At a televised speech Friday, and less than 24 hours after Donald Trump accepted the Republican nomination for president, the reality television personality breathed new life into a conspiracy theory that Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz’s father was an associate of President John F. Kennedy’s assassin.
“His father. I don’t know his father, I met him once,” Trump began, referencing Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz. “I think he’s a lovely guy. I think he’s a lovely guy. All I did is point out the fact that on the cover of the National Enquirer there was a picture of him and crazy Lee Harvey Oswald having breakfast.”
Trump then added that Cruz “never denied” that one of the men in the photo was his father.
“They’re not saying, ‘Oh that wasn’t really my father.’ It’s a little hard to do, because it looks like him,” Trump said.
Trump first invoked the tabloid story earlier this year during the primary, when he and Cruz were still rivals for the Republican presidential nomination, saying that Rafael Cruz was “with Lee Harvey Oswald” before Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas in 1963. He referenced a National Enquirer cover photo showing a group of men, including Lee Harvey Oswald, handing out pro-Fidel Castro literature in New Orleans in 1963. The tabloid claims that one of the men photographed next to Oswald is Cruz’s father.
The Cruz campaign denounced the story as “garbage,” saying unequivocally that the story is false and that Rafael Cruz is not in the picture. Cruz would later joke to the press about the story saying, “Yes, my dad killed JFK, he is secretly Elvis and Jimmy Hoffa is buried in his backyard.”
While the National Enquirer is mostly known for its stories of celebrity sex scandals and the occult, it has also published legitimate scoops, which Trump celebrated on Friday, citing stories the supermarket tabloid published on the love child of former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) during his 2008 presidential run and some coverage the magazine did on O.J. Simpson’s 1994 murder trial.
“I know nothing about his father, I know nothing about Lee Harvey Oswald,” Trump said. “But there was a picture on the front page of the National Enquirer which does have credibility, and they’re not going to do pictures like that because they get sued for a lot of money if things are wrong. There’s a picture, and that’s the only thing I know.”