During his NBC town hall Thursday night, President Donald Trump refused to denounce QAnon conspiracy theorists when pushed about the right-wing conspiracy group by moderator Savannah Guthrie. The town hall was in place of a second presidential debate, and aired at the same time that ABC hosted a town hall with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
In one of many heated exchanges that highlighted the night, Guthrie asked Trump if he would denounce QAnon, which she cited believe in a conspiracy theory "that Democrats have a satanic pedophile ring and you [Mr. Trump] are the savior of that." Trump, however, refused, claiming, "I know nothing about QAnon, I know very little." When Guthrie pointed out, "I just told you," the president fired back, stating, "What you tell me doesn't necessarily make it fact."
Here’s video of Trump refusing to denounce QAnon at the NBC town hall pic.twitter.com/BmSHGYSlxO— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 16, 2020
While the president went on to again claim, "I know nothing about it," he did say, "I do know they are very much against pedophilia, they fight it very hard. But I know nothing about it" and later added that he does know about "antifa and the radical left." Over the course of the conversation, Trump claimed multiple times that he doesn't "know about QAnon," and at one point said, "what I do hear about [QAnon] is that they're very strong against pedophila, and I agree with that."
The QAnon conspiracy theory dates back to 2017, when, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the group first surfaced on 4chan. It centers on a supposed "deep state" acting against Trump, who is trying to take down a Satanic cult of pedophiles. While no part of the theory has been found to be true, a growing number of supporters have shown up at Trump's rallies.
His Thursday night remarks did not mark the first time that the president has refused to denounce the group. Asked by a reporter about the group in August, the president said he does not "know much about the movement other than I understand that they like me very much, which I appreciate." Addressing the QAnon's belief that Trump is saving the world from a "Satanic cult of pedophiles and cannibals," Trump asked if this is "supposed" to be a good thing or a bad thing, claiming, "if I can help save the world from problems, I'm willing to do it, I’m willing to put myself out there."
The president has also perpetuated the conspiracy theory on his social media accounts, just this week retweeting a conspiracy theory from an account linked to QAnon that baselessly claimed Biden orchestrated to have Seal Team Six killed to cover up the fake death of al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, CBS News reports. Asked about that tweet Thursday night, Trump downplayed it, stating, "that was a retweet. That was an opinion of somebody and that was a retweet. People can decide for themselves."