On Truth Social, Trump Embraces Far-right Conspiracy Theories

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The sometime president’s activity on his social network, Truth Social, openly promotes far-right and conspiratorial ideas that are usually confined to corners of the internet.


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Emil Lippe for The New York Times


In a 24-hour period this calendar week, former President Donald J. Trump posted to his social media platform, Truth Social, 88 times, amplifying ane conspiracy theory after another.

Amidst his unsupported claims: A retiring F.B.I. agent was behind both the search of his Mar-a-Lago property on Aug. 8 and the investigation into his entrada’due south possible ties to Russia; a forthcoming report will bear witness widespread corruption against his 2016 campaign; and he should be reinstalled as president because the 2020 election was fraudulent.

“Declare the rightful winner or, and this would exist the minimal solution, declare the 2020 Election irreparably compromised and have a new Ballot, immediately!” he wrote.

Mr. Trump has spent more than than a decade on social media attacking enemies, cozying upwardly to far-right ideas and sharing false information. He used Twitter to perpetuate the lie that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States and afterwards deemed i investigation after another partisan witch hunts.

But, as his legal exposure intensifies over his handling of government documents, the former president this week crossed over to a more directly embrace of claims batted around the night corners on the internet. His winks and nods to the far right became enthusiastic endorsements, and his flirtations with convoluted conspiratorial ideas became more overt.

He shared a flurry of 61 posts written by Truth Social users, many of whom had ties to QAnon, an online conspiracy movement aligned with the former president. I post included “the tempest,” which QAnon followers utilize to describe the day when the movement’south enemies will be violently punished.

The strategy partly mirrors Mr. Trump’s cluttered arroyo during moments of crisis, searching for a bulletin to ignite supporters while shifting attention away from his controversies. But the posts this week appeared peculiarly haphazard, opening a door to the old president’s thought process even as his legal team tries to craft a denoting defence against the Justice Department’s investigation.

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Josh Ritchie for The New York Times


Soon afterwards the F.B.I. search, Mr. Trump claimed that he had declassified all the documents in his possession — suggesting that he had known of their beingness at Mar-a-Lago. The classification status may ultimately prove irrelevant, since some of the charges focus on whether he dodged attempts to recover the documents, regardless of how they had been classified.

The shift also reflected Mr. Trump’s embrace of the more than conspiracy-theory-driven posts usually found on Truth Social, which he started using merely in late April. Mr. Trump was barred from Facebook and Twitter in January 2021 for violating rules around inciting violence, losing hundreds of millions of social media followers. Now, unshackled from mainstream rules and decorum, Mr. Trump speaks to a much smaller base of supporters — fewer than four 1000000 followers — using peppery rhetoric and echoing the conspiracy theories, such as QAnon, that remain popular on the platform.

The posts have alarmed disinformation experts, who fear that Mr. Trump’due south incendiary remarks could further inflame political tensions. Later on the Mar-a-Lago search, an armed man tried to enter an F.B.I. office and was killed by the police.

Tens of millions of Americans believe that the use of force would be justified to restore Mr. Trump to the White Firm, said Robert Pape, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago, citing a poll conducted final year.

“You can run across how easy it’southward going to exist for Trump to trigger a lot of these incendiary responses with incendiary posts himself,” Mr. Pape said.

A spokesman for Mr. Trump, Taylor Budowich, did not respond to a request for comment virtually Mr. Trump’s posts.

Mr. Trump is well known for spending hours tuned in to Fox News. Some of his posts in the past calendar week, including his telephone call to be reinstalled as president, have received regular attention on the network.

Only his posts suggest that he is increasingly attuned to voices in far-right and fringe publications that are even friendlier to his cause. He shared a polling story from Off the Press, a right-wing news site with only a few hundred social media followers, with the headline: “Michigan Republicans Yet Love Trump.” He likewise shared an article from American Thinker, a conservative site that had posted conspiracy theories about the 2020 election that it later retracted, claiming the F.B.I. was “a campaign arm of the Democrat Party.”

Some posts included content commonly found in the dark back channels of the net, where QAnon conspiracy theorists cling to outlandish ideas virtually Satan-worshiping Democratic pedophiles and a nationwide cover-up of widespread voter fraud. Mr. Trump shared content this week from at least 24 accounts tied to QAnon, according to an assay by Alex Kaplan, a senior researcher at Media Matters for America, a progressive think tank.

Mr. Trump also posted multiple times about Timothy Thibault, an F.B.I. agent who retired this calendar week after more than 20 years at the bureau. Far-right news sites reported that two agents had escorted Mr. Thibault off the grounds of the F.B.I. in a dramatic scene that Mr. Trump described as having been “perp walked.” Mr. Trump likewise falsely claimed that Mr. Thibault had played a central role in the Mar-a-Lago search.

“The fired agent was in charge of the Mar-a-Lago Raid, and the Election investigation,” Mr. Trump said on Truth Social. “How’s he doing?”

Mr. Thibault’s lawyers said in an emailed statement that the agent had decided to retire a month ago and that he had “walked out of the building past himself.” He was non involved in the Mar-a-Lago search, the lawyers said.

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Stephanie Keith/Getty Images


In attacking the F.B.I., Mr. Trump besides returned to some familiar themes, like the bureau’s investigation into possible collusion between his 2016 ballot campaign and Russia. He shared a link to an article from Breitbart, the right-wing news site, which misleadingly suggested that the F.B.I. agents involved in the Russian federation investigation had been “running” the Mar-a-Lago search. Another Breitbart article that Mr. Trump posted claimed, without evidence, that the F.B.I. might take searched Mar-a-Lago for documents that would help show Russian interference in 2016.

“This is an incredible article — a must-read for all!” Mr. Trump wrote.

Mr. Trump also shared a mail service about Ray Epps, a Trump supporter who attended the Jan. six, 2021, attack on the Capitol and was implicated in a conspiracy theory that the F.B.I. had incited the riot. The post falsely claimed that Mr. Epps’s wife worked for a division of Dominion Voting Systems, an ballot applied science company at the center of a series of conspiracy theories about the 2020 election. In fact, her LinkedIn contour showed she worked for Dominion Enterprises, an unrelated marketing services company.

Mr. Trump broadcast the thought to his nearly four million followers, receiving thousands of likes, shares and comments.

“Is this really truthful?” he wrote.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/02/technology/trump-conspiracy-theories-truth-social.html