Why is Donald Trump taking President Barack Obama's half-brother to the presidential debate in Las Vegas?
White House press secretary Josh Earnest says he doesn't understand the intent behind the Trump campaign's invitation to Malik Obama to attend tonight's debate in Sin City.
"I have to admit, I really don't know exactly what the intent is of this invitation, other than probably to get you guys to ask me about it," he said. "But even then, I'm not really sure what goal that accomplishes. I guess you can check with the people who offered the invitation."
Malik Obama, who is a U.S. citizen and lives in the Washington, D.C., metro area when he's not in Kenya, is flying to Las Vegas to attend the debate in support of Trump - a trip paid for by the Trump campaign.
According to excerpts from Barack Obama's renowned memoir, "Dreams From My Father," he and Malik Obama were once very close and each was the best man at the other's wedding. However, in recent years Malik Obama has grown increasingly critical of his half-brother, and he recently announced his endorsement of Donald Trump.
Barack Obama has not recently made any comments regarding his relationship with Malik Obama, and Earnest said Wednesday he has not spoken to the president about the debate invitation.
"I don't anticipate that the president has spent a lot of time considering whether or not his brother-in-law [sic] should attend the debate," Earnest said. "If he does choose to attend, hopefully, he'll do something more fun than just attend the debate."
Asked to describe the half-brothers' relationship, Earnest said his understanding "is that there's not much of one."
He was not sure when the two last spoke to each other.
Earnest also said he didn't think the invitation is a "subtle echo" to the birther controversy.
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