US President Donald Trump said he has heard “very serious” rumours about Kamala Harris’s eligibility to be president while others have dismissed them as a “racist trope”.
Mr Trump told reporters he had “heard” suggestions that Ms Harris – who is Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s running mate – was born to immigrant parents.
The conspiracy about Ms Harris, which is part of an online misinformation campaign, bears similarity to one Mr Trump used to power his rise into politics.
I was so proud to stand with @JoeBiden earlier today as our party's nominee for Vice President, and I do so mindful of all the heroic and ambitious women before me whose sacrifice, determination, and resilience makes my presence here even possible.— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) August 13, 2020
The conspiracy is false and Ms Harris was born in Oakland, California, and is eligible to be president under the constitutional requirements.
The question is not considered complex, according to lawyers who have reviewed her circumstances.
Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School, said: “Full stop, end of story, period, exclamation point.
“Let’s just be honest about what it is: It’s just a racist trope we trot out when we have a candidate of colour whose parents were not citizens.”
Mr Trump built his political career on questioning a political opponent’s legitimacy.
He 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 Mr Trump disavow the claims.
Mr Trump comments about Ms Harris on Thursday came amid a series of untrue, racist or sexist claims unleashed across social media and conservative websites after Mr Biden picked Ms Harris, the first black woman and the first Asian American woman on a major party ticket.
The misinformation campaign is built on falsehoods that have circulating less noticeably for months, propelled by Mr Trump and his supporters.