Donald Trump Suggests Marco Rubio May Not Be Eligible To Be President
Donald Trump is trolling the depths of the Internet's conspiracy dungeons once again. This time to raise the largely absurd argument that Marco Rubio may not be eligible to serve as President.
Nearly two months after he questioned Ted Cruz’s eligibility to be President, Donald Trump is now doing the same thing to Marco Rubio:
Donald Trump is now raising questions about Marco Rubio’s ability to legally run for president.
On Saturday, Trump retweeted a tweet that suggested the Florida senator was not a citizen, George Stephanopoulos asked him about it on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday morning
Rubio was born in Florida on May 28, 1971. His parents had come to the United States from Cuba in 1950s. Trump retweeted a tweet on Saturday that suggested both Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz were ineligible to be president.
There is a lawsuit pending in Broward County, Florida, challenging the eligibility of both Cruz and Rubio — Cruz because of where he was born, Rubio because of where his parents were born.
“I think the lawyers have to determine that that — and not— it was a retweet, not so much with Marco. I’m not really that familiar with Marco’s circumstances,” Trump said Sunday morning.
“But then why retweet it?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“Because I’m not sure. I mean, let people make their own determination. I know Ted is being now — I think he’s being sued by somebody having nothing to do with me, by the way,” Trump said.
“You’re really not sure that Marco Rubio is eligible to run for president? You’re really not sure?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“I don’t know. I really — I’ve never looked at it, George. I honestly have never looked at it. As somebody said, he’s not. And I retweeted it. I have 14 million people between Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and I retweet things, and we start dialogue and it’s very interesting,” Trump said.
Shortly after the New Year, of course, Donald Trump hinted that Ted Cruz might not be legally eligible to run for President due to the fact that he was born in Canada. At the time, Trump claimed he was merely trying to be helpful in seeking to avoid a crisis in which Cruz became the nominee and was subsequently the subject of lawsuits regarding his eligibility. In reality, of course, the attacks coincide with a point at which Cruz was rising in the polls in both Iowa and nationally. Trump’s attacks on Cruz’s birth, which were parallel to other attacks on Cruz coming from Trump and his supporters were obviously calculated to raise doubts about Cruz in the minds of voters and, to a large degree, those attacks worked as we saw Cruz’s poll numbers decline while Trump’s rose yet again despite his descent into a new form of birtherism. More recently, as the Trump and Cruz campaigns were involved in the back and forth of the battle that took place between the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries, Trump suggested that he might sue Cruz over his citizenship on his own. Trump’s threats about a lawsuit, of course, are basically empty threats but the back-and-forth between Trump and Cruz on the birth issue, along with the media attention it garnered have resulted in a series of lawsuits across the country challenging Cruz’s eligibility to be on the Presidential ballot that remain outstanding at this point. In any case, those lawsuits will likely go nowhere since the parties bringing them have no standing and, even if the Court does get to the merits in any of these cases, it’s clear that Cruz is in fact a ‘natural born citizen’ as that term is used in the Constitution.
In Rubio’s case, the arguments against his citizenship are, if anything, more meritless than those that were directed at President Obama and Senator Cruz. In Obama’s case, of course, the argument was largely based on the false assertion that the President was not born in Hawaii as all of the evidence clearly demonstrated, but was in fact born in Kenya, and that he was therefore not eligible to claim citizenship from birth due to the fact that, although his mother was an American citizen, she had not spent enough of her life as a resident of the United States as required by the citizenship statute in place at the time. All of this, of course, was thoroughly discredited in April 2011 when the White House released a certified copy of the President’s Hawaiian birth certificate. In Cruz’s case, the claim was the Cruz was not eligible to be President because of his birth in Canada, but it is clear that Cruz became a citizen at birth due to the fact that his mother was a both a citizen of the United States and, although she lived in Canada at the time she gave birth to Senator Cruz, had been a resident of the United States for the time required under the law prior to his birth.
