From big business to America First, Donald J. Trump is known for many things. Only time will tell whether his lasting legacy is a wall or a crater, but in terms of people alive today, everybody knows what Trump is all about. Of course, one of his most-notable attributes is his love of conspiracy theories. While you may already be familiar with the likes of birtherism and Rafael Cruz assassinating JFK, Trump has promoted many conspiracies over the years, so we’re going to look at some of those that have faded from public memory.
See Also: 10 Mind Boggling Presidential Conspiracy Theories
Trump has had a bit of a will-they/won’t-they relationship with Saudi Arabia, criticizing the nation before his election, and increasing ties with it afterwards. His relationship with Megyn Kelly is less ambiguous and, although they did officially make peace, most people will remember them as sworn enemies.
Perhaps that is why Megyn appeared in a conspiracy tweeted by Trump in January 2016. The grainy photo shows Megyn Kelly alongside a woman in a niqab and a man in a keffiyeh. The accompanying text claims that this is Prince Al-Waleed of Saudi Arabia with his sister, and that the Prince is a co-owner of Fox News. It is true that the prince owned a 5.5% stake in the parent company of Fox News (he sold it in 2017), but the image is a blatant fake that would probably earn a “More effort required” from your Photoshop teacher.
For a man with as many controversies as Donald Trump, it can be hard to keep track of them all. Few will remember when he was fined $2 million for using charitable funds to further his campaign, or that he doubled Mar-a-Lago fees after becoming President. But few will ever forget the infamous Access Hollywood tape, noted as one of the few times Trump has actually apologized for something. Except, apparently, Donald Trump himself.
Despite almost instantly owning up to and apologizing for what he said on the tape, twice in one day, Trump would later go on to question its authenticity. According to the New York Times, Trump started expressing doubts that the voice heard on the tape is in fact his, less than a year after admitting it was. He first made these claims to a Senator, before repeating them to an adviser a few months later. However, about a year after the denial story broke, Trump reversed his opinion again, claiming that the comments were said “in a trailer, secretly”, and that the tape was illegally released.
Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski are another example of Trump’s willingness to chop and change his relationships. Then-candidate Trump had spoken on Morning Joe countless times during the 2016 campaign, until he had a sudden falling out with the couple a few months before the election. After his victory, insults continued to fly, eventually driving Joe out of the Republican party altogether.
But it wasn’t until late 2017 that Trump really took aim at Scarborough, tweeting “And will they terminate low ratings Joe Scarborough based on the “unsolved mystery” that took place in Florida years ago? Investigate!”.
Trump was referring to an incident that took place in 2001, when Scarborough was working as a Republican congressman. On July 19, 28 year-old intern Lori Klausutis was found dead behind her desk at Scarborough’s Florida office by two visitors. An autopsy confirmed that Lori passed after an underlying, undiagnosed health condition caused her to lose consciousness, fracturing her skull against the desk as she fell. Despite the relatively straightforward nature of her passing, and a complete lack of suspicious circumstances, that hasn’t stopped Trump or his supporters from using her death as a weapon against his critics.
7Hurricane Maria Death Toll
In September 2017, Hurricane Maria, a Category 5 Atlantic hurricane, hit Dominica, St Croix, and Puerto Rico. Reaching speeds of up to 175mph, Maria was the worst natural disaster in recorded history to hit the islands, with the total number of fatalities estimated to be 3,057.
Initially, the Government of Puerto Rico claimed that only 64 people had died as a result of the hurricane, a figure that was quickly disputed. An investigation by the New York Times found that over 1,000 people died as a result of the storm. After a court case forced the government to reveal its statistical data, the number was estimated to be around 1,427, until a final study by George Washington University placed it at 2,975, which is now the official death toll for Puerto Rico.
Trump took the time to express his doubts about the official figures, noting that when he left “they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths” and claiming “Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000…..This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible”.
The reason that later reports arrived at much higher numbers is not only because their methodology was more accurate, but also because they counted those who died after the hurricane as a result of related issues, such as infection, lack of clean water, and poor healthcare provision. While Trump may have been right (or not far off) about the original estimate being much lower, he never provided any evidence that the subsequent figures are fake, while there is plenty to prove they are real.
6Hot Air Windmills
Throughout his campaign and presidency, Trump has been a major proponent of the coal industry. Before his victory, he promised to save the industry and “bring back coal”, promises he has followed up on by rolling back a number of Obama-era policies since he took the Oval Office. While Trump’s tactics haven’t really affected coal use, he’s still trying everything he can to convince people to switch from renewable energy back to fossil fuels, including making some pretty outlandish claims about windmills.
While speaking at the National Republican Congressional Committee’s spring dinner, President Trump first claimed that having windmills built near your house could devalue your property by as much as 75%. That’s a pretty dramatic claim by itself, although numerous studies have found “no statistical evidence” of this. But that claim is usually overshadowed by the one that followed seconds later, when Trump said “And they say the noise causes cancer, you tell me that one, okay?”. Needless to say, that claim was simply made up. Nobody ever thought that windmills cause cancer, research shows they don’t, and nobody thinks they might. That’s about it.
5ISIS Family Plan
Another one of Trump’s signature promises was to stem the flow of migrants into the United States. Although that promise mainly pertained to Mexcian immigrants, he also repeatedly voices his displeasure at the number of refugees coming in from the middle-east, particularly from Syria. At one point, Trump even claimed that Hillary was preparing to bring in 650 million refugees in one week, but that claim is so unashamedly ludicrous we can’t in good conscience classify it as a “conspiracy theory”.
