It was the moment QAnon supporters had hoped would never come: On Thursday night, in a video posted to Twitter, President Donald Trump finally conceded the presidential election to Joe Biden.
But rather than reacting with anger and disillusionment, QAnon supporters did what they always do when things don’t go their way: They came up with their own interpretation.
In QAnon world, Trump’s message was not a concession speech but a signal that everything’s going according to plan and that soon we’ll see a new Trump administration, with disgraced former national security advisor — and major QAnon figure — Michael Flynn as his vice president.
The unwillingness to admit that Trump will leave office in two weeks time means that QAnon supporters will continue to push conspiracies around election fraud and a stolen election, just as they did in the lead up to the violent insurrection on the Capitol on Wednesday — where QAnon supporters led the charge.
In a video posted to his recently unlocked Twitter account on Thursday night, Trump made his first public declaration that he would leave office on Jan. 20.
First Trump condemned those who attacked the Capitol, even though they did so at his urging. ”I’d like to begin by addressing the heinous attack on the United States Capitol. Like all Americans, I am outraged by the violence, lawlessness, and mayhem,” he said.
Then he sort of admitted defeat.
“A new administration will be inaugurated on January 20. My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly, and seamless transition of power. This moment calls for healing and reconciliation.”
But just like all events that don’t fit with QAnon’s wild conspiracies and predictions, the real meaning of Trump’s words were quickly twisted to suit the needs of QAnon believers.
On the hate-filled social network Gab, a hugely influential QAnon grifter who calls themselves Neon Revolt decoded Trump’s video for their almost 400,000 followers. They claimed Trump’s condemnation of violence was actually a condemnation of antifa — the antifascist group QAnon and others are trying to blame for Wednesday’s attack.
And Neon Revolt also said that since Trump didn’t specifically mention Biden by name, the new administration he was talking about was Trump’s own second term.
Such mental gymnastics were repeated almost verbatim by other high-profile QAnon accounts, including Joe M, on Parler, the right-wing alternative to Twitter.
On Twitter, Major Patriot, who has 310,000 followers, boosted the same conspiracy:
And as is normal for any Trump video that doesn’t neatly align with QAnon’s predictions, followers are promoting the idea that the whole video is fake.
While many QAnon accounts are “holding the line” and believe Trump will still emerge victorious on Jan. 20, there were some supporters who felt the video was a betrayal.
“I threw up into my mouth watching this,” one commenter on the rabidly pro-Trump forum TheDonald said, while another said: “Trump stabbed us in the back.”
But because a significant group of QAnon influencers and their supporters believe this is all part of the plan, it increases the chances that Washington could witness a repeat of the violent scenes it saw this week.
QAnon has been central in fomenting the violence that played out on Capitol Hill this week. Figures like Flynn, pro-Trump layers Sidney Powell and L. Lin Wood, and 8kun administrator Ron Watkins have all been embraced by the Trump administration, and had their baseless conspiracy theories about election fraud boosted by the president’s Twitter account.
Experts have been warning for a long time that QAnon’s violent rhetoric of a “coming storm” would eventually spill out into the real world, and those warnings came true on Wednesday.
Now QAnon is embracing a new deadline, Jan. 20, when Joe Biden will be inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States, and extremist groups are already organizing another protest march in D.C. on that day.
“Reminder that the U.S. Presidential Inauguration day is on January 20th. That is the next date on the calendar that the Pro-Trump and other nationalist crowds will potentially converge on the Capitol again,” a white supremacist Telegram channel posted.
The Anti Defamation League reported Thursday that they had observed multiple extremist groups using public and private online forums to advocate for further violence.
And QAnon believers think Trump was hinting at what will happen that day with the final line in his video.
"Our incredible journey is only just beginning,” Trump said.