Twitter says it will not be removing a tweet from Donald Trump sharing an unfounded conspiracy theory about the death of a congressional staffer, despite a plea from the woman’s widower asking for it to be removed.
Trump appeared to suggest that former Congressman Joe Scarborough, now an MSNBC host and a frequent target of the president’s attacks, may have played a role in the death of a woman who worked in his office and died there in 2001. Lori Klausutis fell and hit her head at work, and her death was ruled an accident. A medical examiner found that she had an undisclosed heart condition.
Trump has repeatedly suggested that her death was foul play, including a tweet this weekend in which he openly mused about whether Scarborough played a role in her death and called on people to investigate.
“In 2016 when Joe & his wacky future ex-wife, Mika, would endlessly interview me, I would always be thinking about whether or not Joe could have done such a horrible thing?” Trump wrote.
“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?”
The tweet has sparked outrage, with many calling on Trump to delete the tweet or for the site to suspend his account.
As Reuters reported, a lawyer representing the widower of Klausutis wrote a letter to Twitter last week asking the company to remove the “repeatedly debunked falsehood that my wife was murdered by her boss,” saying that the baseless suggestion violated the company’s terms of service. Twitter said on Tuesday that it would not be taking any action.
A spokesperson for the company said they were “deeply sorry about the pain these statements, and the attention they are drawing, are causing the family,” but would not be removing the tweets in question. The Twitter spokesperson added that they would be working to expand features and policies so issues like this could be more effectively addressed, but did not say exactly what policies would be changing.
As Reuters noted, Twitter had announced that it would be labeling rule-breaking tweets from prominent politicians and government officials, but it has yet to do so. When asked by the news outlet, a spokesperson for the company declined to say why no such label was placed on Trump’s tweet.
The White House has not commented on the request to remove the tweet.