Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) raised the ire of protesters Thursday after telling a group of mostly women who confronted him in one of the Senate buildings that he would talk to them when they “grow up.”
Video of the incident ricocheted around social media Thursday night, the latest in a string of confrontations reflecting the heated emotions coursing through the Capitol amid the fight over Brett M. Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination.
In the video, a group of protesters confronts Hatch, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee who has been front and center in the confirmation process, as he gets into an elevator in the Hart building. The video starts mid-confrontation, with the voice of a woman asking Hatch over a wall of staffers why he isn’t “brave enough” to talk to her and her group. Hatch waves his hand in midair.
“Don’t you wave your hand at me,” the woman says.
Hatch looks at her and says, “When you grow up, I’ll be glad to” talk to you. The comment incenses some of the protesters.
“How dare you talk to women that way?” one says.
Hatch waves at the group from the elevator as they continue yelling at him.
Kathy Beynette, the protester whose voice is the one predominantly heard in the video, said in an interview that she was deeply offended by Hatch’s remarks.
“I was like, ‘How dare you talk to a woman like this?’ ” she said. “ ‘When I grow up?’ No woman deserves to be talked to like that.”
She said the group had gone inside and stumbled upon Hatch and his retinue by happenstance. Still, she said she wanted to share her thoughts with him.
“I said in a very nice way, Senator Hatch, my dad — cause my dad would be his generation — my dad served in World War II and my son was a first responder on 9/11,” Beynette said.
Matt Whitlock, a spokesman for Hatch, noted that the video began midway through the encounter. He said that no one in the group that confronted them had identified themselves as sexual assault survivors and said that Hatch had told one woman who yelled “You made my life worse” that he apologized.
“In the last two weeks, Senator Hatch has had his private information shared online by a Democrat staffer during a hearing, putting him and his family in danger,” Whitlock said in a statement. “He has been screamed at and harassed by the very same protesters who tried to prevent confirmation hearings from even happening. Republicans have received every kind of death threat imaginable — all for supporting Judge Brett Kavanaugh. But Senator Hatch will not be intimidated.”
Beynette said that if she had been able to speak more to the senator, she would have liked to ask him to recuse himself from the proceedings over Kavanaugh’s nomination given his conduct during the Anita Hill hearing more than 20 years ago, when Hatch famously questioned whether Hill’s story had originated in “The Exorcist.”
“I know there’s no chance of him ever voting on Kavanaugh the way we would have him vote, but I would want him to see me and understand in this century that we live in women are entitled to respect. There are no laws regulating your body and I don’t want any laws regulating anybody’s body,” she said. “Instead he just flicks us off like we were dirt on his shoe.”
President Trump weighed in on the confrontation with a tweet Friday morning, accusing Beynette and her fellow protesters of being “paid professionals” funded by billionaire and liberal donor George Soros. Trump did not share any facts to support his claim.