President Donald Trump refused to criticize the far-right conspiracy theory movement QAnon, saying its supporters just don’t like seeing what’s going on in Democratic-run cities like New York and Portland, Oregon.
“I understand they like me very much, which I appreciate,” Trump said at a news conference Wednesday. “I’ve heard these are people that love our country.”
QAnon believers claim the world is run by a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles who are plotting against Trump while operating a global child sex-trafficking ring. It began as a fringe conspiracy theory on the internet, but has recently crept into the mainstream of the Republican party.
Republican candidate and QAnon supporter Marjorie Taylor Greene won a primary runoff in a Georgia district last week. Trump called her a future Republican star.
“I have heard that it is gaining in popularity,” Trump said Wednesday.
When asked about its followers’ baseless beliefs concerning Satan worship and pedophiles, Trump said he didn’t know about that.
“Is that supposed to be a bad thing” to oppose such activities, he asked.
His press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, said in a Fox News interview Thursday that Trump hasn’t explored the conspiracy theory and it’s not discussed in the White House.
“I talk to him often times 10 times a day, not once have I heard him mention this group,” she said. “He’s focused squarely on the American people, not some group on the internet that are out there that the media tends to focus on far more than we believe is merited.”
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Trump’s remarks drew criticism from within his own party. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who ran against Trump in the 2016 Republican primaries, said the president should have disavowed the movement, calling its adherents “nut jobs” and “racists” in a tweet.