QAnon may best be understood as an example of what historian Richard Hofstadter called in 1964 "The Paranoid Style in American Politics", related to religious millenarianism and apocalypticism. The vocabulary of QAnon echoes Christian tropes—"The Storm" (the Genesis flood narrative or Judgement Day) and "The Great Awakening", which evokes the historical religious Great Awakenings from the early 18th century to the late 20th century. According to one QAnon video, the battle between Trump and "the cabal" is of "biblical proportions", a "fight for earth, of good versus evil." The forthcoming reckoning is said by some QAnon supporters to be a "reverse rapture" which means not only the end of the world as it is now known, but a new beginning as well, with salvation and a utopia on earth for the survivors.
The Italian leftist Wu Ming foundation has speculated that QAnon is inspired by the Luther Blissett persona, which leftists and anarchists used to organize pranks, media stunts, and hoaxes in the 1990s. "Blissett" published the novel Q in 1999.
Disillusionment can also come from the failure of the theories' predictions. Q predicted Republican success in the 2018 US midterm elections and claimed that Attorney General Jeff Sessions was involved in secret work for Trump, with apparent tensions between them a cover. When Democrats made significant gains and Trump fired Sessions, there was disillusionment among many in the Q community. Further disillusionment came when a predicted December 5 mass arrest and imprisonment in Guantanamo Bay detention camp of Trump's enemies did not occur, nor did the dismissal of charges against Trump's former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn. For some, these failures began the process of separation from the QAnon cult, while others urged direct action in the form of an insurrection against the government. Such a response to a failed prophecy is not unusual: apocalyptic cults such as Heaven's Gate, the People's Temple, the Manson Family, and Aum Shinrikyo resorted to mass suicide or mass murder when their expectations for revelations or the fulfillment of their prophecies did not materialize. Psychologist Robert Lifton calls it "forcing the end". This phenomenon is being seen among some QAnon believers. View echoes the concern that disillusioned QAnon believers might take matters into their own hands as Pizzagate believer Edgar Maddison Welch did in 2016, Matthew Phillip Wright did at Hoover Dam in 2018, and Anthony Comello did in 2019, when he murdered Mafia boss Frank Cali, believing himself to be under Trump's protection.
On July 2, 2016, an anonymous poster known as "FBI Anon", a self-described "high-level analyst and strategist" who claimed to have "intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the Clinton case", began offering lies about the 2016 investigation into the Clinton Foundation and claimed that Hillary Clinton would be imprisoned if Trump became president. Around that time, another figure known as "HLI Anon", standing for "High Level Insider Anon", hosted long question-and-answer sessions, dispensing various conspiracy theories, including one that claimed Princess Diana was murdered after trying to stop the September 11 attacks.
October 30, 2016
On October 30, 2016, a Twitter account posting white supremacist material which said it was run by a New York lawyer falsely claimed that the New York City Police Department (NYPD) had discovered a pedophilia ring linked to members of the Democratic Party while searching through Anthony Weiner's emails. Throughout October and November 2016, WikiLeaks had published John Podesta's emails. Proponents of the theory read the emails and alleged they contained code words for pedophilia and human trafficking. Proponents also claimed that Comet Ping Pong pizzeria was a meeting ground for Satanic ritual abuse.
Soon after the 2016 United States elections, two anonymous posters known only as "CIA Anon" and "CIA Intern" falsely claimed to be high-ranking CIA officers, and in late August 2017, an account called "WH Insider Anon" offered a supposed preview that something that was "going to go down" regarding leaks that would supposedly affect the Democratic Party.
Although preceded by similar viral conspiracies such as Pizzagate , the theory proper began with an October 2017 post on the anonymous imageboard 4chan by "Q", who was presumably an American individual but most likely has become a group of people. Q claimed to have access to classified information involving the Trump administration and its opponents in the United States. NBC News found that three people took the original Q post and expanded it across multiple media platforms to build internet followings for profit. QAnon was preceded by several similar anonymous 4chan posters, such as FBIAnon, HLIAnon (High-Level Insider), CIAAnon, and WH Insider Anon.
