Trump 'Deliberately Stoking' Violence, Courting QAnon, Professor Says

Former President Donald Trump is deliberately stoking violence and courting believers of QAnon, a far-right conspiracy theory, University of Chicago professor Robert Pape said on Sunday.

Trump delivered a speech at a rally in Youngstown, Ohio, Saturday night. Observers noticed that background music playing throughout the speech sounded similar to a 2020 song, "WWG1WGA," a reference to the QAnon slogan "where we go one we go all." Some QAnon influencers took the music to be a signal in support of their theory, as Trump has made a flurry of posts appearing to call out to its believers in recent weeks.

QAnon followers believe Trump will eventually seize power in the country and arrest—and potentially execute—Democrats, celebrities and other influential figures for being part of a "cabal" of Satanic cannibalistic pedophiles. The far-fetched theory has been widely debunked and is not backed up by any credible evidence.

Pape warned Trump is intentionally reaching out to QAnon supporters—describing the situation as "threatening" and "extremely disturbing" during an appearance on CBS News' Face the Nation.

Trump courting QAnon followers: Pape
Above, former President Donald Trump’s post referring to the far-right conspiracy theory QAnon is shown on Tuesday. University of Chicago professor Robert Paper said on Sunday that Trump is “deliberately stoking” violence and courting the theory’s followers. OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images

"The former president is willing to court, not just supporters of his, but those who support violence for his goals—number one of which is being restored to the White House," said Pape, a political science professor who specializes in international security affairs.

Pape added that it is "clear" that Trump, one of the leading conservative figures across the United States, is aware of what QAnon entails and that his signals to its supporters could have violent repercussions in future elections. He also warned that his research indicates 13 million Americans "support the use of force to restore Donald Trump to the presidency."

"The problem that we face is that over and over in tweets by the former president, he is deliberately stoking not just the fires of anger giving him political support, but the fires that are leading to that violence," he said. "That is really the heart of our problem that we face as a threat to democracy. Because if it's just a political threat, well then we can have elections. But once it's not just denying an election, but using violence as a response to election denial, then we're in a new game."

Trump's Truth Social Posts Call Out to QAnon

The ex-president has made several Truth Social posts referring to the conspiracy theory. Last Tuesday, he reposted a photo of himself alongside the words "The Storm is Coming" and a QAnon pin. QAnon followers refer to this by saying Trump will allegedly retake power and try his opponents as the "storm." The post was one of the most direct references the former president has made to the conspiracy theory.

One image Trump shared in August featured the text: "The deep state whispered to president Trump 'You cannot withstand the storm.' The President whispered back, 'I am the storm.'" Another post, which has since been deleted, shared a link to a QAnon website.

Newsweek reached out to Trump's office for comment.