Marco Rubio, though, doesn’t suffer from any of these problems. There is no question whatsoever that Marco Rubio was born on May 28, 1971 in Miami, Florida. Based on that fact alone, that made him a citizen at birth pursuant to both the relevant citizenship law in effect at the time and the provision of Section I of the Fourteenth Amendment which provides that all persons born in the territory of the United States are citizens from birth. The only exceptions are for those situations where the child, through its parents, are not “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States, such as when someone in the U.S. on a diplomatic visa gives birth on U.S. soil, an exception that does not apply to Rubio. Therefore, the argument that he isn’t a ‘natural born citizen’ would seem to be dead in the water.
As with all things related to the fringe conspiracy theories that inhabit the world in which birthers dwell, however, the argument doesn’t stop there.
In Rubio’s case, the claim that he is not a ‘natural born citizen’ relies upon a definition of that term given by a Swiss legal philosopher named Emmerich de Vatel. Under this definition, in order for a child to be a ‘natural born citizen,’ both parents must have been citizens at the time of the child’s birth. Since Rubio’s parents were, at the time of his birth, still simply legal resident aliens who had not yet attained citizenship, this argument claims, Rubio cannot be a ‘natural born citizen.’ Moreover, it’s worth noting that, under this de Vatel definition, and not counting Obama, the United States has had four Presidents since 1820 who had at least one parent who was not an American citizen at the time of their birth — Andrew Jackson, James Buchanan, Chester Alan Arthur, and Herbert Hoover. At no time did anyone make the argument that any of these men were not ‘natural born citizens.’
An argument that bases itself on Vatel’s definition of ‘natural born citizen’, though, is fatally flawed because there is no evidence at all that it served as the basis for the eligibility provision in Article II of the Constitution. For one thing, the edition of the work in which de Vatel developed this definition of the phrase wasn’t translated into English and published outside of Switzerland until ten years after the Constitution was drafted. More importantly, there is no indication in any of the notes of the debates from the 1787 Constitutional Convention kept by James Madison, or the less detailed notes kept by other participants in the debate, that there was ever any mention made of Vatel’s work during the course of the debate. Instead of the work of a Swiss philosopher, it’s obvious from contemporaneous notes that the Founders were most influenced by English Common Law, which recognized citizenship at birth for children born within the territory of England, subject to exceptions that are not relevant to Rubio’s case. Additionally, the very first law dealing with citizenship passed by the First Congress, which include many of the same men who had helped draft the Constitution, provided that a child could claim citizenship if only one of their parents was a citizen at birth. With the exception of the children of slaves and Native Americans, the law at the time also provided that children born in the United States were considered citizens at birth. Given this, it defies logic to believe that the Founders had some other definition of citizenship in mind when they used the term ‘natural born citizen’ in the Constitution. Either you are a citizen from the time you are born or you become a citizen through the process of naturalization. There is no other class of citizenship, and no special class of citizenship granted by the law to people who happen to have two parents who are U.S. citizens as opposed to just one. Obviously, the term “natural born citizen” as it is used in the Constitution was meant to refer to the first kind of citizen, the person who is a citizen from the time of their birth, and that since Rubio was a citizen merely because he was born in the United States, it’s obvious that he’s eligible to serve as President.
As with the attacks on Cruz, it’s obvious that Trump has ulterior motives in unleashing this suggestion about Rubio at this time. With the winnowing process in the race for the GOP nomination nearly complete, we are now at the point where a Trump-Rubio battle for votes is more and more likely. Raising this issue now has the same purpose as raising the argument about Cruz did back in January, to raise doubts about the candidate in the minds of voters in an effort to blunt his momentum in the polls. Whether it will work or not remains to be seen.
Rubio wants to force rape victims to give birth and lower taxes on the comfy and lazy. So he is ineligible.
Trump is in the right here. He was also in the right with the Pope – if you can have your faith questioned for wanting to build a wall, you should have your faith questioned for being a hateful bigot or dehumanizing women as well, but the Pope only called out Trump.
I also question whether Rubio is eligible. I think he is a member of a junior college debate club with a fake id, and doesn’t meet the age requirement.
