On Thursday night, a Utah Town Hall meeting hosted by the Republican Chair of the House Committee on Oversight, Jason Chaffetz, came under attack from a mob of angry protesters who disrupted the meeting, demanding that he "do his job."
This was not the first time a republican town hall meeting turned ugly after a swarm of liberal protesters caused chaos: last week republican congressman Tom McClintock was forced to get a police escort after a town hall in California turned angry over Obamacare repeal. The SacBee said that many of the protesting participants "identified themselves as liberal Democrats and progressives, while party registration in McClintock’s district is solidly Republican."
So, overnight, Chaffetz shot back, and told KSL that the raucous reception he received at Thursday evening's town hall meeting was "bullying and an attempt at intimidation" from a crowd opposed to President Donald Trump's election. More importantly, the republican accused paid interests (here the name of George Soros has been heard frequently in recent months) of orchestrating the rising protests and violence at Republican townhalls. Chaffets said the crowd that filled the auditorium at Brighton High School in Cottonwood Heights and spilled over into a protest outside, included people brought in from other states to disrupt the meeting.
"Absolutely. I know there were," he said, suggesting it was "more of a paid attempt to bully and intimidate" than a reflection of the feelings of his 3rd District constituents.
"You could see it online a couple days before, a concerted effort in part to just cause chaos," the Utah Republican said Friday. "Democrats are in disbelief that they have nothing but flailing and screaming to deal with this."
That such strong anti-Trump sentiment is coming from one of the most Republican states in the country is surprising, said Tim Hagle, a University of Iowa political science professor and an active member of the GOP. "The fact that it's happening in Utah as well as a lot of places signals there are a lot of people on the left who are still angry and energized," Hagle said. "They're saying they want to be heard." That, or as Chaffets suggests, it is merely a repeat of the well-organized protests in which a core group of paid, professional activists was carted around the country to various republican events, and used as an anchor to generate tension and violence.
As KSL adds, the relentless jeering at his and other recent congressional town halls around the country comes as protests continue over Trump's policies. Those protests include the women's marches held around the world that drew thousands of demonstrators to the Utah Capitol on the opening day of the 2017 Legislature last month. As reported last month, an Ex-WSJ reporter found George Soros had ties to more than 50 "Partners" of the Women’s March, suggesting that the billionaire Clinton-supporter is the mastermind behind this rising wave of protests.
Asked who would foot the bill to fill the audience with outside agitators, Chaffetz said, "do some reporting" and described how one participant made it a point to say he was not being paid by a national Democratic organization.
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Democrats, naturally, denied the allegation: Rep. Marie Poulson, D-Cottonwood Heights, said she believed most of the estimated 1,000 attendees inside the high school auditorium — and at least that many who protested outside — were Chaffetz's constituents.
"I've heard some of my colleagues (at the Utah Legislature) say here today that they had shipped in liberals to give him a bad time," Poulson said. "I serve that area and I listen to their frustrations."
She said when she invited her own constituents to attend a legislative gathering held in Holladay on Thursday night, many in the politically moderate area said they were going to Chaffetz's town hall meeting instead.
"I had so many get back to me and say, 'We've been so upset by what Rep. Chaffetz is doing. We want him to investigate equally, with as much zeal as he did in the past, with this current administration,'" Poulson said.
Meanwhile, Don Peay of Utahns for Trump, who has close ties to the Trump family, said he walked out of the meeting that was punctuated by chants including "do your job" "you work for us" and "vote him out." "It was an angry mob of anarchists. It wasn't just Trump. They hated everything," Peay said. "The behavior at the meeting was a hundred times worse than anything ever out of Trump's mouth."
Another longtime Trump supporter, Senate Majority Leader Ralph Okerlund, R-Monroe, said "some of the discontent is just a result of disappointment in the election." But Okerlund said there's an edge to how that's being expressed.
"This is taking it to a new level. All of the demonstrations and some of the vehemence that we have not seen before," he said. "We're just seeing this continued escalation of discontent by the side that isn't in charge."
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The focus of the town hall was on whether Chaffetz, as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, would hold the president accountable. Chaffetz said that was "ironic" since earlier Thursday he had called for "disciplinary action" against a White House counselor who apparently violated federal ethics rules by urging people to buy Ivanka Trump merchandise in a TV interview. "I’ll never satisfy their desire to bring down Donald Trump. I’ll never satisfy that. It will never be good enough," he said, noting that the president is exempt from conflict of interest laws and his business interests have long been widely known.
"People are asking me to use the power of Congress to do a full-on fishing expedition to investigate him personally on things that are not required by law. I think my doing that would be an abuse of power," Chaffetz said. The congressman said while it's "important that people have an opportunity to voice their concerns, I think they should be somewhat embarrassed by how a lot of people handled themselves." Chaffetz said he was trying to provide that opportunity by holding the town hall meeting.
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When asked if he will continue to make himself available to voters, Chaffetz answered affirmatively but sayd he may now avoid providing a venue "for these radicals to further intimidate."
Meanwhile, if Chaffetz is right, and if the townhall disruptors are a paid group of professional protesters meant to disrupt republican events, look for more, similar protests in the coming weeks, as hostilities and violence rise, even if it is only to benefit a select group of - for the time being - unconfrimed financial backers.