Trump escalates Omar controversy

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDC board rejects Trump Hotel effort to dismiss complaint seeking removal of liquor license on basis of Trump's 'character' DC board rejects Trump Hotel effort to dismiss complaint seeking removal of liquor license on basis of Trump's 'character' Mexico's immigration chief resigns amid US pressure over migrants MORE has a new foil: first-year Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarHillicon Valley: Hacker group targeted electric grid | House Democrats press CBP over facial recognition program | Senators offer bill to protect health data | Groups file FCC complaint over carriers' use of location data Hillicon Valley: Hacker group targeted electric grid | House Democrats press CBP over facial recognition program | Senators offer bill to protect health data | Groups file FCC complaint over carriers' use of location data House Democrats question DHS over using facial recognition tech on US citizens 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 PelosiPelosi hits Trump on health care: His 'cruel hypocrisy knows no bounds' Pelosi hits Trump on health care: His 'cruel hypocrisy knows no bounds' On The Money: DOJ offers legal opinion backing refusal to release Trump tax returns | Centrist Democrats raise concerns over minimum wage | Trump bashes Powell ahead of crucial Fed meeting | Design leaks for Harriet Tubman bill 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 CrenshawHonor veterans by considering alternatives to the foreign policy status quo Thirty-four GOP members buck Trump on disaster bill Behar clashes with Dan Crenshaw on Trump's Charlottesville comments 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-CortezHillicon Valley: Hacker group targeted electric grid | House Democrats press CBP over facial recognition program | Senators offer bill to protect health data | Groups file FCC complaint over carriers' use of location data Hillicon Valley: Hacker group targeted electric grid | House Democrats press CBP over facial recognition program | Senators offer bill to protect health data | Groups file FCC complaint over carriers' use of location data Ocasio-Cortez shares verse by the 'Congressional Destiny's Child' in promotion of new birth control legislation 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 TrumpLieu trolls Trump with 'warning' to foreign powers on office door Lieu trolls Trump with 'warning' to foreign powers on office door Amash responds to Trump Jr. primary threat with Russia joke 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 GillibrandDemocratic presidential hopefuls react to debate placement Democratic presidential hopefuls react to debate placement The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by MAPRx — Biden, Sanders to share stage at first DNC debate 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 Booker22 presidential candidates to attend Clyburn's South Carolina fish fry 22 presidential candidates to attend Clyburn's South Carolina fish fry Five takeaways from first Democratic debate lineup MORE (D-N.J.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenFive takeaways from first Democratic debate lineup Five takeaways from first Democratic debate lineup Black Economic Alliance official says African-American voters will 'determine who sits in the White House' 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 NadlerWatergate figure John Dean earns laughter for responses to GOP lawmakers The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by MAPRx - Nadler gets breakthrough deal with DOJ on Mueller docs The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by MAPRx - Nadler gets breakthrough deal with DOJ on Mueller docs 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 TlaibHillicon Valley: Hacker group targeted electric grid | House Democrats press CBP over facial recognition program | Senators offer bill to protect health data | Groups file FCC complaint over carriers' use of location data Hillicon Valley: Hacker group targeted electric grid | House Democrats press CBP over facial recognition program | Senators offer bill to protect health data | Groups file FCC complaint over carriers' use of location data House Democrats question DHS over using facial recognition tech on US citizens 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."