President Donald Trump disdainfully mocked Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) in a Las Vegas speech a day after a man proclaiming that he “loves the president” was arrested for allegedly threatening to kill her.
“A special thanks to Representative Omar of Minnesota,” Trump told members of the Republican Jewish Coalition in a ballroom of the Venetian Resort Saturday. “Oh, I forgot,” he smirked as some audience members booed. “She doesn’t like Israel. I forgot. I’m so sorry. No she doesn’t like Israel, does she? Please, I apologize.”
Patrick Carlineo, 55, of upstate New York was arrested after allegedly calling the Muslim congresswoman a “terrorist” and vowing to put a “bullet in her [expletive] skull” in a March phone call with a member of Omar’s Washington staff, according to a statement Friday by the U.S. attorney’s office for the Western District of New York.
When he was arrested Carlineo “stated that he was a patriot, he loves the president, and that he hates radical Muslims in our government,” according to the criminal complaint against him.
Trump slammed Omar as he boasted in his speech that the bond between the U.S. and Israel “has never been stronger” and argued that Democrats “aren’t fighting for Israel in Congress.” Casino magnate and mega-Trump donor Sheldon Adelson wore a red yarmulke with the president’s name emblazoned on it.
Although the Republican Jewish Coalition is an American organization, Trump in his speech referred to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as “your prime minister.”
His phrasing sparked a critical response from the nonpartisan American Jewish Committee.
Omar, who last November joined Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) as the first two Muslim women elected to the House, has been the target of Islamophobic smears and other death threats. She has faced a backlash for her criticism of Israel, as well as for comments that many have attacked as anti-Semitic.
Omar’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In a statement responding to the arrest of Carlineo, the advocacy group Council of Islamic-American Relations on Saturday said its members were “thankful that law enforcement tracked this individual down before he could act.”
The “political environment, led by an Islamophobe in the White House, has normalized hate speech and emboldened bigots in their actions,” said Afaf Nasher, executive director of CAIR’s New York chapter. “The rising threat of Islamophobia and white supremacy must be taken seriously.”
This story has been updated with comment on Trump’s speech by the American Jewish Committee.