Just to be clear: The FBI has identified the QAnon cult movement as a domestic terrorist threat, according to an FBI intelligence bulletin (Scribd) from the bureau’s Phoenix field office, dated May 30, 2019. Exclusive: FBI document warns conspiracy theories are a new domestic terrorism threat:
The document specifically mentions QAnon, a shadowy network that believes in a deep state conspiracy against President Trump, and Pizzagate, the theory that a pedophile ring including Clinton associates was being run out of the basement of a Washington, D.C., pizza restaurant (which didn’t actually have a basement).
“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. It also goes on to say the FBI believes conspiracy theory-driven extremists are likely to increase during the 2020 presidential election cycle.
So I suppose the FBI Phoenix field office will be out in force this weekend for a QAnon conference, Patriot Party scheduled for this weekend in Paradise Valley:
Fresh off being praised by President Donald Trump at his town hall-style interview this week, adherents of the QAnon conspiracy theory are scheduled to gather at a conference in Paradise Valley.
The Q Con Live! conference, the second in-person gathering for followers of the baseless theory, has been scheduled for Saturday afternoon at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort.
It will feature people popular among devotees of Q, purportedly an anonymous government official with Q-level security clearance who has supposedly been posting cryptic clues to hidden truths on obscure online bulletin boards.
The theory’s main narrative, for which there is no discernible evidence: Trump has been investigating a global cabal of political leaders and celebrities who run a child trafficking ring so leaders may have sex with the children or eat them.
About 100 to 200 people are expected to attend, according to a video interview that event organizer Chris Jacobson did to promote the event.
“It’s going to be a fun time,” Jacobson said in the interview. “It’s just a bunch of patriots (sic) hanging out together, learning from each other.”
Among the scheduled speakers listed is Jim Watkins, who runs the bulletin board 8kun. It is the website where the mysterious Q posts his occasional writings, known among followers as Q drops.
Q’s postings have migrated to bulletin boards — first 8chan and then 8kun — run by Watkins.
An October article in Business Insider quoted sleuths speculating that it’s actually Watkins who authors Q’s writings, rather than a mysterious figure embedded in the White House.
Trump, the central figure in the Q narrative, has been asked about Q and said he was not very familiar with its tenetsbut still described some of its beliefs. During Thursday’s town hall-style interview on NBC, the president said again he knew nothing about QAnon before explaining that it was against child sex.
“I know nothing about it,” Trump said. “I do know they are very much against pedophilia. They fight it very hard. But I know nothing about it.”
On Twitter that night, Dave Hayes of Gilbert, who interprets Q’s writings under his pen name, Praying Medic, posted to his 72,000 followers: “Imagine that. The President of the United States is the only person on Twitter who knows nothing about QAnon.”
Registration for the day-long conference is $49.99, according to the Q Con Live! website. A VIP package is available for $249.99.
According to a policy posted on the Q Con Live! website, journalists are allowed to pay the registration fee and attend, but are prohibited from interviewing, photographing or recording in any fashion anything going on. The policy also forbids journalists from asking attendees or presenters to meet somewhere else for interviews.
Tell that to the undercover FBI informants, you dumbasses.
The QAnon conference in Paradise Valley is being held within a larger Patriot Party event scheduled to begin Friday night and go through Sunday afternoon.
That event will begin at 6 p.m. with an opening prayer by state Rep. Jay Lawrence. It will feature music and speeches by former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Juanita Broaddrick, who has accused former President Bill Clinton of sexual assault.
Jacobson, in his taped interview promoting the event, said he expected another 200 people to attend the Patriot Party event. Attendees of that event, who will pay between $100 for general admission or $250 for VIP access, are able to attend the Q Con Live! conference for free, he said.
Although the nighttime music events on Friday and Saturday are set to be held outdoors, according to the schedule on the Patriot Party website, the speeches on Saturday morning and afternoon are set for a ballroom.
All speeches for Q Con Live! are also set for a conference room.
The Q Con Live! website advises attendees to practice social distancing and that they have the option of wearing personal protective equipment. The words “advised” and “option” are underlined.
In the video interview posted on the website, Jacobson referred to mask mandates as “tyranny.”
Maricopa County requires that people wear masks while indoors if not socially distanced.
Sean Sachs, senior vice president of the Scottsdale Plaza Resort, said the hotel will follow all government guidelines on hosting events. But, he said, enforcement of those guidelines and mandates is worked out in confidence with each group that wants to hold an event.
