Now that Donald Trump, the Messianic figure at the center of QAnon conspiracy theories, is out of office, the group's disillusioned followers are being targeted for recruitment by right-wing extremists and white supremacists, says a former official in the Trump administration's Department of Homeland Security.
Elizabeth Neumann, the former DHS official, appears in correspondent Lesley Stahl's report on QAnon, which has drawn increasing scrutiny since the January 6 assault on the Capitol. Stahl's report will be broadcast on 60 Minutes, Sunday, February 21 at 7 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.
Neumann was in charge of creating policy directed at countering domestic terrorism. She tells Stahl some followers of QAnon appeared to wake up after President Biden's inauguration. "Joe Biden gets sworn in and you started seeing chatter online, 'I've been conned. This has all been a scam.' And they were out. Which is great. That is rare for radicalized individuals."
But others, says Neumann, are struggling, making them far more vulnerable to new conspiracies. Instead of changing course, they are just moving the goalposts. Some are looking forward to a prophesied return of President Trump on March 4. The conspiracy movement's dogma includes Trump freeing them from an evil global cabal – including Democrats, Hollywood elites, and "deep state" operatives -- which control our lives.
Could other radical groups, such as right-wing extremists, white supremacists, or neo-Nazis, see potential new members in these disillusioned QAnon followers? "Yes. They see opportunity," says Neumann. "They have been posting guides [in their online forums] on how to approach a disheartened QAnon adherent, making it clear that you don't want to make fun of their ideology, you don't want to be too direct about your white supremacist views. You want to be empathetic."