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Republicans wrestle with conspiracy-theory advocate winning Senate primary | Connect FM | Local News Radio

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By WILL STEAKIN and MEG CUNNINGHAM(WASHINGTON) — Republicans in Oregon this week nominated a Senate candidate with a deep history of promoting and vowing support for the QAnon conspiracy theory, providing the fringe movement its largest electoral platform yet and roiling Republicans over having a candidate who openly embraces baseless conspiracy theories.In a now-deleted Twitter video, insurance agent Jo Rae Perkins, who bested three other candidates in the primary to face Democrat Sen. Jeff Merkley in November’s general election, expressed support for the QAnon conspiracy theory, which casts President Donald Trump as a crusader against a web of deep state conspiracies and that the Federal Bureau of Investigations has deemed a potential domestic terror threat.“I stand with President Trump. I stand with Q and the team. Thank you Anons, and thank you patriots. And together, we can save our republic,” Perkins said in a video posted on Tuesday, while holding up a sign with a popular QAnon slogan on it.Her primary win has forced Republicans to grapple with having a state-wide nominee who openly embraces the conspiracy theory.When asked about supporting Perkins in the general election, the Republican National Committee did not comment.The Oregon state Republican Party issued a lukewarm and seemingly reluctant statement saying, “By virtue of being the GOP nominee, this is what we do – support them in winning the general election.”The National Republican Senatorial Committee would not express support for Perkins and instead responded when asked with a list of unrelated allegations against Democratic Senate candidates before saying “and THIS is what ABC News is focused on.”The Trump campaign and White House declined to comment.Perkins’ own campaign on Wednesday tried to distance the candidate from QAnon, writing in a statement that she “would never describe herself as a follower.”But speaking to ABC News on Thursday, Perkins did just that.The Senate nominee said she was “literally physically in tears ” after reading the statement posted by her own campaign to her personal Twitter account and bucked her own campaign by reiterating support for QAnon.”My campaign is gonna kill me,” Perkins said. “How do I say this? Some people think that I follow Q like I follow Jesus. Q is the information and I stand with the information resource.”Perkins said she misread the line in the statement that walked back her support for QAnon before it was posted and that she would have told her campaign to “fix it” if she’d realized what was being said on her behalf.“I scanned it and said, yeah, it looks good to me and out it went. And then I saw it afterwards and I am like, literally was in tears, literally physically in tears because I’m so blown away. Because I went, crap, that’s not me. And I don’t back down.“I’m not backpedaling and I’m frustrated. I feel like I’m having to backpedal and that’s like torn me up because that’s not me,” she said regarding her support for QAnon.While Perkins said that her campaign has told her “not to worry” about fixing the statement rejecting her support for QAnon, she said “I’m the candidate and the buck stops with me.”The QAnon conspiracy theory, which has spread debunked and baseless ideas like John F. Kennedy Jr. faking his own death and returning last July 4th, started in late 2017 after an anonymous post surfaced on the online message board 4chan with someone claiming to have access to top-secret government information.Since then the random and anonymous posts have ignited followers to pore over each line and word looking for strands and clues into the wild alleged conspiracies.“People who believe are believing things that are not true and don’t have evidence to back them up. That leaves them in a place where they’re holding a lot of beliefs that are disconnected from our shared reality,” said Joseph Uscinski, a political-science professor at the University of Miami whose research focuses on fringe beliefs.”And further than that, they hold a set of beliefs that scapegoat particular people for all the world’s evils and accuse them of engaging in horrific crimes. And when you put that together, those are the sorts of things that can motivate people to act and we have seen some isolated incidents where people committed violence. based on this considered conspiracy theory,” Uscinski said.Last August, the FBI identified the QAnon conspiracy theory as a domestic terrorist threat, as Yahoo News reported on a document saying for the first time that the agency is labelling “conspiracy theory-driven domestic extremists” as a growing threat.“The FBI assesses these conspiracy theories very likely will emerge, spread, and evolve in the modern information marketplace, occasionally driving both groups and individual extremists to carry out criminal or violent acts,” the document states and goes on to say that the agency believes conspiracy theory-driven extremists will likely increase amid the 2020 presidential election.The conspiracy has grown popular at Trump rallies across the country, with followers wearing and selling merchandise, waving signs to get popular QAnon slogans and internet links on camera with for people to search and learn more about the alleged conspiracy.The president, who elevated to power after pushing a debunked conspiracy theory of his own that President Barack Obama fabricated his birth certificate and was not born in the United States, has promoted and encouraged QAnon followers since taking office by regularly re-sharing their tweets to his nearly 80 million followers to the celebration of believers in the conspiracy theory.However, Trump’s promotion of QAnon followers is not bound to the internet, the president has also invited them to the White House as part of a “social media summit” and has taken a photo with a follower in the Oval Office when right-wing conspiracy theorist and QAnon-believer Michael Lebron visited back in 2018.According to Uscinski, while the president may not be personally responsible for QAnon’s rise given he has not publicly commented on it, Trump’s anti-establishment and “deep state” talk has created a space for it to thrive and the president has not proactively looked to shut it down either.“I think what Trump has done is create a space for people who are anti-establishment to come out of the woodwork. And to feel like they are taking part in mainstream politics,” Uscinski said.“It’s in [Trump’s] favor to not denounce it either. There have been lower level officials who’ve said we’re not endorsing this. But he hasn’t. So the status quo is what works best for him. He can keep these people in his camp without saying something they disagree with. And then he doesn’t have to do anything that would make him look more of a conspiracy theorist that he already looks like. By outwardly endorsing it.The day after Perkins’ primary win this week, she appeared on a popular QAnon YouTube channel to celebrate the victory.Perkins said on the live stream posted on Wednesday, hours before her campaign tried to distance her from the conspiracy theory, that “most of the people who were at our election night party were Q people.”She also said she’d “absolutely” use the information she’s learned from the QAnon conspiracy theory in the U.S. Senate if elected.And prior to her election win on Tuesday, Perkins regularly tweeted promoting the conspiracy theory, sometimes welcoming converts to the “QArmy” and as early as January this year she shared posts claiming to have proof of “coordination between Q and President Trump.”Perkins, with or without the support of her own party, will have an uphill climb in November. Democrats largely win Oregon state-wide elections and Merkley, the incumbent, is considered a strong favorite in the Senate race. The state has gone blue for every presidential election since 1984 and hasn’t elected a Republican governor since the 1980s.Perkins said despite Republican officials slow start supporting her candidacy publicly so far, she doesn’t believe there will be any issues moving forward since she says she’s friends with Oregon Republican Party Chairman Bill Currier.Currier did not return a request for comment.Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved

