Michael Cohen’s guilty plea Tuesday shook up believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory, who had previously believed special counsel Robert Mueller was secretly working with President Donald Trump, not investigating him.
QAnon supporters believe in clues from “Q” that posit a world where Trump is engaged in a life-or-death struggle with a global pedophile cabal. In Q’s telling, Mueller is working hand-in-hand with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Trump to stop Democrats.
Along with the conviction of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on the same day, the Cohen plea left QAnon believers questioning whether they had been wrong to place all their hope in an anonymous internet poster.
In response, QAnon leaders on Reddit responded by cracking down on any mention of Cohen’s guilty plea, which was made with federal prosecutors in Manhattan—not Mueller.
But how, QAnon believers wondered, could sending Cohen and Manafort to prison amount to a win for Trump?
“Q, you have claimed that you are in control, can you explain how this helps the good guys???” pleaded one user on TheGreatAwakening, the main subreddit for QAnon supporters.
As alienated QAnon supporters began to complain to each other about feeling duped, TheGreatAwakening’s moderators decided to cut the spread of the discontent off at the source by ruling that most mentions of Cohen were off-topic.
While it’s unknown how many threads or posts about Cohen’s guilty plea were deleted, users on the subreddit were soon complaining that threads about Cohen were being deleted or hidden for being “off-topic.” In a thread about the aggressive moderator response to posts from QAnon believers who were losing heart after Cohen’s guilty plea, one of TheGreatAwakening’s moderators confirmed that posts about Cohen were considered off-topic.
With moderators pulling questions about Cohen, the theories about how his guilty plea actually proves QAnon is real have become even more elaborate. QAnon believers who are still on board with the conspiracy theory are becoming increasingly interested in numerology, or spinning up worlds where Cohen has either deliberately sacrificed himself.
Grasping for any good news, several QAnon believers have claimed that the unnamed presidential candidate implicated in Cohen’s guilty plea is actually Hillary Clinton, when, in reality, it’s clearly Trump.
“Is this the move that Trump has been waiting for?” asked on Reddit user commenter pushing the idea that Cohen would soon testify against Clinton.
But that poster backtracked on the theory when someone pointed out that the presidential candidate mentioned in the indictment is obviously Trump.
“It doesn't look good for trump then,” the original poster agreed.