The only thing that could have made Donald Trump’s crazy day even crazier was if someone revived the candidate’s “birther” claims about President Barack Obama — so, naturally, that’s exactly what happened.
Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, pounced Tuesday night when his CNN colleague, Angela Rye, mentioned Obama’s college transcripts, which birthers still believe will finally prove the president was born outside the U.S.
“Donald Trump has been attacking the president long before he began campaigning for this important office,” said CNN’s Angela Rye during a Tuesday night segment. “He is the one who was the spokesperson for the birther movement and calling for transcripts, and saying the president was an affirmative action admittee of Harvard.”
Lewandowski, who’s still on the Trump campaign’s payroll, asked if Obama had ever released his college transcripts, and Rye asked if Trump had released his tax returns yet.
“You raised the issue, I’m just asking,” Lewandowski said, using the Trump campaign’s standard dodge for its frequent wild claims. “Did he ever release his transcripts or his admission to Harvard University? You raised the issue, so just say yes or no. The answer is no.”
Rye wasn’t having it.
“Corey, in this moment I’m going to Beyoncé you — boy, bye,” Rye said, quoting the singer’s hit, “Sorry.” “You’re so out of line right now. Tell your candidate to release his tax returns.”
Lewandowski continued trying to equate Obama’s college transcripts to Trump’s tax returns, which some have speculated could show the real estate developer is actually broke or has business ties to Russian oligarchs, as Rye reminded him that Obama was the first black editor of the Harvard Law Review.
“CNN Tonight” host Don Lemon finally regained a measure of control, and asked Lewandowski what was so important about seeing those Harvard transcripts.
“Look, the only reason it’s germane is because she brought the issue up and Donald Trump raised the issue of his Harvard transcripts,” Lewandowski said. “And I just simply said that those — have those ever been released? And the question was, did he get in as a U.S. citizen or was he brought to Harvard University as a citizen who wasn’t from this country?”
Rye muttered, “oh, my god,” as Lemon reminded Lewandowksi that George W. Bush hadn’t released his college transcripts, either.
Lewandowski said Bush didn’t need to release his transcripts, and again blamed Rye for raising the issue — but she shut him down.
“I raised it to say that Donald Trump has been attacking the president since before he was ever running for this office, Corey,” Rye said. “You went off on this tangent, just like your candidate does, and you’re off-message. This is why it’s a second-grade election.”
Bakari Sellers, a former South Carolina state representative, then jumped into the fray and accused Lewandowski and Trump of trying to “delegitimize” the president because he is black.
“Nobody said that, nobody raised the issue of his race other than you,” Lewandowski said.
“You think he’s Kenyan, you don’t think he’s from here — you just said that,” Sellers said, as Lewandowski protested that he hadn’t. “You said that you think he’s not from this country.”
“So where’s he from? Where’s he from, Corey” Rye asked.
“Hawaii,” Lewandowski said, correctly identifying the president’s birthplace.
“Hawaii is in the country,” Rye said, laughing derisively.
Sellers then pointed out how unprecedented it was for Trump to refuse to release his tax returns, and Lewandowksi attempted to change the subject to Hillary Clinton’s email server maintenance.
“Congratulations, Corey — your second tangent of the night,” Rye said.
Watch the entire segment posted online by Mediaite: