A Well-liked QAnon Twitter Account That Claims To Have Explosive DC Filth Is Actually Simply A Random Italian Man

BuzzFeed Information / 2001: A House Odyssey, courtesy of Everett Assortment

Close to the top of her Might 26 briefing, White Home press secretary Kayleigh McEnany referred to as on Chanel Rion, the chief White Home correspondent for pro-Trump cable outlet One America Information Community.

Rion started her query by making the explosive — and false — declare that “new data” had revealed that former president Barack Obama had used a international intelligence service to surveil two flooring of Trump Tower in the course of the 2016 marketing campaign. “So to what extent was [former CIA director] John Brennan behind that?” she requested.

Folks within the briefing room could have been scratching their heads, however a hyperactive Twitter person with a photograph of one of many astronauts from 2001: A House Odyssey as its avatar was elated. “Nice job!” tweeted @GregRubini at Rion, claiming she had “requested a spicy query from my e book.”

It was one other coup for the pseudonymous account with greater than 120,000 followers. He has injected himself into main information occasions, partly by claiming to have sources within the FBI, Trump Tower, and inside authorities and intelligence circles. This week, as protests swept by means of the US, @GregRubini tweeted that antifa is “managed by the CIA.” New York mayor “De Blasio is ANTIFA,” he additionally wrote, in a put up that was retweeted hundreds of instances.

However the Rubini account’s claims of insider intel and “excessive positioned” sources look like a few of its writer’s litany of fabrications — which embrace his on-line id.

His viral Twitter threads helped his conspiracy-filled self-published e book, The Spy Operations on Trump, climb Amazon bestseller lists after its Might 22 launch. He was among the many first to tweet the identify of the alleged Ukraine whistleblower. His tweets claiming that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s high infectious illness official, “made” the novel coronavirus went viral and helped launch that baseless rumor into the mainstream. And due to nationwide reporters like Rion who observe his path of conspiratorial pondering, he even has a line to the White Home itself.

However the Rubini account’s claims of insider intel and “excessive positioned” sources look like a few of its writer’s litany of fabrications — which embrace his on-line id. The person behind @GregRubini is Gregorio Palusa, a 61-year-old Italian sound engineer and marketer with no nationwide safety or intelligence credentials. His background features a sample of unverified claims about his enterprise relationships and experience, and a quick spell as a groupie for a Pink Floyd tribute band.

Palusa didn’t reply to a number of emails and cellphone calls.

The Rubini account first attracted nationwide consideration late final 12 months when it tweeted the identify of the alleged whistleblower greater than 20 instances, in keeping with the Washington Put up. Since then it’s grow to be a mainstay of far-right conspiracy pondering.

Might’s White Home briefing was the second time Rion introduced one in every of Rubini’s false claims to prominence. In mid-March, OAN aired an outlandish report from Rion that prompt a hyperlink between the novel coronavirus in Wuhan and a lab in North Carolina.

Rion, who has unfold conspiracy theories and false data previously, credited Rubini for the data, describing him as “a citizen investigator and monitored supply amongst a sure set within the DC intelligence neighborhood.” Rion didn’t reply to a request for remark.

Rion’s story sparked a firestorm of criticism and precipitated the Each day Mail to dig into her background, exposing that she had modified her identify, made deceptive claims about her previous, and had little journalism expertise.

However her supply escaped the same stage of scrutiny. Till now.

The bio of @GregRubini at the moment describes him as a “Technique Advisor at /labeled/.” It provides no account of who he actually is, aside from, presumably, that his identify really is Greg Rubini.

However that wasn’t all the time true. In 2018, the account’s Twitter biography contained a hyperlink to the location vertygoteam.com, a web site that’s registered to Palusa, who generally goes by “Greg” in on-line profiles, together with one he maintains on Blogger.

Palusa was born on Jan. 4, 1959, in Trieste, a seaport within the northeast of Italy, in keeping with a consulting contract that Palusa signed with an Italian e book writer in 2012. Two former enterprise companions mentioned Palusa had spent years within the US and in London, and spoke English very nicely.

He was dwelling in Trieste on the finish of the 1990s and within the first decade of the 2000s, a former enterprise affiliate who requested anonymity informed BuzzFeed Information. His mom nonetheless lives in Trieste, however in a cellphone name informed BuzzFeed Information he was not dwelling along with her. She mentioned she didn’t know the place her son at the moment was and wasn’t certain whether or not she may get in contact with him.

