For those who wondered what it would take for Twitter to finally take action against Donald Trump, we now know the answer… an unfounded accusation of murder

A few days ago, for some inexplicable reason, Donald Trump — in the middle of a pandemic that has now claimed the lives of over 100,000 American citizens — decided to imply that MSNBC host Joe Scarborough was somehow involved in the death of a young woman who worked in his Florida office while he was a member of Congress. Well, seeing as how American presidents don’t generally accuse political commentators of murder, I thought that maybe we’d take a little time today and discuss what’s really going on here.

First, I should probably start by saying that some part of what Donald Trump said on Twitter was actually true. In 2001, a 28 year old woman by the name of Lori Klausutis did die while working as a congressional aide in one of Representative Joe Scarborough’s district offices. Beyond that, however, everything that Donald Trump has said is a lie. According to the authorities in Florida, there was absolutely no evidence of foul play. Scarborough was not in Florida at the time Klausutis’ death, and, more importantly, an autopsy found that the young woman had died as a result of an undiagnosed heart condition — one which caused her to collapse in the office, striking her head against a desk. [She’d told a mail carrier earlier in the day that she wasn’t feeling well.] But, as we know, the facts have never stopped Donald Trump. [PolitiFact has given Trump’s statements on this matter their worst rating, “Pants on Fire.”]

As for why Trump may have done this, we can only guess. I think it’s likely, however, that it was done in large part to discourage others in the media from saying unflattering things about him during this election cycle, letting it be known that there would be consequences for negative coverage, and that he would stop at absolutely nothing in order to silence his detractors. What Trump may not not have counted on, though, was the fact that Klausutis left behind a husband who wasn’t about to let the politicization of his wife’s tragic death go by without comment. And, starting on May 21, he began a righteous and justified campaign to have Twitter finally do the right thing and take action against an unspeakably cruel and malicious Donald Trump. Following is one of his letters to company CEO Jack Dorsey, demanding that he remove the tweets in question.

It was one of those shocking moments, like when Joseph Welch asked Eugene McCarty in 1955, “Have you no sense of decency?” And it brought people off the sidelines. Even the Wall Street Journal got involved, saying, Donald Trump is not just “debasing his office” when he does things like accuse his perceived adversaries of murder, “he’s hurting the country in doing so”.

The social media company responded by saying that, while they were “deeply sorry about the pain these statements” were causing the Klausutis family, they had no plans to remove Trump’s tweets, as they did not explicitly violate company policies. [Apparently you can insinuate murder. You just can’t explicitly do so.] They company did say, however… as a kind of consolation prize… that they would finally start adding warning labels to the President’s tweets that more clearly crossed the line. And they started doing just that, adding links to two of Trump’s tweets which claimed that mail-in ballots in the 2020 election would be illegally printed, a claim that’s demonstrably false. According to a Twitter spokesperson, these tweets of Trump’s demanded action as they, “contain potentially misleading information about voting processes,” and therefore required “additional context.” Here’s an example of what the Trump Warning Label looks like.

This, and much more, should have happened long ago, but I’m thankful to see that some action is finally being taken by Twitter. I’m sorry, of course, that it took something like Trump’s use of a young woman’s tragic death to make it happen, but at least we’re finally at a point where Twitter has been forced to engage on the issue. And we need to keep the pressure up, forcing our social media companies to hold him to account.

Donald Trump, for what it’s worth, is coming out forcefully against Twitter, telling his followers that the company, by fact-checking him, is “interfering in the 2020 Presidential Election” and “completely stifling FREE SPEECH”. And he says that, as the President, he will “not allow it to happen!” And other members of the administration seem to be behind me. White House spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany, toeing the Trump administration line, says it’s Scarborough who should be answering questions about this, not the President.

[This election cycle is going to be the ugliest, and most dangerous we’ve seen in America since the Civil War. You can count on it.]

One last thing… seeing as how Twitter has said that it’s alright to accuse public figures of murder on their platform, digital activists are pushing a counter story about a young woman who they say that Donald Trump murdered. I don’t know that I agree with the approach, but I find it interesting. For more information, see #JusticeForCaroline.

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  1. Meta
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    The Atlantic: “The Malignant Cruelty of Donald Trump”

    “I’m asking you to intervene in this instance because the President of the United States has taken something that does not belong to him—the memory of my dead wife—and perverted it for perceived political gain.”

    There may be a more damning thing that’s been said about an American president, but none immediately comes to mind.

    This sentence is from a heartbreaking May 21 letter written by Timothy Klausutis to Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, asking Dorsey to delete a series of tweets by Donald Trump. Klausutis is the widower of Lori Kaye Klausutis, who died nearly 20 years ago. (Timothy Klausutis, who never remarried, still lives in the house he shared with his wife.) The autopsy conducted at the time of Lori’s death confirmed that it was an accident; she had fainted as the result of a heart condition, hitting her head on a desk. There’s not a thimble of evidence of foul play.

