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. Fred

    Goodness – the anti-birthers seem to think intellectual superiority can be achieved by screaming "the birthers are nuts" really loudly over and over again. There is a virtual frenzy to delclare the birthers loony when actually either side has no facts (I know – I must be looney birther if I don't accept the tripe in this article as "proof").

    The problem I have and the bottom line that I keep taking away is this:. Obama is going to extra lengths (and spending money on legal fees) to keep almost all of his personal history a secret. People know he is doing this and he offers no explanation as to why.

    That's it. Somebody come up with a good reason for the above and please quit patting yourselves on the back for being so much smarter than the birthers. The only people I see more agitated than the birthers are the anti-birthers. What are you so afraid of?.

    I'm loony for thipeople are falling all over themselves to declare the birthers "nuts" and emphasize their intellectual suoeriority by

    April 15, 2011 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  2. Themagicrat

    #Tim

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

    Only one thing needed to "qualify". Winning the election. You may not like it, you may not like him, but there it is.

    April 15, 2011 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  3. JoeyDee

    Go look up where John McCain was born.

    April 15, 2011 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  4. ThinkAgain

    Regardless of where you are born, if one or more of your parents is a U.S. citizen, you automatically get U.S. citizenship (if not full, then at least dual with the country you were born in). If need be, to gain full U.S. citizenship, you have to become a naturalized U.S. citizen, which generates its own paper trail, including naturalization papers (I know, because that's how I became a U.S. citizen, having been born in German to American parents who were stationed there as a member of the U.S. Army).

    Also:
    To get a Social Security Number and card, you must prove U.S. citizenship.
    To get an American passport, you must prove U.S. citizenship.
    To run for Senator from a State, you must prove U.S. citizenship.
    To run for President of the United States, you must prove U.S. citizenship.

    According to the birthers, President Obama somehow managed to fool all the people and agencies responsible to ensuring he is a U.S.

    I heard pigs fly, too ...

    April 15, 2011 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  5. Genna

    Debby,
    Really, you travel overseas w/both a passport and your original birth certificate ?!?!?!?
    Liar, liar, pants on fire !!
    Talk about too much info; one need just a passport to travel. ahahahahahaha busted !

    April 15, 2011 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  6. Stewie

    I'm not a 'birther' but I do believe there is enough doubt that I want to see the original certificate. This article ignores the whole "birther' argument. In Hawaii in the 60's, most kids were born at home. All a relative had to do is walk into a hospital, give the birth information, and a birth certificate would be issued, and it would specify a 'home birth'. The birther theory is that Obama was born in Kenya, and his mother called Obama's grandmother in Hawaii and had her go into the hospital and claim a home birth in order for Obama to have a Hawaiian issued BC so that it would be easier to get him back into the States. It is entirely plausible that could have happened – there were no verifications or safeguards to prevent that type of fraud back then. Regardless of your views, you have to admit, it is possible that chain of events COULD have occurred. Providing a copy of the actual birth certificate would prove it once and for all. This article completely ignored the facts about the situation the birthers claim happened in order to make them sound like conspiracy nuts. But, the chain of events they claimed had occurred is entirely possible.

    April 15, 2011 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  7. ThinkAgain

    Typing too fast ... my post should end with:

    According to the birthers, President Obama somehow managed to fool all the people and agencies responsible to ensuring he is a U.S. CITIZEN.

    I heard pigs fly, too ...

    April 15, 2011 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  8. Themagicrat

    Suzyblu. Stop repeating the talking point rhetoric of your political action committee and actually read and respond to what is presented in a specific way.

    April 15, 2011 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  9. Tulsa

    utterly stupid and blind. There is no hope for racist bigots.

    April 15, 2011 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  10. Obama certificate of live birth

    Why does it say under father religion african? African is not a race. His father was a african muslim. Obama knows this, therefore he left it out on purpose to decieve the american people. This man is the biggest liar the world has ever seen.

    April 15, 2011 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  11. ThinkAgain

    SuzyBlu: There's no need for him to show it; it's been verified by the people who are in charge of doing that.

    Consider this, too: The more folks like you insist that President Obama has something to hide, the more stupid – dare I say ignorant – you look. How does that help your political cause to appear so absolutely DUMB?

    April 15, 2011 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  12. Dave

    Why doesnt he show his Orginal ?

