More than 300 people were taken into custody by Capitol police Thursday for protesting Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in the Senate office buildings. The activists were protesting due to allegations of sexual assault and misconduct leveled against Kavanaugh by multiple women in the past weeks. (He denies these allegations.) But Republican leaders have a message for their Senate colleagues who are still undecided on Kavanaugh’s confirmation: Tune out the noise.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), one of Kavanaugh’s most ardent supporters, told a group of mostly adult women who confronted him about the confirmation vote to “grow up” Thursday.
President Donald Trump was the latest to jump in on the chorus of Republicans decrying “far-left” activists trying to upend Kavanaugh’s nomination, tweeting that the protesters in the Capitol were paid by George Soros — a liberal philanthropist and boogeyman for those on the right.
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
Senate Republicans are planning to take up a highly contentious final vote to confirm Kavanaugh in the coming days, despite multiple allegations of sexual misconduct brought against him. Kavanaugh denies all the allegations.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in a speech on the Senate floor sent a message to protesters in the hallways of the Capitol: “We’re not going to be intimidated.”
Here are McConnell’s comments:
The far-left tried to bully and intimidate members of this body — Republican United States senators. They’ve tried to bully and intimidate us. One of our colleagues and his family were effectively run out of a restaurant in recent days by these people. Another reported having protesters physically block his car door. And some have seen organized far-left protesters camp out at their homes.
I’m not suggesting we’re the victims here, Mr. President, but I want to make it clear to these people who are chasing my members around the hall here or harassing them at the airports or going to their homes, we’re not going to be intimidated by these people. There is no chance in the world they’re going to scare us out of doing our duty.
But despite McConnell’s directive, protesters have seen their efforts have effects on some senators who remain undecided on Kavanaugh’s nomination. There are still four senators whose votes are up in the air: Sens. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Joe Manchin (D-WV).
Collins’s staff has said their offices have been hit with a deluge of calls about Kavanaugh’s nomination and protesters have occupied her Senate office, in a campaign that bears striking resemblance to the Obamacare repeal fight last year.
And last week, a group of sexual assault survivors caught the attention of Flake in an elevator after he issued a statement in support of Kavanaugh. In the following hours, Flake helped pressure Republicans leaders into an FBI investigation on the allegations of misconduct.
As one protest organizer, Ana Maria Archila, the co-director of CPD Action, told Vox’s Ella Nilsen, last week progressives have “begun to have a sense of optimism.”