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Pelosi warns Democrats that Republicans can exploit their words as controversy continues over Ocasio-Cortez’s ‘concentration camp’ comments

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington earlier this week. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) warned fellow Democrats Wednesday that their words could be misrepresented by Republicans as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) continued to draw fire for repeatedly describing U.S. detention facilities for migrants at the southern border as “concentration camps.”

Pelosi told reporters that she was not “up to date” on Ocasio-Cortez’s comments and that she had not spoken to her about them. But, at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, Pelosi said she had some advice for Democrats more broadly, given “how politically charged the atmosphere is.”

“Understand that while the Republicans have no interest in holding the president accountable for his words, they will misrepresent anything that you say,” Pelosi said. “Just, if you have one word in the sentence that they can exploit.”

Ocasio-Cortez presses case that U.S. is running ‘concentration camps’ at border amid Republican outcry

Starting with a live stream on Instagram on Monday, Ocasio-Cortez has repeatedly said that the Trump administration is running “concentration camps” at the U.S.-Mexico border, drawing criticism from Republicans who claim she is demeaning Jews exterminated in the Holocaust.

During her live stream, Ocasio-Cortez used the phrase “never again,” which is widely associated with the Holocaust. But the freshman lawmaker has argued she is using the term “concentration camps” in a broader context and that not all concentration camps are the equivalent of “death camps.”

“The US ran concentration camps before, when we rounded up Japanese people during WWII,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a tweet Wednesday. “It is such a shameful history that we largely ignore it. These camps occur throughout history. Many refuse to learn from that shame, but here we are today. We have an obligation to end them.”

In another tweet Wednesday, she said Congress should not give the Department of Homeland Security “one dime” to construct “these camps.”

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) has been among Ocasio-Cortez’s most vocal congressional critics on the issue, writing on Twitter on Tuesday that Ocasio-Cortez should “do us all a favor and spend just a few minutes learning some actual history.”

“6 million Jews were exterminated in the Holocaust. You demean their memory and disgrace yourself with comments like this,” added Cheney, the No. 3 Republican in the House.

On Wednesday, Cheney shared a tweet from Yad Vesham, a prominent Holocaust research center in Israel, that included a link to a web page it produced on Nazi concentration camps.

“Learn about concentration camps,” said the tweet, which was directed at Ocasio-Cortez.

“Listen and learn @AOC,” Cheney added.

Mike DeBonis contributed to this report.

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