This is third in the series of articles addressing the legal nature of that long form birth certificate purporting to establish President Barack Obama’s Hawaiian birth, released on April 27, 2011 in the form of both electronic images which were posted on the WhiteHouse.gov blog and, hard copies (of those same images) which were distributed to reporters. (This is all spelled out in the first 2 articles in the series, WHY PRESIDENT OBAMA WAITED until APRIL 27, 2011 to RELEASE a FACSIMILE of his LONG FORM BIRTH CERTIFICATE and WHY PRESIDENT OBAMA RELEASED the LONG-FORM IMAGE of his BIRTH CERTIFICATE in PDF versus JPEG, which are meant to be read before tackling the present post,) But the article I originally had in mind to follow these 2 required re-thinking when I received an email from azgo suggesting that “by reading the ‘jbjd’ blog, [the Obama campaign] devised the [long-form birth certificate] scheme to make it look like the image came directly from HI; per our conversations [on this blog] about how state election officials should receive birth records directly from the state in which the candidate was born.” That got me to thinking. So, I looked for any articles referencing the distinction between a real identification document and a fake; which were posted here on “jbjd” before the 2012 re-election campaign launch in April 2011.
azgo could be right.
On January 3, 2011, I posted DE-CODER RINGS (1 of 2), which confirms that under the U.S. Code, images such as Barack Obama’s COLB appearing on his web site “Fight the Smears,” satisfy the expenditure disclosure requirements of an electronic political advertising campaign. Here is an excerpt from that post.
Here is just a partial index for TITLE 2 > CHAPTER 14 > SUBCHAPTER I, dealing with federal campaign funds.
DISCLOSURE OF FEDERAL CAMPAIGN FUNDS
- § 441d. Publication and distribution of statements and solicitations
(a) Identification of funding and authorizing sources
Whenever a political committee makes a disbursement for the purpose of financing any communication through any broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine, outdoor advertising facility, mailing, or any other type of general public political advertising, or whenever any person makes a disbursement for the purpose of financing communications expressly advocating the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate, or solicits any contribution through any broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine, outdoor advertising facility, mailing, or any other type of general public political advertising or makes a disbursement for an electioneering communication (as defined in section 434 (f)(3)
of this title), such communication—
(1) if paid for and authorized by a candidate, an authorized political committee of a candidate, or its agents, shall clearly state that the communication has been paid for by such authorized political committee, or 
(2) if paid for by other persons but authorized by a candidate, an authorized political committee of a candidate, or its agents, shall clearly state that the communication is paid for by such other persons and authorized by such authorized political committee; 
(3) if not authorized by a candidate, an authorized political committee of a candidate, or its agents, shall clearly state the name and permanent street address, telephone number, or World Wide Web address of the person who paid for the communication and state that the communication is not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee. (Emphasis added by jbjd.)
This was followed on January 12 by DE-CODER RINGS (2 of 2), which discussed the criminal implications of producing and distributing electronic images, such as that COLB, on campaign sites; but pretending, these are ‘the real thing.’ Here is a snippet from that article.
Here is just a partial index for TITLE 18 > PART I (CRIMES) > CHAPTER 47, FRAUD AND FALSE STATEMENTS. (We will only use Part 1 for this analysis but here is a link to Part II, FYI. PART II—CRIMINAL PROCEDURE (§§ 3001—3771).)
But to answer the question concerning the legality of the FTS COLB under the U.S. Code, we will be concentrating primarily on section 1028.
§ 1028. Fraud and related activity in connection with identification documents, authentication features, and information
(a) Whoever, in a circumstance described in subsection (c) of this section—
(1) knowingly and without lawful authority produces an identification document, authentication feature, or a false identification document;
(2) knowingly transfers an identification document, authentication feature, or a false identification document knowing that such document or feature was stolen or produced without lawful authority;
(4) knowingly possesses an identification document (other than one issued lawfully for the use of the possessor), authentication feature, or a false identification document, with the intent such document or feature be used to defraud the United States;
(7) knowingly transfers, possesses, or uses, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person with the intent to commit, or to aid or abet, or in connection with, any unlawful activity that constitutes a violation of Federal law, or that constitutes a felony under any applicable State or local law;
shall be punished as provided in subsection (b) of this section.
