Speed Reads

make it stop

White House press secretary says 'it's Joe Scarborough that has to answer' for Trump's false murder allegations

When your criticism-sensitive boss falsely accuses a prominent critic of murder, then doubles down after the dead woman's husband publicly pleads for him to stop spreading these "horrifying lies" and "filth," you may not have great options when asked to respond. And White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany chose some bad responses at Tuesday's press briefing.

There is no "cold case" involving the 2001 death of Lori Klausutis, a constituent services staffer in a Florida congressional office of MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, then a Republican congressman. The authorities never had any doubt her death was an accident. "The President of the United States has taken something that does not belong him — the memory of my dead wife — and perverted it for perceived political gain," her widower, Timothy Klausutis, wrote in an open letter to Twitter on Tuesday. "My wife deserves better."

Most of the Scarborough-related questions McEnany fielded Tuesday were some variation on why Trump continues to falsely accuse him of murder, causing additional pain to Timothy Klausutis. McEnany's response was that Trump did not originate this false conspiracy theory and that Scarborough laughed when radio shock jock Don Imus apparently joked about those conspiracy theories in 2003.

"Joe Scarborough should be held to account for saying people will die by taking hydroxychloroquine," McEnany said. "Does that justify the president spreading a false conspiracy theory that suggests he's responsible for murder?" a reporter asked. "I would point you back to Joe Scarborough, who laughed and joked about this item on Don Imus' show," McEnany replied. "It's Joe Scarborough that has to answer these questions."

Pressed again later on why the president is falsely accusing Scarborough of murder despite the pain these lies cause the widower, McEnany replied: "Our hearts are with Lori, and I think the onus is on Joe Scarborough to explain his interaction with Don Imus." (It isn't.)