Far-right allies of President Trump quickly dismissed a string of explosive devices sent to prominent Democratic figures and CNN as a “false flag” operation intended to support Democrats’ “narrative” ahead of the midterm elections.
Without any evidence, members of the far-right media, think tank heads, and Twitter activists shared their conspiratorial theories on social media.
Similar “functional” explosive devices this week targeted Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, former Attorney General Eric Holder and billionaire philanthropist George Soros. CNN’s New York headquarters was evacuated after a package addressed to former CIA director John Brennan, an outspoken Trump critic, was found in the mail room.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell were among the politicians to quickly denounce the bomb threats as “an act of terror” and “attempted acts of domestic terror.”
But the Twitter critics instead resorted to far-out theories that they’ve leaned on during previous moments of crisis: horrific incidents are just a manufactured effort by Democrats to push their agenda.
Michael Flynn Jr., son of former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, called the bombs “a total false flag operation.”
Though he later deleted several messages, he said he “hate[s] the timing as it provides a PERFECT narrative for @TheDemocrats going into the mid terms.”
“If I’m wrong about this being a political stunt, I’ll own up to it,” added Flynn Jr., who was booted from Trump’s transition team for promoting conspiracy theories. “But timing is everything folks. And the timing given how close we are to midterms is HIGHLY SUSPICIOUS!”
Candace Owens, communications director for young conservatives’ group Turning Point USA, said there was a “0% chance that these ‘suspicious packages’ were sent out by conservatives.”
Owens met with Trump at the White House this May.
Frank Gaffney, a prominent anti-Islam activist who runs the Center for Security Policy and has close ties to the Trump administration, suggested that the bombs were sent “to deflect attention from the Left’s mobs.”
Pundit Ann Coulter called bombs “a liberal tactic,” while radio host Rush Limbaugh said, “Republicans just don’t do this kind of thing.”
Even fringier figures like pro-Trump Twitter activist Jacob Wohl and “Pizzagate
conspiracy pusher Laura Loomer agreed that the bomb threats were, as Wohl put it, “false flags, carefully planned for the midterms.”
Diehard Trump fanatic Bill Mitchell said the packages “have Soros astro-turfing written all over it so the media can paint the #GOP as “the dangerous mob.” Pure BS.”
New York and federal law enforcement officials have yet to release any evidence or indication about who was behind the attacks.
Many of the figures currently casting doubt on their legitimacy have spent much of the year criticizing Democratic politicians and their supporters for a purported lack of civility. Protesters yelling at Trump administration officials at restaurants and in the halls of the Capitol building have been used as evidence of the left’s “incivility and violent rhetoric,” as right-wing radio host John Cardillo put in a a since-deleted Wednesday tweet.
Some of these individuals, like Mitchell, said explicitly that they want media attention to remain focused on the activities of progressive activists and on the caravan of immigrants slowly winding their way north through central America as they flee violence in their home countries.
As Trump insisted at a recent rally, the midterms will be about “[Supreme Court Justice Brett] Kavanaugh, the caravan, law and order, and common sense.”
These claims of Democratic “false flags,” first popularized by Infowars’ Alex Jones, have spread like wildfire in recent years. The survivors of the Sandy Hook, Connecticut and Parkland, Florida school shootings were dismissed as “crisis actors” by some on the far-right. This summer, Coulter mocked the migrant children being separated by their parents under a Trump administration policy as “child actors.”
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