GOP chair is out there pretending the party hasn't embraced QAnon

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The baseless theory has been labeled a domestic terror threat by the FBI.

Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel on Sunday feigned ignorance about QAnon, the dangerous conspiracy theory the FBI has labeled a domestic terror threat.

QAnon baselessly asserts that an underground cabal of Satan-worshiping Democrats, Hollywood elites, and the "Deep State" are abusing, sacrificing, and eating children. Donald Trump, the theory goes, is the chosen one standing in the gap to save the American people from these predators. The conspiracy, which was listed among a number of extremist threats in an FBI field office memo in Arizona in May 2019, has rapidly gained traction among conservative Republicans, including at high levels of the government.

During an interview with ABC's "This Week," McDaniel was asked if she was prepared to condemn QAnon. She demurred.

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"It's something the voters are not even thinking about," McDaniel claimed. "It's a fringe group. It's not part of our party. The vice president said 'I dismiss it out of hand.' [Donald Trump] said, 'You know what, I don't know anything about this group.'"

Asked again by host George Stephanopoulos whether she would condemn the theory, McDaniels steamrolled over the question, talking instead about how antifa was "burning cities right now," and calling Stephanopoulos "crazy" for being concerned about QAnon.

But McDaniel's dismissive attitude belies the facts, which indicate that QAnon continues to be embraced by the mainstream GOP at a frightening rate.

According to nonpartisan nonprofit Advance Democracy, 1 in 50 tweets in August and September about voting in the 2020 election originated from QAnon accounts. Two in 25 tweets using the hashtag #voterfraud were posted from QAnon accounts.

A recent Daily Kos poll found that 56% of Republicans think the QAnon theory is all or partly true, while only 4% of Democrats espouse any part of the theory.

It's clear QAnon's influence has reached well beyond the "fringe" of the public sphere.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) admitted Friday that her political action committee had donated to two pro-QAnon candidates for state legislature.

A spokesman from the senator's campaign said that Collins was "not aware of the activities of these two individuals at the time these two donations were made," and that donations were based on recommendations by House Republicans.

It's not just a Maine problem. More than 20 candidates running for state legislatures in 2020 have either openly endorsed or tacitly endorsed QAnon by sharing its theories and content. Three are incumbents, and 21 others are on the ballot.

Nineteen are Republicans. None are Democrats.

In August, the American Independent Foundation reached out to every Senate Republican to see whether they had made any announcement denouncing QAnon. At the time, not a single one responded yes.

Others have openly campaigned alongside QAnon-supporting candidates.

In September, Vice President Mike Pence attended a campaign event in Montana that was hosted by QAnon supporters.

Last week, Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler hit the campaign trail with the Republican candidate for Georgia's 14th District, Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is a 9/11 truther and has publicly endorsed QAnon.

And the buck doesn't stop there. Donald Trump himself was asked at last week's NBC News town hall to denounce QAnon. He declined, saying he "knew nothing" about it, before noting its supporters were "very strongly against pedophilia" and that he supports that position.

Previously, Trump has expressed admiration for QAnon, describing its supporters as "people that love our country" and stating the group is "gaining in popularity." He also frequently retweets QAnon supporters' tweets.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.