(c) The circumstance referred to in subsection (a) of this section is that—
(1) the identification document, authentication feature, or false identification document is or appears to be issued by or under the authority of the United States or a sponsoring entity of an event designated as a special event of national significance or the document-making implement is designed or suited for making such an identification document, authentication feature, or false identification document;
(2) the offense is an offense under subsection (a)(4) of this section; or
(A) the production, transfer, possession, or use prohibited by this section is in or affects interstate or foreign commerce, including the transfer of a document by electronic means; or
(B) the means of identification, identification document, false identification document, or document-making implement is transported in the mail in the course of the production, transfer, possession, or use prohibited by this section.
(d) In this section and section 1028A—
(1) the term “authentication feature” means any hologram, watermark, certification, symbol, code, image, sequence of numbers or letters, or other feature that either individually or in combination with another feature is used by the issuing authority on an identification document, document-making implement, or means of identification to determine if the document is counterfeit, altered, or otherwise falsified;
(2) the term “document-making implement” means any implement, impression, template, computer file, computer disc, electronic device, or computer hardware or software, that is specifically configured or primarily used for making an identification document, a false identification document, or another document-making implement;
(3) the term “identification document” means a document made or issued by or under the authority of the United States Government, a State, political subdivision of a State, a sponsoring entity of an event designated as a special event of national significance, a foreign government, political subdivision of a foreign government, an international governmental or an international quasi-governmental organization which, when completed with information concerning a particular individual, is of a type intended or commonly accepted for the purpose of identification of individuals
(4) the term “false identification document” means a document of a type intended or commonly accepted for the purposes of identification of individuals that—
(A) is not issued by or under the authority of a governmental entity or was issued under the authority of a governmental entity but was subsequently altered for purposes of deceit; and
(B) appears to be issued by or under the authority of the United States Government, a State, a political subdivision of a State, a sponsoring entity of an event designated by the President as a special event of national significance, a foreign government, a political subdivision of a foreign government, or an international governmental or quasi-governmental organization;
(5) the term “false authentication feature” means an authentication feature that—
(A) is genuine in origin, but, without the authorization of the issuing authority, has been tampered with or altered for purposes of deceit;
(B) is genuine, but has been distributed, or is intended for distribution, without the authorization of the issuing authority and not in connection with a lawfully made identification document, document-making implement, or means of identification to which such authentication feature is intended to be affixed or embedded by the respective issuing authority; or
(C) appears to be genuine, but is not;
(6) the term “issuing authority”—
(A) means any governmental entity or agency that is authorized to issue identification documents, means of identification, or authentication features; and
(B) includes the United States Government, a State, a political subdivision of a State, a sponsoring entity of an event designated by the President as a special event of national significance, a foreign government, a political subdivision of a foreign government, or an international government or quasi-governmental organization;
(7) the term “means of identification” means any name or number that may be used, alone or in conjunction with any other information, to identify a specific individual, including any—
(A) name, social security number, date of birth, official State or government issued driver’s license or identification number, alien registration number, government passport number, employer or taxpayer identification number;
(C) unique electronic identification number, address, or routing code; or
(D) telecommunication identifying information or access device (as defined in section 1029 (e));
(9) the term “produce” includes alter, authenticate, or assemble;
(10) the term “transfer” includes selecting an identification document, false identification document, or document-making implement and placing or directing the placement of such identification document, false identification document, or document-making implement on an online location where it is available to others;
(11) the term “State” includes any State of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and any other commonwealth, possession, or territory of the United States; and
(12) the term “traffic” means—
(A) to transport, transfer, or otherwise dispose of, to another, as consideration for anything of value; or
(B) to make or obtain control of with intent to so transport, transfer, or otherwise dispose of.
(f) Attempt and Conspiracy.— Any person who attempts or conspires to commit any offense under this section shall be subject to the same penalties as those prescribed for the offense, the commission of which was the object of the attempt or conspiracy.