A person identifying as "Q Clearance Patriot" first appeared on the /pol/ board of 4chan on October 28, 2017, posting in a thread titled "Calm Before the Storm", a reference to Trump's cryptic description of a gathering of United States military leaders he attended as "the calm before the storm". "The Storm" is QAnon parlance for an imminent event when thousands of alleged suspects will be arrested, imprisoned and executed. The poster's username implied that they hold Q clearance, a United States Department of Energy security clearance required to access Top Secret information on nuclear weapons and materials. An NBC News investigation found that in November 2017, two moderators of the board, "BaruchtheScribe" and "Pamphlet Anon", reached out to YouTuber Tracy Diaz to promote Qanon. The three then created a Reddit community (subreddit) "CBTS_Stream", which was key in spreading the theory. Posts by "Q" later moved to 8chan, citing concerns that the 4chan board had been "infiltrated". The theory then spread to Facebook and YouTube. In March 2018, the subreddit, which had 20,000 subscribers, was banned for “encouraging or inciting violence and posting personal and confidential information”. "Pamphlet Anon" then launched "Patriots’ Soapbox", a YouTube livestream channel dedicated to the theory. One archived livestream appears to show him logging in to “Q”'s 8chan account before the feed quickly cuts out.
—QAnon's first post on the /pol/ message board of 4chan, on October 28, 2017
On November 26, 2017, President Donald Trump retweeted a tweet from Twitter account @MAGAPILL, a self-styled "official President Donald Trump accomplishment list" and a major proponent of the conspiracy theory, less than a month after QAnon first started posting. On December 28, the Russian government-funded television network RT aired a segment discussing "QAnon revelations", referring to the anonymous poster as a "secret intelligence operative inside the Trump administration known by QAnon". Although Russia was not involved in QAnon's origins, Russian state media such as RT and Sputnik have been amplifying QAnon theories since 2019, citing them as evidence that the United States is riven by internal strife and division.
On June 28, 2018, a Time magazine article listed the anonymous "Q" among the 25 Most Influential People on the Internet in 2018. Counting more than 130,000 related discussion videos on YouTube, Time cited the wide range of this conspiracy theory and its more prominent followers and spreading news coverage. On July 4, the Hillsborough County Republican Party shared on its official Facebook and Twitter accounts a YouTube video on QAnon, calling QAnon a "mysterious anonymous inside leaker of deep state activities and counter activities by President Trump". The posts were then deleted.
Prominent QAnon follower Liz Crokin, who in 2018 asserted that John F. Kennedy Jr. faked his death and is now Q, stated in February 2019 that she was losing patience in Trump to arrest the supposed members of the child sex ring, suggesting that the time was approaching for "vigilante justice." Other QAnon followers have adopted the Kennedy theory, asserting that a Pittsburgh man named Vincent Fusca is Kennedy in disguise and would be Trump's 2020 running mate. Some attended 2019 Independence Day celebrations in Washington expecting Kennedy to appear.
Some of Q's other allegations include their February 16, 2018, false claim that U.S. Representative and former Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz hired Salvadoran gang MS-13 to murder DNC staffer Seth Rich, and their March 1, 2018 apparent suggestion that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is Adolf Hitler's granddaughter. A July 7, 2018, article in The Daily Beast also noted that Q falsely claimed that "each mass shooting is a false-flag attack organized by the cabal". Other beliefs held by QAnon adherents include that Obama, Hillary Clinton, George Soros, and others are planning a coup while simultaneously involved as members of an international child sex trafficking ring. According to this idea, the Mueller investigation is actually a counter-coup led by Trump, who pretended to conspire with Russia in order to hire Mueller to secretly investigate the Democrats. Another recurring theme is that certain Hollywood stars are pedophiles, and that the Rothschild family leads a satanic cult. By interpreting the information Q feeds them, QAnon adherents come to these conclusions.
On March 14, 2018, Reddit banned one of its communities discussing QAnon, /r/CBTS_Stream, for "encouraging or inciting violence and posting personal and confidential information". Following this, some followers moved to Discord. Several other communities were formed for discussion of QAnon, leading to further bans on September 12, 2018 in response to these communities "inciting violence, harassment, and the dissemination of personal information", which led to thousands of adherents regrouping on Voat, a Switzerland-based Reddit clone that has been described as a hub for the alt-right.
