President Donald Trump has amplified tweets from supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory more than 25 times, and members of his family, his personal attorney, current and former campaign staffers, and even some former administration officials have also repeatedly amplified QAnon supporters and their content. Supporters of QAnon have been linked to murder and other acts of violence, and the FBI has warned about the conspiracy theory as a potential domestic terrorism threat.
QAnon has been tied to murder and militia groups, and the FBI flagged it as a potential terror threat
The QAnon conspiracy theory has been tied to acts of violence, used by anti-government groups, and was flagged as a potential domestic terror threat by the FBI. The QAnon conspiracy theory began in October 2017 on 4chan, a site connected to white nationalists, with an account called “Q” claiming that Trump was working with special counsel Robert Mueller to take down the president’s perceived enemies and the “deep state.” The conspiracy theory then moved to 8chan, another message board tied to white nationalists and mass shooters which recently went offline, and it has also spread elsewhere online among Trump supporters. [Vox, 8/1/18; Media Matters, 8/2/18]
The QAnon conspiracy theory has been tied to multiple violent incidents and threats of violence, including a man accused of murdering his brother with a sword, a man accused of murdering an alleged crime boss, a man who reportedly threatened to kill YouTube employees, an armed man who blocked the Hoover Dam with an armored vehicle, and even a man who threatened to assassinate Trump. Additionally, its supporters even targeted a charter school and forced it to cancel an annual fundraiser, and the conspiracy theory has become increasingly popular among border militias and anti-government groups. [The Daily Beast, 8/11/18, 9/27/18, 1/9/19; BuzzFeed, 6/17/18; The New York Times, 7/21/19; The Daily Dot, 5/10/19; Southern Poverty Law Center, 4/23/19]
In May, an FBI field office released a memo that listed QAnon as a potential domestic terrorism threat. [Yahoo News, 8/1/19]
Trump keeps amplifying QAnon supporters on Twitter and has met with multiple QAnon supporters
Trump keeps amplifying QAnon Twitter accounts. Since 2017, Trump has repeatedly amplified Twitter accounts supporting the conspiracy theory, doing so more than 25 times.
From November 25, 2017:
Question: When will Trump retweet a Q-Anon account and promote a Q-Anon website?
Answer: Trick question. He already has.
— Travis View (@travis_view) August 1, 2018
From October 14, 2018:
On October 14, Trump quote tweeted @WyattEarpLA.
@WyattEarpLA has frequently endorsed QAnon. It has even referenced “Q Drops,” the cryptic posts made by the anonymous 8chan poster known as “Q.” People in the QAnon community baselessly believe that Q is somebody or a group of government insiders close to President Trump. [Contemptor, 11/28/18]
From November 28, 2018:
That account has previously promoted QAnon and the #WWG1WGA hashtag.
— Travis View (@travis_view) November 28, 2018
From March 17:
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 17, 2019
From March 20:
From a QAnon conspiracy theorist to actor James Woods to comedian Larry the Cable Guy to the leader of the free world. Thus travels information in the age of Twitter and President Trump, who took a late-night swing at a familiar punching bag — the Transportation Security Administration — via a nearly two-year-old video spread by a character on the far fringes of the Internet.
The video was reshared on Monday by a Twitter account called Deep State Exposed, which is operated by Jeremy Stone, a follower of the QAnon conspiracy theory. Stone’s twitter bio includes the phrase “WWG1WGA,” shorthand for “Where We Go One We Go All,” a rallying cry for the bizarre theory that ties together the Pizzagate conspiracy and a supposed “deep state” plot to control American politics. Stone soon added a follow-up tweet to the viral video claiming that “TSA goes out of their way to hire high school dropouts with an inclination for sexual perversion. It’s mind control!!!” [The Washington Post, 3/20/19]
On May 1, Trump retweeted six accounts that had pushed the conspiracy theory:
Multiple accounts that Trump retweeted this morning appear to have pushed the QAnon conspiracy theory. pic.twitter.com/vVe6ir61yH
— Alex Kaplan (@AlKapDC) May 1, 2019
From May 4:
Big day for the murderous death cult known as Qanon.
This is one of the biggest Q accounts.
Twitter could have done something about this, Reddit did.
