Trump Promotes Vicious Smear of Biden

QAnon continues its rapid transformation from a once-far-right conspiracy theory to mainstream Republican politics.

Paul Kitagaki Jr./ZUMA

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President Trump shared a video on Tuesday of Joe Biden embracing the wife of former Defense Secretary Ash Carter during a 2015 ceremony at the White House with the hashtag #PedoBiden, marking the president’s first public entry into the categorically false conspiracy theory accusing the Democratic presidential candidate of pedophilia.

“We can beat them at their game,” the tweet said in a caption, which has since been retweeted more than six thousand times. 

The clip ostensibly aims to demonstrate improper, potentially pedophilic behavior by Biden. It doesn’t—and Stephanie Carter, an adult, has written about how the encounter has been taken out of context to denigrate Biden. In reality, she notes, the former vice president had been comforting her during an “uncharacteristically nervous” moment after she had fallen on ice shortly before her husband’s swearing-in ceremony.

But Trump’s retweet comes as the twisted conspiracy theory continues QAnon’s rapid rise among the highest ranks of the Republican party. As my colleague Ali Breland has reported, the increasingly mainstream, once far-right movement—which is constantly mutating to incorporate new false, pro-Trump conspiracy theories—is centered around an unnamed federal agent within the Trump administration whose job it is to fight what they describe as Democratic-run, global pedophilia rings. While Trump has frequently used social media to promote QAnon followers, his latest retweet signals what’s all but certain to become a central theme to his reelection campaign as November nears: falsely accusing Biden and Democrats of pedophilia. Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., has repeatedly promoted the Biden conspiracy theory in recent weeks.

The president gave QAnon a significant public boost last month when, rather than forcefully condemn the movement, he told reporters that he had heard QAnon believers “are people who love our country.” He added, “I don’t know much about the movement—other than I understand that they like me very much.”

Trump’s retweet on Tuesday continues QAnon’s increasing influence on the Republican party this year. After the president himself, a number of Republican congressional candidates are among the movement’s most prominent GOP supporters.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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