Some QAnon Theories May Seem Absurd, But They're Part of a Growing and Adaptable Movement, Experts Caution
Even as QAnon theories continue to get debunked or proven wrong, supporters have remained strong in their beliefs.
On Dec. 14, Joe Biden officially won the Electoral College vote and became president-elect. Biden won 306 votes, whereas then-President Donald Trump secured 232 electoral college votes. A month later, on Jan. 20, 2021, Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States. Kamala Harris became the 49th Vice President of the United States.
However, there are reports that Donald Trump will take over and once again become president in August. But how are such reports circulating, given, as The Washington Post put it, this claim is “as verifiably false as a claim that the Earth is made of pudding."
The answer is QAnon.
On June 1, New York Times journalist Maggie Haberman retweeted a video clip of Anderson Cooper speaking with CNN correspondent Donnie O’Sullivan. They discussed a video from a QAnon conference where Trump supporters believed he would return to the White House via a new inauguration date. The supporters of the conspiracy theory believe the “election was stolen,” O'Sullivan explained.
“Trump has been telling a number of people he’s in contact with that he expects he will get reinstated by August (no that isn’t how it works but simply sharing the information)," Haberman wrote.
Haberman's reporting was backed up by the National Review, which later also reported that Trump did indeed believe this would happen.
“I can attest, from speaking to an array of different sources, that Donald Trump does indeed believe quite genuinely that he — along with former senators David Perdue and Martha McSally — will be ‘reinstated’ to office this summer after ‘audits’ of the 2020 elections in Arizona, Georgia, and a handful of other states have been completed," writer Charles C. W. Cooke noted. ”I can attest, too, that Trump is trying hard to recruit journalists, politicians, and other influential figures to promulgate this belief — not as a fundraising tool or an infantile bit of trolling or a trial balloon, but as a fact.”
A person cannot be "reinstated" as president of the United States. The only way Trump could become president again by August would be through acts likely viewed as treasonous. But he is not the only person pushing this conspiracy theory.
So is My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell. Lindell has publicly said that his lawyers have told him that Trump has a route back into the White House via Supreme Court rulings, Newsweek reported.
"What I'm talking about, Steve is what I have been doing since January 9th." Lindell told Steve Bannon's War Room: Pandemic show. "All the evidence I have, everything is going to go before the Supreme Court, and the election of 2020 is going bye-bye. It was an attack by other country, communism coming in. I don't know what they're gonna do with what after they pull it out but it's gonna pull down."
"Donald Trump will be back in office in August," he added.
And when Inside Edition Digital reached out for a statement, Lindell stood by his word. He also added, "I am going to have a cyber symposium August 10th, 11th and 12th to prove it. Then the supreme court will pull the election down 9-0."
In the past, other dates of note among Trump's supporters included Jan. 6, which saw the storming of the U.S. Capitol.
Inauguration Day and March 4, which up until 1933 was the official inauguration day, were also days discussed for a potential "takeover," according to Business Insider.
This conspiracy theory pinned to August is just one of the many believed to be true by not only Trump and Lindell but those who believe in QAnon.
QAnon, which began on a 4chan message board and has since spread onto mainstream social media and through the media alike, is based on the false belief that there is a government official with high-security clearance who is working to expose that Satan-worshiping child traffickers run the world. That supposed cabal included the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres, the Clintons, Barack Obama, Pope Francis, Tom Hanks, Beyoncé and President Biden. This "Q Clearance Patriot" claimed those same child traffickers and Satan worshippers sought to take down President Donald Trump.
None of this is true.
But that has not stopped the conspiracy theory and its many threads from gaining support.
A recent poll conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization "dedicated to conducting independent research at the intersection of religion, culture, and public policy," found that 15% of Americans believe there is a cabal of people considered liberal elites who do in fact worship the devil and trade children for their blood and sex. Though this is QAnon's main pillar, the conspiracy has many threads.
And several have to do with President Biden.
QAnon influencers believe that Biden’s inauguration was invalid. That is because they feel that it happened in a Hollywood studio, Business Insider reported.
Back in March, one QAnon believer made his claim as to why Biden was a #fakepresident. This person said on Facebook that Biden had yet to deliver a State of the Union address, hadn’t flown on the “Real Airforce One,” and said no military accounts followed him on Twitter.
Fact Check debunked the misleading claims. They explain that although Biden had used smaller government aircraft, he did fly the official Air Force One on Feb. 26. They also state that the White House website says that any plane carrying the president is technically considered Air Force One.
Additionally, they pointed out that new presidents don’t deliver the State of the Union address the year they are sworn in. For example, Trump gave his first address in 2018, and Obama gave his first address in 2009, both a year after taking office.
After one Japanese Twitter user tried claiming that the White House that Biden has been seen standing in front of looked different than that of where Trump was pictured, The Observer debunked the theory that Biden lived in a "fake White House."
The photo the Twitter user shared was taken of Trump in the Rose Garden, adjacent to the West Wing and next to the Oval Office. In it, the building ornaments are clearly visible. But in the Biden photos, they aren’t. But, as The Observer pointed out, “by changing the contrast of the photo, you can see these ornaments appear.”
Another widespread theory believed by QAnon supporters is that Biden is “a malfunctioning robot wearing human-like skin."
A panel of former QAnon supporters spoke with CNN reporter Alisyn Camerota and brought this theory to light. "The person that I started talking to ... that had initially got me into QAnon, he was like, 'You know, Joe Biden's not even real,’" former QAnon believer Ashley Vanderbilt said. "That's why he's wearing a mask all the time, because the fake face that he's wearing, the mouth doesn't move correctly when he talks. Yeah, so they really believe that Joe Biden is not even Joe Biden.”
One of the more recent theories around Biden was that once, while speaking with the media on the South Lawn of the White House, he was “digitally added with the use of a green screen.” This is because there is a camera distortion in a clip of the moment, which makes it appear as if a boom positioned in front of him isn’t real.
But reporter Steve Herman put that rumor to rest.
“I was the one holding the lighter-colored fuzzy microphone and thus literally in front of @POTUS on the South Lawn,” he wrote. “It's all real. Who actually believes this 'faked moon landing' type nonsense and more importantly who is spreading it?”
In many instances, QAnon's theories are debunked or proven wrong. Even so, many QAnon supporters remain strong in their beliefs.
So what is next for the radical conspiracy theorists? Reuters noted that QAnon slogans have slowly disappeared from mainstream sites. One reason is because Trump is no longer in office. Another is because social media platforms are cracking down on accounts spreading their messages and beliefs. However, this does not mean that they are gone. It just means they have found more creative ways to communicate.
And more violence enacted by QAnon supporters could be on its way.
Though the FBI notes that "generating, accessing, discussing, or otherwise interacting with QAnon-related content without engaging in violence or other illegal activity is legal and protected by the First Amendment," in an unclassified threat assessment of QAnon, initially obtained by CNN, the FBI said while some believers will pull back, "some DVE [domestic violence extremists] adherents of QAnon likely will begin to believe they can no longer 'trust the plan' referenced in QAnon posts and that they have an obligation to change from serving as 'digital soldiers' towards engaging in real world violence—including harming perceived members of the 'cabal' such as Democrats and other political opposition—instead of continually awaiting Q’s promised actions which have not occurred."
The report also lists several factors that are contributing to the conspiracy's long-term durability, including the current pandemic, whether social media platforms allow theories to be posted, and societal polarization.
"QAnon narratives are constantly expanding to include false information about current events—including alleged election
fraud, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the dangers of 5G technology—that are then woven into the QAnon masternarrative," the FBI noted.
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