Round 2010, Palusa moved to Tuscany, itemizing an tackle in Pienza, a small city close to Siena, and lived there till not less than 2015, in keeping with area registration data. A number of music and movie festivals held within the Siena space between 2013 and 2018 included Palusa’s identify in promotional supplies.

An artist from Trieste informed BuzzFeed Information that he had ended a enterprise partnership regarding a number of collaborative artistic and design tasks with Palusa greater than a decade in the past. The artist mentioned he had not been in touch with Palusa for not less than 10 years.

“I by no means needed to take care of this particular person once more.”

“He began to have delusions of greatness, claimed to ask tens of millions of {dollars} from corporations, boasted about having assignments with corporations with which he had had no relationship,” mentioned the artist, who spoke on situation of anonymity.

He additionally mentioned Palusa turned tougher to take care of over time, ultimately forcing him to rent a lawyer to finish their partnership. “I by no means needed to take care of this particular person once more,” he mentioned, “due to his rising megalomania that may critically endanger those that work actually.”

Lately, Palusa claims to be employed in advertising. His LinkedIn profile lists him because the London-based director of worldwide relations of selling agency Vertygo Workforce, though on different websites he claimed his title was director of communications.

Palusa has additionally used “Greg Rubini” as an alias previously, in keeping with a Fb put up in March 2016 from an Italian e book writer that makes a speciality of books about spirituality, historic astronauts, and non secular historical past. Within the put up, the writer claimed a WordPress weblog authored by “Gregorio Palusa aka Greg Rubini on social media” had defamed the writer by pushing false and “delirious” data, that Palusa had stolen hundreds of euros from the corporate, and had wasted a 12 months of its time after pretending to symbolize a nonexistent advertising firm.

Uno Editori CEO Prabhat Eusebio informed BuzzFeed Information that Palusa, who lived in Tuscany on the time, had contacted his firm in 2012, promising to deliver one in every of its authors to the US. “He claimed to have contacts with giant American publishers,” mentioned Eusebio.

“We realized the fraud after a lack of about 6,000 euros,” Eusebio alleged. “He appeared like an knowledgeable in publishing, however it all ended up in a cleaning soap bubble.”

The Uno Editori CEO claimed that Palusa turned more and more uncompromising because it appeared extra clear he was unlikely to ship on his guarantees. “After repeated requests to satisfy, and questions on how issues have been going within the seek for publishers and brokers, his place turned increasingly intransigent — and he blackmailed us once we stopped paying his charge.” Eusebio mentioned Palusa threatened to not return revised texts, and to sue and go after the writer in public if he wasn’t paid. “He additionally requested for an exorbitant quantity — €137,000 — outdoors the scope of the contract as compensation for his time, arbitrarily counting hours labored with out offering any proof.”

Eusebio mentioned the corporate paid a few of these charges, however began authorized proceedings, after which Palusa created a WordPress weblog to assault the corporate. The writer mentioned he needed to abandon proceedings as a result of it had grow to be too pricey.

Palusa additionally seems to have labored as an audio engineer.

His Blogger profile consists of the declare that he labored with Deutsche Grammophon engineer Klaus Hiemann, whom the Rubini account has tweeted about. (Deutsche Grammophon didn’t reply to a request for remark.)

Italian organist Marco Lo Muscio mentioned Palusa was a sound engineer on his 2009 album, Darkish and Mild. Palusa’s YouTube account showcases musical performances that he claims to have filmed and edited, lots of which should do with the rock band Pink Floyd. At an Italian pageant held in Tuscany in 2013, Palusa introduced a multimedia exhibition referred to as Pink Floyd: Odyssey in House at the side of a efficiency by tribute band Pink Noise.

Carmelo J., a member of the band, mentioned they fell out of contact after Palusa started providing the unsolicited suggestions about its work.

“Greg Palusa preferred us very a lot as a band, he adopted us for a bit,” Carmelo J. informed BuzzFeed Information in a Fb message. “Then he disappeared (I do not bear in mind why, most likely some small squabble) and we’ve no extra information of him.”

Requested if he may recall what the argument was about, Carmelo J. replied: “I simply do not forget that at a sure level his stylistic ‘recommendation’ about us turned ‘crucial,’ expressed even in an inelegant manner.”

Palusa additionally mentioned he’s labored with a number of outstanding corporations, a declare which couldn’t be independently verified.

Most of the corporations that Palusa listed on his Blogger profile as having labored with informed BuzzFeed Information that they had by no means heard of him. He claims to have labored with London advertising company AKQA, Angels Costumes, Ferrari, Apple, and music label EMI.

