President Donald Trump is no stranger to conspiracy-mongering. He’s pushed wild birther theories about his predecessor, Barack Obama, suggested windmills cause cancer and claimed climate change is a hoax manufactured by the Chinese, among other bizarre assertions.
He’s also refused to reject the far-right QAnon movement, calling supporters of the outlandish conspiracy theory “people who love our country.”
But Trump appears to have outdone himself this week, publicly parroting multiple conspiracy theories and unsubstantiated claims in recent days. Here are 10 egregious examples:
At a Monday press conference, Trump defended Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old Trump supporter who fatally shot two people in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The president said, without evidence, that Rittenhouse had acted in self-defense when he opened fire at a Black Lives Matter protest, killing two people and wounding another. The demonstration had been organized in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man.
Trump blamed the unrest on “left-wing political violence” and claimed Rittenhouse had been “trying to get away” from protesters who then “violently attacked him” when the shooting occurred.
Also Monday, Trump touted several conspiracy theories in an interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham, including the claim that there had been a plane full of “thugs” who attempted to disrupt the GOP convention.
Trump told Ingraham during the interview ― which was broadcast in two parts on Monday and Tuesday ― that “somebody” had seen the planeload of “thugs, wearing these dark uniforms ... with gear and this and that” traveling from some unknown city to wreak havoc at the Republican National Convention, which was largely held remotely this year using pretaped videos amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump has offered zero evidence to back up this wild claim.
Trump suggested that “some very stupid rich people” are bankrolling violent protesters involved in anti-racism demonstrations across the country.
The president has similarly not provided any evidence to support this conspiracy theory.
He also claimed that Portland, Oregon, where protests against racism and police violence have raged for three months, has been burning for decades.
Portland fire officials were quick to push back against this claim.
“We are not on fire. We have not been on fire,” Lt. Rich Chatman, a spokesperson for Portland Fire & Rescue, said this week.
Trump told Ingraham that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden appears to be hopped up on some sort of drug.
“He’s on some kind of an enhancement, in my opinion,” Trump said, adding that both he and Biden should take a drug test to check.
Back in 2016, Trump made similar allegations about his Democratic rival, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Trump claimed that “people that are in the dark shadows” are controlling Biden.
“People that you’ve never heard of” are controlling Biden, the president told Ingraham, prompting her to question whether Trump was touting a “conspiracy theory.”
He continued to push a false claim that COVID-19 isn’t as deadly as federal health agencies have reported.
Trump retweeted a post on Sunday, since deleted, that erroneously claimed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had “quietly” updated its numbers “to admit that only 6%” of people who died of the coronavirus had “actually” died of the virus since “the other 94% had 2-3 other serious illnesses.”
Trump repeated this claim in his interview with Ingraham ― despite its inaccuracy.
While the CDC has said that 6% of COVID-19 victims’ death certificates list the coronavirus as the sole of death, officials have made it clear that the listing of co-morbidities ― including chronic conditions such as hypertension and diabetes ― doesn’t mean the person did not die of COVID-19.
“A small number of people have COVID ascribed as the sole cause of death. It may be they had no co-morbidities or they were just not noted,” Dr. Myron Cohen, director of the Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told Politifact of the data. “However, it is also clear that advanced age and several other underlying diseases lead to bad outcomes with COVID infections. The people dying were not going to die but for the acquisition of COVID.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, also contradicted Trump’s claim.
Trump insisted he won the 2016 popular vote, which he lost by nearly 3 million ballots to Clinton.
The president told Ingraham that he actually won the popular vote “in a true sense” because the votes of a libertarian candidate should have counted for him.
Trump also suggested, without evidence, that there was “tremendous” voter fraud in California, New York and “other places.”
Trump repeated the claim that the November election will be “rigged” because of mail-in voting.
Trump has, in recent weeks, repeatedly sought to undermine public confidence in mail-in voting ― even as he and first lady Melania Trump have requested mail-in ballots themselves ― by pushing baseless conspiracy theories about potential voter fraud.
He did this again on Wednesday, retweeting an article published by the right-wing website The National Pulse about how Trump may appear to win by a landslide on Election Day because mail-in votes won’t all have been counted yet.
The Pulse article is based on an interview aired on “Axios on HBO.” According to Axios, far more Democrats are expected to vote by mail in November than Republicans. Since those votes may not be counted for days or weeks after Election Day, Trump may appear to have won at first ― even if he ultimately loses the vote.
“Rigged Election?” Trump tweeted in response to this possibility.
On two consecutive days, he appeared to encourage voters to cast their votes twice.
While Trump warned, baselessly, of potential voter fraud on the one hand, he also appeared to encourage his supporters to commit voter fraud themselves by voting twice.
Speaking at a Pennsylvania rally on Thursday, Trump said mail-in ballots “are a disgrace” and urged voters to send in their absentee ballots before voting again in person.
“What you have to do is send in your early ballot and then go and make sure that ballot is tabulated or counted, and if it’s not counted, vote,” he said. “And then they have the job, if it comes in late, or if it’s not too late, they have the job of making sure that it’s not counted.”
The president had made a similar suggestion on Wednesday to supporters in North Carolina.
It is ― needless to say ― illegal to vote twice.