Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe claims President Trump asked him if he could “get inside” Columbia University and retrieve college records of former President Barack Obama, according to a report Friday.
Trump approached O’Keefe seeking the help of Project Veritas, a conservative group that attempts to expose media bias, to obtain Obama’s college records to see if Obama claimed he was a foreign student at any point, according to a passage from O’Keefe’s upcoming book obtained by CNN.
O’Keefe alleged that Trump "suspected Obama had presented himself as a foreign student on application materials to ease his way into New York's Columbia University, maybe even Harvard too, and perhaps picked up a few scholarships along the way."
“Nobody else can get this information,” O’Keefe says in a passage, quoting Trump. “Do you think you could get inside Columbia?”
O’Keefe told Trump that the mission was not in his “line of work” and he viewed himself and other Project Veritas staff members as journalists rather than “private eyes.”
According to O’Keefe, Trump then "shook my hand, encouraged me to keep up the good work, and half-whispered, 'Do Columbia.'"
For years Trump pushed the “birther” movement against Obama, saying the former president was not born in Hawaii, as his birth certificate states. Part of the conspiracy theory focused on Obama’s records at Columbia, where he graduated with his bachelor’s degree in 1983.
During the campaign Trump walked back that sentiment by holding a press conference to declare Obama was born in the U.S. However, an unnamed senator told the New York Times in November 2017 that Trump was still questioning whether his predecessor’s birth certificate is authentic.
Project Veritas, which has been accused of selectively editing its reports, specifically videos, recently came under fire after one of its reporters was exposed trying to pitch a false story to the Washington Post about failed Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.