A successful Hollywood producer who had an insider's view of Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign claims she heard Bill Clinton say that Barack Obama is not eligible to be president.
Bettina Viviano – who started her own film production company in 1990 after serving as vice president of production for Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment – told WND that it was common knowledge among delegates committed to Hillary that the Clintons believed Obama was constitutionally ineligible and that Bill Clinton would eventually disclose his belief to the public.
The Clintons were the original "birthers," Viviano told WND in an interview in Los Angeles.
"Everybody who has called this a conspiracy from the Republicans or the tea party, they need to know who started it – the Democrats," she said.
"It was Hillary and Bill, and it percolated up from there," said Viviano, who had access to the campaign through a documentary she produced on the claims of delegates that Obama and the Democratic National Committee were stealing the nomination from Hillary.
As WND reported, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his team investigating Obama's eligibility believe there is probable cause that the documents released by the White House as Obama's long-form birth certificate and Selective Service registration form are forgeries.
Viviano said that she was on a conference phone call during the primary season in the spring of 2008 in which she heard Bill Clinton refer to Obama as ineligible for the presidency.
In the course of the phone conversation with Hillary delegates, she recalled, Bill Clinton spoke of Obama as "the non-citizen."
"In the world we were in, with [Hillary's] super-delegates and delegates, it just was, 'He's not legit – that's the end of it, period, end of story.' It wasn't up for discussion," Viviano said.
Michele Thomas, a Hillary campaigner from Los Angeles, confirmed to WND that she learned from "many people who were close to Hillary" that Obama "was not eligible to be president."
Thomas led a nationwide petition drive among delegates to force a vote on Hillary's nomination at the convention after then-DNC Chairman Howard Dean announced her name would not be put into nomination and Obama would be declared the winner by unanimous acclamation.
Viviano said that it was understood that Bill Clinton would eventually go public with his contention that Obama was ineligible for the presidency.
"He, I believe, was frothing at the mouth to tell the truth about Obama," she said.
In the meantime, she recalled, the former president would make ironic references in public in which he "teetered" on revealing he position.
"He would go on camera," Viviano said, "and jokingly make comments about, you know, 'Is Obama qualified to be president? Well, if he's 35 and a wink, wink, United States citizen, I guess he's qualified.'"
She claimed, however, that Bill Clinton's intention to unequivocally state to the public that Obama was ineligible was stopped in its tracks by the murder of a close friend of the Clintons, Arkansas Democratic Party Chairman Bill Gwatney, just two weeks before the Democratic National Convention in Denver.
Gwatney was killed Aug. 13, 2008, when a 50-year-old man entered Democratic Party headquarters in Little Rock and shot him three times. Police killed the murderer after a chase, and investigators found no motive.
The Clintons said in a statement that they were "stunned and shaken" by the killing of their "cherished friend and confidante."
Viviano said a campaign staffer who was close to Hillary, whose name she requested be withheld for security reasons, told her Gwatney's murder was a message to Bill Clinton.
"I was told by this person that that was 'Shut up, Bill, or you're next,'" she said.
The campaign adviser, according to Viviano, said that despite the intimidation and threats, Bill Clinton was prepared to speak out about Obama's eligibility
"And then," Viviano said, paraphrasing the staffer, "they went in and said, 'OK, it's your daughter, now, we'll go after.'
"And then Bill never said anything."
Others in the campaign who believe Gwatney's murder was a message to the Clintons think it had to do with the fact that Gwatney was resisting an effort by the Obama campaign and the party to intimidate Hillary delegates into voting for Obama.
But Viviano argues that California delegates also were rebelling, and she says her source told her the same story two years later.
Since the 2008 campaign, Clinton has insisted publicly that Obama is eligible for the White House.
He weighed in on the issue in an April 2011 interview with ABC's "Good Morning America," when Donald Trump was urging Obama to release his long-form birth certificate to the public.
"If I were them, I'd be really careful riding that birther horse too much," Clinton said. "Everyone knows it's ludicrous."
'I had never voted in my life'
When Viviano headed production for Spielberg, her credits included the second and third "Back to the Future" films, "Cape Fear," "Land Before Time," "Schindler's List," "Always," "Roger Rabbit" and the third "Indiana Jones" film.
She launched her own production and management company, Viviano Entertainment, in 1990. Her movies include "Three to Tango" and "Jack and Jill," starring Adam Sandler.
Viviano was plunged into the world of campaign politics in 2008 as an admitted neophyte when Hollywood screenwriter and director Gigi Gaston asked her to produce a documentary called "We Will Not Be Silenced" on allegations of voter fraud against Hillary Clinton by the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
"I had never voted in my life. I wasn't a Democrat, I wasn't a Republican. I wasn't anything," Viviano said. "I didn't know anything about any of this."
Viviano said that when she and her co-workers informed Hillary campaigners that they were making a film about voter fraud, "the floodgates opened."
"I mean, everybody had a story to tell about death threats, threats, intimidation, document falsifying, vandalism, property theft," she said. "It was the most horrible thing I've ever heard in my life."
Viviano said that in research for the film, allegations and evidence that Obama was not eligible "came up immediately."
"We were getting hit with so many things about Obama," she said. "This is when (Bill) Ayers and (Rashid) Khalidi were in the news, and then, all of a sudden, 'Oh, and he's not eligible to be president.'"
Viviano insisted to WND that her reason for speaking out now was not related to the fact that Obama beat Hillary.
"It's not about Hillary," she said. "It's about No. 1, I'm American, I live in a country where there is a Constitution and a set of laws. I also have somebody in the White House who has lied, obfuscated, provided what we all know to be forged documents about who he is."
She acknowledges that she could jeopardize her Hollywood career.
"What can you do?" she said. "It's my country. My dad fought for this country in World War II in the 82nd Airborne."
Her late father, she noted, was shot down twice during the war and was awarded two Purple Hearts.
"I think, would he rather have me sitting in the corner cowering, and afraid of people, or would he rather have me tell the truth and what I saw?"
Read the preliminary findings of Sheriff Arpaio’s Cold Case Posse investigation after six months investigating Obama’s constitutional eligibility to serve as president in “A Question of Eligibility,” co-authored by Jerome Corsi and Mike Zullo.