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President Donald Trump’s latest unfounded claims were so unhinged that even a Fox News host called them a “conspiracy theory.”
In an interview with Laura Ingraham broadcast on Monday night, Trump made multiple baseless claims about his opponent Joe Biden being controlled by a shadowy group of people who were funding the protests that have rocked the U.S. in recent months.
And experts believe that Trump’s wild claims, which lack any level of detail, will fuel multiple conspiracy theories, including QAnon.
Speaking about law and order, a topic that has become central to his re-election bid, Trump said that Biden was weak and that he was being “controlled like a puppet” by a group he referred to cryptically as “they.”
Trump said that Biden was being controlled by "people that you've never heard of. People that are in the dark shadows. They're people that are in the streets, they're people that are controlling the streets.”
Trump claimed the unrest in Portland, where protesters have demonstrated and clashed with police for more than three months, was being fomented by protesters who were being paid by this shadowy group.
The president added that funding for a “revolution” is coming from “very stupid rich people that have no idea that if their thing ever succeeded, which it won't, they would be thrown to the wolves like never before.”
The baseless claims were so wild that even Ingraham, who’s a staunch supporter of the president, responded: “That sounds like a conspiracy theory.”
But that didn’t deter Trump. He went on to allege that a planeload of “thugs” had been flown to an unspecified location to cause trouble.
“We had somebody get on a plane from a certain city this weekend. And in the plane, it was almost completely loaded with thugs, wearing these dark uniforms, black uniforms, with gear and this and that,“ Trump said, adding: “A lot of the people were on the plane to do big damage.”
A very similar conspiracy theory about antifa was being shared on social media months ago.
When asked for more details about the plane, Trump declined to comment, saying the situation was under investigation. “I’ll tell you sometime,” Trump said.
Trump also said that the people who were funding groups like Black Lives Matter — which he called “a Marxist organization” — were “just stupid foolish people that made a lot of money.”
Trump has long embraced and boosted various conspiracy theories, most recently giving tacit approval of the QAnon conspiracy.
Following Trump’s comments on Monday night, some QAnon believers hailed his comments as further proof their theory that a shadowy group of elites is working to undermine the U.S. president was true.
But conspiracy theory researcher Travis View pointed out that Trump’s comments were vague enough to appeal to those following all manner of conspiracy theories.
“He's a hairsbreadth away from just pushing Illuminati, Freemasonry, and Rothschild conspiracy theories,” View tweeted. “Trump kept the identity of the ‘shadowy’ enemy vague, so conspiracy theorists can fill it with their favorite villain. Some choose China, the Deep State, or ‘Elites.’ Though some prefer the stronger antisemitic twang of ‘banking families.’”
Earlier on Monday, Trump defended Kyle Rittenhouse, who allegedly shot two protesters to death in Kenosha, Wisconsin by suggesting the 17-year-old Trump supporter was just acting in self-defense.
And in his interview with Ingraham, the president offered an excuse for why a police officer shot Jacob Blake in the back seven times, comparing the act to missing a putt in golf.
“Shooting the guy in the back many times, I mean, couldn't you have done something different, couldn't you have wrestled him?" Trump said. "In the meantime, he could have been going for a weapon and, you know, there's a whole big thing there but in the meantime, they choke. Just like in a golf tournament, they miss a 3-foot putt."