A week after Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election, President Donald Trump has gone full-on conspiracy theorist, spending the weekend boosting a baseless claim about voting machines that percolated through the QAnon fever swamps.
Just before midnight on Sunday night, Trump tweeted: “I WON THE ELECTION.” (As is now almost obligatory on Trump’s tweets, Twitter quickly labeled the message to say the president of the United States is lying.)
The late-night tweet from Trump capped a day spent raging on Twitter about his unfounded belief that the election was somehow stolen. Rather than conceding defeat, Trump is doubling down on his efforts to spread dangerous disinformation and delegitimize the results of the election, all because he doesn’t want to admit that he lost.
While Trump previously focused his attention on mail-in ballots as the source of supposed election fraud, late last week he started tweeting about voting machines, and specifically those operated by Dominion Voting Systems.
Trump complained about the use of the “radical-left owned Dominion Voting Systems” and retweeted multiple accounts making similarly baseless claims about the voting machines.
On Monday morning Trump continued with his unfounded allegations:
The allegations have been dismissed both by Dominion and by the members of the Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council (GCC) Executive Committee, a coalition that includes officials from the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the National Association of State Election Directors.
“There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised,” the coalition said, concluding that this was the “most secure election in American history.”
But of course, in Trump world, such facts mean nothing. And Trump’s allegations, which have not been backed up by any evidence, have been echoed by right-wing outlets like the Gateway Pundit, Breitbart, and Fox News, as well as on social media by leading conservative figures, including Trump’s son, Don Jr.
The claims about voting machines can be clearly linked to conspiracy theories that the QAnon movement has been trying to promote for more than a week.
Last Wednesday night, Ron Watkins, who until two weeks ago was the administrator of 8kun, the message board where QAnon’s anonymous leader Q posts updates, tweeted that he had “reached out” to Rudy Giuliani offering to brief him on unspecified issues with the Dominion voter fraud.
Just hours later Watkins tweeted again to say that he had been contacted by Chanel Rion, White House correspondent with One America News Network, a pro-Trump outlet that has replaced Fox News as the president’s favorite right-wing echo chamber in recent weeks .
Hours later a segment on the Dominion conspiracy theory aired on OAN and within minutes President Trump had tweeted a quote from Rion in the report.
That night, Watkins thanked Rion for speaking to him
Trump’s defeat in the election earlier this month has left many in QAnon world reeling, especially as Q stayed silent for 10 days after the election.
Q finally reemerged on Friday, saying only that “nothing can stop what is coming.” Most major figures within the movement are urging followers to have faith, claiming that Trump’s loss at the polls is all part of a broader plan to take down the Democrats and the deep state.
“Do you realize what is happening here?” Major Patriot, a highly influential QAnon Twitter account said on Sunday. “We're not only going to see the overturning of the fraudulent US election in Donald Trump's favor, but we're going to see the exposure of corrupt multiple national elections and how they were stolen from the people.”
The Dominion conspiracy feeds directly into this sense that the election was stolen, and by promoting the theory, Trump is speaking directly to his QAnon supporter base.
Though many still see QAnon as an online-only phenomenon, on Saturday in Washington D.C., QAnon supporters were rubbing shoulders with far-right Proud Boys, militia members, online and religious zealots at the Million MAGA March that descended into violence.