Joe Scarborough devoted a segment of Morning Joe on Wednesday to paying tribute to Lori Klausutis, an aide in his congressional office whose death in 2001 is the source of Donald Trump’s claims of a debunked conspiracy theory.
Klausutis’ widower, Timothy J. Klausutis, last week wrote a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, asking him to remove the president’s claim that her case is an unsolved mystery and suggesting that Scarborough was implicated in her death.
On the show, Scarborough said that he did not know Klausutis well, as she worked in one of his satellite offices while he was serving as a Florida congressman.
“But after she passed away, TJ [her husband] told me that she was working in a bank … and she decided that she wanted – she was a lifelong Republican, a faithful Catholic – she decided she wanted to work in something bigger than herself,” Scarborough said. “TJ said she wanted to do it because she wanted to give back to the country that she loved.”
“I have thought about that through these years. A young woman’s desire to do something good for the country that she loved, has led first to people on the far left of the internet sullying her name, and then a Republican senatorial candidate years later sullying her name, and then people on the far left later sullying her name. And now the president of the United States sullying this good woman’s name.”
He added, “It is heartbreaking. The cruelty is unspeakable. It is not just Donald Trump. It has been happening for 19 years. Donald Trump is right. It wasn’t his original scummy thought, then other vile people driven by hatred and petty politics, thinking that they were going to hurt me.”
Instead, he said, the “attacks pass through me and they terrorize a family that has not been able to let their loved one rest in peace.”
Klausutis had an undiagnosed heart condition and fell and hit her head at work, a conclusion the coroner reached following an investigation.
Trump’s continued advancement of the conspiracy theory drew a rebuke from outlets like The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page. “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 editorial read.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) called for Trump to end the attacks. “I know Joe Scarborough. Joe is a friend of mine. I don’t know T.J. Klausutis. Joe can weather vile, baseless accusations but T.J.? His heart is breaking. Enough already,” he wrote.
Trump, however, continued to claim that the case was a mystery, even after Scarborough’s segment.
“Psycho Joe Scarborough is rattled, not only by his bad ratings but all of the things and facts that are coming out on the internet about opening a Cold Case. He knows what is happening!” the president wrote on Twitter Wednesday morning.