An app called "QDrops" which promoted the conspiracy theory was published on the Apple App Store and Google Play. It became the most popular paid app in the "entertainment" section of Apple's online store in April 2018, and the tenth most popular paid app overall. On July 15, 2018, Apple pulled the app after an inquiry from NBC News.
In May 2018, Michael Lewis Arthur Meyer livestreamed a Facebook video from the site of a Tucson cement plant, asserting, "This is a child sex trafficking camp that no one wants to talk about, that no one wants to do nothing about." The video was viewed 650,000 times over the ensuing week. Tucson police inspected the plant without finding evidence of criminal activity. Meyer then occupied a tower on the property for nine days, until reaching agreement with police to leave. He later returned to the tower in July, whereupon he was arrested for trespassing. Meyer referenced QAnon and the #WWG1WGA hashtag on his Facebook page.
While the conspiracy theory was initially promoted by Alex Jones and Jerome Corsi, it was reported by Right Wing Watch that they had both ceased to support QAnon by May 2018, declaring the source to now be "completely compromised". However, in August 2018, Corsi reversed course and stated that he "will comment on and follow QAnon when QAnon is bringing forth news", adding that "in the last few days, QAnon has been particularly good".
On June 15, 2018, Matthew Phillip Wright of Henderson, Nevada, was arrested on terrorism and other charges for driving an armored truck, containing an AR-15 and handgun, to the Hoover Dam and blocking traffic for 90 minutes. He said he was on a mission involving QAnon: to demand that the Justice Department "release the OIG report" on the conduct of FBI agents during the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server. Since a copy of the Office of the Inspector General report had been released the day before, the man had been motivated by a Q "drop" which claimed the released version of the report had been heavily modified and that Trump possessed a more damning version but had declined to release it. In video recorded inside his armored truck, Wright expressed disappointment that Trump had not honored a "duty" to "lock certain people up," asking him to "uphold your oath."
On June 26, 2018, WikiLeaks publicly accused QAnon of "leading anti-establishment Trump voters to embrace regime change and neo-conservatism". Two days later, the whistleblower organization shared an analysis by Internet Party president Suzie Dawson, claiming that QAnon's posting campaign is an "intelligence agency-backed psyop" aiming to "round up people that are otherwise dangerous to the Deep State (because they are genuinely opposed to it) usurp time & attention, & trick them into serving its aims".
On July 29, 2018, Q posted a link to Stormy Daniels' attorney Michael Avenatti's website and photos of his Newport Beach, California, office building, along with the message, "Buckle up!". The anonymous poster then shared the picture of an as-of-yet unidentified man, appearing to be holding a cellphone in one hand, and a long, thin object in the other, standing in the street near Avenatti's office, adding that a message "had been sent". This sparked an investigation by the Newport Beach Police Department. On July 30, Avenatti asked his Twitter followers to contact the Newport Beach Police Department if they "have any details or observed" the man in the picture.
July 30, 2018
At a Trump rally in Tampa, Florida on July 31, 2018, Trump supporters exhibited hostile behavior toward CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta. Exponents of QAnon-related theories were at the rally.
On August 1, 2018, following the en masse presence of QAnon supporters at the July 31 Trump rally in Tampa, Florida, MSNBC news anchors Hallie Jackson, Brian Williams, and Chris Hayes dedicated a portion of their respective television programs to the conspiracy theory. PBS NewsHour also ran a segment dedicated to the conspiracy theory the following day. On August 2, Washington Post editorial writer Molly Roberts stated: "The storm QAnon truthers predict will never strike because the conspiracy that obsesses them doesn't exist. But while they wait for it, they'll try to whip up the winds, and the rest of us will struggle to find shelter." On August 4, former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was asked to comment on the conspiracy theory in his "ask me anything" session on the /r/The Donald subreddit. In response to the question "is Q legit?", Spicer answered "no". On August 24, President Donald Trump hosted William "Lionel" Lebron, a leading promoter of QAnon, in the Oval Office for a photo op.