Sometimes I think the GOP opposition to Trump is just too polite.
Seriously, what would happen if, say Rubio, said directly to Trump something on the order of:
“You’re questioning my citizenship? Eat sh*t. We’re tired of your nauseous bullsh*t.”
Really, I suspect that there would be very little negative fallout, in fact, a guy like Rubio would probably gain points for being ‘strong’ and ‘speaking his mind.’
The Republican frontrunner, ladies and gentleman.
He’s “not sure” and he has “honestly…never looked at it,” but he’s hitting post anyway.
He has “14 million people between Twitter and Facebook and Instagram” and thinks they’re are all fools. We’re doomed.
(To be fair: 13 million of them are!)
The claims that Cruz and Rubio aren’t natural born citizens is ludicrous. But it is fun to watch.
Doug can you pass the popcorn and if you’re headed to the kitchen, grab a couple of more beers?
Till now, the Donald has gone pretty lightly on Rubio, that is changing.
Today on Meet the Press, Trump’s response to a question about what he said concerning the Iraq war was: “Who knows what was in my head?”
Rubio’s got nothing to worry about, because this kind of baseless, racist accusation would only work if he were a browned skinned Latino running for the nomination of a party where a plurality of the voters were racists nincompoops and…. oh wait a minute.
Anchor babies are citizens by birth — that’s what makes them anchors. I know that Trump wants to change that, but unless he goes back in time and changes it, Rubio will continue to be a natural born citizen.
Cruz, on the other hand, I’m not sure about. I don’t think the founding fathers had considered the scenario of someone living abroad for a few years and hooking up with a foreigner there. Cruz’s citizenship comes from acts of congress, not from the constitution, so I think there is some reasonable debate, just as there would be if Obama were born in Kenya.
I think the provision is silly and ill defined, so it should be amended out of the constitution and we should be able to elect any citizen President, but it amuses me that it is used to besmirch Cruz first.
Cruz isn’t a natural born citizen — sorry, but he isn’t — but Rubio certainly is.
Rubio’s parents’ birthplace and citizenship are irrelevant. Unless his parents were foreign diplomats or part of an occupation force, he gets citizenship because he was born here, no matter what.
I’m sure that Trump’s lawyers are well aware of this, so he is, too. But the average wingnuts who claims to love the constitution is too busy misinterpreting the 2nd and 10th amendments to read the 14th. (Then again, I thought that the right-wingers hated “anchor babies” precisely because of their jus soli citizenship.)
The Naturalization Act of 1790, passed by the First Congress, which was made up of many of the the same men who drafted the Constitution, passed a law providing that children born abroad became citizens at birth as long as one of their parents was an American citizen. That is strong evidence right there of how to answer the Ted Cruz question based on what they meant by ‘natural born citizen.’
Trump would gain three points in the polls, that’s what would happen.
Really, I think Doug is being too kind here. This is just racism from Trump. Rubio is latino. Therefore, Rubio is foreign. It’s really that simple.
Since when do we base our understanding of the Constitution on statutes that were repealed 220 years ago while George Washington was still president?
In any case, the fact that they needed a statute to define it should tell you that it wasn’t part of the common law. Let’s remember that Congress had the power to naturalize, not the authority to give citizenship to those who naturally already had it.
The fact that they repealed the statute after five years and didn’t include it in subsequent changes to the statute would indicate that they had reconsidered it and changed their minds. Didn’t take them very long, either.
Oh this is nothing…wait until you see the sexism from Trump once he’s running directly against Hillary…
Your argument that “the fact that they needed a statute to define it should tell you that it wasn’t part of the common law” makes no sense at all, especially since at the time the 1790 act was passed both the US and Great Britain were in the process of codifying much of what was known as “Common Law” so that there was more certainty regarding what the law actually was. Additionally, the Constitution’s grant to Congress of the power to determine naturalization quite obviously also includes the power to define who is and who is not a citizen.
@An Interested Party:
That will be his only line of attack, won’t it: That she’s old and ugly (by his standards). He’s incapable of debating anyone on policy issues.
