“Did Obama assassinate Scalia?” just became a serious question in the Republican primary

Donald Trump: Scalia death truther.

Not satisfied with the explanation that sometimes overweight 79 year-olds die in their sleep, Donald Trump lent credence to the conspiracy theory that the recently-deceased Supreme Court justice was murdered. By Obama.

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Asked by conservative shock jock Michael Savage if we need “the equivalent of a Warren Commission” to investigate whether Scalia was murdered, with the added implication that the Obama administration had something to do with it, here’s what Trump said:

Well I just heard today… you know I just landed and I’m hearing it’s a big topic…But they say they found a pillow on his face, which is a pretty unusual place to find a pillow. I can’t tell you– I can’t give you an answer.

Antonin Scalia, via Wikimedia Commons

Antonin Scalia, via Wikimedia Commons

To be clear, this is Trump’s version of avoiding a ridiculous question. To be clearer, Trump’s version of avoiding ridiculous questions accepts those questions’ premises, which often sounds like he isn’t actually avoiding them and is instead answering in the affirmative. This isn’t the first time that Trump has been asked a positively bonkers question and, rather than flatly rejecting it outright, has said something that walked right up to the line of adopting the bonkers position.

In the past, this not-so-evasive evasion strategy has served to normalize ridiculous claims — particularly among his own supporters. There’s a reason why Public Policy Polling just found that Trump voters in South Carolina support banning Muslims from entering the United States, creating a national database of Muslims and shutting down mosques. Those ideas all have their roots in Trump responding to those questions — posed as far-reaching hypotheticals — by saying they were things we’d have to “strongly consider.” Even if he would “hate to do” them.

Now, even though he “can’t give you an answer,” Trump does find the circumstances surrounding Scalia’s death “pretty unusual.” He’s not saying Obama killed Scalia; he just finds the idea interesting — perhaps something we should “strongly consider.”

Just to be clear, the idea that President Obama had Antonin Scalia assassinated because of an oddly-placed pillow requires one to believe the following:

  • That President Obama was so stupid that he would wait until the last year of his term to off a Supreme Court justice
  • That President Obama was so stupid that he chose to kill the oldest conservative on the Court
  • That whomever killed Scalia was so stupid that they chose pillow-smothering as their preferred assassination technique
  • That whomever killed Scalia was so stupid that they didn’t reposition the murder weapon to cover their tracks

You have to believe all of those things, while also believing that President Obama is arrogant and evil enough to think he could and should kill a Supreme Court justice and get away with it.

By lending credence to this whacked-out conspiracy theory, Trump just made it a campaign issue. He just took Rubio’s claim that President Obama “knows what he’s doing” in taking “deliberate actions to destroy our country” and turned it up to 11. Not only is President Obama trying to destroy America from within, he might be willing to kill political opponents in order to consolidate power.

And now every Republican candidate is going to have to follow Trump’s lead and say whether they think this is the case. Given the opinions held by the people they expect to vote for them, there’s a non-zero chance that a few of them say yes.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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  • slacker42

    The pillow over the face is an easy one, the prostitute was using the paper bag for his lunch.
    The drug test would of come back with, yes to all
    The autopsy was not preformed because really, who would want to cut into that fat filled cholesterol piece of crap.

  • Badgerite

    The GOP crazy-ass Clown Car ladies and gentlemen. I rest my case. Vote blue.

  • Merv99

    Whoever killed Scalia…

  • Jman1961

    With any luck at all, someone will be pronouncing you dead soon.
    But yours won’t be sex related, you morbidly obese, ugly, pathetic, unhinged fucking eunuch.

  • HandsomeMrToad

    Scalia’s death was fishy. Why did the coroner pronounce him dead without going to see the body? Why no autopsy?

    ANSWER: When he died, he was in bed with an underage immigrant boy. An autopsy would have revealed viagra in his (Scalia’s) bloodstream.

  • Randy Riddle

    The week is still young.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Thanks. We’ll see how long it lasts.

  • 2karmanot

    Well, there is the fact (according to house keeping) that Tony’s bloated face carried the impressions of flying ducks from a 600 ply Egyptian cotton/linen pillow case. made in Italy. Hmmmm Mafia? Benghazi? hmmmmm

  • cinorjer

    I had to chuckle. The more interesting question to ask is, where was Scalia’s wife while he was partying at this exclusive resort for rich people, and since his family refused to allow an autopsy and drug testing, what sort of wild partying might have been going on? Did the retire to the bedroom act include someone of the female persuasion? It won’t be the first famous person who came and went that way and needed a bit of tidying up the scene while the girl was ushered out the door.

    Not a shred of evidence that says this is true, but it’s much more likely than Obama having the maid service assassinate a judge and then his own family and friends helping to cover it up. If we’re going to delight in rumors, let’s at least make them juicy.

  • dcinsider

    Jon, you didn’t say where Obama was exactly at the time of Scala’s death. What do you know that you are not telling us?

