As President Trump escalated his attacks on four minority congresswomen, the Republican National Committee sought Tuesday to back up his criticism with a list of the Democratic lawmakers’ comments that have stirred controversy.
The president has asserted that their words are “anti-USA” or “filthy and hate laced,” but several of the remarks lacked context and in none did the lawmakers suggest that they want to leave the United States.
“The Democrat Congresswomen have been spewing some of the most vile, hateful, and disgusting things ever said by a politician in the House or Senate, & yet they get a free pass and a big embrace from the Democrat Party,” Trump tweeted Tuesday morning.
The RNC echoed the president’s words, saying in an email to reporters that “the squad of Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Ayanna Pressley regularly use vile, hateful, anti-Israel, and anti-American rhetoric.”
Much of the RNC’s email was focused on Omar, who has been a frequent target of Trump. Among the remarks distributed in the email were several by the Minnesota Democrat that have been criticized as invoking anti-Semitic stereotypes. In one 2012 tweet, Omar said that Israel had “hypnotized the world” about its “evil doings.” Earlier this year, she tweeted that support for Israel among members of Congress was “all about the Benjamins,” a reference to hundred-dollar bills.
Omar later apologized for her remarks and said that she did not realize “how my comments would be offensive to Jewish Americans.” She also clarified that in general, her remarks were aimed at criticizing the Israeli government, not Jewish people.
The RNC also referenced a speech in which Omar used the phrase “some people did something” when describing the events of Sept. 11, 2001, accusing her of having “dismissed” the terrorist attacks. The Washington Post’s Fact Checker has examined the full context of Omar’s remarks, which included a line in which the congresswoman defended herself from criticism that she was too critical of some Islamic countries for their human rights records.
The RNC email suggested that Omar and Tlaib — the first two Muslim women to serve in the House — have terrorist sympathies. Tlaib “has a long history of associating with terrorists,” the RNC claimed, while Omar “refused to answer if she was ‘pro-al Qaeda’ ” during a news conference Monday. Neither congresswoman has voiced support for terrorism.
“I will not dignify it with an answer,” Omar had said Monday.
Both Omar and Tlaib have said they support the right to boycott Israel, a stance that has put them at odds with their Democratic colleagues in the House.
The RNC claimed that Tlaib had said that thinking about the Holocaust gave her “a calming feeling,” even though the lawmaker had been discussing the feeling she had when thinking about her Palestinian ancestors creating “a safe haven for Jews.”
And it stated that Tlaib had called her opponents “racist idiots,” when Tlaib had been quoting a friend who had used that phrase.
Of Pressley, the RNC noted that the Massachusetts Democrat has called for defunding U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a policy position that a number of Democrats have embraced. And the email took aim at Ocasio-Cortez’s recent description of detention facilities at the U.S.-Mexico border as “concentration camps” — a phrase that has prompted debate on both sides of the aisle as well as criticism that she was demeaning Jews who were killed en masse in the Holocaust.
Ocasio-Cortez has defended her use of the term, pointing to news reports that have raised questions about the conditions at U.S. detention facilities.
Elise Viebeck contributed to this report.