House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) dismissed claims that anti-Semitism has surfaced within the ranks of Democrats and doubled down on her defense of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who has sustained repeated social media attacks from President Donald Trump.
“We have no taint of that in the Democratic Party, and just because they want to accuse somebody of that doesn’t mean that we take that bait,” she told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour during a Tuesday interview in Dublin, Ireland, where she traveled this week with a delegation of fellow lawmakers to discuss Brexit, among other issues.
Omar has faced bipartisan allegations of anti-Semitism since posting controversial tweets earlier this year about the reasons for the strong support most U.S. politicians express for Israel. Omar, who in November joined a fellow Democrat from Michigan in becoming the first Muslim women elected to Congress, apologized in February for the tweets. But other comments she’s made since then have fueled the anti-Semitism charge.
Pelosi rejected that characterization in her CNN interview. “I don’t think that the congresswoman is anti-Semitic,” the speaker said.
The spotlight on Omar intensified on Friday when Trump tweeted an incendiary video that took out of context comments Omar had made about the 9/11 terrorist attacks during a Council on American-Islamic Relations talk in March.
Omar said then that “CAIR 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.” (CAIR actually existed before the Sept. 11 attacks.)
Though Omar’s point appears to have been that the actions of a few people impacted a far larger group, Trump shared a video isolating her “some people did something” phrase and juxtaposing it with footage of the attacks.
Emphasizing her opposition to the president’s rhetoric, Pelosi rebuked him for using the clip “as a political tool.”
“I think he was wrong to do that,” she said.
Pelosi also said she has advised fellow Democrats to be on guard about anti-Semitism “raising its head” in the U.S. and abroad.
Hours before Pelosi’s interview aired, Trump bashed her in a tweet that condemned her support for Omar and that claimed the speaker “has lost all control of Congress and is getting nothing done.”
Although her caucus has been plagued by divisions on some issues, legislation she has steered through the House includes a bill to strengthen laws governing voting rights, campaign finance and ethics, as well as a measure to expand background checks to cover firearm purchases made online or at gun shows. The bills are stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate.
In a statement Sunday, Pelosi warned that Trump’s “hateful and inflammatory rhetoric creates real danger,” calling on him to remove the video on Omar from his Twitter account. Trump told ABC-affiliated TV station KSTP on Monday that he had no regrets about his post, which is still online.