Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has warned Americans not to trust Donald Trump if he says a coronavirus vaccine is safe, but to rely instead on the word of scientists like Dr Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the US government.
“I mean, if doctors and scientists like Dr Fauci are taking that vaccine, of course I will take the vaccine. And I know many Americans will,” the Minnesota Democrat, who has close ties to the Democratic Socialists of America political organisation, said in an interview with CNN on Wednesday.
“But we also know that we can't trust the president and take his word and take a vaccine that might cause harm to us. We know that every single thing he does is geared toward winning an election. That is why he's downplayed this pandemic. That is why he's overseen the deaths of 200,000 Americans,” Ms Omar said.
The congresswoman’s comments on Wednesday were the latest strike in a rhetorical battle between herself and the president that began nearly two years ago.
The president has repeatedly made racist remarks about Ms Omar and three other freshman women of colour in Congress not being “from” the United States.
Mr Trump renewed that attack against Ms Omar — whose family fled Somalia and found asylum in the US when she was a 13-year-old girl — at a campaign rally in Moon Township, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday.
“She's telling us how to run our country. How did you do where you came from? How is your country doing?” Mr Trump asked, rhetorically, before throngs of tightly packed supporters, many of whom were not wearing masks.
Ms Omar indicated in her CNN interview on Wednesday that she believes Mr Trump keeps attacking her origins because he knows it plays well politically with his base of loyal supporters.
“That's why we are seeing this president sow the seeds of hate. That's why our country is more divided than it's ever been. And that's why we continue to have these conversations about the threats that really exist for our democracy and for our nation's existence,” she said.
The congresswoman told The Independent in an exclusive interview earlier this month that she recognises how diametrically opposite her story is from Mr Trump’s.
While the president is the white, wealthy son of a New York City real estate mogul, Ms Omar immigrated to the US from a poor country in Africa, and her father worked as a taxi driver.
“I happen to embody multiple marginal identities. I’m a woman, I’m black, I’m a refugee, an immigrant, a Muslim and I wear a hijab. And all of those are identities that have been vilified by the right... and weaponised by Donald Trump,” she told The Independent.