Cohen’s resulting notoriety led many adherents of QAnon to regard him as “Q,” who according to the conspiracy theory’s lore is a Trump administration official working on the inside to expose a deep-state cabal of pedophiles and Satan-worshippers bent on undermining Trump. Q’s cryptic messages, posted in the form of “Q drops” in online forums, have also fueled an obsession with a coming “Storm” — an apocalyptic event that would expose the evildoers, bring the cabal to justice and cement Trump’s hold on power.

“It’s clear that the QAnon conspiracy was a core of what was going on at the Capitol and I want to do everything I can to delegitimize this conspiracy,” Cohen, 34, told POLITICO in an interview. “The country deserved better on Jan. 6 — what transpired was appalling and completely at odds with our democratic principles.”…

Asked about the violence at the Capitol, as well as the role that Trump played in stoking it through his speech that day and the conspiracy talk he fomented in the weeks after the election, Cohen said: “The administration should have crushed this QAnon stuff as soon as it materialized.”…

The rumors eventually began to seep into his real-life world. He recalls being approached at a pre-Covid cocktail party in D.C. “Someone came up to me and said, whispering, ‘Are you QAnon?’” he said, calling the incident disturbing.