President Donald Trump on Thursday refused to disavow QAnon, a group that has been labeled by the FBI as a domestic terror threat.
Repeatedly pressed about the group during an NBC town hall with “Today” Show anchor Savannah Guthrie, Trump again claimed he knows very little about the QAnon theory that places him at the center as savior fighting a cult of “deep state” Democrats running a satanic pedophile ring.
Here’s video of Trump refusing to denounce QAnon at the NBC town hall pic.twitter.com/BmSHGYSlxO
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 16, 2020
“Can you just once and for all state that this is not true and disavow QAnon in its entirety?” Guthrie asked.
“I know nothing about QAnon, I know very little,” Trump said, appearing to take a stance that he has repeatedly used in the past to suggest that if he doesn’t know something he can’t be held accountable.
Critics on Twitter called his bluff:
Trump knows about QAnon. He has regularly retweeted QAnon accounts. He has endorsed candidates who openly embrace its dangerous lunacy. Last night, he refused to condemn it. And the FBI considers it a domestic terrorism threat that has already spurred many serious violent crimes.
— Brian Klaas (@brianklaas) October 16, 2020
“I don’t know anything about David Duke.”
“I don’t know who the Proud Boys are.”
“I know nothing about QAnon.”
If Trump is really as ignorant as he says he is, maybe he shouldn’t be president. pic.twitter.com/If14Tk3jGN
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) October 16, 2020
After Guthrie offered an explanation of the right-wing conspiracy group, President Trump appeared to further defend QAnon, suggesting that Guthrie’s description couldn’t be taken as fact and that “I know nothing about it, I do know they are very much against pedophilia, they fight it very hard. But I know nothing about it.”
The President further evaded and ultimately refused Guthrie’s request that he condemn the group by appearing to boost Qanon — again selectively emphasizing “that they’re very strong against pedophilia.”
“I agree with that,” he said, while refusing to acknowledge the unfounded claims pushed by its supporters.
Trump has frequently promoted unfounded claims from accounts aligned with QAnon on Twitter, often sharing posts from QAnon sympathizers and supporters.
In July, he defended his decision to endorse a GOP congressional candidate in Georgia with a record of promoting QAnon theories and making racist and anti-Semitic remarks.
Then in August, he sang a similar tune of ignorance about the group and appeared to even embrace support from the group.
“I don’t know much about the movement other than I understand they like me very much, which I appreciate,” Trump said in August.
House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff, who has questioned the threat posed by President Trump’s apparent dangerous alliances in the past condemned the President for amplifying the theory.
This isn’t hard:
QAnon is a crazy, dangerous, fringe conspiracy theory. I denounce it.
Trump refuses to say the same — simply because most of its followers support him.
Worse, Trump amplifies QAnon, which can lead to real world consequences and violence.
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) October 16, 2020
The Biden campaign quickly responded to Trump’s refusal to disavow the group.
Deputy Biden campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield in a statement suggested the President had failed to denounce QAnon in “a false alternate reality of his own making” — criticizing the last minute event with NBC after Trump refused a virtual debate with Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
Last month Biden said that the President’s penchant for conspiracies and sympathizing with supporters of those theories is “mortifying.”
“It’s embarrassing. And it’s dangerous,” Biden told reporters at an event in September.
“If the President doesn’t know better, which he has to know better, then my Lord, we’re in much more trouble than I ever thought we were,” he added.