Is there just about any conspiracy theory that some of Donald Trump’s most cultishly devoted followers would be unwilling to push? Conservatives on social media have been posting about the supposed arrest of former President Barack Obama and the claim that President-elect Joe Biden is wearing an ankle bracelet. Both of these claims are mind-numbing nonsense — but they’ve taken off in certain corners of the web nonetheless. Claimed arrests of high-profile figures have been a central part of the right-wing QAnon conspiracy theory, which claims the existence of a Satanic, cannibalistic cult among high-profile Democrats.
Individuals who posted about Obama’s supposed arrest include Angela Stanton-King, who received a Trump pardon for a years-old conspiracy conviction. King ran for Congress as the Republican standard-bearer in the Georgia Congressional district where the late civil rights icon John Lewis served. King originally announced her candidacy when Lewis was still living and ended up facing off against Nikema Williams on the ballot in November. Williams received about 85 percent of the vote, delivering her a resounding victory — and now, her defeated opponent is floating the idea that Barack Obama was arrested.
Other characters spreading the Obama arrest conspiracy include Shane Smedley, an Air Force veteran who has written books about UFOs, including one which claims to present “proof of aliens and UFOs on earth.” Smedley said on Twitter that the “arrest in question may have taken place “some time” ago,” saying that “things are happening” and “all should stay vigilant.” These things are not happening. Grifters are taking advantage of gullible right-wingers — that’s what’s happening.
Big accounts ran with the Obama arrest conspiracy, also pushing the idea of Biden’s ankle bracelet. One conservative commentator going by “Ann Vandersteel” who has over 70 thousand followers on Twitter posted a video whose original author claims that “[our] Chinese whistleblower friend says that Biden turned himself in.” These events unequivocally did not take place.
It’s worth noting — these ludicrous claims are not spreading in a vacuum. Donald Trump himself has pushed the lie that Obama and Biden have committed crimes. He’s claimed that the Obama team was caught “spying” on the Trump campaign, which is simply false. Judicially-supervised surveillance of ex-Trump ally Carter Page simply does not equal spying on the Trump campaign. Nevertheless, Trump’s nonsense helps give cover for this other right-wing nonsense. Trump has explicitly suggested that Obama and Biden should be jailed, which is an authoritarian fever dream.
"If I were a Democrat instead of a Republican, I think everybody would've been in jail a long time ago, & I'm talking with 50-year sentences…people should be going to jail for this stuff…this was all Obama. This was all Biden": Trump suggests Obama & Biden should be in prison pic.twitter.com/MOwPvpYRu4
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 14, 2020
Check out some other Twitter posts pushing the nonsense Obama/ Biden claims below: