QAnon Theory Prompted Unnamed Militia's Plot to Breach Capitol on March 4: Capitol Police

The far-right conspiracy group QAnon is reportedly linked to threats against the U.S. Capitol after it promoted a belief that former President Donald Trump would take back the Oval Office on March 4, the day that was the nation's Inauguration Day until 1933.

Capitol Police announced in a statement Wednesday the department was "aware and prepared" for a "possible plot" by an unnamed militia group to attack the Capitol on March 4, nearly two months after the deadly riot on Jan. 6 while Congress met to certify President Joe Biden's election.

"Based on the intelligence that we have, the Department has taken immediate steps to enhance our security posture and staffing for a number of says, to include March 4," Capitol Police said in a statement on Wednesday. Because of the "sensitive nature" of the information regarding the attack, the agency said it could not further specifics about their intelligence of the potential plot.

Capitol Police
The Capitol Police have revealed intelligence of a "possible plot" to breach the U.S. Capitol Building on Thursday, March 4, linking the plat to a theory spread by QAnon. The US Capital is seen as National Guard secure the the grounds on February 08, 2021 in Washington, DC. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

An advisory sent earlier this week to members of Congress by Timothy Blodgett, the acting House sergeant-at-arms, said that the Capitol Police had "no indication that groups will travel to Washington D.C. to protest or commit acts of violence."

But that advisory was updated in a note to lawmakers Wednesday morning. Blodgett wrote that the Capitol Police had received "new and concerning information and intelligence indicating additional interest in the Capitol for the dates of March 4th – 6th by a militia group."

In her testimony to the House panel, acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman said her investigators had collected "some concerning intelligence," but declined to provide any details publicly, saying that it was "law enforcement sensitive" and that she would provide a private briefing for the subcommittee members.

There has been a noticeable decline in online activity on some social media platforms surrounding efforts on March 4, and there was already considerably less online chatter than during the lead-up to Jan. 6, a day that Trump repeatedly had promoted for a his rally and encouraged thousands to come to the nation's capital.

There's also a very large fence in place around the U.S. Capitol that blocks off all avenues of entry including on the streets around the building, which was put in place after Jan. 6.

Also, thousands of accounts that promoted the Jan. 6 event that led to a violent storming of the U.S. Capitol have since been suspended by major tech companies like Facebook and Twitter, making it far more difficult for QAnon and far-right groups to organize a repeat of the mass gathering on Thursday.

Twitter banned more than 70,000 accounts after the riots, while Facebook and Instagram removed posts mentioning "stop the steal," a pro-Trump rallying cry used to mobilize his supporters in January. And the conservative social media platform Parler, which many of Trump's supporters joined to promote false election fraud conspiracy theories and encourage friends to "storm" the Capitol on Jan. 6, was booted off the internet following the siege.

Capitol Police say that they have stepped up security around the Capitol complex since January's insurrection, adding physical security measures such as the fencing topped with razor wire around the Capitol and members of the National Guard who remain at the complex. The statement said the agency was "taking the intelligence seriously" but provided no other specific details on the threat.

Rep. Adriano Espaillat, D-N.Y., said he was "very concerned" about potential threats Thursday and wasn't sure whether the Capitol Police were adequately prepared to respond.

"I believe that there should be additional resources assigned to their efforts to sweep for explosives, for example," he said. "And I don't know to what degree that's being done right now."

Lawmakers were expected to be briefed later Wednesday by Capitol Police leadership in a closed session

So far, about 300 people have been charged with federal crimes for their roles in the riot. Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died.

Since his defeat, Trump has been promoting lies that the election was stolen from him through mass voter fraud, even though such claims have been rejected by judges, Republican state officials and Trump's own administration. He was impeached by the House after the Jan. 6 riot on a charge of incitement of insurrection but was acquitted by the Senate.

For more reporting from Newsweek's Ewan Palmer, see below.

QAnon followers, lifting beliefs from the sovereign citizen movement, now think the U.S. was secretly turned into a corporation in 1871 and all other presidents after Ulysses S. Grant have been illegitimate. They claim Trump will become the 19th president when he is reinstated on March 4.

This week, QAnon supporters reacted with glee after the U.S. Marshals posted a tweet about Abraham Lincoln's inauguration on March 4, 1861, believing this was a coded reference and a validation of their latest prophecy.

"Cannot wait until the inauguration March 4 first true president in years," one wrote in a popular QAnon channel on the encrypted messaging app Telegram.

"God has planned all of this for many years. Got to love this president. Not much longer now. March 4 will be our victory dance," Debbie Briscoe added on the app.

Unlike in the run-up to January 20, however, many popular QAnon advocates are saying nothing will happen on March 4, possibly wary of a repeat of the disappointment and humiliation they felt at Biden's inauguration.