Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial begins in the Senate on Tuesday, but for his supporters in the QAnon movement, the trial is a sham and nothing more than a stepping stone to Trump’s eventual return to the presidency next month.According to one prevailing theory, shared initially by one of the most prominent QAnon groups on Telegram, Trump is merely allowing the impeachment trial to play out so that when he does return as president next month, it will pave the way for him to launch impeachment trials against other former presidents, including Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.
Unraveling viral disinformation and explaining where it came from, the harm it's causing, and what we should do about it.
“Sure are a ton of Dems and political talking heads working overtime telling everyone how ex-presidents can (and should) stand trial after they're out of office. Food for thought,” a post by the group We the Media read.Others reassured fellow believers, telling them not to worry if Trump is impeached, as it’s all part of the plan.“Do not be shocked if they impeach Trump. It will have to set the path for other presidents to be impeached,” one Telegram user wrote under the post. Another added: “Laying the groundwork for Obummer, Bush, Clinton! Trump's a genius!”Since Biden’s inauguration, QAnon supporters have shifted their focus to March 4 as the date they expect Trump to resume his position as president. This is based on the false belief that a law enacted in 1871 secretly turned the U.S. into a corporation and that Trump will become the 19th president of the original United States on March 4—a belief lifted from the sovereign citizen movement.That’s not the only explanation QAnon supporters are offering on the eve of Trump’s second impeachment.One Telegram user posited that Trump was actually still in charge, and the impeachment was simply a distraction until the Supreme Court ruled in his favor.“They can rig the election any way they want. I'm not buying that. I think the real answer is Trump is still POTUS. The military is in control due to Trump's [executive order]. They need to impeach Trump to invalidate his EO and take control back from the Military. That's the real reason. It's a war going on between the corrupt Congress and Military while Trump waiting [sic] for SCOTUS.”
Many others on the QAnon forum GreatAwakening.win argued that the impeachment trial was unconstitutional — a case Trump’s lawyers will also be making on Tuesday — while on the rabidly pro-Trump forum Patriots.win, users pointed out that in Trump’s final submission ahead of the impeachment trial, his lawyers referred to Biden as “former vice president” — a fact they took as an indication that Biden is not the real president.QAnon supporters have been working overtime in recent weeks to explain the presence of President Joe Biden in the White House, with many of them constructing an elaborate hypothesis that Biden is an actor and that the pictures of him in the White House are actually taken on a film set.
Despite all the setbacks in recent weeks, including social media purges and Biden’s inauguration, QAnon has persisted and has even shown signs of growth. And the damage that the cult is doing to families across the U.S. has also become more apparent as many followers voiced their opinions publicly for the first time in the wake of Biden’s victory.But clearly, the effort required to explain the events of recent weeks is putting a strain on people’s belief in QAnon.“Wondering? Does anyone think that a shit show will begin tomorrow during this fake impeachment?” one Telegram user asked. “I really want to see all the morons to be arrested & charged! For the [emergency broadcast system] to happen soon. My family are thinking that I'm nuts!”