August 11, 2019 10:03 am
Updated: August 11, 2019 2:59 pm

Trump retweets baseless conspiracies about Epstein death

WATCH: Lawyer representing victims says civil case against Jeffrey Epstein's estate will continue

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Unfounded conspiracy theories around Jeffrey Epstein’s apparent suicide behind bars have been boosted by all kinds of Twitter users, including U.S. President Donald Trump.

Trump drew attention Saturday for retweeting unsubstantiated claims about the financier’s death.

Screenshot of one of U.S. President Donald Trump’s retweets.

@realDonaldTrump / Twitter

READ MORE: Skepticism, conspiracy theories swirl following Jeffrey Epstein’s apparent suicide

Epstein, 66, was arrested on July 6 on allegations that he orchestrated a sex-trafficking ring designed to bring him teenage girls. Some of his accusers have described being sexually abused by his friends and acquaintances.

WATCH: Jeffrey Epstein dies by apparent suicide in prison

Both of Trump’s weekend retweets included unsubstantiated conspiracy theories implicating the Clintons.

One retweet came from an unverified account that claimed to have breaking news about Epstein.

“BREAKING: Documents were unsealed yesterday revealing that top Democrats, including Bill Clinton, took private trips to Jeffrey Epstein’s ‘pedophilia island,’” it said.

Trump also retweeted a post from a comedian that used the hashtag #ClintonBodyCount and questioned how Epstein could have died while on suicide watch — a claim that is false.

“Died of SUICIDE on 24/7 SUICIDE WATCH ? Yeah right! How does that happen #JefferyEpstein had information on Bill Clinton & now he’s dead,” the post alleged.

The Associated Press, Reuters and the New York Times have already reported that Epstein was off suicide watch when he died.

The Associated Press reports that Epstein had been placed on suicide watch after he was found a little over two weeks ago with bruising on his neck, according to a person familiar with the matter who wasn’t authorized to discuss it publicly. But he was taken off the watch at the end of July and therefore wasn’t on it at the time of his death, the person said.

Epstein’s arrest last month drew national attention, particularly focusing on a deal that allowed Epstein to plead guilty in 2008 to soliciting a minor for prostitution in Florida and avoid more serious federal charges.

Federal prosecutors in New York reopened the probe after investigative reporting by The Miami Herald stirred outrage over that plea bargain.

WATCH: U.S. Democratic presidential candidate says it’d have been good for Epstein to face justice


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READ MORE: A timeline of events in the Jeffrey Epstein case

His lawyers maintained that the new charges in New York were covered by the 2008 plea deal and that Epstein hadn’t had any illicit contact with underage girls since serving his 13-month sentence in Florida.

Before his legal troubles, Epstein led a life of extraordinary luxury that drew powerful people into his orbit. He socialized with princes and presidents and lived on a 100-acre private Caribbean island and one of the biggest mansions in New York.

READ MORE: ‘Heads must roll’ — U.S. senator calls on DOJ to investigate after Epstein’s apparent suicide

Both Clinton and Trump have denied being privy to Epstein’s alleged scheme.

Clinton spokesman Angel Urena said the former president “knows nothing about the terrible crimes Jeffrey Epstein pleaded guilty to in Florida some years ago, or those with which he has been recently charged in New York.” He said that, in 2002 and 2003, Clinton took four trips on Epstein’s plane with multiple stops and that staff and his Secret Service detail travelled on every leg.

Trump has acknowledged knowing Epstein but said he “had a falling out with him a long time ago.”

WATCH: (From July 2019) Acosta quits Trump administration over Jeffrey Epstein plea deal

Democratic presidential contenders Beto O’Rourke and Cory Booker were among the critics who slammed Trump for promoting unfounded conspiracy theories.

“This is another example of our president using this position of public trust to attack his political enemies with unfounded conspiracy theories,” O’Rourke, a former congressman from Texas, said on CNN’s State of the Union.

O’Rourke said Trump was trying to shift the public’s focus away from last weekend’s two deadly mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, which have led to new calls for gun restrictions and criticism of Trump’s divisive anti-immigrant and racially charged rhetoric.

“He’s changing the conversation, and if we allow him to do that then we will never be able to focus on the true problems, of which he is a part,” O’Rourke said from his hometown of El Paso.

WATCH: Protest organizer says Trump’s rhetoric is to blame in El Paso shooting

Booker, a U.S. senator from New Jersey, said Trump’s retweet was “just more recklessness.”

“He is giving life to not just conspiracy theories but really whipping people up into anger and worse against different people in this country,” he said on CNN.

O’Rourke and Booker are among two dozen candidates seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican Trump for the White House in 2020. Nearly all of those Democrats have condemned Trump’s incendiary rhetoric for inflaming racial tensions and anger.

“We’ve seen people’s lives being threatened because this president whips up hatred. This is a very dangerous president that we have now,” Booker said.

READ MORE: Trump ‘seems to derive joy’ from inciting hateful speech: Kamala Harris

Trump has a history of promoting conspiracy theories about political rivals. Even before he was a presidential candidate, Trump repeatedly questioned whether former President Barack Obama was born in the United States, even after Obama produced a birth certificate proving that he was.

During the Republican presidential nomination race in 2016, Trump spread an unfounded conspiracy theory linking the father of rival U.S. Senator Ted Cruz to the assassination of former President John Kennedy, a claim Cruz denounced as a lie.

 

With files from Hannah Jackson, Reuters and the Associated Press

 

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.

The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, Depression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 all offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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