WASHINGTON (AP) — White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Sunday he accepts that Sen. Kamala Harris is eligible to serve as vice president, rejecting a false and racist conspiracy theory that President Donald Trump had promoted.
“Sure,” said Meadows, when asked on CNN’s “State of the Union” whether he acknowledges the fact that she meets the constitutional requirements to be president or vice president. “And I think the president spoke to this yesterday. This is not something that we’re going to pursue.”
Trump twice this past week declined to say whether he believed she met the requirements when asked about social media claims that the California senator and former presidential candidate couldn’t serve in the White House because her parents were immigrants to the United States.
Trump initially said Thursday that he had just heard the claim and had “no idea if that’s right,” but that the charge was serious and he would look into it. Pressed again Saturday to accept her eligibility, Trump demurred, saying at a news conference at his New Jersey golf club that it didn’t bother him but he had “not got into it in great detail.”
Harris is without question eligible for the office.
Harris, 55, was born in Oakland, California, making her a natural-born U.S. citizen and eligible to be president if Joe Biden were unable to serve a full term. Her father, an economist from Jamaica, and her mother, a cancer researcher from India, met at the University of California, Berkeley, as graduate students.
The Constitution requires a vice president to meet the eligibility requirements to be president. That includes being a natural-born U.S. citizen, at least 35 years old and a resident in the U.S. for at least 14 years — all criteria that Harris fulfills.
When asked about Trump’s promotion of the conspiracy theory about her, Harris said in an interview released Sunday that she and Biden fully expect Trump and his campaign to engage in “lies” and “deception” in a bid to beat Democrats in the Nov. 3 election.
“They’re going to engage in an attempt to distract from the real issues that are impacting the American people,” she told TheGrio. “And I expect that they will engage in dirty tactics. And this is going to be a knockdown, drag-out. And we’re ready.”
Harris is the first Black woman and Asian American to compete on a major party’s presidential ticket. Trump in past years indulged in the false conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama was born abroad. Only after mounting pressure during his 2016 campaign did Trump disavow the claims.
Jason Miller, a Trump campaign adviser, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that the campaign would not be promoting the conspiracy theory.
“This is something that the media brings up to him in his press conferences or interview formats,” he said. “It’s not something that anyone in our campaign is talking about.”
“It’s case closed. End of story.”