Donald Trump did not have a great night at Wednesday’s final debate, and now he thinks he knows why.
On Thursday morning, Trump left the impression that he believes Clinton secretly obtained questions in advance of the debate and surreptitiously used them to her advantage. As of this writing, there is no public evidence of any cheating at the debate on the part of the Clinton campaign—likely because it is an absurd conspiracy theory that belongs in the darkest, fringiest corners of the internet and not in the Twitter feed of a major party presidential candidate.
Maybe Trump was tweeting about the recent allegation—one he hauled out in a Thursday afternoon speech—that Clinton got questions in advance for a CNN town hall on March 13, in the heat of the Democratic primary. Cable news talking head and Democratic operative Donna Brazile, who is alleged to have passed the question on to the Clinton campaign, denies that she got her information from CNN, and CNN denies having leaked it to any one. If Trump was talking about the Brazile flap in his tweet this morning—which was about a "debate," not a town hall eons ago—he did not make it clear at all, at least suggesting to his followers that he was referring last night's debate.
Whether or not he's referring to the Brazile flap, Trump's framing is weird, too: Why would Clinton announce that she was cheating? It's probably because his theory is completely bogus; as Clinton pointed out last night, Trump always thinks there are nefarious forces at work when things don't go his way.
The accusation came just hours after Trump declared on live television that he might not accept the outcome of the election if he loses, claiming that he would keep the American people “in suspense” about whether or not he will accept the results. In the lead up to the debate, Trump said on multiple occasions that he believes polling sites might be rigged to deliver a victory to Hillary Clinton.
One of Trump’s most notorious supporters tweeted yet another—and possibly related—conspiracy theory suggesting that Clinton’s podium was affixed with a special backlit panel. To us, it just looks like glare from the stage lights, but you be the judge:
Trump’s conspiratorial tweet also appears to have come directly from the candidate himself. Earlier this year it was discovered that Trump’s more controversial tweets tend to come from an Android platform that is likely Trump’s personal Samsung Galaxy phone, while his more benign tweets come from an IOS platform, likely tweeted from an Apple device belonging to someone on his staff. The now-shuttered news website Gawker created a Twitter bot to retweet only the Android tweets in an attempt filter out the tweets that were probably drafted by the campaign. Sure enough, this latest accusation popped up in the Android-only feed.
Fusion reached out to the Trump campaign with a request for comment and we'll update this post if and when they respond.