On January 24, I posted HOW to WRITE SMART CANDIDATE ELIGIBILITY LAWS in your STATE (and make applying to get on the ballot harder than applying to get into Harvard). Here is an excerpt from that seminal article, in which I warn voters against accepting as true any candidate’s self-authentication to appear on the ballot. (This also contains a link to a comment in which I issued this same warning, more than 1 year earlier.)
5. NO MECHANISM INTENDED TO ESTABLISH ONLY ELIGIBLE CANDIDATES WILL BE ELECTED PRESIDENT WILL SUCCEED, WHICH RELIES ON CANDIDATE SELF-AUTHENTICATION. This has always seemed to me to be self-explanatory.
I refuse to focus on BO to establish HIS OWN eligibility. On FTS, the web site he started and for which he paid before becoming the D Corporation nominee for POTUS; he posted the COLB he said is an official document, which proves he is eligible for POTUS. ADMINISTRATOR
2010/01/05 at 20:33
In other words, stop asking Obama or anyone acting on his behalf but not in an official capacity; to get the man to produce anything! And do not under any circumstances accept as true, any document or facsimile any of these representatives not acting as the “issuing authority” introduces and claims is real!
Apparently, the usual “jbjd” readers hoping to hone their civics educations were not the only ones listening.
To see how that April 27, 2011 launch of the long form image of President Obama’s birth certificate conformed to these requirements of the U.S. Code with respect to campaign advertising and, at this same time, skirted criminal sanctions for document fraud; you can start by looking at the press gaggle that was held that morning. As no cameras or recording devices were allowed, I relied on this press release by WH Press Secretary Jay Carney, issued at 8:48 that morning and posted on the WhiteHouse.gov blog; to memorialize the scene. (Since I will only reference Mr. Carney’s release; after you read my article, I urge you to follow up by reading his, to see for yourself how the fact pattern spelled out in the U.S. Code, fits.)
Attending the early morning press gaggle were Carney; WH Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer; and WH Counsel Bob Bauer. First, a note about Mr. Bauer, who would leave that job in June 2011, 1 month after the long form launch.
President Barack Obama’s top lawyer at the White House, Bob Bauer, is quitting to return to his political law practice and represent Obama as his personal attorney and counsel to his re-election campaign….Bauer, a specialist in campaign finance, election law and ethics, is returning to the role as campaign counsel that he held when Obama ran for the presidency in 2008….
Bauer has been part of Obama’s circle since Obama was a freshman senator in Washington. He has long been a go-to lawyer for Democrats and is married to Anita Dunn, a Democratic operative who formerly served as Obama’s communications director…. He will also serve as counsel to the Democratic National Committee.
And this, from Perkins Coie.
Bob returned to the firm after a period of service to President Barack Obama as his White House Counsel from December of 2009 until June of 2011. He is now General Counsel to the President’s re-election committee, to Obama for America, and General Counsel to the Democratic National Committee.
Now, from the gaggle. (My editorial comments appear in orange. These are not intended to be exhaustive; I could have colored the whole exchange! Besides, once you get the hang of interpreting ‘Obama-speak’; you will be able to de-construct these remarks, on your own.)
In 2008 (the copyright date in the in the footer of FTS is 2007), in response to media inquiries, the President’s campaign (in June 2008, U.S. Senator Barack Obama was only the D Party Presidential nominee wannabe; and the image posted on his FTS web site, which was clearly marked “PAID FOR BY BARACK OBAMA, per campaign expenditure laws) requested his birth certificate from the state of Hawaii. We (the nominee’s campaign) received that document; we (the campaign) posted it on the website (FTS). That document was then inspected by independent fact checkers (lay staffers employed by Annenberg Political Fact Check), who came to the campaign headquarters and inspected the document — independent fact checkers did, and declared that it was proof positive that the President was born in Hawaii.
That essentially — for those of you who followed the campaign closely know that solved the issue. We didn’t spend any time talking about this after that….There may have been some very fringe discussion out there, but as a campaign issue it was settled and it was —
Q When you posted this did you post the other side of it where the signature is?
MR. PFEIFFER: Yes.
Q Because it is not here and that’s been an issue.
MR. PFEIFFER: We posted both sides and when it was looked at it was looked at by — the fact checkers came to headquarters and actually examined the document we had.