    BECUASE IN HAWAII NO ONE HAS THERE'S UNDER LAW THEY CAN NOT

    Idoits I tell you. The only people that are dumber than Tea Baggers are Birthers . Oh wait half the tea baggers are birthers

    April 15, 2011 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  13. Beersani

    I though he was born in Afghanistan?!?!?!

    April 15, 2011 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  14. ThinkAgain

    Maggie: Did you insist on seeing John McCain's birth certificate when he was running for POTUS? He was supposedly born in the Coco Solo Hospital in the Panama Canal Zone – but how can we be absolutely sure that he wasn't instead born in Panama, at a local hospital, and his parents faked his birth certificate?

    Hmmmmm?

    April 15, 2011 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  15. USER-301

    Most Americans just don't get it. Be you a Birther or non, President Obama is only in office because those that actually run this country – the world, put him there. He could have been born on the moon and it wouldn't make a difference. I guess the Birthers think a person can hold the highest office in the United States and not go through a thorough background check. You can bet the republicans did that along with several other agencies. Again, this clearly shows that the average person has a great desire to just BELONG, to BE A PART OF and that's any organization willing to stand on the street corner and hold up a sign about something they know won't change.

    April 15, 2011 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  16. PJinChicago

    Well, alrighty then. Everyone should be satisfied. That is until Obama tries to get on the Arizona ballot for the 2012 Presidential election. Stay tuned Libs. I'm sure he'll find a way around that as well. You're all being played, and you're taking the rest of us down with you.

    April 15, 2011 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  17. Mark C

    "Well if he would just show the certificate the debate would be over!"

    Actually, moron, he has. The computer-printed certificate that has been released is the only one Hawaii produces.

    April 15, 2011 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  18. Joe

    Basically, Basically, Basically. Geez man can you gain a better control of the English language? You better AX somebody. Who cares where he was born at this point, if it was to be proven he wasn't a US citizen the damage is done. Obama's days are numbered anyway. If they are not, get ready for the USA to become the USI, the United States of Islam. Say no to OBOZO 2012.

    April 15, 2011 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  19. ThinkAgain

    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.

    All three of my children were born in the hospital and all three of them received Certificates of Live Birth. That's all they give you at no charge: Proof that your child was indeed born there. And it's good enough to get a Social Security Number and card; the paperwork for that requires the certificate number, and the federal government issues the SS card.

    I know, because all three of my children have SSN's and cards!

    NEXT!

    April 15, 2011 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  20. ThinkAgain

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

    This is yet another lie spread by Fox and Limbaugh. President Obama paid $2 million to cover after-election expenses, a very small portion of which had to do with posting the copy of his Certificate of Live Birth and other info in response to the dimwits who questioned where he was born.

    Try a little fact-checking before you post next time, 'K?

    April 15, 2011 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  21. JD fm TX

    Simple the Nordyke twins were born on the day after Obama. Look at the State of Hawaii Certificate of Live Birth and notice
    the no#s in top left hand corner. First child 151 61 10637 , the second child 151 61 10638. Both children born on Aug 5 1961. Now how come Obama's Certicate of Live Birth is no # 161 1961 010641. 41 is after 37and 38 and he was born the day before. Why is there a 1961 in the middle instead off 61 ?? One reason might be because in Hawaii you might be able to give birth to a child from another Island and walk in and say he was born here in Hawaii the following day ? I don't know but lets ask is grandmother Sarah Hussein Obama and find out the truth.

    April 15, 2011 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  22. Mikey

    @ outlaw – we react that way because you are trying to tear down the President of the United States with your irrational BS. Not only that, the Internet is world wide (www = world wide web), so you are humiliating our nations and its citizens (us) by making Americans look like a bunch of morons. Yes, we are peeved off. Stop tearing down OUR President and by extension the Office of the President, with your irrelevent BS. If you have a rational disagreement about policy and can articulate it in some semblence of a thoughtful manner, please go ahead. Otherwise, shut up or find a country more to your liking and don't go away mad, JUST GO AWAY !!!!

    That being said, I absolutely LOVE the fact that you make your side look like a bunch of idiots. Anyone who wants to become political bedfellows with your type gets stainded by your stupidity. I am VERY GLAD that I won't be voting with you. There will be a choice in 2012, between those who support the President in his efforts to move American forward toward a positive future and people like you, who are trying to tear American down with lies and disrespect. To all the readers out there: Who will you side with?

    April 15, 2011 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
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