Over Memorial Day weekend, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to promote a baseless conspiracy theory that MSNBC host and former congressman Joe Scarborough might have murdered one of his staffers, Lori Klausutis, who died unexpectedly in 2001 while working in a Florida office while Scarborough was in Washington, D.C.
Speaking to reporters in the Capitol on Wednesday, Liz Cheney, the third-ranking Republican in the House, urged the president to knock it off. “I do think the president should stop tweeting about Joe Scarborough. We’re in the middle of a pandemic. He’s the commander in chief of this nation. And it’s causing great pain to the family of the young woman who died,” Cheney told reporters.
When Republican House minority leader Kevin McCarthy was asked about the matter on Wednesday, he said: “I was not here with Joe Scarborough. I don’t quite know about the subject itself. I don’t know the subject well.”
Most Republicans in Congress have kept quiet about the matter. Besides Cheney, two others have weighed in. House Republican Adam Kinzinger of Illinois tweeted on Saturday:
Completely unfounded conspiracy. Just stop. Stop spreading it, stop creating paranoia. It will destroy us. https://t.co/XgDl6LmANb
— Adam Kinzinger (@RepKinzinger) May 24, 2020
Utah senator Mitt Romney weighed in Wednesday morning on Twitter:
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.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) May 27, 2020
T.J. Klausutis, the widower of Lori Klausutis, wrote a letter on May 21 asking Twitter to remove the tweets promoting the conspiracy theory about his deceased wife. The letter said in part:
I have mourned my wife every day since her passing. I have tried to honor her memory and our marriage. As her husband, I feel that one of my marital obligations is to protect her memory as I would have protected her in life. There has been a constant barrage of falsehoods, half-truths, innuendo and conspiracy theories since the day she died. I realize that may sound like an exaggeration, unfortunately it is the verifiable truth. Because of this, I have struggled to move forward with my life.
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. 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.
You can read the whole letter here.