donald trump conspiracy theory conspiracies
Donald Trump with White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr Deborah Birx (Image: AP/Alex Brandon)

Yesterday, US President Donald Trump announced he has been taking anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to ward off COVID-19.

For weeks Trump has been praising the drug for its healing powers, based on a study that was admitted to be flawed by the scientists behind it. And even though major studies suggest the drug is useless, the president has continued to spruik it. 

The kind of shameless promotion of conspiracy theories has been a core feature of Trump’s presence in public life well before he trolled his way into the White House.

Here are just a few of the most egregious.


“Birtherism”, the false belief that Barack Obama was born in Kenya and not the US, was the myth that turned Trump from a C-grade reality TV star into a president.

Birtherism had existed in some form for as long as Obama had been in public life. But Trump gave it animus, continuing to push the theory to the delight of Fox News.

The theory was, of course, such a load of nonsense that even the normally measured New York Times called it a lie. Trump eventually backed down on the theory, but by then most Republican voters were questioning Obama’s citizenship.


Trump has had an unhealthy obsession with his predecessor ever since Obama roasted him at the 2011 White House Correspondent’s Dinner.

In the past he’s claimed the Obama administration spied on his presidential campaign to help the Clintons. The latest manifestation of that obsession is “Obamagate” — which seems to refer to the belief the Russia investigation was a hoax orchestrated by Obama.

Trump tweeted out the word several times last week and claimed it “makes Watergate look small time”, but has never actually explained what it means, or laid out any evidence behind it.

Instead, he’s blamed “the media” for not covering it properly. Of course, like most Trump outbursts, the details don’t matter. Obamagate is meant to disorient and distract, at a time when thousands of Americans are dying and when Obama’s vice-president Joe Biden is leading him in the polls.

Climate change

Unsurprisingly, Trump has always denied the science behind climate change, and instead aired a bunch of unhinged conspiracy theories. In 2012, he claimed it was a Chinese hoax intended to sabotage American manufacturing, which he bizarrely later tried to deny.

After becoming president, Trump has since said the climate will “change back”, cast doubt on the science because the planet is “cooling and heating”, accused scientists of having a political agenda, and gleefully tweeted about cold days. He’s also gone on numerous tirades against windfarms and repeated the bogus claim that they cause cancer.

Ukrainian hacking

Trump’s impeachment (remember that) was born from a flurry of disinformation, to which Trump responded with a flurry of disinformation.

He claimed Ukraine had hacked the Democratic National Convention in 2016 in an elaborate plot to frame Russia. Core to this was the patently untrue claim that CrowdStrike, the California-based tech company that investigated the hack, was owned by a Ukrainian businessman and planted false information pointing the finger at Russia.

Mysterious deaths

When billionaire financier and child-sex offender Jeffrey Epstein died by apparent suicide in prison last year, it prompted feverish speculation that foul play was involved.

Trump too got in on it all, sharing a tweet suggesting the Clintons were involved. Supreme Court judge Antonin Scalia’s death was also suspicious, Trump has claimed.

The Central Park Five

In 1989, five black and Latino teens were accused of raping and attacking a woman jogging through New York’s Central Park. Trump, then a real estate mogul, took out a full page ad in four newspapers calling for the death penalty for the boys.

Thirteen years later, DNA evidence and the confession of a jailed sex offender exonerated the Central Park Five. Trump refuses to apologise and back down, telling reporters last year “they admitted their guilt”.

Trump’s list of fabulist claims targeting racial minorities are too long to count. He’s alleged Muslim Americans celebrated 9/11, Mexican immigrants bring crime to the United States, and once told Congress some Native American tribes had made false identity claims.

The pandemic

In the midst of a disastrously-managed pandemic, where Trump’s re-election hopes hinge on him choking the discourse with more disorienting layers of shit, the theories have only ramped up.

First he told us the virus was a democratic hoax. Then he said it was the media’s fault, that the numbers were wrong, that one day it would all vanish (possibly by April), that it was just like the flu.

Now, almost 100,000 Americans have died and Trump continues to make things up. He says America leads the world in testing (not even close); he suggested sunlight, and injecting disinfectant, could cure the virus.

He has repeatedly claim the virus came from a Wuhan lab and, most recently, appeared to boost a claim from his son Eric Trump that Democratic governors are extending shutdowns to stop him having campaign rallies.

Disinformation runs in the family.