CHICAGO (AP) — False claims that Kamala Harris is not legally eligible to serve as U.S. vice president or president have been circulating in social media posts since 2019, when she first launched her Democratic primary campaign.
On Thursday, after Harris was selected by Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to serve as his running mate, President Donald Trump elevated the conspiracy while speaking to reporters from the White House podium.
A look at the claim:
THE CLAIM: Harris is ineligible to serve as vice president or president because her mother is from India and her father is from Jamaica. Trump said he “heard” the California senator doesn’t meet the requirements, adding, “I have no if idea that’s right.”
THE FACTS: That’s false. Harris was born on Oct. 20, 1964, in Oakland, California, according to a copy of her birth certificate, obtained by The Associated Press.
Her mother, a cancer researcher from India, and her father, an economist from Jamaica, met as graduate students at the University of California, Berkeley.
Since she was born on U.S. soil, she is considered a natural born U.S. citizen under the 14th Amendment, and she is eligible to serve as either the vice president or president, Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School, told The Associated Press Thursday.
“Full stop, end of story, period, exclamation point,” Levinson said.
There is “no serious dispute” in the legal community around the idea that someone born in the U.S. can serve as president, said Juliet Sorensen, a law professor at Northwestern University.
“The VP has the same eligibility requirements as the president,” Sorensen said. “Kamala Harris, she has to be a natural-born citizen, at least 35 years old, and a resident in the United States for at least 14 years. She is. That’s really the end of the inquiry.”
Trump was asked directly about the social media posts by a reporter Thursday. “I heard today that she doesn’t meet the requirements,” Trump said in response.
The false claims first started circulating on social media in 2019, during Harris’ presidential campaign, and they were revived against last week, days ahead of her selection as Biden’s running mate. Facebook posts falsely said she would not be eligible to take over for Biden, because her parents were both immigrants.
“I can’t believe people are making this idiotic comment,” Laurence Tribe, a Harvard University professor of constitutional law, told The Associated Press at the time. “She is a natural-born citizen and there is no question about her eligibility to run.”
Trump was a high-profile force behind the so-called “birther movement” — the lie that questioned whether President Barack Obama, the nation’s first Black president, was eligible to serve. Only after mounting pressure during his 2016 campaign did Trump disavow the claims.
Related: Kamala Harris early in her career
25 PHOTOSKamala Harris early in her careerSee GalleryKamala Harris early in her careerSan Francisco district attorney candidate Kamala Harris, left, serves lunch to an unidentied visitor while volunteering at Thanksgiving service at Glide Memorial United Methodist Church in San Francisco on Thursday, Nov. 27, 2003. Glide church has been feeding the needy for years, this Thanksgiving about 1,200 volunteers helped prepare 6,000 meals from 1,000 turkeys and 600 hams. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)San Francisco’s new district attorney, Kamala Harris, right, receives the oath of office from California Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald M. George, left, during inauguration ceremonies Thursday, Jan. 8, 2004, in San Francisco. In the center is Harris’ mother, Dr. Shyamala Gopalan, who holds a copy of "The Bill of Rights." Harris, a political novice and career prosecutor, became San Francisco’s chief law enforcer Thursday and California’s first district attorney of Indian and black descent. (AP Photo/George Nikitin)San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris poses for a portrait in San Francisco, Friday, June 18, 2004. The December election of a new district attorney was supposed to signal a turning point for police-prosecutor relations in San Francisco, where lofty, ultra-liberal ideals sometimes clash with the street-level realities of law enforcement. But after ousting her former boss on a pledge to restore order to the DA’s office, Kamala Harris has faced unforeseen trials with her colleagues in blue. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom holds a Thanksgiving meal while volunteering at Glide Memorial United Methodist Church in San Francisco Thursday, Nov. 25, 2004. Glide prepared more than 5,000 meals for Thanksgiving. Also pictured are San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, center, and Newsom’s wife Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom, second from right. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who as a prosecutor once specialized in child sexual assault cases addresses the Domestic Human Trafficking symposium in Los Angeles, Friday, April, 25, 2014. According to a 2005 International Labour Organization paper, human trafficking, or sexual servitude and forced labor, brings in about $32 billion annually, making it the second most profitable criminal enterprise after illegal arms trafficking. The vast majority of those trafficked are women and children, from all milieus of society. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)** CORRECTS SPELLING OF LASHUAN HARRIS ** San Francisco district attorney Kamala Harris, right, speaks at a news conference about Lashuan Harris in San Francisco, Friday, Oct. 21, 2005. Lashuan Harris, the women seen dropping her young sons into San Francisco Bay, pleaded innocent to three counts of murder. