President Trump has long been a conspiracy theorist, and he has long been prone to angry tweetstorms. On Sunday, those two things collided in a major way.
In a lengthy string of tweets and retweets before and after a Sunday morning church visit, Trump promoted conspiracy theorists and theories while airing grievances about a Fox News host who was suspended for offering a conspiracy theory about Muslim Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). He also elevated a series of sources with dubious and questionable track records
The tweet: “So it was indeed (just proven in court papers) ‘last in his class’ (Annapolis) John McCain that sent the Fake Dossier to the FBI and Media hoping to have it printed BEFORE the Election. He & the Dems, working together, failed (as usual). Even the Fake News refused this garbage!”
The background: As The Post’s Felicia Sonmez wrote: “Trump’s tweet contained three errors. McCain, a member of the Naval Academy’s class of 1958, graduated fifth from last in his class. The senator was not made aware of the Steele dossier until Nov. 18, 2016 — after Trump had won the election. And there is no evidence that McCain gave the dossier to the media.” The thrust of the tweet also suggests McCain, who died in August, was conspiring with Democrats against Trump.
The tweets: “Bring back @JudgeJeanine Pirro. The Radical Left Democrats, working closely with their beloved partner, the Fake News Media, is using every trick in the book to SILENCE a majority of our Country. They have all out campaigns against @FoxNews hosts who are doing too well. Fox ... must stay strong and fight back with vigor. Stop working soooo hard on being politically correct, which will only bring you down, and continue to fight for our Country.”
The background: Fox reportedly suspended weekend host Pirro for two weeks for suggesting the fact that Omar wears a hijab means she subscribes to a fundamentalist interpretation of Islamic sharia law. Trump apparently believes this offense wasn’t worthy of taking her off the air.
The tweets: A series of retweets of Chuck Callesto.
The background: Callesto writes for the little-known website ilovemyfreedom.org that attaches ALL CAPS-laden headlines to pro-Republican stories, often with dubious sourcing or angles. In this case, he promoted a story about Omar potentially getting a primary challenge by misleadingly suggesting the Democratic Party was trying to “REMOVE” her from Congress. He has trafficked in the Obama-birther conspiracy theory, too.
The tweet: A retweet of a user with the moniker “VB Nationalist.”
The background: The user’s avatar is a Q — apparently a reference to the wild QAnon conspiracy theory — with a MAGA hat on top. The user has promoted both the QAnon and Pizzagate conspiracy theories. The user was also apparently happy about Trump’s retweet, sharing a tweet that alleged the retweet was “a St Patrick’s Day wink to Anons without being too obvious.”
The tweet: Retweeting Sara Carter
The background: Carter is an increasingly popular advocate of “deep state”-related conspiracy theories and a regular guest on Sean Hannity’s Fox show. Her anonymously sourced reports about alleged misconduct in the Russia investigation have come under scrutiny.
The tweet: Retweeting Jack Posobiec
The background: Posobiec, who is now a host for One America News, has driven a number of high-profile conspiracy theories in recent years. As the Daily Beast wrote, “He implied there may be a child-sex ring under a D.C. pizza joint run by Democrats. He peddled rumors about the murder of former DNC staffer Seth Rich. He interrupted a supposedly anti-Trump Julius Caesar play, yelling ‘you are all Goebbels.’ He popularized a WikiLeaks campaign against a French presidential candidate. He even tried to sabotage a D.C. protest by holding up a sign that said, ‘Rape Melania.’ ”
In another Trump retweet of Posobiec on Sunday, Posobiec accuses CNN of having cut off a guest who said Muslims in the Middle East liked the Republican Party. The guest was not cut off but, rather, the interview ended like any other.
The tweet: A conspiracy theory that the United Kingdom was “baiting” the United States into taking a hard line against Russia by somehow fomenting the Russia election interference story.
The background: It’s difficult to know where to start with this one. Suffice it to say there is no evidence the U.K. manipulated this whole situation. And it all plays into Trump’s allegation that the entire thing — including potentially Russian interference — is a hoax.