One of the side effects of electing Donald Trump as president is that there’s virtually no separation between Trump the president and Trump the businessman. He’s talked up his Florida club Mar-a-Lago as the “Winter White House,” routinely holds “meetings and calls” at his various properties, and probably would slap a gold TRUMP sign on the White House if he could get an RNC donor to pay for it.
The incessant mixing of business and politics has led to absurd horrors such as a Mar-a-Lago guest posing with the military aide responsible for carrying the “nuclear football,” Trump country club friends getting access to multi-billion dollar VA contracts, and most recently, the pastry chef at the Florida club having her personal beliefs splashed all over national news.
Why? Because she’s a believer in the fascist fantasy/prophecy cult/conspiracy theory QAnon, and promotes it all over social media, as well as in her job.
Reported first by the Trump watchdog newsletter 1100 Pennsylvania, then by Will Sommer at the Daily Beast, chef Elizabeth Alfieri has made dozens of posts on Twitter and Instagram showing off QAnon themed pastries she’s made for VIP guests at Mar-A-Lago, making sure the posts got passed around among the faithful by using Q-related hashtags, and even tagged pictures of Secret Service pins with Q slogans. This is someone with no problem proclaiming her beliefs in a violent, antisemitic prophecy cult in her capacity as an employee of the President.
I can’t add anything to the excellent reporting already done by Sommer and 1100 Pennsylvania’s Zach Everson. But what I do want to make clear is just how bad this is, and how inappropriate it is for a person with these beliefs to have the access she has.
The implications go way past the personal beliefs of a pastry chef. Because she’s not just a pastry chef, she’s an employee of the President of the United States and holds a prominent position at the “Winter White House.”
A believer in a conspiracy theory revolving around the unconstitutional arrest, trial, and execution of tens of thousands of people identified as pedophiles by an anonymous 8chan poster is in a position to push her beliefs on the president, his family, foreign dignitaries, and major Republican donors. If she was able to get a Q pastry into Trump’s hands and it went up on social media, it would immediately lead to a surge in popularity for QAnon, which takes any hint of acknowledgement from the president (real or imaginary) as a literal sign from God.
It sounds ridiculous to be worried about birthday cakes and icing, but people have already been killed by QAnon believers. As Q himself routinely posts, this is not a game.
Naturally, the far right immediately bubbled up to express its outrage. Outrage over an acolyte of a dangerous conspiracy theory having access to the president? Of course not. The outrage was that an “innocent” pastry chef was “doxxed” and had her life ruined by a libtard reporter who would do anything to get a Trump scalp.
Let’s be clear that Alfieri was not “doxxed” or harassed in any way. Everson and Sommer didn’t “out” her, the QAnon posts she made were public. She was making no attempt to hide her beliefs, and in fact, tried to amplify them to other believers. These aren’t hacked emails or leaked documents full of state secrets (which, of course, conservatives have no problem employing when need be). They’re social media posts meant to be seen by outsiders. She wanted people to know about this. And now, they do.
Moreover, the whole thing exposes the danger of a presidency where business and politics are mixed the way a bartender mixes gin and vermouth. If she were an employee of the White House, she likely would have been vetted and background checked. There are already concerns that Mar-a-Lago is vulnerable to hacking and infiltration by foreign intelligence. Now we know it has been infiltrated – by someone who wants to see Trump unleash extrajudicial terror on his enemies.
Of course, none of these outraged pundits seemed concerned that the president is signing the paychecks of a person who espouses a conspiracy theory that claims Hillary Clinton drinks the blood of babies and that Barack Obama is going to be arrested and hanged at any moment. In fact, when they were addressed at all, Alfieri’s beliefs were dismissed as “kooky” and “wild.”
It’s not likely that any of the pundits standing up for Alfieri’s deranged beliefs agrees with them. Most mainstream conservative writers are too smart to get sucked in to QAnon, or at least too savvy to admit it. But for them to simply write it off all-together implies either tremendous bad faith or ignorance about what QAnon believers actually want to see happen, and the crimes they’ve already committed.
A publicly professed QAnon believer should not be working in the “Winter White House.” I can’t say she should be fired, but she should definitely keep her beliefs to herself, and away from the public eye while she works for Trump. If she can’t keep the two separate, then protecting the president from this nonsense should win out.
If Trump wasn’t allowed to co-mingle his business and political lives, we wouldn’t have to worry about it. But since the entire Republican Party and its media complex have decided that it’s fine for Trump to use the presidency as a brand extension, here we are.