Is Donald Trump a Natural Born Citizen?

donald-trump-caricature-flickr-cc.jpg January 6, 2016

In his desperate attempts to stave off Ted Cruz’s surge, Donald Trump has resorted to his old tricks of questioning his opponents’ citizenship. It’s what he built his aborted 2012 campaign for the Presidency on, and it’s what he’s doing now. Take for example his recent comments to the Washington Post:


“Republicans are going to have to ask themselves the question: ‘Do we want a candidate who could be tied up in court for two years?’ That’d be a big problem,” Trump said when asked about the topic. “It’d be a very precarious one for Republicans because he’d be running and the courts may take a long time to make a decision. You don’t want to be running and have that kind of thing over your head.”

Trump added: “I’d hate to see something like that get in his way. But a lot of people are talking about it and I know that even some states are looking at it very strongly, the fact that he was born in Canada and he has had a double passport.”

Now, the Obama administration has jumped in on the action.

What Trump seems to forget is that questions have been raised in the past about his own eligibility for the Presidency based on the Constitution’s “natural-born citizen” clause. Back in 2011, when he was making an attempt of sorts at running for the Presidency, many of the typical birther websites were confronting the question.

Why? His mother, Mary Anne Trump (nee MacLeod) was born in Scotland. Politico‘s Ben Smith did a great job summarizing and satirizing the issue:

Trump’s mother, it should be noted, was born in Scotland, which is not part of the United States. His plane is registered in the Bahamas, also a foreign country. This fact pattern — along with the wave of new questions surrounding what he claims is a birth certificate — raises serious doubts about his eligibility to serve as President of the United States.


I refuse to link to sites like WorldNetDaily or the various birther websites out there on the front page, but here’s a screencap of the first page of Google’s search results for “Mary Anne Trump Citizenship“, as it shows up on my laptop:

Mary Anne Trump Citizenship
Click to enlarge.

As you can see, this was a legitimate issue birthers had to deal with in 2011,* and though my screencap does not show it, people beyond WorldNetDaily were discussing the question, including birther extraordinaire Mario Apuzzo himself. Despite the fact that Trump was born in America, this is something they felt the need to investigate. In the end, both that fact and that his mother became a citizen in 1942, four years before he was born, proved that he was a citizen to them. It should have been beyond dispute since he was born in Jamaica Hospital in Queens, New York, but nevertheless, they arrived at the correct answer.

While Ben Smith didn’t mention it in his piece, Trump’s got quite a bit of an international streak in him beyond his private plane. As The Federalist notes, also jokingly:

What a shame that Donald Trump’s father was so disrespectful of American women as to marry a non-American citizen. And sadly Trump himself inherited that tendency.Ivana Trump wasn’t an American citizen until 1988.

The short answer is that Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Obama, Santorum, Jindal, and McCain (reaching back to 2008) are all natural born citizens, and they are all Constitutionally eligible to run for President. They were either born in the United States, abroad to at least one American citizen parent, or on an overseas American military base. If you need more confirmation of all of this, you can read my collection of posts from 2012 on the issue.** It’s time this idiotic argument was sent to the dung heap of history.


*=Bud Meyers, at least, is a lefty blogger trolling people on the issue, which is fine. Birther arguments deserve mockery.

**=I had planned to write a third full installment in the series. That basically fell by the wayside, as I thought the first two did enough of a job showing how wrong birthers are. Perhaps it’s time I reconsidered that decision.



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