The information pipeline that runs between a cult of dangerous conspiracy theorists and the president of the United States is very short.
Donald Trump retweeted a video late Tuesday night that originated from an account called Deep State Exposed, a subscriber to a QAnon conspiracy theory, which tweeted that Transportation Security Administration officials are “perverts” capable of “mind control.”
Trump may not have seen the original post, but the video in question ― originally taken in 2017 and featuring a young boy being frisked at a TSA checkpoint ― made only two stops between Deep State Exposed and one of the biggest platforms in the world.
The video was originally posted two years ago when a woman filmed her son, who had a sensory disorder, being frisked at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, according to The Washington Post.
On Monday, Deep State Exposed resurfaced the video, tweeting, “Perverts at TSA busted detaining and fondling young boys!!!” The account — which is run by Jeremy Stone, a conspiracy theorist author, per the Post — followed up with a rant suggesting that the TSA is full of pedophiles. “TSA goes out of their way to hire high school dropouts with an inclination for sexual perversion. It’s mind control!!!”
That tweet was picked up by far-right celebrity and conspiracy theorist James Woods, regurgitated by comedian Larry the Cable Guy, and then retweeted by the president.
The content might have been innocuous had it not come from an account that peddles QAnon conspiracy theories. Its followers believe, among a laundry list of other fantasies, that Trump is working alongside an anonymous high-ranking official (dubbed “Q”) to unearth a global cabal of elite pedophiles. Those beliefs drive them to do increasingly violent things.
One prominent QAnon account with 21,000 followers, Bards Of War, tweeted on Tuesday a list of prominent pols and investigators ― like former FBI Director James Comey and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch ― alongside a notice that they’d been “designated” as “capture or kill.” The owner of Bards Of War later said the account was hacked and deleted the tweets. But Bards Of War also reacted to Trump’s TSA tweet, writing, “buckle up. No one is safe.”
Another apparent follower, murder suspect Anthony Comello, scribbled “Q” on his hand in a New Jersey courtroom and showed it to the cameras after he allegedly killed the boss of the Gambino crime family.
HuffPost has previously reported on QAnon’s move from the online ether to real life, where the set of conspiracy theories will undoubtedly lead to violence. And now, QAnon has a presidential mouthpiece. The Deep State Exposed account says Trump has retweeted it nine times, and the video that Trump parroted this week now has more than 3.6 million views.
On Wednesday, Trump said at a press conference that he tweets to subvert the “fake and corrupt” media and “get honesty out.”
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Jordan Peterson retweeted the video. It was retweeted by James Woods.