Donald Trump first went after Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) in April, though the ferocity of the president’s attacks reached an alarming new level this morning.
Indeed, the Republican declared at a White House event that the Minnesota congresswoman “hates Israel,” “hates Jews,” “hates our country,” and celebrates al Qaeda.
“I mean, I look at the one, I look at Omar. I mean, I don’t know I never met her, I hear the way she talks about al Qaeda,” Trump said. “Al Qaeda has killed many Americans. She said, ‘you can hold your chest out, you can, when I think of America, huh, when I think of al Qaeda, I can hold my chest out,’” he said.
It’s unclear what comments Trump was referencing, but some conservative news sites have made an issue out of a 2013 interview in which she said her college professor’s “shoulders went up” every time he mentioned Al Qaeda in a class on terrorism.
Trump also referred to Omar’s remarks in March about the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and Muslim civil rights, in which she mistakenly said the Council on American-Islamic Relations was founded in response to the terrorist attacks, adding “because they recognized that some people did something” — a phrasing that some in conservative media have interpreted as a flippant reference to the attack.
“When she talked about the World Trade Center being knocked down – ‘some people.’ You remember the famous ‘some people’?” Trump asked. “These are people that, in my opinion, hate our country.”
I can think of countless examples of a president criticizing individual members of Congress, publicly and privately, often in aggressive and borderline-offensive ways.
But to hear a sitting president – in public, at an official White House event – call out a specific lawmaker as an America-hating terrorist sympathizer is extraordinary. That Trump did so while lying about the details of the congresswoman’s record made the display just a bit worse.
In April, Omar was confronted with hundreds of death threats after the president went after her. I shudder to think how much more serious the security threats will be for the congresswoman now.