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Sanders and Schumer call on McConnell to hold hearings to fight election conspiracy theories – KTVZ

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Sanders and Schumer call on McConnell to hold hearings to fight election conspiracy theories - KTVZ

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Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York are calling on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to create a new bipartisan committee focused on election integrity and schedule hearings to reassure Americans over a process President Donald Trump has repeatedly sought to undermine.

There is growing anxiety among Democrats, and some Republicans, that Trump will not only continue to sow doubt over the legitimacy of the coming election but throw the subsequent count into chaos by declaring victory before all the votes can be tallied, including the millions that will arrive by mail.

In a letter to McConnell, Sanders and Schumer quote back the Kentucky senator’s own words, in which he attested to the reliability of mail-in voting by citing its successes in Oregon, Washington and Colorado, which have been using the system for years.

Trump has repeatedly questioned the validity of mail-in voting, promoted conspiracy theories questioning election security, called on supporters to act as unsanctioned “poll watchers,” and suggested that the absence of a clear result by the evening of November 3 would in some way cast doubt on the eventual outcome. Key allies in powerful positions, like Attorney General Bill Barr, have followed suit. Barr has persisted in puffing up a debunked claim that ballots received by mail would somehow strip the sender of their privacy — ignoring well-established safeguards.

By escalating the matter now, Sanders and Schumer are responding to growing concern, in partisan and nonpartisan spaces, that Americans are not adequately prepared for the potential of a longer-than-usual wait for results or Trump’s willingness to short-circuit the democratic process if he smells defeat.

“Democrats and Republicans in Congress must come together to ensure that we have a free and fair election where every vote is cast and counted without intimidation,” Sanders told CNN, “where no one has to put his or her health in danger to cast a ballot, and where we have full confidence in the results.”

The proposed hearings would invite a cross-section of election officials from across the country to testify to the security and reliability of mail-in, early- and in-person voting — subjects on which Sanders and Schumer, again, referenced McConnell’s own words.

“Despite the clear security of our vote-by-mail system, some have continued to undermine it with unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud,” they wrote. “As you have correctly said, people ‘can vote early, you can vote on Election Day, or you can drop it in the mail,’ and that voters should ‘not worry about your vote not counting.’”

The minority leader and Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, also want more detailed discussion about the fraught hours, or days, after the polls close and a real-time watch of the election horse race potentially swings from one candidate to another.

“We know a number of states may well be counting ballots for a period of time after Election Day, and that those votes may be determinative in this election,” the senators wrote to McConnell. “To avoid disinformation, conspiracy theories, and suspicion about results, we must understand the likely timeline for this process.”

The letter goes on to reference the recent war games-style preparations conducted by a group called the Transition Integrity Project, a bipartisan gathering of operatives and academics that made headlines when some of the outcomes of their exercises — including “both street-level violence and political impasse” — were reported on in late July.

“A bipartisan group of experts and officials have studied multiple scenarios where the outcome of the election was not immediately known. Some of these scenarios resulted in unrest and even violence,” Sanders and Schumer wrote, suggesting the Senate should elevate similar discussions and familiarize the public with the uncertainties ahead. “We would like to hear from the most knowledgeable people in the country as to how we can do everything possible to make sure that the election and the period afterward is secure and peaceful.”

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HHS official sorry for conspiracy theory video

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HHS official sorry for conspiracy theory video

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HHS supported Caputo, with a statement that called him a critical, integral part of the presidents coronavirus response, leading on public messaging as Americans need public health information to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic.

There was no immediate statement from the White House.

Attempts to reach Caputo were unsuccessful.

On Capitol Hill, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., called on Azar to fire Caputo, accusing the spokesman of trying to interfere with CDC reports to the medical and scientific community, as well as the public at large. And Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called on Azar himself to resign, citing interference with the CDC as one example of what he termed the administration’s failures.

Officials at CDC have privately complained of recent efforts by political appointees at main HHS to try to edit or press for changes in the agency’s weekly MMWR publications, a go-to resource for public health professionals.

MMWR articles are technical, but they reveal telling details. One published earlier this year noted that while Trump’s travel restrictions dramatically reduced travel from China in February, nothing was being done at that time to restrict travel from Italy and Europe, where the coronavirus was spreading widely and rapidly. Analysis of virus samples from hard-hit New York in March suggested it was introduced there from Europe and other parts of the U.S., the CDC article reported.

Caputo is an unswerving Trump loyalist. His recent book, The Ukraine Hoax, claims the presidents phony impeachment was rooted in a vast conspiracy.

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unwinona:This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS…

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unwinona:This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS...

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My RSS Feedunwinona:

This is exactly what conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers have done with their HIV/AIDS and Polio narrative (among others), only we’re seeing it escalated to weeks and months instead of years or decades.

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