That settled the issue. In recent weeks, the issue has risen again as some folks have begun raising a question about the original — about the long-form birth certificate you now have in front of you. And Bob will explain why — the extraordinary steps we (the President’s 2012 re-election campaign) had to take to receive that and the legal restraints that are in place there.
But it became an issue again. … And the President believed that it was becoming a distraction from the major issues we’re having in this country. … And it was really a distraction. … That really struck the President, led him to ask his counsel to look into whether we could ask the state of Hawaii to release the long-form certificate, which is not something they generally do. (It’s not clear to me from Pfeiffer’s reference whom the President asked to look into this matter, since he uses no names. It’s not even clear whether by “counsel” he meant, lawyer or advisor. But, technically, WH Counsel Bauer represents the Office and not the man and so, is properly referred to as “WH Counsel.”)* And he did that despite the fact that it probably was not in his long-term — it would have been in his — probably in his long-term political interests to allow this birther debate to dominate discussion in the Republican Party for months to come. But he thought even though it might have been good politics, he thought it was bad for the country. And so he asked counsel (again, I don’t know to which counsel this refers) to look into this. *(Here’s a good article on the sometimes murky role of WH Counsel. White House Lawyer Role Faces Test.)
And now I’ll have Bob explain that, and then we’ll take your questions.
MR. CARNEY: I just want to — sorry, I meant to mention at the top, as some of you may have seen, the President will be coming to the briefing room at 9:45 a.m., making a brief statement about this — not taking questions, but just wanted to let you know.
MR. PFEIFFER: And he will use this as an opportunity to make a larger point about what this debate says about our politics.
Go ahead, Bob.
MR. BAUER: Early last week the decision was made to review the legal basis for seeking a waiver from the longstanding prohibition in the state Department of Health on releasing the long-form birth certificate. And so we undertook a legal analysis and determined a waiver request could be made that we had the grounds upon which to make that request. (Based on several descriptions of the job responsibilities of WH Counsel; it is totally appropriate for him to advise the President as to the legality of his conduct.)
And by Thursday of last week, I spoke to private counsel to the President and asked her to contact the State Department of Health and to have a conversation about any requirements, further requirements, that they thought we (meaning, anyone associated with this ploy) had to satisfy to lodge that waiver request (and simultaneously avoid breaking the law). She had that conversation with the state Department of Health on Thursday — counsel in question is Judy Corley at the law firm of Perkins Coie, (the law firm in which I was a partner before coming here and to which I will return shortly) and you have a copy of the letter she subsequently sent to the department with the President’s written request.
The department outlined the requirements for the President to make this request. He signed a letter making that request on Friday afternoon upon returning from the West Coast. And private counsel (presumably, he mean Ms. Corley) forwarded his written request — written, signed request — along with a letter from counsel (okay, I give up, I have no idea whom he means here), to the state Department of Health on Friday.
The department, as I understood it (plausible deniability here), after reviewing the law and reviewing the grounds asserted in the request, came to the conclusion that a waiver could be appropriately granted. We (those of us perpetrating this fraud, excluding the President) were advised that the long-form birth certificate (mock-up) could be copied and made available to us as early as Monday, April 25th — the day before yesterday. And we made arrangements for counsel to travel to Honolulu to pick it up and it was returned to the White House yesterday afternoon. (He keeps referring to the document as “it” but, in the letter provided to reporters, the President requested and received 2 copies of his long-form birth certificate, both certified.) (According to HI DoH instructions posted below, only 1 vital record per request!)
Let me emphasize again, there is a specific statute that governs access to and inspection of vital records in the state of Hawaii (as there is in every state)**. The birth certificate that we posted online is, in fact, and always has been, and remains, the (facsimile of a) legal birth certificate of the President (or anyone else) that would be used for all legal purposes that any resident of Hawaii would want to use a birth certificate for (and which could be used for that purpose if appropriately presented, for example, if displaying the official seal or, unaltered in any way).
