Trump fails to denounce QAnon conspiracy group

US President Donald Trump again refused to denounce QAnon, a sprawling far-right conspiracy movement supportive of him.

During the NBC town hall event on Thursday night (Friday, October 16, Manila time), Trump was asked to clearly reject the group.

"Can you disavow QAnon in its entirety?" NBC host Savannah Guthrie asked.

"I know nothing about it. I do know they are very much against pedophilia," Trump said, adding that he likes the group stance on the issue.

He then went on to derail the topic and asked why his rival Joe Biden, who was at a separate town hall hosted by ABC, was never asked to disavow Antifa and other leftist groups. 

"I tell you what I do know about," said Mr Trump, "I know about Antifa and the radical Left and I know how violent they are and how vicious they are and I know how they're burning down cities run by Democrats."

Guthrie then challenged Trump on QAnon: “You do know [about it].”

Trump said all he knew was that QAnon was "against pedophilia" and that he agrees with that.

The FBI has identified QAnon as among the domestic terrorist threats in 2019. The group falsely alleges that a secret cabal of pedophiles and sex traffickers is trying to wage a war against Trump from inside the government or “deep state.” The movement has since spread outside the US.

The President has refused to denounce the group and at times even praised QAnon supporters.

In August, Trump said: “I’ve heard these are people that love our country and they just don't like seeing it. So I don't know really anything about it other than they do supposedly like me and they also would like to see problems in these areas, like especially in the areas that we're talking about, go away.”

Tech companies – Facebook, Google, and Twitter – have removed and banned thousands of QAnon pages and accounts and tweaked their algorithms to curb their spread. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com

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