A former acting U.S. Solicitor General criticized President Donald Trump this weekend for retweeting a post promoting a conspiracy theory about alleged sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein’s death.
“It is unfathomable to me that a President of the United States would retweet this. Literally unfathomable,” Neal Katyal, who served from 2010 to 2011 under former President Barack Obama, tweeted on Saturday afternoon. “It would be outrageous for even a member of a local city council, let alone from the person who is to Take Care that the Laws be Faithfully Executed.”
Epstein, a millionaire financier who was in custody after being accused of sex trafficking, died in his Manhattan jail cell on Saturday. He appeared to have committed suicide.
Trump took to Twitter on Saturday to share a conspiracy theory about Epstein’s death. “Died of SUICIDE on 24/7 SUICIDE WATCH? Yeah right! How does that happen. #JeffreyEpstein had information on Bill Clinton & now he’s dead. I see #TrumpBodyCount trending but we know who did this!” comedian Terrence K. Williams tweeted, without citing any evidence. Trump later retweeted Williams’ remarks.
2020 Democratic presidential candidates, including former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke and Senator Cory Booker, rebuked Trump for promoting the theory on Sunday morning.
“This is another example of our president using this position of public trust to attack his political enemies with unfounded conspiracy theories,” O’Rourke said during an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union, before then accusing the president of using “bizarre behavior” to shift the conversation away from the El Paso shooting.
Booker called Trump’s social media activity “just more recklessness.” “What he is doing is dangerous,” the senator said during an appearance on CNN. “He is giving life to not just conspiracy theories but really whipping people up into anger and worse against different people in this country.”
Booker also reminded viewers of Trump’s history of promoting conspiracy theories related to former President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary Clinton, a Democrat who ran against Trump in 2016. “This is a very dangerous president that we have right now,” the 2020 candidate said. “Trying to divide us against each other and really using the same tactics and same language not just of white supremacists, but also using the same tactics and languages of the Russians if you look at the intelligence reports about how they’re coming at our democracy.”
White House Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway defended the president’s tweet on Fox News earlier today. “I think the president just wants everything to be investigated,” she said during an interview on the network.
Although Conway noted that the theories were “all speculative,” she suggested that there may be “public interest” in probing the link between Epstein and the Clintons.
“You do hear different people asking questions and they want to know who else was involved in Epstein’s crimes or even just activities,” she said.