President Donald Trump on Friday attempted to undermine the legitimacy and motivation of thousands of demonstrators on Capitol Hill protesting Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, saying demonstrations are funded by George Soros, a billionaire financier and liberal donor who is the frequent topic of unsubstantiated right-wing conspiracy theories.
“The very rude elevator screamers are paid professionals only looking to make Senators look bad. Don’t fall for it!” Trump tweeted Friday morning. “Also, look at all of the professionally made identical signs. Paid for by Soros and others. These are not signs made in the basement from love! #Troublemakers(.)”
Demonstrators have descended upon the Hill to protest Kavanaugh’s nomination and last month, protestors repeatedly interrupted Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing. On Thursday alone, nearly 300 protesters were arrested in the Hart Senate building.
Kavanaugh’s nomination was upended after allegations of sexual assault and misconduct emerged in recent weeks. The revelations and subsequent Senate proceedings have stirred a furious political debate and whipped up protests and recriminations and a clash between the mostly male power structure of the Republican Party and the emerging influence of the #MeToo movement.
The President’s tweet came less than two hours after Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, told Fox Business Network that alongside egging on by Democrats, he believes Soros is paying for protestors to disrupt operations on Capitol Hill as senators deliberate their votes on Kavanaugh.
“Do you believe George Soros is behind all of this, paying these people to get you and your colleagues in elevators or wherever they can get in your face?” Fox’s Maria Bartiromo asked.
Grassley replied: “I have heard so many people believe that. I tend to believe it. I believe it fits into his attack mode that he has and how he uses his billions and billions of resources.”
Conservatives have noted that Ana Maria Archila, one of the two female protesters who made news when they confronted Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake on a Capitol Hill elevator last week, is a co-executive director for the Center for Popular Democracy – an organization that’s received funding from Soros’ Open Society groups.
However, despite the speculation by Grassley and the President, there is no evidence to suggest Soros’ direct funding toward the protests.
“(I) wish he paid my airfare: $495,” the protester said.
CNN’s Stephen Collinson contributed to this report.