During the evening of July 4, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn shared a video of himself leading five other people in a recitation of the oath of office traditionally given to federal elected officeholders, ending the oath with a slogan associated with the QAnon conspiracy theory.
Flynn, the former national security adviser for President Trump who recently won a major court victory when an appeals court ordered a judge to grant the Justice Department’s motion to dismiss its case against him, posted the Independence Day video of himself on Twitter reading the oath of office off of a cellphone as three women and two men, some of whom were members of his family, repeated after him in front of a bonfire. The oath, which is taken by members of the House and Senate, includes the promise that one “will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
Flynn and the others ended the short video by quoting a popular QAnon slogan — “Where we go one, we go all!” — after which they said, “God bless America.”
Sidney Powell, a former federal prosecutor who took over Flynn’s defense last year, denied that her client’s video had anything to do with QAnon.
“The slogan comes from an engraved bell on JFK’S sailboat — acknowledging the unity of mankind. The oath is obvious — the federal oath in support of our Constitution. He wanted to encourage people to think about being a citizen. Don’t read anything else into it,” she told the Washington Examiner.
The video, shared with Flynn’s more than 781,000 Twitter followers, has garnered tens of thousands of retweets and more than 1.2 million views as of Sunday evening. The former national security adviser had added “#TakeTheOath” to his Twitter profile in recent days. The “Take The Oath” movement appears to have started online sometime in June.
Flynn, 61, pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to FBI investigators about his December 2016 conversations with a Russian envoy, but Flynn now claims he was set up by the FBI, and the Justice Department is seeking to drop the charges after a trove of information concealed from the defense was unearthed in recent months. The appeals court ordered Judge Emmet Sullivan to grant the dismissal.
QAnon, whose #WWG1WGA hashtag is pervasive in some corners of social media, is a right-wing online movement that originated on 4chan message boards in October 2017 with posts by an anonymous person going by “Q,” who claimed to be a government official with top-secret intelligence clearance and who made a variety of generally evidence-free “bread crumb” claims about Trump covertly battling a series of “deep state” plots and global conspiracies, including an alleged ring of sex traffickers that includes Democratic politicians, business leaders, and Hollywood elites.
Trump has retweeted QAnon Twitter accounts, and Flynn is popular among many QAnon supporters.
Documents declassified this year indicate that then-FBI agent Peter Strzok abruptly stopped the FBI from closing its investigation into Flynn in early January 2017 at the insistence of the FBI’s “seventh floor” after the bureau had uncovered “no derogatory information” on Flynn. Emails showed Strzok, along with FBI lawyer Lisa Page and several others, sought to continue investigating Flynn, even considering the Logan Act.
Notes from Strzok show former Vice President Joe Biden raised the Logan Act during an early January 2017 Oval Office meeting about Flynn. And notes from the FBI’s head of counterintelligence, Bill Priestap, show him asking, “What is our goal? Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?”
QAnon supporters are typically pro-Trump, emphasize their patriotism for the U.S., meet and talk online using a variety of hashtags and memes, and often have a small but noticeable presence at Trump rallies, waving signs and wearing “Q”-themed clothing. The term “Anons” is used to reference QAnon members who post anonymously.
Flynn is not the first prominent Republican to “Take the Oath” in recent days. Jo Rae Perkins, the Republican nominee for Senate in Oregon and a vocal QAnon supporter, posted a video of herself taking the oath on June 26, saying, “I am also one of the thousands of digital soldiers. Today, June 25th, I am taking the oath of office. Protocol calls for you to put your left hand upon a Bible. I have here the American Patriot’s Bible. It also says to raise your right hand.” She used the hashtags “#DigitalSoldiers” and “#WWG1WGA.”
Hours after winning the Republican Senate primary in May, Perkins made a direct pitch to followers of QAnon in a video shared to Twitter, which she subsequently deleted, telling them: “Where we go one, we go all. I stand with President Trump. I stand with Q and the team. Thank you, Anons, and thank you, patriots, and together, we can save our republic.” Perkins is running to unseat Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley, who is widely projected to keep his position.
A number of other Republican congressional candidates have also expressed support for the QAnon conspiracy theory.
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