Beyond Jeffrey Epstein: Trump has promoted many conspiracy theories over the years

Christopher Wilson
Senior Writer

Since the death of Jeffrey Epstein on Saturday morning, President Trump has asserted via retweets and statements to the press that former President Bill Clinton might have had something to do with the disgraced financier’s hanging. While Epstein did have connections to both Trump and Clinton, there’s absolutely no evidence that Clinton or his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, had anything to do with the apparent suicide.

Trump has a long history of promoting fringe conspiracies while offering little to no evidence to support them. Similar to the Epstein case, he has even floated the idea that the Clintons may have been involved in the 1993 suicide of former White House aide Vince Foster.

In addition to targeting the Clintons, over the years, Trump-backed conspiracy theories have involved former President Barack Obama, Sen. Ted Cruz, global warming, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and wind turbines. What follows are some of the significant conspiracy theories pushed by Trump over the years.

Jeffrey Epstein, Donald Trump, and Bill and Hillary Clinton. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: New York State Sex Offender Registry via AP, AP [3], Getty Images)

Birtherism

Trump began pushing the idea that Obama was hiding something about his true birthplace in 2011According to a New York Times report diving into the six-week period in which Trump went on a media blitz casting doubt on Obama’s history:

“Why doesn’t he show his birth certificate?” he asked on ABC’s “The View.” “I want to see his birth certificate,” he told Fox News’s “On the Record.” And on NBC’s “Today Show,” he declared, “I’m starting to think that he was not born here.”

In 2012, Trump said he thought the birth certificate the White House provided could have been fake. When asked in 2015 if he believed Obama was born in the United States, Trump said, “I really don’t know.” Trump finally admitted at a 2016 campaign event that Obama was born in the United States but never apologized for promoting the lie.

Donald Trump at a September 2016 campaign event at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., where he stated he believes President Obama was born in the United States. (Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images)

Voting fraud

Since losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, Trump has repeatedly claimed that he was the true top vote getter if not for millions of illegal ballots cast for his opponent by undocumented immigrants going to the polls multiple times. A comprehensive 2014 report examining years of elections turned up 31 instances of credible fraud out of 1 billion votes cast. There have been limited documented cases of voter fraud in the 2016 election.

Trump has also insisted he won the state of New Hampshire, which Clinton claimed by 2,736 votes, because the Democrats bused in voters from neighboring Massachusetts. Pressed for proof of such a claim, the administration dispatched senior policy adviser Stephen Miller to defend it.

A voter arrives at the town hall in Woodstock, N.H., on Nov. 8, 2016. (Photo: Jim Cole/AP)

“I can tell you that this issue of busing voters into New Hampshire is widely known by anyone who’s worked in New Hampshire politics,” Miller claimed on ABC in 2017. “It’s very real. It’s very serious. This morning, on this show, is not the venue for me to lay out all the evidence.”

In the more than two years since that interview, the White House has yet to find the venue in which to lay out its evidence. In 2017, Trump created a commission to investigate voter fraud and gather data to bolster its assertions, but requests to states to turn over voter registry information were widely rejected by officials of both partiesTrump shut down the commission in January 2018, citing “endless legal battles.”

In the wake of the 2018 midterms, Trump alleged — again, without evidence — that something was amiss in the recounts for the Florida Senate and gubernatorial races. Despite the president’s insistence on a scheme against them, Republicans won both contests.

Puerto Rican death toll

Last year, on the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria hitting Puerto Rico, the president floated a theory that the astronomical death toll was falsified to make him look bad.

“3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico,” Trump tweeted in September 2018. “When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000.”

The president added: “This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico. If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!”

Puerto Rico Day Parade participants in 2018 march past Trump Tower with a banner marking "4,645" deaths on the island in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria and the Trump's administration emergency response. (Photo: Bebeto Matthews/AP)

The official Hurricane Maria death toll, according to the Puerto Rican government, is 2,975, revised from the initial 64. That number, calculated by researchers with the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University, is lower than a Harvard University study released in May that put the number at 4,645.

Among the other conspiracy theories pushed by Trump without any evidence:

* The father of Sen. Ted Cruz was involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. (He wasn’t.)

* Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was possibly murdered as opposed to dying from natural causes. (There’s no evidence of this.)

* Thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrated after the attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. (Police say this didn’t happen.)

* Global warming was a hoax put forth by the Chinese to hurt U.S. manufacturing. (It’s not.)

* The noise from wind turbines causes cancer. (It doesn’t.)

* The “Central Park Five” — five teenagers accused of assaulting and raping a woman in 1989 — might still be guilty of the crime. (The group was exonerated by both DNA evidence and a confession from the actual rapist.)

Vaccines cause autism. (There is no link.)

* Obama ordered a wiretap of Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign. (There is no evidence of this.)

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