In-keeping with his well-known spirit of bipartisanship, Donald Trump is refusing to believe that the thousands who protested Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court would do so unless they had been paid to do so.
“The paid D.C. protesters are now ready to REALLY protest because they haven’t gotten their checks,” Trump tweeted early on Monday morning. “Screamers in Congress and outside were far too obvious — less professional than anticipated by those paying (or not paying) the bills!”
Unsurprisingly, it seems that the president got his idea from Fox & Friends. On the show was former Wall Street Journal reporter Asra Q. Nomani, who has previously called for the NYPD to put Muslims under surveillance and defended Trump’s ban on immigration from several Muslim-majority countries. Most recently Nomani in a WSJ op-ed accused George Soros of organizing anti-Kavanaugh protesters ahead of the confirmation vote Saturday,
As Media Matters for America pointed out, at 7:47 a.m. Nomani told Fox that “people have sent me lots of messages that they’re waiting for their check” — which seems like extremely legit sourcing. Then at 8:32 a.m., the president tweeted it out.
fun fact: i initially didn't tweet this video because i thought "there's no way she's actually so dumb she thinks DMs about 'soros checks' prove the protesters are paid," but i guess the president found it completely believable pic.twitter.com/0fq5568lkb
— Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) October 9, 2018
Last week, Trump accused protesters who confronted senators in elevators — like Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) — of being paid for by George Soros, a claim that National Review columnist John Fund also spread about Kavanaugh accuser Deborah Ramirez (which later turned out unsurprisingly to be false). Donald Trump Jr. has also repeatedly spread rumors about Soros.
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
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 5, 2018
The claims that George Soros, paid protesters, and crisis actors are behind everything from the violence at Charlottesville to the March for Our Lives protest has two results. Firstly, it helps to convince conservatives that no one is actually protesting issues like gun violence, white supremacy, or women’s rights because they believe in them, only because they have been paid.
Secondly, and perhaps more worryingly, Soros acts as an anti-Semitic dog-whistle to the far-right and fringe portions of the internet. Soros has been falsely accused of hiring crisis actors and was a recurrent target of Alex Jones. He is also frequently brought up as a bogeyman by authoritarian leaders like Vladimir Putin and Viktor Orban of Hungary. As ThinkProgress’ Casey Michel has pointed out:
While most of those pushing Soros-based conspiracies don’t come out and say that Soros is evil because he’s Jewish, it doesn’t take much sleuthing to discern the anti-Semitism behind the conspiracies. Between the imagery of Soros pulling strings to the fact that Soros has effectively replaced “the Rothschilds” as the go-to for any conspiracy about an international cabal thwarting the people’s will, it’s not hard to catch the bigotry lacing the rising conspiracies about Soros.