'You perpetuated a false claim': NBC anchor Lester Holt presses Donald Trump on his birther claims

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Debate moderator Lester Holt confronted Donald Trump repeatedly on his previous claims that President Barack Obama was not born in the US despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

"Mr. Trump, for five years you perpetuated a false claim that the nation's first black president was not a natural-born citizen. You questioned his legitimacy," Holt said. "In the last couple of weeks you acknowledged what most Americans have known for years — that the president was born in the United States.

"Can you tell us what took you so long?"

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Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey, waves to an attendee in the audience ahead of the first U.S. presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., on Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump meet Monday night for a presidential debate that will give them their broadest exposure to voters and promises to be a pivotal moment in a long and increasingly close race. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
HEMPSTEAD, NY - SEPTEMBER 26: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's wife, Melania Trump greets with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's husband and former U.S. President Bill Clinton during the Presidential Debate at Hofstra University on September 26, 2016 in Hempstead, New York. The first of four debates for the 2016 Election, three Presidential and one Vice Presidential, is moderated by NBC's Lester Holt. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Republican candidate for Vice President Mike Pence looks on before the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York on September 26, 2016. / AFP / Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
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Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton (L) and Republican nominee Donald Trump leave the stage after the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York on September 26, 2016. / AFP / Timothy A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton (R) gestures next to Republican nominee Donald Trump during the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York on September 26, 2016. / AFP / Timothy A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speak during their first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
Moderator Lester Holt presides over the first debate between Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Raedle/Pool
Melania Trump (L-R), the wife of Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump, sits with his daughter Ivanka Trump, Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence and Pence's wife Karen Pence during Trump's first debate against Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S. September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani chat as they take their seats ahead of the start of the first debate between Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
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Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson sits with his wife Miriam as they await the start of the first debate between Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump Democratic and U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Promoter Don King Don King (C) speaks with Las Vegas casino owner Sheldon Adelson prior to the first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton (C) talks with his daughter Chelsea Clinton prior to the first presidential debate between Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. At right is Marc Mezvinsky, the husband of Chelsea Clinton. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speak during their first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump reacts during the first presidential debate with Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
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Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump reacts during the first debate with Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks during the first presidential debate with Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks as Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton looks on during their first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during the first presidential debate with Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Debate moderator Lester Holt of NBC News replaces his jacket after a technician fixed his earpiece before the first debate between Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S. September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump pauses during the first debate with Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump speak during their first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton discuss a point during their first presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Raedle/Pool
Donald Trump, 2016 Republican presidential nominee, speaks during the first U.S. presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., on Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump meet Monday night for a presidential debate that will give them their broadest exposure to voters and promises to be a pivotal moment in a long and increasingly close race. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton pauses during the first presidential debate with Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Raedle/Pool
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump sips water during his first debate with Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Joe Raedle/Pool
Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump (2nd from L) chats with members of his family after the conclusion of his first debate with Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
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Trump defended his birtherism, falsely asserting that the Clinton campaign started the birther rumor.

"She failed to get the birth certificate. When I got involved, I didn't fail. I got him to give the birth certificate," Trump said of Obama.

"I want to get on to things that are very important to me, and that are very important to the country."

Holt continued to press Trump.

RELATED: Poll - Donald Trump's support of the birther movement

"I just want to get the answer here," the NBC News anchor said. "The birth certificate was produced in 2011. You continued to tell the story and question the president's legitimacy in 2012, '13, '14, '15, and as recently as January. So the question is: What changed your mind?"

"I figured you'd ask the question tonight," Trump said. "No one was caring much about it. I was the one who got him to produce the birth certificate."

He added: "Everyone in mainstream is going to say that its not true — look, it's true."

Holt then asked Trump if he was concerned about black Americans who were offended by Trump's repeated insistence that Obama was not born in the US.

People all over the world tune in for the US presidential debate:

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People, including U.S. Democrats living in Mexico, watch a television broadcast of the first presidential debate between U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, in a restaurant in Mexico City, Mexico September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso
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Clinton supporters watch the first US presidential debate between Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump, at a debate watch party at The Abbey bar and restaurant in West Hollywood, California, September 26, 2016. / AFP / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
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Students watch the first Presidential Debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton during a viewing event at Hofstra University's in Hempstead, New York on September 26, 2016. / AFP / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
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COLUMBIA, SC - SEPTEMBER 26: Rebecca Beach reacts to comments from Donald Trump during a watch party for the presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump at the South Carolina Hillary Clinton campaign headquarters September 26, 2016 in Columbia, South Carolina. It was the first debate between the two party nominees. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
Clinton supporters watch the first US presidential debate between Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump, at a debate watch party at The Abbey bar and restaurant in West Hollywood, California, September 26, 2016. / AFP / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
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"We're talking about racial healing in this segment," Holt said. "What do you say to Americans, people of color —"

"I say nothing," Trump interjected. "I got him to produce it. He should've produced it a long time before."

For her part, Hillary Clinton characterized Trump's actions as racist.

"Just listen to what you heard," Clinton said.

"He tried to put the whole racist, birther lie to bed," she said. "But it can't be dismissed that easily. He has really started his political activity based on this racist lie that the first black president was not an American citizen. There was absolutely not evidence of it, but he persisted year after year because some of his supporters, people he was trying to bring into his fold, believe it or want to believe it."

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