Sean Hannity says the federal investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election is looking like the so-called birther conspiracy that was for years fueled by Donald Trump.
“This has now become, like, ‘Russia-Trump-conspiracy-birther-conspiracies,'” Hannity told Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow during an interview on Fox News Monday night. “You know, sort of truthers. It’s gotten so bad.”
“Right,” Sekulow said in agreement.
For more than five years, Trump led the movement questioning President Barack Obama’s birthplace — even after Obama released his long-form birth certificate in 2011. And Hannity, one of Trump’s longtime supporters, gave him the platform to do so.
In April 2011, Trump appeared on Hannity’s Fox News show explaining the origin of the theory, saying that a “team of investigators” he had sent to Hawaii had uncovered some “very interesting” things. Trump never revealed what those purported things were, or presented any evidence that the investigators actually existed.
Nonetheless, Hannity — who has a habit of propping up unfounded right-wing conspiracies — continued to defend Trump’s birther push on the air and lashed out at those who said the issue was an effort to delegitimize the country’s first black president.
“Don’t bring up race,” Hannity once scolded Jerry Springer. “Do not bring up race. Do not bring up race. It is a constitutional requirement.”
Trump didn’t drop the conspiracy either.
An 'extremely credible source' has called my office and told me that @BarackObama's birth certificate is a fraud.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 6, 2012
Why do the Republicans keep apologizing on the so called "birther" issue? No more apologies–take the offensive!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 27, 2012
How amazing, the State Health Director who verified copies of Obama’s “birth certificate” died in plane crash today. All others lived
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 12, 2013
In January 2016, he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that he’d eventually reveal his “theory” on Obama’s birthplace in a book.
“Who knows about Obama? … Who knows, who knows? Who cares right now?” Trump said. “I have my own theory on Obama. Someday, I will write a book. I will do another book, and it will do very successfully.”
Then in September, Trump — under pressure from Republican leaders — finally admitted that Obama was born in the United States. But the then-Republican nominee offered no apology. Instead, he wrongly took credit for ending the issue — something Obama himself did when he released his long-form birth certificate — while falsely blaming Hillary Clinton for first raising questions about Obama’s birthplace in 2008.
“Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the ‘birther’ controversy,” Trump said without taking questions from reporters. “I finished it.”
But there is no evidence Clinton played any role in pushing birtherism.
During the 2008 Democratic primary, a volunteer for the Clinton campaign was fired after forwarding a memo that suggested Obama was secretly a Muslim.
On the eve of the 2016 election, Hannity made a veiled reference to birtherism, offering to pay for a one-way flight to Kenya for the Obamas.
“I have an offer for the president. I will charter a plane for you and your family,” Hannity said on his daily radio show. “I will charter it to the country of your choice. You want to go to Canada? I’ll pay for you to go to Canada. You want to go to Kenya? I’ll pay for you to go to Kenya. Jakarta, where you went to school back in the day, you can go back there.”
Last month, Hannity stirred controversy by giving oxygen to the conspiracy theory that former Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was killed for leaking documents to WikiLeaks. Washington authorities say Rich was killed in a robbery.
At least seven advertisers pulled their support from Hannity’s show, and Fox News retracted a story about Rich’s death.
Hannity did not back away from the conspiracy, only telling viewers he would stop discussing the matter out of respect for Rich’s family.
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