Approximately 4,900 National Guard troops are expected to remain in Washington, D.C., until mid-March due, in part, to concerns of potential violence from adherents of the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory who now believe that former president Donald Trump will be sworn back into office on March 4, 2021.
The request for troops to stay in Washington until March 12 was reportedly made by U.S. Capitol Police and later confirmed by Rep. Adam Smith, D-W.A., who chairs the House Armed Services Committee.
“Some of these people have figured out that apparently 75 years ago, the president used to be inaugurated on March 4,” Smith said during a hearing on Wednesday. “OK, now why that’s relevant? God knows. At any rate, now they are thinking maybe we should gather again and storm the Capitol on March 4 … that is circulating online.”
The March 4 date is QAnon followers’ latest attempt to keep the conspiracy theory alive in a movement known for constantly moving goal posts. The latest conspiracy theory is rooted in the belief that an obscure 1871 actthat QAnon adherents believe transformed the U.S. from a federal government into a corporation. While there is no evidence for these claims, QAnon adherents claim that the act effectively means that laws passed after 1871 do not apply to U.S. citizens and that any president elected after 1871 has been illegitimate.
Some QAnon adherents believe that the United States will revert back to its original form as a federal government (which is in reality what it always has been)on March 4, when Trump will supposedly be sworn in as president of the United States. (Author note: Right Wing Watch previously reported on the March 4 conspiracy theory here)
In the aftermath of President Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20, many QAnon adherents have struggled to reconcile their worldview with the reality of a new administration in the White House. This newfound desperation has led to concerns of increased violence in the coming weeks. A spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security told CNN that the “most significant terrorism-related threat currently facing the nation comes from lone offenders and small groups of individuals inspired by domestic extremist ideological beliefs, including those based on false narratives spread over social media and other online platforms.”
The DHS’s focus on “lone offenders” and “small groups” echoes a trend of QAnon adherents threatening to take matters into their own hands if Trump does not return to the White House in March. “We cannot let this treason win over our country,” one QAnon adherent wrote on Telegram earlier this month.
While Smith revealed during Wednesday’s hearing that “stuff like this circulates all the time” and that is “probably not” going to happen, he added that much of the blame for the ongoing threat environment falls on the Republican politicians who refuse to acknowledge the outcome of the election.
“If you want to help [QAnon adherents]… tell them that the election is over. Joe Biden won,” Smith said. “It was a free and fair election, and let’s get to work, that too would help reduce the well I don’t know fear, paranoia that people feel that requires everything that we’re seeing around here.”