Former President Donald J. Trump appeared to more fully embrace QAnon on Saturday, playing a song at a political rally in Ohio that prompted attendees to respond with a salute in reference to the cultlike conspiracy theory’s theme song.
While speaking in Youngstown in support of J.D. Vance, whom he has endorsed as Ohio’s Republican nominee for the Senate, Mr. Trump delivered a dark address about the decline of America over music that was all but identical to a song called “Wwg1wga” — an abbreviation for the QAnon slogan, “Where we go one, we go all.”
As Mr. Trump spoke, scores of people in the crowd raised fingers in the air in an apparent reference to the “1” in what they thought was the song’s title. It was the first time in the memory of some Trump aides that such a display had occurred at one of his rallies.
Aides to Mr. Trump said the song played at the rally was called “Mirrors,” and it was selected for use in a video that Mr. Trump played at the conservative meeting CPAC and posted on his social media site, Truth Social. But it sounds strikingly like the QAnon theme song.
Taylor Budowich, a spokesman for Mr. Trump, said, “The fake news, in a pathetic attempt to create controversy and divide America, is brewing up another conspiracy about a royalty-free song from a popular audio library platform.”
The State of the 2022 Midterm Elections
With the primaries over, both parties are shifting their focus to the general election on Nov. 8.
- Echoing Trump: Six G.O.P. nominees for governor and the Senate in critical midterm states, all backed by former President Donald J. Trump, would not commit to accepting this year’s election results.
- Times/Siena Poll: Our second survey of the 2022 election cycle found Democrats remain unexpectedly competitive in the battle for Congress, while G.O.P. dreams of a major realignment among Latino voters have failed to materialize.
- Ohio Senate Race: The contest between Representative Tim Ryan, a Democrat, and his Republican opponent, J.D. Vance, appears tighter than many once expected.
- Pennsylvania Senate Race: In one of his most extensive interviews since having a stroke, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the Democratic nominee, said he was fully capable of handling a campaign that could decide control of the Senate.
As president, Mr. Trump often had a winking relationship with QAnon, amplifying social media posts related to the conspiracy theory movement, which holds that when he was in the White House he was locked in a war against satanic, child-trafficking liberals and Democrats. A chief tenet of the movement, which has gradually spread from the fringes of the far right closer to the center of the Republican Party, is that Mr. Trump will ultimately be returned to power.
But what was once a flirtation with a movement that the F.B.I. has warned could increasingly turn violent now appears to be a full embrace.
Last week, for example, Mr. Trump posted an image of himself on Truth Social, wearing a Q pin on his lapel and under a slogan reading “The Storm is Coming.” Adherents to QAnon believe that the “storm” is the moment when Mr. Trump will retake power after vanquishing his enemies, having them arrested and potentially executed on live TV.
Mr. Trump’s speech in Ohio had an apocalyptic tone and seemed intended to delegitimize officials in the F.B.I. and Justice Department who are involved in investigations into both his handling of sensitive government documents removed from the White House and the role that he and allies played in trying to overturn the 2020 election.
The Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol drew Trump supporters and QAnon conspiracy theorists.Credit…Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press
“We are a nation that has weaponized its law enforcement against the opposing political party like never ever before,” Mr. Trump told the crowd. “We’ve got a Federal Bureau of Investigation that won’t allow bad, election-changing facts to be presented to the public.”
Addressing the conflict in Ukraine, Mr. Trump also warned that the United States “may end up in World War III.” Assailing reporters, as he often does, he said that there was “no fair press any longer” and repeated his frequent refrain that the news media is “truly the enemy of the people.”
Those complaints were followed by series of other false claims.
Mr. Trump said that “free speech is no longer allowed” in the United States, a country, he went on to claim, “where crime is rampant like never before, where the economy has been collapsing.”