Anderson Cooper Takes on Another Birther on AC360
Another day, another wingnut birther who was willing to come on Anderson Cooper's show and make an ass of themselves. This time around it was Texas State Representative Leo Berman. Cooper took on Arizona Rep. Cecil Ash on the same subject back in April. Now we get round two of the stupidity with Texas Rep. Berman here. I'll just say I agree with Media Matters Eric Boehlert's tweet on this which is not safe for work. My head hurts after watching this nonsense as well. I don't know what they're putting in the water down in Texas but apparently their representatives are drinking the same wingnut Kool Aid as they are in Arizona.
Transcript via CNN.
COOPER: Representative Berman, you have said this bill is needed because -- and I quote -- we have a president who the American people don't know whether he was born in Kenya or some other place.
Do you personally believe that President Obama was not born in Hawaii?
LEO BERMAN (R), TEXAS STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Well, you know, I really don't know.
If you look at my white hair, you can tell I have been around for a while. And I have known everything about every president that I have come across for the last 70-some-odd years. I don't know anything about President Obama. I wish I did.
COOPER: How can you say that?
BERMAN: But there's nothing to prove.
COOPER: How can you say that, though?
BERMAN: Excuse me
COOPER: Because, I mean, there is a -- a birth certificate. There's a certificate of live birth, which is what the state of Hawaii sends out. We're showing a picture of it to our viewers. It has got a raised seal. And it's got the stamp of the -- the -- the -- the health register from the state.
Why -- why isn't that good enough?
BERMAN: Well, because it's not an original birth certificate. It doesn't show the parents' place of birth. And, also, we know for certain that President Obama's father was born in Kenya. Since he was born in Kenya, in 1 -- that was a British protectorate. President Obama was born in 1961.
And with his father being a British citizen, at least, President Obama, we think, holds duel citizenship.
COOPER: Well, actually, technically that's not correct.
COOPER: He may have been born with duel citizenship because of the technicality of his father being under the British -- a British subject, being from Kenya, but he automatically lost that in -- in -- when he -- at the age of 23, as anybody -- anybody does.
And to say that that document is not...
BERMAN: How do you lose that?
COOPER: To say -- it's just -- it's the way it happened.
To say that that document, though, is not the original birth certificate, that's what the state sends out when anybody asks for a birth certificate from the state of Hawaii. And it's accepted by the U.S. State Department as valid for a U.S. passport.
And -- and the Hawaii state health director has acknowledged that, back in 2008, she has -- and I quote -- "personally seen and verified that the Hawaii State Department of Health has Senator Obama's original birth certificate -- certificate on record, in accordance with state policies and procedures."
BERMAN: Well, you mentioned the State Department. Now, let's talk about the State Department.
COOPER: But -- no, no, first, do you...
COOPER: ... do you not acknowledge that the state of Hawaii has the original birth certificate? The health director there says it. The governor of Hawaii says this is not an issue.
The governor of Hawaii, who is a Republican, was quoted as saying: "I had my health director, who is a physician by background, go personally view the birth certificate in the birth records at the Department of Health. We issued a news release at the time saying the president was, in fact, born at Kapi'olani Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii. And that is just a fact."
Is she lying?
BERMAN: Well, my question to you, then, Anderson, is, why -- did you see it? I would like to see it.
COOPER: Well, you can go...
BERMAN: And I would also like to see President...
COOPER: You can go and see it. The nonpartisan fact-checking organization FactCheck.org, they -- they looked at it. It has a raised seal. They say it's legit.
BERMAN: A raised seal could be put on by any type of machinery.
But what I'm saying is, where are the president's passports? Where are his travel documents? Where are his school records? Why don't we know anything at all about a president who has such a radical agenda? There's a radical agenda. And I would like to know something about the president of United States.
COOPER: Well, let me -- let me ask you about that...
BERMAN: The state of Hawaii...
COOPER: ... because have you seen...
COOPER: ... George W. Bush's transcripts from college?
BERMAN: I could see anything I want from George W. Bush.
COOPER: Actually, sir, you couldn't.
BERMAN: I can go right online and get it, yes.
COOPER: No, actually, sir, you couldn't.
COOPER: Under -- under federal law, you're not -- the -- those -- the schools cannot release that information. And President Bush refused to release that information from Andover and from his time at Yale.
Someone actually leaked the Yale records illegally, but, actually, he refused to release them.
But, sir, again, you haven't answered any of the facts on this which I have -- I have -- I have brought up to you. The state of Hawaii has...
