The anonymous “Q”, mysterious inspirer of the QAnon movement, has posted a cryptic message warning of an effort to disrupt and delegitimise the election – and pointing as evidence to an interview conducted by Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
The interview featured a former White House staffer using a well-worn Kremlin-style conspiracy theory to outline a supposed Democratic plot against Donald Trump, one that’s supposedly being advanced by hidden “operatives”.
QAnon, which largely revolves around messages that the unidentified Q posts on online forums, takes as one of its core tenets that the Trump administration is doing battle with a “deep state” conspiracy of cannibalistic left-wing paedophiles who are determined to remove the president from power.
As a corollary, the prospect of a disputed election result in which the Democrats either claim victory or dispute a Trump win looms large among QAnon followers, many of whom are convinced that Mr Trump and his allies are preparing for a climactic confrontation with their enemies – a violent clash they often refer to as “the storm”.
As with many previous posts, Q’s latest drop frames the current confluence of disastrous phenomena – fires, riots and the coronavirus – as a precursor for what is to come. “Make no mistake,” it reads, “they will not concede on Election Night.
“Make no mistake, they will contest this legally in battleground states.
“Make no mistake, they will project doubt in the election results.
“Make no mistake, they will organise massive riots and attempt Anarchy-99 design
“Playbook known. Q”
The post then links to an interview Mr Carlson conducted on his show yesterday with Darren Beattie, a former White House speechwriter who was fired in 2018 after it transpired he had attended a conference where he shared a panel with outspoken white nationalists.
In the interview, Mr Carlson asked Mr Beattie whether a coup against Mr Trump is in the offing, and specifically whether it bears any resemblance to the “colour revolutions” that sprung up in various post-Soviet states over the last two decades.
“What’s unfolding before our eyes,” said Mr Beattie, “is a very specific type of coup called the Colour Revolution. It’s a regime change model favoured by many in our national security apparatus, particularly against Eastern European countries to overthrow target regimes that they don’t like.”
Describing the difference between a Colour Revolution and a garden-variety military coup, Mr Beattie called the model “a little bit more delicate and subtle”.
“The chief characteristic of it is a combination of an engineered contested election scenario combined with massive mobilised protests, which they call as a term of art ‘peaceful protests’ and ‘acts of civil disobedience’.
He continued: “If that sounds familiar, it gets even better. It’s not only the same strategy and tactics used against Trump that was used against Eastern European dictators that our national security apparatus doesn’t like … It’s the very same people, using the very same playbook.”
Conspiracy theories and false claims about Colour Revolutions and similar incidents are a common feature of Russian disinformation campaigns, particularly as relates to the 2014 Euromaidan uprising in Ukraine, which the Kremlin has often described as a coup covertly organised by nefarious Western forces rather than a grassroots-up popular movement.
As part of his extended monologue, Mr Beattie focused on a particular figure he described as “a nexus point” in the Democrats’ revolutionary conspiracy: Norm Eisen, a former ambassador and White House ethics czar who served as special counsel to the House Judiciary Committee during Mr Trump’s impeachment.
Describing him as a “Democrat operative”, Mr Beattie said “he is also a key architect of nearly every effort to censor, sue, impeach and overthrow the president. He is the author, in fact, of a Colour Revolution playbook, literally called “The Playbook”, and one of the items that he calls for in his playbook to overthrow regimes overseas he doesn’t like is engineering election fraud scenarios, using election fraud to engineer mass protests to question the legitimacy of the target leader.”
Mr Beatties’s focus on a supposedly shadowy unelected Democratic “operative” is highly reminiscent of QAnon’s underpinning logic, which pits Mr Trump and his allies against “deep state” operatives with malevolent, even satanic motives that they pursue out of public view.
The playbook that Mr Beattie described is in fact a widely available co-authored Brookings Institution report called “The Democracy Playbook: Preventing and Reversing Democratic Backsliding”. The section on election fraud relates specifically to authoritarian countries with a history of vote-rigging where opposition movements have the chance to plan in advance for what to do when detectable election fraud occurs.
It is in fact Mr Trump alleging vast election fraud and urging his supporters to resist it, whereas Joe Biden and his campaign are urging as many Americans to vote as soon as possible to ensure their ballots are properly counted.
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