President Trump today yet again raised a conspiracy theory about the death of an aide to former Rep. Joe Scarborough (R-Fla.), despite a barrage of criticism about his earlier tweets from lawmakers, the media and the widower of the woman who died.
Trump tweeted about Scarborough minutes before today’s showing of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” concluded, underscoring how the topic is on his mind, and on his refusal to back down on the subject in the face of criticism.
“Psycho Joe Scarborough is rattled, not only by his bad ratings but all of the things and facts that are coming out on the internet about opening a Cold Case,” the president tweeted. “He knows what is happening!”
There is no cold case involving Scarborough.
Trump is referring to the 2001 death of Lori Klausutis, an aide who worked in his Florida office when Scarborough served in Congress.
Klausutis, who had an undiagnosed heart condition, fell and hit her head at work in 2001 and was found dead the following morning.
Scarborough was in Washington at the time, and the medical examiner ruled her death an accident.
Timothy Klausutis, Lori’s husband, recently penned a letter to Twitter asking the social media platform to take the president’s tweets down, accusing Trump of taking the memory of his deceased wife and “pervert[ing] it for perceived political gain.”
Trump dismissed the letter when asked about it on Tuesday, saying he read it but that he believed Klausutis’s family wanted to “get to the bottom” of her death.
“It’s a very suspicious thing, and I hope that somebody gets to the bottom of it. It would be a very good thing. As you know, there is no statute of limitations,” the president told reporters at an event in the White House Rose Garden.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) weighed in today calling Trump’s insinuation ‘vile’ and ‘baseless.’
‘I know Joe Scarborough. Joe is a friend of mine,’ Romney wrote. ‘I don’t know T.J. Klausutis. Joe can weather vile, baseless accusations but T.J.? His heart is breaking. Enough already,’ Romney wrote.
Trump’s raising of the conspiracy comes as the United States approaches a grim milestone of 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus.
The nation is expected to clear that figure today.
Trump has weathered intense criticism over his tweets, including from some in his own party.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) on Sunday urged Trump to stop spreading “unfounded conspiracy” and “creating paranoia.”
The Wall Street Journal’s conservative editorial board today called Trump’s tweets a “presidential smear” in a piece published before the president again posted a message about Scarborough.
“Mr. Trump always hits back at critics, and Mr. Scarborough has called the President mentally ill, among other things. But suggesting that the talk-show host is implicated in the woman’s death isn’t political hardball. It’s a smear,” the Journal’s editorial board wrote.
“Mr. Trump rightly denounces the lies spread about him in the Steele dossier, yet here he is trafficking in the same sort of trash.”
Later today, House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (Wyo.) urged Trump to stop raising the conspiracy theory.
“I do think the president should stop tweeting about Joe Scarborough. I think we’re in the middle of a pandemic. He’s the commander in chief of this nation, and it’s causing great pain to the family of the young woman who died,” Cheney told reporters outside the Capitol.
Scarborough also responded on Twitter, after his wife and cohost Mika Brzezinski pushed Twitter’s CEO to change the sites policies to ban the claims.
She didn’t prevail in her family’s case, but the site did start posting fact-check information on unrelated claims by Trump.
‘As much as I have appreciated the kindness shown by old friends and colleagues today, I assure you that my family is incredibly blessed and asks only that you pray for Lori’s family tonight. May God also soften the hearts of those who continue to slander this good woman’s memory,’ Scarborough wrote Wednesday.
Scarborough posted a quote from an LA Times editorial: ‘The solution in this case is simple: Delete the demonstrably false tweets — which clearly violate Twitter’s own policies — and allow the family of Klausutis its privacy and its dignity,’ it said.