Trump Recycles Old Conspiracy Theory About RNC-Bound Plane Loaded With ‘Thugs’

NYTVIRUS -President Donald Trump with Attorney General William Barr, make remarks before signsing an executive order in the Oval Office that will punish Facebook, Google and Twitter for the way they police content online, Thursday, May 28, 2020. ( Photo by Doug Mills/The New York Times)
President Donald Trump speaks in the Oval Office before signing an executive order related to regulating social media on May 28, 2020. (Photo by Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)
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September 1, 2020 10:40 a.m.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday doubled down on what appeared to be an old conspiracy claiming that a plane of unnamed “thugs” had descended to cause chaos at the Republican National Convention last week.

When pressed about a thug-ridden plane theory he had pushed Monday night, the President told reporters Tuesday morning before boarding a plane to Kenosha that he had heard from “a person who was on a plane” from Washington “to wherever” that a group was made to feel “very uncomfortable” as the entire plane “filled up the looters, the anarchists, the rioters.”

The President had initially presented the theory during a Fox News interview on Monday, saying, “people that you’ve never heard of, people that are in the dark shadows” were emerging from that darkness to sway Democratic nominee Joe Biden, whom Trump has called a “puppet of the radical left movement.”

Without evidence, Trump told Fox News’ Laura Ingraham that a plane from an unnamed city that he later clarified as Washington “almost completely loaded with thugs wearing these dark uniforms, black uniforms with gear” was under investigation for a plot to disrupt the RNC.

When Ingraham pressed the President about what even she said sounded like a conspiracy theory, he insisted without providing verifiable evidence that there were people aboard a plane preparing to “do big damage” at the Republican Party’s convention last week.

“They’re people that you haven’t heard of. They’re people who are on the streets, people who are controlling the streets,” Trump said vaguely. Refusing to elaborate on a matter that he said was “under investigation,” Trump told Ingraham that he would tell her more “sometime.” 

NBC News pointed out that the theory closely resembles one that was shared more than 3,000 times on Facebook earlier this summer.  

The June 1 post, from an Idaho man, falsely claimed that “at least a dozen males got off the plane in Boise from Seattle, dressed head to toe in black.” The man warned residents to prepare “for attacks downtown and residential areas,” and claimed one passenger had “a tattoo that said Antifa America on his arm.”

That post bred a series of spin-offs including another post that falsely claimed a Sheriff’s office in a local county had confirmed that Antifa had “sent a plane load of their people.” The rumor grew to such an outsize popularity at the time that the Payette County Sheriff’s Office released a statement debunking the viral rumor as “false information.”

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