QAnon adherents began appearing at Trump reelection campaign rallies in August 2018. TV and radio personality Michael "Lionel" Lebron, a promoter of the theory, was granted a photo opportunity with Trump in the Oval Office in August 2018. Bill Mitchell, a broadcaster who promotes QAnon, attended a White House "social media summit" in July 2019. At an August 2019 rally, a man warming up the crowd before Trump spoke used the QAnon motto "where we go one, we go all", later denying that it was a QAnon reference. This occurred hours after the publication of a report that the FBI had determined QAnon to be a potential source of domestic terrorism, the first time the agency had so rated a fringe conspiracy theory. According to analysis conducted by Media Matters, as of August 2020, Trump had amplified QAnon messaging at least 216 times by retweeting or mentioning 129 QAnon-affiliated Twitter accounts, sometimes multiple times a day.
The conspiracy theory's targeting of prominent Jewish figures like George Soros and the Rothschilds has led The Washington Post and Jewish-American magazine The Forward to accuse it of containing "striking anti-Semitic elements" and "garden-variety nonsense with racist and anti-Semitic undertones". An August 2018 Jewish Telegraphic Agency article said, "although not specifically, some of QAnon's archetypical elements—including secret elites and kidnapped children, among others—are reflective of historical and ongoing anti-Semitic conspiracy theories".
Within less than a year of existence, QAnon became significantly recognized by the general population. According to an August 2018 Qualtrics poll for The Washington Post, 58% of Floridians were familiar enough with QAnon to have an opinion about it. Of those who had an opinion, most were unfavorable. The average score on the feeling thermometer was just above 20, a very negative rating, and about half of what other political figures enjoy. Positive feelings toward QAnon were found to be strongly correlated with being susceptible to conspiracy thinking.
An under-reported QAnon-related incident was mentioned in the memo: the arrest of a California man on December 19, 2018 with bomb-making materials in his car, which he intended to use to "blow up a satanic temple monument" in the Springfield, Illinois Capitol rotunda in order to "make Americans aware of Pizzagate and the New World Order, who were dismantling society."
Two people who declared themselves as Republican congressional candidates in 2019 expressed interest in QAnon theories. Matthew Lusk, a Florida candidate, told The Daily Beast he was not a "brainwashed cult member," although he said QAnon theories are a "legitimate something" and constitute a "very articulate screening of past events, a very articulate screening of present conditions, and a somewhat prophetic divination of where the political and geopolitical ball will be bouncing next." Danielle Stella, running as a Republican to unseat Ilhan Omar in Minnesota, wore a "Q" necklace in a photo she tweeted and twice used the hashtag #WWG1WGA, a reference to the QAnon motto "where we go one, we go all." Her Twitter account "liked" responses from QAnon believers who acknowledged the necklace, and the account follows some prominent QAnon believers. A former campaign aide asserted that Stella was merely posing as a QAnon believer to attract voter support.
Anthony Comello of Staten Island, New York, was charged with the March 2019 murder of Gambino crime family underboss Frank Cali. According to his defense attorney, Comello had become obsessed with QAnon theories, believing Cali was a member of a "deep state," and was convinced he "was enjoying the protection of President Trump himself" to place Cali under citizen's arrest. Confronting Cali outside his Staten Island home, Comello allegedly shot Cali ten times. At his first court appearance, Comello displayed QAnon symbols and phrases and "MAGA forever" scrawled on his hand in pen. Comello had also posted material on Instagram praising Fox News personalities such as Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Jeanine Pirro.
The Blue Marble Jubilee fundraising event at Grass Valley Charter School in Grass Valley, California scheduled for May 11, 2019, was canceled as a precaution after a tweet by former FBI head James Comey on April 27 using the hashtag #FiveJobsIveHad, in which the first letters of the jobs were GVCSF, was interpreted by QAnon followers as a veiled reference to the Grass Valley Charter School Foundation, suggesting that Comey planned to stage a "false flag" terror attack at the event; the hashtag was also interpreted by QAnon adherents as an anagram of "five jihads", and the time stamp on the post was related to the 9-11 attacks. The police and the FBI received warnings, in addition to the school, which decided not to take the risk of internet vigilantes attending "to guard the place", as a police sergeant put it.