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)Kamala Harris, San Francisco District Attorney (Photo by Steve Jennings/WireImage for Conde Nast media group) *** Local Caption ***Belva Davis, Kamala Harris, San Francisco District Attorney, and Laura Michalchyshyn of the Sundance Channel (Photo by Steve Jennings/WireImage for Conde Nast media group)VENICE, CA – NOVEMBER 03: San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris attends the ‘Choose Or Lose Your Toys’ event at the Obsolete Gallery on November 3, 2009 in Venice, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Obsolete)En esta fotografía de archivo del 17 de junio de 2009, la fiscal de distrito de San Francisco Kamala Harris, a la izquierda, aplaude mientras el nuevo jefe de la policía George Gascon, en el podio, es presentado por el alcalde Gavin Newsom, a la derecha, en San Francisco. Las actitudes tolerantes que tuvieron hacia los indocumentados podrían descarrilar las candidaturas a gobernador de California de dos prominentes figuras de la política en San Francisco: Harris y Newson. (Foto AP/Eric Risberg, Archivo)San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris was one of six candidates taking part in the democratic primary debate for Attorney General at the Milken Institute in Santa Monica, May 18, 2010. The remaining four candidates are Chris Kelly, Ted Lieu, Pedro Nava and Alberto Torrico. (Photo by Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)SALINAS, CA – NOVEMBER 01: San Francisco district attorney and democratic candidate for California attorney general Kamala Harris laughs as she sits backstage before a get-out-the-vote rally at the National Steinbeck Center on November 1, 2010 in Salinas, California. With one day to go until Election Day, Jerry Brown is wrapping up his three day campaign trip throughout California in hopes of defeating his republican challenger and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)In this photo taken Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2010, California Attorney General Kamala Harris gives her first news conference in Los Angeles. Harris asked a federal appeals court on Tuesday, march 1, 2011, to allow gay marriages to resume while the court considers the constitutionality of the state’s voter approved ban on same sex unions. The request came after the California Supreme Court said it needed the rest of the year to consider a legal question the appeals court said it needs answered before it can resolve the case. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)NEW YORK CITY, NY – OCTOBER 01: Jason Binn and Attorney General of California, Kamala Harris pose at Provocateur circa October 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Jason Binn/WireImage)BEVERLY HILLS, CA – JUNE 05: Attorney General Kamala Harris attends the Fifth Annual Kidstock Music and Arts Festival at Greystone Mansion on June 5, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)BEVERLY HILLS, CA – MARCH 18: California Attorney General Kamala Harris speaks onstage at the Public Counsel’s William O. Douglas Award Dinner held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 18, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)California Attorney General Kamala Harris, right, and Michael Troncoso, Senior Counsel to the Attorney General, left, listen as mortgage fraud victim Jacqueline Marcelos speaks at a roundtable of foreclosure victims at Mission Economic Development Agency in San Francisco, on Monday, Nov. 21, 2011. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)LOS ANGELES, CA – DECEMBER 13:California Attorney General Kamala Harris participates in TheWrap’s ‘The Power Of Leadership’ brunch at Scarpetta on December 13, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.(Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images for TheWrap)Californbia Attorney General Kamala Harris speaks to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC (Photo by Ralf-Finn Hestoft/Corbis via Getty Images)California Attorney GeneralKamala D. Harris at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina, on September 4, 2012 on the first day of the Democratic National Convention (DNC). The DNC is expected to nominate US President Barack Obama to run for a second term as president. AFP PHOTORobyn BECK(Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/GettyImages)SAN FRANCISCO, CA – JULY 11:California Attorney General Kamala Harris (L) looks on as California Governor Jerry Brown (R) speaks to reporters after signing the California Homeowner Bill of Rights (AB 278 and SB 900) on July 11, 2012 in San Francisco, California.Gov. Jerry Brown signed the California Homeowners Bill of Rights that establishes landmark protection rules for mortgage loan borrowers. The laws go into effect on January 1, 2013.(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris speaks with supporters at the California Democrats State Convention in San Diego, CA on Saturday, February 11, 2012 in San Diego, CA. Harris has helped Californian homeowners by lobbying for a large share of federal funds to help with the massive foreclosure crisis in the state. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Corbis via Getty Images)MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA – DECEMBER 12:California Attorney General Kamala Harris arrives at the Breakthrough Prize Inaugural Ceremony at NASA Ames Research Center on December 12, 2013 in Mountain View, California.(Photo by C Flanigan/FilmMagic)SAN FRANCISCO, CA – JUNE 30:California State Attorney General Kamala Harris appears at the Gay Pride Parade on June 30, 2013 in San Francisco, California.(Photo by Arun Nevader/FilmMagic)LOS ANGELES, CA – MAY 17:California Attorney General Kamala Harris speaks at a news conference on May 17, 2013 at the Los Angeles Civic Center in Los Angeles, California. Harris hosted a meeting of the state’s district attorneys to develop recommendations on reducing gun violance.(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)Up Next
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