Sinking precipitously in national polls, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Monday promoted a conspiracy tying Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton to the state execution of an Iranian nuclear scientist.
Trump’s suggestion was broadly mocked, and The Washington Post’s Josh Rogin stated flatly that “Clinton’s email server did not lead to an Iranian scientist’s death.”
But this was not even the most egregious instance of Trump floating theories that link his political opponents to real or supposed murders.
In December 2013, just 18 months before launching his presidential campaign, Trump implied in a tweet that President Barack Obama was somehow connected to the death of Hawaii’s state health director. Loretta Fuddy, the Hawaii official who verified and approved the public release of Obama’s birth certificate in 2011, died after a plane crash.
Fuddy and seven other passengers were aboard a small Honolulu-bound aircraft that experienced engine failure. The pilot conducted a successful emergency water landing, but an autopsy found that Fuddy, 64, died from a cardiac arrhythmia while she awaited rescue in the choppy waters.
Trump has also recently highlighted conspiracy theories surrounding the 1993 suicide of Vince Foster, a close friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton. For decades, some fringe conservative activists have claimed that Foster was actually murdered and that the Clintons were responsible.
Asked about Foster’s death in May, Trump called theories of possible foul play “very serious” and the circumstances of Foster’s death “very fishy,” The Washington Post reported.
“I will say there are people who continue to bring it up because they think it was absolutely a murder,” Trump said. “I don’t do that because I don’t think it’s fair.”
Foster’s sister, Sheila Foster Anthony, responded in an op-ed: “It is beyond contempt that a politician would use a family tragedy to further his candidacy, but such is the character of Donald Trump,” she wrote. “How wrong. How irresponsible. How cruel.”
Trump’s most fervent supporters show a similar interest in political assassination conspiracies. On the largest pro-Trump Reddit forum, some of the most popular recent posts focus on the recent murder of a young Democratic National Committee staffer named Seth Conrad Rich.
In July, Rich was fatally shot while walking near his home in Washington D.C. Police believe it was a botched robbery attempt, one of a string of related incidents in the neighborhood. On the pro-Trump message boards, more nefarious (and baseless) plots are discussed, like the idea that Rich’s murder was tied to the leak of DNC emails.