Trump, The Insult Candidate.
No, under the common law, jus soli citizenship was a given. There was no statute because it wasn’t necessary.
Naturalization is the process of giving citizenship to people who wouldn’t have it without an act of Congress. (No, that does not necessarily require filling out a form.) Congress was not given the power to decide whether those who were born on US soil were citizens (although this was limited at the time to whites.)
The 1790 nationality law didn’t touch on the subject of citizenship for the native born because it didn’t have to. It did have to address the foreign born because in the absence of a statute that declared them as being natural born, they would not have been.
LOL great, we’re enabling this silly argument again.
@HarvardLaw92: No kidding. The horse is already dead, further beating is pointless.
Well, that’s not what the Naturalization Act says.
So, someone born abroad with an American mother and a father who had never been resident in the United States would not become a natural born citizen at birth.
Rafael Cruz had been resident in the United States in the late 50’s and early 60’s, but have you seen any evidence that he’s the father of Ted Cruz? Like a paternity test? Because if, and I say if, he’s not and Cruz’s real father is someone who has never been resident in the United States, then Cruz is not a natural born citizen.
Trump just understands what will resonate with a considerable percentage of republican voters.
Yes…bigotry and ignorance. It’s well documented that he speaks at a fourth grade level.
Hopefully, Trump is aware that Hillary Clinton was born in Illinois (in the US) to US citizen parents so this line of attack, which is becoming an odd and unexpected favorite of his, won’t work on her.
Also, Trump’s mother was Scottish, born in Scotland. Is he disqualifying himself with this particular line of reasoning?
This entire argument, including the nonsense that Cruz isn’t a natural-born citizen, is becoming incredibly tiresome. If only we had a full Court to determine its validity…
@Doug Mataconis: Is it possible that the title of the act–The Natualization (ahem) Act–argues against your conclusion?
@Doug Mataconis: if you are a natural born citizen, do you need an act of congress to naturalize you?
I don’t think we have a clear answer to that in the courts, because no one ever cared — other than the Presidency, is there anything else that required a natural born citizen?
If not (and I cannot think of anything else with this requirement) it only mattered for about 100 plausible candidates over the course of our country’s history. Our only foreign born Presidential candidate in the modern era was McCain, and he was clearly born on American territory. (Romney’s dad didn’t get the nomination, and he was before the era of attacking the legitimacy of a candidate or president)
@Jen: oh, that would a WONDERFUL line to push forth–that Trump, if he sincerely believes Rubio is ineligible, needs to explain upon what basis he considers himself eligible….
Minor v. Happersett:
At common law, with the nomenclature of which the framers of the Constitution were familiar, it was never doubted that all children born in a country of parents who were its citizens became themselves, upon their birth, citizens also. These were natives or natural-born citizens, as distinguished from aliens or foreigners. Some authorities go further and include as citizens children born within the jurisdiction without reference to the citizenship of their parents. As to this class there have been doubts, but never as to the first.
This passage is cited in the majority opinion of Wong Kim Ark:
And if, at common law, all human beings born within the ligeance of the King, and under the King’s obedience, were natural-born subjects, and not aliens, I do not perceive why this doctrine does not apply to these United States, in all cases in which there is no express constitutional or statute declaration to the contrary. . . . Subject and citizen are, in a degree, convertible terms as applied to natives, and though the term citizen seems to be appropriate to republican freemen, yet we are, equally with the inhabitants of all other countries, subjects, for we are equally bound by allegiance and subjection to the government and law of the land.
We do have case law on it, it just conveniently gets ignored.
The two cases deal with different issues, but they are both essentially saying the same thing with respect to the meaning of natural-born:
-There are two types of citizens: natural-born and naturalized
-Natural-born means native born, and that definition comes from common law
-Naturalization comes from Congress via statute
If you look at British views of their legal history, the Brits would tell you that Britain had jus soli citizenship from common law and that children born abroad to British subjects were aliens under the common law, but that there were acts of Parliament that allowed at least some of them to be naturalized. The US borrowed its system from Britain.
