Trump escalates Omar controversy

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says his advice to impeachment defense team is 'just be honest' Trump expands tariffs on steel and aluminum imports CNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group MORE has a new foil: first-year Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarSanders wants one-on-one fight with Biden Jayapal: 'We will end up with another Donald Trump' if the US doesn't elect a progressive Media's selective outrage exposed in McSally-Raju kerfuffle 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. 

ADVERTISEMENT

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 PelosiCNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Social Security emerges as flash point in Biden-Sanders fight | Dems urge Supreme Court to save consumer agency | Trump to sign USMCA next week Veronica Escobar to give Spanish-language response to Trump State of the Union address 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 CrenshawO'Rourke says he'll focus on flipping Texas state House in 2020 House GOP criticizes impeachment drive as distracting from national security issues Saagar Enjeti: Crenshaw's conservatism will doom future of GOP 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-CortezImpeachment throws curveball in Iowa to sidelined senators Sanders says it's 'disappointing' he's not on campaign trail in Iowa The Hill's Campaign Report: Ten days to Iowa 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 TrumpComedians post fake Army recruitment posters featuring Trump Jr. Trump Jr., Ivanka garner support in hypothetical 2024 poll FWS: There's 'no basis' to investigate Trump Jr.'s Mongolian hunting trip 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 GillibrandGOP-Biden feud looms over impeachment trial Sanders defends vote against USMCA: 'Not a single damn mention' of climate change The Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial 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 BookerBlack caucus in Nevada: 'Notion that Biden has all of black vote is not true' The Hill's 12:30 Report: House managers to begin opening arguments on day two Patrick backs reparations in unveiling 'Equity Agenda for Black Americans' MORE (D-N.J.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenKlobuchar plans campaign rallies across Iowa despite impeachment trial Hillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — Wyden asks NSA to investigate White House cybersecurity | Commerce withdraws Huawei rule after Pentagon objects | Warren calls on Brazil to drop Greenwald charges Warren pledges to release Trump records if elected 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 NadlerNadler calls Trump a 'dictator' on Senate floor Poll: Majority think Senate should call witnesses in Trump impeachment trial Susan Collins asked Justice Roberts to intervene after Nadler late-night 'cover-up' accusation 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 TlaibSanders wants one-on-one fight with Biden Democrats press Trump administration to stop DNA collection from detained migrants Jayapal: 'We will end up with another Donald Trump' if the US doesn't elect a progressive 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."