By ALLISON PECORIN, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — Senate Democrats on Tuesday asked the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security for intelligence on QAnon as backers of the fringe conspiracy group are set to join Congress in January.
Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is leading Democrats in writing a letter requesting a written assessment be provided to Congress on any threat posed by the group in general.
QAnon, once dismissed for its far-right conspiratorial leanings, has gained traction in recent months after being backed by President Donald Trump, who has failed to condemn the group and has at times retweeted unfounded theories it promotes.
Two newly elected Republican House members have voiced support for QAnon but the letter does not mention them by name.
“QAnon conspiracy theories have inspired acts of domestic extremism and violence, sought to undermine democratic institutions, and contributed to hatred in the United States and overseas,” the senators write in the letter obtained by ABC News.
The senators requested threat assessments from FBI Director Christopher Wray and a top DHS official.
In the letter, they say are concerned about QAnon sparking incidents of domestic terrorism and perpetuating unfounded concerns about the integrity of the 2020 election and future elections.
ABC’s Nightline reported on “Q,” the “anonymous internet user” who followers believe began the QAnon movement in August 2018, after attendees at a rally for President Trump donned clothing supporting the anonymous figure. The conspiracy started in the dark corners of the internet, on an anonymous message board website called 4chan.
“Q’s” followers believe he is part of the president’s inner circle with a top-secret security clearance. One of the most outrageous ideas is that prominent members of the Democratic Party establishment and Hollywood are secretly pedophiles and engage in satanic worship.
Wray has previously said followers of the group have been driven to acts of violence.
“Certainly we have had cases, properly predicated investigations involving violence, where people have been motivated by some of those conspiracy theories,” Wray said at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing in September.
But Wray also said that the FBI would not investigate followers of the movement based solely on their self-described affiliation with QAnon or any other domestic movement such as antifa.
“We do not investigate groups or individuals based on ideology or the exercise of First Amendment protected activity alone,” Wray said.
In September, experts told ABC News that the movement has recently penetrated the mainstream, growing in both size and boldness.
Trump has repeatedly declined to denounce the group. According to a New York Magazine analysis, 24 QAnon sympathizers ran for Congress in 2020.
One of the two newly elected House members who have voiced support for QAnon is Marjorie Taylor Greene, who secured a House seat in Georgia.
In a video originally posted on Facebook Live, which has since been re-posted to YouTube, Greene says that while she doesn’t know who “Q” is, she believes he is “a patriot.”
“He is someone that is very much — loves his country, and he’s on the same page as us and he is very pro-Trump, OK? Now, he appears to have connections at the highest level … it’s not just someone poking in the dark, messing with people,” Greene said in the video. “He seems to be very high up. He seems to be very close to President Trump.”
While Greene has since made some effort to distance herself from the group, she’s touted her support for other far-right ideas. Trump has called Greene a “future Republican star.”
Sen. Kelly Loeffler, a Georgia Republican facing a closely watched Senate runoff race in January, eagerly accepted Greene’s endorsement at a joint event in October.
The House passed a resolution to condemn QAnon in October, but during a news conference following the election, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy urged people to give Greene, and Congresswoman-Elect Lauren Boehbert who has also been tied to the group, time to settle into their new roles.
“Give them an opportunity before you claim what you believe they have done, and what they will do,” McCarthy said.
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