Trump campaign senior adviser Jason Miller on Sunday dismissed questions about the eligibility of Harris to run for vice president, pushing back against a false racist conspiracy theory promoted by another Trump campaign adviser and echoed by the president himself.
“In our opinion, it’s case closed,” Miller said in an interview on ABC News’s “This Week.”
When asked about statements last week by Jenna Ellis, a senior legal adviser to the Trump campaign, promoting the conspiracy theory, Miller replied, “She wasn’t speaking for the campaign. I am.”
Harris was born in Oakland, Calif., and is, by the laws of the Constitution, a U.S. citizen. But some birther conspiracy theorists say, wrongly, that her parents’ immigration status at the time of her birth makes her ineligible, and Biden’s campaign has denounced such claims as “abhorrent.”
Trump — who previously promoted the past false allegation that Barack Obama was born in Kenya rather than in Hawaii and thus ineligible to serve as president — said last week that questions raised about Harris’s eligibility to run for vice president were “very serious.”
“So I just heard that, I heard it today, that she doesn’t meet the requirements,” Trump said Friday. “I have no idea if that’s right. I would have assumed the Democrats would have checked it before she gets chosen to run for vice president. But that’s a very serious … You’re saying that they’re saying that she doesn’t qualify because she wasn’t born in this country?”
Trump’s campaign began promoting the conspiracy theory last week when Ellis retweeted a Newsweek op-ed written by John C. Eastman, a law professor at Chapman University in California and a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute, a conservative think tank.
In his piece, Eastman questioned whether Harris’s parents were U.S. citizens at the time of her birth or “merely temporary visitors,” adding that it was possible that Harris “was not subject to the complete jurisdiction of the United States at birth, but instead owed her allegiance to a foreign power or powers.”
Eastman in 2010 ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination for California attorney general; Harris defeated the eventual GOP nominee in the general election.
The op-ed prompted a swift online backlash, and Newsweek responded by posting an editor’s note arguing that the essay “has no connection whatsoever to so-called ‘birther-ism.’ “
Asked last week about her decision to retweet the piece, Ellis defended Eastman’s views.
“It’s an open question, and one I think Harris should answer so the American people know for sure she is eligible,” Ellis said in an email.