Wyoming Republican U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney on Wednesday castigated President Donald Trump for repeating a discredited and false conspiracy theory about a former congressman who allegedly murdered a staff member nearly 20 years ago.

Cheney, the third-ranking Republican in the House, spoke to reporters and was quoted in the conservative National Review and other media about Trump's tweets about the unfounded claim that MSNBC "Morning Joe" host and former Rep. Joe Scarborough, R-Florida, killed staff member Lori Klausutis in 2001.

On Sunday, Trump wrote on Twitter: "A lot of interest in this story about Psycho Joe Scarborough. So a young marathon runner just happened to 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! twitter.com/thomas1774pain..."

Wednesday, Cheney fired back according to National Review, The Hill, Politico, The Washington Examiner and other media:

“'I do think the president should stop tweeting about Joe Scarborough. We’re in the middle of a pandemic. He’s the commander in chief of this nation. And it’s causing great pain to the family of the young woman who died.'"

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., and U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, also criticized Trump's tweets.

However, House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., declined to respond during the same news conference during which Cheney spoke, saying, "'I was not here with Joe Scarborough. I don’t quite know about the subject itself. I don’t know the subject well.'"

The conspiracy theory has been widely debunked. For example, Scarborough was in Washington, D.C., when the death occurred and she was found on July 20, 2001. Klausutis had an undiagnosed heart condition, and her death was ruled an accident.

Timothy Klausutis wrote to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and asked him to remove Trump's tweets, according to CNN and other media: "Her passing is the single most painful thing that I have ever had to deal with in my 52 years and continues to haunt her parents and sister.... 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," he wrote. "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."

Twitter had not removed Trump's tweets as of Thursday.

Enter your number to get our free mobile app

 

Major Newspaper Headlines From the Year You Were Born