US President Donald Trump has refused to denounce the baseless conspiracy movement QAnon in a televised town hall that aired at the same time as his rival Joe Biden’s.
The pair held competing town hall events in separate cities after Mr Trump refused to take part in a virtual presidential debate format.
In Miami, town hall moderator Savannah Guthrie from US network NBC asked Mr Trump if he would disavow the QAnon movement.
President Donald Trump speaks during an NBC News Town Hall with moderator Savannah Guthrie, at Perez Art Museum Miami, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, in Miami. Source: AP
“I know nothing about QAnon,” Mr Trump replied.
When Ms Guthrie explained the central tenet of the movement’s beliefs - a baseless theory that alleges Mr Trump has been elected to combat pedophilia against the Democrats - he declined to condemn them.
“Let me just tell you what I do hear about it is they are very strongly against pedophilia and I agree with that,” Mr Trump said.
“And I agree with it very strongly.”
A protester carrying QAnon and Trump flags marches to the Washington Monument. Source: SBS / , Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA
Mr Trump was also pressed on his failure to condemn white supremacy during the first presidential debate, when he told the white supremacist group The Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by”.
“I denounced white supremacy,” he said, before shifting the question to focus on the “radical left” and Antifa.
“Why aren’t you asking me about me about [them]?”, he said.
“I know how violent they are and how vicious they are.”
It’s not the first time Mr Trump has failed to condemn the QAnon movement. He’s previously said its believers "love our country," in comments that seemingly back the conspiracy group.
The FBI has labelled QAnon a domestic terrorism threat.
Just hours before Mr Trump’s comments, YouTube followed a slew of other social media giants in vowing to limit the spread of the conspiracy theory on its platform.
Twitter in July announced it would block thousands of accounts related to QAnon and prevent URLs associated with it from being shared.
Facebook last week promised to ban groups that openly supported QAnon.