Trump ambassador nominee promoted fringe conspiracy theories on Twitter

President Donald Trump's nominee to be the ambassador to Barbados and several other Caribbean countries spread fringe...

Posted: Feb 5, 2018 8:36 PM
Updated: Feb 5, 2018 8:36 PM

President Donald Trump's nominee to be the ambassador to Barbados and several other Caribbean countries spread fringe conspiracy theories and unfounded attacks about Trump's political opponents on Twitter, including ones about Sen. Ted Cruz and his wife, Heidi, during the 2016 presidential election.

Trump in January nominated Leandro Rizzuto Jr., a senior executive at Conair, to be the next ambassador to Barbados, as well as to serve concurrently as ambassador to Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. His nomination requires Senate confirmation.

Leandro Rizzuto Jr. spread fringe conspiracy theories and unfounded attacks about Trump's political opponents on Twitter

Among the unfounded claims Rizzuto promoted was that Heidi Cruz was a leading member in an effort to combine the governments of the US, Canada and Mexico.

During the height of the Republican presidential primary, Rizzuto spread smears about Trump's opponents, including Cruz, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a CNN KFile review of Rizzuto's Twitter account shows.

The revelation that one of Trump's ambassador nominees peddled conspiracy theories comes as dozens of ambassadorships across the globe remain vacant. A CNN analysis shows that 31 ambassador posts are awaiting presidential nominations and 10 nominees are still awaiting Senate confirmation.

Among the unfounded claims Rizzuto promoted were allegations that Cruz was unfaithful to his wife and that Heidi Cruz was a leading member in an effort to combine the governments of the US, Canada and Mexico.

A representative for the White House declined to comment. Reached by phone, Rizzuto told CNN that he could not comment based on guidelines from the State Department.

All of Rizzuto's tweets on his personal account have been deleted, but retweets dating back to February 2016 are still visible. The Twitter account shares a name with Rizzuto's since-scrubbed Facebook page. The account also follows and is followed by his friends, family members, colleagues and local businesses where Rizzuto lives.

In a now-deleted tweet archived through the Google cache and the social media site Favstar, Rizzoto told Cruz to "go back to Canada." In another tweet, he called Hillary Clinton "a terrorist with amnesia."

Here is a look at Rizzuto's retweets throughout 2016:

One tweet Rizzuto retweeted from February 2016 has a picture of Heidi Cruz with a headline that reads, "This Woman Should Scare the Hell Out of All Americans" and alleges that "Heidi is an architect of the North American Union (NAU), whose goal is to destroy the sovereignty of the United States." It goes on to say that, "If Ted becomes US President, it virtually ensures the dissolving of the USA and the formation of the NAU. This would put Heidi Cruz in line to become the First Lady--NOT of the USA, but of the new North American Union"

In March, Rizzuto retweeted a user who shared an image of Mitt Romney that simply has the words "Dumb Ass" on it, and the user wrote that Satan had a hold on Romney and that he would go to Hell. The tweet was from the same day that Romney delivered a blistering speech critical of Trump.

Later in March, he retweeted a person who falsely claimed that Cruz and Kasich were funded by Democratic mega-donor George Soros. Included was a picture of Soros and a caption that said: "George Soros the leader of their movement worked for Hitler helping kill his own people the jews." The false allegation against Soros, who was a child during World War II, is common in fringe, right-wing conspiracy circles.

Also in March, Rizzuto retweeted a person who shared a picture of Walker, alleging that Walker had a 2.3 GPA when he was a student at Marquette University, and that he was expelled for cheating.

Politifact Wisconsin reported the accusations against Walker are untrue. He left Marquette his senior year to pursue a job, and Marquette has repudiated the conspiracy by releasing a statement that Walker "was a senior in good standing when he voluntarily withdrew."

Rizzuto also retweeted an account with an image of golfer Tiger Woods winking with the caption: "5 Women Ted? My man!". This tweet came days after the National Enquirer published an article claiming Cruz had affairs with five unnamed women. Cruz vehemently denied the story and accused Trump's campaign of planting the piece.

