Debunking the birther claim: Obama releases birth certificate
April 15th, 2011
02:37 PM ET
3 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. Me

    The person that can fix stupid is going to make a mint. I had my son's birth certificate out today. He needs it to meet with a Marine recruiter this afternoon. This is the only document we've ever been given by the state of Arizona. The only one, received a few weeks after his birth. At the top, it says certificate of live birth. It's shameful that this young man, who is willing to put his life on the line for his country and fellow countrymen, will be so disrespected as to not be called a citizen because he doesn't have (and truthfully, can't get) a document that's worded to the satisfaction of idiots.

    April 15, 2011 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  2. Jane

    The "Factcheck" claim about the signature on the back isn't good enough proof. "Factcheck" is run by those with strong ties to Mr. Obama and to the Democratic party.

    Other people have obtained their Hawaii long form and posted it online. It's not too much to ask the President to get a photostat and show it.

    Also, there has never been a paper copy of the newspaper shown. Only a few microfilms have been shown as "proof." The one from the Library of Congress has been split down the middle.

    CNN is carrying the water again, and being extremely lazy.

    April 15, 2011 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  3. Bob in PA

    Why won't one of these so called reporters go to the Prez and just ask him why he won't show the long form or the Hospital record ? Or maybe you could dig into the US Census for 1960 and show that BO's Mom and Dad lived in the US at that time. Federal, State, or local Tax returns. Anything other than hear say.

    April 15, 2011 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  4. Ruth

    I just wish President Obama respected the American people enough to show the long form.

    He's not humble enough. He thinks he's better than we are. I long for a humble President who cares about saving our money instead of entertaining himself endlessly.

    April 15, 2011 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  5. Boatnmaniac

    One of the nicest summaries on this subject that I've seen. It doesn't make reference to all of the 2008 presidential candidates who would have pursued birther claims that Obama was not a natural born American if there had been any truth to them. But the birthers won't acknowledge these facts and stop with their laughable arguments because they are nothing more than conspiracists and conspiracists don't respond to facts and reason.

    April 15, 2011 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  6. Indy

    Trump is many things but, Presidential material is not one of them. He should stick to his real estate scams and getting government financing to scam the banks.

    April 15, 2011 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  7. Floyd Kopietz

    Most of the people claiming Mr Obama is not qualified to be President because he was born in Kenya, call themselves Constitutionalists. Yet they think being born on American soil is what qualifies a person to be President but that is not what the Constitution says. "No person except a natural born Citizen" is how it is written.. Our founders did not write "born in the USA" for a reason. If your parents happened to be out of the country when you were born but in the case of Hawaii they were residents for more than a year prior to the birth, you would be considered a Natural Born Citizen. There was no need to have an elaborative scheme to get citizenship for Mr Obama. He would have been a natural born citizen even had he been born in Kenya.

    April 15, 2011 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  8. Ariel

    So, in summary, seems like birthers are ignorant, illiterate, foolish and dishonest. Now tell us something we don't know. This is the ultimate red herring issue, not that the birthers would know what that means. They are the deadwood of the United States.

    April 15, 2011 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  9. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    ...But I guess it is better late than never in finally coming clean and stating the FACTS on this issue, huh CNN? Squeezed it for all it was worth you did. I held you to a much higher standard of journalistic integrity. I cannot tell you how deeply dissappointed I am in seeing that you too have fallen prey to "revenue dollars over truth".
    I guess I am now expected to utter an insincere THANK YOU CNN for FINALLY clearing this up for your readers?
    Uh-huh. Wait for it........

    April 15, 2011 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  10. Lonewolf777

    I used to think Trump was a brilliant entrepreneur. Now he's revealed himself to be nothing more than a huckster.

    April 15, 2011 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  11. vic , nashville ,tn

    CNN thanks for the effort , Even Birther and Trump knows that Obama born in Hawaii

    April 15, 2011 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  12. #1headband

    Don't forget about all the childhood pictures of him with his AMERICAN basketball teams.

    April 15, 2011 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  13. Lynda/Minnesota

    Wish I could feel sympathy for these *Birthers* ... all of whom are fueled by nothing more than hatred ... but I can't. How utterly sad they allow such hate to feed into their every thought with ridiculous nonsense as this. Kudos to the media for helping fuel the flames by keeping this issue on the back burner for, what, 3 years now?

