Democratic Candidate Marianne Williamson Fell for Fake Story That Trump Pardoned Charles Manson

Democratic presidential hopeful Marianne Williamson appeared to fall for a hoax story that President Donald Trump had posthumously pardoned cult leader Charles Manson.

Williamson, a self-help author, said in a now-deleted Twitter post early Monday morning: "There is something deeply sinister about Trump pardoning Charles Manson, even posthumously. Dog whistles of the very worst possible kind..."

The tweet was deleted soon after it was published but not before being seized upon by other Twitter users who shared screenshots, and reported on by the New York Post.

This is absolutely the first thing Donald Trump will do in the morning when he sees this (just deleted) tweet from Marianne Williamson.

— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) December 9, 2019

It is not clear how or where Williamson initially gleaned the information that Trump had apparently pardoned Manson, but Twitter users suggested that a story to that effect appeared on a satirical website called Moron Majority in November.

Williamson's campaign has been contacted for comment.

Manson, the cult leader behind the Manson Family, died in prison in November 2017 while serving a life sentence for first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder for his role in the famous Tate-LaBianca murders in which seven people, including the actress Sharon Tate, were killed in 1969. Although Manson did not explicitly order or physically commit the murders, he was found guilty of first-degree murder because of his cultish influence over the perpetrators.

Marianne Williamson
Marianne Williamson attends the In goop Health Summit San Francisco 2019 at Craneway Pavilion on November 16, 2019 in Richmond, California. Ian Tuttle/Getty

Williamson is considered an outsider for the Democratic nomination for the 2020 presidential election, polling far behind the leaders in the race, including former Vice President Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren and Tulsi Gabbard in recent polls conducted by CNN, The Hill and HarrisX and The Economist and YouGov.

Williamson was recently criticized on social media for appearing to align with the views of anti-vaccination campaigners by calling for an "independent commission to review/reform vaccine safety." Williamson has denied that she is anti-vaccination.

"As president, I would order the Centers for Disease Control to establish an independent commission to review/reform vaccine safety," Williamson wrote in a Facebook post Friday.

"While vaccines are very important and often save lives, concerns arise from the fact that they are the only medical product not required to have the safety testing required of other drugs," wrote Williamson. "The call for certitude that vaccines are safe and responsible is not 'anti-science' but rather 'pro-science,' as it is a call for independent scientific research to review and establish vaccine safety."

On Sunday, Williamson again tweeted that "asking for an independent commission to review vaccine safety is not 'anti-vaxx.' It's 'safe-vaxx,' which is totally understandable given over $4B paid in vaccine injury claims. Why are so many people so invested in protecting Big Pharma? Odd."

The Democratic candidate's tweet was criticized for appearing to support anti-vaccination arguments. Journalist Yashar Ali responded, "This is a dog whistle for anti-Vaxxers. This is exactly how they talk about vaccines. Disgraceful and dangerous rhetoric from @marwilliamson."