As they’ve done numerous times during his Presidency, believers of the QAnon conspiracy theory have taken President Donald Trump’s hospitalization for COVID-19 as yet another sign that he will imminently announce the mass arrests of scores of elite “deep state” pedophiles.
Rather than assuming that Trump had actually been struck by the virus, which has infected more than 7 million people in the United States, QAnon believers have asserted online — yet again — that Trump has really been busy carrying out a key element of the conspiracy theory: mass arrests of Trump’s political enemies. Or, as Q adherents call it, “the storm.”
“Deep down [they] know this is their biggest nightmare come true,” wrote one QAnon-oriented Twitter account on Friday. “He isn’t sick, he is about to unleash the greatest military operation in the history of mankind.”
The post was retweeted nearly five thousand times. On Sunday, the same account speculated that “if he is already returning to the White House soon then the operations went very smoothly.”
As PolitiFact detailed separately, several QAnon believers asserted that Trump was really on Air Force One, rather than Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Some speculated that Trump’s recently deceased brother, Robert, had in fact faked his own death and was now acting as Trump’s body double.
NBC News’ Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny, close observers of the QAnon movement, reported that “elated” QAnon followers reacted to the President’s hospitalization with “near-universal celebration.”
The expansive conspiracy theory, which holds that Trump is battling behind the scenes against a satanic, pedophilic cabal that runs Washington, has exploded in popularity in recent weeks. That comes with political power: Recently, 17 Republicans and 1 independent in the House of Representatives voted against a resolution condemning QAnon.
The “Q” in the conspiracy theory’s name refers to an anonymous internet author who uses the letter as a moniker, and who purports to share internal intelligence via absurdly cryptic message board posts.
Over the years, Q’s predictions have turned out to be wrong again and again. And yet, as the conspiracy theory researcher and writer Mike Rothschild observed, this is hardly the first time news about Trump has been interpreted as yet another major development:
QAnon believers think the president is pretending to go into quarantine because The Storm Is Upon Us For Real This Time Just Like All The Other Times. pic.twitter.com/OopWJG7D3o
— Mike Rothschild (@rothschildmd) October 2, 2020
“To Q believers, Trump being forced to isolate himself wasn’t proof that he had come down with the potentially deadly illness, but that he was going into deep protection for the moment when the great ‘Storm’ of mass arrests long-predicted by Q finally came to pass, and the enemies of America are brought to justice,” Rothschild wrote.
“Q” hasn’t actually posted anything since Trump’s hospitalization.
“The bizarre conspiracy theories spun by the QAnon community about Trump’s COVID diagnosis despite Q’s silence illustrates how QAnon can persist even if Q never posts again,” wrote Travis View, host of the QAnon Anonymous podcast, which tracks the conspiracy theory.