It’s not really unclear at all, but many modern people find it to be distasteful and simply don’t want to believe it.
To be honest , I think there is a legitimate dispute as to whether Cruz is a ” natural born citizen”. Certainly , such people as Laurence Tribe believe the question is unsettled, and you should probably just concede that the issue is unsettled, while stating that in your opinion, Cruz is a natural born citizen. One thing is for sure, the courts will have to decide the issue at some point this year.
I agree it is clear Rubio is “natural born”. It’s also clear that Trump will exploit this and also hint that Rubio can’t be trusted in the issue of immigration, because he is in some sense a foreigner. This is the end result of what happens when the Republican Party decided to deliberately pander to racists and xenophobes. They are now eating their own.
Do we know whether Trump was naturally born? Perhaps his mother had a C-section, or he came out backwards or something… We just don’t have enough information.
And his mother was Scottish. Do we even know for sure that his father is who he claims it is? I mean no disrespect to Mr. Trump (if that is indeed his real name), but without a paternity test, how will we ever really know?
Perhaps he was switched as an infant with the bastard son of Portuegese royalty. Or some kind of yeti with a combover?
With all these questions, how can anyone say he is eligible to be president?
If memory serves, Tribe said that if one goes by Cruz’s supposed preferred translation of the constitution (not the one used in modern jurisprudence and not the one subscribed to by Tribe), then it is likely Cruz would not be eligible as a natural born citizen. By any likely modern court, up to and including the SC, Cruz is a natural born citizen.
It is fun to use Cruz’s own ridiculous interpretation of the constitution to skewer him though.
According to Rick Perlstein’s book Nixonland, a mysterious pamphlet was being circulated at the time stating, “Supreme Court Declares Romney Not Qualified Under the Constitution.”
(When I told my dad this anecdote, without missing a beat he said, “Nixon wrote the pamphlet.”)
Really? Are you sure? Has he released his birth certificate? I’m pretty sure he hasn’t. I have a feeling that sooner or later Trump is going to bring this up.
Not sure if it’s apocryphal or not, but there is a story that when asked if he was a natural born citizen Rubio burst out in song……..
I’m a man
I’m a full grown man
I’m a man
I’m a natural born lovers man
I’m a man child
I’m a rollin’ stone
I’m a man child
I’m a hoochie coochie man
Sittin’ on the outside, just me and my mate
You know I’m made to move you honey
Come up 2 hours late
Was that a man?
I spell M-A- child -N
That represents man
No B-O- child -Y
That mean mannish boy
@CSK: I finally got around to watching Game Change tonight, and was stunned by how much has changed since 2008. At that time, no matter how noxious their views, major Republican politicians at least cared about policy, and McCain’s campaign staff were horrified to discover how little Sarah Palin knew. How far they have fallen…
Teach the controversy 2.0.
OT…an interesting take on Scalias legacy:
The question is, can Rubio survive a Trump attack?
Considering Rubio has been bullied by almost everyone in the campaign, the answer most likely is “no.”
All Trump has to do is mention the “Rubio Family Cartel” and suggest Rubio wants to run the United States like a Mexican druglord. He can insinuate dirty drug deals between Rubio and his brother-in-law, who’s currently serving time for cocaine trafficking. He’ll mention Rubio wants to grant amnesty for “his people” and watch the White Citizens’ Council types that currently infest the Republican Party literally run away from Rubio as fast as possible.
You can’t build your party on white tribal identify politics and then casually expect those same voters to not be suspicious of the Latino candidates the party establishment is backing. You can’t beat a drum of worshiping wealthy people and business leaders and then gasp in horror when one starts succeeding with voters. You can’t whine about political correctness and multiculturalism and then boggle incredulously when Trump starts demolishing your outreach to minority voters.
Trump is the logical endgame for the Republican Party.
Rubio speaks perfect Spanish. He could travel to any Spanish Speaking country and no one would think that he is an American. He is also very relatable for Hispanics. Basically, he is really Hispanic(Unlike Ted Cruz, that speaks like a Southern preacher).