An FBI "Intelligence Bulletin" memo from the Phoenix Field Office dated May 30, 2019 identified QAnon-driven extremists as a domestic terrorism threat, the first time a fringe conspiracy theory had been labelled as such. The memo cited a number of arrests related to QAnon, some of which had not been publicized before. According to testimony before Congress in May by the assistant director of the FBI's counterterrorism director, Michael G. McGarrity, the Bureau divides domestic terrorism threats into four primary categories, "racially motivated violent extremism, anti-government/anti-authority extremism, animal rights/environmental extremism, and abortion extremism," which includes both pro-choice and anti-abortion extremists. The fringe conspiracy theory threat is closely related to the anti-government/anti-authority subject area.
In August 2019, a "Digital Soldiers Conference" was announced for the following month in Atlanta. The stated purpose was to prepare "patriotic social media warriors" for a coming "digital civil war." The announcement for the event prominently displayed a Q spelled in stars on the blue field of an American flag. Scheduled speakers for the event included former Trump aides Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos, as well as Gina Loudon, a Trump friend and member of his campaign media advisory board, singer Joy Villa, and Bill Mitchell, a radio host and ardent Trump supporter. The host of the event, Rich Granville, is CEO of Yippy, Inc., a firm that markets the Yippy search engine, which they assert is free of censorship of conservative views, characterizing it as an "intelligence enterprise" with high-level White House connections. He told a reporter, "you don't know who you're fucking with" and denied the Q flag was a reference to QAnon, though he had had numerous references to QAnon on his Twitter account.
In August 2019, a video posted online by "Women for Trump" late in July was reported to include "Q"s on two campaign signs. The first sign, which said "Make America Great Again", had a "Q" taped to it in the corner. The other side, "Women for Trump" had the "O"s in "Women" and "for" pasted over with "Q"s. The images which included the altered signs were clearly taken at a Trump campaign rally, which have increasingly attracted adherents of the QAnon conspiracy theory, so it is unknown if those particular signs were selected for inclusion deliberately or not. The video has since been taken down.
QAnon supporters claim that they were asked to cover up their "Q" identifiers and other QAnon-related symbols at a Trump campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, on August 15, 2019. Although one person who was asked to turn his "Q" shirt inside-out when he entered the rally identified the person who asked him to do so as a Secret Service agent, the agency denied this was the case, saying in an e-mail to The Washington Post, "The U.S. Secret Service did not request, or require, attendees to change their clothing at an event in New Hampshire." QAnon supporters also claim that their visibility at Trump rallies has been suppressed for months.
On September 9, 2019, United States President Donald Trump retweeted a video from the QAnon-promoting Twitter account "The Dirty Truth". The video featured future Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe criticizing former FBI director James Comey. Shortly after Christmas 2019, Trump retweeted over one dozen QAnon followers.
In December 2019, Cynthia Abcug was arrested and charged in Colorado with conspiracy to commit second-degree kidnapping of one of her children who had been removed from her custody. Her other daughter reported to police that Abcug had been collaborating with an armed male who was "definitely part of this group QAnon," that her mother had gone to QAnon meetings and believed that the child had been taken by "evil Satan worshippers" and "pedophiles."
Over the Fourth of July weekend in 2020, Michael Flynn—the former lieutenant general, head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, and National Security Advisor to Donald Trump—posted a video online in which he is seen leading a small group in a generic oath of office, similar to that used to swear-in members of Congress. At the end of the generic oath, Flynn and the group recite the QAnon slogan "Where we go one, we go all!" Analysts says that the oath is part of the QAnon attempt to organize "digital soldiers" for the political and social apocalypse they see coming. Flynn's apparent declaration of allegiance to QAnon makes him the most prominent former government official to endorse the conspiracy theory, although Donald Trump has tweeted various QAnon-related phrases without actually mentioning the movement.
In January 2020, John Mappin (also affiliated with Turning Point UK), began to fly a Q flag at the Camelot Castle hotel near to Tintagel Castle in England. Advocacy group Hope not Hate said, "Mappin is an eccentric figure, considered outlandish even by his fringe rightwing peers. This childish ploy is a weak attempt at getting attention for himself and his marginal Turning Point UK organisation, and is better off being ignored."
