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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 RomneyModerates' 0B infrastructure bill is a tough sell with Democrats Sinema, Romney propose bill to tackle student loan debt Romney, Sinema teaming up on proposal to raise minimum wage MORE (R-Utah) on Friday slammed President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden administration still seizing land near border despite plans to stop building wall: report Illinois House passes bill that would mandate Asian-American history lessons in schools Overnight Defense: Administration says 'low to moderate confidence' Russia behind Afghanistan troop bounties | 'Low to medium risk' of Russia invading Ukraine in next few weeks | Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats he 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 BidenBiden administration still seizing land near border despite plans to stop building wall: report Olympics, climate on the agenda for Biden meeting with Japanese PM Boehner on Afghanistan: 'It's time to pull out the troops' MORE on Sept. 29, Trump refused to condemn white supremacist groups when pressed by moderator Chris WallaceChristopher (Chris) WallaceMcConnell seeks to end feud with Trump The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden meets with bipartisan lawmakers for infrastructure negotiations Biden to meet Monday with bipartisan lawmakers about infrastructure 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 McConnellMcCarthy and Biden haven't spoken since election Democrats roll out legislation to expand Supreme Court Wall Street spent .9B on campaigns, lobbying in 2020 election: study MORE (R-Ky.) told reporters: “It was unacceptable not to condemn white supremacists,” associating himself with the remarks of Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - CDC in limbo on J&J vax verdict; Rep. Brady retiring Tim Scott to participate in GOP event in Iowa Shocking killing renews tensions over police 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 PelosiHouse Republican proposes constitutional amendment to prevent Supreme Court expansion Business groups oppose Paycheck Fairness Act, citing concerns it could threaten bonuses and negotiating New US sanctions further chill Biden-Putin relations 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 HarrisThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden defends Afghanistan withdrawal after pushback Scalise carries a milk carton saying Harris is 'missing' at the border Harris to visit Mexico and Guatemala 'soon' MORE (D-Calif.), “a monster” and Pelosi’s tearing up of Trump’s State of the Union speech on national television in February.