“We begin this morning with a retweet from the president of the United States. Not a message about healing or uniting the country one week after two horrifying massacres, not about the victims of those tragedies. Instead President Trump using his massive Twitter platform to spread a deranged conspiracy theory tying the death of pedophile Jeffrey Epstein in prison to the president’s former political rivals, the Clintons,” said CNN’s Jake Tapper today, according to The Hill. Tapper, who also said “the state of our union is appalled”, joined a chorus of disapproval over Trump’s decision to spread this conspiracy theory, one that has no basis in fact.
Trump’s continued disregard for facts and disregard for the potential consequences of sharing shocking accusations for which there is no evidence, which presidential candidate Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) called an act of “recklessness”, according to The Hill, is indeed potentially dangerous. Billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein, accused of sex trafficking of minors, was found dead of apparent suicide in his Manhattan prison cell yesterday morning. Epstein had previously been convicted of sex crimes in 2008, but received only a 13 month sentence while being allowed out to work six days a week, a deal in part orchestrated by then U.S. Florida District Attorney Alex Acosta. Questions about the leniency of that deal, especially given the new round of extremely serious charges against Epstein, led Alex Acosta to resign as the Trump administration’s Secretary of Labor only last month. Tapper, dismayed over Trump’s spreading of baseless conspiracy theories yet again, decided not even to show Trump’s tweets in his report. According to The Hill:
Trump on Saturday responded to the news of Epstein’s death by retweeting a post that blamed it on former President Clinton and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. …CNN host Jake Tapper opened his show Sunday by calling out President Trump for promoting a “deranged” and “insane” conspiracy theory about the death of disgraced financier and accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, who died from an apparent suicide over the weekend. …“I’m not going to show you the tweets,” Tapper added, before later noting that Trump could “use his megaphone for anything. But the president often uses it to amplify that which is the worst of us: personal attacks, bigotry and insane conspiracy theories.” …”Ridiculous and not true and Donald Trump knows it. Has he triggered the 25th Amendment yet?” a spokesman for former President Clinton said in a statement Saturday, referring to an amendment that addresses a president’s ability to carry out his duties.
Senator Booker (D-NJ) went on to describe the danger of Trump’s “recklessness”, according to the Hill, saying, “It’s the same tactics and same language not just as white supremacists, but of the Russians, if you look at the intelligence reports of how they’re coming at our democracy.” Presidential candidate and former Representative Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) told Tapper, according to The Hill, that Trump may well be trying to get us to focus on “his bizarre behavior” in addition to attacking his perceived enemies and political rivals, saying, “This is another example of our president using this position of public trust to attack his political enemies with unfounded conspiracy theories and also to try and force you and me and all of us to focus on his bizarre behavior. If we allow him to do that then we will never be able to focus on the true problem, of which he is a part.”
Trump’s ugly words, ugly actions and baseless accusations keep continuing, tarnishing the office he holds. What child would aspire to be president if this is what being president has come to mean? There is something deeply, deeply wrong with someone who would keep openly sharing these absolutely baseless claims. Trump has no compunction about lying and no willingness to admit he is wrong – he lies if he thinks the lie is more expedient, more self-serving than the truth. That isn’t new, that isn’t a surprise, but it will never stop being repugnant, corrosive, and potentially dangerous.