Just days removed from the assault on Paul Pelosi, Donald Trump is throwing in his lot with the conspiracy caucus on what actually happened in the attack.
Trump was asked about the attack during an interview with conservative radio host Chris Stigall on Tuesday. To be clear, what follows from the former president is nonsense and officials have gone on the record to denounce conspiracy theories like this.
“It’s weird things going on in that household in the last couple of weeks,” Trump said. “You know, probably, you and I are better off not talking about it. The glass, it seems, was broken from the inside to the out and, you know, so, it wasn’t a break in, it was a break out.”
Trump went on to say that he’s “not a fan of Nancy Pelosi,” but that what happened was “very sad.” He added: “The whole thing is crazy. I mean, if there’s even a little bit of truth to what’s being said, it’s crazy. But the window was broken in and it was strange the cops were standing there practically from the moment it all took place.”
Police reports have made clear that there was, in fact, a break-in. And that the reason the police were able to be there so quickly is because Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was able to call 911 while the break-in was occurring.
In the days following the attack, several prominent right-wing figures have floated conspiracy theories about the attack – including that Paul Pelosi and the intruder were gay lovers who had gotten into a fight.
This and others have been totally and completely debunked by law enforcement. “There is absolutely no evidence that Mr. Pelosi knew this man,” San Francisco Police Chief William Scott told CNN in an interview. “As a matter of fact, the evidence indicates the exact opposite.”
Donald Trump Jr., the eldest son of the former president, has also made light of the attack. Trump Jr. shared a post on social media that featured an image of a hammer and a pair of underwear with the words “Got my Paul Pelosi Halloween costume ready.” Trump Jr. wrote: “The Internet remains undefeated.”
All of this, unfortunately, is par for the course for the former president and the movement that he leads. The embrace of conspiracy theories sits at the very heart of Trumpism.
Remember that Trump once suggested, without evidence, that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s father might have been involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. And that the Iowa caucuses had been stolen from him. And that the 2020 election was stolen from him. And that the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago might have really been an effort to reclaim Hillary Clinton’s email server.
Conspiracy theories have a special appeal to Trump because they speak to the underlying appeal he has to his followers: The elites in the country are always up to something nefarious and they are trying to keep that fact from you. They want to keep you in the dark, but you are too smart for that, so you see through the stories they are telling you.
It’s unclear to me whether Trump actually believes anything he is saying about the Pelosi attack. As is usual with him, he threw just enough qualifiers and vague language in to give himself plausible deniability. (“You and I are better off not talking about it.”)
But what I know he is doing is feeding his base. He knows they want to believe the absolute worst about Paul and Nancy Pelosi and so he is giving them what they want. That in so doing he is engaging in the opposite of leadership doesn’t seem to bother Trump one bit.