Trump Defends Retweeting Conspiracy Theories About Jeffrey Epstein’s Suicide

Trump Defends Retweeting Conspiracy Theories About Jeffrey Epstein’s Suicide

Donald Trump, the “retweets are not necessarily endorsements” president.

The president on Tuesday defended his retweeting of a conspiracy theory that billionaire Jeffrey Epstein did not commit suicide in his Manhattan jail cell, but was murdered on orders of the Clintons. The tweet was written by Terrence K. Williams, who bills himself as an “actor, comedian, commentator,” but whose Twitter feed seems to be full of mostly bog-standard conservative complaints about the liberal media and claims that Trump is not a racist.

Or, as Trump put it:

“He’s a very highly respected conservative pundit. He’s a big Trump fan. And that was a retweet. That wasn’t from me, that was from him. But he’s a man who has half a million followers, a lot of followers, and he’s respected…The retweet, and that’s what it was, it’s a retweet, was from somebody that’s a very respected conservative pundit, so I think that was fine.”

Of course even if Williams was some sort of “respected conservative pundit,” this would not make his tweets responsible or accurate in any way, no matter how many Twitter followers he has or how much Trump tries to distance himself by saying he was merely retweeting something.

For example, Williams’ original tweet claimed Epstein was on suicide watch at the time of his suicide. Later reporting indicates that he was not. (Whether he should have been is a whole other question.)

Williams also posted a long rant on Sunday wondering how Epstein could have hung himself when prisoners on suicide watch are only left alone with tissue paper, and “you can’t hang yourself with tissue paper.” Reporting indicates Epstein hung himself with a bedsheet.

In the same video, Williams says that Epstein had been released from suicide watch before he killed himself, so he’s not a model of consistency here.

It is no surprise that none of this matters to Trump, who has long trafficked in conspiracy theories himself. But the reporters present let him babble on with no pushback and no debunking of the original tweet. Nor did they seem ready to provide context for who Williams is and why his conspiracism is irresponsible, even if he does have half a million followers.

Watch Trump’s remarks in the embedded tweet above.

Gary Legum

Gary Legum has written about politics and culture for Independent Journal Review, Salon, The Daily Beast, Wonkette, AlterNet and McSweeney's, among others. He currently lives in his native state of Virginia.