On Tuesday night, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced that her office was joining an investigation into possible criminal activity involving former President Donald Trump and his family.
The possibility that Trump could be charged and even end up in jail seems like it would be a blow to the QAnon conspiracy theory, which holds that Trump will soon return to the Oval Office. But that’s not how QAnon supporters are taking the news.
“Do you think they realize how much MOAR powerful Trump will be after being falsely arrested?” a Telegram user called TruthHammer wrote hours after the news broke.
This sentiment was mirrored across QAnon channels on Telegram and pro-Trump message boards, where supporters of the former president dismissed the news as simply a way to distract the world from the shambolic audit taking place in Arizona—a process they firmly believe will ultimately lead to President Joe Biden’s election victory being overturned.
“We have informed the Trump Organization that our investigation into the organization is no longer purely civil in nature,” Fabien Levy, a spokesman for New York’s attorney general, said in a statement first reported by CNN.
“We are now actively investigating the Trump Organization in a criminal capacity, along with the Manhattan D.A. We have no additional comment at this time.”
James’ office had been conducting a civil investigation in relation to the Trump Organization for the past year, in parallel to a criminal investigation being conducted by Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance—a probe that was given a boost in February when the Supreme Court threw out Trump’s efforts to stop the release of his tax returns.
Both civil and criminal investigations are looking at an array of potential financial crimes perpetrated by the Trump Organization. In particular, Vance’s probe is looking at whether the Trump Organization artificially inflated the value of property to gain favorable loans, while deflating the value of other property to avoid taxes, the New York Times reports.
Trump has yet to respond to the latest development in the investigations against him, but has in the past dismissed them as politically motivated witch hunts.
And in the hours after James’ announcement on Tuesday evening, this is exactly how QAnon supporters viewed the decision.
“They will do anything they can to stop him from running, and this is an attempt to derail any vote fraud audit investigation as being irrelevant,” a user called DZP1 wrote on the rabidly pro-Trump message board Patriots.win.
As usual on these toxic message boards, there were numerous racist comments about James, who is Black. Others called for James to be investigated. “You don't think Trump left office without enough classified dirt on every one of his enemies, do you?” a Patriots.win user called queenicarius wrote.
In the wake of Trump’s election loss in November, Biden’s subsequent inauguration, and the disappearance of the group‘s anonymous leader known as Q, QAnon followers have become adept at twisting reality when it doesn't fit their prophecy.
But now, some followers are beginning to advocate more regularly for violence as a response to what they see as the continued persecution of Trump—as evidenced by the attack on the Capitol in January.
On Tuesday evening, hours after the news of the criminal probe broke, another Patriots.win user, called EvilGuy, proclaimed that any attempt to put Trump in jail would end in violence.
“Honestly if she ever even seriously tried to put Trump in prison on any bullshit I am pretty sure there would be at least a million Patriots marching on that prison and tearing it apart.”