The president of the United States—who led the racist birther movement, repeatedly floated the baseless suggestion that Ted Cruz’s dad helped kill JFK, and once retweeted the “White Genocide” Twitter account while running in 2016—on Saturday evening elevated a conspiracy theory claiming accused serial sex-abuser Jeffrey Epstein was murdered behind bars by the Clinton family—and his aides say they were expecting it.
The White House, unsurprisingly, did not provide comment for this story. Still, this comes as no shock to those working in Trumpworld. One White House official said that as soon as Clinton conspiracy theories began bubbling up online about Epstein’s passing, this official and other senior aides to Donald Trump immediately assumed that the president, an avid, longtime conspiracy theorist, would very soon tweet or say something about it. The aides, this official noted, began casually discussing and joking about what to do if Trump started going hard at the Clinton body-count conspiracy-theory-mongering. The general consensus among the president’s advisers is there is nothing they can do except wait for him to move on to something else, and hope he doesn’t make this a big thing.
So far, the president seems intent on making it, at least, a thing.
This weekend, news broke that Epstein, a 66-year-old financier and pedophile who had ties to the sitting Republican president, former Democratic president Bill Clinton, and other political and wealthy elites, had died inside a Manhattan correctional facility in what the Bureau of Prisons said was an “apparent suicide.”
On Saturday afternoon, another White House official told The Daily Beast that President Trump, who is currently in Bedminster, New Jersey, was made aware of the Epstein situation. His attorney general William Barr released a statement announcing an investigation into the circumstances of Epstein’s death. A few hours later, the president took it upon himself to retweet to his tens of millions of followers a post pointing the finger at Bill and Hillary Clinton, two of Trump’s premier political enemies.
“Died of SUICIDE on 24/7 SUICIDE WATCH ? Yeah right!...#JefferyEpstein had information on Bill Clinton & now he’s dead,” read the tweet by Terrence K. Williams. “I see #TrumpBodyCount trending but we know who did this! RT if you’re not Surprised.”
The message ended with, “#EpsteinSuicide #ClintonBodyCount #ClintonCrimeFamily.”
Still, the president had his defenders and those in his orbit who went farther than he did. Lynne Patton, a Trump family friend and an official at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, posted to Instagram a caption suggesting Epstein was “Hillary’d!!”
Other allies of the president were more diplomatic. “The Clinton body count stuff is up there with Kennedy assassination conspiracy when it comes to political reading. It’s too juicy to ignore,” said former Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), a current Trump surrogate, who added that he was being “tongue [in] cheek,” but that “I think the question is legit of how the hell does a high-profile perp on 24/7 watch knock himself off?”
As for the president’s signal-boost to the Clinton-related theory, Kingston said, “I think Trump is just stirring the plot. The left loves conspiracies as much as the right.”