President Donald Trump has never been shy about promoting absurd far-right conspiracy theories, including birtherism (the racist claim that President Barack Obama wasn’t really born in the United States). And recently, Trump has been floating the conspiracy theory that Never Trump conservative Joe Scarborough — who hosts “Morning Joe” on MSNBC with liberal Mika Brzezinski, his wife — murdered a former employee. And the editorial board of the right-wing Washington Examiner slams Trump for it in a scathing editorial published on May 27.
The former employee that conspiracy theorists have accused of killing was Lori Klausutis, who suffered from a heart condition and was only 28 when, on July 19, 2001, she fell and fatally hit her head. At the time, Scarborough was a Florida Republican serving in the U.S. House of Representatives. Scarborough, who is now one of Trump’s most vehement critics on the right, has since left the GOP because of his disdain for Trumpism.
An autopsy was performed on Klausutis, and that autopsy showed no signs of foul play. Moreover, Klausutis’ widower, Timothy Klausutis, has been imploring Trump to quit claiming otherwise and let his wife rest in peace. He has also asked Twitter to remove tweets in which Trump has promoted the anti-Scarborough conspiracy theory.
The Washington Examiner’s editorial board explains that according to the anti-Scarborough conspiracy theory, the ex-congressman “must have been having an affair with the staffer in question, and he must have murdered her in order to cover it up. According to this tall tale, the controversy surrounding her death even forced Scarborough to leave Congress.”
The editorial goes on to lay out some reasons why the conspiracy theory defies logic.
“This story is not just false, but verifiably so,” the Washington Examiner asserts. “It is also illogical and bizarre. For one thing, Scarborough wasn’t even in Florida when this incident occurred. He took six votes on the House floor the day Klausutis died — the first at 10:25 a.m. and the last at 7:09 p.m. The following morning, he participated in another vote at 10:10 a.m.”
The Examiner adds, “Second, Scarborough had already announced his retirement from Congress long before Klausutis died; so, there’s nothing to that part of the story, either. And even after his departure from Congress, Scarborough hardly shrunk into the background as if to avoid the spotlight. The first episode of his new evening MSNBC show, ‘Scarborough Country,’ broadcast three months after he left the House. It gave him a much higher profile than he’d ever had as an obscure congressman from North Florida.”
But even though “there was also never any indication that Scarborough had any sort of improper relationship with Klausutis,” the Examiner’s editorial board explains, Trump hasn’t hesitated to promote the conspiracy theory on Twitter.
“The latest person to trumpet and repeat this vile slander is the president supposedly leading this nation through a time of crisis,” the Examiner asserts. “Whatever his issues with Scarborough, President Trump’s crazed Twitter rant on this subject was vile and unworthy of his office. Some will undoubtedly shrug it off as Trump being Trump, but one could hardly be blamed for reading it and doubting his fitness to lead. To say Trump owes Scarborough an apology is to put it mildly.”