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Donald Trump shouldn’t be allowed to use Rudy Giuliani as a human shield on birtherism.

Brian Blanco/Getty Images

The Republican nominee says he doesn’t want to talk about it. Instead he has deployed Giuliani to try and quash the issue. Last night on Chris Matthews’s show, the former New York mayor spluttered, Donald Trump believes now that [Obama] was born in the United States.” But when pressed by Matthews as to when Trump came to this conclusion, Giuliani gave inconsistent answers, saying it happened two, three, or even five years ago.

In point of fact, Trump has never publicly renounced birtherism. To have Giuliani do so on Trump’s behalf is simply not acceptable. Trump launched his political career by embracing a racist conspiracy theory about America’s first black president. By using his surrogate to distance himself from that theory Trump is trying to get some plausible deniability on both fronts. His racist fans can continue to think that Trump is a birther at heart, while non-racist Republicans can fool themselves into thinking he’s left all that behind.

The press shouldn’t let Trump get away with this half-hearted disavowal. Giuliani’s attempt to shield Trump is all the more reason the GOP nominee should continue to be made to answer the simple question: “Do you think President Obama was born in the United States?”