Sachs would not say whether his resort would refuse the business of an entity that wished to purposefully violate mandates or guidelines.
“I won’t comment on that,” he said.
Donald Trump is giving aid and comfort to this domestic terrorist organization. Trump Campaign Lawyers Are Aiding a Leading Proponent of QAnon:
Senior lawyers for the Trump campaign set up a small law firm last year that is working for Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican House candidate in Georgia with a history of promoting QAnon, a pro-Trump conspiracy theory.
While federal filings show that the firm, Elections L.L.C., principally collects fees from the president’s campaign and the Republican National Committee, it also does work for a number of congressional candidates, and none more so than Ms. Greene, underscoring the connections between QAnon and Mr. Trump and his inner circle. The latest example came Thursday night, when President Trump repeatedly declined to disavow QAnon at a televised town hall.
Elections L.L.C. was founded last year by Justin Clark, Mr. Trump’s deputy campaign manager, and Stefan Passantino, a former top ethics lawyer in the Trump White House. Matthew Morgan, the Trump campaign’s counsel, is also a partner at the firm. Ms. Greene’s campaign has made 14 payments to the firm since last year, worth nearly $70,000 in total, the most of any congressional campaign.
Ms. Greene is one of several Republican candidates who openly espouse the collection of bogus and bizarre theories embraced by followers of QAnon, who have been labeled a potential domestic terror threat by the F.B.I. and who former President Barack Obama warned Wednesday were infiltrating the mainstream of the Republican Party.
In fact, the Republican Party is degenerating into the QAnon Party of white grievance and wild conspiracy theories living in an alternate unhinged reality. They represent a potentially violent insurrectionist domestic terrorist movement. The GOP starts forging a new alliance with QAnon:
The QAnon world is no longer simply a social media community trafficking in conspiracy theories. It’s increasingly a new constituency for the GOP — one that’s fired up like the rest of the MAGA movement, warring with tech giants and ready to battle through Election Day on behalf of a struggling president.
Just this month, President Donald Trump has retweeted and highlighted several accounts with a history of posting QAnon content. He’s stoked conspiracy theories that originated in the QAnon world, even to the detriment of his own supporters. And along with other Republicans, he’s increasingly allowed into the arms of his MAGA movement a group that had been dismissed as fringe nonsense.
While both groups started from very different places, both MAGA and QAnon supporters share the belief that Trump is fighting conspiracies emanating from inside the deep state — a notion Trump himself has invoked. “MAGA world kind of sees Trump as this epic hero, and QAnon does the same exact thing,” said Kristen Doerer, managing editor of Right Wing Watch, a nonprofit that tracks far-right groups.
The QAnon movement suffered another blow on Thursday when YouTube became the latest platform to block some content from QAnon believers. YouTube Just Announced A Partial QAnon Ban. Facebook in August announced a ban on QAnon groups with “discussions of potential violence,” expanding it to a blanket ban on QAnon-affiliated groups and pages in early October. Twitter’s approach was narrower, simply banning nearly 7,000 accounts back in July. The Facebook and Twitter moves came in response to reports that QAnon pages had been spreading pandemic-related misinformation, as well as inspiring acts of violence nationwide.
But QAnon has already found other ways to survive. Parts of the GOP are falling into an uneasy relationship with the QAnon conspiracy theory, which alleges in part that a cabal of demon-worshipping, pedophile elites live in Washington and will stop at nothing to maintain their power.
The vast majority of current House Republicans have openly condemned QAnon, with all but 17 signing on to a recent House resolution calling it a “conspiracy theory.” But Republicans are starting to with deal with potential QAnon adherents joining their party in Congress, and some have started reaching out to these believers. At least one sitting GOP member of Congress has appeared on programs that promote QAnon content, and even more candidates have gone to these networks to appeal for money. Major Republicans and ambassadors of the Trump orbit have appeared at events with QAnon adherents, and most notably, none has withdrawn endorsements of candidates specifically because of their affinity with QAnon — though they did make a point of withdrawing their endorsement of Marjorie Taylor Greene for her anti-semitic and racist statements.
In effect, QAnon has become a voter bloc within the MAGA-fied version of the Republican Party. As the official networks housing Q theories get taken down — platforms shutting down groups, Twitter cracking down on hashtags — the QAnon movement has found a home inside the MAGA movement.
