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. Robert

    I have never seen such ignorance in my entire life. If people would put aside the fact that they don't like President Obama, because of whatever issue, whether it be race, policies, the way the country's going, etc, put it aside and let's actually gather some facts. Let's stop listening to Trump and others who take on this hollow theory. Other lawmakers in Washington also have a responsibility to voice publicly that we should lay this issue to rest. I applaud Tim Pawlenty, Karl Rove and Lindsay Graham for doing such a thing. Let's cut out the schoolyard talks and get serious. Let's focus on issues that matter, and not further fuel the fire of the "birther" movement. When Glenn Beck, who I think is nothing short of delusional, comes out and says "Donald Trump makes him nervous" partly because of all this birther talk, it's time to recognize that this is a non issue. I can only imagine what people are saying in Strongsville, OH. A lot of nice people there......

    April 15, 2011 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  2. streetsmart

    Stupid people believe in stupid things. Intelligent people laugh at stupid people.

    April 15, 2011 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  3. w l jones

    One should see all the mistake made by Midwife who had little or no education as well as the one working in vital certicate. We all should wonder whether we were born here in America or on the Moon or some other Alien planet.

    April 15, 2011 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  4. John Sharp

    This is so silly. As someone so ably put on his comment, if Obama were white and Republican this issue would not even have been raised.
    This is so much racism weakly masked as a run around attempt to overturn a democratic election.

    April 15, 2011 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  5. straighttalker0527

    I see one possible reason for this issue continuing...that most won't admit to. Many of these birthers are simply racist. They cant stand having a President other then a white man/woman. However, they don't want to go there given the push back they would face. For those of you thinking I am sayign thsi b/c I am not white...you are wrong...i am. To those who continue to deeply criticize our President and policies....do something about it or leave the country...nobody is stopping you. People just liek to complain but simply don't have the nerve to act (meanign run for office or something). The President is FAR from perfect....but he did walk in to a mess. It is amazing how peop;e forget that. Now in fairness, Bush had 911 shortly after takign office... but many of the problems were self-inflicted.

    April 15, 2011 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  6. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    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.
    -------------------------------------------------–
    That's because you, and this subject matter have worn out your welcome in our civil minds. Reason is lost on your kind because racist hate of another human being has completely taken over you.
    Tell your people to get help.
    We've tried and are sad to report that we have failed you.

    April 15, 2011 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  7. Itsa

    Agree with you, Me. Different states have a different NAME FOR THE FORM itself. There are at least 5-10 states that call it 'Certificate of Live Birth' while others call it 'Birth Certificate', interestingly, several red states have the alternate phrasing, but has that stopped the Republicans? No – the ignorance in this country is inexcusable. Inexcusable.

    April 15, 2011 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  8. JJ

    The "birther" nimrod movement is all about right-wing chumps who are still angry when it was pointed out that John McSame is NOT a natural-born citizen and would not be allowed to take the oath of office as president even if he had won by a landslide. Why? Because it is known beyond any shadow of a doubt (and admitted by McSame himself) that he was born on a base in Panama, that the Panama Canal was never part of the US, and that since a foreign military base is NOT US soil, he is a NATURAL BORN CITIZEN OF PANAMA. When it comes to the US, McSame is a STATUTORY CITIZEN of this country and does not qualify to be president. Period. End of story.

    Now the chumps thinks anyone cares about their claims about Obama, when it has been shown BEYOND ANY SHADOW OF A DOUBT that he -IS- a natural born citizen of this country.

    Period, End of story.

    April 15, 2011 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  9. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    I'm so happy our President didn't react to such stupidity about his birth because now we all know where the stupidity and ignorance lie, with the stupid and ignorant, so let's leave that title with them. Enough said.

    April 15, 2011 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  10. Cedar Rapids

    'Besides, why has he spent $2million of taxpayer money to fight this. No one has been able to answer that simple question'
    And are you able to cite your sources for this 'fact'? NO ONE has ever been able to answer that simple question either.

    April 15, 2011 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  11. straighttalker0527

    it is nto only our right but it is our responsibility to challenge our leaders...but some just take it waaay too far... leave the US and absent a few countries...see hwo you liek things on the other side. Be thankdul of what you have.........

    April 15, 2011 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  12. SSina

    I am a little surprised to see why all the comments are against birthers. CNN, did you remove some of them?

    I am not a birther, but I start suspecting some of the so-called "fact". By law, only the president has the right to release his birth related vital records. It's not been good after all these speculations. Just do it, man. So we can all be at peace.

