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Trump combines lies and reckless cruelty in his war against Joe Scarborough

President Donald Trump
REUTERS/Leah Millis
President Donald Trump
To me, the No. 1 most prominent quality of Donald J. Trump, the current president of the United States, is mendacity. That’s lying and spreading untruths. 

Trump’s reckless cruelty is somewhere on the list, but when I think of his shortcomings, as a person and a president, his cruelty usually doesn’t threaten lying for the top spot. 

Maybe yesterday it did. Or maybe it’s the double whammy of cruelty while passing along lies.

In case you’ve missed this tale, back when Joe Scarborough (who now has a show on MSNBC called “Morning Joe”) was a Republican congressman from Florida, a woman named Laurie Klausutis, who worked in his Florida congressional office, keeled over, hit her head on her desk, and died. 

The Florida medical examiner, a forensic pathologist, examined, investigated and ruled that Klausutis, who suffered from a diseased valve of her heart, fell over because of the heart problem, struck her head during the fall, and died of the blow. There was no suggestion of foul play. Here’s the medical examiner’s report. 

Until recently, I had never heard of the incident, nor had you, nor had Donald Trump. 

Scarborough, despite a career in Republican politics, left the House and got a morning talk show on the liberal cable news network, MSNBC, where he is now regularly critical of Trump‘s performance as president.

Personally, I would say it’s OK for Trump to dislike a talk show host who criticizes him a lot. But he’s supposed to be a grownup about it. He’s supposed to put his big boy pants on every morning and understand that he occupies the office of Washington, Lincoln and, yes, Barack Obama (whom some Republicans accused of being “unpresidential” because he wore a tan suit one day in the White House, complaining publicly that a tan suit was not an appropriate presidential wardrobe choice when there were serious matters to discuss.)

As is his wont, POTUS Trump has declared war on Scarborough, via tweet, for the obvious crime of saying mean things about Trump. But now Trump has decided to subscribe to the theory that, rather than dying in an accident caused by her underlying medical condition, Scarborough murdered Laurie Klausutis to cover up the fact that he (Scarborough) was having an affair with her.

Trump has been tweeting and retweeting on the subject. If credible evidence arises that Scarborough murdered her, I will apologize for this post (something Donald John Trump would never do). But, among the people who do not believe that Scarborough murdered Laurie Klausutis is her husband. Neither he nor the police, nor the medical examiner, believe that, but apparently some people with Twitter accounts believe it and have tweeted their suspicions, which moved the apparently-not-too-busy-with-his-day-job current president of the United States to retweet the Scarborough-killed-her theories.

Trump did not just pass along tweets from others invoking this libel, which would be bad enough, but he wrote in his own voice, for example, on Twitter:

“When will they open a Cold Case on the Psycho Joe Scarborough matter in Florida. Did he get away with murder? Some people think so. Why did he leave Congress so quietly and quickly? Isn’t it obvious? What’s happening now? A total nut job!”

According to this AP story, the man who lost his wife asked Twitter to stop allowing his wife to be smeared and used in this manner. In a letter to Twitter, Timothy Klausutis “wrote that he has struggled to move on with his life due to the ongoing ‘bile and misinformation’ spread about his wife on the platform.” 

Klausutis wrote:

The frequency, intensity, ugliness, and promulgation of these horrifying lies ever increases on the internet. These conspiracy theorists, including most recently the President of the United States, continue to spread their bile and misinformation on your platform disparaging the memory of my wife and our marriage. President Trump on Tuesday tweeted to his nearly 80 million followers alluding to the repeatedly debunked falsehood that my wife was murdered by her boss, former U.S. Rep. Joe Scarborough. The son of the president followed and more directly attacked my wife by tweeting to his followers as the means of spreading this vicious lie.

Klausutis has asked the CEO of Twitter to take down all those tweets and stop allowing Twitter to be used to cause him further pain by people making up slurs against his late wife. 

Me, I don’t tweet or retweet or, generally, read tweets until some news story forces them into my field of vision. Perhaps I’m missing a lot of good stuff. I’ll take that risk in order to occasionally find time to read a book. 

