Rep. Paul Gosar is pushing a couple of conspiracy theories popularized by 9/11 Truther Alex Jones about the August white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville. Specifically, the U.S. Congressman from Arizona is suggesting that the rallies were pushed as false flag operations by Democratic fundraiser George Soros. Gosar also said that he believed that Soros—who as a 14-year-old Jew in Nazi-occupied Hungary pretended to be Christian in order to not be sent to a concentration camp—was a Nazi collaborator.
Gosar made the remarks in an interview with VICE News Tonight correspondent Elle Reeve that was released on Thursday.
The entire segment, which was about Gosar’s decision to block a constituent from commenting on his official congressional Facebook page, is worth a viewing.
First, Gosar compared anti-fascist groups that confronted white supremacist groups in Charlottesville, Virginia, to an anti–right wing fanatic who shot Rep. Steve Scalise and several others at a Republican Congressional baseball practice earlier this year. “We see … it the same … with antifa. To instigate the violence and to think, ‘I’ve got a right,’” he told Vice News Tonight.
When Reeve suggested that antifa was merely responding to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville—where one counterprotester was killed by a rally participant—the congressman brought up his conspiracy theory.
“Well, isn’t that interesting. Maybe that was created by the left,” he said. “Let’s look at the person that actually started the rally. It’s come to our attention that this is a person from Occupy Wall Street that was an Obama sympathizer.”
Jason Kessler, the “Unite the Right” rally organizer, has said he previously supported President Barack Obama before becoming a vocal critic during his second term. Kessler also had attended an Occupy Wall Street event in 2011. Within hours of the attack, a conspiracy theory emerged on the site Reddit that Kessler was an undercover operative sent to discredit the right. It was quickly picked up by far-right conspiracists like Jones. Now it has the support of at least one member of Congress. (Last month, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher also suggested that he believed a similar conspiracy theory.)
As the debunking site Snopes has noted, there is no actual evidence for the far-right claim that Kessler was a “deep state plant” or a Democratic one. As Vice noted, he has previously expressed concern that a “white genocide” was going to happen in the United States. And as Snopes noted, in early 2016 he was openly condemning the Democratic Party as the “ ‘Unite to Get Whitey’ party.”
Rep. Gosar also said that he believed a conspiracy theory that Soros funded the white supremacist events and that the Holocaust survivor was a Nazi collaborator during World War II.
“Look at the background,” he said. “You know, you know George Soros is one of those people that actually helps back these individuals. Who is he? I think he’s from Hungary. I think he was Jewish. And I think he turned in his own people to the Nazis. Better be careful where we go with those.”
After the attack, Alex Jones immediately began disseminating the claim that Soros was behind the white supremacist rallies.
Prior to Trump’s election, Jones’ biggest claim to fame was spreading the conspiracy theory that George W. Bush’s government was behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a theory which he has previously credited himself as the “progenitor” of.
As Vice noted, conspiracy theorists like Jones have manipulated the facts of Soros’ Holocaust survival to “falsely claim that Soros turned in thousands of fellow Jews to the Nazis.”
“George Soros survived the Nazi occupation of Hungary, and he has spent his life supporting efforts to ensure that such terrifying authoritarianism never takes root again,” his foundation said in a statement to Vice. “He was 14 years old when the war ended. He did not collaborate with the Nazis. He did not help round up people. He did not confiscate anybody’s property.”
“Such baseless allegations are insulting to the victims of the Holocaust, to all Jewish people, and to anyone who honors the truth. It is an affront to Mr. Soros and his family, who against the odds managed to survive one of the darkest moments in our history. He abhors violence in any form and has never funded it. Never has. Never will.”
As of Friday afternoon, Gosar’s office had not responded to request for comment from Slate on whether or not the congressman stood by his expressed belief that Soros was a Nazi collaborator.