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Behold the Vast Trump-Clinton Conspiracy Theory

A Florida lawmaker says Donald Trump's presidential campaign could be a ruse to help Hillary Clinton.

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Earlier this month, U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a Florida Republican, made a bold claim on Miami radio. He told host Roberto Rodríguez Tejera that Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate who’s currently laying waste to the field of primary challengers, could be in cahoots with Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton to undermine the GOP race.

“I think there’s a small possibility that this gentleman is a phantom candidate,” Curbelo said on July 10. “Mr. Trump has a close friendship with Bill and Hillary Clinton. They were at his last wedding. He has contributed to the Clintons’ foundation. He has contributed to Mrs. Clinton’s Senate campaigns. All of this is very suspicious.”

As it turns out, at least some of this is true. According to an article published Tuesday by PolitiFact Florida reporters at the Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald, Hillary Clinton did attend Trump’s 2005 nuptials to Melania Knauss, who now uses the last name Trump. People reported she sat in the front row. Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, skipped the ceremony but did attend the wedding party.

Earlier this month, U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a Florida Republican, made a bold claim on Miami radio. He told host Roberto Rodríguez Tejera that Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate who’s currently laying waste to the field of primary challengers, could be in cahoots with Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton to undermine the GOP race.

“I think there’s a small possibility that this gentleman is a phantom candidate,” Curbelo said on July 10. “Mr. Trump has a close friendship with Bill and Hillary Clinton. They were at his last wedding. He has contributed to the Clintons’ foundation. He has contributed to Mrs. Clinton’s Senate campaigns. All of this is very suspicious.”

As it turns out, at least some of this is true. According to an article published Tuesday by PolitiFact Florida reporters at the Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald, Hillary Clinton did attend Trump’s 2005 nuptials to Melania Knauss, who now uses the last name Trump. People reported she sat in the front row. Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, skipped the ceremony but did attend the wedding party.

And Trump himself has admitted that he has given money to her past campaigns — she was a U.S. senator from New York, the home base of Trump’s empire — and to the Clinton Foundation, founded by the former Democratic president. The real estate mogul chalks these ties up to greasing the wheels of American politics.

“I’m a businessman; I contribute to everybody,” Trump told Fox News during a July 15 interview. “That’s part of the problem with the system. I contribute to everybody. When I need Hillary, she was there. If I say go to my wedding, they go to my wedding. I contribute to everybody, and you know what, that’s part of the problem with our system.”

Trump’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday on the conspiracy theory, and Curbelo’s comments didn’t get a lot of attention outside of Miami. But they do hint at a sentiment expressed by some mainstream Republicans: Trump’s candidacy is a ruse to embolden Democrats.

“Just maybe Trump is a double agent for the Left,” John Fund wrote in a June 21, 2015, column posted on the conservative National Review website. “He is nearly a cartoon version of what a comedian such as Stephen Colbert considers a conservative — the kind of conservative Colbert played on Comedy Central until this year. He reinforces all the Left’s negative stereotypes of conservatives as ignorant blowhards.”

Trump has taken swipes at Clinton, just as he has to his GOP presidential rivals. But if Curbelo is right, it could mark the latest conspiracy involving the former secretary of state.

Photo credit: Rick Odel/Getty Images

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