The Slatest

Donald Trump Is Peddling Unsubstantiated Nonsense That Ted Cruz’s Dad Helped JFK’s Assassin

Ted Cruz’s father, Rafael, addresses the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s policy conference on June 20, 2014, in Washington, D.C.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Republican front-runner and BS factory Donald Trump is at it again. During a phone interview with Fox News on Tuesday, Trump suggested that Ted Cruz’s father helped Lee Harvey Oswald in the months before he assassinated John F. Kennedy. Yes, that is actually something the likely nominee of one of the country’s two major political parties alleged on national television about a rival in the year 2016.

“His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald’s being—you know, shot. I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous,” Trump said. “What is this, right prior to his being shot, and nobody even brings it up. They don’t even talk about that. That was reported, and nobody talks about it.” The reality TV star continued: “I mean, what was he doing—what was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death, before the shooting?”

The outlandish claim isn’t a Trump original but instead comes by way of the National Enquirer, which has endorsed Trump and churned out a string of unsubstantiated hit pieces about his rivals, including one that quasi-alleged that Cruz has serially cheated on his wife and another that claimed Hillary Clinton is an alcoholic who’s suffered three strokes and is battling multiple sclerosis. It’s no surprise, then, that Trump wants more people talking about the tabloid’s “reporting.”

This particular Enquirer story claims that Cruz’s father, Rafael, is the man in the white shirt standing next to Oswald in a video taken in New Orleans in August of 1963, several months before JFK was killed in Dallas. The Warren Commission was never able to identify the mystery man, but the newspaper had experts compare the images with photos taken of Cruz’s father during the late 1950s and early 1960s. While the results don’t sound anything close to conclusive—“there’s more similarity than dissimilarity,” said one expert; “they seem to match,” said another—the tabloid nonetheless saw fit to slap “Ted Cruz Father Now Linked to JFK Assassination!” on its front page. Trump knew what to do from there.

The Cruz camp has already dismissed the JFK story as “garbage,” which seems like a fair assessment. As the Miami Herald, which looked into the tabloid story, put it: “The explosive suggestion that Cruz’s father would have had any affiliation with Oswald is not corroborated in any other way.”

Fun fact: Trump is now polling above 50 percent among Republican voters in some polls and will become the prohibitive favorite to be his party’s nominee if he wins Indiana on Tuesday.

Read more of Slate’s coverage of the 2016 campaign.