“What I was doing was referring to a picture reported and in a magazine, and I think they didn’t deny it. I don’t think anybody denied it.”
— Donald Trump, in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America,” May 4, 2016
“I just asked about stories that were appearing all over the place, not just in the National Enquirer, about the fact that a picture was taken of him and Lee Harvey Oswald. They didn’t deny that picture.”
— Trump, in an interview with NBC’s “Today” show, May 4
Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican Party presidential nominee, refused to apologize for citing a thinly sourced National Enquirer article alleging that Ted Cruz’s father, Rafael, worked with Lee Harvey Oswald, the assassin of President John F. Kennedy. Part of the reason, he said, was because it had not been denied.
The claim was based on a photo image from a half-century ago and the Enquirer’s assertion that it had found two photo analysts who thought a man passing out pro-Cuba leaflets with Oswald looked like Cruz’s father. The man in the photograph has never been identified, but the Warren Commission said he had been hired by Oswald in 1963 to earn a few dollars by passing out pro-Cuba pamphlets. Cruz’s father at the time was vehemently anti-Castro, making him an odd choice for taking such a job.
Never mind that Cruz himself denounced Trump’s claim, calling the businessman a “pathological liar.” Never mind that the Cruz campaign dismissed the story as garbage when the Miami Herald published an article on it on April 22 — 11 days before Trump gave it national currency on Fox News.
“This is another garbage story in a tabloid full of garbage,” Cruz’s communications director, Alice Stewart, told the newspaper. “The story is false; that is not Rafael in the picture.”
We’re are puzzled why Trump would not think those are denials. But here’s a sampling of what other news organizations have said since he made the claim:
Philip Bump, The Washington Post, who happens to be our in-house Kennedy assassination buff:
We’re asked to believe, then, that Oswald ran into a Rafael Cruz at an employment office in a city where Cruz may not have been living. That Cruz then agreed to join Oswald in passing out flyers, despite their advocating a position that Cruz himself vehemently opposed. That he may or may not have been photographed doing so — and that a witness at the scene thought the other guy passing out flyers was a lot taller than Cruz.
The sole “evidence” for this claim is a grainy photograph that shows Oswald with a man who may bear a resemblance to Cruz. But experts tell PolitiFact that the image is too degraded to offer much confidence. At the same time, multiple experts about the world of early 1960s pro-Castro advocacy said they have never seen evidence of Cruz associating with Oswald and consider Trump’s claim implausible at best and ridiculous at worst.
Trump used a thinly sourced story from the tabloid National Enquirer to make the baseless claim that Ted Cruz’s father “was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald’s being — you know, shot.”
The National Enquirer story hangs largely on comments from a photo expert who said a photo of an unidentified man handing out pro-Fidel Castro leaflets with Oswald has “more similarity than dissimilarity” with a passport photo of Cruz’s father, Rafael.
But that same expert told us in a phone interview that he never claimed the man in the picture with Oswald was definitely Rafael Cruz, only that comparing the man in the photo with a photo of Cruz as a young man revealed “more similarities than dissimilarities.” In fact, he called Trump’s definitive proclamation “stupid.”
I cannot believe I need to say the following, but here goes. There is no corroborated evidence that Ted Cruz’s father ever met Lee Harvey Oswald, or, for that matter, any other presidential assassin.
We in the media don’t talk about it because there’s no evidence of it. In fact, there is contrary evidence. Well before the picture was taken, Rafael Cruz’s sister was brutally beaten by Castro forces and Rafael Cruz had denounced the regime.
So, any suggestion that Cruz’s father played a role in the Kennedy assassination is ridiculous and, frankly, shameful. Now, that’s not an anti-Trump position or a pro-Cruz position. It’s a pro-truth position.
The Pinocchio Test
Trump is once again making a ridiculous claim. The story he touted was denied in print — and then repeatedly debunked. By claiming that it was not denied, he continues to suggest there is some possible truth to a claim that is flat-out false.
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