Melania Trump spokesperson says First Lady against QAnon if 'harmful to children'

'I would never say what I think she should or shouldn't do, but I think it would be safe to say if there's anything that would be harmful to children online, she's going to be against that'

Alex Woodward
New York
Tuesday 25 August 2020 22:42
comments
Melania Trump against QAnon if 'harmful' to children

Melania Trump's chief of staff said she has not discussed the far-right online conspiracy cult QAnon with the First Lady, whose "Be Best" public awareness campaign has drawn attention to online safety.

Asked whether her boss would disavow QAnon, Stephanie Grisham – who previously served as White House press secretary – said she hasn't "talked to her about that specifically".

The First Lady has been criticised for condemning online bullying while Donald Trump has repeatedly used social media to denigrate his opponents and others.

"I think there's constantly this misperception that it's about online bullying, which of course gets tied to the president," Ms Grisham told MSNBC on Tuesday. "It's about online safety, and it's about teaching children that there are predators out there online and that they need to really watch out who they're talking to online and what they're doing."

Asked again whether she should disavow the conspiracy, Ms Grishman said: "I would never say what I think she should or shouldn't do, but I think it would be safe to say if there's anything that would be harmful to children online, she's going to be against that."

The FBI has labelled QAnon a domestic extremist organisation tied to threats and violence, as well as to racist and antisemitic tropes. Twitter and Facebook have purged dozens of pages, groups and accounts that promote the conspiracy.

Reluctant to turn against a base of support, Donald Trump has refused to denounce the conspiracy, a part of which believes the president is working against a "deep state" cabal of paedophiles and cannibals. He has also endorsed Republican 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.

Asked directly for the first time this 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".

He said he was willing to put himself "out there" to help.

"Well I haven't heard that, but is that supposed to be a bad thing or a good thing?" he said. "You know, if I can help save the world from some problems, I'm willing to do it, I'm willing to put myself out there."

He said: "We're saving the world from a radical left philosophy that will destroy this country, and when this country is gone the rest of the world would follow."

But several other prominent Republicans have denounced the conspiracy.

Following the president's remarks, Vice President Mike Pence said this month that he dismisses the conspiracy "out of hand".

"I don't know anything about QAnon, and I dismiss it out of hand," he said.

Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney called the cult "dangerous lunacy that should have no place in American politics."

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments