This is everything you need to know about Q, the White House 'insider'
President Donald Trump famously promised to “drain the swamp” in Washington DC, removing corrupt politicians in order to make America great again. Along with his unusual credentials for a politician in the country’s highest office, Trump also brought with him an entirely new way of thinking.
He had repeatedly questioned Barack Obama’s right to the presidency and believed that Obama wasn’t, in fact, a US citizen. Demanding that Obama release his birth certificate, Trump popularised the Birther Movement. Thousands of people now believed that they were more eligible to run the country than their own president.
Having also dismissed widely accepted concepts such as global warming, Trump has attracted a type of American whom other politicians have largely ignored - the conspiracy theorist. Harnessing the formidable power of individuals sickened by mainstream news and political bias in the media, Trump appealed to these voters - or non-voters as they may have been - who were suspicious of the political classes.
Now, two years into his presidency, mainstream news outlets are reflecting on something the president said in April. Conspiracy theorists believe that when Trump addressed the nation ahead of the annual Easter egg roll, he confirmed an association with Q - an anonymous figure who posts on internet forum 4chan.
Q, who claims to be a White House insider, stated that they could make the president say “tippy top” - to prove their association. During the speech in question, Trump first made some obscure statements about the building having no name. “We keep it in tip-top condition,” he then stated. “Sometimes we call it ‘tippy top’ condition”.
For Q devotees, this was the proof they needed. It validated everything else this shady character had been saying. Furthermore, it legitimised the claims which, until now, had been ignored outside of this small community. So what other claims has Q made?
The anonymous forum user first appeared after Trump made a bizarre yet not-so-unusual statement about a storm coming. Amid much talk of political conspiracies, armchair pundits were keen to read into his rhetoric. But Q appeared to be something else entirely.
“HRC extradition already in motion effective yesterday with several countries in case of cross border run,” the anonymous poster stated. “Passport approved to be flagged effective 10/30 @ 12:01am. Expect massive riots organized in defiance and others fleeing the US to occur. US M’s will conduct the operation while NG activated. Proof check: Locate a NG member and ask if activated for duty 10/30 across most major cities.”
Doubling down on their predictions, Q then stated on November 3 and 4 that John Podesta, chair of Hilary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, would be arrested. Q also stated there would be a military takeover and that “public riots would be organized in serious numbers to prevent the arrest and capture of more senior public officials”.
“My fellow Americans,” Q stated, “over the course of the next several days you will undoubtedly realize that we are taking back our great country (the land of the free) from the evil tyrants that wish to do us harm and destroy the last remaining refuge of shining light. On POTUS’ order, we have initiated certain fail-safes that shall safeguard the public from the primary fallout which is slated to occur 11.3 upon the arrest announcement of Mr. Podesta (actionable 11.4).”
“We will be initiating the Emergency Broadcast System (EMS) during this time in an effort to provide a direct message (avoiding the fake news) to all citizens,” Q continues. “Organizations and/or people that wish to do us harm during this time will be met with swift fury – certain laws have been pre-lifted to provide our great military the necessary authority to handle and conduct these operations (at home and abroad).”
Avid supporters believed these were coded messages delivered via internet forums to those listening intently enough to hear them. Many of the predictions didn't come true but the messages were open to any number of interpretations. The movement became known as #QAnon and its effects were often far-reaching and sometimes devastating.
On 15 June this year, 30-year-old marine corps veteran Matthew Phillip Wright got out of the homemade armoured truck he had driven to the middle of a busy bridge and brandished a sign stating “Release the OIG report”. This was in reference to the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email scandal. In Wright’s other hand was an AR-15 rifle. The report, unbeknownst to him, had been released earlier that week.
After a lengthy standoff and a car chase, Wright was arrested and incarcerated on terrorism charges. He wrote two notable letters. One was addressed to Nevada state senators and the other to President Trump. Both were signed off with “for where we go one, we go all” - one of Q’s calling cards.
This, of course, was in addition to Edgar Maddison Welch’s attack on the pizzeria at the centre of “pizzagate” - again with an AR-15. While this wasn’t specifically influenced by Q, the conspiracy theory that there was a Democrat-led child sex ring running out of Washington DC’s Comet Ping Pong pizzeria also originated - initially as a joke - on 4chan.
“If anything, 4chan has achieved a kind of sentient life all of its own,” explains political journalist and editor of New Statesman America Nicky Wolf. “It is greater than the sum of its parts. Like a mob, it moves with its own internal will seemingly separate from that of its component elements, but unlike a mob some of its participants are deceiving the others, play-acting or manipulating.”
As well as all the other questions to be raised about Q’s legitimacy as a White House advisor, “tippy top” was also a phrase that Trump had actually used before. Furthermore, even though many devotees believe they contain secrets and prophecies, the nature of Q’s messages are so ambiguous that interpretations vary wildly.
Needless to say, not all Trump supporters believe Q is a White House insider. However, as has been seen before, conspiracy theories pair perfectly with the Trumpian way of thinking - that somewhere in Washington there is a scapegoat to blame for societal ills and personal misfortunate. Either way, while their identity remains unknown, Q’s messages continue to create an ever larger movement of extremely vocal people.