Jared Kushner has "no reason to believe" Kamala Harris is not a qualified candidate after false birther theory floated

Jared Kushner on Israel-UAE peace agreement
Jared Kushner on Israel-UAE peace agreement 09:50

Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, said he has "no reason to believe" that Senator Kamala Harris is not qualified to be a vice presidential candidate after a false birther theory was floated online. But he would not say why Mr. Trump didn't take the opportunity to debunk the theory when he was asked about it at a press conference Thursday. 

Harris was born in Oakland, California. Supreme Court precedent has held that anyone born in the U.S. is an American citizen, making them eligible for the presidency. Whether her parents were naturalized citizens or not does not change her citizenship or affect her eligibility, a constitutional law expert told CBS News.

When asked about the theory, which suggested there were questions over the immigration status of Harris' parents at the time she was born, President Trump praised the law professor who promoted it in a Newsweek column.

"I heard it today that she doesn't meet the requirements. And by the way, the lawyer that wrote that piece is a very highly qualified, very talented lawyer. I have no idea if that's right," Mr. Trump said. "I would have assumed the Democrats would have checked that out before she gets chosen to run for vice president. But that's a very serious — you're saying that — they're saying she doesn't qualify because she wasn't born in this country?" 

The professor did not actually question whether Harris was born in the United States.

Kushner said he doesn't think Trump was promoting the theory. 

"He just said that he had no idea whether that's right or wrong," Kushner told "CBS This Morning" co-host Anthony Mason. 

But, pressed on whether he accepts that Harris is a qualified candidate, Kushner said, "I personally have no reason to believe she's not." 

"She was born in Oakland, California," Mason told Kushner. 

"Yeah," he replied.  

"Makes her a qualified candidate. Why didn't the president take the opportunity to debunk that theory?" Mason asked. 

"I have not had a chance to discuss this with him, but again, let his words speak for himself," Kushner said. 

Kusher also discussed the peace deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates that Mr. Trump announced Thursday, calling it "a very big victory."

"This is a dramatic breakthrough that will make the Middle East safer. It means that less American troops will have to be over there," he said. 

Asked about the argument that the deal is only "symbolic" because Israel is still committed to annexing parts of the West Bank, Kushner pushed back.

"You have the first peace agreement in 26 years, so that's not symbolic, that's concrete. But with regards to the annexation, the Middle East has a lot of problems. These are problems that have been developed over decades," he said. "President Trump's really realigned things."

He added that the administration still has "to deal with the realities on the ground" and there's "a lot more work to do."

On the separate issue of the coronavirus pandemic, Kushner said Mr. Trump does not support a nationwide mask mandate because he "does not believe that Washington should be telling people how to live their lives."

"He trusts Americans to make the right decisions for themselves. He trusts governors to make the right decisions," he said. 

The United States had the worst day for COVID-19 deaths since May on Wednesday, with over 1,500 deaths reported. Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is warning that the U.S. could face the "worst fall" in history if people don't follow basic guidelines like wearing masks, washing hands and social distancing.