BERMAN: You haven't answered me. You haven't -- tell me, where are his passports?
COOPER: I am answering it. The state of Hawaii, for a fact, has verified the original birth certificate is there. When you -- if you request one, as the Obama campaign did, what they are sent is the certificate of live birth. It's the short firm. It's what they send out. Hawaii doesn't send out the long form.
Yet, for some reason, in this man's case, it's not acceptable to you.
BERMAN: Well, let me -- let's say it is acceptable to me. Now, let's answer -- let's get on to another point. Where are the president's passports and his travel records which got him to Pakistan in the early '90s, when no U.S. citizen could get to Pakistan at all?
COOPER: Sir, where did you hear that?
BERMAN: Where are his college records? COOPER: Sir, where did you hear that?
BERMAN: Why can't we see anything?
COOPER: Sir, where did you hear that?
BERMAN: We can't see any personal documents about this president.
COOPER: Sir, I don't mean to contradict you.
BERMAN: I'm sorry?
COOPER: I -- I respect you. And I respect, certainly, your service to this country, but where do you get your information? Because that -- that -- what you have just said is factually incorrect.
BERMAN: I'm getting my information the same place you are getting your information.
BERMAN: I want to see a passport that got the president...
COOPER: Well, how do you know the president traveled to Pakistan, what did you say, in the late '90s, late '80s?
BERMAN: I think it -- late '80s, early '90s. That's common knowledge.
COOPER: That's actually not true, sir.
BERMAN: Everybody knows he traveled to Pakistan -- he had a passport -- when...
BERMAN: ... U.S. citizens couldn't travel to Pakistan. So, which country...
COOPER: OK. Sir, he traveled to Pakistan...
BERMAN: ... did he...
COOPER: Sir, he traveled to Pakistan in 1981, and -- when he was a student. And -- and, actually, Americans could travel to Pakistan then.
In fact, I -- we have an article from "The New York Times" from 1981 from the travel section about the joys of traveling in Pakistan. You needed a -- American citizens, I think they needed a 30-day visa, but American citizens could go and travel in Pakistan. That's just an Internet rumor that you're spreading.
BERMAN: No, it's -- it's not an Internet rumor that I'm spreading. I'm sorry, it's not.
BERMAN: It's not. No, it's not.
COOPER: Barack Obama went to Pakistan in 1981, when Americans could go there. It -- it's an Internet rumor that Americans couldn't travel there. And you had the dates completely wrong. You're saying the early '90s.
BERMAN: I have got a report here from the Congressional Research Service and their legislative attorney, Jack Maskell. And there's a lot of good information here.
I'm not asking for a lot. I'm asking for simple information about the president of the United States. The news media, they...
COOPER: So -- so, is his travel to Pakistan in the Congressional Research Service information there?
BERMAN: Yes. The major news -- the major news media will not answer any of these questions. Why won't you put this out factually?
COOPER: Sir, I'm asking for where you got that information.
BERMAN: Why won't you show us the long birth certificate or the passport? And why didn't the United States Congress -- we have 535 members of the United States Congress. They are the only body of the federal government in a Constitution that really should be vetting the president of the United States...
BERMAN: ... because they take an oath of office in which they will support and defend the Constitution against -- of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and they will bear true faith and allegiance to the same, so help me God.
COOPER: But, sir, again, just...
BERMAN: Not a single member of the...
BERMAN: ... United States Congress raised their hand when they were counting the electoral votes in 2008...
COOPER: OK. BERMAN: ... to say, show us. I want to see it.
COOPER: Sir, just, of the points you -- of the points you have raised, the factual points to -- to -- I mean, you're basing legislation on stuff that's basically just rumors and -- and stuff that's been proven to be false.
I mean, you -- you say that -- that President Obama didn't release college records. That's true. He hasn't released college records. But, under federal law, the schools can't release them, and he doesn't want to, for whatever reason. And you know what? George W. Bush didn't want to, for whatever reason, from Andover and from Yale.
You didn't seem to object about that. You have raised medical records issue, that he didn't fully release his medical records. Well, you know what? John McCain didn't fully release his medical records either. They both did in a very limited way.
BERMAN: Am I wrong when I say that the president has employed many, many lawyers and is spending millions of dollars to keep all these records from public view?
COOPER: Well, actually, sir, we don't know exactly what -- what -- what he spent the money -- first of all, I'm not sure it's millions. I think the record I saw was one-point-something million. And we don't know that the bulk of the work that the lawyer, the law firm he has obtained is -- is directed to this.
