Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio's acknowledgment in a radio interview last weekend that he is still investigating President Obama's birth certificate has prompted a question from people who continue to follow the controversy.
What ever happened to the "universe-shattering" revelation promised by the sheriff's lead investigator, Mike Zullo, in late 2013?
Reached by telephone, Zullo told WND in an interview his Cold Case Posse team commissioned by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office must resolve three legal issues before the new evidence can be revealed regarding the validity of the document posted online by the White House in 2011 as Obama's birth certificate and a subsequent investigation of its origin.
"We've cleared two, and the last one is problematic," Zullo said of the legal hurdles.
"If we can't clear it, it may preclude this information from ever reaching the light of day. It may prevent me from ever disclosing what this is. But it does not mean we are not cultivating new evidence."
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Zullo explained that when he said in 2013 he was preparing to release the information, he anticipated "we were going to have these answers within weeks."
"As this was progressing, the legal issues started coming up, and it's just put everything on hold," he said.
A racial-profiling legal judgment against Arpaio and a subsequent, ongoing civil contempt case against the sheriff that has taken a bizarre turn have only made it more difficult, Zullo said.
"As far as releasing information, we're pretty much under lock and key at this point," he said.
But he insists the document posted by the White House in April 2011 is fraudulent.
"There are some very serious problems with that pdf file," he told WND. "That's not an issue.
“Maybe he was born here, maybe not," he said of the president. "That question has never been the focal point of our investigation. He may very well have been born here. Who knows?"
So far, he said, there is no credible evidence of where Obama was born.
"But I can tell you that I do not believe for one minute that he was born in the hospital proffered on the pdf," Zullo said, referring to Kapiolani Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii. "And I certainly do not believe that document was originally created in 1961."
Zullo said he has taken a completely new approach to proving that the document is fraudulent, starting virtually from scratch and not relying on previously submitted evidence.
"It has nothing to do with the work that was done before," he said of his current investigation.
Arpaio told WND's Aaron Klein in an interview broadcast Sunday on Klein's radio show that he's continuing to investigate the birth certificate, but "once again, nobody wants to look at it right now."
"So it's not my problem. I did my job," said Arpaio, referring to attempts to pass on his evidence to Congress and federal authorities.
Zullo backs up Arpaio’s statement, noting the sheriff authorized him to travel to Washington, D.C., and meet with members of Congress. Zullo said lawmakers have told him they will not look into the matter or that they would be prevented from examining it if they tried.
Zullo said that on one occasion, he was accompanied by author, pastor and radio host Carl Gallups, who arranged a meeting with his congressman, Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla.
Zullo and Gallups, who has regularly discussed the Arpaio investigation on his weekly radio show, sat directly across from the congressman in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.
“It was almost surreal being in that room discussing this very topic as Nancy Pelosi strutted by,” Zullo said.
The meeting went well, he said, and arrangements were made to move forward.
"Then, within a week, everything came to a halt and just evaporated," said Zullo, who noted it wasn't the only time that has happened.
The birth certificate dispute dates back to before the 2008 election. Hillary Clinton's campaign is believed to have been first to raise the issue of whether or not Obama is a "natural born citizen."
The Constitution doesn't define the term, and constitutional scholars offer a variety of opinions. Does it require being born on U.S. soil to two U.S. citizens? Are only U.S. citizen parents required? Is only one U.S. citizen parent necessary? Or is it necessary only to have been born on U.S. soil?
Some scholars point to the Naturalization Act of 1790, passed shortly after the Constitution was issued, as a guide. It defines a natural-born citizen as the offspring of two U.S. citizens, regardless of the place of birth. While the law was repealed by the Naturalization Act of 1795, which removed the term "natural born," some argue the 1790 law, passed only three years after the Constitution was signed, represents the intent of the Framers.
Regardless of his place of birth, Obama would fail the 1790 Naturalization Act test, because his father was a Kenyan visiting the U.S. as a student.
The Cold Case Posse investigation began at the request of a Surprise, Arizona, tea-party group. Arpaio assigned the volunteer team led by Zullo, a retired New Jersey detective, to look into the issue before the 2012 election to determine whether or not Obama qualified for the presidential election ballot.
In March 2012, Arpaio, Zullo and members of the Maricopa County Sheriff Office's Cold Case Posse held a news conference announcing they had probable cause to believe the long-form birth certificate released by the White House is a computer-generated forgery. The six-month investigation also concluded Obama’s Selective Service card is a forgery. At a July 17, 2012, news conference, Arpaio said he and his investigative team were certain the birth certificate is fake.
The racial-profiling judgment and subsequent legal action to which Zullo referred have taken an odd twist, revealing Arpaio's hiring of a former federal informant in Seattle named Dennis Montgomery to investigate whether U.S. District Court Judge G. Murray Snow and the Department of Justice were conspiring to take down the sheriff.
Montgomery, who turns up in attorney Larry Klayman's lawsuit as a "whistleblower" against the National Security Agency's program of collecting the personal data of U.S citizens, also apparently figures in the birth certificate case.
Though he is accused of conning the Defense Department with software he claimed was capable of predicting terrorist attacks, Montgomery allegedly has in his possession a massive volume of information he claims the federal government collected on citizens, judges and government officials.
In court, Arpaio said he didn't find Montgomery's information useful to his claim that the federal government is conspiring against him.
But some have speculated that among the "terabytes" of data, there may be information relevant to the birth certificate case. Zullo, however, would not confirm the speculation.
Gallups cryptically tied Montgomery to the Cold Case Posse investigation on his May 15 radio show, telling listeners that if they take a closer look at the Arpaio racial-profiling case, they will begin to "wade around the edges" of Zullo's "earth-shattering information and evidence."
Snow ruled in the profiling case that Arpaio and the MCSO singled out Latinos because of their ethnicity in violation of the Fourth and 14th Amendments and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The judge assigned an independent monitor to oversee the MCSO. Later, Snow filed a contempt charge against the sheriff's office, claiming his preliminary injunction to cease stopping individuals solely on suspicion they might be illegal aliens had been violated.
In an April hearing in the contempt case, Arpaio acknowledged he had hired the informant, Montgomery, and also a private agent to verify a claim that Snow's wife was overheard mentioning her husband’s negative views of Arpaio.
Arpaio now is trying to have Snow removed from the case, as WND has reported.