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Grassley endorses conspiracy theory that women objecting to Kavanaugh are paid protesters

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Video still of Sen. Chuck Grassley presiding over the Senate Judiciary Committee’s consideration of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination, Sept. 28, 2018.

Chuck Grassley said on Friday morning, he “tends to believe” the women who have been confronting senators in the U.S. Capitol over the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh are just paid protesters, not survivors of sexual assault speaking out. Iowa’s senior senator also “tends to believe” a conspiracy theory about the protests — a conspiracy theory with anti-Semitic undertones.

During an interview on Fox Business News, Maria Bartiromo asked Grassley, “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.”

Grassley replied, “I have heard so many people believe that. I tend to believe it. I believe it fit in his attack-mode he has, and how he uses his billions and billions of resources.”

President Trump — an avid Fox viewer and a big fan of Bartiromo — blasted out a tweet echoing Grassley, in even more definitive language.

Soros, a Hungarian-American investor and philanthropist, has long been a major funder of liberal causes, as well as efforts to promote justice, democracy and international understanding that are frequently labeled as “liberal” by opponents of those efforts. For almost as long, Soros has been the target of extreme anger by those on the conservative end of the political spectrum. And the further right you go on that spectrum, the louder the anti-Semitic undertones in statements about Soros become, until they are just updated versions of old conspiracy theories about “international Jewish bankers” secretly manipulating American politics. Such theories have been common in fringe areas of American politics since the 19th century.

In May, the Anti-Defamation League released a report on the surge of anti-Semitic speech on Twitter since the beginning of 2017 (“including classic stereotypes, code words, symbols and conspiracy theories”), that pointed out how often anti-Semites focus on Soros.

The Hungarian Jewish billionaire, Holocaust survivor and philanthropist figures prominently in anti-Semitic tweets, with claims that he directly uses his largess to fund false flag events. One noteworthy allegation claims that Soros was responsible for the deadly ‘Unite the Right’ rally in August 2017 in Charlottesville, Va. Other tweets refer to his Jewish heritage in pejorative terms and claims that he’s trying to undermine Western civilization.

The Soros conspiracy Grassley tends to believe more than the idea that survivors of sexual assault might genuinely object to giving Kavanaugh a lifetime Supreme Court appointment, has been circulating in right-wing circles for weeks. On Sept. 24, a columnist for the National Review accused Deborah Ramirez, who says a drunken Kavanaugh waved his penis of her face while they were students at Yale, of hiding a connection to Soros. That was based on someone named Deborah Ramirez receiving a Soros-funded fellowship that allows the recipient to study how to strengthen connections between law enforcement and the Muslim and Sihk communities. It was a different Deborah Ramirez.

Grassley also repeatedly accused “left-wing groups” of a conspiracy to “smear” Kavanaugh during an angry, and occasionally stammered, speech on the floor of the Senate Friday morning. He did not mention Soros in that speech.

Following the speech by Grassley and speeches by three other senators, the Senate voted to end debate on Kavanaugh’s nomination, and to advance his confirmation process to the final vote.

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