CNN anchor Chris Cuomo is apologizing for a now-deleted tweet where he suggested Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) should prove she was born in the U.S. to avoid trouble later down the line and make right-wing “birther” conspiracists eat crow in their claims that she’s not eligible for the Oval Office.
The walk back comes just days after Harris, who was born in Oakland, Calif., announced her bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
“Deleted my original tweet because it was taken literally the opposite way that I intended it,” Cuomo wrote Tuesday night. “Sen Harris has no duty to justify any such accusation, let alone a birtherism attack. You accuse, you prove. That’s my point. Apologize for confusion.”
As reported by HuffPost, the news host weighed in after a right-wing conspiracy theorist and provocateur falsely claimed that Harris couldn’t legally be president because her father, a Jamaican immigrant, and mother, an Indian immigrant, had lived in the U.S. for less than five years before she was born.
Moreover, the theorist insisted Harris couldn’t run for president because she had spent part of her childhood in Canada. Regardless of her parents’ immigration status, however, the 14th Amendment says she is United States citizen because she was born in the United States and is therefore eligible to become president under the requirements first laid out in 1787 in Article 2, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution. Two recent Republican contenders for the presidency were actually born outside of the United States. The late Sen. John McCain, who ran for president in 2000 and in 2008 was born in the Panama Canal Zone, while Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who ran in 2016, was born in Canada.
In a previous tweet, Cuomo suggested the senator should provide proof of her birthright to shut up the naysayers.
“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.”
It wasn’t long before he felt the wrath of social media critics, who slammed the longtime anchor for implying there’s some question about the ‘legit info’ regarding Harris’ birthright citizenship status.
“WTF? What does Cuomo mean by ‘no proof either way’? She was born in Oakland, thus a U.S. citizen,” Washington Examiner editor Philip Klein tweeted. “This conspiracy theorist isn’t even disputing that, just stating other completely irrelevant details. Why should Harris respond to every crank on the internet?”
Harris’ press secretary Ian Sams also chimed in, writing, “She was born in OAKLAND. There is no ‘both sides,’ there’s no lack of proof or competing facts, there’s no mystery about the ‘legit info.’ This is ridiculous — just like the birther smear was a decade ago.”
“I am still waiting for Chris Cuomo to respond to the legitimate allegation that he wears a toupee …,” another user joked. “The longer there is no proof either way, the deeper the effect.”
The conspiracy theory attempting to besmirch Harris, as noted by Sams, isn’t all that different from the racist birther claims made against former president Barack Obama. Donald Trump continued to encourage the claim by demanding that Obama, who he insisted was born outside the U.S., produce his birth certificate. Trump, whose final Republican opponent in the 2016 Republican primaries, never made Cruz’s birth in Canada an issue during that campaign.
Cuomo would later issue another apology on “The View,” saying he was only trying to get ahead of yet another birther conspiracy.
“I screwed up,” he told the co-hosts. ““Kamala Harris shouldn’t have to go through this.”
Watch more in the clip below.