In a wide-ranging interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham on Monday night, President Trump spread multiple baseless conspiracy theories about the protests that have erupted across the nation.
He claimed that a plane “loaded with thugs” tried to disrupt the Republican National Convention. He said that “some very stupid rich people” have been financing the racial justice protests that took place in Washington last week and around the country in recent months. And he alleged, without evidence, that “people you haven’t heard of” are controlling Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee.
All of these can be traced back to false conspiracy narratives that have swirled online in recent months.
There is no evidence of a flight matching Mr. Trump’s description. But the claim is similar to a baseless allegation from an Emmett, Idaho, man, who posted to Facebook on June 1. “Be ready for attacks downtown and residential areas. At least a dozen males got off the plane in Boise from Seattle, dressed head to toe in black.” He claimed, “One had a tattoo that said ‘Antifa America’ on his arm.”
That same day, the local sheriff’s office posted that there was no merit to the rumor.
The idea that someone has financed racial justice protests echoes claims that spread online for months falsely arguing that George Soros, the billionaire investor and Democratic donor, had paid protesters. The notion that a shadowy cabal of Democratic elites like Mr. Soros pulls strings behind the scenes and controls the world with money is a main pillar of the far-right extremist conspiracy theory QAnon.
QAnon is the same conspiracy theory Mr. Trump winked at by baselessly alleging that Mr. Biden is under the control of “people you haven’t heard of.” The theory states, falsely, that the world is run by a group of Satan-worshiping pedophiles that is plotting against Mr. Trump while operating a global child sex-trafficking ring.
QAnon followers believe that this clique includes top Democrats like Mr. Soros, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. And they believe that real and actual political power resides not with candidates like Mr. Biden, but with these individuals exercising their secret power beyond any immediately visible public link.