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. rs

    For birthers it is apparently easier to suspend belief in facts to instead embrace idiocy. It is obvious that "birthers" and their handlers get all of their news from tabloids (i.e the $2 million dollar figure even mentioned by Chris in this blog). Meanwhile I will say this again; I WILL NEVER VOTE FOR ANY CANDIDATE OF EITHER PARTY WHO PANDERS TO OR TRAFFICS IN BIRTHER NONSENSE.

    April 15, 2011 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  2. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I am so glad that his mother and grandmother are not alive to experience this "no sheets necessary" type of hate.
    But his beautiful, innocent daughters are getting a hard-core introduction to something so ugly that just won't die no matter how much good is out there to combat it.

    This is so heartbreaking.
    Please.......

    April 15, 2011 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  3. Ken

    "The Chump, Trump", has been quick to jump into the center ring of this Three Ring Circus fuilled with clowns in an effort to show the entire nation is he the biggest clown of all. While I am not surprised, I am disappointed in his actions. If this man really wishes to become POTUS he needs to begin to adress real national issues.

    April 15, 2011 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  4. Mikey

    Don't you just love the tactic employed when someone asks a question that has the assertion they are trying to make imbedded in the question? Case in point:

    @ Chris – "why has he spent $2million of taxpayer money to fight this"

    Answer: HE HASN'T !!!. It's like asking why Michelle Obama spent $2B on her India trip. Answer: SHE DIDN"T !!!

    You fact-less untra conservative morons disprove yourselves almost every time you open your mouths (or stroke your keys).

    April 15, 2011 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  5. ML

    In 1968, George Romney (father of Mitt Romney) was trying to be the Republican candidate for president. No one brought up the fact that he was born in Mexico and lived there the first few years of his life. In fact, when his family fled Mexico and ended up in California, George was called "Mex" by his kindergarten classmates. I believe his parents were also born in Mexico.

    April 15, 2011 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  6. Matthew

    The more that Obama's minions insist that he is an American, the more the American people doubt that he is. The "so called" ceritificate of live birth that is claimed to be Obama's birth ceritificate can very well be a fabrication. Why can't they produce the long certificate indicates the Doctor/nurse who did the acutal delivery - could it be because no one can really state that the person was present during Obama's birth in a U.S. hospital? These questions need to be answered. If it were George W. Bush's birth in question all the newspapers and supposedly news casters will be all over him - but since this is Obama, something fishy is going on. The American people is once again deceived by the Liberal press!

    April 15, 2011 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  7. ...

    Birthers..."rendering facts irrellevant" since 2009!

    How embarrassing...

    April 15, 2011 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  8. Dee G - CT Voter

    I live in the state of CT – the state of my birth (Danbury, CT – 1964). I recently got my very first passport. They needed a original birth certificate, what I received from the state of CT was a Certificate of Live Birth. Get over it you nut jobs!!! That;s exactly what everyone gets when they need their birth certificate. I received my passport without issue.

    To the "birthers" – "You want the truth? You can't handle the truth!"

    April 15, 2011 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  9. outlaw

    Most of the comments from people against these "Birthers" are ever more hate-filled and offensive than anything I've seen from a "Birther". Take a look in the mirror.

    April 15, 2011 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  10. Me

    Oh, the idiocy! People, you get what your state gives you! There are five people in my household, one born in MI, the other four in Arizona. Every single one of us has a CERTIFICATE OF LIVE BIRTH! Including Arizona! You hear that, AZ? You're doubting the legitimacy of a document you, yourself give out as valid!

    But beyond that, Stanley Ann Dunham was a US citizen. Therefore, so is Obama. No matter which way you try to deny it, the man is a US citizen. The President is a black man. Get over it. Couldn't be old, white men forever.

    April 15, 2011 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  11. Mikey

    @ Ganan – THAT IS HIS BIRTH CERTIFICATE, YOU MORON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's just like the ONLY one I have (and my wife and children).

