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FBI Responds To Schumer, Heinrich, And Senate Dems’ Request For QAnon Public Assessment

WASHINGTON - The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has responded to Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Senate Democrats’ December 2020 request for a public assessment on the threat posed by QAnon to the United States.

A copy of the public assessment, prepared by the FBI and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis (DHSI&A), is available here: "Adherence to QAnon Conspiracy Theory by Some Domestic Violent Extremists"

“Even before the horrific January 6th insurrection, QAnon supporters spread disinformation that amplified hatred and violence and threatened our democratic institutions. This assessment raises awareness for our government and the general public to the evolving threat posed by domestic violent extremists’ adherence to QAnon’s dangerous principles and further shows the urgent need for an independent January 6th commission,” said Majority Leader Schumer. 

“The Constitution protects the advocacy of all kinds of beliefs and views – even those that philosophically embrace violent tactics. But the public deserves to know how the government assesses the threat to our country from those who would act violently on such beliefs,” said Heinrich, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. 

In the assessment, FBI and DHSI&A find that the current environment will likely continue to spur QAnon adherents to see violence as a legitimate course of action. The assessment also expresses that QAnon adherents – and domestic violent extremists (DVE) - will likely shift from acting digitally to engaging in real world violence – including against Democrats.

The assessment reads that “some DVE adherents of QAnon likely will begin to believe they can no longer ‘trust the plan’ referenced in QAnon posts and that they have an obligation to change from serving as ‘digital soldiers’ toward engaging in real world violence – including harming perceived members of the ‘cabal’ such as Democrats and other political opposition – instead of continually awaiting Q’s promised actions which have not occurred.” 

However, the assessment also finds that mainstream social media decisions to push QAnon influencers off their platforms will likely result in QAnon adherents disengaging or reducing their involvement in the movement. 

The assessment notes that numerous factors determine whether the threat of QAnon grows or diminishes, stating that “ to QAnon by some DVEs likely will be affected by factors such as the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, the level of societal polarization in the United States, social media companies’ willingness to host QAnon-related content on their sites, and the frequency and content of pro-QAnon statements by public individuals who feature prominently in core QAnon narratives.”

In December 2020, nearly a month before the violent January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, Heinrich led a letter with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to the FBI and DHSI&A requesting a written assessment to Congress on the threat posed by QAnon, in the United States and abroad. Heinrich and Schumer also introduced a resolution in February expressing the Sense of the Senate on the imminent and pervasive threat of domestic terrorism, violent white supremacists, neo-Nazis, anti-government militias, and dangerous, fringe conspiracy theories to the democratic institutions and values of the United States.