    April 15, 2011 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  14. Laverne

    These so called birthers would not believe it even if they did see an original birth certificate. They would say it was a fake document. There is a lot more proof and evidence President Obama was born in Hawaii than proof that he was born in Kenya. I don't know why the birthers are stuck on stupid! President Obama is an American whether you like it or not, or shall I say whether you can prove it or not!! hee hee...............

    April 15, 2011 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  15. Alex in Wisconsin

    CNN, You need to have this be a permanent link on your Website, You should play it once a week on every show. You should say clearly that it is not factually based. But even I realize that it won't stop the Birther movement, but we have to do what we can to keep it from growing. Personally, people who reject reality this strongly and substitute their own in the face of all evidence and facts belong in a straitjacket.

    April 15, 2011 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  16. Mikey

    Unfortunately, there is no cure for stupid. Fear, anger, ignorance, and hate spawned the Tea Party and all projections indicate the supply of those four ingredients is not dwindling soon, so expect this sort if ridiculousness to continue. The TP is clearly not primarily about taxes and the debt. Taxes are the lowest they have been in over a half century. The debt problem has existed for over 30 years. Prior to 2009, the three biggest deficit spenders were named Reagan, Bush, and Bush, but no large conservative backlash – basically only the Ron Paul types – three people with a banner on a freeway overpass. President Obama took office in January 2009. In February, SUDDENLY this band of misfits coalesced into the Tea Party, screaming about deficits and the debt, even though most of them were complete silent when Bush 43 doubled the national debt or when Reagan tripled the national debt. Calling our President not-really-an-American, a Muslim, or a socialist is a proxy for the socially unacceptable things they would rather call him. Does anyone remember the video tapes of the TP types filing into Sarah Palin rallies. They were calling Senator Obama something different out loud then – before they figured out the video tape lasts forever. How about we review the tapes?

    April 15, 2011 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  17. Fruitless

    Doesn't matter what...the moronic birthers will never believe anything that is said or printed. None of these birthers want to admit it, but it is based on racism. They can't believe a 1/2 black man actually beat a white man.

    April 15, 2011 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  18. Tony in Maine

    The "yeah, buts..." from the birthers should be fun to read. These people would not believe their own eyes had they been present at the actual event. They simply cannot believe that a black man with an East African name could possibly have beaten a white man with a name from the British Isles.

    April 15, 2011 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  19. Yikes!

    We know that the birthers and other Obama haters will never accept any form of proof. They just won't move on.

    I say that the rest of us move on and leave them in the past with their hatered.

    April 15, 2011 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  20. jim

    Nothing but silience now I hope. What a bunch of losers lol

    April 15, 2011 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  21. Chris

    To some the argument about where Obama was born is still an issue, after all this time, it really is moot. But nothing has been debunked because not many people know about Hawaii's statute that allows residents to apply for birth certificates if their child was born out of state.“[§338-17.8] Certificates for children born out of State. (a) Upon application of an adult or the legal parents of a minor child, the director of health shall issue a birth certificate for such adult or minor, provided that proof has been submitted to the director of health that the legal parents of such individual while living without the Territory or State of Hawaii had declared the Territory or State of Hawaii as their legal residence for at least one year immediately preceding the birth or adoption of such child.(b) Proof of legal residency shall be submitted to the director of health in any manner that the director shall deem appropriate. The director of health may also adopt any rules pursuant to chapter 91 that he or she may deem necessary or proper to prevent fraudulent applications for birth certificates and to require any further information or proof of events necessary for completion of a birth certificate.(c) The fee for each application for registration shall be established by rule adopted pursuant to chapter 91. [L 1982, c 182, §1]

    That certificate is green, just like the one being shown as proof as to Obama being born in Hawaii. Certificates that are black, are ones issued at the hospital and bears the signatures of the birth mother and the attending doctor. It is this birth certificate that BO should have if he was truly born in Hawaii, not the green one that has been released. Besides, why has he spent $2million of taxpayer money to fight this. No one has been able to answer that simple question. If this is true and he was born outside of the U.S. than does this apply? Only native-born U.S. citizens (or those born abroad, but only to parents who were both citizens of the U.S.) may be president of the United States, mom yes, dad no, problem maybe?

