Donald Trump frequently attempts to get away with spouting wild conspiracy theories by claiming that he doesn’t necessarily believe in the conspiracy theories in question, but is simply asking the question.
This rhetorical trick, one perfected by Fox News hosts and right-wing pundits like Glenn Beck, enables Trump to insert a conspiracy theory into the news narrative without taking any responsibility as to whether the allegation is true or not.
Take, for example, his interview yesterday with the Washington Post, where he mentioned the thoroughly discredited claim that Bill and Hillary Clinton murdered Vincent Foster, a former aide who died of suicide. While bringing up the debunked conspiracy theory, Trump insisted that he wasn’t bringing it up, but was only saying that other people have said Foster was killed.
“He knew everything that was going on, and then all of a sudden he committed suicide,” Trump said. “I don’t bring [Foster’s death] up because I don’t know enough to really discuss it. I will say there are people who continue to bring it up because they think it was absolutely a murder. I don’t do that because I don’t think it’s fair.”
“It’s the one thing with her, whether it’s Whitewater or whether it’s Vince or whether it’s Benghazi. It’s always a mess with Hillary,” Trump said in the interview.
One issue on Trump’s radar is the 1993 death of Foster, which has been ruled a suicide by law enforcement officials and a subsequent federal investigation. But some voices on the far right have long argued that the Clintons may have been involved in a conspiracy that led to Foster’s death.
When asked in an interview last week about the Foster case, Trump dealt with it as he has with many edgy topics — raising doubts about the official version of events even as he says he does not plan to talk about it on the campaign trail.
He called theories of possible foul play “very serious” and the circumstances of Foster’s death “very fishy.”
“He had intimate knowledge of what was going on,” Trump said, speaking of Foster’s relationship with the Clintons at the time. “He knew everything that was going on, and then all of a sudden he committed suicide.”
He added, “I don’t bring [Foster’s death] up because I don’t know enough to really discuss it. I will say there are people who continue to bring it up because they think it was absolutely a murder. I don’t do that because I don’t think it’s fair.”
The GOP presidential candidate used the same rhetorical trick when broadcasting the conspiracy theories that the late Justice Antonin Scalia was murdered and that Rafael Cruz, the father of his then-rival Sen. Ted Cruz, was involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. He did the same thing when he raised questions about the validity of President Obama’s birth certificate.
For a candidate who claims to have a brash, tell-it-like-it-is manner, he sure does try his best to not to be held accountable for the things he says.