Culture

Jake Tapper Won’t Let Chris Christie Squirm Away Over Donald Trump’s Breezy Birtherism Reversal

The Sunday talk show circuit is still dragging Donald Trump over his Friday shenanigans, which — as CNN’s Jake Tapper put it — was a “political Rick-roll.” This was Tapper’s assessment of how Trump aimed to dismiss five years of questioning Obama’s birth certificate with one tiny sentence: “President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period.” The “period” was meant to denote Trump’s desire to wipe away his enthusiastic fueling of a fringe movement. In doing so, Trump encouraged people to question whether Obama was born in Hawaii, and is therefore an American citizen.

It’s certainly a silly discussion to be having, especially in 2016. Friday even saw Obama interrupted during a trade discussion for quizzing, and Michelle Obama later presented thinly-disguised disgust at the ridiculousness. Even sillier than the movement itself is how Trump tried to downplay his involvement — even after he filmed a $5 million offer to make a charitable donation if Obama also offered up passport and college documentation. During Friday’s press conference, Trump claimed that he “ended” Birtherism, which Polifact fact-checked with a “pants-on-fire” rating.

On Sunday’s episode of State of the Union, Tapper met with Trump surrogate Chris Christie to ask why Trump feels he can dump Birtherism so breezily with no questions asked. Christie responded like it was no big deal: “The birther issue is a done issue. I’ve said it’s a done issue for a long time, and Donald Trump has said it’s a done issue now.” Tapper insisted to Christie that Trump was one of the biggest Birtherism proponents, and he declined to disavow the movement for five years. Then this happened:

Christie: “It’s just not true that he kept it up for five years.”
Tapper: “Sure he did.”
Christie: “It’s simply not true.”
Tapper: “It is true.”
Christie: “No, Jake. It wasn’t like he was talking about it on a regular basis … And when the issue was raised, he made very clear the other day what his position is.”

Tapper didn’t let Christie go that easily. He continued to point out Trump’s repeated insistence that Obama’s birth certificate wasn’t real. What’s odd is that Tapper even has to spell this out after Trump publicly rallied behind the idea for years, including at a 2015 CPAC event. Trump’s surrogates want voters to simply dismiss all of this because Trump (according to Christie) “made very clear” in one sentence that Birtherism was over. And Trump’s Friday attempted maneuver was so obvious that the press retaliated by destroying footage from his hotel tour after he pulled the “Rick-Roll.”

Christie then made some vague motions at blaming the Clinton campaign for Birtherism, which Tapper also shut down. Watch the full video (at the top of this post) for the fun.

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