A GOP congressman said so many Republican voters now believe in the QAnon conspiracy theory it could destroy the party

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Crowds gather outside the U.S. Capitol for the “Stop the Steal” rally on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC.

  • GOP Rep. Peter Meijer has warned that the QAnon movement could destroy the GOP from within.
  • Meijer said “a significant plurality, if not potentially a majority” of GOP supporters believed in QAnon.
  • Meijer is one of a small group of GOP lawmakers who’ve taken a stand against QAnon.
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GOP Rep. Peter Meijer has warned that the rise of the QAnon conspiracy theory movement could destroy the Republican Party from within in remarks to CNN.

Meijer is one of few Republicans who’ve spoken out against the rise of conspiracy-theory-driven beliefs among a swath of the GOP grassroots. He was one of only 10 Republicans in the House who voted to impeach Donald Trump for inciting the Capitol riot on January 6.

“The fact that a significant plurality, if not potentially a majority, of our voters have been deceived into this creation of an alternate reality could very well be an existential threat to the party,” Meijer, a freshman congressman from Michigan, told the network.

Peter Meijer
GOP Rep. Peter Meijer of Michigan said lawmakers are taking new precautions amid fears of violence following President Donald Trump’s second impeachment.

The QAnon movement emerged from messaging boards 4chan and 8chan, to be adopted and promoted by Trump allies on the far right as it spread through the Republican Party. A Republican congresswoman, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Wood of Georgia, pushed the conspiracy theory before her election last year though in recent weeks has claimed she does not believe in it.

Adherents claim, groundlessly, that a Satanic cabal of Democrats and Hollywood stars secretly manipulate world events and run child trafficking networks. They revere Donald Trump as a savior figure, who will dismantle the cabal.

But the belief of adherents that Trump would halt Joe Biden’s inauguration and defeat his foes in a day of violent reckoning has failed to materialize, and Meijer warned that the dispair could fuel political violence.

“When we say QAnon, you have the sort of extreme forms, but you also just have this softer, gradual undermining of any shared, collective sense of truth,” Meijer said. He told CNN that conspiracy theories fuel “incredibly unrealistic and unachievable expectations” and “a cycle of disillusionment and alienation” that could lead conservative supporters not to vote or could even lead to more violence like the January 6 attack.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger is another GOP congressman who has publicly criticized the movement and has formed a PAC to fight the rise of conspiracy theories in the GOP and provide backing to anti-Trump Republicans facing primary challenges.

He told CNN that the QAnon movement could fuel conflict: “Do I think there’s going to be a civil war? No. Do I rule it out? No. Do I think it’s a concern, do I think it’s something we have to be worried about? Yeah.”

In the wake of the Capitol riot, a small group of GOP lawmakers has called for the party to distance itself from Donald Trump’s legacy. In an op-ed in January, Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska warned that QAnon was destroying the GOP.

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Photos show intense security around the US Capitol ahead of a QAnon insurrection that nobody showed up for

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National Guard keep watch on the Capitol, Thursday, March 4, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

  • There was enhanced security presence in Washington DC on March 4, only weeks after the Capitol riot. 
  • Intelligence reports had indicated far-right extremists were plotting violence and protests. 
  • QAnon conspiracy theorists believed that Donald Trump would be inaugurated on Thursday. 
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Thousands of National Guard and Capitol Police patrolled the streets of Washington DC Thursday ahead of an anticipated insurrection by far-right supporters of Donald Trump that never materialized.

Earlier in the week, US law enforcment and security agencies warned they had received intelligence that a far-right group planned to breach the Capitol. The Capitol Police announced that it was taking steps to “enhance our security posture” on days including March 4. 

March 4 was when some QAnon conspiracy theory supporters believed that Donald Trump would be inaugurated for a second term and his “deep state” enemies vanquished.

The anticipated threat placed Capitol security services on high alert, with the atmosphere still tense in the wake of the Capitol’s breach by Trump supporters on January 6. 

In the wake of the riot, the Capitol has been encircled with a razor-wire fence. On Thursday National Guard deployed in DC patrolled its perimeter to deter further violence. 

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National Guard walk near the Capitol, Thursday, March 4, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

On Constitution Avenue, the main thoroughfare leading pat the Capitol, the National Guard set up checkpoints. 

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Members of the National Guard walk on the empty Constitution Avenue near the U.S. Capitol on March 4, 2021.

