- CNN host Chris Cuomo jumped into a Twitter debate Tuesday on whether Sen. Kamala Harris of California, who was born in Oakland, California, is constitutionally eligible for the White House because her parents are immigrants.
- In a tweet, Cuomo suggested that Harris should “deal with the allegation” to avoid trouble later down the campaign road. His audience quickly hit back, saying it was an example of “birtherism.”
- The phrase was used when former President Barack Obama was in office, during which time President Donald Trump publicly questioned whether Obama was born in the US.
- Cuomo removed his tweet and apologized, saying Harris “has no duty to justify any such accusation.”
CNN host Chris Cuomo landed himself in a bit of trouble Tuesday after seemingly suggesting that California Sen. Kamala Harris, who on Monday announced her candidacy for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, should prove that she was born in the US in order to avoid trouble later down the campaign trail.
Cuomo made the comment on Twitter after an alt-right conspiracy theorist and provocateur falsely said Harris is ineligible for the Oval Office because her father, a Jamaican immigrant, and her mother, an Indian immigrant, were not legal residents for five years before her birth.
The theory also suggested that Harris cannot run for president because she spent part of her childhood in Canada. Regardless of her parents’ immigration status at the time of her birth, Harris has the right to run for president because she was born in the US (Oakland, California), a right protected by Article 2, Section 1, of the US Constitution.
However, in a tweet, Cuomo seemed to suggest that Harris should prove her citizenship in order to avoid trouble later.
“And hopefully there will be no games where the issue keeps changing for righty accusers…and…the legit info abt Harris comes out to deal with the allegation ASAP. The longer there is no proof either way, the deeper the effect,” Cuomo’s tweet read. The comment was quickly deleted after swift rebuke from Cuomo’s audience.
WTF? What does Cuomo mean by "no proof either way"? She was born in Oakland, thus a U.S. citizen. This conspiracy theorist isn't even disputing that, just stating other completely irrelevant details. Why should Harris respond to every crank on the internet? https://t.co/ZS1Ry1lVFx
— Philip Klein (@philipaklein) January 22, 2019
the longer this ain’t, the deeper the chief
— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) January 22, 2019
I am still waiting for Chris Cuomo to respond to the legitimate allegation that he wears a toupee.
The longer there is no proof either way, the deeper the effect.
— Jules Suzdaltsev (@jules_su) January 22, 2019
"no proof either way"?
— Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) January 22, 2019
Let us please, PLEASE, preeeeettttyyyyy please not engage this ridiculous birther shit being thrown at Kamala Harris. Have we learned nothing from the past few years?????
— Sam Stein (@samstein) January 22, 2019
The CNN host quickly apologized, saying his comments were taken “literally the opposite way” he intended.
Deleted my original tweet because it was taken literally the opposite way that I intended it. Sen Harris has no duty to justify any such accusation, let alone a birtherism attack. You accuse, you prove. That was my point. Apologize for confusion.
— Christopher C. Cuomo (@ChrisCuomo) January 22, 2019
Cuomo’s original comment, the false conspiracy theory, and the reaction to it alluded to the infamous birtherism claim that President Barack Obama was not born in the US. President Donald Trump, who was a private citizen at the time, pushed that idea, which was later co-opted by conservative and right-wing figures. Obama is a US citizen and was born in Hawaii.
Trump later disavowed the assertion during his own presidential campaign in 2016.