But even if I joined the active twitterati, I wouldn’t use it this way, and I kinda think the president of the United States should have better things to do with his time, his talents and what’s left of his reputation.

Meanwhile, here’s the AP story on which this post is based. The headline writer seems to think the outrage is that Twitter doesn’t shut down the Trumpian tweets and retweets. I think the bigger outrage is that the POTUS is spending time and energy on such pettiness and cruelty. I’m hopelessly old-fashioned about what the job of a president is, or was.

Comments (26)

  1. Submitted by Brian Simon on 05/27/2020 - 11:19 am.

    I don’t really expect a president to be a nice person, or “somebody you’d like to have a beer with.” But I don’t understand how anyone takes the petulant child that is our president seriously, or as anything other than a raging [jerk] (self edited).

  2. Submitted by LK WOODRUFF on 05/27/2020 - 11:20 am.

    Trump lives to be cruel, divisive and destructive. He gets off on it. This is what empty individuals do. He cares about no one but himself. He listens only to the voices in his addled head. There is nothing normal or healthy about him. Why anyone on the planet still follows him–let alone admires him–defies all logic or rationality. What has gone wrong in this country that we have come to this supremely dysfunctional place?

  3. Submitted by Fred Ziffel on 05/27/2020 - 11:45 am.

    I wished to add something to one comment in this piece and was also taken aback by another. I was surprised to read: “Until recently, I had never heard of the incident, nor had you, nor had Donald Trump.” I can’t speak for Donald Trump but this story was widely discussed on many political blogs, including the preeminent progressive blog “Daily Kos.” In fact a social media spat between Joe Scarborough and Marcos Moulitsas, the founder of Daily Kos and a regular feature on MSNBC was publicly and officially banned after referring to a “dead intern.” Michael Moore actually purchased the web url in 2004 after also publicly discussing this incident. Most of the furor over this incident really revolved around the treatment that Scarborough received from high profile establishment media as opposed to Gary Condit who was hounded
    and mocked as connected in some way to the murder of his intern. Condit was a democrat, Scarborough a conservative republican during the bush years in which such people faced zero criticism for any potentially embarrassing behavior. Few people probably believed that Scarborough actually was involved in the murder of Lori Klausutis, but the fact that it was ignored by mainstream media completely, even after Scarborough and his press secretary publicly claimed that this woman had a history of chronic health issues which was untrue and most importantly of all (something Eric totally omits here) that the medical examiner was fired not only in Florida but also in a another state for falsifying autopsies, ultimately being arrested in 2012 for possession of human organs illegally stolen during subsequent procedures. Said medical examiner also was a major campaign donor to Scarborough’s congressional campaigns and in a small town environment in a completely partisan (Republican) area would not have possibly publicly released a controversial autopsy even if it had occurred. The irony here is that large corporate media and progressives who now see this flap as another potential cudgel to use against Donald Trump are now flocking to discuss a story (albeit disingenuously as Eric did here) that they have ignored up until now. I’d agree that Donald Trump’s behavior here as President is grossly unpresidential, but these kinds of sanctimonious and misleading hit pieces only undermine public media and allow Trump to legitimately vilify “fake news.”

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 05/28/2020 - 12:20 pm.

      If the point here was that liberals also made false allegations several decades ago, that’s fair. I don’t like Michael Moore because he doesn’t care much for facts and science, even if he claims to be a liberal. That was awful behavior

      The mainstream media probably didn’t cover it because it wasn’t a story. A young employee Scarborough barely knew died in Florida while he was in DC. Gary Condit didn’t kill Chandra Levy, but he had at least been sleeping with her. It was a non-story.

      Trump is being criticized because he is bringing it up again decades later. Its not a Democratic cudgel – anyone with even a shred of human decency should be horrified by what Trump is doing to that woman’s family. Of course Trump knows it isn’t true – only a complete and utter moron would think it could be true. Trump is such a cruel and dishonest man that he is willing to lie and further hurt people who have suffered through a terrible tragedy.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/28/2020 - 01:04 pm.