As Trump has courted a wide range of supporters to expand his base, the beliefs of this mushrooming community are seeping into the Republican base. A recent Morning Consult poll found that 38 percent of Republicans believe that at least parts of the QAnon conspiracy are true, and 12 percent of all social media users who are familiar with QAnon have positively engaged with the theory on social media. A Pew Research survey last month found that 41 percent of Republicans believed QAnon was “somewhat” or “very good” for the country.
Trump himself is at the center of the shift. He’s the public face of QAnon adulation, a focus since the beginning of the movement. At the core of QAnon’s belief is the hope that one day, the “Storm” will come, referring to a day when the satanic pedophiles get purged from government, arrested and possibly executed.
As the outsider, Trump would be at the vanguard. For months, QAnon supporters would obsess over his various gestures and nods, dissect videos to see whether he’d drawn a “q” with his fingers and eagerly disseminate content tied to moments when Trump mentioned storms and hurricanes.
Trump has, either intentionally or not, stoked that obsession through his online content. Over the past year, his habit of retweeting QAnon-linked content, and sharing conspiracy theories that originate from the Q swamps, has skyrocketed. On July 4 alone, he posted 14 tweets from accounts that were QAnon-linked. In the past week, he tweeted content from similar accounts: one that has theorized that Stephen Colbert had interviewed a John Bolton body double, and one from high-profile QAnon supporter Joy Villa.
Trump’s most attention-grabbing retweet of the week was from an account with Q references in its name, promoting a belief that President Barack Obama had actually killed Osama bin Laden’s body double. That retweet led Robert O’Neill — a Navy SEAL who claims he put the bullet in bin Laden’s head in 2011, and a high-profile Trump supporter himself — to openly denounce Trump and his QAnon adherents.
“You can sort of clock the velocity and intensity and craziness of the Q posts by the real political peril in which Trump finds himself over time,” said Rick Wilson, a former GOP strategist who is now part of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, and had for years been a subject of QAnon intrigue.
The hardcore QAnon believers, in turn, have become major MAGA power players. Some of the splashy QAnon celebrities, such as those who have been retweeted by the president, have gained a big enough following that they’ve been invited to conferences where they’ve spoken on panels with Trump allies such as Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Roger Stone. Kelly Loeffler, fighting for her Senate seat in Georgia, has been touting her endorsement from Greene.
Less publicly, the GOP has made outreaches to QAnon through less obvious means: appearing on podcasts and video channels that focus on making QAnon messaging and sharing it to millions of followers. At least eight GOP congressional candidates — including sitting Rep. Jody Hice of Georgia — have made appearances on QAnon programs in this cycle alone, according to Media Matters President Angelo Carusone. One, Utah candidate Burgess Owens, had appeared on at least two QAnon-linked programs — Patriots’ Soapbox, a livestreamed pro-QAnon show, and Flocktop, a podcast that has boosted QAnon content in the past — to raise money.
“There is no audience and no part of the Trump universe that is more dedicated, more active and in terms of just pure producing work, consuming content, hours spent, than QAnon adherents,” Carusone said. “And so if you’re thinking about it from that perspective, this is the most die-hard audience you could possibly have.”
Researchers who’ve followed the rise of the QAnon movement believe part of the reason the MAGA movement has embraced QAnon is that while the FBI has classified the group as a domestic terrorism threat, it views the movement as an overly enthusiastic but relatively harmless group of pro-Trump enthusiasts who share his content in their spaces.
“That’s likely why pro-Trump commentator Bill Mitchell of YourVoice America argued that people should not criticize the QAnon movement because even if it’s false, Q is giving people confidence in Trump as Election Day approaches,” said Doerer of Right Wing Watch. “This seems to sum up the Republican strategy: Don’t criticize the QAnon movement because the movement is useful to Trump’s reelection prospects.”
It could also be that the movement was simply too big to ignore at this point, said Travis View, a conspiracy theory researcher and co-host of the podcast “QAnon Anonymous.“
“Imagine any political movement going from not existing to having elected representatives in just three years,” he said, referring to the extremely high likelihood that Greene — a prominent proponent of conspiracy theories regarding QAnon and anti-Semitic tropes — would be a member of Congress in 2020. “That is a stunning political success story.”
Regardless of Trump’s fortunes, the QAnon community will be inclined to follow someone as a leader in Washington. “The true believers are too radicalized to let go of it now after dedicating years of their lives to the movement,” View said.
This country is going to have to hire an army of cult deprogrammers after the personality cult of Donald Trump and the QAnon cult. This insane shit cannot become normalized nor accepted in this country. They re not going to take this country down the rabbit hole of collective insanity.