CNN's Avlon slams Trump for enabling 'unhinged extremist candidates' embracing QAnon to run for office

On Monday, CNN fact-checker John Avlon delved into QAnon, the movement of pro-Trump conspiracy theorists who believe the president is fighting a global sex trafficking ring run by Democrats and celebrities, and will declare martial law any day now to arrest the enemies of America.

"Normally, the last thing I would ever do is talk to you about QAnon," said Avlon. "It's a nonsense conspiracy theory, and trying to track its web of lies will only make you dumber. But these are not normal times. According to Axios, there are 11 GOP nominees that support or defend this bogus claptrap. GOP Oregon Senate nominee Jo Rae Perkins, Colorado congressional nominee Lauren Boebert, Georgia's Marjorie Taylor Greene.

"The president has fanned the flames, reportedly retweeting QAnon-supporting memes and hashtags," said Avlon. "This month, Business Insider published data showing the Trump campaign relies on a huge network of QAnon accounts to spread conspiracy theories and disinformation. And a lot of these accounts are inauthentic. According to the tracking site Bot Sentinel, three of the top five bot-amplified hashtags of 2020 are QAnon-related. If you're a follower, you're probably getting duped by a bot."

"Meanwhile, Trump's former National Security Adviser and convicted felon Michael Flynn recently decided to post a video reciting some of its slogans, which is not creepy at all," said Avlon. "This is much more than a logically extreme extension of play-to-the-base politics. The FBI classified QAnon as a domestic terror threat. They have apparently been involved in a foiled presidential assassination plot, devastating California wildfire, and an armed standoff with local law enforcement in Arizona."

"Now, Republicans may look at these likely nominees expressing support for QAnon and try to convince themselves they're outliers," said Avlon. "After all, in 2018, the GOP found themselves with strange bedfellows on their ballot as well, with Fox News describing Illinois GOP congressional nominee Arthur Jones as, quote, 'one of several Nazis, Holocaust deniers or white supremacists who have elbowed their way onto the GOP ballot.' But Republicans need to ask themselves just why so many unhinged extremist candidates feel comfortable clustering under the GOP banner. In the case of QAnon, the answer lies at the top of the ticket, President Donald Trump."

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