CNN’s Tapper has testy exchange with Ellison over Farrakhan

Greg Nash

CNN anchor Jake Tapper pressed Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) on his past ties to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan in a testy interview on Tuesday after Ellison blasted the Supreme Court decision to uphold President Trump’s travel ban. 

Ellison took exception to Tapper bringing up the issue, and the two also battled when the CNN journalist noted that The Washington Post’s fact checker had given the lawmaker four Pinocchios after he said he had no relations with Farrakhan.

{mosads}”Jake, they were wrong,” Ellison said. “It is untrue, Jake, I’m sorry. And I’m disappointed that that is why you called me on your show today.” 

The tense exchanges began after Tapper said that Ellison “used to follow” Farrakhan.

You’ve been decrying president Trump’s bigotry. Obviously, you used to follow somebody who continually expressed sexist anti-LGBTQ and anti-semitic bigotry, Louis Farrakhan,” Tapper said during the interview on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper.” 

“I would disagree with that,” Ellison interrupted. 

{mosads}”Well, you’re decrying bigotry. Louis Farrakhan is a pretty clear bigot,” Tapper said. 

Ellison said he agreed that Farrakhan was a bigot before saying that he didn’t support him.

I don’t have any support for what the individual you just mentioned stands for nor do I agree with Trump’s bigotry either,” he said. “But then again, any time somebody tries to say that something is unfair and bigoted, if you’re going to say, ‘Well, one time you sort of said something or somebody said you said something.'”

Tapper then interjected that Ellison was a “follower of Farrakhan.”

“No, I wasn’t. Jake, I’m sorry, that’s not true,” Ellison responded.

Ellison twice during the discussion criticized Tapper’s questions for suggesting a false equivalency between Trump’s support for the travel ban and his own words or actions, saying “if anyone concerned about bigotry then is put in a position to have to defend themselves, then we never get to talk about bigotry.”

“And I hope that’s not what your purpose is, Jake, because you’ve stood for an equal society, but if you’re going to try to put me on the spot and try to explain myself, I didn’t pass a Muslim ban,” he said.

Tapper cited comments from Farrakhan in 2016, in which the religious leader said that Ellison had met with him in a hotel suite in Washington.

Ellison denied ever taking part in that meeting.

Farrakhan has a long history of anti-Semitic remarks, including a speech in February, in which he said “powerful Jews” were his “enemy,” and that “the Jews were responsible for all of this filth and degenerate behavior that Hollywood is putting out turning men into women and women into men.”

Ellison defended Farrakhan against accusations of anti-Semitism when he was in school, but later renounced the Nation of Islam when he ran for Congress in 2006, citing the group’s “bigoted and anti-Semitic ideas and statements.” 

The exchange on CNN comes after Ellison issued a scathing rebuke of the Supreme Court’s decision on Tuesday, saying it went against core American values. 

Tags bigotry Donald Trump Keith Ellison Nation of Islam Travel ban

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