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President Trump claimed at a press conference Wednesday that he doesn't know much about the fringe conspiracy theory QAnon, but that he understands its supporters "like me very much" and that they "love America."

Why it matters: QAnon is a sprawling internet conspiracy theory that baselessly alleges that a powerful cabal of sex traffickers within the "deep state" is engaged in a global fight to take down Trump. The FBI identified fringe conspiracy theories, like QAnon, as domestic terrorist threats in 2019.

  • Marjorie Taylor Greene, a vocal supporter of QAnon, won the Republican nomination in Georgia's deep-red 14th Congressional District runoff last week. Trump tweeted his congratulations and called her a "future Republican Star."
  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) is one of the few Republicans who have demanded that GOP leaders condemn QAnon now that it has entered the mainstream, with Greene poised to be elected to Congress in November.

What he's saying: "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," Trump said.

  • "I have heard that it is gaining in popularity and from what I hear ... these are people that don't like seeing what's going on in places like Portland, and places like Chicago and New York and other cities and states."
  • "I've heard these are people that love our country and they just don't like seeing it. So 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, like especially in the areas that we're talking about, go away."

When informed 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?"

  • "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 would follow."

The other side: Joe Biden's campaign released a statement arguing that Trump "is again giving voice to violence" by praising QAnon.

  • "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 legitimize a conspiracy theory that the FBI has identified as a domestic terrorism threat," campaign spokesperson Andrew Bates said.
  • "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 big picture: QAnon rose out of the 2016 Pizzagate conspiracy theory and has grown into a decentralized network that analyzes cryptic prophecies dropped in remote online forums by "Q," who claims, without ever offering evidence, to be a Trump administration official with high-level clearance.

  • Q maintains President Trump is secretly fighting a child-selling cabal in the U.S., though the conspiracy has spiraled to cover a vast array of claims, from JFK Jr. having faked his death to help Trump behind the scenes to the coronavirus being a hoax or a biological weapon engineered in either case by sinister elites.

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

Go deeper

Nov 22, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump campaign says Sidney Powell isn't a member of its legal team

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump's campaign said in a Sunday statement that Sidney Powell is neither a member of its legal team nor a lawyer for Trump in his personal capacity.

Why it matters: Powell was a part of the campaign's wild, conspiratorial Thursday press conference and baselessly floated unfounded conspiracy theories that included a claim that President-elect Biden won the 2020 presidential election thanks to "communist money" from the Venezuelan regime.

3 mins ago - Health

FDA advisory panel endorses Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine for emergency use

Photo: Illustration by Cezary Kowalski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday recommended the authorization of Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot coronavirus vaccine for emergency use.

Why it matters: The FDA is expected to make a final decision within days on the J&J vaccine, which was found to be 66% effective against moderate to severe COVID. An emergency use authorization would allow distribution to immediately begin, helping streamline and speed up the vaccine rollout across the U.S.

Dave Lawler, author of World
4 mins ago - World

Schiff: "Definitive" Khashoggi report sends clear message to Saudis

Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images

The report released Friday on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi was short on evidence or new information, but Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) tells Axios that the “definitive” statement assigning responsibility to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) speaks volumes.

What he’s saying: Schiff, the chairman of the House intelligence committee, says that while some intelligence couldn’t be published because of the need to protect sources and methods, “we rarely see something published that is this definitive and I think that's an important accomplishment for the administration.”