Donald Trump’s personal penchant for conspiracy theories, from birtherism to election denial, may be the biggest single reason why the Republican Party has devolved so thoroughly into tinfoil-hat territory over the last few years. So naturally he is all over the wacky speculation that cropped up within hours, or maybe even minutes, of last week’s attack against Paul Pelosi, husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. If anything, it’s a surprise it took the former president so long to add fuel to the conspiracy fire.
In an radio interview with conservative commentator Chris Stigall on Tuesday, the former president performed his familiar routine of sowing doubt about official narratives with a healthy amount of innuendo.
“I’m not a fan of Nancy Pelosi, but what’s going on there is very sad,” Trump said. “The whole thing is crazy,” he continued after Stigall claimed there was no evidence the attacker was politically motivated. “If there’s even a little bit of truth to what’s being said — the window was broken in, and it was strange the cops were standing there practically from the moment it all took place.”
Almost as soon as news outlets reported the attack against Pelosi, a predictable pattern emerged: Prominent right-wing media personalities seized on inconsistencies in early accounts of what happened to challenge the idea that it was motivated by political factors.
Police initially said that an unidentified person had answered the door, which gave rise to the idea that there were more than two people in the Pelosi home when police arrived. One outlet published a story claiming that Paul Pelosi had been in his underwear when police arrived, leading to fanciful theories of a lovers’ tryst. And a 911 call seemed to indicate that Pelosi knew his alleged attacker, David DePape, a point Stigall brought up with Trump. Social-media detectives analyzed the pattern of broken glass near the Pelosis’ back door in an attempt to prove that it did not line up with the official story.
Police statements since, including a comprehensive report on the incident, made clear that there were only two people in the house and that Paul Pelosi did not know DePape. Police say DePape specifically targeted the Pelosis’ home and wanted to break the Speaker’s kneecaps as a warning to other Democrats (though DePape’s apparent mental illness makes assigning him a coherent ideology a fraught exercise).
Naturally, none of that matters much to the people who continue to spout the disproven theory, often with a wink and a nod. And while some Republicans straightforwardly condemned the attack, other popular figures in the party made light of it, including Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and Donald Trump Jr.
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