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National Guard keep watch on the Capitol, Thursday, March 4, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

The usually bustling Capitol Hill was quiet, with lawmakers and their staff advised to stay away from the area for the day.

With paranoia rife in far-right forums ahead of March 4 and claims that the planned protests were a ruse by security services spreading, extremists and Trump supporters also decided to stay away. A masked man was questioned by the Secret Service near the White House. 

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A man wearing a “Guy Fawkes” mask is confronted by members of the US Secret Service, near the White House in Washington, DC, on March 4, 2021.

National Guard patrolled the Capitol building itself. On steps of the Capitol, Rep. Al Green of Texas took a break as the heavily armed troops patrolled nearby. 

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Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, is seen on the House steps of the Capitol as members of the National Guard walk by on Thursday, March 4, 2021.

In Congress’s halls, National Guard was stationed to ensure no breaches of the Capitol complex from any source. 

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Members of the National Guard look at a model of Capitol Hill in the Capitol Building’s crypt on March 4, 2021, in Washington, DC.

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Michigan National Guard troops conduct a promotion ceremony on the East Front of the Capitol on Thursday, March 4, 2021.

The day passed without major incident. But with swaths of America’s far-right refusing to accept Biden as legitimate president and a hardcore of extremists determined to provoke a violent insurrection, it’s a threat security officials believe is unlikely to recede any time soon. 

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The U.S. Capitol Building, which saw boosted security, Thursday, after officials warned of an attack plot by extremists on March 4, 2021

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says GOP leaders who dismiss consequences for Capitol riots ‘are opening the door for it to happen again’

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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., on Monday, August 24, 2020.

  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez excoriated GOP leaders on Saturday, saying that a lack of accountability for the Capitol riots on Jan. 6 would preclude any “healing” from the violent episode, in which five people died.
  • The second-term New York Democrat has asked her Republican colleagues to join the push in removing President Donald Trump from office.
  • “Let’s be very clear,” she tweeted. “The officials urging for no serious consequences after Wednesday’s attack on our country – including the impeachment, removal, expulsion, and/or indictment of officials who aided, abetted, or incited the attack – are opening the door for it to happen again.”
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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez excoriated GOP leaders on Saturday, saying that a lack of accountability for the Capitol riots on Jan. 6 would preclude any “healing” from the violent episode, in which five people died, including a Capitol police officer.

Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter to slam Republicans, many of whom chose to entertain President Donald Trump’s debunked election challenges that rioters used as a justification to try and stop the President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory from being certified.

“Let’s be very clear,” she wrote. “The officials urging for no serious consequences after Wednesday’s attack on our country – including the impeachment, removal, expulsion, and/or indictment of officials who aided, abetted, or incited the attack – are opening the door for it to happen again.”

The second-term New York Democrat, who has asked her Republican colleagues to join the push for Trump’s removal from office, stressed that the deadly riots will have major repercussions for the country.

Read more: President-elect Biden expressed confidence his inauguration will be safe. A few hours later, Twitter warned there’s talk of another DC Capitol attack on January 17th.

“Since it appears GOP leaders need a reminder: There is no ‘healing’ from this without accountability,” Ocasio-Cortez added in another tweet. “And there is no “unity” with white supremacists. You know the President’s state has devolved dangerously. If you’re too weak to do anything about it, you’re too weak to serve.”

 

On Friday, Ocasio-Cortez wrote that Trump endangered the lives of all members, not just Democrats.

“To my GOP colleagues: know that this President incited an insurrection against and incited his mob to find, harm, and possibly kill not just Democrats, but you, too. He *will* allow opportunities of physical harm against you if you aren’t sufficiently loyal to him. Remove him,” she tweeted.

This past week, Ocasio-Cortez lit into Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, who was the first Senate Republican to declare that he would raise objections to the Jan. 6 certification, after a publisher canceled his upcoming book amid fallout from the riots.

“You fist-pumped insurrectionists and baselessly attacked our elections,” she tweeted. “Your actions fueled a riot and you fund raised in the chaos. Five people are dead. Even your GOP colleagues have distanced from your acts.”

Trump, who faces a possible impeachment vote from House Democrats next week, has seen a wave of staff resignations over the past few days in reaction to his handling of the situation, including Transportation secretary Elaine Chao and Education secretary Betsy DeVos.

