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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 RomneyMitt Romney did not vote for Trump in 2020 election Biden: Johnson should be 'ashamed' for suggesting family profited from their name The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by the Walton Family Foundation — Pope Francis expresses support for same-sex unions MORE (R-Utah) on Friday slammed President TrumpDonald John TrumpJudge rules to not release Russia probe documents over Trump tweets Trump and advisers considering firing FBI director after election: WaPo Obama to campaign for Biden in Florida 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 and advisers considering firing FBI director after election: WaPo Obama to campaign for Biden in Florida Supreme Court reinstates ban on curbside voting in Alabama MORE on Sept. 29, Trump refused to condemn white supremacist groups when pressed by moderator Chris WallaceChristopher (Chris) WallaceBiden's debate strategy is to let Trump be Trump Biden: Muting mics at debate 'a good idea,' we need 'more limitations' Ex-GOP senator on debate commission blasts Trump's bias accusations, warns of 'incalculable damage' 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 McConnellOn The Money: Power players play chess match on COVID-19 aid | Pelosi bullish, Trump tempers optimism | Analysis: Nearly 1M have run out of jobless benefits Trump casts doubt on hopes for quick stimulus deal after aides expressed optimism Power players play chess match on COVID-19 aid MORE (R-Ky.) told reporters: “It was unacceptable not to condemn white supremacists,” associating himself with the remarks of Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottDemocrats unveil bill to reduce police violence against people with mental illness Liberals should embrace Trump's Supreme Court nominee Romney slams Trump for refusing to denounce QAnon on national television 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 PelosiTrump and advisers considering firing FBI director after election: WaPo On The Money: Power players play chess match on COVID-19 aid | Pelosi bullish, Trump tempers optimism | Analysis: Nearly 1M have run out of jobless benefits Overnight Health Care: CDC expands definition of 'close contact' after COVID-19 report | GOP coronavirus bill blocked in Senate | OxyContin maker agrees to B settlement with Trump administration 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 HarrisObama to campaign for Biden in Florida Biden appears on Brené Brown's podcast to discuss 'empathy, unity and courage' The Hill's Campaign Report: Obama to hit the campaign trail l Biden's eye-popping cash advantage l New battleground polls favor Biden MORE (D-Calif.), “a monster” and Pelosi’s tearing up of Trump’s State of the Union speech on national television in February.