President Donald Trump refused to denounce supporters of the far-right conspiracy theory QAnon at his town hall event Thursday night, spiraling into a fit of outrage at the NBC host for even asking him about it.
Trump, who has lent support to the dangerous and cultish movement throughout his presidency, said at Thursday’s event he knew “nothing about QAnon” when host Savannah Guthrie asked him if he would denounce the movement once and for all.
The only definitive remark he made about backers of the far-right, convoluted theory was complimentary: “What I do hear about it is they are very strongly against pedophilia, and I agree with that,” adding they “fight it very hard.”
The core belief of those who follow the mysterious QAnon is that high-ranking Democrats, media figures and entertainment personalities are secretly members of a satanic pedophile ring that Trump is covertly working to stop. The movement has had some dangerous and violent consequences beyond the spread of its misinformation, including a shooting at a Washington pizza parlor.
In August, Trump said of QAnon followers that he’d “heard these are people that love our country” and said he appreciated that they “like me very much.”
Guthrie didn’t let Trump’s response slide. “You do know” about QAnon, she said as the president repeated he didn’t and tried to pivot the conversation to anti-fascist activists known collectively as “antifa.”
Trump grew angry with Guthrie when she wouldn’t move on.
“Let’s waste the whole show,” he said. “You started off with white supremacy; I denounced it. You started off with something else. Let’s go. Keep asking me these questions.”
At one point when he and Guthrie were competing to speak, Trump quipped at her, “So cute.”
Biden’s campaign blasted the president shortly after the town hall ended.
“In a false, alternate reality of his own making, President Trump was combative and lashed out at voters,” Biden’s deputy campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield, said in a press release. “He refused to denounce QAnon. He defended an unhinged conspiracy theory about the brave American soldiers who took out Osama Bin Laden. He lied about the effectiveness of masks.”
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