President Trump said he has no regrets about sharing an incendiary video of Rep. Ilhan Omar and called her “extremely unpatriotic and extremely disrespectful to our country,” as the freshman lawmaker claimed an uptick in threats to her life.
Trump made his comments on Monday to local television station KSTP during a trip to Minnesota for an event focused on taxes. He was asked if he had any regrets about a Friday tweet that included video of Omar (D-Minn.) spliced with images of the twin towers falling on Sept. 11, 2001, in the aftermath of terrorist attacks.
“No, not at all,” Trump said. “Look, she’s been very disrespectful to this country. She’s been very disrespectful, frankly, to Israel. She is somebody that doesn’t really understand, I think life, real life, what it’s all about. It’s unfortunate. She’s got a way about her that’s very, very bad I think for our country. I think she’s extremely unpatriotic and extremely disrespectful to our country.”
Omar, one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress and the first to wear a hijab, has drawn criticism from conservatives for a speech last month in which, they say, she downplayed the 2001 terrorist attacks. She was at the center of an earlier controversy over tweets and a speech criticizing the pro-Israel lobby, AIPAC, that some lawmakers, both Democrats and Republicans, found to be anti-Semitic.
Omar, speaking at an event hosted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations last month, was discussing Islamophobia and the treatment of Muslims after 9/11, when she said, “some people did something” that caused all Muslims “to lose access to our civil liberties.” When the video was surfaced last week, conservatives seized on her vague description of the terrorists as anti-American.
But it was the president’s tweet that escalated the controversy and caused Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to call for increased security for Omar, her family and her offices.
On Monday, Pelosi said Trump’s tweet was “beneath the dignity of the Oval Office.” She then told CNN on Tuesday that she hasn’t had a chance to speak with Omar, but reiterated that she is concerned for her safety.
Pelosi also challenged Trump’s assertion that Omar, and by extension the Democrats, are anti-Semitic.
“I don’t think the congresswoman is anti-Semitic, I wouldn’t even put them in the same category,” Pelosi said.
“We have no taint of that in the Democratic Party and just because they want to accuse somebody of that, doesn’t mean that we take that bait,” she added.
Criticism of Trump’s tweet hasn’t stemmed the vitriol directed at Omar. Even a Trump official mocked the death threats to Omar, which only incited more threats. As first reported by Mother Jones, Lynne Patton, the highest-ranking black woman in the Trump administration, who serves as a regional administrator at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, on Saturday shared on her personal Instagram account an image that read: “Ilhan Omar is crying she’s receiving death threats. They’re not death threats. Just some people saying something.”
One cybersecurity expert took it upon himself to monitor all the threats made against Omar on Twitter. He found hundreds since Saturday.
Correction: An earlier version said Trump had taken down the tweet. He has not.