    April 15, 2011 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  13. Steve in Denver

    @Super Gus: Did you read the article, or just post your birther nonsense. Factcheck.org, and the former governor's director of health have viewed the original.

    Sure, you can have someone born elsewhere and show up and get a certificate of live birth, or a birth certificate, like say the baby was born at home.

    Is there some evidence somewhere that supports any of your foolishness? Like,say, the certificate of live birth dated several days after the actual date of birth, as would be necessary to travel with an infant from Kenya to Hawaii in 1961?

    Is there anything at all you are basing this on?

    I didn't think so.

    I bet you are crying that your lead conspiracy theorist has been cancelled.

    April 15, 2011 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  14. leo

    The birthers motivation is the issue. Birthers are motivated by the fact that Barrack Obama is black. This is bigotry at its core. No one questioned John McCain's birth even though he was born on a naval base in a foreign country. Regardless of any contention that a military base is American soil the same absurd arguments could be made. He was in fact not born in the Continental United Sates or Hawaii or Alaska. The Birthers just cannot accept that the majority of Americans would vote for a Black President. Its simple bigotry. Face it Birthers, you just cannot accept the idea that the President of the Unites Sates is a Black man!

    April 15, 2011 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  15. Dave from GA

    I hope Trump will win the GOP nomination and then face against Obama soon. Here's why....Trump is for taxing the richest people to help solve the US Debt deficit problem. It would be fun to watch them trade their craps soon.

    April 15, 2011 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  16. Tim

    It doesn't matter where he was born. He's not qualified regardless.

    April 15, 2011 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  17. The Greedy Old Pigs are #1 with racists!

    The vast majority of birthers are racists, whether they realize it or not.

    April 15, 2011 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  18. Maggie

    Obama is a fake. If he has nothing to hide, why doesn't he show his birth certificate. As soon as anyone questions anything about Obama, the first thing that comes from his supporters mouths is that you are a racist. Nobody must question this man. If this was a white president and there was any doubt about anything in his life, the questions would be right there and they would have to be answered. CNN would not stop reporting on it until the information is shown. So things should not be different for Obama. Let the questions come!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 15, 2011 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  19. Itsa

    @CedarRapids – Nobody has been able to answer your 'question' because it is pulled out of thin air and laden with lies.

    April 15, 2011 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  20. Dave

    I am NO fan of Obama. But I've seen all the proof I need, and I've been seeing it for years. People, get over it!!! He's the president and he was born in the U.S. If you don't like him, vote him out next year. Geez!

    April 15, 2011 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  21. Tony Z

    I am amazed that this is still an issue. It says clearly, we don't believe the CIA, FBI or any respectable organizations did their homework. I used to think that No Child Left Behind was bad for education based on the post of the birthers, I realize we had many adults already left behind. So, the news paper in 1961 was part of the conspiracy theory. Next we will hear he is not human.

    As for changing, America. He has done that for the better. The sad part is that many of the Tea Party are not familiar with the rest of the World. Watch the BBC or other international news channels.

    April 15, 2011 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  22. PARAMAD

    Hate to bring it up but G.B. was alleged to be doing coke at Camp David during his dad's rule,his early years flirting with the Mafia. Laura B's "car accident",G.B's DUIs, and his "War record" not to mention Newt's infidelity and numerous divorces the list goes on but not the speculation or news coverage ad nauseum. Ah the taste of sour grapes is sweet to me.

    April 15, 2011 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  23. Themagicrat

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

    Utter BS. My wife's grandmother in New Jersey recently went to get her driver's license renewed. We have a "7 points of identification" policy for that. One accepted form is birth certificate. She doesn't have her's and when her daughters tried to get a copy from the state they didn't even have any idea where to look.

    April 15, 2011 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  24. SuzyBlu

    Well if he would just show the certificate the debate would be over! Case Closed! He could shut a lot of people up that way! What's causing the problem is the lengths he's going thourgh to hide everything and that makes people suspicious!

    April 15, 2011 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  25. Scott

    No amount of information will satisfy these jerks. The simple fact is that all the birthers I know personally are racists. They think all the Hispanic people they see are illegal aliens, black people are less intelligent than whites, and "their country" is being "taken over" by non-whites. Jesus Christ could come down and announce Obama was born in Hawaii and even that would not satisfy them. This is a race issue. If Obama was white, and had the same life story, this would not be an issue.

    April 15, 2011 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
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