President Trump took a shot at former president Barack Obama on Friday after Michelle Obama said she would “never forgive” him for promoting the birther conspiracy theory, which suggested that President Obama was not born in the U.S.
For years prior to running for president, Trump promoted the false theory that Obama may have been born in Kenya, rather than Hawaii as indicated on his birth certificate, which critics have long denounced as meant to stoke racist animus toward America’s first black president. In September 2016, having secured the Republican nomination for president and facing renewed backlash to his past endorsements of the theory, Trump held a press conference in which he conceded that, “President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period.”
In an excerpt of the former first lady’s soon-to-be-published memoir, Becoming, printed in the Washington Post on Friday, Mrs. Obama said she was afraid birtherism left their two daughters vulnerable to danger.
“The whole thing was crazy and mean-spirited, of course, its underlying bigotry and xenophobia hardly concealed. But it was also dangerous, deliberately meant to stir up the wingnuts and kooks,” Obama wrote. “What if someone with an unstable mind loaded a gun and drove to Washington? What if that person went looking for our girls? Donald Trump, with his loud and reckless innuendos, was putting my family’s safety at risk. And for this I’d never forgive him.”
Trump hit back at the Obamas on Friday, echoing the former first lady’s language in his retort.
“I guess she wrote a book. She got paid a lot of money to write a book,” Trump told reporters outside the White House. “And they always insist you come up with controversial. Well, I’ll give you a little controversy back: I’ll never forgive [Barack Obama] for what he did to our United States military. By not funding [it] properly, it was depleted. Everything was old and tired. And I came in and I had to fix it.”
“I’ll never forgive him for what he did in many other ways — which I’ll talk to you about in the future,” the president continued. “What he did — cause she talked about safety — what he did to our military made this country very unsafe for you and you and you.”