Donald Trump’s appetite for baseless conspiracy theories scaled new heights on Monday when he alleged that people in “dark shadows” are controlling Democratic rival Joe Biden.
The US president made a mysterious claim about “thugs” in “dark uniforms” flying into Washington and also compared police brutality against African Americans to golfers cracking under pressure.
With the presidential election just two months away, Trump was interviewed at the White House by Laura Ingraham, a host on the conservative Fox News network. “Who do you think is pulling Biden’s strings?” she asked. “Is it former Obama people?”
The president replied: “People that you’ve never heard of, people that are in the dark shadows. People that –”
Donald Trump says "people that are in the dark shadows" and "people you haven't heard of" are 'pulling the strings' for Joe Biden pic.twitter.com/tjLpVMSRCO
— Jason Campbell (@JasonSCampbell) September 1, 2020
Even Ingraham, evidently sympathetic to Trump, interjected: “What does that mean? That sounds like a conspiracy theory. Dark shadows. What is that?”
Trump insisted: “There are people that are on the streets, there are people that are controlling the streets.”
The conversation then took an even stranger turn. “We had somebody get on a plane from a certain city this weekend,” the president said. “And in the plane, it was almost completely loaded with thugs, wearing these dark uniforms, black uniforms, with gear and this and that.”
A puzzled Ingraham pressed for details. Trump deflected cryptically: “I’ll tell you some time. It’s under investigation right now.”
But he added that his witness, heading to the Republican national convention, had reported seeing “a lot of people were on the plane to do big damage”. Trump’s claim appeared baffling in the absence of further evidence.
The president is notorious for pushing the “birther” conspiracy theory about Barack Obama and recently declining to denounce the antisemitic QAnon movement.
In the interview with Ingraham, Trump also continued his racially divisive rhetoric, describing Black Lives Matter as a “Marxist organisation”. He said: “The first time I ever heard of Black Lives Matter, I said, ‘That’s a terrible name. It’s so discriminatory’. It’s bad for Black people. It’s bad for everybody.”
The president is due to visit Kenosha, Wisconsin on Tuesday despite a warning from state governor Tony Evers that he is only like to enflame tensions. The city has witnessed deadly unrest after Jacob Blake, an African American man, was shot seven times in the back by police and left paralysed from the waist down.
Trump, who is pushing law and order as a reelection campaign theme, told Ingraham: “The police are under siege because of things – they can do 10,000 great acts, which is what they do, and one bad apple, or a choker – you know, a choker. They choke.”
He added: “Shooting the guy in the back many times. I mean, couldn’t you have done something different, couldn’t you have wrestled him? You know, I mean, in the meantime, he might’ve been going for a weapon. And you know there’s a whole big thing there. But they choke, just like in a golf tournament, they miss a three-foot putt.”
Ingraham hastily interrupted, like a publicist anxious to rescue the president from disaster. “You’re not comparing it to golf,” she said. “Because of course that’s what the media would say.”
Democrats seized on the president’s remark. Chuck Schumer, the minority leader in the Senate, tweeted: “You know things are bad when Laura Ingraham has to save President Trump from saying stupid things.”
You know things are bad when Laura Ingraham has to save President Trump from saying stupid things. https://t.co/jBBp9x7e4U
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) September 1, 2020
Originally published: 2020-09-01 00:26:55