He's certainly being sued by a couple of people, and those lawsuits have gone nowhere. And, yes, he's -- he's, you know, paying lawyers for that. But we don't know if that -- all that money has gone for that. We just -- we just factually don't know that, so we can't say what -- what exactly...
BERMAN: Have the major media actually gone into an investigative mode to see if the president...
COOPER: Sir, this has been looked at for...
BERMAN: ... is really entitled...
COOPER: ... years and years.
BERMAN: ... to be the president of the United States?
COOPER: And -- and no court has supported this. Most legitimate, you know, observers of this, most people in the country have moved on from this and say, look, the president is a -- is a United States citizen.
BERMAN: Oh, I don't think most people have moved on.
I think either 50 percent -- even CNN polls have shown that 50 to 60 percent of the people of the United States do not believe that the president is eligible to be holding that office. COOPER: Sir, again, I'm sorry to -- to keep...
BERMAN: That's your own CNN poll, isn't it?
COOPER: All right, sir, OK, I have the CNN poll right here.
I hate to -- I hate to keep reading this. The CNN poll from July 16-21, all Americans, question, was Barack Obama born in the U.S.? The number of Americans who said definitely or probably, the percentage was 71 percent, definitely or probably no, 27 percent.
So, according to this poll, if you believe this poll, 71 percent of Americans believe probably or definitely that Barack Obama was born in the United States.
Admittedly, 30 -- 27 percent who don't believe it, that's a lot. That's a big number. But, again, just factually, you haven't shown me any fact that proves he's not, and -- and -- and you haven't been able to answer anything of -- any direct thing about the facts that you have brought up that have been wrong.
BERMAN: May I -- may I say that no major media has shown me any facts either?
I will give you my public mailing address, and you can send me the facts, if you would like to. But no one will send me the facts, the State Department, the public media, I mean the major media. I haven't seen anything yet. And I would like to see it. And I do extensive reading.
COOPER: But how much of this is about -- purely about politics? Because, look, you -- you -- you are a good person, and you have served your country remarkably in the military, and you're a public servant now.
But you're basing legislation on things which have been disproven. And you have said -- in the past, you said -- and I quote -- "I believe that Barack Obama's God punishment on us today."
Is this just about politics, that you don't like this guy, and, therefore, you're raising these objections about him?
BERMAN: Well, it's -- it's a lot more than politics.
Like you said, I did serve my country. And there is a lieutenant colonel who will be court-martialed in mid-December for refusing an order from a president who he believes is not the commander in chief of the United States military forces.
We also have a case in the U.S. Supreme Court -- I think it was started either yesterday or today -- based on the same information that we're discussing right now.
COOPER: But, so far, the Supreme Court has batted down attempts to -- to get -- I mean, most -- all courts have rejected these arguments. This -- this is going nowhere, other than in a few state legislatures.
BERMAN: Well, it's in the Supreme Court today, isn't it? Have they already completed the case?
COOPER: It -- it got thrown out. hit got thrown out. They're not going to take it.
BERMAN: Was that today?
COOPER: Yes, that was today.
BERMAN: Because I was listening for it.
COOPER: Yes. No, that was today.
BERMAN: OK. I didn't hear. I will have to -- I will have to check on it.
Well, I appreciate you coming on. If you could send us the Congressional Research Service document you have that talks about then young Mr. Obama traveling to Pakistan with the dates you gave us, I would appreciate if you would send it to us.
Leo Berman, Representative Leo Berman, I appreciate your time, sir. Thank you.
BERMAN: It's a pleasure. Thank you very much, Anderson.
COOPER: Well, Representative Berman, as we mentioned, we asked him to send us the copy of the Congressional Research Service report that he mentioned that talked about Pakistan. He didn't send us the report itself, which -- we actually found it on our own.
And, when you read through it, it actually concludes that the doubts that have been raised about the president's citizenship really don't hold water. That's what the Congressional Research Service report concluded.
Instead, what -- what Representative Berman sent us, what he was actually talking when he cited the CRS report was actually a critique of that report by a blogger. And in the critique -- critique that Mr. Berman sent us, the blog actually made no mention of President Obama's travel to Pakistan.
We did our own research. We found another article by the same blogger which did mention President -- then Barack Obama's travels to Pakistan in 1981. That much was correct. The blogger, however, said Mr. Obama couldn't have used a U.S. passport for that trip because Pakistan was on the United States' no-travel list in 1981.
That's just not true. An American could get a 30-day visa to travel in Pakistan in 1981. And that fact is easy for anyone to check.
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