President Donald Trump refused to let up his baseless conspiracy theory about MSNBC host Joe Scarborough even after the widower of the victim involved in the years-old case pleaded for him to stop.
Trump has repeatedly pushed a meritless conspiracy theory that Scarborough was involved in the 2001 death of former House staffer Lori Klausutis, who died in his office while he was a Florida congressman.
Klausutis’ widower, Timothy Klausutis, wrote in a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey asking him to delete Trump’s tweets about her death.
“Nearly 19 years ago, my wife, who had an undiagnosed heart condition, fell and hit her head on her desk at work. She was found dead the next morning,” he wrote. “There has been a constant barrage of falsehoods, half-truths, innuendo and conspiracy theories since the day she died. I realize that may sound like an exaggeration, unfortunately it is the verifiable truth. Because of this, I have struggled to move forward with my life.”
“The frequency, intensity, ugliness, and promulgation of these horrifying lies ever increases on the internet. These conspiracy theorists, including most recently the President of the United States, continue to spread their bile and misinformation on your platform disparaging the memory of my wife and our marriage. President Trump on Tuesday tweeted to his nearly 80 million followers alluding to the repeatedly debunked falsehood that my wife was murdered by her boss, former U.S. Rep. Joe Scarborough,” Klausutis added. “My request is simple: Please delete these tweets.”
Trump doubles down:
Trump did not let up his attacks after the letter.
"I'm sure ultimately they want to get to the bottom of it,” he told reporters on Tuesday, adding that the death was “very suspicious” and hoped "somebody gets to the bottom of it."
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany defended the tweets.
“I would note that the president said this morning that this is not an original Trump thought, and it is not,” McEnany said, before accusing Scarborough of “false accusations” against Trump.
Trump slammed from both sides:
“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. So I would urge him to stop it,” said Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 Republican in the House.
“I know Joe Scarborough. Joe is a friend of mine,” tweeted Sen. Mitt Romney. “I don't know T.J. Klausutis. Joe can weather vile, baseless accusations but T.J.? His heart is breaking. Enough already.”
The Wall Street Journal editorial board accused Trump of “debasing his office” and “hurting the country.”
"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 board argued.
“He doesn’t have the guts to say, ‘You know what, I don’t care what they think because this serves my political purposes.’ That’s why he’s doing it. He doesn’t have the guts to say that because he is just a little man despite his girth and size,” said CNN host Anderson Cooper. “He’s a little man inside and he knows that.”