WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar said Monday that she ended an "unproductive call" with Rep. Lauren Boebert, after failing to get the apology she was seeking from the Republican for earlier anti-Muslim comments.
Omar said she took the call from the Republican from Colorado "in the hope of receiving a direct apology for falsely claiming she met me in an elevator, suggesting I was a terrorist, and for a history of anti-Muslim hate."
"Instead of apologizing for her Islamophobic comments and fabricated lies, Rep. Boebert refused to publicly acknowledge her hurtful and dangerous comments," Omar said in a statement, adding that Boebert "instead doubled down on her rhetoric."
In a video posted on Facebook shortly before Omar's statement was released, Boebert said when the two spoke on the phone Omar asked for a "public apology."
"So I told Ilhan Omar that she should make a public apology to the American people for her anti-American, anti-Semitic, anti-police rhetoric," Boebert said.
The controversy stems from a different video clip posted on social media last week by PatriotTakes, an organization describing itself as "exposing right-wing extremism." Boebert can be heard telling an audience that she was on a Capitol Hill elevator when a Capitol Police officer hurried towards her.
"I look to my left and there she is. Ilhan Omar. And I said, 'Well, she doesn't have a backpack, we should be fine," Boebert told the audience, which can be heard applauding. Boebert added, "and I said, 'Oh look, the jihad squad decided to show up for work today."
As the controversy grew Friday, Boebert tweeted "I apologize to anyone in the Muslim community I offended with my comment about Rep. Omar. I have reached out to her office to speak with her directly."
The verbal attack against Omar is an example of the hateful rhetoric the second-term Democrat and refugee from Somalia has faced since becoming one of the first two Muslim women elected to serve in Congress.
During her tenure in Washington, Omar has faced a consistent barrage of attacks from Republicans. Omar has also found herself facing controversies of her own at times.
House Democratic leaders said in a statement condemning the remarks Friday that "Boebert's repeated, ongoing and targeted Islamophobic comments and actions" against Omar "are both deeply offensive and concerning." They called on the Republican "to fully retract these comments and refrain from making similar ones going forward."
The Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a statement Friday that called on GOP leaders "to repudiate" Boebert's remarks, charging that the backpack reference in the elevator story was "an allusion to the Islamophobic smear that all Muslims are terrorists." CAIR raised the prospect of a House censure in a statement Monday.
The video wasn't the first time Boebert has verbally lashed out at Omar. Boebert called Omar a "jihad squad member" in a floor speech earlier this month, shortly before the House voted to censure GOP Rep. Paul Gosar over the posting of a violent animated video that the resolution describes as "depicting himself killing Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and attacking President Joseph Biden."
Last week, Omar said House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi "need to take appropriate action" about the situation, tweeting that "saying I am a suicide bomber is no laughing matter."
Monday's call between Omar and Boebert once again illustrated the tense environment that has been a theme in the House throughout the year. Boebert's response Monday included criticism of Democrats and "cancel culture," but it also approached the rhetoric that landed the Republican in the recent controversy.
"Make no mistake, I will continue to fearlessly put America first, never sympathizing with terrorists," Boebert said. "Unfortunately, Ilhan can't say the same thing."
Omar's office responded to Monday's exchange by noting that Omar "is subject to routine death threats and plots on her life, often responding to anti-Muslim rhetoric."
"To date, the Republican Party leadership has done nothing to condemn and hold their own members accountable for repeated instances of anti-Muslim hate and harassment," Omar said. "This is not about one hateful statement or one politician; it is about a party that has mainstreamed bigotry and hatred. It is time for Republican Leader McCarthy to actually hold his party accountable."