origiinal birth certificate on a number of occasions... all the President needs to do is the same thing a normal citizen has to do...... stop with the discussion and produce your original birth certificate.. enough of the Certificate of Life Birth.. enough of the I know him.. produce the original birth certificate and all discussion ends

    April 15, 2011 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  20. Jack Clark

    Your article is incorrect. My neice was born in Hawaii and when I became her guardian, I needed a long copy of her brith certificate and I requested such from Hawaii and did in fact receive a certified copy of the long form. Also, please refer back to an article about 3-4 weeks ago where the Gov. of Hawaii requested to see the long form to put a stop to all the speculation and was told that one did not exist. There was only a handwritten entry in the records book stating to his birth and no evidence to prove when the entry was actually made.

    April 15, 2011 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  21. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    CNN should have "manned up" and posted this story YEARS ago,exactly two years ago when this whole crazy Birther thing was picking up steam. Steam, I might add, that came from the CNN engine in the advertising department perhaps that felt that this despicably denigrating story about our President was an excellent way of increasing advertising revenues.

    I am so angry at anyone tha partook in fanning this non-issue and giving it a life that it should have never had that I could SCREAM!
    And the cherry on the sundae goes to the state of Arizona. Way to waste the taxpayers' dollars your RethugliKKKlan "leadership" pretends to care so much about.

    April 15, 2011 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  22. Rudy NYC

    Until Fox News says otherwise, the birther movement lives on. This is one of those issues that Obama should be glad that Murdoch and Ailes are hate mongers.

    Does birther rhetoric bring angry voters out to the polls to vote against Obama? Sure. But, that single angry voter is offset by the 2 disgusted voters that it brings out to vote for Obama.

    April 15, 2011 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  23. Dejavu

    Cert of Life Birth is not a birth cert. There is a difference. I really don't care. I just know obama is an idiot

    April 15, 2011 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  24. Bob in PA

    Dear Mr. Hornick,

    Congratulations ! Stellar reporting young man. You article is engaging, so insightful and so full of facts !
    Why, you've proven without a doubt that Obama was born in Hawaii, how could anyone dispute these findings ?

    Once again, congratulations and welcome to the ranks of the Obamanazi Propaganda committee!

    April 15, 2011 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  25. Nartok

    sorry for my typo.. should read ..."....enough of the Certificate of Live Birth... "

    April 15, 2011 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
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