During a townhall forum broadcast on NBC Thursday night, Trump repeatedly declined to say the QAnon theory was false and professed to know little about it.
“Can you just, once and for all, state that that is completely not true and disavow QAnon in its entirety?” moderator Savannah Guthrie asked during a pointed exchange.
“I know nothing about it,” Trump responded. “I do know they are very much against pedophilia, they fight it very hard. But I know nothing about it.”
Guthrie followed up: “Why not just say it’s crazy and not true?”
Trump responded: “I don’t know that and neither do you.”
QAnon is a wide-ranging conspiracy fiction spread largely through the internet, centered on the belief that Trump is waging a campaign against enemies burrowed in the government’s “deep state” — and also including the baseless, farfetched idea of Trump foes behind a sex trafficking ring run by satanic pedophiles and cannibals. It references cryptic postings by the anonymous “Q,” purportedly a government insider.
The story has grown to include other long-standing conspiracy theories, gaining traction among some extreme Trump supporters. The movement is often likened to a right-wing cult; some followers have run for office, primarily in the Republican Party, though some have run as independents or as third-party candidates.