Donald Trump fuels discredited Kamala Harris 'birther' conspiracy

14 August 2020, 11:02

By Maddie Goodfellow

President Donald Trump has fuelled the discredited 'birther' conspiracy theory that Kamala Harris is not eligible to serve in the White House.

Joe Biden's Democratic running mate Ms Harris was born to a Jamaican father and Indian mother in Oakland, California, in 1964.

As such, she is eligible to serve as president or vice-president.

Ms Harris would be the first black and Asian American vice president if Mr Biden wins the US election in November.

Mr Trump told reporters that he had "heard" Ms Harris "doesn't qualify", amplifying a fringe legal theory critics have decried as racist.

For years Mr Trump promoted the false 'birther' theory which claimed that former president Barack Obama did not have US citizenship and therefore could not serve as president.

Kamala Harris is Joe Biden's Vice Presidential candidate
Kamala Harris is Joe Biden's Vice Presidential candidate. Picture: PA

Mr Trump made his comments about Ms Harris when questioned about an article in Newsweek by John Eastman, a conservative law professor, which questioned Ms Harris's eligibility due to both of her parents being immigrants.

Many people have branded his theory as "racist".

The president said at a news briefing: "I just heard it today that she doesn't meet the requirements and by the way the lawyer that wrote that piece is a very highly qualified, very talented lawyer.

"I have no idea if that's right. I would have assumed the Democrats would have checked that out before she gets chosen to run for vice president."

He added: "But that's a very serious... you're saying that, they're saying that she doesn't qualify because she wasn't born in this country."

The reporter who asked the question stated that Ms Harris was born in the US, but the claims suggest her parents may not have been legal permanent residents at that time.

Donald Trump has fuelled the conspiracy theory
Donald Trump has fuelled the conspiracy theory. Picture: PA

On Thursday, Jenna Ellis, one of Mr Trump's senior legal advisers, reposted a tweet from the head of conservative group Judicial Watch, which questioned whether Ms Harris was "ineligible to be vice president under the US Constitution's 'Citizenship Clause'".

The US Constitution rules an American leader must be a natural-born US citizen - which experts say makes Ms Harris senator eligible.

However in his essay, Prof Eastman points to Article II of the constitution, saying: "No person except a natural born citizen... shall be eligible to the office of President."

He says that therefore, Ms Harris may not have been subject to "complete" US jurisdiction if her parents were, for example, on student visas at the time of their daughter's birth.

Constitutional law experts swiftly shut down the conspiracy theory, noting that the constitution is clear.