In April, he retweeted an account with an unflattering image of Heidi Cruz-the same image Trump himself shared when he famously threatened to "spill the beans" on her- that said Ted Cruz is a "Cheater, Liar, & Womanizer" and Heidi is his partner in crime. The tweet also encouraged people to vote for Trump.

Later in April, Rizzuto retweeted another account pushing the National Enquirer's affair allegations against Cruz, alongside a deformed image of Cruz.

In September, Rizzuto retweeted a meme that alleged that Clinton's close aide, Huma Abedin, was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and that she was Clinton's handler for the group.

The claim that Abedin has ties to, or is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, is unfounded but widespread in far-right circles.

Huntsville
Broken Clouds
81° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 82°
Florence
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 85°
Fayetteville
Broken Clouds
82° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 83°
Decatur
Broken Clouds
80° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 82°
Scottsboro
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 85°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 134231

Reported Deaths: 2357
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19676351
Mobile13373292
Montgomery8834184
Tuscaloosa8621118
Madison788178
Shelby597849
Lee589760
Baldwin547750
Marshall394343
Calhoun351544
Etowah349045
Morgan329228
Houston290321
Elmore266748
DeKalb241621
St. Clair232235
Walker231684
Talladega216629
Limestone210120
Cullman189920
Dallas179026
Franklin177129
Autauga176425
Russell17603
Lauderdale171333
Colbert164626
Blount161115
Escambia160824
Chilton158530
Jackson157511
Covington140127
Dale138644
Coffee13486
Pike119810
Chambers116442
Tallapoosa116085
Clarke109116
Marion96429
Butler91239
Barbour8827
Winston74412
Marengo72020
Pickens66214
Bibb65410
Lowndes65327
Randolph64713
Hale63528
Geneva6254
Lawrence62023
Cherokee60813
Bullock60414
Monroe5898
Clay5858
Washington55713
Perry5416
Crenshaw53732
Conecuh53511
Wilcox53111
Henry5055
Macon48018
Fayette4578
Sumter43819
Cleburne3805
Lamar3672
Choctaw34712
Greene30315
Coosa1713
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 190891

Reported Deaths: 2374
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby30755458
Davidson26474306
Hamilton944394
Knox937879
Rutherford929389
Williamson525236
Sumner481998
Wilson347645
Putnam331540
Montgomery307044
Unassigned29495
Bradley293417
Out of TN289627
Madison287764
Sevier262315
Blount251624
Maury236124
Washington229736
Robertson221035
Sullivan216433
Hamblen191426
Tipton181819
Gibson165823
Trousdale16577
Hardeman157026
Wayne14975
Dyer137014
Bedford134517
Dickson125715
Coffee123613
Cumberland120118
Weakley118919
Fayette118819
Henderson118124
Anderson117913
Loudon11726
Obion117110
Carter116828
Greene115644
Jefferson111914
McMinn111925
Warren10617
Macon105521
Lawrence104313
Monroe103618
Hardin103016
Lauderdale98316
Franklin9699
Haywood96921
Lake9192
Roane8954
Carroll88920
McNairy88318
Bledsoe8544
White8379
Rhea83412
Hawkins81218
Cheatham80710
Marshall7565
Cocke7469
Overton7456
Smith72311
Johnson7112
Chester63210
Henry6259
Lincoln6191
Giles60717
Hickman5858
DeKalb56614
Crockett53819
Marion5298
Decatur5207
Fentress5053
Campbell4464
Claiborne4425
Polk38810
Grainger3763
Union3591
Benton3369
Jackson3265
Morgan3173
Grundy2915
Cannon2860
Unicoi2861
Humphreys2513
Sequatchie2332
Clay2265
Meigs2263
Houston2203
Scott2142
Stewart2042
Lewis2011
Moore1751
Van Buren1660
Perry1500
Pickett1162
Hancock1063

Community Events