Trump escalates Omar controversy

President TrumpDonald John TrumpPapadopoulos on AG's new powers: 'Trump is now on the offense' Pelosi uses Trump to her advantage Mike Pence delivers West Point commencement address MORE has a new foil: first-year Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarGOP amps up efforts to recruit women candidates Ocasio-Cortez, progressives trash 'antisemitic' Politico illustration of Bernie Sanders It's Joe Biden's 2020 presidential nomination to lose MORE (D-Minn.).

Comments from the Minnesota lawmaker last month about 9/11, criticizing its use as a cudgel against Muslim Americans, have been the subject of intense criticism that escalated on Friday when Trump highlighted them in a video he tweeted.

Speaking at the Council on American-Islamic Relations last month, Omar said that "some people did something" in reference to the 9/11 attacks before explaining that some used the attack to advocate for taking away civil liberties from Muslim Americans. 


Trump on Friday shared an edited video superimposing the remarks over images and clips of the 2001 terrorist attacks that appeared to suggest Omar was dismissing what happened. "We will never forget," he tweeted.

The tweet drew immediate backlash and led Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi uses Trump to her advantage Fake Pelosi video sparks fears for campaigns Trump goes scorched earth against impeachment talk MORE (D-Calif.) to issue a statement on Sunday saying she had alerted the U.S. Capitol Police in order to ensure Omar's safety.

"Following the president’s tweet, I spoke with the Sergeant-at-Arms to ensure that Capitol Police are conducting a security assessment to safeguard Congresswoman Omar, her family and her staff. They will continue to monitor and address the threats she faces," Pelosi said.

The Speaker also called on Trump to remove the video, saying it was "disrespectful and dangerous."

Her statement came after the White House defended Trump over the video. Omar has been at the center of multiple controversies as well as the target of threats since joining Congress as one of the first two Muslim women earlier this year.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday that Trump did not wish "ill will" or "violence towards anyone" with the video.

"But the president is absolutely and should be calling out the congresswoman for her not only one time but history of anti-Semitic comments," she added.

The video was posted just days after a self-declared Trump supporter was arrested for allegedly making death threats against Omar.

Rep. Dan CrenshawDaniel CrenshawThirty-four GOP members buck Trump on disaster bill Behar clashes with Dan Crenshaw on Trump's Charlottesville comments Trump says New York Times should apologize for more than 'terrible Anti-Semitic Cartoon' MORE (R-Texas), a Navy veteran, was one of the first people to seize on Omar’s comments last week, calling them "unbelievable" and later denying his criticism incited violence against her.

On Saturday, after Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezGOP amps up efforts to recruit women candidates Ocasio-Cortez, progressives trash 'antisemitic' Politico illustration of Bernie Sanders Biden under pressure from environmentalists on climate plan MORE (D-N.Y.) went after him him over the comments by comparing them to his decision not to cosponsor the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, Crenshaw said such criticism was "almost not worth responding to."

"The fact that they would double down on this and try to provide cover for Ilhan Omar when all you have to do is say, 'Hey. She misspoke. Maybe she did not mean at that way.' Why don’t you just say that?" he said on Fox News.

Some Democrats have taken a measured response to Omar, criticizing Trump without defending her comments. Pelosi originally said in a statement Saturday that "memory of 9/11 is sacred ground, and any discussion of it must be done with reverence."

"The President shouldn’t use the painful images of 9/11 for a political attack," Pelosi added. "It is wrong for the President, as Commander-in-Chief, to fan the flames to make anyone less safe."

Since his father tweeted the video, Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpTrump Jr. slams Republican committee chairman: 'Too weak to stand up to the Democrats' #TrumpTantrum spreads on Twitter after impromptu press conference Trump family members will join state visit to UK MORE has retweeted comments suggesting Omar is un-American and claimed a double standard over threats to conservatives in comparison to those against the lawmaker. 

Meanwhile, Democratic presidential hopefuls have turned President Trump’s attacks against Omar into a campaign issue.

Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandTrump defense pick expected to face tense confirmation 2020 Democrats target federal ban on abortion funding Gillibrand seizes on abortion debate to jump-start campaign MORE (D-N.Y.) tweeted on Saturday that as a New Yorker representing 9/11 victims, she "can't accept any minimizing of that pain." But she also condemned Trump’s "dangerous rhetoric" against Omar.

Gillibrand's fellow 2020 presidential candidates Sens. Cory BookerCory Anthony Booker2020 Democrats target federal ban on abortion funding Gillibrand seizes on abortion debate to jump-start campaign 2020 hopeful John Delaney unveils T climate plan MORE (D-N.J.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenTrump defense pick expected to face tense confirmation 2020 Democrats target federal ban on abortion funding Gillibrand seizes on abortion debate to jump-start campaign MORE (D-Mass.) and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) slammed Trump’s tweet without taking a stance on Omar’s original comments.

Booker said in an interview published Saturday that Trump’s video was "vicious, crass, disgusting." Warren tweeted on Friday that Trump is "inciting violence against a sitting Congresswoman."

O’Rourke called the tweet "an incitement to violence" during a Sunday campaign stop.

Omar, who moved to the United States in 1992 after fleeing a deadly civil war in Somalia, has roiled controversy within her party in the past with criticism of lawmakers who support Israel. Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel last week tweeted that that "Democrat leaders need to condemn her brazen display of disrespect" after Omar’s resurfaced comments. But this time, most Democrats are standing with her.

Rep. Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerDemocrats are running out of stunts to pull from impeachment playbook Trump asks if Nadler will look into Clinton's 'deleted and acid washed' emails Trump tweets conservative commentator's criticism of FBI director MORE (D-N.Y.) said on CNN’s "State of the Union" on Sunday that he had no issue with the Minnesota lawmaker’s original comments before tearing into what he called Trump’s lack of "moral authority" on the issue. 

"She characterized it only in passing. She was talking about discrimination against Muslim Americans," Nadler said. "I’ve had some problems with some of her other remarks but not with that one."

Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibSteyer plans impeachment push targeting Democrats over recess Tlaib urges Mnuchin to seek personal legal advice Pelosi faces tipping point on Trump impeachment MORE (D-Mich.), the only other Muslim woman in Congress, said that that Democratic leadership is handling the criticism poorly.

"They put us in photos when they want to show our party is diverse," she tweeted on Saturday.  

"However, when we ask to be at the table, or speak up about issues that impact who we are, what we fight for & why we ran in the first place, we are ignored," she continued, quote-tweeting a California state legislative staffer who criticized "the attacks on @IlhanMN and subsequent lack of support from Democratic leadership."

Following Trump's tweet, Omar tweeted on Saturday that she "did not run for Congress to be silent."

"No one person – no matter how corrupt, inept, or vicious – can threaten my unwavering love for America," she added. "I stand undeterred to continue fighting for equal opportunity in our pursuit of happiness for all Americans."