Demonstrators protest against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, as they march to the U.S. Supreme Court, on Oct. 4, 2018. (AP/Salon)

Donald Trump and Chuck Grassley just accused sexual assault survivors of being paid protesters

Is there anything Republicans won't blame on George Soros?


Shira TarloSummer Cartwright
October 5, 2018 8:36PM (UTC)

President Donald Trump just dismissed the countless number of sexual assault survivors who have descended upon Capitol Hill in recent weeks to share their stories with members of the Senate by baselessly accusing liberal billionaire George Soros of paying hundreds of demonstrators to protest the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court.

"The very rude elevator screamers are paid professionals only looking to make Senators look bad. Don't fall for it! 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," Trump tweeted Friday morning.

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The president's comments come one day after hundreds of protesters were detained during a sit-in rally in Washington, D.C., in which they urged senators to oppose Kavanaugh's confirmation to the nation's highest court. The White House did not respond to requests for clarification on Trump's assertion that Soros was paying protestors, which he made without evidence.

In a Friday interview with Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo, Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also said he thinks Soros is masterminding the demonstrations.

"I have heard so many people believe that. I tend to believe it. I believe it fits in his attack mode that he has and how he uses his billions and billions of resources," Grassley said.  "I think it promotes incivility in American society."

Grassley's office didn't elaborate on what the Iowa Senator meant when he accused Soros of paying protestors when asked by Salon. Grassley's spokesperson pointed Salon to articles written by conservative-leaning websites — The National Review, The Daily Caller and Fox News — which claim that the two women who confronted Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., claiming to be sexual assault survivors, are Soros backed-activists. According to those websites, the billionaire is behind their viral emotional pleas which seemingly shamed Flake to temper his decision to vote "yes" on Kavanaugh by calling for an FBI investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct made against

Eric Sawyer, —a co-founder of non-partisan activist group Act Up who was among the nearly 300 people who were arrested on Capitol Hill Thursday during the protest — said he neither knows nor came in contact with any protesters who were paid by Soros. He also said he does not personally know Soros.

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He called the Republicans' allegations "acts of desperation," which show the extent of how far Republicans will go to reduce the mounting backlash against Kavanaugh and his supporters. Sawyer also said the claims are outrageous, especially because so many people who traveled to protest Kavanaugh are sexual assault survivors.

Sawyer said it's clear conservative lawmakers, whom he called a "right-wing clique," are not showing leadership during this time. He said they've fueled a partisan divide throughout the hearing and investigation, instead of attempting to find common ground with Democrats.

"I think everything [Republicans] do in terms of majority control of Congress and Senate, is just fuel that divides," Sawyer said. "They're doing everything they can to throw [their supporters] red meat so they continue to jump whenever they snap their fingers and support them."

In the days since the Supreme Court nominee appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee to respond to the sexual misconduct allegations raised against him by university professor Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, several women who claim they are sexual assault survivors have confronted Republican Senators in an effort to convince them to walk back their decision to support Kavanaugh's appointment.

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Kavanaugh also blamed liberals for leveling sexual misconduct allegations against him.

In his defiant opening statement to the Senate Judiciary panel last week, Kavanaugh said he's the victim of "a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election, fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record, revenge on behalf of the Clintons, and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups."

Earlier on Friday, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia joined with Republican senators to vote in favor of advancing the embattled nominee to his final confirmation vote,  setting the stage for a final vote in the upper chamber as early as Saturday. Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska was the lone Republican to vote "No" on Kavanaugh in Friday's 51-49 vote.

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Shira Tarlo

Contact Shira Tarlo at shira.tarlo@salon.com. Follow @shiratarlo.

MORE FROM Shira TarloFOLLOW @shiratarlo

Summer Cartwright

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