Former WA Attorney General on QAnon theory claiming Trump will be president on March 4
A lot of the people who invaded the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 were part of QAnon, which believes that the United States is not actually run by a Constitution anymore. They believe the country is actually a corporation due to an act in 1871, therefore there are parts of the Constitution that need not be obeyed.
Former state Attorney General Rob McKenna looked into the District of Columbia Organic Act of 1871, which established D.C. as a corporation, and he says it does not completely subvert the Constitution.
“What a relief, right? It did not,” McKenna said. “It simply repealed the individual charters of the city of Washington and the city of Georgetown and established a new territorial government for the entire District of Columbia. By doing this, they created a single municipal government or municipal corporation, as municipalities are typically called.”
Washington D.C. is a municipal corporation that is organized as a federal territory, McKenna explained, because in the early days of the Republic, they didn’t want the nation’s capital to be in a state.
Now, as a consequence of this 1871 act, there are people who sincerely believe that whatever happened under the Constitution after that act is null and void.
“Right, because they claim that the act of 1871 didn’t just create a municipal corporation, it turned the quote ‘United States into a corporation,’ which apparently is secretly controlled by international bankers, and we’re actually owned by foreign entities as a result of that,” McKenna said. “But it means that any enactments after that date are not actually valid.”
“But it’s important to understand that QAnon is picking up an idea that’s been around a while that has been promoted by the sovereign citizen movement, which consists of people who believe they’re not subject to the laws of the United States or any of the other governments,” he added. “So [it’s] the collision of one set of conspiracy theorists and believers with another.”
If there’s no Constitution and D.C. is a corporation, who runs the country? Do we have to obey laws?
“Sovereign citizens say we don’t because they believe that the original Constitution was ‘thrown in the dustbin’ by the act of 1871,” McKenna said. “But it means that any enactment of Congress after 1871 isn’t valid in their view. And that would include the 20th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution, which established the end date of the terms of the president and vice president.”
“It used to be that the president and vice president’s terms ran until March 4, which is why, until 1936, the president was inaugurated on March 4. The original idea was that they should have more time to get to D. C., there should be more time to process the election results and the like,” he continued. “So if the 20th Amendment is not actually valid then that means that the real inauguration is March 4 and the QAnon people grabbed onto that to say, ‘Ah, well, then President Trump is going to be re-inaugurated as president, but it’s going to happen on March 4.'”
“It’s a little hard to get your head around because it doesn’t really make any sense,” McKenna added.
If they were to take over, there would be no government, McKenna explained.
“The economy would definitely tank if we didn’t have rule of law,” he said. “It allows you to claim that the government has no power over you. And that might mean, for example, that the QAnon people who invaded the U.S. Capitol could claim that they’re not … subject to the jurisdiction of the United States for the criminal acts that they committed.”
If this were true, as Dave Ross pointed out, it’d also mean women can’t vote anymore.
“Good point, post-1871, yeah,” McKenna acknowledged.
When McKenna was Washington state’s attorney general, he says there were fortunately no serious incidents like what happened in Oregon some years back, but he did have the occasional run-in with folks.
“There are people who claim they don’t have to pay their taxes because they’re sovereign or they don’t have to obey other laws,” he said. “It’s not the way the social contract works. You don’t get to opt out based on your own theories. You don’t get to make up your own laws. We have a system for that. But there’s some people who just choose not to believe it. Just like there’s some people who choose to believe that man never landed on the moon, and that the Earth is actually flat, and so forth.”
“But, listen, at least the law of gravity was enacted before 1871, so obviously there’s that.”
Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.
- Tune in to KIRO Radio weekdays at 5am for Dave Ross on Seattle's Morning News.