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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., on Sunday responded “absolutely” when asked if she believes President Trump is trying to incite violence against Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., by tweeting a video that juxtaposes Omar’s controversial reference to 9/11 hijackers with jarring images of the terror attacks.
“You do not splice together out of context words with images of the planes hitting the Twin Towers and not think that you are trying to incite a stereotype of all Muslims being terrorists,” Ocasio-Cortez said in an interview with the Yahoo News “Skullduggery” podcast.
Ocasio-Cortez said she isn’t surprised Trump would try to incite violence against Omar because, as a New Yorker, she’s seen it before.
“He acts like he’s one of these shady real estate developer guys that may or may not be involved with the mob,” she said. “And like, all New Yorkers know that guy. I’ve bartended for that guy. I’ve waited tables for that guy.
“He creates a huge environment of suggestion,” Ocasio-Cortez continued. “If something happens, if that thing happens that he may perhaps want to happen happens, he’s like, ‘Hmm.’ And that’s really what’s going on.”
Omar, who is Muslim, has come under fire for comments she made last month at a fundraiser for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
She said the organization “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 was in fact founded in 1994. Omar’s spokesman said she misspoke and “meant to refer to the fact that the organization had doubled in size after the Sept. 11 attacks.”)
Critics focused on her use of the phrase “some people did something,” implying that it minimized the terror attacks. On Thursday, the New York Post responded by splashing an image of the burning Twin Towers on its cover.
Today's cover of the New York Post. pic.twitter.com/pEnQryZNlx
— Dylan Stableford (@stableford) April 11, 2019
The cover prompted the Yemeni American Merchants Association, which represents thousands of New York City bodegas, to announce a formal boycott of the newspaper.
Ocasio-Cortez told Yahoo News that she endorses the boycott.
On Friday, Trump waded into the controversy and shared the video of Omar’s comments alongside footage of the Sept. 11 attacks.
“WE WILL NEVER FORGET!” he exclaimed on Twitter.
Omar responded in a series of tweets on Saturday.
“I did not run for Congress to be silent,” she tweeted. “I did not run for Congress to sit on the sidelines. I ran because I believed it was time to restore moral clarity and courage to Congress. To fight and to defend our democracy.”
She continued: “No one person — no matter how corrupt, inept, or vicious — can threaten my unwavering love for America. I stand undeterred to continue fighting for equal opportunity in our pursuit of happiness for all Americans.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded, too, calling on Trump to pull the video, which was pinned to the top of his Twitter feed.
“The memory of 9/11 is sacred ground, and any discussion of it must be done with reverence,” Pelosi said in a statement on Twitter. “The President shouldn’t use the painful images of 9/11 for a political attack.”
Pelosi added that she had spoken to the sergeant-at-arms, the House official in charge of security, about Omar’s safety “to ensure that Capitol Police are conducting a security assessment to safeguard Congresswoman Omar, her family and her staff” following Trump’s tweet.
On Sunday night, Omar said she’s seen an uptick in death threats since Trump posted the video.
“Since the President’s tweet Friday evening, I have experienced an increase in direct threats on my life — many directly referencing or replying to the President’s video,” the congresswoman said in a statement, thanking the Capitol Police, the FBI and Pelosi for “their attention to these threats.”
“Violent rhetoric and all forms of hate speech have no place in our society, much less from our country’s Commander in Chief,” Omar added. “We are all Americans. This is endangering lives. It has to stop.”
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders defended Trump's tweet.
"The president is wishing no ill will and certainly not violence towards anyone," Sanders said on ABC's "This Week" Sunday.
Ocasio-Cortez, though, isn't buying it.
"You do not put that video and air it to 25 million people" if you do want to incite violence, Ocasio-Cortez said.
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