Politics and Government

Trump-Omar feud intensifies over racism, patriotism

President Trump speaks during a Made in America showcase event.
President Trump speaks during a Made in America showcase event on the South Lawn of the White House Monday in Washington.
Alex Brandon | AP

Following a day of dueling press conferences and withering accusations of racism on one side and unpatriotic hatred on the other, the Trump-Omar standoff continues. After being personally attacked by the president, Rep. Ilhan Omar responded on Monday with some accusations of her own.

President Trump took questions Monday about his tweets on Sunday. In them he declared that four Democratic representatives, all women of color, should go back where they came from. This despite the fact that all are U.S. citizens, and only Omar was born outside the United States. The president took the opportunity to go on the attack, singling out the Minnesota representative for special attention.

"I look at Omar. I don't know. I never met her," he said

The president suggested Omar supports al-Qaida. He then moved on to a comment in an edited video where Omar appeared to be dismissive of 9/11.

"When she talked about the World Trade Center being knocked down ... 'some people.' You remember the famous 'some people?' These are people that in my opinion hate our country," he said.

Trump was referring to a portion of what Omar said earlier this year in which she also talked about Muslims losing access to civil liberties.

"For far too long we have lived with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen and, frankly, I'm tired of it, and every single Muslim in this country should be tired of it," she said in the March 23 speech, according to video posted online. "[The Council on American-Islamic Relations] was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties."

Later in the event Trump talked about Omar's origins and other things she is accused of saying.

"And in one case you have somebody that comes from Somalia, which is a failed government, a failed state, who ultimately came here and now is a congresswoman, who is never happy. [She] says horrible things about Israel, hates Israel, hates Jews," he said. "It's very simple."

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,Ayanna Pressley,Rashida Tlaib,Ilhan Omar
From left, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., respond to remarks by President Trump after his call for the four Democratic congresswomen to go back to their "broken" countries. All are American citizens and three of the four were born in the United States.
J. Scott Applewhite | AP

At a press conference later in the day, Omar said she does not hate any group. At a Washington, D.C., press conference she joined Reps. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich. Though not named, all were believed to be the target of the president's weekend tweets.

The four accused the president of trying to create a distraction to draw attention away from corruption in his administration and the treatment of migrants coming across the U.S.-Mexico border. They said he wants to undercut their own work in Congress.

When asked by a reporter to respond to the president's accusations Omar said as a Muslim she was tired of having her loyalty questioned.

"It's beyond time to ask Muslims to condemn terrorists," she said. "We are no longer going to allow the dignification of such a ridiculous, ridiculous statement."

Turning to the president's claim that they were always complaining about America, she countered not too long ago this was one of the president's favorite subjects.

"When this president ran, and until today, he talked about everything that was wrong in this country and how he was going to make it great," she said. "And so, for him to condemn us and to say we are un-American for wanting to work hard to make this country the country we all deserve to live in, it's complete hypocrisy."

MPR news contacted all members of Minnesota's congressional delegation for comment. No Republican responded in time for this story. Democrats who responded condemned the president's attack on Omar. Rep. Dean Phillips said he hoped the controversy would not undermine the delegation's important work.

"I do not want to see this president and his racism, and his mean-spiritedness and his vindictiveness interrupt the important work that we have to do in front of us" he said.

Minnesota U.S. Sen. Tina Smith said she understands why people are tired of the current state of politics, but that does not mean they should just walk away.

"The reality is that democracies only work if people participate," she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Your story Have you ever been told to ‘go back’ to your country?
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