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Trump tries to put birther issue to rest, but questions remain

WASHINGTON – Donald Trump’s birther backers have a lot to absorb. Trump finally said Friday that President Barack Obama was born in the U.S.

This leaves the birther conspiracy theorists in a bind. Do they believe Trump? Or is Trump part of some crypto-conspiracy?

Where do they go now?

Who can they trust?

I’m just asking.

Some of my thoughts on a presidential campaign day, where first lady Michelle Obama slapped down Trump — without ever mentioning his name — in her debut 2016 stump speech at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.

* During 2008, then presidential candidate Obama got his short form birth document from Hawaii to address the lie that he was not born in the U.S. That didn’t satisfy birthers including Trump, whose genius for publicity fueled the birther movement. On April 27, 2011, President Barack Obama released his long form birth certificate from Hawaii to try to end the distraction.

Over the years, that’s never been enough for Trump. He rode birtherism to the Republican presidential nomination.

Weaving in a falsehood about Clinton, Trump said Friday, “Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it. I finished it, you know what I mean. President Barack Obama was born in the United States. Period.”

Well, if Trump finished it — that was back in 2011. Where’s he been since April 27, 2011? Nothing has changed.

First lady Michelle Obama speaks during a campaign rally Friday at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. | Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press

First lady Michelle Obama speaks during a campaign rally Friday at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. | Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press

Trump made a battlefield conversion of dubious authenticity.

Trump has razzed Clinton for not having press conferences. On Friday, he ducked out of his press event without taking questions.

Questions for Trump:

Mr. Trump, why now?

What do you know today that you did not learn on April 27, 2011?

* Trump provided a distraction from Clinton’s own self-inflicted problems of calling “half” of Trump’s backers “deplorables” and not disclosing her pneumonia and resurrected discussion of his embrace of challenging the birthplace of the nation’s first African American president.

* Clinton said Trump’s “Campaign was founded on this outrageous lie.” She said Trump owes Obama an “apology.”

Start the countdown clock.

* Still, Trump may not have an enormous downside to his tardy admission. It lets him go into the first presidential debate Sept. 26 at Hofstra University with his admission already out.

* Trump held his Friday press event at his new hotel in Washington DC. His tease that he was going to make a birther announcement tricked TV news outlets into giving him some free time to show off his hotel.

* Michelle Obama artfully slapped Trump.

“There were those who continued to question for the past eight years up through this very day whether my husband was even born in this country. Well, during his time in office, I think Barack has answered those questions with the example he set by going high when they go low,” the first lady said. The “go high” line was successfully used in her Democratic National Convention speech.

“If a candidate is erratic and threatening, if a candidate traffics in … fears and lies on the trail, if a candidate has no clear plans to implement their goals, if they disrespect their fellow citizens including folks who made extraordinary sacrifices for our country, let me tell you, that is who they are,” she said.

By taking on Trump at the top at of her speech – though not dignifying him by using his name – Michelle Obama packed more punch.

From the Oval Office, Obama shrugged off the news about Trump’s announcement.

“Well, I’m not that shocked actually. It’s fairly typical. We got other things to attend to. I was pretty confident about where I was born. I think most people were as well.”

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