Wacky Far-Right Theory For Trump Tape Leak Gets Mainstream Play

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A fringy conspiracy theory about how the blockbuster 2005 tape of Donald Trump bragging about sexual assault was leaked to the Washington Post has gotten the endorsement of Jerry Falwell Jr., the social conservative activist and president of Liberty University, who brought it up on an Fox Business News appearance this week.

He joins David Duke, neo-Nazi web forums and — of course — Breitbart in peddling similar conspiracy theories, which vary in their specifics from merely absurd to virulently anti-Semitic.

The broad outline of the conspiracy theory alleges that GOP operative Dan Senor leaked the tape as a part of a coup by GOP elites like Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan (whom Senor worked for during the 2012 election) to get Trump knocked off the Republican ticket.

The theory appears to have originated with a tweet by Mike Cernovich, a Trump supporter and blogger known for his belief that date rape doesn’t exist.

It was picked up by Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit who added that he spoke with a “reporter tonight who believes the reports are true. It was GOP elites who released the audio to the Washington Post.”

Hoft also noted that it came out the night before Ryan was set to appear with Trump and that Senor was — shockingly, considering it was only the biggest news of the presidential campaign — encouraging reporters to ask Trump surrogates about the tape at Sunday’s debate.

A joke made by Senor’s wife, Campbell Brown, a former reporter, only further fueled the fire, and she had to clarify that she did not in fact leak the tape.

The theory has already ricocheted across alt-right and neo-Nazi websites like Stormfront and Daily Stormer, while Falwell retweeted a meme labeling Senor, Ryan and Romney the “traitors behind the tape.”

On some of the alt-right message boards touting the theory, anti-Semitic slurs are thrown at Senor. Former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke put triple parenthesis around Senor’s name, a signal in alt-right circles that the person is Jewish.

In his appearance on Fox Business News on Tuesday, Falwell claimed that “six or eight weeks ago,” he “got a call from people who are close to the top establishment Republican candidates.”

“They said, ‘Jerry, these guys are working on something they say will guarantee that Donald Trump is not the nominee on November 8 of the Republican Party.'”

Falwell said he didn’t think anything of it at the time, but since the publication of the tape, has reported it to the “right people.”

“If there was a conspiracy, I know from my days of practicing law, if any two people ever — or more ever — work together to harm a third person, that is criminal,” Falwell Jr. said.

For his part, Senor gently mocked the whole thing:

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