Rudy Giuliani is not only one of Donald Trump's most prominent surrogates, but he's also fast becoming Trump's leading tinfoil hatter. In an appearance on Fox News Sunday, the former New York City mayor told viewers to search online for "Hillary Clinton illness," alleging that the former secretary of state is in poorer health than her campaign acknowledges. Giuliani's comments about Clinton's (very) alleged illness are only the latest reference to her health by Trump's campaign and surrogates: Trump himself said last week that Clinton lacks "stamina," and campaign spokeswoman Katrina Pierson alleged that Clinton has dysphasia, a language disorder that results from brain damage.
Where are these rumors coming from? In her appearance on MSNBC Thursday, Pierson argued that Trump's assessment stemmed from "specific observations," such as the amount of time Clinton has taken off the campaign trail. But MSNBC's Kristen Welker was quick to respond that Clinton "hasn't taken a lot of time off the campaign trail," noting "I've been on the campaign trail with her, I'm one of the reporters covering her. She hasn't taken a lot of time off the campaign trail, Katrina."
And Trump's "no stamina" claims hold up pretty poorly against evidence like Clinton's hourlong Democratic National Convention speech and, most famously, her powerhouse performance in the 11-hour Benghazi hearing, which was praised even by some conservatives.
Left without any evidence of illness, I decided to follow Giuliani's ominous advice and "go online and put down 'Hillary Clinton illness'" and "take a look at the videos." Below is a screenshot of my query:
(I adjusted the search to display results only from before Giuliani's interview to see the specific links to which he was referring, though more have popped up since then.)
The first two links directed me to an article about a bout with illness that Clinton had in 2013. That story, from MinnPost, argued that a number of the most successful American presidents — Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy — grappled with illness. The Daily Beast article that showed up in the early hits criticized Republicans who, ironically, accused Clinton of faking illness shortly before her 2013 diagnosis. The article also noted that Clinton was "out of the woods" and expected to make a full recovery.
So far, Giuliani has me unconvinced. But he did say to take a look at the videos, not the articles. So I ran a video search for the same phrase:
The first two videos are by Mike Cernovich, a conservative known for espousing conspiracy theories. In his videos, he argues that Clinton can allegedly be seen wearing a catheter. The line in question appears to merely be the pleat of her pants. By the way, even right-wing radio host Ben Shapiro called Cernovich a "nutcase" and a "fringe kook." The third video repeats the theory that Clinton faked illness, and the last two don't discuss an alleged illness at all.
Given that Dr. Lisa Bardack, the former secretary of state's physician, declared in July 2015 that Clinton is in "excellent physical condition" and "fit to serve as president of the United States," I'm not surprised that most of the results I found were, at best, unconvincing conspiracy theories.
What I do find surprising is that Giuliani — who many, including CNN's Michael Smerconish, have pointed out was mayor of New York City during the September 11 attacks, which have also been the subject of an enormous number of crackpot "inside job" theories — would go on to peddle his own conspiracy theory.
Images: Google/Elizabeth Strassner (2)