WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump recently accepted $1 million in campaign contributions from a couple whose vocal support for the QAnon conspiracy theory led to the cancellation of a fundraiser they were supposed to host for Vice President Mike Pence last month.
The couple, Caryn and Michael Borland, have shared QAnon memes and retweeted posts from QAnon accounts, the Associated Press reported in September, which led to the cancellation of a Montana fundraiser. The conspiracy theory includes baseless, farfetched allegations about liberals and satanism and child sex trafficking as well as claims that Trump is fighting entrenched enemies in the government.
New campaign finance disclosures released Thursday night show Trump’s joint fundraising effort with the Republican National Committee accepted $1.03 million from the couple, which they donated in late August before the fundraiser was canceled. Their son, whose occupation is listed as “student,” contributed an additional $580,000 around the same time, the records show.
The couple did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday. The Trump campaign also did not immediately respond.
Candidates often return donations given by supporters whose personal dealings could be problematic. While many Republicans have dismissed QAnon, Trump has been unwilling to reject support from adherents, a sign of how deeply it has gained a foothold in the GOP.
During a townhall forum broadcast on NBC Thursday night, Trump repeatedly declined to say the QAnon theory was false and professed to know little about it.
“Can you just, once and for all, state that that is completely not true and disavow QAnon in its entirety?” moderator Savannah Guthrie asked during a pointed exchange.
“I know nothing about it,” Trump responded. “I do know they are very much against pedophilia, they fight it very hard. But I know nothing about it.”
Guthrie followed up: “Why not just say it’s crazy and not true?”
Trump responded: “I don’t know that and neither do you.”
QAnon is a wide-ranging conspiracy fiction spread largely through the internet, centered on the belief that Trump is waging a campaign against enemies burrowed in the government’s “deep state” — and also including the baseless, farfetched idea of Trump foes behind a sex trafficking ring run by satanic pedophiles and cannibals. It references cryptic postings by the anonymous “Q,” purportedly a government insider.
The story has grown to include other long-standing conspiracy theories, gaining traction among some extreme Trump supporters. The movement is often likened to a right-wing cult; some followers have run for office, primarily in the Republican Party, though some have run as independents or as third-party candidates.
The Borlands have shared multiple QAnon social media posts, as well as other discredited conspiracies. Since the AP’s initial story, they both blocked their Twitter accounts from public view. Michael Borland also scrubbed his public facing Facebook account of most QAnon content.
It previously featured several QAnon “Q” logos, including a flaming “Q” with a Christian cross in the middle. He also previously shared the QAnon oath as well as its slogan, which states: “Where We Go One We Go All.”