Democracy Dies in Darkness

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Trump said he'd give away $5 million — or maybe $50 million — for proof Obama was born in the U.S. Will he pay it?

By David A. Fahrenthold

September 16, 2016 at 3:11 PM

Back when Donald Trump was a "birther" -- an era that lasted from early 2011 until Thursday — he offered to give huge donations to charity in exchange for hard evidence that proved President Obama had been born in the U.S.

First, in 2012, Trump said he'd donate $5 million for that proof.

"If Barack Obama opens up and gives his college records and applications, and if he gives his passport applications and records, I will give, to a charity of his choice — inner city children in Chicago, American Cancer Society, AIDS research, anything he wants — a check, immediately, for $5 million," Trump said in a video made in his Trump Tower office. "The check will be given within one hour after he released all of the records, so stated."

The deadline of that original offer was Oct. 31, 2012. At the time, Obama had already released his "long-form" birth certificate, showing he had been born in Hawaii. But Trump wanted more.

Two years later, Trump described his 2012 offer in a speech at the National Press Club. Trump said that, at the last minute, he had actually upped it to a whopping $50 million.

"Now then, what wasn't reported by the press is, sometime just prior to the expiration date of that offer, I raised the offer to $50 million. $50 million! For charity,' Trump said in 2014. "Pick your charity, for $50 million, and let me see your records! And I never heard from him."

On Friday, Trump said he'd been convinced of Obama's birthplace at last. At an event at his hotel in downtown Washington, Trump gave a brief statement, affirming that President Obama had been born in the U.S.

Related: [Trump admits Obama was born in U.S., but falsely blames Clinton for starting rumors]

Trump then quickly left the podium, and the room, without taking any questions.

So Trump must have seen the proof he wanted.

Now, will he donate the money?

The answer to that may depend on how Trump viewed his initial offer. Was he promising only to give that money if specific documents were released? Or was it more a plea for any evidence that would establish Obama's birthplace beyond doubt?

And was the offer entirely off the table after that deadline passed in 2012?

The candidate's spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, did not respond to a request for comment.

The Washington Post has spent months looking for evidence that Trump has given donations out of his own pocket, but its search has turned up few before this year. Instead, Trump has tended to give away money from the Donald J. Trump Foundation — which sounds like it might be his Trump's own money, but in fact is largely supplied by other donors.

Related: [Searching for evidence of Trump’s personal giving]

By The Post's estimate, a $5 million gift from Trump's own pocket now would be more than the GOP nominee has given to charity in the last 20 years, combined.


David A. Fahrenthold is a reporter covering the Trump family and their business interests. He has been at the Post since 2000, and previously covered Congress, the federal bureaucracy, the environment, and the D.C. police.

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