President Donald Trump said he would not be “surprised” if billionaire Democratic donor George Soros was funding the migrant caravan marching from Central America to the United States-Mexico border.
Trump told reporters outside the White House Wednesday that he “wouldn't be surprised” if members of the caravan, which is largely composed of families fleeing violence and poverty-stricken areas, were being paid to march toward the border.
Asked if he believed Soros was funding the caravan, Trump replied, “I don’t know who, but I wouldn’t be surprised. A lot of people say yes.”
Trump's comments come after Soros was targeted with a homemade explosive device last week. The suspect in last weekend's Pittsburgh synagogue shooting frequently posted online about the caravan.
Conservative conspiracy goes mainstream: Though there is no evidence to support any link between Central American migrants and Soros, the conspiracy has slowly made its way from the web to conservative circles to Fox News to the mouth of the president.
“The theory about Soros funding the caravan dates to late March, when an earlier wave of migrants was heading north. The rumors circulated on Facebook groups and various right-wing websites, as well as on left-wing sites seeking to debunk them,” The Washington Post reported. “The rumors cropped up again in recent weeks when a new caravan started receiving attention among conservatives. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) posted a video on Twitter of someone supposedly handing cash to migrants to 'storm the U.S. border,' and he asked, 'Soros?' Fox News host Laura Ingraham and Fox Business hosts Maria Bartiromo and Lou Dobbs have also raised the possibility that the caravan is getting outside funding.
Why is Soros such a big target?: Former Trump adviser Steven Bannon said in an interview with The New York Times that “Soros is vilified because he is effective.”
“I only hope one day I’m as effective as he has been — and as vilified,” Bannon said, adding that the bomb mailed to him was “the admission ticket for playing in this arena.”
“Mr. Soros has given his main group, the Open Society Foundations, $32 billion for what it calls democracy-building efforts in the United States and around the world,” The Times reported. “In addition, in the United States, Mr. Soros has personally contributed more than $75 million over the years to federal candidates and committees, according to Federal Election Commission and Internal Revenue Service records.”
ADL accuses Trump of “dog-whistling to anti-Semites”: “Parroting the myth that Soros is behind the 'caravans' is dog-whistling to anti-Semites,” the Anti-Defamation League tweeted. “Time for this to end.”
The reason certain criticism of Soros has been labeled anti-Semitic is because of the context in which he has been vilified.
“On both sides of the Atlantic, a loose network of activists and political figures on the right have spent years seeking to cast Mr. Soros not just as a well-heeled political opponent but also as the personification of all they detest,” The Times reported. “Employing barely coded anti-Semitism, they have built a warped portrayal of him as the mastermind of a 'globalist' movement, a left-wing radical who would undermine the established order and a proponent of diluting the white, Christian nature of their societies through immigration.”