Ultraviolet is a leftist group that has been active in abortion rights, homosexual and lesbian advocacy, and feminist causes since its founding in 2012. On Monday, it was revealed that it had paid activists to participate in rallies against President Trump and Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. It was prominent during the weeks of protests and Senate hearings that ensued after Kavanaugh -- then a nominee to the Supreme Court -- was the target of uncorroborated accusations of sexual misconduct. 

On September 25, the group illuminated the exterior walls of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit where Kavanaugh had worked as a judge. Ultraviolet used a series of light projections on the building that read: “Brett Kavanaugh Is a Sexual Predator,” “Brett Kavanaugh Lied Every Time He Testified,” “Brett Kavanaugh Must Withdraw,” and “#BelieveSurvivors.” The projections were the work of activist/artist Robin Bell.

Shawna Thomas is the Washington, DC Bureau Chief for Vice News. Before working for Vice News, the Emmy Award-winning Thomas was the senior producer and senior digital editor of NBC News’s “Meet the Press” (MTP). 


In an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” Thomas told show host Jonathan Karl that Vice News had journalists closely covering protesters who assailed the Supreme Court in the days before Kavanaugh’s confirmation on Saturday. She also confirmed that among them were protesters who were paid for their protest work by leftist organizations including Ultraviolet.

Thomas told Karl on Sunday that any effort by Republicans to diminish the sentiments of feminists or identify them as a “mob” will have an effect on the mid-term elections, which are now just a month away. 

Partial transcript:

Shawna Thomas: “But how people – but how people, especially men talk about this moment, putting – Kavanaugh is now a Supreme Court justice, we can all agree that that happened.

“But how they talk about it and I think Senator Mitch McConnell referring to those women on the hill as a mob, their rage as something that should be contained, that is going to change how we see things in 10 days or 30 days.

And I think at certain people’s peril, trying to diminish what those women feel about this is a problem. And that – and that is what we are going to see or what we might see play out in the midterm election.”

Jonathan Karl: “So Vice News actually spent a lot of time with the protesters over this past week.”

Thomas: “Yes.”

Karl: “We saw the president say these are professional protesters paid by George Soros, et cetera, et cetera.

“What – what – what – who were these people? What was going on?”

Thomas: “So a lot of them were -- were normal people who were mad. We -- we hung out with a group from Alaska who was very specifically talking to Lisa Murkowski. A lot of them were Native Americans, which also played into Lisa Murkowski’s decision. They actually felt a lot of respect for her because she brought them into their office, she had a real conversation with them. And we also saw people who were organized. And that moment with Jeff Flake on the Hill where he talked to one woman who works for UltraViolet, who was paid, she helped steer people in the right ways to be able to -- to confront Senators.”

Karl: “So there were paid…”

Thomas: “There were people who were paid by organizations like UltraViolet, to -- to try to harness that energy in a way that would make the viral moments that we ended up seeing.”

The fact that paid agitators were at the rally, which featured protesters screaming at Trump supporters and theatrically banging on the doors of the Supreme Court, was quickly dropped from the conversation on “This Week.”

President Trump asserted on Twitter that “paid professionals” were agitating to prevent Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Pointing out in one tweet the “professionally made identical signs, Trump wrote that they were paid by billionaire activist George Soros. He wrote: “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!”

Last week, women who claimed to be victims of sexual assault confronted Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) over his vote to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination. Videos of the confrontation went viral as protesters targeted swing senators throughout last week.

The Washington Post discarded Trump’s claim and wrote that it was untrue. Other observers suggested that Trump’s tweet evidenced anti-Semitism. The Washington Post Fact Checker gave the claim three Pinnochios. It did note that the Open Society Foundation, which is funded by Soros, has supported the Center for Popular Democracy and its activists who protested Kavanaugh’s nomination on Capitol Hill. However, the newspaper judged that this was not tantamount to Soros buying protesters. “There is some, indirect money from Soros associated with the groups that confronted senators in elevators, but it is wrong to claim the protesters were paid by Soros or directed by him,” the article said.

Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, who is Jewish, wrote that Trump’s statement was anti-Semitic, but refrained from naming Trump an anti-Semite. “If it was anyone else, this would seem to be base anti-Semitism,” he wrote. “One might think Trump is appealing to a similar mob. But the president is clearly no anti-Semite.” Cohen concluded the remarks were “not anti-Semitism by intent,” but amounted to anti-Semitism nonetheless.

“On the surface, Trump’s tweeting of a Soros conspiracy theory acts to explain-away opposition to Kavanaugh. But beneath that veneer, those conspiracy theories trace back to longstanding anti-Semitic tropes,” tweeted the left-wing advocacy group, Right Wing Watch 

George Soros, founder and chairman of the Open Society Foundation, is Jewish and has been identified as a survivor of the Holocaust. He funds a number of progressive causes in Europe and the United States. During his presidential campaign, one of Trump’s ads criticized “those who control the levers of power in Washington” and “global special interests.” The ad ran images of Soros and the then-Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen, who also is Jewish.

When Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley was asked by Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo on Friday whether Trump’s statement was accurate, he answered, “I have heard so many people believe that. I tend to believe it.”



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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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