- Donald Trump’s team wanted Ron Watkins to help challenge the result of the 2020 US election.
- Watkins was named along with 23 other right-wing influencers to take part in a media blitz.
- He is widely rumored to be the man behind the QAnon conspiracy theory.
Donald Trump’s team wanted the QAnon influencer Ron Watkins to help push baseless voter-fraud claims, according to a strategy playbook submitted to the January 6 select committee last week.
The 22-page communications playbook, first published by Politico, suggested using Watkins and 23 other conservative influencers to try to overturn the election. Titled the “Strategic Communications Plan,” it was authored by a group of unnamed people under the moniker the “Giuliani Presidential Legal Defense Team.”
The document outlines the group’s communications strategy for a 10-day media blitz from December 27, 2020, to January 6, 2021. It was part of a trove of materials submitted to the January 6 select committee by Timothy Parlatore, an attorney representing Bernard Kerik.
The comms playbook listed 24 “big,” “medium,” “small,” and “micro” conservative influencers. The big names included Candace Owens and Charlie Kirk.
Watkins, who is widely rumored to have seeded the QAnon conspiracy theory, was listed as a medium influencer.
QAnon is a baseless far-right conspiracy theory that claimed Trump, while president, was secretly fighting a “deep state” cabal of satanic pedophiles and cannibals. During his presidency the movement promoted the idea that “Q,” the shadowy figure at its center, had top-level access to confidential information, much of it painting a positive picture of Trump.
The movement helped perpetuate voter-fraud claims regarding the 2020 presidential election. Numerous participants in the January 6 Capitol riot said their actions were inspired and influenced by their belief in Q.
Watkins is running for Congress in Arizona as a Republican. He’s still active in the right-wing media sphere and now disseminates fringe right-wing messages on vaccines and voter fraud to more than 400,000 subscribers via his Telegram channel.
According to the document, the goal of the Trump team’s communications blitz was to execute a “nationwide communications outreach campaign to educate the public on the fraud numbers, and inspire citizens to call upon legislators and Members of Congress to disregard the fraudulent vote count and certify the duly-elected President Trump.”
Apart from getting Watkins and other right-wing influencers on board to help spread the Trump camp’s messaging, the communications plan also encouraged the former president to use TikTok to produce “viral” content.
The media blitz, which was to involve these influencers and members of the House Freedom Caucus, was designed to exert pressure on Republican senators in swing states like Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin to help overturn the 2020 election in favor of Trump.
Kerik is an associate of the Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani who previously served as the New York City police commissioner. The January 6 panel subpoenaed him in November to provide information on his role helping Giuliani try to find evidence of voter fraud after the 2020 presidential election, per CNN. No evidence has been found of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election, and Trump’s allegations of voter fraud have consistently been debunked.