However, there is legal authority in the department to make exceptions to the general policy on not releasing the long-form birth certificate. The policy in question, by the way, on non-release has been in effect since the mid-1980s, I understand. So while I cannot tell you what the entire history of exceptions has been, (for effect, I will nonetheless speculate) it is a limited one. This is one of very few that I understand have been granted for the reasons set out in private counsel’s letter (id.).
MR. PFEIFFER: We’ll be happy to take some questions.
Q I guess I just want to make sure that we’re clear on this. Even though this one says “certificate of live birth” on here, this is different than the other certificate of live birth that we’ve seen?
MR. PFEIFFER: Yes. The second page there is the one that was posted on the Internet.
MR. PFEIFFER: And that is a copy of the one that has been kept at the Hawaii Department of Health.
Q Okay. And this is the one that would be referred to — that people have been asking for that is the birth certificate?
MR. PFEIFFER: They are both — the second one is the birth certificate. The one on the top is what is referred to as the long-form birth certificate. As you can see — and Bob can walk you through it (again, doesn’t take a lawyer to explain this obvious difference between a certificate and a certification but it does add an official imprimatur to the ruse) — it contains some additional information that is not on the second page, which was the birth certificate which was released during the campaign.
If you could just explain the difference.
MR. BAUER: There’s a difference between a certificate and a certification. The certification is simply a verification of certain information that’s in the original birth certificate. The birth certificate, as you can see, has signatures at the bottom from the attending physician, the local registrar, who essentially oversees the maintenance of the records. It contains some additional information also — that is to say, the original birth certificate — it contains some additional information like the ages of the parents, birthplaces, residence, street address, the name of the hospital.
The core information that’s required for legal purposes and that is put into the actual certification that’s a computer-generated document, which we (the members of then U.S. Senator Barack Obama’s 2008 Presidential preference primary campaign) posted in 2008, that information is abstracted, if you will, from the original birth certificate, put into the computerized short-form certification, and made available to Hawaiian residents at their request.
So the long form, which is a certificate, has more information, but the short form has the information that’s legally sufficient for all the relevant purposes.
Q This first one has never been released publicly, correct?
MR. BAUER: That’s correct. It is in a bound volume in the records at the state Department of Health in Hawaii.
Q Bob, can you explain why President Obama let this drag on for four years? Was it Donald Trump that prompted you to issue this?
MR. BAUER: I’ll let Dan —
MR. PFEIFFER: Sure.
Q I know you expected that question, right? (Laughter.)
MR. PFEIFFER: He even said you would be the one who would ask it. (Laughter.)
I don’t think this dragged on for four years because this was a resolved — for those of you who remember the campaign, this issue was resolved in 2008. And it has not been an issue, none of you have asked about it, called about it, reported on it until the last few weeks.
And as I said earlier, it probably would have been — a lot of the pundits out there have talked about the fact that this whole birther debate has been really bad for the Republican Party and would probably be good for the President politically. But despite that, the President, as I said, was struck by how this was crowding out the debate, particularly around the budget, on important issues, and was an example of the sort of sideshows that our politics focuses on instead of the real challenges that we have to confront as a country.
And so that’s why he made this decision now, because it became an issue that transcended sort of this — it essentially was something that was talked about, as I said, from the nether regions of the Internet onto mainstream network newscasts. In fact, Jay has been asked about this just yesterday in this room.
Q So I guess the implication is that you did get political advantage by having not released this until today, over the course of the last four years?
MR. PFEIFFER: There has been — no one that I can recall actually asked us to — we were asked to release the President’s birth certificate in 2008. We did that. And then no one — it never — up until a few weeks ago, there was never an issue about that that wasn’t the birth certificate from any credible individual or media outlet. And it hasn’t been until — I mean, Jay was asked about this yesterday —
Q When you say that, you mean certification — you released the certification?
MR. PFEIFFER: When any Hawaiian wants — requests their birth certificate because they want to get a driver’s license, they want to get a passport, they do exactly what the President did in 2008. And that’s what that is. And we released that. And that’s what any Hawaiian would do to release their birth certificate. And that was good enough for everyone until very recently this became a question again. And so the President made this decision. He’ll talk to you more about his thinking on that.
