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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 RomneyThe Memo: Five reasons why Trump could upset the odds Will anyone from the left realize why Trump won — again? Ratings drop to 55M for final Trump-Biden debate MORE (R-Utah) on Friday slammed President TrumpDonald John TrumpGiuliani goes off on Fox Business host after she compares him to Christopher Steele Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska NYT: Trump had 7 million in debt mostly tied to Chicago project forgiven 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 BidenGiuliani goes off on Fox Business host after she compares him to Christopher Steele Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska Jeff Daniels narrates new Biden campaign ad for Michigan MORE on Sept. 29, Trump refused to condemn white supremacist groups when pressed by moderator Chris WallaceChristopher (Chris) WallaceTrump calls Fox 'disappointing' for airing Obama speech Fox News president, top anchors advised to quarantine after coronavirus exposure: report Republican National Committee chair warns of 'most progressive, radical takeover of our country' if Biden wins 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 McConnellBitter fight over Barrett fuels calls to nix filibuster, expand court Trump blasts Obama speech for Biden as 'fake' after Obama hits Trump's tax payments White House hoping for COVID-19 relief deal 'within weeks': spokeswoman MORE (R-Ky.) told reporters: “It was unacceptable not to condemn white supremacists,” associating himself with the remarks of Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottFrom HBCUs to Capitol Hill: How Congress can play an important role Democrats unveil bill to reduce police violence against people with mental illness Liberals should embrace Trump's Supreme Court nominee MORE (S.C.), the only African American in the Senate GOP conference, who called on Trump to correct his statement.

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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 PelosiOn The Money: Trump says stimulus deal will happen after election | Holiday spending estimates lowest in four years | Domestic workers saw jobs, hours plummet due to COVID Hoyer lays out ambitious Democratic agenda for 2021, with health care at top CNN won't run pro-Trump ad warning Biden will raise taxes on middle class 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 HarrisBiden pushes into Trump territory The Hill's Campaign Report: One week from Election Day | Biden looks to expand map | Trump trails narrowly in Florida, Arizona The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - One week out, where the Trump, Biden race stands MORE (D-Calif.), “a monster” and Pelosi’s tearing up of Trump’s State of the Union speech on national television in February.