    Did you every feel like you were arguing with the flat earth society?

    April 15, 2011 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  12. Tyler, Kenya

    Here is the easiest way to debunk the birther claims, which is also the same thing that journalists miss when running this old story: IF YOU ARE BORN TO AN AMERICAN MOTHER OR FATHER, YOU ARE THEREFORE A NATURAL CITIZEN OF THE USA, REGARDLESS OF BIRTHPLACE. HIS MOTHER IS AN AMERICAN, THEREFORE, OBAMA IS AN AMERICAN. PERIOD. FULL STOP.

    Maybe the birthers will challenge Obama's mother's birthplace, but I doubt they're that smart.

    Trumped!!!

    April 15, 2011 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  13. skytag

    @Chris: "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."

    Yes, you can get a birth certificate from Hawaii if you weren't born there, but it won't say you were born there so your argument isn't valid.

    "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."

    Utter hogwash. Lots of people don't have their original birth certificates. I sure don't have mine. Hawaii hasn't issued copies of original birth certificates since 2001 when they computerized the records of all births in 1908 at later. If Obama doesn't have one issued before that (I'm 56 and my only copy of my birth certificate was issued just a few years ago) then he can't get one now.

    "Besides, why has he spent $2million of taxpayer money to fight this. No one has been able to answer that simple question."

    Because it isn't true. What's been fought is a suit with no legal merit. There is no reason to doubt his birthplace. Absolutely none, and yet the birthers demand he give into their demands for no rational reason. He has produced the only birth certificate Hawaii has issued since 2001. It's been confirmed as valid by the state of Hawaii. You people are simply not rational and Obama is doing the right thing by refusing to give into your irrational demands.

    "With that said, the problem I have is he does not share the values that make us American’s"

    More right-wing hogwash. Hounding a president over his birth certificate for no rational reason is not an American value.

    April 15, 2011 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  14. maf

    Yikes!! Where does this leave the movement! How are they gonna spin this one!!

    . . . and Donald, better find something better to argue!!

    April 15, 2011 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  15. True Observer

    Government Record Keeping:

    Most states have birth certificates going back over a hundred years.

    For example, California Department of Health Services, Vital Statistics Section, has birth and death certificates from July 1905 on. Earlier ones can be located at the County Recorder where the event occurred.

    Hawaii has birth certificates from 1853 on.

    There are government offices which keep death certificates, adoption certificates, marriage certificates, you name it. They even keep divorce decrees, name change orders, everything.

    At one time they were put on microfiche. Now they are scanned.

    When you need one of these documents, you can go to the appropriate office and they will run off copies. If you want certified copies, they will charge you extra and will put the official's seal on it saying that it is a copy of the exact original held by the office and a deputy will sign it.

    What makes these records important is that they have original signatures of the people who provided the information.

    The original information may be false.

    Lots of women intentionally name the wrong man as the father of their child.

    The birth certificate is "legal" but doesn't mean it's correct.

    Birth certificates can be and are corrected after the fact. A man can file a Petition for Declaration of Non Parentage and if the judge rules that he's not the father, his name will be removed from the birth certificate.

    The birth certificate was "legal" both before and after the change.

    At one time you rarely needed your birth certificate.

    Because of the large number of illegal aliens who are using forged documents, now birth certificates are needed for all sorts of everyday things.

    To make life easier, some of the information on the birth certificate has been loaded into a data base and as a result, you can readily get one of these short form birth certificates from the local county clerk.

    They will run off as many copies as you are willing to pay for.

    Obviously, if false information was collected at the time of birth, the same false information will show up on the short form birth certificate.

    Each state has a central office which keeps the original birth certificates except for New York where the boroughs are so large that each of them keep their own.

    Once again, the original documents like birth certificates, death certificates and marriage certificates are kept forever. They are never destroyed. That's because issues to do with paternity and inheritance can come up decades later.

