Hours after billionaire financier and accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his New York jail cell Saturday morning in an apparent suicide, one of the highest-ranking officials at Trump’s Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) began spreading a conspiracy theory suggesting that Hillary Clinton had played a role in Epstein’s death.
“Hillary’d!!” Lynne Patton, regional administrator at HUD, posted on Instagram around 10 a.m., alongside a screenshot of a Daily Mail story that described Epstein’s manner of death.
She added the hashtag, “#VinceFosterPartTwo,” a reference to the former Clinton aide whose death by suicide continues to fuel conspiracy theories more than two decades later.
Within hours of Epstein’s reported death, “Clintons” and “ClintonBodyCount” were among the highest-trending topics on Twitter, reports Mother Jones.
Among the biggest drivers of the latter hashtag were an Infowars host and two accounts associated with the QAnon conspiracy, according to Alex Kaplan, a Media Matters researcher who focuses on far-right media.
On her Instagram page, Patton has waded into controversial territory before. In April, she posted a message mocking Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) for “cying” over the deluge of death threats she received after President Donald Trump tweeted an out-of-context attack on her. “In response, a few of Patton’s 84,000 followers took the opportunity to comment and some added death threats of their own,” Mother Jones’ Nathalie Baptiste reported at the time. “One Instagram user said he was surprised that no one had killed the congresswoman yet. Another user said someone should ‘just do it’ rather than just threatening Rep. Omar.”