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

Poll: One-third of Americans are open to QAnon conspiracy theories

A car with references to the QAnon conspiracy theory, which the FBI identified as a domestic terror threat, before a Trump rally. Photo: Caitlin O'Hara/Getty Images

More than one-third of Americans think it's possible that elites in Hollywood, government and the media "are secretly engaging in large scale child trafficking and abuse," according to new polling for a U.K.-based anti-racism advocacy group reviewed by Axios.

The big picture: New findings by the group HOPE not Hate show 1 in 10 Americans say they are at least "soft" supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory movement and suggest that distrust in U.S. political systems could fuel further unrest in a fraught election year.

Pence to continue traveling despite aides testing positive for COVID-19

Marc Short with Pence in March. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Marc Short, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, tested positive for the coronavirus Saturday and is quarantining, according to a White House statement.

Why it matters: Short is Pence's closest aide, and was one of the most powerful forces on the White House coronavirus task force. Pence and second lady Karen Pence tested negative for the virus on Sunday morning, according to the vice president's office.

AOC: "Extremely important" that Biden offer Bernie Sanders a Cabinet position

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that she believes it's "extremely important" that Joe Biden offer Sen. Bernie Sanders and other progressive leaders Cabinet positions if he's elected president.

The big picture: Ocasio-Cortez was pressed repeatedly on policy differences between her and the more moderate Biden, including her opposition to fracking and support for Medicare for All. She responded that it would be a "privilege" and a "luxury" to be able to lobby a Biden administration on progressive issues, insisting that the focus right now should be on winning the White House.