WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump retweeted an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory that former President Bill Clinton was in some way responsible for the death of accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, hours after reports of the financier’s jail-house suicide.
The president on Saturday retweeted a post by comedian and Trump backer Terrence Williams who said Epstein “had information on Bill Clinton” and was now dead.
“I see #TrumpBodyCount trending but we know who did this!” Williams wrote.
Williams is part of a troupe called the Deplorables, which bills itself as “an uproarious comedy show for conservative thinkers” known for “unabashedly mocking liberals.”
Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker condemned Trump’s retweet, saying conspiracy theories have a record of leading to violence.
“He’s really whipping people up into anger and worse,” Booker said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. Trump is “trying to divide us against each other” using the tactics of white supremacists and of “the Russians, if you look at the intelligence reports about how they’re coming at our democracy,” Booker said.
Trump, who’s spending the weekend at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, also retweeted a post that referenced a claim by Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre that Clinton visited the private island owned by his one-time donor. A spokesman for Clinton has previously denied the former president ever visited Epstein’s island.
The Twitter account that sent the post, BNL News, is unverified and “run by independent journalists.”
Epstein’s apparent suicide in federal custody in New York on Saturday prompted outrage among lawyers seeking justice for victims and set off a Department of Justice probe.
U.S. Attorney General William Barr said he was “appalled” and that Epstein’s death “raises serious questions that must be answered.” The FBI and the DOJ’s inspector general are investigating the circumstances of his death, Barr said in a statement.
Trump, a former friend of Epstein, has sought in recent weeks to distance himself from the accused pedophile as new allegations of sexual abuse surfaced. The president said in July that he had a falling-out with Epstein but declined to explain the circumstances — “the reason doesn’t make any difference,” he said — and repeated that he hasn’t spoken to Epstein in 15 years.
The president said he’d thrown Epstein out of his Mar-a-Lago club in West Palm Beach, Florida, and that he’d never visited Epstein’s Little St. James Island in the Caribbean, a place that locals call “Pedophile Island” and “Orgy Island.”
In July, Alexander Acosta, who served as Trump’s labor secretary, resigned amid heightened scrutiny of his handling of earlier sexual misconduct charges against Epstein while serving as a U.S. attorney in Florida. Acosta signed off on a lenient plea deal with Epstein that allowed him to resolve the earlier charges by serving 13 months in a county jail and registering as a sex offender.