Kansas City, KS – Missouri Gov. Mike Parson and Attorney General Andrew Bailey issued statements this week blaming billionaire philanthropist George Soros for former President Donald Trump’s indictment Thursday by a New York grand jury.
Their lines echoed statements that had already been used by a slew of prominent Republicans, including Sen. Eric Schmitt of Missouri and former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“Yet again, another Soros-backed prosecutor uses the rule of law to serve his own political agenda, not justice,” Parson posted on social media Friday, referring to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat who was investigating Trump over allegations of falsifying business records related to a hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election.
Bailey, on Thursday, referred to Bragg as “another Soros- funded prosecutor with misplaced priorities.”
Jewish leaders who spoke with The Star said many of the statements linking Democrats to Soros, a Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor and prominent liberal donor, echo antisemitic tropes about Jewish people.
“It’s a screaming antisemitic dog whistle,” said Doug Alpert, the rabbi at Kansas City-based Congregation Kol Ami. “Wherever you see George Soros, you might as well just substitute ‘dirty Jews.’”
Soros’ contributions to liberal causes has often been recast as fodder for conspiracy theories, including that he manipulates particular events, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Those conspiracy theories often employ antisemitic tropes about Jewish people.
Even if antisemitism is not intended, painting a Jewish person as someone who manipulates events can make antisemitic tropes mainstream and give support to extremists who promote those ideas, the league says.
Soros had been a favorite target among conservatives and Trump allies leading up to Thursday’s indictment. The mega-donor did not directly donate to Bragg’s campaign, but he contributed $1 million to a progressive group, which spent $500,000 in support of Bragg’s candidacy, according to a fact check from The New York Times.
Trump, according to CNN, faces more than 30 charges related to business fraud, indicating that the former president may be charged with more than just the hush money payment that Bragg was investigating.
Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, blamed Soros for Trump’s indictment during a TV spot on Fox News Thursday night, calling for an investigation into the Department of Justice.
“We have to go after these Soros prosecutors who have been put into office all across the country and expose the dark money network that has gotten them into power,” Hawley told host Jesse Watters
Missouri Republicans also evoked Soros in criticism against St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner in 2018 when a grand jury indicted then-Gov. Eric Greitens for felony invasion of privacy after allegations that Greitens took a nude photograph of a woman without her consent in 2015 to keep her from talking about their extramarital affair.
“Kim Gardner has received more than $200,000 from George Soros groups,” Sam Cooper, then-executive director of the Missouri Republican Party, said at the time.
Daniel Bogard, a St. Louis-based rabbi, said in an interview with The Star that evoking George Soros is a way to blame Jewish people for certain issues.
“Unlike many other isms, antisemitism is fundamentally a conspiracy. It’s a way of looking at the world that answers simple questions for a complex reality,” he said. “That’s what the messaging does, it says that the reason the world isn’t working for you is George Soros.”
Alpert, the Kansas City rabbi, said there was both racism and antisemitism in linking Bragg to Soros. He said it suggests that Bragg, who is Black, is not acting on his own and is being manipulated “by some vast Jewish conspiracy.”
Unless Parson and Bailey give a full-throated denial of antisemitism, they are “part of the hate that is today’s Republican Party,” he said.
“There’s no ambivalence about it,” he said. “They may try and say, oh, they didn’t know or they weren’t talking about all Jews, but they are.”
Spokespeople for Parson and Bailey did not immediately respond to an email seeking a response to Alpert’s comments Friday.
Trump’s indictment Thursday sparked a wave of anger among Kansas and Missouri Republicans, including Schmitt and Hawley who collectively painted the charges as politically motivated.
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a Democrat who represents Kansas City, said in a statement Friday that the “keystone to our democracy and the freedoms we cherish so dearly is the rule of law, administered equally to all people, no matter their position or personal attributes.”
Cleaver acknowledged that Trump was innocent until proven guilty no matter how many people may like or dislike him.
“I encourage all Americans to allow the legal process to play out peacefully and according to the rule of law,” he said.