President Donald Trump built his career on telling stories. A former business mogul prone to exaggeration, he spreads rumors like peanut butter on toast. For a private citizen, this quirk makes him unreliable and a little annoying. As president, it’s downright dangerous. Most recently, he cast doubt on the Access Hollywood tape that rocked his campaign. Believe it or not, that’s not even the most insane conspiracy theory he believes.
8. The Access Hollywood tape is ‘fake’
According to a New York Times story on why Trump continues to defend accused pedophile Roy Moore, Trump likens it to a scandal he weathered himself. You’ll recall that in the now-famous Access Hollywood tape, Trump boasted about grabbing women’s genitalia. The audio The Washington Post first reported, resulted in a flood of criticism and calls for his own resignation from the campaign. At the time, he acknowledged it happened and apologized. But earlier this year, The New York Times reports, he suggested to a senator that it was not authentic. More recently, he made the same claim to an adviser.
Whether Trump actually believes that or not is anyone’s guess. But waffling stands as par for the course, at this point.
Next: He kicked off his political career with these attacks.
7. Trump thought Barack Obama was born elsewhere
Despite scores of refutations, Trump used the allegation to propel himself to political relevance. “He doesn’t have a birth certificate, or if he does, there’s something on that certificate that is very bad for him,” he said in 2012. “Now, somebody told me — and I have no idea if this is bad for him or not, but perhaps it would be — that where it says ‘religion,’ it might have ‘Muslim.’ And if you’re a Muslim, you don’t change your religion, by the way.”
Trump’s accusations eventually gained so much traction that Obama held an event in 2011 in the White House briefing room in which he showed his birth certificate.
Next: Did Muslims celebrate the 9/11 attacks?
6. Trump thinks Muslims celebrated terrorist attacks after 9/11
During a campaign rally, Trump said that millions of people celebrated in New Jersey when the twin towers fell on Sept. 11, 2001. After the rally, ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos asked Trump if he misspoke. Instead of taking the out, Trump doubled down. “It was on television. I saw it,” Trump said. “It was well covered at the time. There were people over in New Jersey that were watching it, a heavy Arab population, that were cheering as the buildings came down. Not good.”
Politifact investigated the claim and found no evidence for its voracity. In fact, most Muslims decried the attacks and no evidence ever emerged of widespread celebrations on U.S. soil. Jersey City’s mayor — where Trump said he saw the protests — also denied it. “We aren’t about that,” he said, of his state.
Next: He accused his opponent’s father of something equally shocking.
5. Ted Cruz’s father was involved with the JFK assassination
During a phone interview on Fox and Friends, Trump mentioned a National Enquirer story claiming Ted Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz, was with Lee Harvey Oswald before the JFK assassination, The Hill recounted. He added the tabloid “does have credibility,” and that it gets sued if it prints incorrect information.
At the time, Cruz’s campaign dismissed the report as a “false” claim in a “tabloid full of garbage,” and the senator mocked the allegation. “Yes, my dad killed JFK, he is secretly Elvis, and Jimmy Hoffa is buried in his backyard,” Cruz said, at the time. However ridiculous, the theory gained some legs among Trump’s followers. Some tweeted about it anew before the JFK files became declassified in October, The Washington Examiner notes.
Next: Trump’s paranoia has no bounds.
4. Trump thought his predecessor wiretapped his residence
In March, Trump took to Twitter, claiming Obama wiretapped Trump tower. He called the move “McCarthyism,” and wrote, “How low has President Obama gone to tapp [sic] my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”
According to Reuters, the FBI and the Justice Department’s National Security Division found zero evidence of that. A memo went out to “confirm that they have no records related to wiretaps,” the department said. Those surveillance claims first appeared in conservative media before Trump caught wind and spread it. Obama later denounced the claim as “simply false” before an investigation to verify that launched.
Next: He doesn’t believe in science, in one key case.
3. The president believes vaccines cause autism
During the campaign, The New York Times reported that Trump promoted the idea that vaccines cause autism. He claimed that he knew a child who had befallen that fate, a topic that would have leveled a traditional candidate.
“Just the other day … a beautiful child went to have the vaccine, and came back, and a week later got a tremendous fever, got very, very sick, now is autistic,” Trump said at a Republican debate last September. Doctors, scientists, and the Centers for Disease Control all debunk that claim. But that never stopped Trump from spreading a theory.
Next: Trump also perpetuated rumors about a prominent judge’s death.
2. Trump spread theories that Anthony Scalia was murdered
After Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died in his sleep, many conspiracy theories arose. Right-wing commentator Alex Jones floated the idea that the justice may have died via foul play on his show, Mother Jones reports.
“Obama is just one vote away from being able to ban guns, open the borders, and actually have the court engage in its agenda and now Scalia dies. My gut tells me they killed him and all the intellectual evidence lays it out,” Jones said. Trump, who has appeared on Jones’ show, jumped right on the bandwagon.
“I’m hearing it’s a big topic,” Trump told radio host Michael Savage. “They say they found a pillow on his face, which is a pretty unusual place to find a pillow.” No evidence of murder subsequently emerged, nor did charges ever come of it.
Next: He considers a noted conspiracy theory site “real” news.
1. He tweeted out this site as a good news source
Trump tweeted out a conspiracy theory website that promotes his agenda. The website’s name, MAGAPILL, refers to Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again.” It marries that with the “red pill” concept, popular among the alt-right movement. As The Weekly Standard explains, taking a red pill refers to awakening to the “reality” of the group’s worldview.
The site routinely tweets conspiracy theories, including a frightening graphic about “the swamp.” MAGAPILL tweeted the politically motivated murder of DNC employee Seth Rich, which the family denies. It says members of Congress became involved in satanic rituals and child sex abuse. The site also shared the existence of an anonymous internet poster with “Q-level” security clearance, working to bring down the world order.
Trump’s attacking the legitimate news media is bad enough. When he promotes outright lies instead, the country has a real problem.
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