Within a matter of seconds on Tuesday night, Donald Trump tweeted — and deleted — an apparent threat involving Ted Cruz’s wife.

This was the tweet, captured automatically by The Fix’s internal chat software:

“Wow Sen. Ted Cruz,” it read, “that is some low-level ad you did using a picture [of] Melania in a G.Q. shoot. Be careful or I will spill the beans on your wife.”

Within a few minutes, he tweeted a new version with the same not-so-veiled threat.

The tweet appears to be a reference to an ad that is not from Cruz but from an anti-Trump group. As BuzzFeed reported on Monday, the group, Make America Awesome, is running ads targeting Mormon voters in Tuesday’s Utah primary.

Among the ads is this one:

It is indeed from a 15-year-old photo shoot for GQ magazine, which included Melania Trump posing inside Trump’s private jet.

It’s not clear why Trump deleted the tweet in the first place, though he’s been known to delete tweets with typos — which the initial tweet had — and replace them.

It's also not clear what “beans” there are to spill on Cruz’s wife, Heidi. Heidi Cruz left a job at Goldman Sachs to support Ted Cruz’s presidential bid, and her struggle with depression (and one acute episode in particular) have been previously reported. Trump consistently brags about having done no polling, and it’s not clear that his team has done basic opposition research, so the odds are decent that the apparent threat may be nothing more than something Trump heard.

Trump hasn’t been shy about looping spouses into his political attacks. Earlier this year, he criticized Bill Clinton’s transgressions while in office, as a response to Hillary Clinton’s comments about Trump’s treatment of women. He’s also been known to cast vague charges at his opponents, so there may be no beans at all. If past practice is any guide, we can expect this topic to come up again, soon.


Cruz’s campaign responded shortly after the tweet, calling Trump a “coward” and “#classless,” and noting his campaign wasn’t behind the ad.

Make America Awesome’s Liz Mair tweeted that Trump had been attacking Heidi Cruz “for weeks.”

This appears to be a reference to the depressive episode mentioned above, when police in Austin encountered Heidi Cruz by the side of a highway, distraught.

(Very typically for a political consultant, she also took credit in advance for a bad performance on Tuesday night by Trump.)

What Donald Trump is doing on the campaign trail

U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event at Trump Doral golf course in Miami, Florida, U.S. July 27, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)