President Donald Trump’s ongoing Twitter meltdown has now entered its third day — and featured not just his usual spurious claims about the government’s Covid-19 response, but also ugly, nonsensical attacks on his perceived enemies.
On the heels of a Sunday and Monday in which Trump amplified a number of accounts that have promoted the QAnon conspiracy theory about Democrats being involved in a pedophilia cult, posted tweets baselessly accusing former President Obama of crimes, demanded NBC fire Chuck Todd, and promoted a business he still owns and profits from, Trump managed to take things up a notch on Tuesday morning by suggesting Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough is guilty of murder.
“When will they open a Cold Case on the Psycho Joe Scarborough matter in Florida. Did he get away with murder? Some people think so,” Trump wrote. “Why did he leave Congress so quietly and quickly? Isn’t it obvious? What’s happening now? A total nut job!”
When will they open a Cold Case on the Psycho Joe Scarborough matter in Florida. Did he get away with murder? Some people think so. Why did he leave Congress so quietly and quickly? Isn’t it obvious? What’s happening now? A total nut job!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2020
Suffice it to say that there is no evidence that Scarborough, who used to be friendly with Trump but in recent years has become sharply critical of him, is guilty of murder.
The president’s tweet refers to the accidental 2001 death of an intern who worked in Scarborough’s office in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, back when he was a member of Congress. The New York Post’s Yaron Steinbuch provided the relevant details in a piece published earlier this month, on an earlier occasion when Trump alluded to this conspiracy theory on Twitter:
The president appeared to be referring to the case of Lori Klausutis, a 28-year-old intern who was found dead in Scarborough’s Fort Walton Beach office in Florida when he was a congressman.
The medical examiner ruled the death accidental, saying Klausutis had passed out because of an undiagnosed heart condition and hit her head on a desk.
No evidence has ever been found linking Scarborough to her death.
The president casually suggesting — without evidence — that a cable news host is guilty of murder is obviously wild, but Trump seems to have somewhat numbed the country to this sort of thing.
Her name was Lori Klausutis. She was 28. And her family deserves far better than the president and his minions using the tragedy of her death as a crude cudgel to attack a critic. It’s indecent and inhumane. https://t.co/C5OaEOrRA0— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) May 12, 2020
There was a whole lot more where that came from on Tuesday morning.
Trump seems unable to be straight with people about the coronavirus
With US coronavirus deaths now over 80,000 and the number of new cases per day not showing a downward trend, Trump falsely proclaimed on Tuesday morning that “Numbers are coming down in most parts of our Country, which wants to open and get going again.”
Our Testing is the BEST in the World, by FAR! Numbers are coming down in most parts of our Country, which wants to open and get going again. It is happening, safely!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2020
That tweet came after NBC reported on “undisclosed data the White House’s pandemic task force is using to track rates of infection” showing that “Coronavirus infection rates are spiking to new highs in several metropolitan areas and smaller communities across the country.” And despite what Trump would have people believe, polling has consistently shown that a majority of Americans oppose reopening businesses until the virus is under control.
That wasn’t the only misleading coronavirus-related claim Trump made on Tuesday. Although he’s basically left states to fend for themselves, Trump tried to take credit for the strong approval ratings many governors have for their handling of the crisis, writing that they “could in no way have gotten those numbers, or had that success, without me and the Federal Governments help. From Ventilators to Testing, we made it happen.”
Remember this, every Governor who has sky high approval on their handling of the Coronavirus, and I am happy for them all, could in no way have gotten those numbers, or had that success, without me and the Federal Governments help. From Ventilators to Testing, we made it happen!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2020
But states have in large part had to develop testing systems on their own, and some have even resorted to purchasing test kits from foreign countries because they haven’t gotten enough help from the federal government.
Trump also tweeted a claim that America has done more coronavirus testing than “all other countries put together.” But even a cursory look at the country-by-country testing numbers reveals that this assertion, which has become one of Trump’s regular claims, is nowhere close to being true.
This is an easily debunkable lie. The US has conducted about 9.6m tests. Russia has done 5.8, Germany 2.8, Italy 2.6, & Spain 2.5. So not only has US not done more tests than rest of the world combined, but we haven't done more than the next 4 countries. https://t.co/E8Hy6XHa3F https://t.co/qejFmAmurT— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 12, 2020
Coronavirus testing was ostensibly the topic of a Trump press conference on Monday — one that ended with him huffing off the stage after an exchange with Weijia Jiang of CBS in which he demanded that Jiang, who is Asian American, “ask China” questions about the coronavirus response instead of asking him.
Hours later, Trump tweeted, without evidence, that “Asian Americans are VERY angry at what China has done to our Country, and the World. Chinese Americans are the most angry of all. I don’t blame them!”
Asian Americans are VERY angry at what China has done to our Country, and the World. Chinese Americans are the most angry of all. I don’t blame them!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2020
What Trump wants people to forget is that he used to defend China’s handling of the coronavirus — right up until the point when finding a scapegoat became more important to him than staying on some semblance of good terms with the country.
Another memorable moment from Monday’s press conference came when Trump was pressed to explain the “OBAMAGATE” conspiracy theory he’s been pushing, and failed spectacularly.
Trump wants people to believe that Obama is guilty of masterminding a scheme to leverage the investigation of Michael Flynn into a means to undermine Trump’s entire presidency before it began. But there’s no evidence this is true, and when Philip Rucker of the Washington Post asked Trump to explain what specific crime he thinks Obama committed, Trump had nothing.
“Uh, Obamagate. It’s been going on for a long time,” he began. “It’s been going on from before I even got elected, and it’s a disgrace that it happened, and if you look at what’s gone on, and if you look at now, all this information that’s being released — and from what I understand, that’s only the beginning — some terrible things happened, and it should never be allowed to happen in our country again.”
.@PhilipRucker: You appeared to accuse Obama of a crime yesterday. What did he do?— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 11, 2020
RUCKER: What is the crime?
TRUMP: "You know what the crime is. The crime is very obvious to everybody." pic.twitter.com/EUueidNwGp
It was an embarrassing moment, but Trump is apparently undeterred. He began his Tuesday morning of tweets by proclaiming that “OBAMAGATE makes Watergate look small time!” — never mind that he can’t even explain what “Obamagate” is.
And, finally, no Trump Twitter meltdown would be complete without him retweeting obscure accounts from the corners of the internet in an effort to portray his perceived foes in the worst possible light.
A public statement from the president: pic.twitter.com/iNj8hXa7gU— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 12, 2020
More than three years into Trump’s presidency, it’s not exactly news that he’s posting bad tweets. But it’s worth taking a step back and reflecting on how the torrent of baseless accusations, lies, and deflections that Trump posted on Tuesday morning alone would’ve been a major national scandal in any previous era. In Trump’s America, it’s another day that ends with a “y.”