    …This is a topic most journalists are inherently reluctant to cover, given the danger that it will draw more attention to a vile lie. But with the president and his son Don Jr., who between them have more than 85 million Twitter followers, sending out lunatic tweets and calling for “the opening of a Cold Case against Psycho Joe Scarborough,” human decency requires a response.

    That Donald Trump would resort to conspiracy theories to attack his perceived enemies is hardly a revelation. After all, Trump employed a racist conspiracy theory against Barack Obama, which helped him gain political prominence in the Republican Party, and later claimed that President Obama had wiretapped his phones. During the 2016 primary, Trump linked Ted Cruz’s father, Rafael, to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and retweeted a supporter who claimed that Marco Rubio was ineligible to run because his parents were not natural-born U.S. citizens. Trump suggested that the suicide of Vince Foster, a former aide to President Bill Clinton, and the death of former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia were murders; that childhood vaccines cause autism; and that windmills cause cancer. He’s claimed that climate change is “a total and very expensive hoax” by China’s government, that a cybersecurity company framed Russia for election interference, that Ukraine was hiding Hillary Clinton’s missing emails, and that voter fraud cost him the popular vote in 2016. (Business Insider provided a useful summary of more than two dozen of Trump’s conspiracy theories in October.)

    Conspiracy theories have long been evidence of Trump’s twisted psychology. He has always traveled quite easily from the real world to the twilight zone, depending on which reality suits his needs at the moment. And when someone holds him accountable—when someone calls him out for his incompetence and ethical wrongdoing—conspiracy theories often become his weapon of choice. At such moments, conspiracy theories are fine, but conspiracy theories with the added element of cruelty are even better. Which brings us back to the heartbreaking letter from Timothy Klausutis.

    Donald Trump doesn’t merely want to criticize his opponents; he takes a depraved delight in inflicting pain on others, even if there’s collateral damage in the process, as is the case with the Klausutis family. There’s something quite sick about it all.

    Read more:

  2. Anonymous
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    USA Today:

    “Trump threatens to ‘strongly regulate’ or ‘close down’ social media platforms after Twitter fact check”

  3. John Brown
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Close it down. Might as well put those ruskie bots outta work like everyone else.

    Facebookastan is next.

  4. News
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Speaking of Trump’s press secretary, it’s being reported by the Tampa Bay Times that she’s voted by mail 11 times in 10 years.

    New: Trump press secretary Kayleigh McEnany has voted by mail 11 times in 10 years, but she now insists that voting by mail is rife with fraud.

  5. Eel
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    I agree with you. I don’t think the solution here is to meet misinformation with more misinformation. With that said, I find this very persuasive.

    “FACT: Carolyn Gombell’s mother has AN AUDIO RECORDING of her daughter the night before she was killed saying, ‘If something happens to me it was Donald.’”

  6. Lynne
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    Yup. Trump is still garbage. Says a LOT about those who voted for him and continue to support him.

  7. Demetrius
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    At this point, wouldn’t it be a lot easier for everyone to simply assume that EVERYTHING Trump says (or tweets) is either a half-truth, a lie, or a vicious slur?

    If so, journalists and social media platforms could consider adding a special disclaimer to his comments on the rare occasions when something is actually true.

  8. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    You seriously think he would go that far out on a limb without possessing intelligence on the matter? You people don’t learn shit ever.

  9. Bob
    Posted May 27, 2020 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    You are garbage, HW

  10. Posted May 27, 2020 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    Now the monsters in the White House are urging Trump supporters to harass a private individual.

  11. bet HW that McCabe wouldn’t be fired and all I got was this stupid name
    Posted May 28, 2020 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    Aloha, meanwhile will there be continuing bi-partisan support for the Patriot Act? My girl Tulsi is committed to doing the right thing while still in Congress at least.

    “UPDATE: I was just about to head to the Capitol for the expected FISA/Patriot Act vote, when I got word that it was canceled. This is probably because there were not enough votes to pass the bill in its current form. It is possible there will be an attempt tomorrow to pass it, so stay tuned. As long as the leadership does not allow amendments to this bill to address the serious constitutional concerns about warrantless search/surveillance of Americans, I will continue to oppose the bill.”

    Wonder where St. Nancy stands on the bills? My suspicion is this is one of those times when JH and HW are on the same side. Does anyone think either will mention their agreement with the continuing need to spy on US citizens. Isn’t bi-partisanship in the interest of the national security state grand?

