The publisher of an upcoming book questioning the circumstances of President Barack Obama’s birth took credit Wednesday for fueling conspiracy theories about the president’s origins, saying he paid for an army of private detectives in Hawaii and provided information about the issue to Donald Trump.
Joseph Farah, the founder and chief executive officer of World Net Daily, a conspiracy-mongering website with its own publishing arm, also said he has no intention of standing down despite the White House’s release of the so-called long form birth certificate showing that Obama was born in the state of Hawaii on Aug. 4, 1961, as he always has said.
“I’m not apologizing for nothing,” a defiant Farah said in a telephone interview with NBC News, insisting there are still questions about Obama’s citizenship aside from where he was born.
The comments by Farah underscore Obama’s observation Wednesday that hard-core birthers are unlikely to be persuaded by any evidence, no matter how compelling. “I know that there’s going to be a segment of people for which, no matter what we put out, this issue will not be put to rest,” Obama said at a White House press event to release the birth certificate.
Farah, who still believes there was foul play associated with the death of Clinton White House lawyer Vince Foster, would seem to be a perfect example. His comments during a lengthy telephone interview with NBC also provide new insights into how the “birther” issue got traction in the first place – and how some of the president’s most strident critics plan to continue to hammer away at the issue, in part by switching the discussion to questioning Obama’s “citizenship” rather than his birth in the United States.
Shifting the discussion
In fact, Farah said, Obama’s citizenship, not his birth, is actually the principal theme of World Net Daily’s upcoming book by Jerome Corsi titled, “Where’s the Birth Certificate? The Case that Barack Obama is not Eligible to be President.” Corsi first garnered headlines in 2004 as one of the architects of the so-called “Swift Boat” attacks on John Kerry’s war record.
Farah said he and Corsi also have plotted a major publicity campaign for the book that will start on May 15, with exclusive interviews on Fox News host Sean Hannity’s radio and TV show. (Corsi himself is refusing any interviews until then, according to a spokesman. He did not respond to an email request for comment from NBC News.)
Farah acknowledged that the book’s title may be “unfortunate” in light of Wednesday’s release of Obama’s birth certificate, even while he insisted the document must still be more fully analyzed before he accepts it as authentic. “I think it will take us a little while to examine this and determine if it’s legitimate,” he said about the birth certificate, which was released by the White House along with a letter from the director of Hawaii’s Health Department certifying its legitimacy.
Even if it is authentic, Farah said the real issue is that Obama is still not eligible to be president because his father was Kenyan and his adopted father was Indonesian, making him a potential “dual citizen” of two separate foreign countries. (Farah supplied no evidence to support his contention that Obama ever held “dual citizenship.” Nor did he explain why it would make any difference, given Obama’s birth to an American mother on U.S. soil, which would meet the U.S. Constitution’s requirement that he be a “natural-born citizen.”)
“I know for some people this settles the issue,” Farah said of the birth certificate. “It’s up to us to persuade people that there’s a lot more to this issue than the Hawaiian birth.”
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'A totally wacky argument'
Asked about Farah's contention, Harvard Law School Professor Laurence Tribe said by email that this is "a totally wacky argument, without any conceivable merit. ... The 14th amendment unambiguously and expressly confers U.S. citizenship on everyone ‘born . . . in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.’ This means that Barack Obama was a U.S. citizen at birth. independent of the citizenship or age of either or both of his biological or adoptive parents. ... This birther thing is a moving target, rather like the creatures in the “Night of the Living Dead.” Driving a stake through its heart seems incapable of killing it.")
Farah’s commitment to fueling the birther issue dates back to the 2008 presidential campaign, when he said he had hired a dozen private detectives in Hawaii to dig up material on Obama’s birth in hopes of finding something that might contradict the “certification of live birth” released by the Obama campaign at the time. That led to World Net Daily articles and columns by Farah that continued even after the election, including a Nov. 26, 2008, column by Farah headlined "Where Was Obama Born?"
One issue he and others harped upon: The certification of live birth didn’t contain the name of the hospital where Obama was born, suggesting that there was some mystery about the matter. Farah in his 2008 column called it "something of a state secret." Farah even issued a "birthday challenge" to Obama in August 2009 to release his long-form birth certificate, saying World Net Daily would make a $10,000 donation to whatever hospital was listed on the document.
Wednesday’s release of the certificate of live birth would seem to settle the matter once and for all: It lists the hospital as Kapiolani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu, the hospital where Obama has said he was born. Pressed by MSNBC TV's Cenk Uygur Wednesday whether he would honor his commitment and make the donation to Kapiloani, Farah replied: "As soon as we establish that it's a legitimate document."
More recently, Farah said he provided an advance copy of Corsi’s book to Trump two weeks ago, about the time the potential GOP presidential candidate began to take up the birther issue. Farah said Trump was one of the “very few” people who were provided a pre-publication copy of the book under a non-disclosure agreement.
Michael Cohen, a top aide to Trump, told NBC Wednesday that he signed the non-disclosure agreement for the book, but that he doesn’t recall actually receiving it. Still, Cohen acknowledged that “Jerome Corsi had reached out to Mr. Trump to explain certain facts that are in his book” and that the two had talked “on a handful of occasions.” Cohen also said he had consulted with Corsi on numerous other occasions.
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Asked if he believes that he and Trump were supplied with misinformation about Obama’s birth by Corsi, Cohen dismissed the question and echoed the public comments made earlier Wednesday by his boss: “Mr. Trump was successful in getting (Obama) to put out his birth certificate,” something nobody else had succeeded in doing.
Farah also took credit for Wednesday’s disclosure, saying there is “no question” that Corsi’s forthcoming book led the White House to release the document. “"They knew (the book) was coming," he said.
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