The White House agreed Sunday that Democratic California Senator Kamala Harris is eligible to become vice president, ending false suggestions echoed by President Donald Trump that she was ineligible to serve if she is elected in November because she was born in the United States to immigrant parents.
Harris, now 55 and picked last week by former Vice President Joe Biden to be his running mate in November’s national election, was born in in 1964 in the western city of Oakland, California. She is the daughter of an Indian woman who had emigrated to the U.S. to attend graduate school and a father from Jamaica, making her the first Black woman to be on a major party national ticket in the U.S.
Under the U.S. Constitution, she is an American by birthright, by being born in the U.S.
“In our opinion, it’s case closed,” Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller said in an interview on ABC News’s “This Week."
Trump’s White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told CNN that Trump accepts that Harris is eligible to serve as vice president if the Biden-Harris ticket wins the Nov. 3 election over Trump and Vice President Mike Pence as they seek a second four-year term.
Meadows said he was more concerned about Harris’s left-of-center political views that Trump and Republicans oppose.
Jenna Ellis, a senior legal adviser to the Trump campaign, last week promoted the conspiracy theory that Harris was ineligible to run for the vice presidency because of her parents’ immigration status at the time of her birth.
But Miller said, “She wasn’t speaking for the campaign. I am.”
Biden’s campaign denounced claims that Harris was ineligible as “abhorrent.”
Trump for years promoted the past false "birther” allegation that Barack Obama was born in Kenya rather than in Hawaii and thus ineligible to serve as president before stating during his 2016 campaign that Obama is an American. Trump last week described questions raised about Harris’s eligibility to run for vice president as “very serious.”
“So I just heard that, I heard it today, that she doesn’t meet the requirements,” Trump said Friday. “I have no idea if that’s right. I would have assumed the Democrats would have checked it before she gets chosen to run for vice president. But that’s a very serious … You’re saying that they’re saying that she doesn’t qualify because she wasn’t born in this country?”
Ellis last week promoted a Newsweek opinion article written by John Eastman, a law professor at Chapman University in California and a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute, a conservative think tank.
In his piece, Eastman questioned whether Harris’s parents were U.S. citizens at the time of her birth or “merely temporary visitors,” adding that it was possible that Harris “was not subject to the complete jurisdiction of the United States at birth, but instead owed her allegiance to a foreign power or powers.”
Ellis said, “It’s an open question, and one I think Harris should answer, so the American people know for sure she is eligible.”
But Miller and Meadows turned aside her questioning of Harris’s eligibility in the Sunday talk show interviews, a day ahead of Monday’s opening of the Democratic National Convention that will officially nominate Biden and Harris to run against Trump and Pence.