WASHINGTON – Rep. Ilhan Omar hit back at President Donald Trump on Twitter Wednesday, saying he has “trafficked in hate” his whole life in response to his criticisms of her a day earlier.
The Minnesota Democrat has faced bipartisan criticism in recent days after a tweet Sunday that her own party leadership in the House described as using an “anti-Semitic trope.” Omar tweeted a song lyric — “it’s all about the Benjamins, baby” — that she subsequently explained was meant to describe why Republican politicians support Israel.
Omar apologized Monday in the face of widespread condemnation, including from some Minnesota Jewish groups.
Trump told reporters Tuesday that Omar should resign or at least leave her seat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. In response, Omar tweeted: “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?”
Following Trump’s remarks about Omar, some of her colleagues came to her defense. “We appreciate Congresswoman Omar’s heartfelt apology, and the unique life experiences she brings as a public servant,” read a statement released by the Congressional Progressive Caucus. The group’s statement also said Trump “has consistently trafficked in white nationalism, Islamophobia, sexism, and racism.”
Rep. Dean Phillips, a fellow freshman Democrat from Minnesota who is Jewish, met with Omar on Monday; he said they resolved to work together to foster better understanding between Jewish and Muslim members of Congress. Omar is the first Somali-American member of Congress.
Like Omar, Phillips landed a spot on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. While stressing he did not speak for Democratic leadership, Phillips said Tuesday it’s his understanding that Omar would retain her seat on the panel.
Also on Wednesday, Omar in a hearing of the Foreign Affairs Committee had a series of testy exchanges with Elliot Abrams, a longtime Republican diplomat who now serves as the Trump administration’s envoy to Venezuela.
“I fail to understand why members of this committee or the American people should find any testimony you give today to be truthful,” Omar said to Abrams. She noted that in 1991, Abrams pleaded guilty to misdemeanor counts of withholding information from Congress (he later received a presidential pardon). She also questioned him on atrocities committed by U.S.-backed regimes in Latin America.