Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 19th president of the United States on March 4, 2021.
This is the latest conspiracy that QAnon followers have embraced in the wake of President Joe Biden’s inauguration last week, and extremist experts are worried that it highlights the way QAnon adherents are beginning to merge their beliefs — about the world being run by an elite cabal of cannibalistic satanist pedophiles —with even more extreme ideologies.
The latest claims being made by QAnon supporters echo those of the sovereign citizen movement, a group of people who believe they are not governed by the same laws as everyone else. That belief has led to violent confrontations with law enforcement have viewed them among the top domestic extremist threats facing the country.
“There was some crossover between QAnon and the sovereign citizen movement before, but I've seen sovereign citizen ideas about the United States being a ‘corporation’ become more popular within QAnon and beyond in January,” Travis View, a conspiracy theory researcher, told VICE News.
“It's concerning because it means QAnon is borrowing ideas from more-established extremism movements.”
Sovereign citizens believe that a law enacted in 1871 secretly turned the U.S. into a corporation and did away with the American government of the founding fathers. The group also believes that President Franklin D. Roosevelt sold U.S. citizens out in 1933 when he ended the gold standard and replaced it by offering citizens as collateral to a group of shadowy foreign investors.
Sovereigns use indecipherable legal filings based on arcane texts to separate themselves from the legal entities the government has supposedly created in their name in order to sell to investors.
When that doesn’t work, followers of the sovereign citizen movement have reacted violently. In May 2010, for example, a father-son team of sovereigns murdered two police officers with an assault rifle when they were pulled over on the interstate while traveling through Arkansas.
Now, QAnon followers have latched on to the theory and adapted it to suit their needs.
Over the weekend, QAnon groups on Gab and Telegram, where most QAnon supporters have found a home since they were kicked off Twitter and Parler was de-platformed, commenters have been sharing documents describing the 1871 act, claiming it proves that Trump will be sworn in on March 4.
The source for this date is the fact that 1933 was also the year when inaugurations were changed from March 4 to Jan. 20 — to shorten the lame-duck period of outgoing presidents. QAnon followers believe that Trump will become the president of the original republic, and not the corporation that they believe the 1871 act created.
While there was some crossover between QAnon and the sovereign citizen movement prior to Trump’s election loss, the conspiracy theory has gained a lot of traction in recent days, as QAnon followers struggled to reconcile their beliefs with Biden’s inauguration.
The crossover between the two groups was highlighted last November when Neely Blanchard, a QAnon supporter from Kentucky, was arrested on suspicion of killing Christopher Hallett, a sovereign citizen follower. Hallett was attempting to help Blanchard regain custody of her children at the time.
The claims about the U.S. being a corporation have also begun to gain traction outside the main QAnon groups.
“Can someone tell me why I’m 22 years old and I just learned that the United States is a corporation, not a country,” one TikTok user asked in a video posted over the weekend and viewed 47,000 times.
In the comments, other TikTok users repeat the lie about Trump being inaugurated on March 4.
In the wake of Biden’s inauguration, QAnon followers initially appeared despondent, lashing out that QAnon was a sham. But within days, and at the urging of the movement’s biggest influencers, QAnon followers started to come around, and begin to believe in “the plan” once again.