White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was asked about supporters of the fringe QAnon conspiracy theory during her press briefing on August 1 after Trump fans held signs about the theory during a campaign rally in Tampa the night before. The question, asked by the Daily Mail’s David Martosko, came as part of an inquiry about angry Trump supporters shouting “CNN sucks” at reporter Jim Acosta at the rally.
Sanders did not specifically respond to the QAnon mention. QAnon is a conspiracy theory group that emerged in October 2017 on fringe websites that has spread across social media among some Trump supporters. The theory claims that a mysterious government employee, known as Q, has been posting secret messages to supporters about an ongoing effort led by Trump to take down elites and the so-called deep state who are members of a child sex cult.
QAnon supporters have been calling for reporters to ask Sanders and Trump about Q for months, and have reacted with excitement after Martosko’s mention during the briefing. You can watch video of the question and Sanders answer below:
“Does the President encourage the support of people who showed up last night in these QAnon and Blacks for Trump fringe groups.”
Sanders responded, “the President condemns and denounces any group that would incite violence against another individual and certainly doesn’t support groups that would promote that type of behavior. We’ve been clear about that a number of times since the beginning of the administration.”
Will Sommer, who wrote an explainer on QAnon for The Daily Beast, told CNN, ” There are a lot of theories about who Q is. QAnon people believe in fanciful ideas like, maybe it’s Trump or Dan Scavino or Michael Flynn. They’re always on the hunt for clues or acknowledgments from the administration. For example, Trump said “17” a lot in his speech Tuesday night, which they took to be an acknowledgment of Q — the 17th letter of the alphabet! That’s also why they’ve been bugging White House reporters to ask Sarah Sanders about Q.”
He added, “QAnon critics, on the other hand, tend to focus on various hucksters promoting QAnon. Lots of conspiracy theorists on the right have become alienated from QAnon after Q accused them of trying to profit from the movement, so it’s become kind of a circling firing squad of people accusing each other of being Q. I think Q is just some random person or group of people who started a troll that has gotten way out of hand. Or maybe, as with so many things these days, it’s a Russian psy-op.”
Sommer said QAnon activity is on the rise, with celebrities like Roseanne Barr and Curt Schilling referencing the conspiracy on social media.
“There’s actually been increasing Q believer activity all over this year — billboards popping up, more attention from conservative celebrities people appearing at Trump rallies. I think the stuff last night was big for a couple reasons: 1) pictures of the ralliers in Q gear started circulating before the event and 2) because people with QAnon gear and signs were in advantageous positions to get in front of the cameras during the rally. So suddenly all these political and media people are watching Trump give his speech, and this QAnon sign with Seth Rich references gets in front of the camera,” he told CNN.
You can read more about the QAnon conspiracy at the link below: