Sat, 11 Jul 2020

WASHINGTON - The widower of a woman who died nearly two decades ago is asking Twitter to delete U.S. President Donald Trump's repeated tweets insinuating that her boss, a former Republican congressman-turned-TV-critic of Trump, murdered her.

Research engineer Timothy Klausutis told Jack Dorsey, Twitter's chief executive, last week that "conspiracy theorists, including most recently the President of the United States, continue to spread their bile and misinformation on your platform disparaging the memory of my wife and our marriage."

"My request is simple: Please delete these tweets," Klausutis wrote.

Twitter did not promise to delete Trump's tweets, but a company spokesman said Tuesday it was "deeply sorry about the pain these statements, and the attention they are drawing, are causing the family."

Twitter said it was "working to expand existing product features and policies so we can more effectively address things like this going forward, and we hope to have those changes in place shortly."

A 2001 autopsy concluded that 28-year-old Lori Klausutis, an aide to Congressman Joe Scarborough in one of his field offices in the southern state of Florida, had an undiagnosed heart condition, passed out and died when she fell and hit her head on her desk when no one else was in her office at the time.

Trump was a frequent guest on Scarborough's MSNBC show "Morning Joe" that he co-hosts with his wife, Mika Brzezinski, in the months leading up to his 2016 election to a four-year term in the White House.

But Trump turned on the talk show hosts as they increasingly attacked his performance in office, suggesting as far back as 2017 that Scarborough played a nefarious role in his aide's death even though he was in Washington hundreds of kilometers away at the time she died.

But as word of the widower Klausutis's request to delete Trump's tweets about the case spread across the Internet Tuesday, the president tweeted again about the case.

"The opening of a Cold Case against Psycho Joe Scarborough was not a Donald Trump original thought, this has been going on for years, long before I joined the chorus," the U.S. leader said.

"In 2016 when Joe & his wacky future ex-wife, Mika, would endlessly interview me, I would always be thinking about whether or not Joe could have done such a horrible thing?

"Maybe or maybe not, but I find Joe to be a total Nut Job, and I knew him well, far better than most. So many unanswered & obvious questions, but I won't bring them up now! Law enforcement eventually will?" Trump suggested.

Earlier in May, Trump tweeted, "When will they open a Cold Case on the Psycho Joe Scarborough matter in Florida. Did he get away with murder? Some people think so."

Then, last Saturday, Trump tweeted, "A blow to her head? Body found under his desk? Left Congress suddenly? Big topic of discussion in Florida...and, he's a Nut Job (with bad ratings). Keep digging, use forensic geniuses!"

On Sunday morning, Trump added another tweet: "A lot of interest in this story about Psycho Joe Scarborough. So a young marathon runner just happened to faint in his office, hit her head on his desk, & die? I would think there is a lot more to this story than that? An affair? What about the so-called investigator? Read story!"

The widower Klausutis told Dorsey, "There has been a constant barrage of falsehoods, half-truths, innuendo and conspiracy theories since the day she died.

"The frequency, intensity, ugliness and promulgation of these horrifying lies ever increases on the internet," he said.

"I am a research engineer and not a lawyer but reviewed all of Twitter's rules and terms of service," Klausutis told Dorsey. "The President's tweet that suggests that Lori was murdered without evidence and contrary to the official autopsy is a violation of Twitter's community rules and terms of service. An ordinary user like me would be banished from the platform for such a tweet but I am only asking that these tweets be removed."

"I'm asking you to intervene in this instance because 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," he added.

"My wife deserves better," Klausutis concluded.

It was not immediately known whether Dorsey has responded to Klausutis. Brzezinski, who has called for a ban on Trump using Twitter, told viewers last week that she is trying to arrange to talk with Dorsey.

Trump has long traded in debunked conspiracy theories.

Perhaps his most discredited theory was that former U.S. President Barack Obama was not born in the U.S. state of Hawaii and shouldn't have been eligible to become the country's leader, a claim Trump eventually acknowledged was wrong as he ran for the presidency in 2016.

Trump also claimed that he saw Muslims in a television report celebrating the Sept. 11, 2001, al-Qaida terrorist jetliner attack on the twin towers of New York's World Trade Center by dancing on the rooftop of a building in neighboring New Jersey. No such television report has ever been found.

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