Mike Pence and Trump campaign officials to attend fundraiser organised by QAnon conspiracy theorists

GOP officials to attend event hosted by couple as vice president rallies for Montana Republicans

Alex Woodward
New York
Thursday 10 September 2020 18:48
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Mike Pence claims to not know anything about QAnon conspiracy theory
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Mike Pence, top GOP officials and members of Donald Trump’s re-election campaign are scheduled to speak at a fundraiser hosted by a couple who publicly support the QAnon conspiracy theory, according to an event invitation reviewed by the Associated Press.

The vice president is expected to be joined by campaign fundraiser and adviser Kimberly Guilfoyle, who is also Donald Trump Jr’s girlfriend, as well as Republican Party Chair Ronna McDaniel, and Republican National Committee finance chair Todd Ricketts and committee co-chair Tommy Hicks Jr.

Social media posts from the couple – Caryn and Michael Borland – include QAnon-related messages and memes supporting the cultish conspiracy, which believes the president is working against a "deep state" cabal of paedophiles and cannibals supported by Democrats.

"I don't know anything about QAnon, and I dismiss it out of hand," the vice president told CBS News last month.

A 14 September fundraiser in Bozeman, Montana follows the Borlands’ donations that have totalled $220,000 to the president’s campaign, according to campaign finance records.

The couple also attended the president’s renomination at the White House during the Republican National Convention.

Mr Pence will also host a rally on 14 September for a slate of Republicans running for several prominent races in the state.

Senator Steve Daines faced a challenger from current Montana Governor Steve Bullock, while , Congressman Greg Gianforte will face current Lt Governor Mike Cooney for the governor’s race.

Labelled a domestic extremist organisation by the FBI and tied to threats and violence as well as racist and antisemitic tropes, the cult has also been targeted by social media platforms, which have purged dozens of pages, groups and accounts that promote the conspiracy.

Reluctant to turn against a base of support, the president has refused to denounce the conspiracy and has endorsed congressional candidates that have embraced the movement, which has moved from an online fringe into the party's mainstream, with the president's sons and other prominent Republicans as well as right-wing media invoking QAnon imagery and language on social media.

Asked directly for the first time last month what he thinks of QAnon, the president claimed he didn't know much about it other than they "like me very much, which I appreciate" and calling its supporters "patriots who love our country".

First Lady Melania Trump’s chief of staff told MSNBC last month that she has not discussed the far-right cult with the First Lady, whose "Be Best" public awareness campaign has drawn attention to online safety, but said that "if there's anything that would be harmful to children online, she's going to be against that."

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