Donald Trump offered a perfunctory, pro-forma denunciation of white supremacists that (as usual) convinced no one but his followers during his NBC town hall session on Thursday.
October 17, 2020

The lingering issue of Trump’s all-too-sympathetic relationship with the white-supremacist far right came up, a leftover from Trump’s disastrous refusal to denounce them during his only debate with Joe Biden late last month. His chief interlocutor—Today co-anchor Savannah Guthrie brought it up relatively early in the evening, describing his long history of playing weasel words in discussions of white nationalist.

Trump first badgered her—“Oh, you always do this. You’ve done this to me, and everybody—,” then shifted gears: “I denounce white supremacy, okay? I’ve denounced white supremacy for years. But you always do it.” Then he claimed that Biden never denounced antifa (which is categorically false).

This was perfectly typical of the kinds of disavowals of the far right Trump has engaged in all along in his political career, arising both because white supremacists have embraced him and because he has pursued agendas identical to theirs while winking and nodding at them on social media. Trump’s tango, moreover, does nothing to dissuade the army of extremists marching in his name—some of them committing hate crimes and other acts of violence that he inspires.

After nominally distancing himself from the far right, Trump deftly pivoted to a close embrace when Guthrie then asked him about whether he would denounce QAnon—which, as she explained to Trump, believes that Democratic leaders and liberal media figures are part of a global pedophilia cabal, and that he is the hero of the theory.

"I don't know anything about QAnon," Trump said. “I know nothing about it,” he continued. “I do know they are very much against pedophilia, they fight it very hard. I'll tell what you I do know about, I know about antifa and I know about the radical left and how violent and vicious they are, and I know how they're burning down cities run by Democrats, not run by Republicans."

He continued to express utter ignorance of the QAnon cult, despite the fact that he has retweeted multiple posts from QAnon accounts on his Twitter page. “I just don’t know about QAnon,” he said.

“But you do!” Guthrie responded.

“I don’t know. No, I don’t know,” Trump insisted, with the expression of a 5-year-old near the scene of a broken vase.

Pressed on it further, he rambled—and then finally suggested he considers it a realistic possibility that there is indeed a satanic cult being run by Democrats: "Let me just tell you what I do hear about it, is they are very strongly against pedophilia and I agree with that. I do agree with that very strongly," Trump said.

“But there’s not a satanic pedophile cult being run by—” Guthrie began.

"I don't know that," Trump interjected. “No, I don’t know that. And neither do you know that.”

A little later, Guthrie brought up another far-right conspiracy theory—this one promoted by a QAnon fan who claims that not only did Obama’s SEAL team accidentally kill Bin Laden’s body double and not the man himself, they then had all the team members assassinated to cover it up—that was retweeted by Trump.

"I know nothing about it ... that was a retweet—that was an opinion of somebody," Trump answered. "I'll put it out there, people can decide for themselves, I don't take a position."

"I don't get that, you're the president, you're not like someone's crazy uncle who can just retweet whatever," Guthrie said.

"Frankly, because the media is so fake and so corrupt, if I didn't have social media … I wouldn't be able to get the word out," Trump said.

"The word is false," Guthrie said.

Published with permission of Daily Kos

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