QAnon conspiracy about Trump's March 4 return to Washington puts capital on alert

Thousands of National Guard troops will remain in Washington until mid-March amid fears a QAnon conspiracy theory that Donald Trump could still be inaugurated this week could lead to another attack on the US Capitol.

a close up of a logo: Fears a QAnon conspiracy theory could lead to another attack on the US Capitol © Provided by The Telegraph Fears a QAnon conspiracy theory could lead to another attack on the US Capitol

Followers of the QAnon cult have claimed that Mr Trump will reclaim the presidency on March 4, the date when presidents were inaugurated up until 1933, when the Inauguration Day was moved to January 20.

Online chatter about March 4 from QAnon devotees, who believe that Mr Trump is working to take down a cabal of ‘deep state’ politicians, has caused alarm among US security officials who fear it could lead to further violence.

Almost 5,000 National Guard troops will remain in the US capital until March 12, in part because of concerns of a repeat of the violent scenes that played out on January 6, according to Adam Smith, the chair of the House Armed Services Committee.

"Some of these people have figured out that apparently 75 years ago, the President used to be inaugurated on March 4.

"Now they are thinking maybe we should gather again and storm the Capitol on March 4 ... that is circulating online," he told a hearing in Congress.

"Stuff like that circulates all the time, does it mean it's going to happen? Probably not, but if you want to help, tell them not to do that, tell them that the election is over. Joe Biden won." He added: "It was a free and fair election".

The request for 4,900 National Guard troops to continue their deployments in Washington until March 12 was made by US Capitol Police, Robert Salesses, a Pentagon official said.

"We work very closely with the FBI, Secret Service, and others and the Capitol Police to try to determine what they believe that threat is, and then looking at what they believe is the need for the National Guard, or the types of mission sets that they need support from, we work very closely with them to try to determine what that is. Obviously 4900 is a very large number here on the Capitol," he told lawmakers in Congress.

Mr Salesses said the Pentagon is not tracking any specific threats, the most significant terror-threat stems from "lone offenders and small groups of individuals inspired by domestic extremist ideological beliefs, including those based on false narratives spread over social media and other online platforms".

Suggestions for more permanent security measures around the Capitol are still under discussion by Congress.

Some law enforcement officials have suggested that the fencing erected around the Capitol in the aftermath of January 6 should become a permanent fixture, but many lawmakers have argued the symbolism would create an anti-democratic image.

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