Adherents of the conspiracy theory – which suggests the former president is secretly engaged in a battle against Satanic cannibalistic paedophile Democrats and Hollywood celebrities – have pinned their hopes on a series of dates since Mr Trump’s defeat to Joe Biden in November.
These included the day state electors voted, on 14 December; the day Congress counted electoral votes, on 6 January, when QAnon believers were among rioters at the US Capitol; and Mr Biden’s inauguration on 20 January.
As all of these passed without Mr Trump being restored, attention has moved on to 4 March – which until 1933 was the date of the presidential inauguration.
On Tuesday the official account of the US Marshals unwittingly stirred excitement among QAnon followers by referencing the date in a tweet.
It said: “On February 23, 1861, President-Elect Abraham Lincoln quietly slipped into Washington, DC to prepare for his inauguration on March 4. Accompanying him was US Marshal Ward Hill Lamon (D/DC), a friend and former law partner.”
The agency quickly felt the need to follow up with two clarifying tweets to dispel any confusion.
It said: “The 20th Amendment of the US Constitution, ratified in 1933, moved Presidential Inauguration Day from March 4 to January 20.
“Our tweet made a purely historical reference to President-elect Abraham Lincoln’s arrival in the District of Columbia on February 23, 1861, in the company of US Marshal Ward Hill Lamon, ahead of Lincoln’s first inauguration. No other meaning or context was intended or implied.”
One user responded: “I can't believe you would post this. So many unhinged people believe Trump is coming back March 4th and you post this??? This is dangerous.”
The first president to be inaugurated on 20 January was Franklin D Roosevelt in 1937 ahead of his second term. The 20th Amendment to the constitution changed the date of a new inauguration from 4 March to 20 January and moved the start of Congressional sessions to 3 January, getting rid of extended lame-duck sessions for both Members of Congress and presidents.
The 4 March theory has been circulated since January, and interest grew amid reports that prices for a room at the Trump International Hotel had been raised to over $1,300. On the day of the Capitol riot on 6 January, the price was $8,000, according to Newsweek.
Adam Smith, the chairman of the House Armed Service Committee, told defence officials on Wednesday that QAnon conspiracy theorists and Trump supporters were considering another siege on the Capitol on that day, CNN reported on 17 February.
National Guard troops will remain in DC through at least 12 March because of fears of extremist activity, The Washington Post reported.
The US Marshals’ tweets have been discussed by QAnon followers on secure messaging apps as well as out in the open, such as on Twitter, Newsweek writes.
One account holder named @kenzielee_96, referencing a lawyer who has vocally backed Mr Trump’s false claims that the election was stolen from him, wrote in response to the US Marshals tweet: “Hopefully history repeats itself with President Trump and Lin Wood will be right beside him!! We need him to save our country and NOW!!”
Others tweeted that the posts should be removed so as not to boost the fantasies of QAnon followers, who some fear may become violent if their theories once again don’t pan out on 4 March.
One user said: “Our official inauguration already happened & this nonsense is making these QAnon nuts think something is actually going to happen March 4th which it isn’t & they are going to be even more p****d off.”
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