Yesterday, instead of basking in post-convention bliss, Donald Trump decided to revive a long debunked conspiracy theory about a fellow Republican and lie about Ted Cruz’s response to it. “All I did is point out the fact that on the cover of the National Enquirer there was a picture of him and crazy Lee Harvey Oswald having breakfast,” Trump told the assembly yesterday, though the picture clearly shows men distributing pamphlets, not eating breakfast. “Now, Ted never denied that it was his father. Instead he said, ‘Donald Trump.’ I had nothing to do with it. This was a magazine that frankly, in many respects, should be very respected.” Basically the old “Hey, I’m just asking questions here” line favored by conspiracy theorists to bolster wild claims without evidence.
There’s a lot of crazy in that statement, so let’s deal with the initial statement in May first, when the Enquirer story came out. Donald Trump told Fox News in May that “Cruz’s father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald being, you know, shot. I mean the whole thing is ridiculous. What is this, right, prior to his being shot? And nobody even brings it up. What was he doing — what was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death? Before the shooting? It’s horrible.” The media didn’t comment too much on this story, and WDTLAY didn’t cover it then.
Seemingly the only evidence for this story is that there is a picture of Lee Harvey Oswald and a group of men distributing pamphlets in New Orleans in August of 1963 and one of them could be a twenty something Cuban of average height. It sort of looks like Ted Cruz’s father, but even the dubious experts the Enquirer rounded up gave tepid “more similar than dissimilar” type responses. Most of the outside experts seem to agree that the photo is of too low a quality to give an informed opinion. Cruz’s father did live in New Orleans for a time in the 1960s as well as in Dallas when Kennedy was shot, but was by no means a supporter of Communism. Shortly after Castro’s rise to power he never again returned to Cuba.
Trump made the accusation yesterday that Ted Cruz has not denied that the man in the picture is his father, as he has in the past. Except that Cruz has. A lot, and immediately following the original insinuation. “This morning Donald Trump went on national television and attacked my father. Donald Trump alleges that my dad was involved in assassinating JFK. Let’s be clear, this is nuts. This is not a reasonable position, this is just kooky,” Ted Cruz said to reporters just hours after Trump originally made the accusation in May. “And while I’m at it, I guess I should go ahead and admit yes my dad killed JFK, he is secretly Elvis and Jimmy Hoffa is buried in his backyard,” Cruz continued, lampooning Trump’s conspiratorial bent.
Two weeks before Trump made the accusation, Cruz’s communications director categorically told reporters “the story is false; that is not Rafael Cruz in the picture.”
Lastly, Donald Trump had a lot of praise for the National Enquirer, a celebrity tabloid. Not only opining that the tabloid “should be very respected,” he even suggested they should win a Pulitzer Prize for this shoddy, lazy and sensationalized story. “They got OJ, they got Edwards. If that was the New York Times, they would’ve gotten Pulitzer Prizes for their reporting. I’ve always said, “Why didn’t the National Enquirer get the Pulitzer Prize for Edwards, and OJ Simpson, and all of these things?” Trump said yesterday in the same speech. Perhaps The National Enquirer should start reporting on foreign policy, Constitutional law, American history and basic economics. Donald Trump doesn’t seem to be getting his news on these topics from other sources.