The managing director of AKQA, who’s been there for 13 years, informed BuzzFeed Information that Palusa’s identify didn’t seem in any data and he didn’t acknowledge him. Angels Costumes of London mentioned the identical. A spokesperson for Apple mentioned the corporate has by no means employed Palusa and had no report of working with Vertygo Workforce. EMI didn’t reply to requests for remark.

Ferrari declined to remark, however Palusa’s declare that he had labored for the corporate made its manner right into a 2011 lawsuit filed by the Ford Motor Firm in opposition to Ferrari. Within the go well with, filed in Michigan, Ford alleged that Ferrari had infringed on Ford’s F-150 trademark. Ford’s criticism described Palusa’s firm, Vertygo Workforce, as “Ferrari’s outdoors advertising advisor” and quoted from an article he printed on his web site about Ferrari’s advertising technique. The go well with was dismissed lower than a month later after the events got here to a settlement.

Palusa claims on his LinkedIn profile that his article about Apple’s advertising technique was being studied by corporations together with Nokia, Microsoft, Sony, and Goldman Sachs. Backlink knowledge from SEMrush confirmed the overwhelming majority of hyperlinks to the put up got here from spammy on-line coupon websites.

As @GregRubini, Palusa claims to have sources contained in the US authorities with data of intelligence, judicial, and White Home issues. For instance, in Might of 2019, he mentioned his “nicely positioned supply contained in the FBI” had seen indictments for former CIA director John Brennan and former FBI director James Comey. Neither has been indicted.

He has additionally tweeted that folks ought to cease asking him who these supposed insiders are: “my sources are confidential. I all the time honor my dedication to confidentiality, so: do not even ask who my sources are.”

He threatened to dam anybody who requested about his sources.

“My sources are confidential. I all the time honor my dedication to confidentiality, so: do not even ask who my sources are.” 

The @GregRubini account was created in 2014, however it took till January of 2019 for it to hitch the firmament of followers of the QAnon conspiracy principle and supporters of President Donald Trump.

That month, Palusa claimed the Twitter accounts of former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, former CIA director John Brennan, and former nationwide safety adviser Susan Rice had been taken over by army intelligence as a part of a supposedly secret prosecution. Core to the QAnon conspiracy is the unfounded concept that these so-called deep state operatives have been or shall be arrested and tried for treason and different offenses in secret.

That very same month, Palusa claimed Obama’s Twitter account had additionally been taken over, and {that a} current photograph shared in a tweet was a sign “to inform us – Patriots – that OUR GUYS have Hussein in custody in Gitmo.” He additionally mentioned former FBI brokers Peter Strzok and Andrew McCabe, and former Division of Justice lawyer Sally Yates have been “beneath prosecution on the Navy Tribunals secret trials.”

“My sources informed me that not less than 80 (probably as much as 140) congressmen shall be prosecuted and delivered to jail,” Palusa mentioned.


The duvet of Rubini’s self-published e book.

None of this stuff occurred, in fact. However Palusa stored including new followers. On Might 22, he printed a e book during which he alleges a broad deep state conspiracy in opposition to Trump. In its appendix, he features a screenshot displaying that in February of this 12 months his tweets generated 53.eight million views.

His e book is crammed with references to supposedly high-placed sources, together with the false declare that Rion cited within the White Home.

Within the e book, Palusa additionally affords a doc he claims is a memo from the pinnacle of the British communications intelligence company to then–international minister Boris Johnson outlining the Trump surveillance operation. Palusa’s makes an attempt to confirm the memo and its implications occupy near half of the e book. He writes that the probably conclusion is the “doc is 100% genuine.”

In truth, in keeping with responses from the UK authorities in addition to shops who examined it, it’s a sloppy forgery that doesn’t maintain as much as the slightest scrutiny.

Palusa additionally cites a March 2017 declare from Fox Information commentator Andrew Napolitano that the UK spied on the Trump marketing campaign at Obama’s request, an allegation that has been broadly discredited. When that surfaced, the normally tight-lipped GCHQ referred to as it “nonsense” and “totally ridiculous.” A spokesperson for then–British prime minister Teresa Might mentioned the declare was “ridiculous and will have been ignored.” The US authorities agreed to not repeat it. Even Donald Trump — the one who advantages most if the declare is true — has declined to repeat it.

However none of that’s talked about within the e book. As a substitute, Palusa writes that three “excessive positioned confidential sources have confirmed to the writer of this e book, Greg Rubini, that the GCHQ High Secret doc is genuine.” ●

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