“I did not care where the president was born,” Arpaio said, as he began the presentation. The investigation, he said, “had nothing to do with that. But we were going to investigate a possible government forged document.”
Zullo took over and played a video that laid out the findings of two document examiners, one based in Hawaii, and another in Italy. The revelation centered on how the copy of Obama’s 1961 birth certificate matched up with another certificate, made 16 days later, by the same office. Zullo never clearly explained why the second certificate had been included in the investigation, or how Arpaio’s posse came across it. The video purported to show how the alignment of nine stampings on both certificates matched up, seemingly edited by “Photoshop, or God only knows what else,” Zullo said. The implication was that Obama’s birth certificate had been forged using this as a model.
Another unanswered thread in the presentation was the involvement of a man named Jerome Corsi, who, it turns out, has written a book about Obama’s birth certificate conspiracy. Corsi has also written books claiming Adolf Hitler escaped World War II’s Allied Forces and hid in Argentina, and another about a 9/11 conspiracy.
Arpaio is the last of the birthers. Not even President-elect Donald Trump still believes (publicly) that Obama was born in Kenya, forged his birth certificate, planted a birth announcement in an August 13, 1961 issue of The Honolulu Advertiser, and duped the nation.
This September, Trump renounced his five-year quest to prove Obama was not a citizen, by saying, “President Obama was born in the United States — period."
But still, Arpaio persisted.
Trump had been integral in the elevation of this conspiracy from right-wing internet forums to national media. It had surfaced in 2008, during Obama’s first campaign, and resurfaced during his reelection.
“Why doesn’t he show his birth certificate?” Trump asked Whoopi Goldberg in 2011 when he appeared on The View. “I wish he would because I think it’s a terrible pall that’s hanging over him... There’s something on that birth certificate that he doesn’t like.”
Obama had released a version of his birth certificate four years earlier, but that did not satisfy Arpaio, nor did it appease Trump, who at the time was not politically involved. Indeed, Trump became politicized because of his incessant hounding that the president of the U.S. was born in Africa.
For months after this, Trump crisscrossed the country and advised fellow birthers who held political office on how they might write laws to require future presidents to ante up a birth certificate. Most zealous of his followers was Arpaio. In August 2011, during the furor of birther conspiracy, Arpaio began his investigation at the behest of the Tea Party Patriots. They, in turn, were motivated to do so after listening to a speech at an Arizona chapter house given by Corsi, the conspiracy theory author. Arpaio began his investigation a week later, joined by Trump, and soon appointed Zullo to lead the investigation. Then Zullo left for Hawaii in a highly publicized attempt to drum up the real birth certificate (funded by taxpayers).