With the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus mounting, President Trump on Monday took aim at MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough in a tweet attacking the MSNBC host, his wife and co-host, Mika Brzezinski, and the cable network’s parent company, Comcast.
“‘Concast’ should open up a long overdue Florida Cold Case against Psycho Joe Scarborough,” Trump tweeted. “I know him and Crazy Mika well, used them beautifully in the last Election, dumped them nicely, and will state on the record that he is ‘nuts.’ Besides, bad ratings!”
The president added a Twitter hashtag in all caps: “#OPENJOECOLDCASE.”
The president appeared to be referring to the accidental death of an intern in Scarborough’s office in 2001 when he was a U.S. congressman representing a district in Florida. A medical examiner ruled the death an accident, saying the intern, 28-year-old Lori Klausutis, hit her head on the side of a desk, which caused a fatal blood clot. Klausutis had an undiagnosed heart condition, which caused her to collapse, the medical examiner found. No evidence has ever been found linking Scarborough to her death.
Reopening a criminal investigation would be a matter for the police or prosecutors, not Scarborough’s employer.
Scarborough responded to Trump live on the air.
“You, once again, drag a family through this and make them relive it again, just like Seth Rich’s parents,” Scarborough said.
Rich, a former Democratic National Committee staffer, was killed in a robbery in Washington, D.C., in July 2016. But a conspiracy theory that Rich was assassinated in a plot involving Hillary Clinton captivated conservative activists and was later promoted from inside Trump’s White House.
“You need to take a rest,” Scarborough added. “You need to let Mike Pence actually run things for the next couple of weeks. And come back when you’re feeling a little better and when you can really actually focus on your job. You just can’t do that right now. Americans are dying every day because of it.”
More than 67,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, with more than 1.1 million confirmed cases in the United States — the most reported by any country in the world.
The Trump administration — and Trump personally — have faced scathing criticism over the handling of the pandemic. In February, Trump appointed Vice President Mike Pence to lead his coronavirus task force. The White House briefings that were held almost daily until last week usually featured both Trump and Pence, along with other members of the task force, delivering prepared remarks and answering questions from the press. Pence often was in the position of both praising Trump extravagantly for his “leadership” and defusing some of Trump’s rants against his perceived “enemies” in the media and statehouses.
“Morning Joe” was one of the first major cable news shows to take Trump’s candidacy seriously after he announced it in 2015, and had him on as a guest frequently during the campaign. But Scarborough and Brzezinski turned critical soon after Trump took office and have mocked him for his ignorance and belligerence. Monday’s show included a segment on Trump’s failure to take the coronavirus seriously early on, and his slipping poll numbers.
Trump has been visibly frustrated by the lack of progress against the pandemic. He has revised his definition of success in the U.S. fight against COVID-19 multiple times, initially suggesting that a death toll between 100,000 and 200,000 would be “a very good job.” He subsequently revised that figure to between 50,000 and 60,000, then 60,000 to 70,000, and, at a Fox News virtual town hall Sunday night, “anywhere from 75, 80 to 100,000 people.”
At the town hall, which was held at the Lincoln Memorial, Trump claimed that Democrats don’t want the country to recover from the pandemic, particularly as a result of the untested drug treatment he has been touting: “I think Democrats, the radical left, would rather have people, I’m not going to say die, not get better because they think I’m going to get credit if hydroxychloroquine works.”