Ex-Trump officials Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos to speak at conference organised by a QAnon backer who wants to train 'digital soldiers'

AP Photo/ Brennan LinsleyFormer Trump administration national security adviser Michael Flynn introduces then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during a Trump campaign rally, in Golden, Colo.
  • President Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and campaign aide, George Papadopoulos, are listed as speakers at a conference organised by a supporter of the QAnon conspiracy.
  • The “Digital Soldiers” conference in Atlanta in September will feature speakers who address alleged attempts to censor conservative voices on social media.
  • The QAnon conspiracy, which claims a secret “deep state” plot against Trump, is prominent among some sections of the president’s supporters.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn and campaign adviser George Papadopoulos are to appear at a conference set to be attended by significant numbers of supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory.

In a website for the event, the pair – who were both indicted as part of the Mueller probe into Russian interference – are listed as speakers at the “Digital Soldiers” conference in Atlanta on September 14, offering training to prepare the upcoming “digital civil war.”

Mother Jones first reported their scheduled appearance at the event on Tuesday.


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The conference has reportedly been organised by tech entrepreneur Rich Granville, founder of search engine Yippy, who has promoted the QAnon conspiracy on Twitter. In an advert for the event, the stars in the US flag form a ‘Q’ in an apparent reference to the conspiracy.

Granville told Mother Jones that the stars on the flag are actually an allusion to Flynn’s status as a retired three star general.

“It does look like Q, but there is no reference to QAnon anywhere on that site,” Granville said.

Digital Soldiers conference ticketsEventbriteAn advert for the Digital Soldiers event shows a US flag incorporating a ‘Q’ in a seeming reference to the QAnon conspiracy

Attorneys for Flynn and Papadopoulos did not immediately return requests for comment.

Ticket prices start at $US53, with premium $US2500 tickets buying a place at a dinner with Flynn.

The QAnon conspiracy emerged on messaging board 4Chan in 2018, and has spread among supporters of the president who have turned out in force at rallies.


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Proponents of the conspiracy theory claim that clues left online by a top US government official, codenamed “Q,” show that Trump is working to take apart a child abuse ring run by top intelligence officials and senior Democrats, and that there is a “deep state” plot against the president and his supporters.

The conspiracy has been promoted by Trump administration officials and the president himself has invited prominent supporters of the theory into the White House, and retweeted pro-QAnon accounts.

QAnonScott Olson/Getty Images)Guests cheer for President Donald Trump as he speaks at a rally to show support for Ohio Republican congressional candidate Troy Balderson on August 4, 2018 in Lewis Center, Ohio. Balderson faces Democratic challenger Danny O’Connor for Ohio’s 12th Congressional District on Tuesday.

The conspiracy has also allegedly played a role in several criminal plots, leading the FBI to single out the conspiracy as a domestic terror threat in a recent leaked report.

During the 2016 presidential election Flynn’s son, Michael Flynn Jr., promoted the “Pizzagate” conspiracy, a precursor to QAnon. That conspiracy claimed that senior Democrats were running a child abuse ring out of a Washington DC pizza restaurant. It inspired a man to open fire in the restaurant in December 2016.He was later sentenced to four years in prison.

Flynn Jr. has since distanced himself from the “Pizzagate” conspiracy.

George PapadopoulosYuri Gripas/ReutersFormer Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos.

Both Flynn and Papadopoulos have been embraced by conspiracist backers of the president in the wake of their investigation by the Mueller probe – in which both men were indicted for lying to investigators.

Papadopoulos has in recent months promoted a book in which he claims he was framed by intelligence officials as part of a “deep state” plot behind the probe that led to his indictment.

He spent 12 days in prison in 2018 after admitting to lying to investigators about his contact with Russian government linked individuals in 2016.


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The website for the September event declares that most of the proceeds will be donated to Flynn’s defence fund.

The retired Army lieutenant general is awaiting sentencing after striking the plea deal with Mueller, but in June fired the legal team that cut the deal, with recent legal documents indicating he has walked back on some of his statements to investigators.

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