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Romney slams Trump for refusing to denounce QAnon on national television

Romney slams Trump for refusing to denounce QAnon on national television
© Bonnie Cash

Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyMcConnell keeps GOP guessing on Trump impeachment Senators vet Mayorkas to take lead at DHS Romney calls for Senate to pass sanctions on Putin over Navalny poisoning MORE (R-Utah) on Friday slammed President TrumpDonald TrumpLil Wayne gets 11th hour Trump pardon Trump grants clemency to more than 100 people, including Bannon Trump expected to pardon Bannon: reports MORE for refusing to denounce QAnon, a group that has spread false information on social media about COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement and which the FBI warns is a domestic terror threat.

“The president’s unwillingness to denounce an absurd and dangerous conspiracy theory last night continues an alarming pattern: politicians and parties refuse to forcefully and convincingly repudiate groups like antifa, white supremacists and conspiracy peddlers,” Romney said in a statement tweeted Friday afternoon.

“Similarly troubling is their silence regarding anti-vaxxers, militias and anarchists,” he added. “Rather than expel the rabid fringes and the extremes, they have coddled or adopted them, eagerly trading their principles for the hope of electoral victories.”

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Trump pointedly declined to criticize QAnon during a nationally-televised town hall Thursday evening when Savannah Guthrie of NBC News asked him to debunk a conspiracy theory about Satan-worshiping politicians and celebrities being part of a global sex abuse conspiracy.

“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,” Trump replied.

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It was the second time in less than a month that the president has refused to condemn a fringe group viewed as sympathetic to his cause.

During his debate with Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump grants clemency to more than 100 people, including Bannon Scalise bringing Donna Brazile as guest to Biden inauguration Sidney Powell withdraws 'kraken' lawsuit in Georgia MORE on Sept. 29, Trump refused to condemn white supremacist groups when pressed by moderator Chris WallaceChristopher (Chris) WallaceFox News's DC managing editor Bill Sammon to retire Arkansas governor: Intelligence on state capitol protests 'not to the level that I'm bringing out the National Guard' Mulvaney: Earlier Trump controversies were 'policy differences' or 'stylistic,' but 'Wednesday was existential' MORE.

Trump referenced one such group, the Proud Boys, by name and said: “Stand back and stand by. But I’ll tell you what, I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left, because this is not a right-wing problem.”

Trump’s refusal to condemn the Proud Boys and similar groups prompted an immediate backlash from Republicans on Capitol Hill.

The next day Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump has talked to associates about forming new political party: report McConnell, Schumer fail to cut power-sharing deal amid filibuster snag McConnell keeps GOP guessing on Trump impeachment MORE (R-Ky.) told reporters: “It was unacceptable not to condemn white supremacists,” associating himself with the remarks of Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottGOP senator questions constitutionality of an impeachment trial after Trump leaves office Biden's minimum wage push faces uphill battle with GOP GOP senators wrestle with purging Trump from party MORE (S.C.), the only African American in the Senate GOP conference, who called on Trump to correct his statement.

Romney on Tuesday criticized Trump and Democrats for contributing to what he called a “hate-filled morass.”

“I have stayed quiet with the approach of the election,” Romney said in another statement posted on Twitter. "But I’m troubled by our politics, as it has moved away from spirited debate to a vile, vituperative, hate-filled morass that is unbecoming of any free nation—let alone the birthplace of modern democracy."

Romney warned that “rabid attacks” back and forth between Trump and Democratic leaders such as Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiThe Memo: Trump leaves changed nation in his wake New York court worker arrested, accused of threats related to inauguration GOP Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene referred to Parkland school shooting as 'false flag' event on Facebook MORE (Calif.) “kindle the conspiracy mongers and the haters who take the small and predictable step from intemperate word to dangerous action.

He cited Trump calling Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisScalise bringing Donna Brazile as guest to Biden inauguration McConnell, Schumer fail to cut power-sharing deal amid filibuster snag Howard University's marching band to escort Harris at inauguration MORE (D-Calif.), “a monster” and Pelosi’s tearing up of Trump’s State of the Union speech on national television in February.