So, it´s easy to use the “alien” card against him.
Much of the US Hispanic population is of Mexican origin; relatively few are of Cuban origin. The two groups aren’t exactly fond of each other on a cultural level, and the Cuban-Americans tend to be less concerned about creating immigrant-friendly policies because they aren’t threatened with deportation.
Given (a) the fact that the Founders were until recently colonial subjects of a global empire many of whose merchants, soldiers and sailors did that routinely and (b) that several of them themselves had spent time living abroad in England, France, Russia, and other countries, of course they had.
The Founders were also suspicious of foreigners, and passed laws during the 1790s that made it increasingly difficult to become a citizen.
The United States is a land of contradictions. This is a country that worships the Enlightenment thinkers who founded it and spends vast sums on higher education while it props up anti-intellectualism. A nation founded by immigrants who bash on the next generation of immigrants. A country that institutionalized slavery and Jim Crow and that slaughtered the native peoples yet can’t stop talking about freedom. This sort of cognitive dissonance is runs deep.
Frankly, this whole citizenship circus has such an easy out. Just have the Department of Homeland Security take a sample of every current citizen’s blood (it’d be like a national blood drive), and anytime someone’s citizenship is questioned they can have their blood sampled to be compared with the Red Archive. But nooo, conspiratards would be all like, “I ain’t lettin’ no big gubmint take my blood!”
@Pch101: I´m a Brazilian that does not like Spanish with the infamous Miami accent. Regardless of his horrible neocon ideas, Marco Rubio easily connects with me.
But Rubio doesn’t connect with much of the American Hispanic electorate, hence my point.
The fact that Mexicans and Cubans don’t care much for each other very much is one of the reasons. The older Cuban-Americans have an obsession with anti-communism not shared by Mexican-Americans. The two groups also have different attitudes about immigration (Mexican-Americans see immigration policy as a source of persecution, while Cubans receive the proverbial welcome mat and don’t feel the same). Being Hispanic is not enough to flip a Democratic-leaning Latino to the GOP.
@cd6: “would only work if he were a browned skinned Latino running for the nomination of a party where a plurality of the voters were racists nincompoops”
Rubio’s not running as a Democrat.
Oh really? That’s quite amusing considering the fact that of all the major candidates, it is someone running in the Republican primary who is being openly supported by racist organizations…
@Gustopher: Anchor babies are citizens by birth — that’s what makes them anchors.”
In a certain sense – I knew a woman who was having marital problems; if she got a divorce, she could have been deported. Her son, who was born in the USA could sponsor her – when he hit 18 or 21 years of age.
@Pch101: “In any case, the fact that they needed a statute to define it should tell you that it wasn’t part of the common law.
Meaning that murder, robbery, burglary, [another 1,000 items skipped to save space] are not part of common law.
I continue to be amazed at how bad people like you are at being even jail lawyers.
@Pch101: “No, under the common law, jus soli citizenship was a given. There was no statute because it wasn’t necessary.”
I would like to see proof of your fascinating theory.
@Gustopher: “…if you are a natural born citizen, do you need an act of congress to naturalize you?”
The fact that ‘natural born citizen’ was not clear answers your question. Note that (as covered previously on this blog) the British parliament also felt the need to clarify what was what.
That isn’t what happened. Parliament passed (and repealed) various acts to extend citizenship to aliens, including the children born abroad to Brits.
The only people who were entitled to citizenship under common law were those who were born on British soil (which included overseas territories that were part of the dominion and British vessels.) Exceptions were made for the children born to those on overseas postings, such as ambassadors and the monarchs. Some aliens could become citizens through naturalization, but aliens were not natural born (i.e. entitled to it.)
There is a lot of confusion on these posts between being a citizen and a natural born citizen, but they had no such confusion during the 18th century. They also felt free to change the definition when they felt like it, and to repeal it when they felt like it, but the fact that it could be changed by statute would also tell you that it could be repealed by statute. That’s the thing about statutes — they aren’t permanent.
Scroll up for just some examples.
You don’t understand what common law is.