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Trump calls Kavanaugh protesters ‘rude elevator screamers’

President Donald Trump’s tweet came after the release of a video of Sen Orrin Hatch telling female protesters who confronted him to “grow up.” | Evan Vucci/AP photo

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President Donald Trump on Friday accused the protesters demonstrating against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of being “paid professionals” and part of a smear campaign funded by left-leaning donors, after female activists confronted Sens. Orrin Hatch and Jeff Flake about sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh.

“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,” Trump tweeted.

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Ana Maria Archila, one of the women who confronted Flake and a self-identified sexual assault survivor, said in a statement that Trump’s tweet followed a pattern of “discrediting individuals who dare to raise our voices and force elected officials to listen to our stories.”

“No one can pay for someone’s lived experiences,” Archila wrote. “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.”

The tweet came out after the release of a viral video of Hatch, a Utah Republican and Senate Judiciary Committee member, telling female protesters to “grow up.” In the video, one woman asks Hatch, “Why aren’t you brave enough to talk to us and exchange with us?” after which Hatch dismissively waves his hand, although it is not clear if the gesture was directed at the protester or another man with whom he was speaking.

The woman was visibly irritated by Hatch’s wave, yelling, “Don’t you wave your hand at me! I wave my hand at you.” Hatch replied, “When you grow up, I’ll be glad to.” Protesters sought to hold open the doors to Hatch’s elevator, but the senator’s aides managed to stop them from doing so as Hatched waved goodbye.

As Hatch’s aides tried to close the elevator doors, one woman yelled, “How dare you talk to women that way?”

The interaction was a stark contrast to another viral video that emerged last week of Flake (R-Ariz.) listening to two women who similarly accosted him in an elevator just before a Judiciary Committee vote to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination out of the committee. The two women recounted their experiences with sexual assault as Flake listened.

Unlike Hatch, Flake chose not to engage, listening silently with a dismayed look on his face. Soon after, Flake delayed the Judiciary Committee vote, ultimately agreeing to vote Kavanaugh out of committee on the condition that the FBI conduct a one-week investigation of the allegations against the Supreme Court nominee.

Both Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Kellyanne Conway, a top Trump adviser, decried the protesters in both instances for lacking the respect required in the halls of Congress. Grassley added that members of Congress who promote these confrontations are culpable for the demise of decorum, a criticism of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who has urged protesters to confront members of the Trump administration and its allies wherever they may be.

“I think it’s a reflection of the incivility of American society generally and I think it’s also evidence that people will go to any length when they are encouraged by people on Capitol Hill like one congresswoman saying, ‘Confront them in the restrooms.’ And another senator saying, ‘Get in their face,'” Grassley said Friday morning on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends.” “We as senators ought to be setting examples for civility, not encouraging incivility.”

Conway, in her own “Fox & Friends” interview, drew parallels between the protesters’ behavior and the media’s portrayal of Trump as hot-tempered and impetuous — even though in reality “he is not that way at all,” she said.

“Every way that Donald Trump, my boss and our president, is described by the mainstream media is exactly how the crazy left is acting. They describe him as fuming and angry and isolated and throwing things,” she said. “But the way they behaved will not end the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh.”

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