Donald Trump’s biography on the website of his privately held corporation, the Trump Organization, calls U.S. Sen. John McCain a birther conspiracy theorist, claiming that:
“In 2011, after failed attempts by both Senator McCain and Hillary Clinton, Mr. Trump single-handedly forced President Obama to release his birth certificate, which was lauded by large segments of the political community.”
Asked about the claim, which has been in his biography since at least last August, Sen. McCain’s spokeswoman Rachael Dean replied, “As the record clearly shows, Senator McCain has never questioned President Obama’s birthplace.”
This is so. McCain famously defended Obama against conspiracy theories when he carried the Republican presidential banner in 2008. At multiple campaign events, the Arizona lawmaker forcefully pushed back against his own supporters who questioned Obama’s religion, race, and loyalty to the United States.
Clinton, too, never attempted to force President Obama to release his birth certificate, contrary to Trump’s claim.
Trump, on the other hand, first emerged as a politically significant force when he began beating the birther drum in 2011, and he’s continued to do so ever since, even after declaring last month that “President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period.”
Last summer, Trump, while vying for the Republican nomination, said of McCain: “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured? I like people who weren’t captured.”
Trump received multiple medical deferments from the Vietnam-era draft for bone spurs while attending business school and once called the risk of STDs while sleeping around his own “personal Vietnam.” McCain spent almost six years in the infamous Hanoi Hilton, where he refused early release despite being brutally tortured to avoid the appearance of favoritism because his father was an admiral.
Despite that insult, Sen. McCain, facing a right-wing primary challenge for re-election, eventually endorsed his party’s nominee for president but pointedly criticized Trump after he hurled insults at the Gold Star Kahn family, saying “I cannot emphasize enough how deeply I disagree with Mr. Trump’s statement… While our party has bestowed upon him the nomination, it is not accompanied by unfettered license to defame those who are the best among us.”
Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday evening about the sentence in the candidate’s corporate biography that effectively labels McCain and Clinton the original birthers. Said Clinton campaign press secretary Nick Merrill: “The record is clear on this. I give Donald Trump’s bio four Pinocchios.”
Notably, the sentence in Trump’s biography uses almost identical language to that of Rev. Jerry Falwell Jr. at Liberty University’s 2012 convocation, when he was introducing Trump, who’d just finished flirting with a presidential run that year.
Said Falwell, to a roar from the assembled believers: “Trump has also become one of the most influential political leaders in the United States. In 2011, after failed attempts by Senators John McCain and Hillary Clinton, Mr. Trump singlehandedly forced President Obama to release his birth certificate.”
Harry Siegel contributed reporting.