Over the weekend, followers of the baseless pro-Trump QAnon conspiracy theory were bracing themselves for a major announcement from the president that could have changed the trajectory of the US election.
Images began circulating on Twitter from QAnon accounts that the president was going to sensationally announce at a rally in Dallas, Texas on Saturday that he was replacing Mike Pence as his running mate with John F. Kennedy Jr.
There are several problems here.
Firstly, Trump didn't hold a rally in Dallas on Saturday. He was actually at a rally in Janesville, Wisconsin instead.
Secondly, it would be against the law to announce a new running mate in the election as millions have already cast their votes.
Finally – and this is the biggest problem of them all – JFK Jr has been dead since 1999. The son of the former president died in a tragic plane crash on 16 July.
Kennedy was flying the light aircraft which crashed into the Atlantic ocean, a tragic accident which also claimed the lives of his wife Carolyn Bessette, and sister-in-law, Lauren Bessette.
Obviously, JFK Jr wasn't announced as Trump's new choice for vice president because that would have been impossible but QAnon followers seem determined to believe this otherwise ludicrous theory. There are even pieces of merchandise that have been created for the very unlikely Trump Kennedy partnership.
So where does this bizarre theory come from?
Well, according to Rolling Stone this conspiracy first started to do the rounds in June 2018.
Apparently, posts began appearing on the notorious 8Chan messageboard suggesting that JFK Jr had faked his death and had gone into hiding over fears that he was going to be targetted by the same deep-state conspiracy that QAnon believes has also been targetting Trump since he moved into politics.
The theory reportedly picked up momentum when the right-wing commentator and conspiracy theorist Liz Crokin told YouTuber Jenny Moonstone that she believed that the person behind Q was actually JFK Jr because of how lovingly they spoke of the former president. Rolling Stone quotes her as saying:
The way that Q talks about JFK Sr. in the posts, it is with such love and passion, it makes me think that it is someone that is close to him. If JFK Jr. faked his death and was alive, it would make sense that he was Q.
Daily Dot also reported in April 2019 that QAnon believers had tried to link JFK Jr's death to the start of Hillary Clinton's political career as she had run for the New York senate seat that he was allegedly running for, despite never announcing his intention to run for office during his lifetime.
Another claim trying to link JFK Jr to Trump is a quote from supposedly from the June 1999 edition of George magazine, a publication that Kennedy Jr was the editor-in-chief of. The quote, which is said to be from Kennedy Jr says:
If my dear friend Donald Trump ever decided to sacrifice his fabulous billionaire lifestyle to become president he would be an unstoppable force for ultimate justice that Democrats and Republicans alike would celebrate.
The fact-checking website Snopes has completely debunked this quote as not only did JFK Jr never say this, it was also never printed in the magazine.
Furthermore, there is no evidence that Trump and JFK Jr were friends. There are photos of the two together which QAnon have used for their memes but they look to be from Trump's time as a New York socialite when he pretty much ran into anybody.
Another bizarre link to JFK Jr is a well known Trump supporter called Vicent Fusca who has been frequently spotted at Trump rallies. Despite having zero resemblance to Kennedy Jr, QAnon followers have been claiming that Fusca is Kennedy in disguise and has used plastic surgery to alter his appearance.
It can't be said how many members of the QAnon community believe in this conspiracy but they have twice suggested, prior to last weekend, that Kennedy was going to come out of hiding and side with Trump.
At Trump's 4 July celebration in 2019, they believed that JFK Jr was going to make it public that he was still alive. They had also looked very deeply into the 55th anniversary of the assassination of JFK and claimed that JFK Jr would reemerge on 22 November 2019 and 'usher in the storm' and help Donald Trump rid the world of the global Satanic paedophile rings that QAnon is so firmly against.
Not even a smidgen of this has ever happened and it appears to be another prime example of a conspiracy getting way out of hand and people wanting to believe something that clearly isn't true.
That being said, although it's unlikely that Trump believes in the JFK Jr theory, he has refused to disavow himself from the community. During a recent town hall event on NBC, Trump claimed to not know anything about the conspiracy before he started to praise them, saying:
I do know they are very much against paedophilia. They fight it very hard. But I know nothing about it … I just don’t know about QAnon.
Whether this theory continues to gather pace remains to be seen and with just a few weeks to go until the US election it will be interesting to see what the future of this wild conspiracy theory and its followers will be.