  • P N West

    Yep. Some mini skirted muffs alrighty. They need to subpoena the undertaker and ask him how long it took him to get the big ol’ smile of Nino’s face.

  • nicho

    Oh, come on. It’s just red meat for the base. The base loves this shit. I’m afraid to call my sister and brother-in-law. They’ll be eating this up with a spoon.

  • nicho

    USA! USA! pretty much covers it.

  • nicho

    Also, his personal physician recommended no autopsy. So he must have known Nino was on his last legs.

  • nicho

    Sometimes it’s pretty clear when someone’s dead. There are ways to tell — even if you’re not a doctor.

  • nicho

    He was invited — free of charge — by a guy who had gotten a favorable ruling from Scalia last year. I guess a basket of mini-muffins or a bottle of wine wasn’t enough of a payoff for him.

  • nicho

    Because Obama is incompetent. Don’t you listen to the GOP at all?

  • 2karmanot

    Welcome back Bill.

  • gratuitous

    I know! An overweight, 79-year-old smoker who doesn’t exercise or from all appearances eat very healthy suddenly dying from a heart attack? Whoever heard of such a thing? It’s a conspiracy, ma-a-a-a-a-an!

  • Michelle Johnson

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  • Well, he was the picture of good health!

  • dommyluc

    Obama is too smart for this. He would have killed TWO SCOTUS RW justices, giving him a 4-3 liberal majority and a big “fuck you if you don’t want to hold confirmation hearings on my nominees” right up the Republicans’ collective ass.

  • Bill_Perdue

    Both parties have their legions of the reality deprived. For instance many Democrats pretend, to this day, that Bill Clinton was doing us a favor when he championed about DOMA, signed it and then gloated about it.

  • mononucleosis

    If Obama were going to assassinate Scalia, wouldn’t he have done it while the Democrats still had a majority in the Senate? just asking.

  • History has shown us time and again that it is conservatives and reactionaries who indulge in murder to remove inconvenient people.

  • LasloPratt

    If you are going to present yourself as a political opponent of a leader that you publicly accuse of being a ruthless dictator who murders his political opponents AND expect to go sleep in your own bed that night, then you are very unclear on any number of concepts. I’m pretty sure both Trump and Savage expected to travel unmolested from this very interview.

  • Doug105

    Don Patrick Harris sends his regards.

  • Doug105


  • P N West

    Let’s say for arguments sake that President Obama did whack Nino. Whatcha gonna do about it? Huh?

    Scalia went on a non-publicized NO WIVES allowed weekend at a big money secluded exclusive ranch. He was there with a bunch of very wealthy right wing supporters who no doubt paid his way. This was supposed to be a ‘hunting’ trip but was let’s face it there was very little hunting going on. It was almost certainly a weekend of debauchery.

    Neither Mrs Scalia nor any of his family want an autopsy done. None of the big money boys he was with want their names associated with this in any way. If President Obama did have Scalia killed then leaving the pillow over his head was a final way of letting these folks know – yeah I did and you ain’t gonna do nothing about it.

    So righties, whatcha gonna do about it?

  • D S

    I think the better is whether or not he was alive. Not even an EMT was there to be sure he was actually dead, which even trained medical professionals have mistakenly declared people dead. It doesn’t sound like there was anyone there who had the tools and training to detect a faint pulse and the Medical Examiner should have gotten off their butt and driven the 60 miles there so that someone who is actually a trained medical professional could look for subtle signs of life that would be beyond the skill of a local sheriff to perform.

  • angryspittle

    Jesus H. Fucking Christ……..if Obama wanted to knock off Scalia he would have done it about 6 fucking years ago…..

  • MoonDragon

    More than one time I fell asleep with my pillow over my head to block noise and/or a light source that was disturbing my sleep. If he spasmed a little before he died, the pillow could have been moved into a “suspicious” position. And it was his family that didn’t want the autopsy, but I’m sure Obama threatened them (That’s a joke, Ah say, that’s a joke, son.)

  • 2karmanot

    Nazi works for me

  • Baal

    Make this a campaign issue. Please do. It is bat shit crazy.

  • hiker_sf

    Sadly, we’ve allowed education and common sense to be replaced by religion, and this is the result: People believe anything.

    OT: I read about the pillow yesterday. My favorite comment on that blog: “My wife and I have this agreement that if ever I am a solely just a piss and shit factory, she is allowed to smother me with a pillow. My only request is that it’s a memory foam pillow, that way my kids will have something to remember me by.”

  • douglas01

    Please proceed Mr. Trump. I hope Truck hollers this conspiracy crap from the rooftops.

  • beracis

    It is almost like saying something stupid like there is a vast left wing conspiracy. How dumb, right?

  • I wonder if there’s a term for when a major culture or society collectively goes insane.

  • Steve-O

    Usually, the prescriptions for Ritalin and other hyperactivity drugs tick up after the start of such rumors….

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