If Donald Trump's litany of discredited birther claims sounds a bit familiar, that's because they are: The right-wing website WorldNetDaily has been pushing this stuff for years. Indeed, some of the biggest -- and most inaccurate -- birther claims Trump has made have also been promoted at WND.
For instance, Trump has claimed that Obama has "spent over $2 million in legal fees to keep this [birther issue] quiet and to keep this silent." Salon's Justin Elliott reported that WND has repeatedly made this claim, but the only evidence WND has offered to back it up is that the Obama campaign paid $1.7 million in fees to the law firm Perkins Coie between October 2008 and October 2009. WND is assuming that all of that money went to fighting birther lawsuits; in fact, Democratic National Committee national press secretary Hari Sevugan has stated that the money spent by the Obama campaign on post-election legal fees are " ordinary legal expenses related to the wind-down of its operations and other legal services which all campaigns incur and which are proportional to the unprecedented size of this campaign."
Trump has also said, "The grandmother in Kenya is on record saying [Obama] was born in Kenya." PolitiFact rated Trump's claim "false" and noted that it relies on selectively edited audio of an interview with Obama's grandmother conducted with Anabaptist minister Ron McRae, which it called "a very rough translation in which an elderly woman agreed to the leading question that Obama was born in Kenya and that she was present. But it was immediately and clearly corrected -- repeatedly." PolitiFact also talked to WorldNetDaily writer (and discredited Obama-basher) Jerome Corsi, who said that he has spoken to Trump about the claim:
In a brief telephone interview with PolitiFact, Corsi said he has spoken to Trump and that the statement about Obama's grandmother was, in fact, based on her taped conversation with McRae. Corsi pointed us toward an article he wrote for the conservative WorldNetDaily, in which he says that he spoke to two unnamed Kenyans familiar with Sarah Obama's dialect, and that they claimed she was clear in saying that she witnessed Obama's birth in Kenya. Futhermore, Corsi said they told him it appeared her later efforts to recant appeared to be heavily coached by those around her.
(In a letter to PolitiFact, McRae stood by his claim that the grandmother said that Obama was born in Kenya. He also wrote that "I have copies of Barack Obama's Kenyan birth certificate" and that "I do not consider him president, would not give any allegiance to him or demonstrate any regard for him or any document he signs, until he is man enough to step forward and prove his grandmother a liar.")
Both Trump and WND have insisted that the birth certificate Obama's campaign released during the 2008 campaign is insufficient proof of his birth. Trump has claimed that the certificate was never signed and has no serial number (wrong on both counts), while WND has promoted a claim that the certificate is "criminally fraudulent" and WND editor Joseph Farah suggested that it can't be used to obtain a passport. In fact, FactCheck.org points out that the Obama certificate meets State Department standards for establishing citizenship.
Trump and WND also have promoted alleged ambiguities over which Honolulu hospital Obama was born in. But FactCheck.org says Obama has stated which hospital it is, it has found "zero evidence of such a family disagreement" over the issue, and federal privacy laws prevent the hospital from releasing birth records.
WND, needless to say, is ecstatic about Trump's birtherism. Farah writes in his column today that "I am eternally grateful to him for standing up boldly and demanding to see Barack Obama's birth certificate, as I have been doing for the last two and a half years," adding that Trump is "doing God's work here."
Is being repeatedly discredited on birther claims really "God's work"? Apparently so, in Farah's eyes. But then, Farah has admitted to publishing "some misinformation" on his website, so WND may not be the most credible source for Trump to be taking his cues from, as he seems to be doing.