Beto O’Rourke says Trump retweeting Jeffrey Epstein conspiracies to distract from ‘terrorist attack in El Paso’
Beto O’Rourke has lashed out at Donald Trump for retweeting a conspiracy theory connecting Bill Clinton to Jeffrey Epstein’s apparent suicide in prison, saying the president was distracting from “an epidemic of gun violence” occurring “every single day” under his watch.The former Democratic congressman from Texas called out Mr Trump and “unfounded conspiracy theories” in an interview with CNN on Sunday after the president retweeted a post over the weekend that read: “[Jeffrey Epstein] had information on Bill Clinton & now he’s dead”. Epstein, a disgraced billionaire and accused sex trafficker, was found dead in his prison cell early on Saturday morning while facing federal sex trafficking charges, according to the US Bureau of Prisons.“This is another example of our president using this position of public trust to attack his political enemies with unfounded conspiracy theories,” Mr O’Rourke said Sunday, “and also to try to force you, and me, and all of us to focus on his bizarre behaviour instead of the fact that we just lost 22 people in this community.”“We’re seeing an epidemic of gun violence every single day in this country, and the attack in El Paso — that terrorist attack in El Paso — was motivated in part by the president constantly warning of ‘invasions’ and ‘infestations’ and ‘predators’ and Mexican immigrants who he described as ‘rapists’ and ‘criminals’ though we know they commit crimes at a far lower rate than those who are born in this country,” Mr O'Rourke said.Mr O’Rourke, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination in the 2020 elections, is from El Paso, where a gunman stormed a local Walmart last weekend, killing 22 victims after posting an anti-immigrant screed on the online messaging forum 8chan. The Democrat suspended his campaign and returned to Texas to meet with community members, victims’ families and survivors of the attack, which occurred just hours before another mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio left nine dead.He accused the president of “changing the conversation,” adding: “If we allow him to do that then we will never be able to focus on the true problems, of which he is a part, and make sure that we get to the solutions.”Mr O’Rourke went on to list possible “solutions,” including “legislation that keeps guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have it,” and “focusing on domestic terrorism of white supremacists that [Mr Trump’s] own FBI director warned us about.”The president retweeted a series of accusatory messages appearing to connect Mr Clinton with Epstein’s reported suicide over the weekend. One tweet Mr Trump shared read: “Documents were unsealed yesterday revealing that top Democrats, including Bill Clinton, took private trips to Jeffrey Epstein’s ‘pedophilia island’”. Epstein, who was accused of sexually abusing countless young girls through an international sex trafficking ring, was found unresponsive in his cell around 6:30am on Saturday. He was previously found unresponsive just three weeks earlier with seemingly self-inflicted bruising on his neck. He was reportedly not on suicide watch at the time of his death.
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