US President Donald Trump is a fan of conspiracy theories
Washington (AFP) - The Clintons killed financier Jeffrey Epstein in jail, Barack Obama was secretly born in Africa... the wacky list of conspiracy theories promoted by President Donald Trump knows few limits.
- Clintons are killers? -
A pedophile financier who hobnobbed with the rich and famous dies in his New York jail cell hours after court documents on his sex-trafficking case are made public: the apparent suicide of Jeffrey Epstein on Saturday had all the elements of a paperback thriller.
But where senior officials might be expected to show caution, Trump retweeted a video rant by a comedian blaming former president Bill and former Trump election rival Hillary Clinton for Epstein's death on Saturday.
"For some odd reason, people that have information on the Clintons end up dead and they usually die from suicide," the comedian, Terrence K. Williams, says in all seriousness -- and with no proof.
Williams has about half a million Twitter followers. Trump? Some 63 million.
- Obama an illegal president -
A president accusing a former president of murder would be an unimaginable breach of Washington protocol if it came from anyone but Trump.
But he has form.
Trump's spectacular rise from television entertainer and real estate dealer rests in large part on his long-running pursuit of another presidential conspiracy theory: that his predecessor in the White House, Obama, was born in Kenya.
You have to have been born in the United States to seek the presidency, so Trump was really saying that the first black president was illegal.
Even Trump finally accepted this is not true. Obama was born in the US state of Hawaii.
- Who shot JFK? -
Along with the supposedly faked Moon landing, probably the richest of all US conspiracy fields is the assassination in 1963 of John F. Kennedy.
Was the president shot in Dallas by lone gunman Lee Harvey Oswald, as the police and the subsequent 10-month Warren Commission, found?
Or was his murder arranged by the CIA? Or Cuba? Or the KGB? The unproven theories are many.
Trump, when running for the White House in 2016, added an incredible new twist: that none other than the father of one of his main opponents for the Republican nomination had a hand in the killing.
A grainy black and white photograph of Oswald shows an unidentified man in the background and that man, Trump claimed, with zero evidence, was opponent Ted Cruz's father.
"What was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death? Before the shooting?" Trump asked.
Trump has since quietly forgotten about this seemingly important question and is a supporter of Cruz, an influential senator.
- The case of the dead judge -
Also back in 2016, with Trump already frontrunner in the Republican nomination contest, there was the case of Antonin Scalia, a Supreme Court justice who died in his sleep.
Or did he?
The owner of the luxury ranch where Scalia had been on a hunting expedition said the judge was found in the morning, having apparently died peacefully. A pillow was over his head.
Trump and several right-wing media outlets smelled a plot -- or at least created one.
"They say they found the pillow on his face, which is a pretty unusual place to find a pillow," Trump told a conservative radio show.
"Over his head, not his face," the ranch owner had to repeat.
- #QAnon -
Maybe the weirdest conspiracy theory community is QAnon, a movement that believes an anonymous government insider, known as Q, is secretly leaking details of an epic battle between Trump and the Deep State seeking his overthrow.
Followers of Q look for coded messages online and in Trump's speeches for signals and supposedly leaked intel.
Yahoo News reported this month that the FBI has identified QAnon among other conspiracy hoaxes as posing a domestic terrorism threat.
But if the people of QAnon feel lonely in their paranoid world, they have a surprisingly sympathetic ear in the White House.
Trump has retweeted Q theories on numerous occasions and administration officials have met with open sympathizers. At Trump campaign rallies, Q insignia are increasingly part of the landscape.
Best of all? Some QAnon fans think they know Q's real identity: Donald Trump.