According to a March 2020 Pew survey, 76% of Americans said they had never heard of QAnon, 20% had heard "a little about it", and 3% said they had heard "a lot".
On March 20, 2020, Neely Blanchard was arrested and charged with kidnapping and custodial interference after taking her two daughters who had been in the sole legal custody of their grandmother. Blanchard had made multiple social media posts promoting QAnon including memes and pictures of her wearing QAnon shirts at rallies for President Trump. She also has taken actions connected with the sovereign citizen movement.
In April 2020, Jessica Prim was arrested carrying several knives after live-streaming her attempt to "take out" presidential nominee Joe Biden. Prim was arrested in New York City on a pier where she appeared to have been trying to get to the U.S. Navy Hospital Ship Comfort. There were QAnon conspiracies revolving around the ship believing it to be used by a cabal of pedophiles. During her arrest, Prim was shown reportedly crying and asked police "Have you guys heard about the kids?".
In July 2020, Business Insider reported that according to Media Matters for America, a left-leaning media monitoring group, the Trump re-election campaign relied on a network of QAnon-related accounts to spread disinformation and propaganda on social media, including Twitter. An analysis of 380,000 tweets sent between early April and the end of May 2020, and another of the most popular words used by 1,000 accounts, showed that the QAnon network "is playing a key role in generating and spreading Trump's propaganda."
On May 5, 2020, Facebook announced its removal of 5 pages, 20 accounts, and 6 groups linked to "individuals associated with the QAnon network" as part of an investigation into "suspected coordinated inauthentic behavior" ahead of the 2020 United States election. On August 19, Facebook launched a significant expansion of its Dangerous Individuals and Organizations policy and take-down actions against QAnon: "As a result of some of the actions we've already taken, we've removed over 790 groups, 100 Pages and 1,500 ads tied to QAnon from Facebook, blocked over 300 hashtags across Facebook and Instagram, and additionally imposed restrictions on over 1,950 Groups and 440 Pages on Facebook and over 10,000 accounts on Instagram."
Into 2020, the number of QAnon adherents was unclear, but they had a large presence on social media, particularly Twitter. In June 2020, Q exhorted followers to take a "digital soldiers oath", and many did, using the Twitter hashtag #TakeTheOath. In July 2020, Twitter banned thousands of QAnon-affiliated accounts and changed its algorithms to reduce the theory's spread. A Facebook internal analysis reported in August found millions of followers across thousands of groups and pages; Facebook acted to remove and restrict QAnon activity later that month. Followers had also migrated to dedicated message boards such as EndChan and 8kun, where they organized to wage information warfare to influence the 2020 elections.
On June 30, 2020, incumbent Republican U.S. Representative Scott Tipton lost a primary for Colorado's 3rd congressional district to Lauren Boebert in an upset. Boebert expressed tentative support for QAnon in an interview, but after winning the primary, attempted to distance herself from those statements, saying "I'm not a follower."
In July 2020, Business Insider reported that, "At least 10 GOP Congressional candidates have signaled their support for the QAnon movement."
In July 2020, the media watchdog Media Matters reported that Chanel Rion—the chief White House correspondent for the One America News Network—had appeared on a QAnon streaming program and asserted Q's existence, stating "Q is anonymous for a reason, for a very good reason, and I think that people need to respect that."
On July 4, 2020, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn posted a video to his Twitter account of him leading others in an oath with the QAnon motto, "Where we go one, we go all." Flynn's attorney, Sidney Powell, denied the oath related to QAnon, saying it was merely a statement engraved on a bell on John F. Kennedy's sailboat. However, during preceding days numerous QAnon followers had taken the same so-called "digital soldier oath" on Twitter, using the same #TakeTheOath hashtag as Flynn had.
On July 21, 2020, Twitter announced it was banning over 7,000 accounts in connection with the QAnon conspiracy theory for coordinated amplification of fake news and conspiracy theories. In a press release, Twitter said, "We've been clear that we will take strong enforcement action on behavior that has the potential to lead to offline harm. In line with this approach, this week we are taking further action on so-called 'QAnon' activity across the service." It also said that the actions may apply to over 150,000 accounts.