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Gab, a social networking site popular among the far right, seems to be capitalizing on Twitter bans and Parler’s suspension from the Google store. It says its gaining 10,000 new users every hour.

A stock image of a man seen looking at an Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max tin The Hague on March 2, 2020
A stock image of a man seen looking at an Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max tin The Hague on March 2, 2020

  • Gab.com, a social networking site popular among the far-right, has reported massive growth over the past few days as tech companies like Twitter crack down on accounts and posts inciting violence.
  • Gab tweeted that it was receiving over 10,000 new users every hour. 
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Gab.com has reported massive growth following the Capitol insurrection, the removal of high-profile conservatives from Twitter, including President Donald Trump, and the suspension of the Parler app on the Google store. 

Gab, a social networking website popular among the far-right, was founded in 2016 by Andrew Torba who touts it as a vehicle for free speech.

The layout of Gab is similar to Twitter. It displays trending posts in the center, aggregated news to the right,  and a menu and explore section to the left.

In October 2018, Vox reported that Gab had 465,000 to 800,000 users. In July 2020, Fox Business reported that, as of April, the site had over 1.1 million new cumulative registered accounts and 3.7 million monthly visitors worldwide.

This past Wednesday, the day the Capitol was stormed by pro-Trump rioters, Torba reported that site traffic jumped 40%, according to NPR. On Saturday, the site tweeted that it was gaining over 10,000 users an hour, and had received “12m visits in past 12 hours” just before 11 a.m.

 

In 2017, Google removed Gab’s app from the Google Play Store for violating it’s hate speech policy. It was rejected from Apple’s App Store for related reasons.  In 2018, the website was dropped by its original domain host, Go Daddy, when it was revealed that gunman accused of killing 11 congregants in a Pittsburgh synagogue was a frequent poster on the site.

 

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Man caught on camera carrying Pelosi’s lectern during US Capitol riots arrested in Florida

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A pro-Trump rioter carries the lectern of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi through the Rotunda of the Capitol.

  • A man who was photographed carrying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s lectern during the Capitol Hill riot on Wednesday has been arrested, according to Tampa-based NBC affiliate WFLA-TV.
  • The man, identified as Adam Christian Johnson, was booked in Pinellas County, Florida, on Friday night, and remains in jail on a warrant from the US Marshal’s office.
  • “It was almost like, it was surreal,” Allan Mestel, an acquaintance of Johnson, told WFLA. “I mean it was surreal. I wasn’t surprised, but I was shocked.”
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A grinning man who was photographed carrying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s lectern during the Capitol Hill riot on Wednesday has been arrested in Florida, according to Tampa-based NBC affiliate WFLA-TV.

The man, identified as Adam Christian Johnson, was booked in Pinellas County, Florida, on Friday night, and remains in jail on a warrant from the US Marshal’s office. He is currently awaiting trial.

The 36-year-old resident of Parrish in Manatee County, Florida, was identified after his photo taken in the Capitol rotunda spread across the internet.

Allan Mestel, an acquaintance of Johnson, contacted the FBI after recognizing Johnson in the viral image.

“I felt a little disassociated for a minute,” he told WFLA. “It was almost like, it was surreal. I mean it was surreal. I wasn’t surprised, but I was shocked.

He added: “Couldn’t believe it, the fact that I recognize somebody from our hometown.”

Read more: President-elect Biden expressed confidence his inauguration will be safe. A few hours later, Twitter warned there’s talk of another DC Capitol attack on January 17th.

Johnson is a registered voter in Manatee County and lists no party affiliation, with local election records also reported by the outlet showing he voted in the 2004 and 2020 general elections.

According to the Miami Herald, Johnson shared on social media that he would be in Washington, DC, and denigrated the Black Lives Matter movement.

On Thursday, the FBI announced they were looking for Johnson for other rioters who broke into the Capitol on Wednesday, in what was the most significant breach of the historic government building since 1814.

The rioters, sympathetic to President Donald Trump’s debunked grievances concerning voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election, were aiming to stop the Electoral College certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s win but were unsuccessful. After the building was cleared, Congress reconvened and Biden’s win was later certified.

Five people died during the violent rioting spree, including a US Capitol police officer, and roughly 69 arrests had been made in connection to the siege as of Friday.

On Friday, the Department of Justice announced charges against 13 people in relation to the riot.

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