Rep. Ilhan Omar on Wednesday rejected President Donald Trump’s call for her to resign after she suggested US support of Israel is motivated by money, charging that the President is hypocritical given his history of race-baiting statements.
“You have trafficked in hate your whole life—against Jews, Muslims, Indigenous, immigrants, black people and more. I learned from people impacted by my words. When will you?” Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, wrote in a tweet.
Omar apologized on Monday after she ignited a firestorm with her tweets suggesting US support of Israel is motivated by money. The messages – she suggested support of Israel is driven specifically by donations from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a prominent pro-Israel lobby group – were condemned by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle as anti-Semitic.
On Tuesday, Trump called on her to resign, saying during a Cabinet meeting that “anti-Semitism has no place in the United States Congress.”
“And Congressman Omar is terrible, what she said. And I think she should either resign from Congress or she should certainly resign from the House Foreign Affairs Committee,” he said.
Omar has been critical of the Israeli government over its treatment of Palestinians and has supported the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement – a nonviolent activist campaign that aims to put economic and political pressure on Israel over its actions toward Palestinians, including calling for an end to Israeli occupation of the West Bank.
Critics – both Democratic and Republican – said Omar’s tweets evoked anti-Semitic tropes. House Democratic leadership called on her to apologize, and the freshman congresswoman then released a statement where she “unequivocally” apologized.
Omar’s statement reads, “Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes. My intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole. We have to always be willing to step back and think through criticism, just as I expect people to hear me when others attack me for my identity. This is why I unequivocally apologize.”
“At the same time,” Omar continued, “I reaffirm the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics, whether it be AIPAC, the NRA or the fossil fuel industry. It’s gone on too long and we must be willing to address it.”
Trump said at the Cabinet meeting, “What (Omar) said is so deep seated in her heart that her lame apology – and that’s what it was, it was lame and she didn’t mean a word of it – was just not appropriate. I think she should resign from Congress, frankly. But at a minimum she shouldn’t be on committees – certainly that committee.”
The criticism from the President comes weeks after he was noticeably silent on the controversy surrounding Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa, when King made comments to The New York Times that appeared sympathetic to white supremacists.
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization – how did that language become offensive?” King asked the Times. Top Republicans sharply rebuked King, but the President did not, saying he hadn’t been following the news surrounding King.
Trump himself has been accused of anti-Semitism more than once.
During the 2016 campaign, Trump tweeted an image critical of Hillary Clinton that critics said evoked anti-Semitic imagery – featuring a six-pointed star, a pile of cash and the words “most corrupt candidate ever.” The image had been posted to an anti-Semitic, white supremacist message board 10 days earlier. Trump rejected the Clinton campaign’s accusations that his tweet was anti-Semitic and said the star represented a sheriff’s badge.
He also faced criticism in December 2015 when he spoke to the Republican Jewish Coalition and repeatedly called the individuals in the room “negotiators” and said, “You’re not gonna support me because I don’t want your money. You want to control your politicians, that’s fine. Five months ago I was with you. I do want your support but I don’t want your money.”
In 2017, Trump memorably blamed “both sides” after a woman was killed in Charlottesville, Virginia, demonstrating against a right-wing rally that included neo-Nazis and white supremacists. The President equated the white supremacists on one side with the “alt-left,” as he described it, on the other side.
CNN’s Sunlen Serfaty contributed to this report.