A Republican congressman used a cryptic string of tweets to promote a conspiracy theory that claims Jeffrey Epstein did not die by his own hand in prison.
In a series of 23 tweets during the first day of public impeachment hearings, Arizona’s Paul Gosar arranged the first letter in each to spell out the phrase “Epstein didn’t kill himself”, if they were read in reverse order.
It echoed a conspiracy meme that suggests the alleged serial abuser and convicted trafficker’s August suicide was actually a murder, and which has been fuelled by the ex-financier's links to high society. Epstein, a former personal friend of Donald Trump, was in prison in Florida awaiting trial when he was found dead in his cell.
Mr Gosar used his tweets to express support for Mr Trump and denounce the impeachment hearings as a “circus”.
“Evidence of a link between foreign aid and political investigations simply does not exist. The longer this circus continues the clearer it becomes that @realDonaldTrump has done absolutely nothing wrong,” he claimed, wrongly.
Top diplomats have testified that a so-called quid pro quo deal was put to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, pressuring him to publicly announce an investigation into Joe Biden’s family in exchange for military aid.
A Trump ally and conspiracy theorist who believes that white nationalist violence in Charlottesville in 2017 was “created by the left”, Mr Gosar is an immigration hard-liner who sponsored an attempt to repeal birthright citizenship.
He followed Wednesday’s thread with a single six-line tweet using the first letters of each sentence to spell out “Area 51”, the popular name for the military installation at Groom Lake, Nevada.
“All of the tweets pertained to today’s hearing. Rest assured, they are substantive. Every one of them. All of them. 5 were brilliant. 1 was okay,” he said. Earlier this year the base became the target of an internet meme – “storm Area 51” – that spilled over into the outside world.
Last autumn, during the midterm congressional elections, Mr Gosar’s six siblings starred in a deeply critical campaign advert for his Democratic opponent that told voters the 60-year-old “doesn’t have your interests at heart”.
David Gosar, one of Paul Gosar’s brothers, has previously called his sibling’s performance in Congress “ridiculous”.