In the fall of 2016, the personal email account of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, was hacked in a spear-phishing attack, and his emails were subsequently made public by WikiLeaks.
This conspiracy theory emerged near the end of the 2016 United States presidential election cycle. On October 30, 2016, a Twitter account included a display of a claim that the New York City Police Department, which was searching emails found on Anthony Weiner’s laptop as part of an investigation into his sexting scandals, had discovered the existence of a pedophilia ring linked to members of the Democratic Party. Internet users reading John Podesta’s emails released by Wikileaks in early November 2016 speculated that some words in Podesta’s emails were code words for pedophilia and human trafficking. The theory also proposed that the ring was a meeting ground for satanic ritual abuse.
Users searched the leaked emails of John Podesta for food-related “code words” that supposedly revealed the existence of a sex trafficking operation. For example, The New York Times reported that the phrase “cheese pizza” was thought to be a code word for child pornography since they had the same initials.
Everyone associated with the business is making semi-overt, semi-tongue-in-cheek, and semi-sarcastic inferences towards sex with minors. The artists that work for and with the business also generate nothing but cultish imagery of disembodiment, blood, beheadings, sex, and of course pizza.
Some of Pizzagate’s proponents, including David Seaman and Michael Flynn Jr., have evolved the conspiracy into a broader government conspiracy called “Pedogate”. According to this theory, a “satanic cabal of elites” of the New World Order operate international child sex trafficking rings.
On December 4, a YouTube video that linked Pizzagate to the November 13 death of a sex-worker-rights activist was posted. The video claimed that she had been investigating a link between the Clinton Foundation and human trafficking in Haiti and it speculated that she had been murdered in connection with her investigation. It was said she committed suicide.
Michael T. Flynn, who tweeted conspiratorial accusations about Hillary Clinton and John Podesta. Flynn’s son was forced out of the Trump transition team after posting similar tweets.
In November 2016, Michael T. Flynn, then on President-Elect Donald Trump’s transition team and Trump’s designate for National Security Advisor, posted multiple tweets on Twitter containing conspiratorial material regarding Hillary Clinton alleging that Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta, drank the blood and bodily fluids of other humans in Satanic rituals, which Politico says “soon morphed into the ‘#pizzagate’ conspiracy theory involving Comet Ping Pong”. On November 2, 2016, Flynn tweeted a link to a story with unfounded accusations and wrote, “U decide – NYPD Blows Whistle on New Hillary Emails: Money Laundering, Sex Crimes w Children, etc…MUST READ!” The tweet was shared by over 9,000 people, but was deleted from Flynn’s account some time between December 12–13, 2016.
After the shooting incident at Comet Ping Pong, Michael Flynn Jr., Michael T. Flynn’s son and also a member of Trump’s transition team, tweeted:
Until #Pizzagate proven to be false, it’ll remain a story. The left seems to forget #PodestaEmails and the many ‘coincidences’ tied to it.
On December 6, 2016, Flynn Jr. was forced out of Trump’s transition team. Spokesman Jason Miller did not identify the reason for Flynn Jr.’s dismissal; however, The New York Times reported that other officials had confirmed it was related to the tweet.