  12. John Brown
    Posted May 28, 2020 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Another appearance at the Capitol today by Legally Armed Detroit. You can’t blame them, but the fascists are really trying to manufacture justification for violence – don’t give it to them.

    The local semi auto gun market is reduced to mostly bougie 30 cals at premium prices. The working class weapons listed are over priced and potentially dubious quality. Buy new at the lower end if you’re inclined. Dunham’s still has the Ruger 5.56 for $700.

  13. Lynne
    Posted May 28, 2020 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Wobblie, thanks for reminding me of that bill. I have written an email to Dingell to ask that she not vote for it in its current form! I specifically do not like that they want to allow browsing history to be searched without a warrant!

  14. bet HW that McCabe wouldn’t be fired and all I got was this stupid name
    Posted May 28, 2020 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    Aloha, right on schedule from the two week old Wisconsin Supreme Court decision “opening” the state up.

  15. Jean Henry
    Posted May 28, 2020 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    Trump has retweeted a post with the following words: “The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat.’

    The President of the United States. How does this not qualify as incitement?

    We have a nation is mourning. He golfs and provokes his minions to riot.

    Fuck that guy and anyone who makes excuses for him.

  16. Jean Henry
    Posted May 28, 2020 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    HW — I don’t support the Patriot Act. As a citizen with no responsibility to my constituents or fellow Democratic Representatives, I can simply state my opinion.

    Nancy Pelosi is not in that position. Tulsi has no influence (in part because she doesn’t play ball) and so might as well be a citizen. I don’t know pelosi’s take on the bill but maybe you should look it up and hear what she has to say. I find listening to people sometimes helps me understand their positions.

    I have never suggested Nancy’s a saint. That’s why I like her. I respect her hustle. She’s a baller.

  17. Lynne
    Posted May 28, 2020 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    I really like Pelosi too even though I often disagree with her stated policy on things and recently had some issues with her anti-fat bigotry. I had to laugh though when Colbert called it “polite” because gosh darn, it was! Gotta give it to her there. Her comments aren’t going to hurt her either and probably will help her in the same way that Trump’s racism and sexism help him! I admire her because she is very smart and very good at playing the politics game. I guess I can also say that I respect her hustle.

    I get the whole “Saint” thing. It sometimes can feel from outside that people over-admire certain others undeservedly. I know that I have used the term “St. Bernie” before. I am pretty sure btw that this kind of bias is normal. I would even go so far as to say that it is the same type of bias as post-purchase rationalization or post-hiring rationalization. Both concepts have been studied a lot by Economists. i.e. if you spend a lot of money on something, you are very likely to develop a bias towards it. Same if you hire someone. People like to think that they always make the best choices so once a choice has been made, they are biased towards that choice, be it a car or house they just bought, an employee they just hired, or a politician they just voted for. Add in our natural tribalism biases and there you go. We all have these biases too.

  18. bet HW that McCabe wouldn’t be fired and all I got was this stupid name
    Posted May 29, 2020 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    Aloha JH, When articles say “House Leadership” who are they referring to other than Nancy. The only bills that come up in the House are bills that pass muster with St. Nancy, I thought you knew that. If the Speaker of the House is opposed to a bill, that bill does not even get a vote. I thought you took civics, and would have recognized my statement for the rhetorical question that it was. Magical thinking among Americans has clearly overtaken any kind of rational thought.

    The Idiots are truly in charge. As I pointed out months ago, we lost this war when our Leader decided the virus was no big deal. Now we are going to face continuing disruption and death for the foreseeable future. Idiots like FF and EOS arguing for segregating the
    “vulnerable” while letting everyone else return to “normalcy” is desperation pure and simple.
    Nearly 17% of the workforce is made up of folks who are 55 or older, so we start off with nearly 17% unemployment. The older workers fill most of all senior positions. My wife along with all other university and college professors are attempting to organize instruction for the fall–under your ideas, non would be teaching, at least in person–who is going to do the in-person instructions? Students don’t even know what a pippet is let alone knowing how to operate it. The entire upper administration of her institution is made up of old folks (most men–the most vulnerable). So much for having a functioning educational system. How about the auto plants? The median age is about 46, so nearly half of those in the plants are part of a vulnerable group.
    The Idiots are in charge and brutality will become the norm–witness the continuing police violence directed at citizens. The Republican strategy is always greed first and then fear.

  19. Anonymous
    Posted May 29, 2020 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    For Wobblie,

  20. Frosted Flakes
    Posted May 29, 2020 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    That’s a lot of blabbing. Has pretending that the people around you are greedy idiots helped you stay afloat in life or something? What a bunch of garbage you just wrote. Regroup my man.

  21. Frosted Flakes
    Posted May 29, 2020 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    I think the silver lining is that we will be forced to do many things differently—better.

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