But they refuse too and they won't, until a few more people get killed by these nutcases. pic.twitter.com/uEaQzYjgOS
— Josh Russell (@josh_emerson) May 4, 2019
From May 12:
— Alex Kaplan (@AlKapDC) May 12, 2019
On June 9, Trump retweeted Bill Mitchell, a conservative radio host who has boosted the conspiracy theory:
[Media Matters, 7/9/19]
From July 4:
It appears that Trump tonight retweeted another QAnon believer. pic.twitter.com/MopIpKodw3
— Alex Kaplan (@AlKapDC) July 5, 2019
From July 11 and July 12:
An account Trump quote tweeted last night had pushed QAnon, Pizzagate, & a debunked hoax known as “Frazzledrip” about Hillary Clinton & Huma Abedin mutilating a child. Trump since then has also retweeted two other QAnon accounts. pic.twitter.com/BOsGeueQWS
— Alex Kaplan (@AlKapDC) July 12, 2019
On July 12, Trump again retweeted Mitchell:
Trump also quote tweeted and retweeted another QAnon account this afternoon. pic.twitter.com/nJRxVeeocz
— Alex Kaplan (@AlKapDC) July 30, 2019
[Right Wing Watch, 7/30/19]
From August 13:
— Alex Kaplan (@AlKapDC) August 13, 2019
From August 15:
The account Trump just quote tweeted is not only a QAnon account, but the same QAnon account that played a crucial role in spreading a false claim about E. Jean Carroll in June that eventually reached Trump Jr. https://t.co/Wg7MVyv2ur pic.twitter.com/DdRJGsZI6J
— Alex Kaplan (@AlKapDC) August 15, 2019
On August 17, Trump retweeted four accounts that had pushed the conspiracy theory:
Trump tonight retweeted at least 4 QAnon accounts. pic.twitter.com/LYNwGFnaub
— Alex Kaplan (@AlKapDC) August 18, 2019
Trump has hosted and supported multiple QAnon supporters. In August 2018, Trump met with Youtube and social media personality and QAnon supporter Michael Lebron in the Oval Office. In July, Trump hosted a White House social media summit, which featured conservative radio host Mitchell; singer Joy Villa, who wore “Q” earrings at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February; and Jim Hoft of The Gateway Pundit, which has criticized media outlets that tried to “mischaracterize and discredit” the conspiracy theory. Another booster of the conspiracy theory, cartoonist Ben Garrison, was originally invited to the summit, but his invitation was later rescinded. And in August, Trump endorsed QAnon supporter Curt Schilling’s potential run for Congress. [CNN, 8/25/18; Media Matters, 7/9/19, 8/13/19]
Multiple figures in Trump’s orbit have also amplified QAnon supporters
Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani
Giuliani has amplified multiple QAnon accounts. Since at least February, Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani has repeatedly amplified Twitter accounts supporting QAnon.
From February 25:
From February 28:
On April 1, Giuliani quote tweeted a fake Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) quote from a QAnon supporter.
From May 29:
Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale
Parscale has met with Mitchell and amplified a QAnon account. Trump’s reelection campaign manager, Brad Parscale, met with Mitchell at the White House and quote tweeted a QAnon account on August 15.
Trump's 2020 campaign manager @parscale met with QAnon promoter Bill Mitchell in the White House. Brad Pardcale also quote tweeted the QAnon account “The 'Dirty' Truth” yesterday.
In case you wondered if the Trump 2020 campaign will do anything to distance itself from QAnon. pic.twitter.com/WDEqTOXuFh
— Travis View (@travis_view) August 16, 2019
“Women for Trump” campaign group
A “Women for Trump” online video includes images of multiple QAnon signs. “Two signs promoting the QAnon conspiracy theory” are visible in a video of “Women for Trump,” a coalition group for Trump’s reelection campaign, according to The Daily Beast:
Two signs promoting the QAnon conspiracy theory are visible in a video from Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, marking the latest link between the president and followers of the fringe movement that the FBI recently described as a potential source of domestic terror.
The signs, which were first noticed by Vox reporter Aaron Rupar, appear in a close-up shot in a “Women for Trump” video posted by Trump’s campaign late in July. Around halfway into the video, the first sign appears, with Trump’s “Keep America Great” slogan and a “Q” taped onto it. Another shows “Q”’s replacing the O’s on a “Women for Trump” sign. [The Daily Beast, 8/7/19]
Women for Trump co-chair Stacey Dash is a QAnon supporter.