Instead, we have a theory that is just ludicrous enough. Speaking to a crowd in Mesa, Arizona in late 2015, Trump queried how so many of the migrants could afford phones, asking “Where do they get cellphones? Who pays their monthly bills?”. He went on to describe how a friend had told these phones are just riddled with ISIS flags and videos of beheadings. He repeated these claims a few months later during an appearance on the National Border Patrol Council’s green line radio station.
What Trump failed to understand is that being a refugee does not equal being poor. Although Syria’s economy has certainly seen better days, it is not a country where people live in mud huts or wonder how the moon stays up. It is a normal country that has spent the better part of the last decade ravaged by war. So when you see a refugee with a phone, they probably just thought it was more convenient and useful than bringing their 65 inch TV.
With a population of 42 million, and an area around the size of Texas, the Ukraine is far from a small country, but it has never been a major player on the world stage. Despite this, the country has somehow frequently found itself entangled in Donald Trump’s controversies. Obviously, the Ukraine is at the center of the impeachment inquiries, but their involvement can be traced right back to when Trump first received the republican nomination and changed the party’s position on the Ukraine. While it is not unusual for the nominee to change the platform, Trump’s only change was that rather than providing “lethal defensive weapons” to help Ukrainians fight Russian forces, the US would provide “appropriate assistance”.
Soon after the issue of Russian meddling became a daily topic of conversation, Trump’s team floated an alternative theory: that the Ukrainians had been meddling in favour of Hillary. But this is based primarily on the fact that Trump’s campaign manager had received $13 million from pro-Russian Ukrainians, a crime for which he later received a 7 year jail sentence. The theory then morphed into one that stated the Ukrainians were behind the DNC hack, but not to Hillary’s benefit. Finally, it became the theory that the Ukrainian-owned, Ukrainian-based cybersecurity firm Crowdstrike had hacked the server and framed the Russians. According to this theory, they may even still have the server in their possession.
Back on planet Earth, the American-based and owned cybersecurity firm Crowdstrike (co-founded by Russian-born Dmitri Alperovitch) could not possibly have the server, as it was cloud-based. That may explain why so many Republicans were so vociferous in their denial that Trump believes this theory, so upset that the left were trying to discredit him in such a way, and so embarrassed when he called into Fox and Friends to clarify that he actually does believe it.
Trump’s most famous conspiracy theory will probably always be the Birther theory, but that is far from the only Obama-based theory to which he subscribes. However, unlike the other entries on this list, Trump has never actually voiced this theory outright. Rather, he has been accused of using dog-whistle politics to appeal to a small, but animated, group of his supporters.
You may remember that in the run-up to election day, Trump repeatedly made the claim that the election was rigged. While most people saw this as Trump preemptively explaining losing the election, others believe he was making reference to what was a very popular conspiracy theory in right-wing circles at the time: that President Obama was using FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) to build concentration camps, where he would lock up his dissenters and nullify the impending election, thereby making him King in all but name. This theory was promoted by larger-than-life characters Alex Jones and Glenn Beck, who later went on to say he doesn’t believe they exist, and then changed his mind again.
Of course, as we all know, none of this ever transpired. Trump won the Presidency, and went on to use FEMA money to fund illegal-alien detention centers.
It goes without saying that Hillary Clinton is one of the most-frequent targets of Trump’s conspiracy theories. From missing emails and Uranium One, to Pizzagate and the deep state, Trump has accused Hillary of being involved in pretty much every bad thing that’s ever happened at one point or another. Most of his accusations towards Hillary generally stem from her record, or her connections to other people. But as we all know by now, Trump has also occasionally adopted the famous “rubber/glue” rebuttal technique, beloved of leftists and conservatives alike: accuse others of whatever you have been accused of.
By the time the second debate had wrapped up, viewers were captivated by Trump’s frequent sniffing during both encounters, which led to speculation that he was using cocaine. But the ever-vigilant Republican nominee was quick to point out that it was actually Hillary who was taking drugs.
Speaking at a rally in New Hampshire shortly after the second debate, Trump said “We should take a drug test prior because I don’t know what’s going on with her. But at the beginning of her last debate — she was all pumped up at the beginning, and at the end it was like, ‘Oh, take me down.’ She could barely reach her car.”
Unlike some of the other, more serious theories, Hillary simply laughed this one off, and to be honest, we’re pretty sure Trump did too.
When it comes to Trump’s theories about Obama, they are all loosely connected by an overarching theme. Whether it is the media, the establishment, or the deep state, Trump has frequently reiterated his belief that Obama was mollycoddled and given an easy ride to make him look good as President.
A big example of this came when Trump accused the Federal Reserve of keeping interest rates low, so that the economy would be booming when Obama left, but crash soon after. In an interview with CNBC, Trump said “Any increase at all will be a very, very small increase because they want to keep the market up so Obama goes out and let the new guy … raise interest rates … and watch what happens in the stock market”
During the campaign, Trump had said the low interest rates were hurting Americans who had saved responsibly, and called for an increase. Since he took office, the Federal Reserve has raised interest rates several times, moves that he adamantly opposed. Despite this, the stock market has not imploded and the economy has not collapsed, so it seems the Federal Reserve was never conspiring with Obama to begin with. Unless, of course, they’re conspiring with Trump as well.