Maryland state senator denies sending tweet calling Ilhan Omar 'illegal'

A Maryland state senator who recently launched a U.S. congressional bid is denying that he posted a now-deleted tweet calling Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarHillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers | Big tech defends efforts against online extremism | Trump attends secretive Silicon Valley fundraiser | Omar urges Twitter to take action against Trump tweet Omar asks Twitter what it's doing in response to Trump spreading 'lies that put my life at risk' Trump seeks to expand electoral map with New Mexico rally MORE (D-Minn.) an “illegal.”

Johnny Ray Salling (R) tweeted Monday that he needed to get the “record straight” and claimed that the tweet, sent on July 24, was not from him.

“I believe in God & Country 1st.  Please note-I don't react to statements of negativity,” Salling wrote. “Thanks to a dear friend for her letting me know about this issue. Thank you for your understanding & support.”

Salling deleted the weeks-old tweet, unnoticed until just days ago, after The Baltimore Sun reached out to him. 

“I need to look into that,” Salling told the newspaper. “Honestly and truly, I don’t recall that. I’m being honest with you. It might have been misplaced. I have tweeted one time, that’s the time I announced.”

“That’s not me. I don’t react that way. I don’t tweet that way and I don’t do Facebook that way,” he said.

He suggested his account was hacked and told the newspaper that he has since changed his passwords.

A screenshot of the tweet obtained by the Council on American-Islamic Relations reads: “get rid of this illegal know!!!”

It was written on Salling’s account in response to a tweet from a former GOP candidate in Florida calling for Omar to be removed from office.

It came shortly after Omar was at the center of international media coverage following a public feud with the president.

Trump tweeted on July 14 that Omar and three other nonwhite progressive congresswomen should "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came."  

All of the women targeted — Omar, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezProgressives push for changes to Pelosi drug pricing plan Sanders defends job losses from ending use of fossil fuels Trump spokeswoman: Health care will be 'big' selling point for union workers MORE (D-N.Y.), Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyDemocrats blast HUD for removing LGBT language from grant competition Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers | Big tech defends efforts against online extremism | Trump attends secretive Silicon Valley fundraiser | Omar urges Twitter to take action against Trump tweet Omar asks Twitter what it's doing in response to Trump spreading 'lies that put my life at risk' MORE (D-Mass.) and Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibOmar says she hopes Netanyahu not reelected Bill Maher, Michael Moore spar over Democrats' strategy for 2020 Young insurgents aren't rushing to Kennedy's side in Markey fight MORE (D-Mich.) — are U.S. citizens. Only Omar was born outside of the country.

CAIR called on Salling to apologize and urged Maryland’s Republican Party to renounce Salling’s alleged remark.

"Regardless of personal views and biases, elected officials have a responsibility to conduct themselves impartially and to demonstrate that they can model tolerance and inclusivity for all of their constituents,” CAIR Director of Maryland Outreach Zainab Chaudry said in a statement to The Hill. “Senator Salling should apologize for his post or resign from public office.”

Salling is one of three Republicans who have registered to run against Democratic incumbent Rep. Dutch RuppersbergerCharles (Dutch) Albert RuppersbergerMaryland state senator denies sending tweet calling Ilhan Omar 'illegal' Hoekstra emerges as favorite for top intelligence post Congress mobilizes on cyber threats to electric grid MORE in Maryland’s 2nd District, according to the Sun.