After President Donald Trump spent Memorial Day weekend golfing and tweeting, the hashtag #TakeTrumpOffTwitter began trending on Twitter. By mid-morning on Tuesday, the hashtag was the number one trending topic on the site with almost 25,000 tweets in just a few hours.
The tweets using the hashtag called for Twitter to remove President Trump from the platform, as users said he was spreading conspiracy theories and misinformation. Many of the tweets specifically mentioned the president’s recent claims about MSNBC host and former Congress member, Joe Scarborough.
Two weeks ago, Trump began tweeting about a conspiracy theory that Scarborough had killed his former Congressional staffer named Lori Klausutis. He urged a reopening of the “cold case” to determine whether Klausutis had been murdered by her boss. Last week, Trump tweeted about the conspiracy theory again, saying that “some people” believe that Scarborough is a murderer and calling him a “psycho” and a “total nut job.”
According to Deadline, the conspiracy theory is entirely baseless. Though Klausutis’s death was initially ruled suspicious, an investigation revealed that she had a previously undiagnosed heart condition. She fell and hit her head as a result of that condition, leading to her death. The coroner ruled that she died from natural causes.
Over the weekend, Trump tweeted about the conspiracy theory yet again, Deadline reported.
“A blow to her head? Body found under his desk? Left Congress suddenly? Big topic of discussion in Florida…and, he’s a Nut Job (with bad ratings). Keep digging, use forensic geniuses!”
On Tuesday morning, Trump yet again tweeted about the murder conspiracy theory, saying that reopening the investigation into Klausutis’s death was “not a Donald Trump original thought.” He insisted that people had been suspicious of Scarborough for years, including law enforcement.
….about whether or not Joe could have done such a horrible thing? Maybe or maybe not, but I find Joe to be a total Nut Job, and I knew him well, far better than most. So many unanswered & obvious questions, but I won’t bring them up now! Law enforcement eventually will?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 26, 2020
On Tuesday, The New York Times published an op-ed arguing for Trump’s removal from Twitter. The op-ed included a letter Klausutis’s widow, Timothy, sent to the social media platform, asking them to remove the tweets from the site. Timothy Klausutis argued that the tweets violated Twitter’s terms of service.
“My request is simple: Please delete these tweets. I’m asking you to intervene in this instance because the president of the United States has taken something that does not belong to him — the memory of my dead wife — and perverted it for perceived political gain.”
Trump took the tragic death of a young woman, Lori Klausutis, and has tried to exploit it for political gain in the most disgusting way imaginable. This letter from her husband to @jack asking him to delete Trump’s sick tweets is a heart-wrenching must read. pic.twitter.com/Qlk5NY9yx3
— Brian Klaas (@brianklaas) May 26, 2020
Tens of thousands of Twitter users made it clear that they agreed with Klausutis, though the Twitter discourse about removing Trump from Twitter wasn’t limited to his tweets about Scarborough. Many users cited this as just the latest instance in a years-long pattern of the president using the platform to lie and defame for his own political and personal gain.
These users argued that kicking Trump off the social media platform was a long-overdue action that Twitter should be taking. They argued that at the very least, Trump should be held to the same standards for use of the platform as any other user. However, several Twitter users also acknowledged that the platform would never actually kick Trump off because of the traffic he brings to the site.
No one is above the law: Except for Trump when it comes to Twitter. Unless, that is, Twitter does the right thing. #TakeTrumpOffTwitter
— (((DeanObeidallah))) (@DeanObeidallah) May 26, 2020
Trump supporters also started using the hashtag to defend the president’s right to free speech. They called the movement to remove Trump from the platform censorship.
According to Deadline, Twitter has not yet responded to Klausutis’s request.