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A former Trump official dreamed up a George Soros-funded ‘coup’ conspiracy that is spreading online

Image by Molly Boigon

An essay written by a former national security adviser to President Trump about an impending Democratic coup tied to George Soros has swept online spaces popular with conspiracy theorists and QAnon believers, and also penetrated more mainstream publications over the last two weeks.

The Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a London-based think tank that studies extremism, reported in a newsletter released this week that the piece by Michael Anton, called “The Coming Coup?” was among the most shared links by communities trafficking in hate speech.“ This week, the article’s main idea was picked up by conservative news sites like the Federalist.

The crux of Anton’s argument rests on a meeting of the Transition Integrity Project, a group that is monitoring the 2020 election for disruptions. Anton writes that a set of thought exercises where members acted out possible outcomes of the 2020 election, including a Democratic coup, was convened “on George Soros’s dime” and represented part of a “trial run” for this fall’s election. The thought exercises included a range of possible scenarios, such as Trump refusing to concede the election.

In fact, while Rosa Brooks, one of the founders of the Transition Integrity Project has had dinner at George Soros’s house, the project does not seem to have a financial relationship with George Soros or his nonprofit, the Open Society Foundations, according to tax filings.

The Transition Integrity Project and the American Mind did not respond to requests for comment. Michael Anton could not be reached for comment through his employer.

Democratic donor George Soros is the frequent target of antisemitic conspiracy theories that purport he is the shadow master behind a range of perceived injustices including a child sex-trafficking ring and sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

A former Trump official dreamed up a George Soros-funded ‘coup’ and QAnon believes it

Indeed, the post’s popularity comes at the same moment as a controversy at Fox News, where hosts cut off a rant about Soros by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich that said the Jewish philanthropist paid for Black Lives Matter demonstrations that have swept the nation.

Hours later, Fox host Tucker Carlson concurred with a guest about Soros wanting to “watch America burn,” saying Soros was “getting a return on his money.”

Anton’s post has been shared on 4chan, including by usernames displayed alongside Nazi flags, on threads that encourage users to “purge communist Jews” and remind others that “the Jews funded the first Civil War.”

It’s been discussed on Facebook where users exclaim that “George SOROS must be tried as a domestic terrorist.”

The essay is being discussed on Reddit, where users say Democrats are “setting themselves up for a massacre,” where users remark that “the time to act is long before the water boils.” YouTube commenters on a video about the article implore others to “Get your weapons and ammo ready” and “stop wearing the dumb masks. It’s a Democrat symbol.”

Anton himself came into the public consciousness after penning a Washington Post op-ed calling for the abolition of birthright citizenship.

He left the Trump administration in 2018, saying he wanted to join Hillsdale College’s Kirby Center.

A former Trump official dreamed up a George Soros-funded ‘coup’ and QAnon believes it

Anton also wrote a 2016 essay which said the America First Committee, which included notorious antisemites like Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh during World War II, was “unfairly maligned.”

Anton has rejectednews reports claiming that he is an antisemite, saying that they are “typical of the slander culture perfected by the modern left,” and that his comments about the America First Committee were essentially taken out of context as a part of an effort to “retcon the committee as primarily an anti-Jewish group when that’s not what it was.”

But the fervor behind Anton’s essay “has the potential to inflame polarization further,” according to ISD.

Molly Boigon is an investigative reporter at the Forward. Contact her at boigon@forward.com or follow her on Twitter @MollyBoigon.

Michael Anton stirs frenzy about Democratic coup

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