      Irony aside, there is no small amount of cruelty in dredging up debunked conspiracy theories as a way of playing the “liberals are hypocrites” game. You are dancing on Ms. Klausutis’s grave to make a very minor point.

  4. Submitted by Gene Nelson on 05/27/2020 - 11:59 am.

    Impossible for me to understand the attraction to some of trump, with his constant flow of lies and insults, who speaks at a level of a grade schooler. Even worse, how he dismisses the medical experts during this pandemic, thoroughly endangering all of us.
    Is this how republicanism has evolved?

  5. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 05/27/2020 - 12:44 pm.

    Mr. Scarborough is merely the latest in a string of bright, shiny objects Mr. Trump hopes will sufficiently distract voters from his dismal (one might almost say “traitorous”) record as chief executive when the election gets here in November. We’ll surely see equally mendacious statements and “some people have said” allegations from Mr. Trump around mail-in voting – they’ve already started, actually – and any other topic du jour that Trump and Brad Parscale, his campaign manager at the moment, think might help him at the polls.

  6. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/27/2020 - 01:02 pm.

    One of the many dangers of the Trump presidency is that his conduct is being normalized. The lies and offensive statements come at such a dizzying pace that we are reduced to saying “Ignore it – he won’t change.” In other words, let’s have the responsibility fall on media outlets, who should be shielding us from the speech of the President of the United States.

    I don’t know if it’s just a matter of the times we live in, the peculiar nature of the Trump regime, or both.

  7. Submitted by Bill Mantis on 05/27/2020 - 01:09 pm.

    “Cruelty” is the correct term. A psychopath, of course, doesn’t realize when he’s being cruel. Cruelty comes automatically to Trump. He simply thinks he’s simply being fair when he’s acting cruel. He can’t tell the difference. Other Republicans? They can’t either, apparently.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/27/2020 - 03:02 pm.

      “He simply thinks he’s simply being fair when he’s acting cruel.”

      I don’t think fairness is something he thinks about, at least as it might concern his conduct.

      The rest of the world is being unfair to him if they do not treat him with unreserved adulation.

  8. Submitted by Roy Everson on 05/27/2020 - 01:19 pm.

    The whatabout-ists are bound to come up with something good.

  9. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 05/27/2020 - 01:50 pm.

    As before, what does this say about the Trump supporters, their values, republican values? It speaks volumes in my mind about lack of values. Anyone that would support someone that gets their jollies by making up stuff to defame, and emotionally punish folks for what reason is that again? I can easily believe the true story, I had a very close friend back in 1994, 37 years old great physical shape, married, 2 kids, one February morning, taking a shower, boom heart attack, cracked his head on the tub going down, all over in a matter of minutes.

  10. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 05/27/2020 - 02:58 pm.

    I’m sorry that Reagan and his pals revoked the “Fairness Doctrine” which required radio and TV broadcast networks to allow victims of slander and lies equal time for rebuttal. That was a sort of tradeoff to the policy adopted by the Supreme Court in New York Times v. Sullivan that a defense to a defamation action is that the plaintiff is a public figure. Maybe the Fairness Doctrine can’t be resuscitated but maybe it’s time to overturn the New York Times v. Sullivan doctrine, at least as far as prevents non-public officials from bringing slander cases. If the Chief Executive cannot uphold and defend the Constitution as far as the First Amendment rights of people like Scarborough, he ought be held accountable by some legal sanction without a First Amendment right-type of defense.

  11. Submitted by Constance Sullivan on 05/27/2020 - 03:29 pm.

    Boys, I can’t believe how everyone here is missing one big fact: The true target and the true victim here is a then-28-year-old married woman who died accidentally 19 years ago. The object of Trump’s cruelty is a long-dead innocent female.

    Find that new, do you–that Trump uses women cruelly and without shame?

    She was not a politician or a major media figure, but a private citizen, a woman Trump has reviled by implying that she had been committing adultery with her boss. Wild, totally unsubstantiated theories. The woman’s husband is the only one who seems to realize that his dead wife’s good name is being smeared on Twitter by Trump and Company.

    Dorsey, of Twitter, continues not to get it, of course. His motive is financial profit, quite boldly and through repeating Trump’s cruelty.

