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Trump says he doesn't know much about QAnon but has heard it likes him

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., August 19, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that he doesn’t know much about the QAnon conspiracy theory movement but understands it is gaining in popularity and has a favorable view of him.

“I don’t know much about the movement, other than I understand they like me very much,” Trump told reporters at a briefing.

“These are people that don’t like seeing what’s going on in places like Portland, in places like Chicago and New York, and other cities and states,” he added, referring to anti-racism protests that have taken place across the country over the death of George Floyd, a Black man, in police custody in May.

QAnon followers espouse an intertwined series of beliefs based on anonymous web postings from someone claiming special insider knowledge of the Trump administration. The core tenet is that Trump is secretly fighting a cabal of child-sex predators including prominent Democrats.

A spokesman for Democrat Joe Biden, Trump’s opponent in the Nov. 3 election, said the Republican president was “again giving voice to violence.”

“After calling neo-Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville ‘fine people’ and tear gassing peaceful protesters following the murder of George Floyd, Donald Trump just sought to legitimize a conspiracy theory that the FBI has identified as a domestic terrorism threat,” Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement.

On Wednesday, Facebook said it had removed nearly 800 QAnon conspiracy groups for posts celebrating violence, showing intent to use weapons, or attracting followers with patterns of violent behavior.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal and Eric Beech; Additional reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Writing by Alexandra Alper; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall and Christopher Cushing

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