Trump Hails ‘Beautiful’ Support for Kavanaugh Ahead of Vote
(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump drew a contrast between the “beautiful” support being offered by women and others for Brett Kavanaugh and what the president claims are paid protesters as the Senate prepares to confirm the Supreme Court nominee.
“Women for Kavanaugh, and many others who support this very good man, are gathering all over Capital Hill,” Trump said Saturday on Twitter, misspelling the name of the area known as Capitol Hill. “It is a beautiful thing to see -- and they are not paid professional protesters who are handed expensive signs.”
The Senate is set to hold a final vote to confirm Kavanaugh around 4 p.m. Washington time Saturday after a bitter confirmation battle, locking in the strongest conservative majority on the top court since the 1930s. If confirmed as expected, Kavanaugh would take the bench when the court hears its next arguments on Tuesday.
It was the second time in as many days that Trump has derided the demonstrators protesting Kavanaugh’s nomination as having been “paid.” On Friday he tweeted, without offering proof, that the protesters were “backed by billionaire investor George Soros.” He also called those demonstrators “troublemakers” and “very rude.”
Soros, whose philanthropy often advances liberal causes, has become a favorite villain of right-leaning conspiracy theorists around the world. The Fox News host Glenn Beck portrayed Soros in a series of television programs as a “puppet master” who wanted “to bring America to her knees, financially.”
Michael Vachon, a spokesman for the Hungarian-born billionaire, didn’t respond to a message seeking comment.
U.S. Capitol Police say 302 people were arrested on Thursday for protesting Kavanaugh’s nomination illegally inside Senate buildings. Actresses Amy Schumer and Emily Ratajkowski were reportedly among those detained.
Last week, two women who said they were sexual assault victims confronted Senator Jeff Flake, the Arizona Republican, in a Senate elevator shortly before the Judiciary Committee was set to vote on advancing Kavanaugh’s nomination. The incident was partially credited for Flake’s decision to request an additional FBI investigation into the accusations against the nominee, delaying the final confirmation vote.
Other Republicans have been more dismissive when confronted by protesters. Fellow Judiciary Committee member Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah waved off female demonstrators Thursday and told them to “grow up.”
One of the women who confronted Flake, Ana Maria Archila, is co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy, a Brooklyn, New York, based advocacy group that supports policies in favor of workers, immigrants, and racial and economic justice. She responded to Trump’s tweet in a statement Friday.
“No one can pay for someone’s lived experiences. The pain, the trauma, and the rage that I expressed when I spoke with Senator Jeff Flake in an elevator were my own, and I held it for more than 30 years to protect the people I love from it,” she said.
Trump is “trying to ignore the experiences of people in this country by discrediting individuals who dare to raise our voices and force elected officials to listen to our stories, to look us in the eye, to not turn away.”
Lia Weintraub, a spokeswoman for the center, said the organization has received funding from Soros for its work but that “in no way compelled Ana’s actions.”
Trump’s comments echoed criticism of the protesters leveled earlier Friday by senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, who said on Fox News that victims of sexual abuse should focus their efforts on confronting their attackers, rather than Republican lawmakers.
“Did they individually wrong these women?” Conway said. “They can’t be held responsible for whatever man or men have wronged these women.”
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, also criticized protesters during an appearance on Fox News. Grassley said the demonstrations were “a reflection of the incivility in American society generally,” and criticized Democrats for encouraging those upset by the Kavanaugh allegations to confront lawmakers.
“We as senators ought to be setting an example for civility, not encouraging incivility,” Grassley said.
Advocacy groups that support Kavanaugh have been outspending groups that oppose his nomination by more than two-to one on TV advertising, according to an Ad Age Datacenter analysis.
Protests continued in Washington on Friday, including a group gathered outside the Capitol Hill home of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell drinking beer from red plastic cups. The protesters repurposed a sea shanty to criticize Kavanaugh’s alleged drinking habits, singling “What Do We Do With A Drunken Justice?” outside McConnell’s front door.
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