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Trump advises Cruz to clarify his natural born citizenship in court

Donald Trump advised Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, on Wednesday to go to court to clarify whether he's a natural-born citizen.

In an interview on CNN, Trump was asked whether he believes his GOP rival fits the presidential qualification of being a natural-born citizen despite being born in Canada.

"I don't know and I like him a lot. And I don't like the issue. I don't like even bringing it up," Trump told Wolf Blitzer on "The Situation Room."

Trump said Cruz should seek a declaratory judgement in court to clear up any doubts about his eligibility to be commander in chief. The Constitution states that only "natural-born citizens" can serve as president, but the language is unclear.

"You go in seeking the decision of the court without a court case. You go right in. you go before a judge. You do it quickly," Trump said. "I've used it on numerous occasions."

While Trump predicted he'll win the GOP nomination this year, he said questions about Cruz's citizenship could hurt the Texas senator if he winds up as the nominee.

"If Ted should eke it out, and I hope that doesn't happen, and he's got this cloud over his head, I don't think it's going to be possible for him to do very well. I don't think it's actually possible for the Republicans to let it happen because he'll have this cloud."

Trump, who raised the issue of Cruz's citizenship in an interview with The Washington Post a day earlier, warned that the Democratic nominee could file a lawsuit at Cruz if he's nominated.

Earlier in the day, Cruz dismissed Trump's suggestion that he's not a natural-born citizen.

"Look, as a legal argument the question is quite straightforward in settled law that a child of a U.S. citizen born abroad is a natural born citizen," Cruz said. "People will continue to make political noise about it but as a legal matter, it's quite straightforward."

The Texas senator was born in 1970 in Calgary, Canada to a Cuban father and an American mother. In 2013, Cruz released his birth certificate, which said that he was automatically a U.S. citizen by birth because his mother was a U.S. citizen, born in Delaware. Cruz renounced his Canadian citizenship in 2014.

After Trump first raised questions about Cruz's eligibility in The Washington Post, Cruz initially responded by tweeting a video clip of Fonzie" jumping the shark" in "Happy Days."

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, another GOP presidential contender, also questioned Cruz's situation.

"You know, I think without question he is qualified and would make the cut to be prime minister of Canada, absolutely without question, he is qualified and he meets the qualifications," he said on radio show Kilmeade and Friends.

CBS News' Sopan Deb contributed to this story.

  • Rebecca Shabad

    Rebecca Shabad is a video reporter for CBS News Digital.