Donald Trump continued to claim that the circumstances surrounding the 2001 death of aide to Joe Scarborough were clouded in suspicion, even as the woman’s husband has pleaded with Twitter to take down the president’s tweets spreading the conspiracy theories.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Trump said that “a lot of people suggest” that Scarborough, co-host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, was somehow responsible for the woman’s death, even though a coroner’s investigation found that she had an undiagnosed heart condition and fell and hit her head at work. The woman, Lori Klausutis, worked at Scarborough’s Florida office when he was a congressman.
“It is certainly a very suspicious situation and very sad,” Trump said.
The New York Times published a letter on Tuesday from Klausutis’ widower, Timothy Klausutis, to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Klausutis asked Dorsey to delete the president’s tweets in which he has suggested that Scarborough was implicated in some sort of foul play surrounding his wife’s death.
The letter made clear that the conspiracy theories are, by their nature, attacks on his wife’s memory, not merely insinuations about Scarborough.
“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,” Klausutis wrote. “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. The son of the president followed and more directly attacked my wife by tweeting to his followers as the means of spreading this vicious lie.”
Twitter has not removed the tweets but said that it is reviewing its policies. Fact checking sites have deemed Trump’s claim that her death is a mystery or a cold case as “false.”
At the White House, Trump said that he had Klausutis’ letter, and claimed of her family, “I am sure that ultimately they want to get to the bottom of it.” He then cited the clip of an interview Scarborough gave to Don Imus in 2003 in which Imus joked the case. Earlier on Tuesday, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany also defended Trump by citing the Imus interview.
“It’s a very suspicious thing, and I hope somebody gets to the bottom of it. It’ll be a very good thing,” Trump said.
Scarborough’s wife and Morning Joe co-host, Mika Brzezinski, tweeted earlier on Tuesday.
She wrote, “The Press Secretary is lying. IMUS made the callous joke in 2003 during a break and then repeated it on air. Joe was embarrassed and said, ‘What are you going to do?’ trying to move on to talk about the show. No lies can cover up the hatefulness of Donald Trump.”
Trump has tweeted out the claims against Scarborough as he has criticized the president on Morning Joe.
After Trump’s comments to the press, Brzezinski tweeted, “It’s beyond depressing he is our President. Continuing this in the Rose Garden..so cruel and full of hate. Side note- (Anyone care?) The chief law enforcement officer using his platform to push for investigation of a critic? It is what dictators do. #pleasedeletethosetweets”