“Powerful people can’t use conspiracy theories very well,” Joseph Uscinski, an associate professor of political science at the University of Miami and the co-author of “American Conspiracy Theories,” told me in 2017. “They’re tools of the weak to attack the powerful.” In this case, though, Trump’s embrace of the tactic has made it a tool of the powerful. And in so doing, Uscinski said, he “put together a coalition of conspiracy-minded people.”
That overlap has at times been embarrassing for the president. At one Trump rally in New Hampshire last year, QAnon supporters told me that staffers or the Secret Service had asked them to cover up or reverse QAnon-themed shirts. But the campaign can’t and probably isn’t interested in tamping down QAnon support generally, recognizing that these are mostly fervent, committed Trump fans, many of whom find order in the otherwise complicated theory…
What elevates all of this to something particularly remarkable was the response from the Trump campaign to Kinzinger’s tweet. One might expect no response, certainly, or perhaps a message of support for his point about QAnon’s accuracy. But that’s not what Matt Wolking, the campaign’s deputy director of communications, offered.
“When will [Kinzinger] condemn the Steele Dossier fabrications and conspiracy theories pushed by Democrats?” he wrote. “That actually WAS Russian propaganda.”