Lara Trump, President Donald Trump’s daughter-in-law and a senior adviser to his reelection campaign, tweeted a YouTube video from one of the biggest QAnon accounts on the internet.
On February 21, Lara Trump -- who also hosts an online show for the campaign -- tweeted, “The best is yet to come,” along with a link to a YouTube video titled “The Best Is Yet To Come - Trump 2020.”
The video was posted on YouTube by “JoeM,” who has hundreds of thousands of followers on social media and is a devotee of the QAnon conspiracy theory (he co-authored a bestselling book about it). The theory has been tied to multiple violent incidents, including murder and attempted kidnapping, and it has been flagged by an FBI field office as a potential domestic terrorism threat.
JoeM, who uses the handle StormIsUponUs on Twitter and whose “introductory video” about QAnon is often used to introduce people to the conspiracy theory, has his own ties to extremism, bigotry, and harassment: Last April, the account instigated a baseless conspiracy theory that a California school fundraiser was somehow connected to former FBI Director James Comey, forcing the fundraiser to be cancelled. In May, after his Twitter account was briefly suspended, he used his Instagram account to instigate a harassment campaign against a woman. In February 2019, his QAnon introductory video was posted on the YouTube account of the parents of a man arrested for trying to burn down a pizzeria that was at the center of the debunked Pizzagate conspiracy theory. And in October 2019, a police affidavit for a QAnon supporter arrested for an attempted kidnapping reported the person had in their home bracelets with JoeM’s handle on them.
This isn’t the first time people in Trump’s orbit -- along with Trump himself -- have amplified and interacted with QAnon accounts and their content.
Besides Lara Trump, other major figures who shared JoeM’s video -- which has garnered more than 120,000 Facebook engagements and over 24,000 Twitter shares -- included the following:
Rep. Dan Meuser’s (R-PA) campaign Facebook page .
The Facebook pages for the Republican Party chapters of Comal County in Texas; Calvert County in Maryland; Wakulla County, St. Johns County, and Highlands County in Florida; Jefferson County in Alabama, El Paso County in Colorado, Cumberland County and Craven County in North Carolina, Snohomish County in Washington State, and Santa Barbara County in California.
Update (3/13/20): A user on the backup site for the notorious The Donald subreddit on March 4 posted the video, which a moderator for the site on March 12 claimed had caused it to receive “1.48 MILLION unique visitors in the last 24 hours, and this number looks like it may exceed 2 million.” The post from the subreddit’s backup site of JoeM’s video was shared to Facebook, where it received more than 1.1 million interactions, according to social media tool CrowdTangle. Among those who shared it on Facebook are Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller and the Republican Party chapters of Shelby County in Ohio, Crawford County in Kansas, Noble County in Oklahoma, Bexar County in Texas, Muscogee County in Georgia, and Williamson County in Tennessee. Additionally, since the post went up, the Bexar County Republican Party shared JoeM’s YouTube video directly, as did Republican Party chapters in Flathead County in Montana and McLean County in Illinois.