US President Donald Trump has praised the supporters of QAnon, a bizarre pro-Trump conspiracy theory that has gained traction across social media, while suggesting he appreciates their support of his candidacy, saying they “like him very much”.
“I don’t know much about the movement other than I understand they like me very much, which I appreciate. But I don’t know much about the movement,” he said in his first public comments on the conspiracy theory.
He continued, “These are people that don’t like seeing what’s going on in places like Portland and places like Chicago and other cities and states.”
“I’ve heard these are people that love our country and they just don’t like seeing it. 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 … go away.”
After a reporter informed him that supporters believe Trump is “secretly saving the world from this Satanic cult of pedophiles and cannibals”, he replied, “I haven’t heard that but is that supposed to be a good thing or a bad thing?”
“If I can help save the world from problems, I’m willing to do it, I’m willing to put myself out there and we are, actually. We’re saving the world from a radical left philosophy that will destroy this country and when this country is gone, the rest of the world will follow.”
The comments Donald Trump made in regards to QAnon were quickly condemned by the campaign of his Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, with spokesman Andrew Bates saying:
“After calling neo-Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville ‘fine people’ and tear-gassing peaceful protesters following the murder of George Floyd, Donald Trump just sought to legitimise a conspiracy theory that the FBI has identified as a domestic terrorism threat.”
“Our country needs leadership that will bring us together more than ever to form a more perfect union. We have to win this battle for the soul of our nation.”
The connection to several acts of violence prompted the FBI in 2019 to classify QAnon as a domestic terrorism threat.
“The FBI assesses these conspiracy theories very likely will emerge, spread, and evolve in the modern information marketplace, occasionally driving both groups and individual extremists to carry out criminal or violent acts,” said an internal intelligence document obtained by Yahoo! News.
Only hours before Trump’s remarks on Wednesday, Facebook removed nearly 800 groups, 100 pages and 1,500 ads related to QAnon and in July, Twitter announced it had removed more than 7,000 accounts related to the conspiracy.