Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano of Pennsylvania recently helped incite the January 6 pro-Trump coup attempt at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Mastriano just a few weeks ago appeared on a program dedicated to the QAnon conspiracy theory, where he compared his attempt to overturn the election to fighting against terrorists on Flight 93 and opposing the rise of Adolf Hitler.
Mastriano became a Pennsylvania state senator in 2019 after retiring from the U.S. Army. He has used his elected position to unsuccessfully attempt to overturn the state’s election results and met with President Donald Trump regarding those efforts. Mastriano organized a bus ride from Pennsylvania to D.C. on January 6 and appeared in a picture in front of the Capitol.
Pennsylvania state Sen. Tim Kearney (D) and state Rep. Brian Sims (D) have called for Mastriano's resignation over the January 6 riot. Mastriano claimed in a statement that he condemns violence and said, in part: “When it was apparent that this was no longer a peaceful protest, my wife and I left the area and made our way out of the area. At no point did we enter the Capitol building, walk on the Capitol steps or go beyond police lines.”
Mastriano pushed pro-coup and violent rhetoric during a December 21 appearance on the QAnon-dedicated program The Common Sense Show, which airs on the Patriots’ Soapbox network. NBC News’ Brandy Zadrozny and Ben Collins wrote in August 2018 that the Patriots' Soapbox is “a round-the-clock livestreamed YouTube channel for Qanon study and discussion. The channel is, in effect, a broadcast of a Discord chatroom with constant audio commentary from a rotating cast of volunteers and moderators.”
QAnon is a violence-linked conspiracy theory based on cryptic posts to online message boards from an anonymous user known as “Q" that have spread rampantly on social media and among fringe right-wing media. QAnon conspiracy theorists essentially believe that Trump is secretly working to take down the purported “deep state,” a supposed cabal of high-ranking officials who they claim are operating pedophile rings.
During his December appearance on the QAnon program, Mastriano repeatedly pushed false claims that the election was stolen from Trump and said: “I think in the end, assuming truth prevails, that he will have a second term.”
He also praised militia members carrying guns at protests, stating: “They're not burning down cities and killing people on the streets. That would be the leftists in Portland, a living example, and Seattle and elsewhere. Show me where the right is the problem.”
The interview did not directly address QAnon but it did feature violent rhetoric, which has become a defining feature of the pro-Trump conspiracy theory.
Mastriano compared himself to someone fighting terrorists on Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania during the September 11 attacks. He stated: “Todd Beamer, an adopted son of Pennsylvania from Cranbury, New Jersey, saw the terrorists take over Flight 93. And he said, ‘Let's roll.’ So Pennsylvania, it's time to roll again.”
He also compared himself to someone fighting against the rise of Hitler. Janet, one of the program’s co-hosts, said: “I think they're wanting to move us towards socialism. And you know what they say about socialism? You can vote it in, but you have to shoot your way out.” Mastriano responded by comparing the Nazi dictator to the political left and told a story about a failed opportunity to stop Hitler in the 1930s when opponent and former German chancellor Kurt von Schleicher “had his Esther moment, and he choked.” Mastriano added, in part: “God looks for modern day Esthers and Gideons to stand in the gap. And so that's why I'm heartened that I'm not standing alone. I see other Esthers and Gideons, you know. You know what? Our constitutional freedoms are at risk and politically, we can win this back.”
Other Republicans have appeared on the Patriots’ Soapbox, including Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Jody Hice (R-GA), and Burgess Owens (R-UT). Trump official Erin Perrine went on the program in 2019 to recruit campaign volunteers. The Republican Party as a whole has built up the violence-linked conspiracy theory.
Right Wing Watch previously noted that Mastriano has “made multiple appearances on the ‘Up Front In The Prophetic’ program, which is hosted by QAnon supporters Allen & Francine Fosdick.”