Sen. Mitt Romney criticized President Donald Trump’s refusal to denounce the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory but managed to “both sides” the issue, saying Democrats and those on the left were just as bad for not pushing back against Antifa.
During his Thursday town hall on NBC, Trump was asked by Savannah Guthrie whether he would condemn QAnon, which has been labeled as a potential domestic terror threat by the FBI.
Trump said he didn’t know much about the group, other than they are “very much against pedophilia” before changing the subject.
“I’ll tell you what I do know about, I know about Antifa and I know about the radical left,” said Trump, claiming the groups are “burning down our cities.”
For the uninitiated, QAnon is a sprawling, right-wing Trump-centered conspiracy theory in which the president is secretly fighting against a global, satanic child sex-trafficking ring led by Democrats and Hollywood elites.
Romney tut-tutted Trump’s unwillingness to condemn QAnon Friday morning.
“The President’s willingness to denounce an absurd and dangerous conspiracy theory last night continues an alarming pattern,” wrote Romney on Twitter before expanding his critical net to ensnare other groups.
“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,” he said.
Last month, FBI Director Chris Wray told a congressional hearing that Antifa is “an ideology” rather than an organization. That puts him at odds with Trump, and seemingly Romney, who are eager to characterize the movement as a left-wing terrorist organization. In reality, Antifa lacks any formal organization and does not have a leadership structure.
The rise of violence driven by political extremism is a growing concern. Earlier this month 13 members of a white supremacist militia were arrested as part of a plot to kidnap the governor of Michigan and overthrow that government. A security guard in Denver shot and killed a right-wing protester and an Antifa-sympathizer allegedly shot and killed a right-wing protester in Portland before being gunned down by federal agents. Teenager Kyle Rittenhouse has been charged with murder after he allegedly shot and killed two men during Black Lives Matter protests in Kenosha, Wis.
Violence and political polarization is a major problem in America right now. A recent poll showed Americans believe we’re well on our way to another civil war, while voters who responded to a June survey said civil war was “likely” within the next five years. On top of all that President Trump’s refusal to commit to the peaceful transfer of power if he loses the election has ratcheted up the political tension in America.
Romney did make a valid point about the damage that could result from embracing these fringe ideologies in the name of political expediency.
“Rather than expel the rabid fringes and 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,” his tweet concluded.
Romney’s latest tweet dovetails with a statement he put out earlier this week, where he called politics “a vile, vituperative, hate-filled morass" and blaming both sides but mostly condemning the name-calling of Trump.