Q And this is going to sound — I mean, you can just anticipate what people are going to — remain unconvinced. They’re going to say that this is just a photocopy of a piece of paper (since that is what this is), you could have typed anything in there. Will the actual certificate be on display or viewable at any — (laughter.)
Q Will the President be holding it?
MR. PFEIFFER: He will not, and I will not leave it here for him to do so. But it will — the State Department of Health in Hawaii will obviously attest that that is a — what they have on file. As Bob said, it’s in a book in Hawaii.
MR. BAUER: And you’ll see the letter from the director of the Health Department that states (“that” here refers to the letter, as in, “the letter states” and not, “the director of the Health Department states…”) that she oversaw the copy and is attesting to —
Q But do you understand that this could quiet the conspiracy theorists?
MR. PFEIFFER: There will always be some selection of people who will believe something, and that’s not the issue. The issue is that this is not a discussion that is just happening among conspiracy theorists. It’s happening here in this room; it’s happening on all of the networks. And it’s something that, as I said, every major political figure of both parties who’s actually out trying to talk about real issues is asked about this by the media. And so the President decided to release this. And I’ll leave it to others to decide whether there’s still — there will be some who still have a different — have a conspiracy about this.
Q You’ve got two certified copies, according to this study. You have these physical —
MR. PFEIFFER: Yes. I showed you one. Just one.
Q You showed us a photocopy of one.
MR. PFEIFFER: No, I showed you —
Q Does that have a stamp? (Apparently, the copy distributed to this reporter did not.)
MR. PFEIFFER: It has a seal on it.
Q Why does this rise to the level of a presidential statement?
MR. PFEIFFER: The President — this in itself — when you hear the President I think you’ll understand the point he’s making. That will be in not too long.
Q Did the President change his own mind about this? In other words, was he advocating during the campaign let’s just put it out there and get it over with, or was this an internal shift in thinking based — in other words, was it the President who steadfastly during the campaign said this is ridiculous, I don’t want to give this any more ground, and has now changed his mind? Or is this the —
MR. PFEIFFER: Let’s be very clear. You were there for the campaign. There was never a question about the original birth certificate during the campaign. It was a settled issue. (HA HA HA HA HA) I was there (in 2007) for the original decision to release the birth certificate (if we couldn’t steal the primary before people began asking questions about the candidate’s Constitutional eligibility for office). I was there (in June 2008) when we posted it online (because questions about his eligibility threatened to kill his chances at the nomination). I’m not sure I even knew there was an original one that was different than the one we posted online because it wasn’t an issue. (Liar liar, pants on fire.) So it wasn’t like — let’s be very clear. We were asked for the President’s birth certificate in 2008; we released the President’s birth certificate; and it was done. That was it.
And so there hasn’t been a discussion about this other document for years. It’s only been in the last few weeks. And so to your second question, the President decided to do this and he’ll talk about this when he gets here — decided to do it at the timeline that Bob (Bauer, the campaign law expert and WH Counsel) laid out (so as to protect everyone involved in this farce from criminal liability) because it was a — this was a sideshow that was distracting from the real challenges that we’re facing.
It’s not just a sideshow for him; it’s a sideshow for our entire politics (meaning, our re-election campaign) that have become focused on this.
Q Not to give Donald Trump more publicity than he has, but is he the person who sort of — sort of that bridge between what you’re calling a fringe and the mainstream? Do you think that he’s the reason why this tripped the switch to a level where you now have to deal with something you thought was dealt with?
MR. PFEIFFER: It’s not for me to say why mainstream media organizations began to cover this debate. They’ll have to answer that for themselves.
…Q Dan, was there a debate about whether or not this deserved being discussed by the White House, whether or not — and I’m going back to the birth certificate. I lose points, I understand. But was there debate about whether or not this was worthy of the White House?
MR. PFEIFFER: The point I’d make is that we weren’t the ones who — we’re not the first ones to bring this up in this room. Jay has been asked questions about this; the President has been asked about it in media interviews. And so that wasn’t a decision that we made, and the President made the decision to do this and he made the decision to — and when he comes down here this morning he’ll talk to you about why he thinks there’s an important point to be made here.
