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DANA MILBANK: Thanks to Trump administration, one QAnon theory is panning out

DANA MILBANK: Thanks to Trump administration, one QAnon theory is panning out

WASHINGTON -- From an objective viewpoint, QAnon conspiracy theories are not exactly batting a thousand.

It does not appear to have been true, for example, that John F. Kennedy Jr. faked his death and masqueraded as bearded Trump supporter Vincent Fusca so that he could reveal his true identity at President Donald Trump's Fourth of July celebration, where he was to replace Vice President Pence as Trump's running mate.

Neither does it seem to be the case that Austin Steinbart, a man many once believed to be "Q," had prophetic insight into the inner workings of the U.S. government because he received messages from his future self through quantum computing. Steinbart, recently jailed for violating the terms of his pre-trial release on extortion charges, had in his possession a prosthetic penis called a "Whizzinator" used for falsifying drug tests, the Daily Beast's Will Sommer reports.

Nor was Hillary Clinton imprisoned in October 2017, as Q had promised - though it cannot be ruled out that the real Clinton, as some QAnon adherents hold, was indeed arrested and the one walking free today is a clone.

The world is likewise yet to see evidence that the U.S. government is run by reptilian aliens (Stephen Miller aside), that many in the federal government worship Satan, that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is a CIA puppet, or that liberal elites stay young by drinking a substance called "adrenochrome" that they derive from the blood of children they hold in captivity as part of a pedophilia ring.

But in one respect, QAnon theory is panning out. There is indeed a sinister cabal trying to manipulate the U.S. government in ways that harm the American people.

It is called the Trump administration.

On Sunday, Michael Caputo, an assistant secretary of public affairs for the Department of Health and Human Services and a key manager of the Trump administration's public messaging about the pandemic, declared on Facebook Live that government scientists were engaging in "sedition" with the pandemic and that armed left-wing hit squads were preparing for a post-election insurrection. As the New York Times and others reported, Caputo also said his "mental health has definitely failed" and he was seeing "shadows on the ceiling in my apartment, there alone, shadows are so long." He apologized to colleagues on Tuesday.

Last Thursday, Roger Stone, a longtime Trump confidant whose prison sentence was commuted after he offered to help with Trump's reelection, said federal marshals should seize and discard election ballots in Nevada, that Justice Department officers should physically block people from voting and that if Trump loses he should consider declaring martial law and arresting Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Apple's Tim Cook, the Clintons, former Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid and the staff of the Daily Beast.

And Trump himself on Monday, visiting the fire-ravaged West Coast, dismissed the very notion that climate change exists, saying "I don't think science knows" and "it'll start getting cooler -- you just, you just watch." He previously said the "deep state" was slowing vaccine progress at the Food and Drug Administration.

All fit neatly with key QAnon tenets, that scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have fueled the pandemic to harm Trump, that Trump will arrest and execute political opponents based on now-secret indictments in an operation called the "Storm" and that climate change is a hoax designed to enrich left-wing interests.

This follows Trump's embrace of QAnon adherents last month as "people that love our country" and the many times he and those around him have shared or promoted QAnon-linked accounts and ideas on social media or invited QAnon personalities to the White House. In July, former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn posted a video of himself reciting a QAnon oath. Twenty-one QAnon adherents will be representing the Republican Party on congressional ballots in November, Media Matters reports.

Forgive my conspiracy theorizing, but it sounds as though QAnon has performed a secret coup of its own. Et tu, Q?

Devotees of QAnon fantasies have done real-world damage. Authorities in Oregon are battling not just wildfires but a rash of calls to 911 dispatchers claiming the Q-promoted falsehood that "antifa" militants had set the forest fires. As Yahoo News reported, the FBI warned that QAnon theories will at times inspire "criminal or violent acts." QAnon adherents have allegedly committed crimes coast to coast.

From the anonymity of the Dark Web, QAnon offers something for every suspicious mind. It embraces anti-Semites, anti-vaxxers, 9/11 truthers and anybody who believes the military, Democrats, the media, Hollywood, the Catholic Church, banks or industry are perpetrating murders, trafficking, enslavement or a coup.

There has always been such paranoia. The difference now is it has been validated by the president and his family, appointees and advisers. Trump has exposed the deep state, and it is him.

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