Updated: 5:10 p.m. | Rep. Markwayne Mullin signaled Thursday that he does not think President Barack Obama was born in the United States but said it’s too late to do anything about it — calling it a “dead issue” and saying “we lost that argument on Nov. 6.”
At a Thursday town hall meeting in Mullin’s Oklahoma district, the freshman Republican fielded a question from a self-described “Birther princess.”
The woman, who brought documents from Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s investigation into Obama’s birth certificate, asked Mullin what he knew about “Obama’s identification fraud.”
When Mullin said it was “dead issue,” the woman replied “No, it’s not,” and tried to give Mullin a 71-page affidavit from the Arpaio investigation.
Mullin refused the documents, saying, "Honestly, I don't, I don’t even give …"
An earlier version of this story reported that Mullin said, “Honestly, I don’t even give a shit."
Mullin’s communications director, Ashley Kehl, objected, saying we misheard the comments and that Mullin said “Honestly, I — don’t even give it to me.”
Since we have a video, we’ll let readers judge for themselves. (The disputed words come at about the 30-second mark.)
Whatever Mullin said to the activist at that point, his larger message was clear. “I believe what you’re saying,” Mullin said to the woman. “And I don’t support this president whatsoever.” Mullin clarified that he was not “defending this guy,” but he asked the audience whether they had “ever seen those Christians that are on the street corners that are screaming scriptures at cars as they drive by?”
“Yes,” a man in the audience said sheepishly.
Mullin said he believes those individuals “got great intentions. I believe, honestly, that they are Christian individuals. But let me ask you something: Are they doing any good?”
But the woman, sensing that Mullin was questioning whether she was doing any good, said Obama is a fraud who is acting above the law.
“Guys, it has nothing to do with anybody being above the law,” Mullin shot back. "We had four years to take care of that.
“If the rest of the American people thought that was a big enough issue, which I thought it probably would’ve been, who would’ve thought we would ever actually be questioning if we had a natural-born president being president?”
Contacted on Friday, Kehl told CQ Roll Call that her boss is not a birther. She also said that the Kehl said the liberal blog ThinkProgress, which first posted the exchange, had cut out part of the video.
"They have, in my opinion, spliced the video to paint my boss as a birther," she said, adding that it's an inference that Mullins is a birther.
Pressed on whether that inference was a major leap given Mullin's comments, Kehl said she was not "going to argue with the words in the video."
"He has never come out as a birther in the history of his tenure in D.C.," she said.
Mullin is the latest GOP lawmaker to raise doubts about Obama's place of birth. Earlier in the week, Florida Rep. Ted Yoho said he would back legislation from Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, that would, according to Yoho, "look into the birth certificate" issue.