Q Is there a concern that more and more people were actually starting to believe its sideshow — I mean, people have been asking about –MR. CARNEY: I will let the President speak for himself, but what Dan was saying and I think is important is that the issue here is that the President feels that this was bad for the country; that it’s not healthy for our political debate, when we have so many important issues that Americans care about, that affect their lives, to be drawn into sideshows about fallacies that have been disproven with the full weight of a legal document for several years.
So, again, as Dan said, and a lot of political pundits have said, you could say that it would be good politics, smart politics, for the President to let this play out. He cares more about what’s good for the country. He wants the debate on the issues. He wants the focus on the issues that Americans care about.
Q Just quickly, back on the birth certificate, yesterday you said this was a settled issue. So —
MR. CARNEY: Well, as Dan said, again, it has been a settled issue.
MR. PFEIFFER: From a factual point of view, it’s absolutely a settled issue. But the fact that it was a settled issue did not keep it from becoming a major part of the political discussion in this town for the last several weeks here. So there’s absolutely no question that what the President released in 2008 was his birth certificate and answered that question, and many of your organizations have done excellent reporting which proved that to be the case. But it continued; the President thought it was a sideshow and chose to take this step today for the reasons Bob laid out.
Q Aside from the policy distractions that was presented, did you have some concern because it was sort of reaching back into the mainstream news coverage that this could become a factor in the 2012 election with centrist voters?
MR. PFEIFFER: No.
Q Just to clarify what this document is —
MR. PFEIFFER: This is the — the letter first and the two certified copies — this is one of those. This is the same thing you have a copy of as the first page of your packet.
Q How did it get here?
MR. PFEIFFER: As Bob said, it arrived by plane — the President’s personal counsel went to Hawaii and brought it back and we got it last night.
Q Last night?
MR. PFEIFFER: Last night.
Q What time?
MR. PFEIFFER: Between 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
Q When did you decide to do this gaggle?
MR. PFEIFFER: What’s that?
Q When was this gaggle put on — when was this planned?
MR. PFEIFFER: Whatever time you received your guidance suggesting that it would be “this time tomorrow morning.”
Q Are these letters supposed to demonstrate the legal steps that were involved in releasing it to the White House counsel?
MR. BAUER: The letters that you have, the personal request from the President, along with the accompanying letter from private counsel, is merely meant to document the legal path to getting the waiver of that policy so we could get the long-form certificate (as opposed to documenting an actual path undertaken to obtain a bona fide waiver from Director Fuddy on the date in the letter, resulting in her office’s production of a facsimile of a record on file with her office, evidencing Barack Obama was born in HI).
Q The waiver of Hawaii state government policy?
MR. BAUER: Right. The non-release of the long-form certificate, which has been in effect since the 1980s — a natural question would have been, well, what did you do to obtain the waiver, and those letters represent the request.
Q Well, isn’t it true that anybody who was born in Hawaii can write this letter? (Yes; of course.) I mean, that’s all there is to the waiver process?
MR. BAUER: No. Let me just explain once again because I also noticed, by the way, in one report already the wrong certificate was actually posted on the website. The certificate with the signatures at the bottom — and that’s a key difference between the short form and the long form — the long form has signatures at the bottom from the attending physician, the local registrar, and the mother, is the original birth certificate, which sits in a bound volume in the State Department of Health.
The short from is a computerized abstract, and that’s the legal birth certificate we requested in 2008 and that Hawaiians are entitled to. Since the mid-1980s, the State Department of Health, for administrative reasons, only provides to people who request their birth certificate the short form. They do not provide the long form.
So in order for us to obtain the long form, we had to have a waiver (which, as you astutely pointed out, only required writing the letter requesting that waiver). We had to actually determine that there was a legal basis for providing it, and then ask them to exercise their authority to provide us with the long form. The steps required to accomplish that were a letter from the person with the direct and vital interest — the President — so you have a letter from the President (with no file reference code for document processing, archiving, or retrieval) , and then there was an accompanying letter from counsel basically formalizing the request. (I cannot figure out the angle on that one. Obviously, unless the President, here, the Requestor of the Record, has been adjudged to be mentally incompetent and placed under the guardianship of Attorney Corley, he doesn’t need her to ‘formalize’ anything! Maybe Bauer is still trying to fool reporters into believing getting the waiver so as to obtain a certified copy of a long form birth certificate is a big deal. Ideas?) So the reason we included that is that those were legal steps we took to obtain the long form by way of this waiver.