    And in our focus on Trump, which is his sole desire, we are ;completely forgetting her.

    But we all know that it’s only the men who matter, right?

  12. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 05/27/2020 - 07:25 pm.

    Aesop > Quotes > Quotable Quote

    “A man is known by the company he keeps”

    ― Aesop

    And that ain’t good news for the Republican leadership. The chickens are coming home to roost in November. They will never admit it, but they know they let a golden opportunity pass by not impeaching and removing when they had the chance.

  13. Submitted by Kevin Schumacher on 05/27/2020 - 07:45 pm.

    Mr. trump, impeached president is a sociopath, so do not expect apology, remorse or sadness. It will get worse as his personality deteriorates. What bothers me most is the hypocrisy of his religious and political supporters, who have abandoned any pretense of moral backbone.

  14. Submitted by Richard Steuland on 05/28/2020 - 02:31 am.

    Time to face the facts and realize that we have And realize that an anti social element that has seized the reigns of power. Trump has some very nefarious goals and democracy suffers from it. Trump wants to have absolute power. His role models are Hitler, Pol Pot and other destructively self absorbed personalities. He is not alone In his aims. A host of equally destructively selfish politicians In the varied national , state and local government work to destroy the values of democracy. The once respectable Republican Party has been seized by antisocial elements with total power as their aim. Fascism. My great hope is that these destructively anti social persons are voted out this November 3.

  15. Submitted by Eric Snyder on 05/28/2020 - 09:03 am.

    Apparently we’ve reached the point where Trump is trying to incite violence over twitter:

    ‘You lunatic!’ Trump sparks horror by promoting video that says ‘only good Democrat is a dead Democrat’

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/28/2020 - 12:21 pm.

      And you can be sure that the reaction to any criticism will be a disinterested shrug, if not angry denunciations of the unfair media and what about that one time that guy called for hanging Trump, huh? What about it? There won’t even be a ritual non-apology apology, or something about “an unfortunate choice of words.”

      The man and his devotees lack sufficient moral direction even to be two-faced.

  16. Submitted by Richard Steuland on 05/29/2020 - 06:54 am.

    Trump remains in power because the Senate Republicans lacked the courage to uphold their oath of office. Many Senators have taken large sums from Russian oligarchy and the Koch clan. The plan has been to subtly dismantle Democracy and pass laws that let Corporations continue their destruction of our planet. Moscow Mitch has become very wealthy on just his government salary. Snark.

    • Submitted by Steve Roth on 05/30/2020 - 08:31 am.

      Good point and one many pundits and media miss: the GOP is just as culpable and nefarious as Trump. They enable and support this horror. Put aside the fact that from the judiciary to policy it will take decades to unravel the damage they have done to the country (started long before Trump got into office), the immediate danger and damage is done every day they are silent about his abhorrent behavior. The hypocrisy levels are off the charts with the GOP. They are cowards. No one can justify defending the indefensible any longer.

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 06/02/2020 - 02:57 pm.

      I’m not sure how spineless you have to give into blackmail, but many individual Republicans and the GOP, in general, are not standing by helplessly of their own volition. I think Lindsey Graham proves that you don’t necessarily have to be in the pocket of the Kremlin to be a Very Bad Person. I don’t know what he’s trying to protect, but it’s got to be pretty important to go from wanting to “lose without Trump” to wanting to “win with him.”

  17. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 05/29/2020 - 08:18 am.

    DJT Is massively ignorant of the Constitution, the rule of law and incapable of understanding the basics of “Unintended consequences”. And as he nears the end of his term all guard rails have fallen away as anyone with any influence or practical intelligence has been fired or fled the scene.

    His social media executive order threats may be a pinnacle: Twitter violates all of its’ terms of service to accommodate Trump: any regular user would have long ago been banned. They finally add what is essentially a footnote to blatant lies and Trump goes berserk and threatens to take away liability protections for Internet providers.

    Which would be perfect: Trump would have to be banned and his posts removed because Twitter would now be liable for his misstatements.

    Forget about little blue boxes suggesting to learn more about something he says: start lining up the Pinocchios on every comment and post….

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