On May 3, Donald Trump made what was perhaps his most astonishing claim of the 2016 campaign season: in a phone-in interview with Fox And Friends, he brought up a picture run by a tabloid that purported to show Rafael Cruz, the father of Texas Senator Ted Cruz, with Lee Harvey Oswald on the day the latter shot President John F. Kennedy in 1963.
Trump had been addressing a statement from Rafael Cruz, a Christian evangelist, that Christians should "vote according to the Word of God...and I believe that candidate is my son, Ted Cruz. The alternative could be the destruction of America."
When asked to comment, Trump lambasted the elder Cruz, saying, "I think it's a disgrace that he's allowed to say it," and then made his controversial statement that "(Ted Cruz's) father was with Lee Harvey Oswald" prior to Oswald shooting Kennedy.
"What was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death -- the shooting?" Trump asked.
"And nobody even brings it up," Trump complained, apparently about the media ignoring the tabloid story. "Nobody even talks about it."
Donald Trump went on to win the Indiana primary that day, and his statement went viral.
A visibly angry Ted Cruz denied Trump's allegations at a press conference that day, calling him a "pathological liar."
Donald Trump Still Refuses To Apologize
The Wall Street Journal documented Trump's "evolution" on this issue, and how he handled the controversy in subsequent interviews. For instance, Trump was interviewed by George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America. When Stephanopoulos pointed out that the story was from the National Enquirer, Trump actually defended the tabloid.
"[T]he National Enquirer gave you John Edwards, it gave you O.J. Simpson, it gave you many, many things. I mean, you can't knock the National Enquirer...And all I did was refer to it."[embed]https://twitter.com/WSJPolitics/status/728337379430404096[/embed]
The Wall Street Journal recounted that when Trump was later interviewed on CNN by Wolf Blitzer, he said, "Of course I don't believe it."
Trump Won't Back Down in Interview With Bret Baier
But the controversy was not over, even with that denial on CNN. Trump then appeared on Fox News' Special Report With Bret Baier today. Baier asked Trump about the controversial Oswald-Cruz connection, saying, "Are you aware of any single piece of evidence that backs up the claims that you talked about?"
He then said he had seen the alleged picture of Rafael Cruz with Oswald "actually all over the place," apparently referring to other media outlets that picked up this story.
Contrary to Donald Trump's apparent claim, however, no known media outlet has re-reported the tabloid story of Cruz allegedly being photographed with Oswald as serious news.
Baier interrupted Trump, saying that the "experts" don't think that was Rafael Cruz being photographed with Oswald.
"They didn't dispute that," Trump replied.
Baier continued, "Yesterday, you said, 'I don't think anybody's denied it.' Cruz denied it."
"I don't think they denied it," Trump persisted.
Trump countered that the story "was picked up by a lot of people," apparently referring again to other media outlets. "And I don't think anybody denied it...And all I did was say, 'What about that?' I mean, I'd like somebody to explain that. That doesn't mean there's not an explanation."
After a brief interchange, Baier gave Donald Trump a final chance to walk back his statement.
"You have a nominee now, presumptive nominee," he said, "who throws things against the wall to see what sticks, citing reports, maybe they're not backed up, sometimes they're truth-challenged, and as we've seen, you really don't pay any political price for that because you have a loyal following. There's a concern that as the GOP nominee, in just a few weeks you'll be getting classified briefings by the C.I.A. and F.B.I. And will your style be the same on the campaign trail; throwing things against the wall?"
But Trump refused to back down, saying, "Well, first of all, when I said reports, or when I cite major magazine articles or something, it's up to people to believe it or not believe it. I'm not writing it myself. I'm not going out and doing the research. So I think that's, you know, a very acceptable thing to do."
What do you think? Why won't Donald Trump apologize for suggesting that Rafael Cruz was associated with Lee Harvey Oswald?
[Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]