WASHINGTON, D.C.—After Donald Trump declared Friday morning that Barack Obama was born in the United States, Trump supporters inside his new hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue insisted that controversy over the president’s citizenship is over.
“The birther issue is such a joke right now,” said Patrick Cecil, a 19-year-old Trump backer who’d come to see his candidate speak at the Trump International Hotel. “Nobody really talks about it, it’s a non-issue,” he told me. Jo-Ann Chase, who was wearing a Make America Great Again hat, seemed to agree. “The subject is over, we’re moving on,” she said, appearing frustrated that the media wanted to ask about the very topic Trump himself had just brought up while speaking to a crowd of supporters and reporters. “He already made his statement, and we’re moving on,” Chase added emphatically.
At least part of her assertion was true: Trump had just made his statement. Moments earlier, the Republican presidential nominee had said that “President Barack Obama was born in the United States—period,” though that announcement came immediately after he falsely claimed that “Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy.”
Trump is attempting to rewrite history. Long before he was the Republican presidential nominee, Trump was the chief proponent of birtherism, raising questions over whether Obama was really born in the United States in an attempt to discredit the country’s first black president. (Spoiler alert: He was.) Now, Trump, and at least some of his supporters, seem anxious to put birtherism behind them. “His comment about the birther thing, I think he’s closing the book on it,” Bryan Crosswhite, a Trump supporter who attended the speech, told me.