In August 2020, The New York Times suggested that the Texas Republican Party had chosen a new slogan taken directly from QAnon. Texas Republican Party officials strongly denied this and claimed that the slogan ("We Are the Storm”) was inspired by a biblical passage and has no connection to QAnon.
Marjorie Taylor Greene, a businesswoman, won an August 2020 runoff to become the GOP nominee in the heavily Republican 14th Congressional District in Georgia. Months into the Trump presidency, she had stated in a video, "There's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take this global cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles out, and I think we have the president to do it." She has also made racist and anti-Semitic statements, which resulted in Republican leaders such as Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise to condemn her remarks. President Trump endorsed her candidacy the day after her nomination, characterizing her as a "future Republican Star" and "a real WINNER!" After Greene won a primary runoff election in Georgia in August, Illinois Republican Representative Adam Kinzinger denounced QAnon, calling it a "fabrication." Trump campaign staffer Matt Wolking responded aggressively to the Congressman, saying that "he should condemn the Steele Dossier and conspiracy theories promoted by Democrats."
On August 21, 2020, Vice President Mike Pence said that he "doesn't know anything about" QAnon except that it is a conspiracy theory that he dismisses "out of hand." But when asked whether he would acknowledge the administration's role in "giving oxygen" to the theory, Pence shook his head and said, "Give me a break." Also in August 2020, Pence said that the problem with the press asking about QAnon and about anyone's apparent efforts to encourage it is that the press is asking the wrong questions ("chasing shiny objects").
On August 12, 2020, Cecelia Celeste Fulbright was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in Waco, Texas. Fulbright chased and rammed into another car whose driver she claimed "was a pedophile and had kidnapped a girl for human trafficking." She had made many posts online relevant to QAnon theory and sent a text message to a friend stating the belief that President Trump was “literally taking down the cabal and the pedophile ring.”
According to analysis conducted by Media Matters, through August 20, 2020, Trump had amplified QAnon messaging at least 216 times by retweeting or mentioning 129 QAnon-affiliated Twitter accounts, sometimes multiple times a day. On August 19, 2020, Trump was asked about QAnon during a press conference; he replied: "I don't know much about the movement, other than I understand they like me very much. Which I appreciate. But I don't know much about the movement." Though QAnon has been described as a potential domestic terror threat by the FBI, Trump described QAnon adherents as "people who love our country". When a reporter asked Trump if he could support a theory that says Trump "is secretly saving the world from this satanic cult of pedophiles and cannibals," he responded: "Well, I haven't heard that, but is that supposed to be a bad thing or a good thing?" Presidential candidate Joe Biden responded by saying that Trump was aiming to "legitimize a conspiracy theory that the FBI has identified as a domestic terrorism threat".
As Q relies on a tripcode to verify themself, and the tripcode is verified by 8chan's server and not reproducible on other imageboards, Q was not able to post when the website went down following the 2019 El Paso shooting. This apparent conflict of interest, combined with statements by 8chan's founder Fredrick Brennan, the use of a "Q" collar pin by 8chan owner Jim Watkins, and Watkins's financial interest in a QAnon super PAC that advertises on 8chan, have led to widespread speculation that either Watkins or his son, 8chan's administrator Ron Watkins, knows Q's identity. Some have speculated that Jim Watkins himself is Q. Both Jim and Ron Watkins deny knowing Q's identity. In September 2020, the fact-checking website Logically published the theory that QAPPANON, the developer of the QMap website and overall key QAnon figure, was a security analyst in New Jersey by the name of Jason Gelinas; the website shut down shortly thereafter.
As wildfires spread across large parts of California, Oregon and Washington in September 2020, false rumors spread on social media that antifa activists were deliberately setting fires and preparing to loot property that was being evacuated. Some residents refused to evacuate based on the rumors, choosing to defend their homes from the alleged invasion. Authorities pleaded with residents to ignore the false rumors. A firefighters union in Washington state described Facebook as "an absolute cesspool of misinformation" on the topic. QAnon followers participated in the misinformation, with one false claim that six antifa activists had been arrested for setting fires amplified by Q specifically. Days earlier, President Trump and attorney general Bill Barr had amplified false social media rumors of preceding months that planes and buses full of antifa activists were preparing to invade communities, allegedly funded by George Soros.