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. DeltaBrane

    More important clown news please: stuff about birthers, flat-earthers, holocaust deniers, alien abductees, – or whatever the Republican fringe is up to – will do.

    April 15, 2011 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  2. seriously??

    And the conservatives complain about the race card being brought up as the motivation behind this issue. The photo of that billboard tells it plain as day, birthers don't like Blacks, and probably Mexicans, the Chinese, etc.... and they use this issue as a veil to their real feelings. This is Sarah Palin's "America By Heart".

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

    The State of Florida today only issues computer generated certificates of birth with no original signature or raised seal. There must be millions of residents in Florida who are illegal...haha..Our former Governor (Jeb Bush) must also have illegal children...

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

    So what do you have to say now Trumpster?? I'm still waiting for the results of your little "investigation"..how's that going for you?? LOL...people need to stop putting so much emphasis on what that loser Trump is doing. We all know he will NEVER run for president, between his racial and homophobic remarks he's made over the years alone, there is no way the Republican party would be so stupid to allow this man to represent them. He's doing it all for publicity, I have to say that's one thing he is good at doing..bringing attention to himself! Which for me personally is sickening...that disgusting dead squirrel on his head is painful to watch..yuck!
    Can we get back to real politics and meaningful issues like jobs, economy, envirnmental issues please?????

    April 15, 2011 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  5. Tom

    All this does not make Donald Trump any more or any less a fool. He is cut from the same shoddy cloth as Glenn Beck, who gives a bad name to demagogues.

    April 15, 2011 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  6. Orlando R

    Case closed. Lets move on!

    April 15, 2011 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  7. David

    Birtehrs cannot hinge everything on a birth certificate. There are many Americans, especially in rural places who do not have birth certificates. My grandparents and father are among them. Yet they were born right here in the US and are American. Many of the early Presidents did not have birth certificates. So in my opinion, the lack of one does not dispprove that Obama is a citizen.

    April 15, 2011 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  8. buckwheat

    well show the darn thing!

    April 15, 2011 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  9. Jonny Q

    Facts have been given, some people just want to believe what they want to believe. I think that some of Americans just cant get past the color and accept that we have a black president.

    April 15, 2011 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  10. Bones

    The simple fact that this is still a topic of discussion shows just how pathetic our political system can be sometimes. Move on people.... He's your president, if you don't like him, don't vote for him.

    April 15, 2011 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  11. Ganan

    If he has nothing to hide and was in fact born in this country-WHY NOT show the actual birth certificate?
    He is so completely shady-that's why people don't trust him. He's a load.

    April 15, 2011 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  12. Me

    WoW, I haven't seen CNN do actual journalism in a long time. This is a lot for me right now, I need a moment...
    ...
    Okay, now that I have had my moment... None of the information presented in this article is new. All of this proof that President Barack Obama was born in The United States was presented during the campaign and STILL thoroughly rejected by those whom we now call 'Birthers'.
    DON'T YOU GET IT YET?!? These people simply can't accept that an African American, A BLACK MAN is running the country. The reason they deny this is because they know people will think less of them for being so racist. But make no mistake, BIRTHERS ARE RACISTS. In light of all of this irrefutable proof, Nobody can be that stupid....okay, well maybe
    Oh and another thing BIRTHERS = TEA PARTY = REPUBLICANS = JOHN BIRCH SOCIETY = FEAR + ANGER + HATE

    People believe what they choose to believe each for their own reasons.

    April 15, 2011 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  13. brian

    Birther = racist

    April 15, 2011 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  14. A White Man

    If he had used the name Barry and took his mother;s maiden name, he would still be dogged by birthers because they are all anti american sacks of racist filth. They hate black men. They hate black women and no matter how hard they insist they are not racist, there is no other reason than the color of his skin and the sound of his name that makes them suspicious. They are the worst, most disgusting, dishonorable and vile Americans alive (they do not even deserve to call themselves Americans. They should be lined up and shot for treason for it is treason to stagnate your countries future by creating and propagating race based lies).

    April 15, 2011 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  15. Golden Girl

    @John
    Did you read the above article? I don't understand, what's so hard for you idiots to understand; unless you really didn't want to....

    April 15, 2011 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  16. Former Republican, but never again!

    Anyone who questions the facts of Obama's birth is a stupid fool.

    April 15, 2011 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  17. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Having said everything that I've said on this subject, and that CNN probably won't post, let me venture to add that all the clarification and certifcation in the world will not mean anything to these Birther yahoos because nothing that the President can produce will change the color of his skin.
    The President is BLACK that's their freakin' problem.

    April 15, 2011 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  18. max

    Trump will do or say anything to get in the limelight, he's a master at self promotion.

    April 15, 2011 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  19. Itsa

    WHY is this an issue at all? The ignorance in this country is staggering. If a portion of America is that stupid to actually believe the birther's conspiracy theories, what does this say about our national security, in every sense of the word? Seriously, our enemies don't have to worry about complicated schemes, our people are so dumbed down that anybody could take this country over, with ease.

    April 15, 2011 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  20. Langley Wickersham

    If he was white and named John Smith, there would not be a problem. This is RACE BASED plain and simple and anybody who says otherwise needs to wake up! If you are going to critique Obama, do it on his job performance, not on his race, otherwise, this birther movement is making the Republicans look stupid,

    April 15, 2011 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  21. TommyTT

    Odd that people think Obama's call for "change" is to somehow change the American core. It never was. His call was to get away from a lot of budget-breaking stupidity that arose during the previous presidential administration. But to claim he is in some way unAmerican is a logic-boggling as claiming that he's a socialist, which is actual performance is very middle of the road. The problem, is you're standing on the far right of the road, the center looks like left to you.

    April 15, 2011 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  22. bailoutsos

    Because he's black Jack and that's a fact.

    His mother was an American born in Kansas.

    April 15, 2011 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  23. Goat

    Funny how you cant even sign a kid up for little league with out an officail copy of your birth certificate but you can be president without one

    April 15, 2011 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  24. mmaui

    I think the obvious lapse in the Donald's brain function is due to the comb-over being too tightly pulled to one side.

    April 15, 2011 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  25. Jake

    It is false that Obama has spent $2,000,000 in legal fees to hide the release of his birth certificate information. Please stop rehashing this nonsense, birthers.

    April 15, 2011 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
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