For a long while I gave Donald Trump the benefit of the doubt about his flirtation with extremists and conspiracy nuts. No longer. What I'd written off as the natural inclination of a tyro politician to have everyone love him is clearly a highly developed skill, a skill exceeding anything we ever saw with Ron Paul and his racist groupies, in letting extremists and cranks think he believes what they do without ever really agreeing with them.
He's done this for months with 9/11 Troofers, alluding to "advance warning" and "questions." He has retweeted stuff from white supremacists that is complementary of him. And now he is jumping on the lastest hotness: the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Here he is with the well known and unabashed crank, Michael Savage.
SAVAGE: Donald, I need to come back to the topic we've all been screaming about here. Scalia. Was he murdered? I know it's pretty brutal to say that and I'm not wanting to drag you into this, but this is going to get bigger and bigger. I went on the air and said we need the equivalent of a Warren Commission, we need an immediate autopsy before the body is disposed of. What do you think of that?
TRUMP: I just heard today, and just a little while ago actually, I just landed and I'm hearing it's a big topic... the question... and it a horrible topic but they say they found a pillow on his face, which is a pretty unusual place to find a pillow. I can't tell you what... I can't give you an answer... usually I like to give you answers but I literally just heard it a little while ago. It's just starting to come out now, as you know, Michael.
SAVAGE: Well, I've been covering it for an hour and a half. There's a lot more to it than that. There was no medical examiner present. There was no one who declared the death who was there. It was done by telephone from a US Marshal appointed by Obama himself. So let me not try to drag you into something you haven't studied because I don't think it would be fair to you and to the audience. I think after you look into these facts, Donald, you, yourself, will have to come to some different conclusions than you may think.
Like most conspiracy theories, this is bulls***.
I can tell you from personal experience that Scalia's death was treated as any "unattended death" is treated. When my mother-in-law died in my home last year, she was pronounced dead via a telephone conversation between a deputy sheriff, who did an investigation, and the state medical examiner's office.
The Texas county judge who decided no autopsy was needed following the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has disclosed new details about Scalia's health in the days before he died.
Presidio County Judge Cinderela Guevara told The Associated Press on Monday she spoke with Scalia's doctor on the day he was found dead in his room at a remote Texas ranch. She said the doctor told her that Scalia had a history of heart trouble, high blood pressure and was considered too weak to undergo surgery for a recent shoulder injury.
Those details are seemingly at odds with recollections of friends who described Scalia as his usual, happy self during the days leading up to his death. News that the 79-year-old justice was in declining health may come as a surprise to the public, but unlike presidents, the high court's members don't provide regular health disclosures.
Guevara told the AP that she consulted with Scalia's personal physician and local and federal investigators, who said there were no signs of foul play, before concluding that he had died of natural causes. She said she spoke with a "Dr. Monahan" at some point after 8 p.m. on Saturday to discuss Scalia's health history.
Rear Adm. Brian P. Monahan is the attending physician for members of Congress and the Supreme Court. A Supreme Court spokeswoman could not immediately confirm that Monahan had examined Scalia, and Monahan did not return a phone message left for him at his Capitol office Monday.
Scalia was 79. He was not athletic. He was obviously overweight. That he had high blood pressure was a given. Heart disease is not a shock. I am sort of surprised Type II diabetes was not on the list. Even had he been a world class athlete, dropping dead at 79 hardly falls in the "suspicious death" category.
But note what Trump does. He doesn't embrace the conspiracy but he goes along with it. He acknowledges grave questions exist. This is how he operates and it is not the sign of a leader.