Q Do we have the letter from the President —
MR. BAUER: It’s in the packet.
Q And you went to Hawaii?
MR. BAUER: I did not go to Hawaii. The counsel, Judy Corley, who signed the — the President’s personal counsel at Perkins Coie, Judy Corley, whose letter — signed letter of request is in your packet, traveled to Honolulu and picked up the birth certificate. (Notice that now, he manages albeit awkwardly, to avoid saying either, ‘Ms. Corley signed the letter,’ or ‘Ms. Corley made this request to the HI DoH.’ Because saying that the President’s lawyer did these things is tantamount to saying, the President did these things. And as you just read, when it comes to the President and these long form shenanigans; the campaign, under the watchful eye of WH Counsel Bauer, is preserving a ‘hands off’ approach.) (434 (f)(3) of TITLE 2 > CHAPTER 14 > SUBCHAPTER I, DISCLOSURE OF FEDERAL CAMPAIGN FUNDS, is worth a read. While I didn’t use that section of campaign finance laws with respect to the FTS web site; it might apply here, to the cost of that campaign trip to HI to retrieve the campaign document. As for the gaggle being a “campaign communication,” well, since there is no record; and since otherwise ‘official’ topics were also discussed, by non-campaign staff; I am not sure what approach the DoJ would take for the purpose of determining whether illegal campaigning was going on from the WH.)
Thanks.END 9:18 A.M. EDT
** According to the web site of the HI DoH, here’s how to request certified copies of vital information.
How to Apply for Certified Copies of Vital Records
What Information You Should Be Prepared to Provide
An applicant/requestor must provide the information needed to 1) establish his/her direct and tangible interest in the record and 2) locate the desired record. This will normally include:
- Applicant’s name, address, and telephone number(s);
- Applicant’s relationship to the person named on the certificate;
- Reason why you are requesting the certificate;
- Full name(s) as listed on the certificate; (not provided)
- The certificate’s file number (if known); (not provided)
- Month, day, and year of the event; (not provided) and
- City or town and the island where the event occurred. (not provided)
- For birth certificates, also provide the full name of the father and the full maiden name of the mother. (not provided)
- If you are applying for a certificate on behalf of someone else, you must provide an original letter signed by that person authorizing the release of their certificate to you and a photocopy of that person’s valid government-issued photo ID. (not provided)
- Valid government-issued photo ID. (not provided)
On the other hand, maybe all you want is a letter.
Letters of Verification
Letters of verification may be issued in lieu of certified copies (HRS §338-14.3). This document verifies the existence of a birth/death/civil union/marriage/divorce certificate on file with the Department of Health and any other information that the applicant provides to be verified relating to the vital event. (For example, that a certain named individual was born on a certain date at a certain place.) The verification process will not, however, disclose information about the vital event contained within the certificate that is unknown to and not provided by the applicant in the request.
Letters of verification are requested in similar fashion and using the same request forms as for certified copies.
The fee for a letter of verification is $5 per letter.
Either way, you can download an application form directly from the site.
Thus, summing up these first 3 articles in the series, by clearly identifying both orally and in writing, the ‘birth’ documents distributed at the press gaggle and displayed on the WhiteHouse.gov blog are part of the “campaign”; by explicitly stating no public funds were expended in obtaining these documents; by making sure that any ‘official (looking)’ seal from the HI DoH did not appear on copies of documents distributed to the public; by distributing the documents to the public but not to a government official under the guise, this was a bona fide representation of the ‘facts’ contained therein; and by separating the campaign function from the traditional function of the Executive branch; and by transporting the false document via airplane instead of the U.S. mail; President Obama’s team likely skirted criminal violations of both campaign expenditure and public records laws.
Or did they…
(The next article in the series focuses on President Obama’s remarks immediately following this press gaggle; and the nature of comments, both oral and written, with respect to the President’s vital records, attributed over time to state of HI employees.)