Another co-chair, Gina Loudon, plans to attend a QAnon-connected conference. Loudon is listed to attend in September the “Digital Soldiers Conference,” which has a U.S. flag featuring a Q made of stars as its logo. QAnon supporters Villa and Mitchell are also listed as attendees, and another major QAnon account had claimed to be invited. The event’s coordinator is a QAnon supporter whom Loudon retweeted to note her planned attendance at the event. [women.donaldjtrump.com, accessed 7/23/19; Twitter, 8/13/19, 8/14/19, accessed 8/19/19; Media Matters, 7/9/19; Mother Jones, 8/13/19]
Loudon has retweeted multiple QAnon accounts. Loudon has repeatedly amplified QAnon accounts, including Mitchell, who called her “my bestie.”
Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn
Flynn has signed books with a QAnon slogan and “liked” a QAnon tweet, and some members of his family have endorsed QAnon. Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, has signed copies of his memoir with “WWG1WGA,” and the only tweet he’s “liked” so far in 2019 is from a QAnon account. Flynn’s sister and brother have also signaled support for QAnon, with the former tweeting the QAnon slogan and appearing on a QAnon YouTube channel, and the latter appearing on another QAnon YouTube channel. [The Daily Beast, 3/18/19; Twitter, 11/23/18, 4/23/19, 5/21/19]
Flynn initially planned to attend a QAnon-connected conference. Flynn planned to attend the “Digital Soldiers Conference” but later backed out. [Mother Jones, 8/17/19]
Flynn’s attorney has retweeted QAnon accounts and tweeted QAnon language. Flynn’s attorney, Sidney Powell, has repeatedly retweeted major QAnon accounts and has tweeted “#TheStormIsComing” and “#TheStorm,” phrases regularly used by QAnon supporters. [Twitter, 6/12/19; Mother Jones, 8/16/19]
Former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos
Papadopoulos is listed as attending a QAnon-connected conference and has tweeted QAnon language. Former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadouplous is listed as speaking at the upcoming “Digital Soldiers Conference” and tweeted in February, “Trust the plan,” a phrase regularly used by QAnon supporters. [Twitter, 8/13/19; Mother Jones, 8/13/19]
Donald Trump Jr.
Trump's son has shared content from QAnon accounts. Donald Trump Jr. in June pushed a false claim about columnist E. Jean Carroll with a video that originally came from a QAnon account. In March, Trump Jr. shared the same video from the account Deep State Exposed that his father did. [Media Matters, 6/26/19; Twitter, 3/20/19]
Trump Jr. follows and has shared content from a major QAnon account. Trump Jr. follows and has shared content from Dylan Wheeler, a major QAnon account who goes by “Educating Liberals” on social media. Wheeler has given a speech at Trump’s Washington, D.C., hotel, and used his social media presence to aid another QAnon account’s harassment campaign and promote an upcoming QAnon rally in D.C. in September. [Twitter, 1/2/19, 3/25/19, 5/23/19, accessed 8/2/19; Right Wing Watch, 4/15/19; The Daily Beast, 7/31/19]
Trump rally speaker Brandon Straka
Straka said the QAnon slogan at an Ohio Trump rally. Brandon Straka, head of the anti-Democratic Party “Walk Away” group and a speaker at Trump’s August 1 rally in Ohio, said the QAnon slogan, “Where we go one, we go all,” during the speech. From an August 2 Talking Points Memo article:
After reciting the QAnon rallying cry onstage at a Thursday evening Trump rally in Cincinnati, self-described “former liberal” Brandon Straka told TPM Friday that he does not support Q and denied that he was referencing the QAnon conspiracy theory.
“I was not making any references to QAnon whatsoever or subtly hinting to that, and obviously I’m disappointed that the media has chosen to focus on this,” Straka told TPM.
Straka, a gay Manhattan hairdresser and aspiring actor who leads a group called Walk Away that aims to lead minorities away from the Democratic Party, denied any relationship with QAnon.
Straka had told the crowd on Thursday that Trump “is not a president who panders to minorities because he needs them,” rather, he “serves minorities because he loves them. And he loves this country. We are all in this together.”
Straka concluded: “Where we go one, we go all.” [Talking Points Memo, 8/2/19]
Foreign governments have reportedly used QAnon for their disinformation campaigns
The Russian and Chinese governments have reportedly used QAnon for their disinformation efforts. In 2017, the Internet Research Agency, which is connected to the Russian government, pushed QAnon on Twitter as part of their efforts to sow discord in the United States. On August 19, Twitter announced that it had found multiple accounts connected to the Chinese government being used for information warfare, and one of those reported accounts pretended to be American and pushed QAnon. [BuzzFeed News, 8/15/18; The New York Times, 8/19/19; Twitter, 8/19/19]