But then Trump started talking. And in true Trump fashion, he decided to replace one baseless conspiracy theory with another.
"Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy," he said Friday morning at a press conference. "I finished it. I finished it. You know what I mean. President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period."
Earlier Friday morning, Trump went on Fox Business Network offered a preview of his factually challenged case that Hillary Clinton started the whole birther mess back during the 2008 campaign.
"Hillary brought it up during her campaign. It was 2008," he said. "She brought it up, and I was the one that was successful in getting him to release his birth certificate.
"She started it, and she was incapable of finishing it."
Instead of putting this controversy behind him, Trump is going to open up a whole new can of worms around the issue by trying to tie it to Clinton. He's going to breathe all kinds of life into the story by not truly taking responsibility for his lengthy effort to question the legitimacy of the president of the United States, and he's going to do it with a specious charge.
The allegation Clinton or even her campaign started this just isn't founded. As our Michelle Ye Hee Lee wrote earlier this year, when Trump also tried to lay this at Clinton's feet:
There’s no evidence to support Trump’s repeated claim that Clinton “started” the birther movement and was one of the first to question Obama’s birth certificate. He could blame the actions of Clinton’s supporters during the 2008 primary or say the rumor has some Democratic roots. But there’s no evidence that she or her campaign questioned his birth certificate or his citizenship. Further, the campaign denounced isolated instances of Clinton’s staffers questioning whether Obama was Muslim.
As PolitiFact wrote last year:
There is no record that Clinton herself or anyone within her campaign ever advanced the charge that Obama was not born in the United States. A review by our fellow fact-checkers at Factcheck.org reported that no journalist who investigated this ever found a connection to anyone in the Clinton organization.
There certainly were overzealous Clinton supporters who were upset about her losing to Obama who engaged in this desperate line of attack, but Clinton and her campaign had nothing to do with it. And there were Clinton staffers who suggested Obama might be a Muslim, but that's not the same thing as birtherism, and the campaign denounced them.
What's more, Trump suggested Friday morning that he's not just tying Clinton's campaign to this, but Clinton herself, which is even more clearly counter to the facts. There's no proof that either of them is true, mind you, but all of Clinton's comments are recorded history, and there is nothing she ever said along those lines.
This is Trump's long-running birther problem. He can never truly give it up. He can't just go out there and say he's satisfied with having seen Obama's birth certificate and be done with it. He has to deflect and blame someone else in a way that will make sure this issue isn't truly put to rest.
Trump is still Trump. And he's still a birther conspiracy theorist.