From Vince Foster’s suicide to Barack Obama’s birth certificate, here are 13 false conspiracy theories that Donald Trump has peddled over the years.
1. The Barack Obama Birth Certificate Conspiracy
This is the biggie, the granddaddy of all conspiracy theories that Donald Trump has pushed, and the one that pushed him into the political arena against the world’s will.
Trump has claimed that Barack Obama spent millions to “keep this quiet” and once alleged—wrongly again—that his grandmother once confessed to seeing him born in Kenya:
I have no idea whether this is bad for him or not but perhaps it would be, that where it says ‘religion’ it might have ‘Muslim,’ and if you’re a Muslim, you don’t change your religion by the way, but somebody said, ‘Maybe that’s the reason he doesn’t want to show it.’ I don’t think so. I just don’t think he has a birth certificate and everybody has a birth certificate.
Trump even claimed that a Hawaiian official was murdered in an attempted cover-up of his real birth certificate.
Once Obama put all these rumors to rest by producing his actual birth certificate, Trump deflected the blame onto Hillary Clinton for starting the rumors and credited himself with ending them.
2. The Puerto Rico Hurricane Death Toll Conspiracy
After 2017’s devastating Hurricane Maria knocked out power and water in Puerto Rico, Trump briefly visited the island to pose for a photo opportunity showing himself tossing rolls of paper towels at the needy. After leaving the island, he said that the death toll was grossly overinflated:
3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000….This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico. If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!
However, study by the Puerto Rican government confirmed that the death toll had actually been inflated: 2,975 died rather than 3,000. Still, that’s a lot closer to reality than the “6 to 18” that Trump arrogantly claimed.
3. The Dreams From My Father Authorship Conspiracy
Trump brought into the wackadoodle right-wing conspiracy—that originally had started as a joke but was taken seriously by the sort of people who take jokes seriously—that 60s radical Bill Ayers had ghostwritten Obama’s didn’t autobiography Dreams From My Father:
He had a book, whether he wrote the book or not, but that book pushed him very hard and very strongly. And then they get into who really penned that book. It would be an interesting question for people to figure out. I don’t believe — I think somebody else had a lot to do with that book. I think he wrote the second book, which was certainly not a masterpiece. I’m very good at books, and it certainly wasn’t a masterpiece.
Surprise, surprise—the true author of that book was…Barack Obama.
4. The “New Jersey Muslims Celebrated on 9/11” Conspiracy
Again and again, despite not one shred of supporting evidence, Trump has insisted that “thousands and thousands of people were cheering” were cheering in Jersey City, New Jersey, as “the World Trade Center came tumbling down”:
I know it might be not politically correct for you to talk about it, but there were people cheering as that building came down, as those buildings came down, and that tells you something. It was well covered at the time.… There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey, where you have large Arab populations. They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down
The problem with this theory is that one would think there’d at least be ONE scrap of video evidence for it. Or maybe a newspaper report?
5. The Antonin Scalia Murder Conspiracy
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a long-time conservative who’d been appointed by Ronald Reagan, passed away in 2016 at the age of 79. Within days, Trump suggested that he’d been murdered:
Well I just heard today, just a little while ago actually, I just landed and I’m hearing it’s a big topic, the question, and it’s a horrible topic but they say they found the pillow on his face, which is a pretty unusual place to find a pillow.
What’s “unusual” is that Trump refuses to believe the coroner’s report that Scalia died in his sleep of natural causes.
6. The Vince Foster Murder Conspiracy
Since his arch-nemesis is Hillary Clinton, Trump eagerly buys into just about all of the numerous conspiracy theories regarding the Clintons. Although Trump never came out and said that Clinton associate Vince Foster had been murdered, he said that Foster’s suicide was “very fishy”:
He had intimate knowledge of what was going on. He knew everything that was going on, and then all of a sudden he committed suicide.
The truth: Foster suffered from severe clinical depression, and five different investigations ruled that he’d killed himself.
7. The “Ted Cruz’s Dad Was Involved in JFK’s Assassination” Conspiracy
On the eve of the Indiana Republican primaries in 2016, Trump cited an article by the National Enquirer suggesting that the father of his chief rival Ted Cruz may have been involved in JFK’s assassination, an allegation that the Cruz campaign called “garbage.” Then, after Cruz dropped out of the race, Trump backtracked and said he never personally believed this conspiracy theory.
8. The “Mexico Is Not Sending Their Best” Conspiracy
In June 2015 when Trump declared his candidacy for the presidency, Trump delivered his famous line about how Mexico was purposely foisting its human dregs on the American public. He subsequently delivered a press statement doubling down on this assertion:
The Mexican Government is forcing their most unwanted people into the United States. They are, in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc.” He lamented that the U.S. “has become a dumping ground for Mexico and, in fact, for many other parts of the world.
Again, as with all of his other conspiracies, there is zero evidence to support Trump’s allegations.
9. The “Vaccines Cause Autism” Conspiracy
Despite an overwhelming medical consensus that there is no link between vaccines and autism, Trump has suggested since 2007 that the autism “epidemic” is caused by vaccines:
My theory, and I study it because I have young children, my theory is the shots. We’ve giving these massive injections at one time, and I really think it does something to the children.
Once again: big theory, nothing in the way of facts.
10. The “Philippines Massacre” Conspiracy
During rallies, Trump has harkened back to an allegedly tougher and less-PC time as an era when America was supposedly great. As evidence, he cited a conspiracy that originated via chain email about how an American general in the Philippines massacred Muslim detainees with bullets that had been soaked in pigs’ blood. The only problem with this story is that it never happened.
11. The “ISIS Tried To Attack Me At An Ohio Airport” Conspiracy
During a 2016 campaign stop at an Ohio airport, Trump was rushed from behind by a man who’d scaled a fence. The assailant was apprehended before he touched Trump. However, Trump tried to blame it on ISIS:
He was playing Arabic music; he was dragging the flag along the ground; and he had Internet chatter with ISIS and about ISIS… He’s dragging the flag, the American flag, which I respect.
The truth: His would-be assailant was an Italian American from Georgia named Tommy DiMassimo.
12. The “I Won The Popular Vote” Conspiracy
Never one to take defeat gracefully, Trump has repeatedly insisted that he actually didn’t lose the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by a tally of nearly three million ballots cast. Shortly after winning the presidency via the Electoral College, Trump tweeted:
In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.
He even set up a commission to investigate voter fraud in the 2016 election. It was disbanded shortly thereafter when they found zero evidence of fraud.
13. The “Climate Change Is A Chinese Hoax” Conspiracy
Trump has been a climate change denier for years. He has referred to it as “very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit” and has falsely claimed that the planet is experiencing “record low temps.” In 2012 he tweeted:
The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive
The problem with his stance on climate change is that 97% of climate scientists disagree with him.