This morning, amid Islamophobic retweets of a far-right nutjob, Donald Trump referred to an “unsolved mystery” surrounding Joe Scarborough:
So now that Matt Lauer is gone when will the Fake News practitioners at NBC be terminating the contract of Phil Griffin? And will they terminate low ratings Joe Scarborough based on the “unsolved mystery” that took place in Florida years ago? Investigate!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 29, 2017
The conspiracy theories that have been swirling around MSNBC anchor Joe Scarborough for the last 15 years are interesting, in part, because they started with lefty conspiracy theorists way back in the day when Scarborough was still a Republican. The right more recently adopted the conspiracy theories when Scarborough became a harsh critic of Donald Trump.
Here’s what happened: In July 2001, two months after Joe Scarborough announced that he was resigning from Congress to spend time with his family, two people looking for work-permit assistance walked into Joe Scarborough’s Florida office and found 28-year-old Lori Klausutis lying dead behind a desk. She had been an intern for Scarborough for two years. Scarborough, at the time, was in Washington D.C.
Police did not find any evidence of foul play. The coroner did not find any evidence of foul play. There was no evidence to suggest that she had committed suicide. There was evidence of a heart problem, and investigators surmised that Klausutis — who was feeling unwell — fell or fainted, hit her head on the desk, and died.
As far as the authorities were concerned, the case was closed. But at the time, a lot of liberal folks — like Michael Moore (who registered the domain JoeScarboroughKilledHisIntern.com) and like The Daily Kos, etc. — made insinuations that Klausutis was murdered to cover up an affair she was having with Scarborough. Again, there is no evidence of this. But you know how we all get with our politically motivated conspiracy theories — it was very Vince Foster, buoyed by the fact that Scarborough mysteriously resigned only five months into his fourth term as a Congressman (but two months before his intern’s death).
But then 9/11 came, and the scandal mostly went away.
But insinuations still crop up from time to time, and that is to what Trump was referring today. The right, which has taken over the conspiracy theory, posits any number of scenarios. Scarborough didn’t help matters with this exchange with Don Imus on his radio show in 2003:
“Don’t be afraid to be funny, because you are funny. I asked you why you aren’t in Congress. You said that you had sex with the intern, and then you had to kill her,” Don Imus said. Scarborough laughed, “Yeah, well, what are you gonna do?”
In 2006, Scarborough had flirted with running for Senate, but apparently decided against it when his opponent Katherine Harris suggested that Scarborough would have to answer questions related to the death of Klausutis.
Conspiracy theories were refueled in 2012 when the medical examiner who examined Klausutis’ body, Dr. Michael Berkland, was arrested for preserving human remains in a storage unit (this is Florida, after all). There was no evidence that any of the remains belonged to Klausutis. However, Berkland had a shady history.
Ultimately, however, there is nothing to the story. But, then again, Trump has also accused Ted Cruz’s father of a role in the murder of JFK, so it’s not like he’s shy about promoting conspiracy theories when it suits him.