Reps. Denver Riggleman (R-Va.) and Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.) introduced a resolution Tuesday (pdf) condemning QAnon, a movement that has often been characterized as a diffuse network of people pushing conspiratorial beliefs, including ones that devil-worshipping pedophiles have infiltrated positions of power and are in league with the far-left.
“QAnon is arguably no longer simply a fringe conspiracy theory but an ideology that has demonstrated its capacity to radicalize to violence individuals at an alarming speed,” the two lawmakers cite in their resolution a report from the Combating Terrorism Center at the West Point Military Academy, adding that “the conspiracy theories promoted by QAnon undermine trust in America’s democratic institutions, encourage rejection of objective reality, and deepen our nation’s political polarization.”
While opinions vary as to its nature and intent, QAnon is a movement that started on 4chan and 8chan message boards with a trickle of clandestine-sounding posts ostensibly authored by a mysterious figure called “Q.” The messages are often centered on the theme of big government plots to curb individual liberties and advance so-called deep state and globalist agendas. They sometimes claim that members of the world’s social, economic, and political elites have engaged in such egregious acts as child sex trafficking and cannibalism.
Besides calling for QAnon and its claims to be condemned, Riggleman and Malinowski urge federal agencies to crack down on negative manifestations implicitly associated with the movement, saying authorities should “continue to strengthen their focus on preventing violence, threats, harassment, and other criminal activity by extremists motivated by fringe political conspiracy theories.”
The two lawmakers also cite an FBI intelligence bulletin (pdf) from 2019 that references QAnon in context of potential domestic terrorism threats, with the bureau basing its assessment on “events in which individuals committed crimes, plotted attacks, or successfully carried out deadly violence, and who—either before or after their arrests—attributed their actions to their conspiratorial beliefs.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) last week denounced the movement after Vice President Mike Pence dismissed it earlier that day.
“Let me be very clear,” McCarthy told Fox News. “There is no place for QAnon in the Republican Party.”
It came after the Trump administration took fire for not appearing unequivocal in its condemnation of QAnon.
During an Aug. 19 White House briefing, a reporter asked: “Mr. President, at the crux of the theory is this belief that you are secretly saving the world from this satanic cult of pedophiles and cannibals. Does that sound like something you are behind or a believer in?”
“I haven’t heard that,” Trump replied, adding, “But is that supposed to be a bad thing or a good thing? I mean, you know, if I can help save the world from problems, I’m willing to do it. I’m willing to put myself out there.”
“And we are, actually. We’re saving the world from a radical-left philosophy that will destroy this country. And when this country is gone, the rest of the world would follow. The rest of the world would follow. That’s the importance of this country,” Trump said.
At the same press conference, Trump also said that, “I’ve heard these are people that love our country,” with multiple media outlets later running headlines framing Trump’s comments as “endorsing” or “embracing” QAnon.
Days after the press briefing, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows was asked in an interview on Fox News whether Trump disavows the movement, “does he condemn QAnon?”
“Well, listen, we—we don’t even know what it is. I can tell you you’ve spent more time talking on it, Chris, than we have in the White House. I find it appalling that the media, when we have all of the important things that are going on, a list of top 20, that the first question at a press briefing would be about QAnon that I had to actually Google to figure out what it is,” Meadows said.
“It’s not a central part of what the President is talking about. I don’t even know anything about it. I don’t even know if it’s credible,” Meadows added.