In a video posted to social media last year, former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and his family recited a well-known QAnon slogan, “Where we go one, we go all”. Now, in a $75 million defamation lawsuit against CNN, the Flynns say the phrase isn’t from QAnon at all.
“The Flynn’s [sic] repetition of the phrase ‘where we go one we go all’ at the July 4, 2020 barbecue did not signify any kind of support for QAnon,” lawyers for the family said in a court filing this month. “It was not an oath of allegiance to QAnon, or any kind of oath at all. It was a simple, family, July 4 statement of support for each other.”
Jack and Leslie Flynn, the brother and sister-in-law of the former national security adviser, brought forward the lawsuit in March. They say CNN defamed them by airing two seconds of their video with a chyron calling them “QANON FOLLOWERS.”
“This action involves a knowingly false and dangerous attribution,” the Flynns’ lawyers wrote. “In order to impugn the reputations of the Flynns, CNN falsely linked them to a violent domestic extremist group, QAnon, whose adherents were among the ‘most prominent members of the mob’ who stormed the United States Capitol in Washington, DC.”
CNN has denied the charges and moved to dismiss the lawsuit in May, but the Flynns pushed back.
“Accusing the Flynns of being ‘QANON FOLLOWERS’, even for a few seconds, is no different than accusing them of being Nazi sympathizers,” family’s lawyers wrote on 6 July. “It is common knowledge that Nazis, white supremacists, and adherents of QAnon are violent extremists. That is the connection that CNN intended and did make in the minds of viewers.”
QAnon is a baseless conspiracy theory that has gained popularity in right-wing corners of the internet. Propagated by a person or persons codenamed “Q”, it falsely posits that Satan-worshipping sex criminals are secretly running Washington, and that Donald Trump and his allies are fighting a shadow war against them.
Equating QAnon followers with Nazis may seem odd coming from the family of Michael Flynn, who has appeared to embrace the movement. Mr Flynn has sold QAnon-themed T-shirts, spoken at a QAnon conference in Texas, and co-founded a website called “Digital Soldiers”, a phrase taken from Q’s posts.
In 2020, the Flynn family video seemed to many like just another example of that embrace. In the Fourth of July post, Mr Flynn and five of his family members, including Jack and Leslie, recite the oath to the United States Constitution typically taken by members of Congress. The family then tops it off with the phrases “God bless America” and “Where we go one, we go all”.
The oath part of the video may seem innocent enough, but in fact, the wording of it exactly matched the text of a pledge posted by Q a few weeks earlier, followed by the acronym “WWG1WGA” – an abbreviation for “Where we go one, we go all.” In the post, Q demanded that followers “take the oath”.
The idea that the two oaths were unrelated struck some as disingenuous.
“I’m not a lawyer, but it’s bizarre to see anyone argue that the ‘Digital Soldier Oath’ doesn’t signify support for QAnon or isn’t an oath,” Travis View, who hosts a podcast about QAnon, wrote on Twitter.
The Independent has reached out to Jack and Leslie Flynn’s lawyers for comment, but has not heard back yet.
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