Donald Trump today piggybacked on a tabloid report that tied rival Ted Cruz‘s dad to the assassination of JFK. In a May 3 appearance on Fox & Friends, Trump, who has a comfortable lead in the Indiana primary, reiterated a recent claim made by the National Enquirer that the senator’s father, Rafael Cruz, was “linked to the JFK assassination” by photos of the elder Cruz with assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Enquirer Claimed ‘Renowned Experts in Facial Recognition’ Say the Man in the Photos Has the Same ‘Receding Chin’ as Ted’s Dad
In his appearance on Fox News on May 3, Donald Trump said:
His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald’s being — you know, shot. I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous. What is this, right prior to his being shot, and nobody even brings it up. They don’t even talk about that. That was reported, and nobody talks about it. …
I mean, what was he doing? What was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death, before the shooting? … It’s horrible.
You can listen to his comments in the video above, starting at the 5:05 mark.
The National Enquirer story claims to have “photo evidence” of Oswald and Cruz’s father together. There is no hard proof that the man in the photos is Cruz’s father, and Rafael Cruz has denied it is him. You can see the photos below:
The National Enquirer claims in its article that the photos show Cruz’s father Rafael handing out pro-Communist Fidel Castro flyers in New Orleans with Lee Harvey Oswald just three months before the Kennedy assassination.
A video shows Oswald and the man identified by the Enquirer as Rafael Cruz, along with others, passing out the flyers on August 16, 1963:
The National Enquirer says in its story that the photos were subjected to “intense scrutiny” by “renowned experts in photography and facial recognition.” The Enquirer says the photos were compared to a 1954 student ID photo of Cruz, which “seemed to match” the man in the shirt and tie with Oswald. The evidence the tabloid cites includes that the men have the same “receding chin,” hairline, smile and nose.
Rafael Cruz responded to the claims in the wake of Trump’s comments, saying he would like to sue the tabloid:
2. Cruz Sarcastically Told Reporters, ‘Yes, My Dad Killed JFK’ & ‘Is Secretly Elvis’
Senator Ted Cruz responded to Trump’s comments sarcastically during a meeting with reporters Tuesday, saying, “Let’s be clear. This is nuts. This is not a reasonable position, this is just kooky. While I’m at it, I guess I should go ahead and admit, yes, my dad killed JFK. He is secretly Elvis and Jimmy Hoffa is buried in his backyard.”
In a statement to the Miami Herald about the Enquirer’s claims in April, a Cruz spokesperson, Alice Stewart, said it was “another garbage story in a tabloid full of garbage.”
This comes on the back of commentators believing that Trump was taking a more presidential line with Senator Cruz, by not referring to him as “Lying Ted.” With this latest attack, that detente appears to have ended.
3. Rafael Cruz Was a Fidel Castro Supporter Until, He Says, He Realized the Cuban Revolution Was Marxist in Nature
It is disputed that Rafael Cruz fought alongside Fidel Castro during the Cuban revolution. Cruz claims he had been jailed by the Batista regime in Cuba during his teenage years. A New York Times feature on Cruz notes that he said he fought alongside Frank Pais in Santiago de Cuba in 1956 despite the fact that Pais had been killed seven months previously.
Revolution veteran Liborio Vera Andreu, 79, told the Times that Cruz’s role in Cuba had been restricted to participating “in strikes and in protests.”
The New York Times had earlier reported that Rafael Cruz was “appalled” when Castro “declared to the world that he was a Communist.” In 1961, just before the Bay of Pigs invasion, Fidel Castro formally referred to his revolution as “Socialist” and “Marxist.”
Ted Cruz told The Dallas Morning News in 2011 that Rafael and his teenage friends “didn’t know Castro was a Communist, what they knew was that Batista was a cruel and oppressive dictator.” The same article “clarifies,” via an interview with Ted, that “his father departed for the U.S. in 1957, more than a year before Fidel Castro came to power.”
4. Rafael Cruz Says He Didn’t Live in New Orleans Until 1965, 2 years After the Photos Were Taken
Despite standing with Castro at the time, Cruz escaped Cuba in 1957 after bribing a Batista official to secure a student visa, according to the National Review. Cruz graduated from the University of Texas in Austin in 1961.
Rafael Cruz said Tuesday that he moved to New Orleans, which was then a hotbed of anti-Castro and anti-Communist sentiment, in 1965.
The photos of Oswald used by the Enquirer were taken in 1963, and Rafael Cruz said he was not in New Orleans until 1965 when he took a job in the energy industry.
New Orleans is where he would meet Senator Cruz’s mother, Eleanor Darragh Wilson, a Delaware native. They moved to Calgary, Alberta, Canada, together in 1969, a year before Ted Cruz was born.
Speaking to the Miami Herald, Gus Russo, a Kennedy assassination expert, doubted that Cruz would have been close with Oswald, saying, “[Oswald] was the ultimate loner.” Russo added that the assassin didn’t have any Cuban friends during his time in New Orleans.
The Warren Commission‘s report on JFK’s assassination contains this section on Oswald’s interest in traveling to Cuba:
Oswald’s attempt to go to Cuba was another act which expressed his hostility toward the United States and its institutions as well as a concomitant attachment to a country in which he must have thought were embodied the political principles to which he had been committed for so long. …
Oswald’s activities with regard to Cuba raise serious questions as to how much he might have been motivated in the assassination by a desire to aid the Castro regime, which President Kennedy so out-spokenly criticized.
5. This Is Not the First Anti-Cruz Story Published by the Enquirer, Which Has Endorsed Trump
The Washington Post noted after that story was published that it was known that Donald Trump had a good relationship with the National Enquirer. Back in October 2015, New York magazine reported that the Trump campaign was behind an Enquirer story saying that Ben Carson had crippled some of his surgical patients.
The National Enquirer endorsed Trump in March. It is the first time the tabloid has ever endorsed a presidential candidate.