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Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said Friday that President Trump's refusal to condemn QAnon, a sprawling, far-right conspiracy theory, during an NBC town hall was indicative of an "alarming pattern" in today's politics.

The big picture: Romney's statement, which only specifically singled out the president, was similar to one he issued earlier this week — ultimately criticizing people across the political spectrum for their refusal "to forcefully and convincingly repudiate" divisive and conspiratorial groups.

What he's saying: "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."

  • "Similarly troubling is their silence regarding anti-vaxxers, militias, and anarchists. 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. As the parties rush down a rabbit hole, they may be opening a door to a political movement that could eventually eclipse them both."

Catch up quick: QAnon falsely alleges a secret cabal of sex traffickers and pedophiles is waging a war against Trump from inside the government.

The backdrop: Trump has repeatedly claimed that he doesn't know much about QAnon, which was identified by the FBI as domestic terrorist threat in 2019, although he praised its supporters in August.

  • "I don't know anything about QAnon," he told NBC's Savannah Guthrie on Thursday.

Go deeper

Off the Rails

Descent into madness

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Trump was sitting in the Oval Office one day in late November when a call came in from lawyer Sidney Powell. "Ugh, Sidney," he told the staff in the room before he picked up. "She's getting a little crazy, isn't she? She's really gotta tone it down. No one believes this stuff. It's just too much."

3 hours ago - World

U.S. and NATO answer Putin in writing while bracing for Ukraine invasion

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. Photo: Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency via Getty

The U.S. and NATO provided Russia with written proposals on Wednesday to advance a "diplomatic path forward," even as they warned that Russia could invade Ukraine within days.

Why it matters: This is a delicate diplomatic balancing act. The U.S. and NATO want to show they're serious about diplomacy but unwilling to compromise on "core principles" — all without providing Vladimir Putin with an additional pretext for escalation.

The political leanings of the Supreme Court justices

Data: Martin-Quinn scores; Chart: Axios Visuals

The Supreme Court will continue to have a solid conservative majority even with Justice Stephen Breyer's retirement.

How to read the chart: An analysis by political scientists Andrew Martin and Kevin Quinn, known as the Martin-Quinn Score, places judges on an ideological spectrum. A lower score indicates a more liberal justice, whereas a higher score indicates a more conservative justice.