    With that said, the problem I have is he does not share the values that make us American’s. Obama campaigned on the slogan of Hope And Change and he wanted to fundamentally change America. That should have been a warning to everyone out there. So far he has surrounded himself with unqualified personal agenda type individuals, who think the United States is evil and needs to change. The damage they have done, I hope can be repaired, but I fear it my be to late. The President is on the wrong side of issues that most Americans care about and it seems on most every other issue also. The unfilled promise of transparency in government, the constant rushing of bills and the type of bills through congress is troubling. It seems his change for this country was to change America but not let the American people participate. I hope the next president we elect, will have run a state or a large business (successfully and within it's means). When they talk to you it should be as an adult not a teenager. We need to know their background, their views, their values. If they refuse, look elsewhere. Look for the statesmen not the politician. Lastly if they say they have a plan make them show it to us first. Remember Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. Don't let them forget that.

    April 15, 2011 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  22. John

    I don't understand why he wouldn't just shut everybody up and produce the actual birth certificate. Mine sits in a file cabinet at home and I could produce it in a matter of minutes. His refusal to produce the actual certificate does raise eye brows.

    April 15, 2011 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  23. The Real Tom Paine

    All of this means nothing to the Birthers. There will be something else they will pick at, some perceived inconsistency, because the truth is more than they can bear: Obama is an American citizen, born on US territory, of an American Mother and a Kenyan Father. He meets all the criteria neccessary, but the fact that he is not a conservative Republican mouth-breather makes him part of some vast conspiracy. Its interesting theat he is accused of incompetance, yet he is so skilled at "hiding" his " real" identity. When he wins re-election by a landslide, what will the right wing do then? ACORN no longer exists, so thats one excuse gone. The GOP has won court cases giving them an edge in fund-raising, so when the GOP loses in 2012, and John Boehner is no longer the Speaker, what will the Right wing be screaming about then? When that day comes, I'm going to crack open a beer and laugh my head off. The Koch heads will be foaming at the mouth, because their greed, bigotry and anger will have gained them nothing except a big slap in the face by the American people.

    April 15, 2011 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  24. Ryche

    hahhaha this all cracks me up.. if these people have seen the document and have verified the orignial birth certificate, why not just release that and shut all these people up... Make them look foolish... Either obama is purposely not showing it, as a means of creating controversy, or there isnt an original birth certificate... it has to be one or the other...

    April 15, 2011 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  25. Chris

    To some the argument about where Obama was born is still an issue, after all this time, it really is moot. But nothing has been debunked because not many people know about Hawaii's statute that allows residents to apply for birth certificates if their child was born out of state.“[§338-17.8] Certificates for children born out of State. (a) Upon application of an adult or the legal parents of a minor child, the director of health shall issue a birth certificate for such adult or minor, provided that proof has been submitted to the director of health that the legal parents of such individual while living without the Territory or State of Hawaii had declared the Territory or State of Hawaii as their legal residence for at least one year immediately preceding the birth or adoption of such child.(b) Proof of legal residency shall be submitted to the director of health in any manner that the director shall deem appropriate. The director of health may also adopt any rules pursuant to chapter 91 that he or she may deem necessary or proper to prevent fraudulent applications for birth certificates and to require any further information or proof of events necessary for completion of a birth certificate.(c) The fee for each application for registration shall be established by rule adopted pursuant to chapter 91. [L 1982, c 182, §1]

    That certificate is green, just like the one being shown as proof as to Obama being born in Hawaii. Certificates that are black, are ones issued at the hospital and bears the signatures of the birth mother and the attending doctor. It is this birth certificate that BO should have if he was truly born in Hawaii, not the green one that has been released. Besides, why has he spent $2million of taxpayer money to fight this. No one has been able to answer that simple question. If this is true and he was born outside of the U.S. than does this apply? Only native-born U.S. citizens (or those born abroad, but only to parents who were both citizens of the U.S.) may be president of the United States, mom yes, dad no, problem maybe?

    April 15, 2011 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6