Social messaging platform Telegram has emerged as a particular source of concern among law enforcement officials, according to congressional sources. Platform groups dedicated to QAnon and pro-Trump conspiracy theories have thousands of members, many of whom hang on every word the former president says.
Trump’s comments to right-wing media in recent weeks have directly influenced some of his supporters’ false belief that he will be re-elected in the coming months.
Federal police officials say there is general concern about campaign rhetoric both online, on Telegram and elsewhere, and offline.
This has led to a surge in downloads of alternative social media apps, and many Trump supporters have found a home in Telegram, which has fewer anti-disinformation laws and conspiracy theories like QAnon.
Congressional sources told CNN that Trump’s comments on the Republican-led audit in Arizona and his reports on his return to the presidency in August are of particular concern.
A clip that has been circulating widely in some Telegram groups was part of an interview Trump gave to OAN in May. In response to a question about a possible 2024 candidacy, Trump said “something needs to be done” before 2022 to stop the Democratic agenda.
“You don’t have to wait until 2024 people, it will be back this year, everything will be reversed,” one Telegram user commented in the clip.
“It’s a great day when we start seeing evidence of a plan coming together! It tells us it won’t be too late,” wrote another.
In another May interview with a right-wing radio host, Trump falsely suggested a controversial Republican-led audit in Arizona and elsewhere would show he was not losing the election.
“This is going to be a very exciting time in our country,” he said. “How do you govern when you lose?”
“We the people will take action,” one Telegram user commented in response to a clip of the interview.
“Trump knows what’s going on. The Biden administration is going to be dismantled,” another commented, while one warned, “He told us things are going to get ugly all over America. These thugs are on the news.” Won’t take much. Alright! Ready!”