Soon after four women came forward with allegations that Alabama's GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore "dated" them when they were teens and he was in his 30's, the right-wing Gateway Pundit blog published a story claiming one of the women was paid to go public.
Now, The Daily Beast has revealed that not only did that theory come from a Twitter troll -- but also that the user, @Umpire43, stole the identity of a dead Navy SEAL to do so.
Umpire43, the Beast's report notes, is a "serial fabulist," and has claimed to be many things throughout the years -- "a 22-year veteran of the Navy, a pollster at Ipsos/Reuters, an expert on rigging voting machines, a source who was feet away from Reince Preibus whose family has connections in the Clinton campaign, a man who speaks six languages, a beleaguered soul who needed time off after 9/11 when he saw Muslims “dancing on rooftops,” the owner of a polling company who claimed Trump had a sustained lead in California and an actual baseball umpire with 50 years experience."
He also, at one point, claimed he worked for America's Calgary consulate and had proof that Ted Cruz's father forged his own birth certificate.
When asked by the Beast if someone named "Doug Lewis" or "DJ Lewis" worked for them, all of the employers the troll claimed confirmed he'd been lying about them. Doug Lewis, they found, was actually a SEAL that died in 2007.
"A family friend in Alabama just told my wife that a WAPO reporter named Beth offered her 1000$ to accuse Roy Moore," Umpire43 wrote in a tweet deleted with the rest of his account on Tuesday morning.
Unsurprisingly, Umpire43's phony "report" made its' way to InfoWars, the r/The_Donald subreddit and even the pro-Trump One America News Network.
As the Beast noted, it wasn't the first time his false claims have reached a large audience.
His "Muslims dancing on rooftops after 9/11" appears to have been echoed by then-candidate Donald Trump in late 2015, when he claimed to have seen "thousands and thousands of people" cheering from Jersey City, New Jersey as the World Trade Centers collapsed after the attack.
When pressed by CNN host George Stephanopoulos, who noted that Trump previously claimed to have been in his Midtown Manhattan apartment (across the river from Jersey City) the morning of the 9/11, the candidate dug in his heels.
"It was well covered at the time, George. Now, I know they don't like to talk about it, but it was well covered at the time. There were people over in New Jersey that were watching it, a heavy Arab population, that were cheering as the buildings came down," he said. "Not good."