WASHINGTON (WASHINGTON POST) – President Donald Trump suggested on Wednesday (Oct 31) that there might be truth to an unfounded conspiracy theory that philanthropist and Democratic mega-donor George Soros is funding a caravan of Central American migrants, telling reporters that he “wouldn’t be surprised” if that is the case.
As he left the White House, Mr Trump was asked whether he thinks somebody is funding the migrant caravan that is slowly making its way through Mexico toward the US border.
“I wouldn’t be surprised, yeah. I wouldn’t be surprised,” Mr Trump responded.
Asked whether the person funding the caravan could be Mr Soros, Trump said: “I don’t know who, but I wouldn’t be surprised. A lot of people say yes.”
Mr Trump’s comments came in the wake of Mr Soros being targeted with a pipe bomb last week and the fatal shootings this weekend at Pittsburgh synagogue by a suspect who posted frequently about the migrant caravan.
The White House did not immediately respond on Thursday to a question about what evidence Mr Trump has that points to the possibility that Mr Soros, a wealthy Jewish donor, has funded a caravan that originated in Honduras.
In the run-up to next week’s mid-term elections, Mr Trump has repeatedly pointed to the caravan as a symbol of what is wrong with US immigration policy and blamed Democrats for not passing legislation in a Republican-controlled Congress.
Mr Trump told reporters that he considers such caravans “very dangerous”, adding: “We’re not going to allow people to come into our country that don’t have the well-being of our country in mind.”
Earlier this week, a US government agency announced that it was launching an internal investigation after airing a Spanish-language programme earlier this year describing Mr Soros as a “multi-millionaire Jew” and espousing conspiracy theories about the billionaire philanthropist.
The 15-minute segment was aired in May by Radio and Television Martí, which broadcasts news and other programmes promoting US interests to audiences in Cuba.
On Thursday, Senator Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, sent a letter to the US Agency for Global Media, which oversees the broadcaster’s parent office, seeking answers on the programme’s production.
The theory about Mr Soros funding the caravan dates to late March, when an earlier wave of migrants was heading north. The rumours circulated on Facebook groups and various right-wing websites, as well as on left-wing sites seeking to debunk them.
The rumours cropped up again in recent weeks when a new caravan started receiving attention among conservatives.
Representative Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican, posted a video on Twitter of someone supposedly handing cash to migrants to “storm the US 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.
Cesar Sayoc, the Florida man authorities have accused of mailing more than a dozen bombs to people who have criticised Trump, appeared to be obsessed with Mr Soros, mentioning him dozens of times on one of his Twitter accounts.
Robert Bowers, charged with killing 11 people on Saturday at a Pittsburgh synagogue, also re-posted several viral comments on a since-deactivated social media account about the migrant caravan.
One post described the “third world caravan” as a group of approaching “invaders”.
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