WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday voted to condemn the online pro-Trump conspiracy theory known as “QAnon,” but 17 Republicans opposed the non-binding resolution, whose sponsor Democrat Representative Tom Malinowski said he has received death threats.
The House voted 371-18 to reject the conspiracy theory, which posits President Donald Trump has been working to take down a global child sex ring. As many as a dozen Republican candidates for Congress have voiced some support for the theory, and at least one of them appears to be a on a path to victory.
“The grotesque nature of the tweets and Instagram posts and the anti-Semitic tripe spewed by QAnon adherents should cause concern for everyone,” Representative Denver Riggleman, a Republican co-sponsor of the resolution, said on the House floor.
“But the death threats Tom Malinowski received were at surprise and a shock,” Riggleman said. “This type of behavior is easily condemned.”
Seventeen Republicans lawmakers and independent Representative Justin Amash voted against the resolution. Another Republican voted present, and forty lawmakers, most of them Republicans, did not vote.
Writing on Twitter, Amash said the resolution threatened protected speech – and may make things worse. “These are conspiracy theorists who believe in a deep state that’s fighting against them,” he wrote.
Republican candidates who have voiced some measure of support for the QAnon theory include Georgia businesswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, on track for a House seat after her Democratic opponent dropped out, and Jo Rae Perkins, who is running for Senate in Oregon against incumbent Senator Jeff Merkley. He is expected to win.
The theory claims without evidence that “deep-state” traitors, child sex predators and prominent Democrats are plotting against Trump, who in turn is leading a plot against them. The FBI included QAnon last year in a warning about “conspiracy theory-driven domestic extremists.”
(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Aurora Ellis)