According to a new book by James O’Keefe, President Donald Trump asked the disgraced fake “documentarian” to go on a secret mission in 2013 to obtain President Barack Obama’s Columbia University records.
CNN, who obtained an advanced copy of the book, reported that the text alleges that Trump “suspected Obama had presented himself as a foreign student on application materials to ease his way into New York’s Columbia University, maybe even Harvard too, and perhaps picked up a few scholarships along the way.”
Trump suggested that O’Keefe break the law and infiltrate Columbia to get the sealed records.
“‘Nobody else can get this information,'” O’Keefe wrote Trump said. “‘Do you think you could get inside Columbia?'”
O’Keefe reportedly told Trump that infiltrating the university didn’t fall under his line of work and that his investigators were journalists and not “private eyes.” This was before he attempted to infiltrate a Planned Parenthood and infiltrate an elected official’s office to tap her phone.
“Trump shook my hand, encouraged me to keep up the good work, and half-whispered, ‘Do Columbia,'” O’Keefe wrote.
The goal of obtaining the documents likely goes back to his desire to find out whether Obama was born in Hawaii. Trump perpetuated the birther conspiracy theory that Obama wasn’t a legitimate president because he was actually born in Kenya, a claim that has no root in fact or evidence. Conspiracy theorists believe there was “something suspicious” in Obama’s records from around 1983 when Obama earned his bachelor’s degree.
Just two years prior to the request of O’Keefe, Obama mocked Trump for his “birther” claims at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, leading the audience to laugh at the now president.
Republican political operative Sam Nunberg told CNN that he recalls the conversation and that he didn’t believe that Trump was asking O’Keefe to “commit a crime.”
“I recall that the Columbia records were brought up. I in no way recall Trump asking James to do something illegal. … He did not ask him to go in there and break in and get the records,” Nunberg said. “Trump was saying something along the lines of, ‘Try to find somebody you can talk to that’s saying we are hiding the records.’ Something along those lines.”