Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters
Lara Trump, President Donald Trump’s daughter-in-law and a senior adviser to his reelection campaign, tweeted a YouTube video from one of the biggest QAnon accounts on the internet.
On February 21, Lara Trump — who also hosts an online show for the campaign — tweeted, “The best is yet to come,” along with a link to a YouTube video titled “The Best Is Yet To Come – Trump 2020.”
The video was posted on YouTube by “JoeM,” who has hundreds of thousands of followers on social media and is a devotee of the QAnon conspiracy theory (he co-authored a bestselling book about it). The theory has been tied to multiple violent incidents, including murder and attempted kidnapping, and it has been flagged by an FBI field office as a potential domestic terrorism threat.
JoeM, who uses the handle StormIsUponUs on Twitter and whose “introductory video” about QAnon is often used to introduce people to the conspiracy theory, has his own ties to extremism, bigotry, and harassment: Last April, the account instigated a baseless conspiracy theory that a California school fundraiser was somehow connected to former FBI Director James Comey, forcing the fundraiser to be cancelled. In May, after his Twitter account was briefly suspended, he used his Instagram account to instigate a harassment campaign against a woman. And last February, his QAnon introductory video was posted on the YouTube account of the parents of a man arrested for trying to burn down a pizzeria that was at the center of the debunked Pizzagate conspiracy theory.
This isn’t the first time people in Trump’s orbit — along with Trump himself — have amplified and interacted with QAnon accounts and their content.
Besides Lara Trump, other major figures who shared JoeM’s video — which has garnered more than 120,000 Facebook engagements and over 24,000 Twitter shares — included the following:
- Brian Kolfage, who is known for running scams and a disinformation network that included Facebook pages that were eventually banned for “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”
- Ted Nugent, an NRA board member who previously shared JoeM’s QAnon introductory video while at the same time claiming to denounce QAnon.
- Rep. Dan Meuser’s (R-PA) campaign Facebook page .
- The New Mexico Republican Party’s Facebook page, along with the Facebook page forthe state party’s chairman and former Rep. Steve Pearce.
- The Facebook pages for the Republican Party chapters of Comal County in Texas; Calvert County in Maryland; Wakulla County, St. Johns County, and Highlands County in Florida; Jefferson County in Alabama, El Paso County in Colorado, Cumberland County and Craven County in North Carolina, Snohomish County in Washington State, and Santa Barbara County in California.