Former President Donald Trump shared a post on his Truth Social website this week that appeared to be an explicit endorsement of the QAnon movement.
Trump has referenced QAnon in the past but has typically feigned ignorance about the false and dangerous conspiracy theories peddled by the far right movement. During a town hall in October 2020, for instance, he claimed he knew “nothing about” the extremist movement while also seeming to endorse it.
“What I do hear about it is they are very much against pedophilia, and I agree with that,” Trump said.
QAnon followers believe that a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles is running many national governments around the globe, including in the U.S. They believe that Trump is waging a secret, underground war against this cabal — which is made up of Democrats or anti-Trump Republicans, according to the conspiracies — and that he will be restored to the presidency in due time.
On Monday evening, Trump shared a picture of himself (posted by another account on Truth Social) wearing two lapel pins on his jacket — one with the U.S. flag, the other bearing the letter “Q.”
Included in the image were the words “The Storm is Coming,” a common saying among QAnon followers that reminds them to have faith that Trump will reveal members of the so-called “Satanic ring” and return to the presidency.
Trump goes full QAnon over at TruthSocial—sporting a Q lapel pin and blasting two QAnon slogans. pic.twitter.com/sI0t7FPbBM
— Eric Columbus (@EricColumbus) September 13, 2022
QAnon followers on Truth Social were quick to theorize about the meaning of Trump’s post, and some claimed that the image was somehow confirmation that the movement’s falsehoods and reality-distorting conspiracies are true.
According to Vice News’s David Gilbert, who reported on the post being “retruthed” (Truth Social’s version of a retweet) by Trump, the post was the former president’s “most explicit endorsement of the QAnon conspiracy movement to date.”
In a subsequent tweet, Gilbert shared a news article about a QAnon follower in Michigan who had murdered his wife.
“Trump’s latest embrace of QAnon comes hours after a Michigan man shot and killed his wife and critically injured his daughter after he fell down the QAnon rabbit hole in the wake of Trump’s 2020 election loss,” Gilbert wrote.
Many followers of the QAnon movement have acted out in violent ways, including attacking those who they believe are part of the conspiracy (whether they be loved ones or political figures). Many of Trump’s loyalists who stormed the U.S. Capitol building on January 6, 2021, cited QAnon conspiracies to explain why they took part in the attack, for example.
Last year, the FBI warned that QAnon followers may engage in further violence in the coming years. According to the agency, QAnon adherents could shift “towards engaging in real-world violence — including harming perceived members of the ‘cabal’ such as Democrats and other political opposition — instead of continuing to await Q’s promised actions which have not occurred.”
While the movement has been rejected by most Americans, it is becoming more mainstream in Republican politics, as Trump’s hold on the party remains strong. Several GOP candidates running for Congress have espoused viewpoints that can be traced back to the QAnon movement.
“While Democrats argue over whether they want to nominate another Manchin clone” in certain midterm races, Truthout’s senior editor and lead columnist William Rivers Pitt wrote earlier this year, “Republicans wonder which candidate will bring Hillary Clinton to justice for peddling children out the back of pizza places in Benghazi and Hollywood.”