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Joe Biden condemned the QAnon conspiracy theory as "dangerous" and "embarrassing" in a campaign event on Friday, recommending that people who support the sprawling network of falsehoods to seek mental health treatment.

Why it matters: It's the first time Biden has publicly addressed the once-fringe, far-right conspiracy theory, which has been flagged as a threat by the FBI and has slowly seeped into mainstream U.S. politics.

Catch up quick: QAnon alleges the "deep state" is engaged in a global fight to take down President Trump and evolved from the 2016 Pizzagate conspiracy theory into a decentralized network that analyzes cryptic prophecies dropped in remote online forums by "Q," who claims, without offering evidence, to be a Trump administration official with high-level clearance.

What he's saying: "I've been a big supporter of mental health," Biden said. "I'd recommend the people who believe [in QAnon] maybe should take advantage, while it still exists, of the Affordable Care Act."

  • "What in God's name are we doing? Look at how it makes us look around the world. It's mortifying. It's embarrassing, and it's dangerous. If the president doesn't know better, which he has to know better, then my Lord we're in much more trouble than I ever thought we were."

The big picture: When informed in August that the crux of the theory is a belief that he is "secretly saving the world from this Satanic cult of pedophiles and cannibals," Trump responded, "Well I haven't heard that, but is that supposed to be a bad thing or a good thing?" In a press conference last month, the president said QAnon supporters "like me very much."

Go deeper: How QAnon works like a video game to hook people

Go deeper

Nov 12, 2020 - Technology

Election reality fails to pop GOP's online filter bubble

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Trump administration's fight to question the election's outcome is providing a massive field test of the effectiveness of online echo chambers and filter bubbles.

The state of play: So far, the evidence from the Trump universe shows partisan delusion winning out over objective reality.

DOJ watchdog to probe whether officials sought to alter election results

Former President Donald Trump and former First Lady Melania Trump exit Air Force One in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Jan. 20. Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

The Justice Department's inspector general will investigate whether any current or former DOJ officials "engaged in an improper attempt to have DOJ seek to alter the outcome" of the 2020 election, the agency announced Monday.

Driving the news: The investigation comes in the wake of a New York Times report that alleged that Jeffrey Clark, the head of DOJ's civil division, had plotted with President Trump to oust acting Attorney General Jeffery Rosen in a scheme to overturn the election results in Georgia.

2 hours ago - Podcasts

Google's chief health officer Karen DeSalvo on vaccinating America

Google on Monday became the latest Big Tech company to get involved with COVID-19 vaccinations. Not just by doing things like incorporating vaccination sites into its maps, but by helping to turn some of its offices and parking lots into vaccination sites.

Axios Re:Cap goes deeper into what Google is doing, and why now, with Dr. Karen DeSalvo, Google's chief health officer who previously worked at HHS and as health commissioner for New Orleans.

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