    You can get your mother's and grandmothers' original birth certificates if you want.

    Obama supporters have posted a short form birth certificate online and refer to it as "the original certificate" which has been touched and examined.

    Today, the same office which generated that document can run off 10,000 of "the original certificate" provided you pay for them.

    April 15, 2011 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  16. Shamrock6

    Totally hilarious. Keep it up. At least with UFO's there's a fair amount of evidence to point to....unlike this where there is absolutely nothing to hang onto....at all......even remotely..........whatsoever.................totally and completely.

    April 15, 2011 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  17. Republican Robber Baron

    Obama's mom and her entire family was born in the USA and it white. Case closed and get a life.

    April 15, 2011 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  18. not stupid

    I'm confused everyone is up in arms that supposedly Obama wasn't born in the US, but John McCain who if Obama lost would have been the President was not born in the US either but I didn't hear any controversy with that

    April 15, 2011 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  19. Themagicrat

    Supergus, Debby, and the others here that are saying "but..." Did you even read the article? Hawaii is one of a handful of states that does not give out the original birth certificate. Its on file with the Dept of Health there, who have allowed it to be viewed by various agencies and the REPUBLICAN former governor who verify its authenticity. The certificate of live birth his what they give out to families. I get the feeling a lot of you folks are political party activists who are told to post on forum and write letters to the editor to keep things like this alive and don't even really care about the facts.

    April 15, 2011 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  20. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @ Rudy NYC
    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
    -------------------------------------------------–
    Your posts are very informative.
    To this one I say HEAR!! HEAR!!

    April 15, 2011 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  21. 4 and Alot More

    Ok I was born in Calif, I moved to another state, I have lost my certificate of live birth and my marriage licesne, now I'm not quite 60 and have been married for over 40 years. When my husband and I got our driver's license all that was asked was proof of residency and surrender our currend license and we were issued new dirver's license. Now these are documents that are very dear to us especially our marriage license. We just celebrated our 40th anni and my children wanted at our party display both documents along with pictures of us when we were dating and wedding day so I started the process of obtaining certified copies of both documents and paying the approriate fees, it took the state where we were born and married 4 months to tell us they could not provide those documents unless we both appeared in person even though this is on the website to request certified copies, so here it is almost a years later after writing several appeals we still don't have certified copies of birth certifices or marriage licesne. Point being becuse of Homeland Security issue we must appear in person, It is not that easy to obtain but why would POTUS need his original Birth Certificate as he was issued a passport with his certificate of live birth, people get over it, We have a process in this country call VETTING I just in my Govt that they did their job.

    April 15, 2011 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  22. rusty155

    The people got to realize his skin color may be black but he all so half white. When are you people going to get by the color of the man skin, because he was born In the US so get over It all Ready.these so call birther are just plan Idiot.

    April 15, 2011 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  23. Sandy

    Perhaps Obama should release his "original birth certificate" when Sarah Palin releases her medical records. She was the only candidate to refuse to release her medical records during her presidential run. This didn't stop her harping on the birth certificate thing, though.

    Or perhaps we could refuse to let birthers do anything requiring a birth certificate (passport, etc.) unless they can provide their "original" certificate, not a mere piece of paper issued to them by a state and having the force of law.

    People claiming that a certificate of life birth means he could have been born elsewhere and carried in should review travel in the 1960's. Maybe today a day-old infant could be flown in from Kenya, but in 1961? To Hawaii? Absurd.

    April 15, 2011 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  24. Tracey Jones

    The birth certificate I have now in my possession is green and it only has my mothers' name and my date date of birth with a raised seal from the state. So am I to wonder that after all these years that I have been lied to and I am not an American citizen??????

    April 15, 2011 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  25. The Dude

    In all my days I've have never seen such disrespect displayed toward the POTUS as I have witnessed by the "birthers" and "tea baggers". It is shameful and disgusting. Jesus would not be pleased.

    April 15, 2011 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
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