A man armed with a rifle and a handgun drove an armored truck to the Hoover Dam last Friday and started blocking traffic. He brought a homemade sign with him that said, “Release the OIG report.”
Except the report was already out.
The Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General released a report the day before criticizing the actions of FBI officials like James Comey during the Hillary Clinton email investigation. President Trump wrongly claimed it “exonerated” him, and right-wing media seized on the revelation that FBI agent Peter Strzok sent a text saying that “we’ll stop” Trump in 2016.
But for followers of the byzantine QAnon conspiracy theory, who had been promised that the report would contain far more damaging revelations about Democrats, the report has been one big anticlimax. The sign the armored truck driver held up on the bridge appeared to reference the idea, promoted by QAnon, that Trump possesses another OIG report that would bring down his enemies once and for all. The second report supposedly proves the FBI, the Justice Department, and top Democrats broke laws in an attempt to stop Trump from winning the presidency. Now Trump just has to release it, QAnon says.
“QAnon” started last November, with a series of cryptic messages posted on the anonymous 4Chan forum. The clues, which QAnon believers claim depict a world where Trump is constantly winning, special counsel Robert Mueller is actually investigating Clinton, and a number of top Democrats are on the verge of being sent from Guantanamo Bay, come from the anonymous “Q”—a reference to the high-ranking Q-level security clearance.
There’s no evidence that Q actually has access to national security secrets, or is anything more than a random person trolling Trump supporters on the internet, but that hasn’t stopped QAnon from winning a number of adherents, including Roseanne Barr. In April, hundreds of QAnon believers marched in D.C., chanting QAnon slogans like “Where we go one, we go all” and demanding “transparency” about the Justice Department.
Q’s clues had long hyped up the release of the OIG report. But then the report came out, and it wasn’t filled with the kinds of revelations QAnon supporters were promised. Now QAnon believers and the mysterious “Q” are scrambling to react to the report’s disappointment.
In a video apparently shot from within the truck during the standoff on the bridge, the truck driver, identified by the Arizona Department of Public Safety as 30-year-old Nevada resident Matthew P. Wright, reflected that disappointment, complaining that Trump had failed to “lock certain people up.”
“We the people demand full disclosure,” Wright said, addressing Trump. “We elected you to do a duty. You said you were going to lock certain people up if you were elected. You have yet to do that. Uphold your oath.”
The driver of the armored truck fled after about an hour on the bridge and was later arrested after blowing out the truck’s tires on police spike strips. Wright has been charged with five criminal counts, including committing terrorist acts.
David Seaman, a prominent proponent of the Pizzagate conspiracy theory who has become an antagonist for QAnon believers, taunted QAnon fans after the OIG report failed to bring down Democrats.
“Q’s own idiot base will demand his head within weeks,” Seaman’s website, Fulcrum News, tweeted after the OIG report was released. “Total shameful confidence scam. Wasted a lot of folks’ time.”
“Praying Medic,” a QAnon proponent who has amassed more than 140,000 followers on YouTube and Twitter, focused on minor formatting details in the report. In a series of tweets, he claimed that typographical changes—“the margins, the fonts that are used”—proved that the released version of the OIG report had been tampered with.
Q responded to the lukewarm reception of the OIG report by claiming that there were actually multiple OIG reports that actually did contain the revelations Q had promised, but that the one that was released had been changed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, a nemesis for QAnon believers. In a clue published after the OIG report came out, Q claimed Trump had an “original IG unredacted report” that the public hadn’t seen.
QAnon believers seem to have bought that line, hence Wright’s demand for the real OIG report. Now, instead of waiting for the release of an actual OIG report, they’re left waiting for one that doesn’t exist.