CBS Highlights Right-Wing Radio's Scalia Murder Conspiracy Theories
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From the February 17 edition of CBS' CBS This Morning:
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CHARLIE ROSE: The Los Angeles Times is looking at conspiracy theories about the circumstances of Justice Antonin Scalia's death. Some of them have been fueled by comments from Donald Trump. Jan Crawford is at the Supreme Court showing how confusion and lingering doubts got Trump's attention. Jan, good morning.
JAN CRAWFORD: Well, yeah, these theories, Charlie, really started shortly after Scalia's death. And, you know, despite clarifications from the owner of the ranch and the judge that declared Scalia dead, they are still getting traction.
DONALD TRUMP: They say they found a pillow on his face, which is a pretty unusual place to find a pillow.
CRAWFORD: For the second time this week, Donald Trump expressed skepticism about how Justice Scalia died.
MIKE GALLAGHER: I mean, no autopsy being planned.
DONALD TRUMP: You know, you're really talking about the balance of the court. That's big stuff. Wow.
GALLAGHER: This is history.
CRAWFORD: The suggestion that Scalia may have been a victim of foul play took hold in part because a state judge declared Scalia dead over the phone, something that is allowed by Texas law. Scalia's family said it did not want an autopsy for the 79-year-old justice who had a history of chronic health problems.
ALEX JONES: It's time to stop being so naive, folks.
CRAWFORD: But the conspiracy theories kicked into high gear after the owner of the ranch where Scalia died told a Texas newspaper that Scalia had a pillow over his head. The ranch owner, John Poindexter, later tried to clarify his comments, telling CBS This Morning Scalia had a pillow over his head, not over his face, as some have been saying. The pillow was against the headboard. Judge Cinderella Guevara said investigators found no signs of foul playor struggle. She added Scalia's personal physician believed the death was due to natural causes. William Ritchie, a former homicide commander with D.C.'s Metropolitan Police Department said an autopsy would put all these questions to rest.
WILLIAM RITCHIE: If you're called to the scene to investigate a death, you will assume that that death is a homicide until your investigation proves otherwise. If the death scene was handled in an appropriate manner, we wouldn't be having this discussion.
CRAWFORD: Adding to the confusion, unlike fellow Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and William Rehnquist, whose battles with cancer had been made public, Scalia kept his health issues private.
BARRON LERNER: By the time you're 79, most people will have some degree of heart disease. It's rumored that he did not have shoulder surgery because it would have been too risky, which suggested he might have more severe heart disease than was thought before.
CRAWFORD: Now justices aren't required under the law to disclose their medical conditions but if Scalia had made his health issues public, these questions may not be coming up. Now, Scalia's family had no further comment.