WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has weighed in on the most recent controversy involving Rep. Ilhan Omar, retweeting video edited to suggest that the Minnesota Democrat was dismissive of the significance of the Sept. 11 attacks.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the president “shouldn’t use the painful images of 9/11 for a political attack.”
The video pulls a snippet of Omar’s speech last month to the Council on American-Islamic Relations in which she described the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center as “some people did something,” as well as news footage of the hijacked planes hitting the towers. Trump on Friday tweeted, “WE WILL NEVER FORGET!”
Omar’s remark has drawn criticism largely from political opponents and conservatives. They say Omar, one of the first Muslim women to serve in Congress, offered a flippant description of the assailants and the attacks on American soil that killed nearly 3,000 people.
Neither Trump’s tweet nor the video includes her full quote or the context of her comments.
Omar told CAIR in Los Angeles that many Muslims saw their civil liberties eroded after the attacks, and she advocated for activism.
“For far too long we have lived with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen and, frankly, I’m tired of it, and every single Muslim in this country should be tired of it,” she said in the March 23 speech, according to video posted online. “CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.”
CAIR was founded in 1994, according to its website, but its membership increased dramatically after the attacks.
Many Republicans and conservative outlets expressed outrage at Omar’s remarks.
“First Member of Congress to ever describe terrorists who killed thousands of Americans on 9/11 as ‘some people who did something,'” tweeted Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas. The retired Navy SEAL lost his right eye in 2012 in an explosion in Afghanistan.
“Here’s your something,” the New York Post blared on its cover beneath a photograph of the flaming towers.
Pelosi said in a statement released Saturday while she was in Germany visiting American troops that “the memory of 9/11 is sacred ground, and any discussion of it must be done with reverence.” She said “it is wrong for the president, as commander-in-chief, to fan the flames to make anyone less safe.”
Omar doesn’t seem to be backing down.
She tweeted a quote from former President George W. Bush shortly after the attacks, when he said: “‘The people — and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!”
“Was Bush downplaying the terrorist attack?” Omar tweeted. “What if he was a Muslim.”
Several of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates condemned Trump’s tweet.
“Someone has already been charged with a serious threat on Congresswoman Omar’s life. The video the president chose to send out today will only incite more hate,” said Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar. “You can disagree with her words — as I have done before — but this video is wrong. Enough.
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont said Omar “won’t back down to Trump’s racism and hate, and neither will we.”
And Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts accused Trump “of inciting violence against a sitting congresswoman — and an entire group of Americans based on their religion.”
Omar has repeatedly pushed fellow Democrats into uncomfortable territory over Israel and the power of the Jewish state’s influence in Washington. She apologized for suggesting that lawmakers support Israel for pay and said she isn’t criticizing Jews. But she refused to take back a tweet in which she suggested that American supporters of Israel “pledge allegiance” to a foreign country.
Her comments sparked an ugly episode among House Democrats when they responded with a resolution condemning anti-Semitism became a broader declaration against all forms of bigotry.