Nancy Pelosi calls for security review to protect Ilhan Omar from ‘real danger’ after Trump attack

Glenn Thrush
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked House officials on Sunday to review security measures intended to protect Ilhan Omar after President Donald Trump tweeted a video attacking the Minnesota Democrat using images of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Ms Pelosi was not responding to new information about the safety of Ms Omar, according to a senior Democratic aide.

She called for the review based on dozens of threats made on Ms Omar’s life before Trump posted the video on Friday, the aide said.

“Following the president’s tweet, I spoke with the sergeant-at-arms to ensure that Capitol Police are conducting a security assessment to safeguard Congresswoman Omar, her family and her staff,” Ms Pelosi said in a statement.

“They will continue to monitor and address the threats she faces.”

After Ms Pelosi released her statement, a spokesman for Ms Omar, Jeremy Slevin, said, “Our office has seen an increase in direct threats on Rep. Omar’s life – many directly referencing the president’s video.”

He said Ms Omar’s office has collected a series of menacing tweets over the past few days, some accusing her of treason.

The footage promoted by Trump intercut images of the World Trade Centre aflame with comments from Omar, one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress, about the treatment of Muslims after 9/11.

Conservatives have seized on those remarks as dismissive of the attacks.

“The president’s words weigh a ton, and his hateful and inflammatory rhetoric creates real danger,” Ms Pelosi said. “President Trump must take down his disrespectful and dangerous video.”

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House press secretary, said Trump was not inciting violence against Ms Omar, or Muslims in general, and would not be ashamed for “speaking out against” violence.

She added that Democrats should be “taking the same hard line that the president is” against Ms Omar.

Ms Sanders said on “Fox News Sunday” that referring to the 9/11 attacks “in such a dismissive way is frankly disgusting and abhorrent”.

Ms Omar, appearing at an event in Los Angeles in March sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, an advocacy organisation, suggested that government officials infringed upon the free-speech rights of some Muslim Americans after the 9/11 attacks.

“CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognised that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties,” she said, making an incorrect reference to the organisation’s founding, which actually took place in 1994.

Ms Omar’s critics have seized on the “some people did something” remark. But others have said the words were taken out of context. The speech focused on attacks Muslims in America faced after 9/11.

A spokesman for Ms Omar has said the entire speech was addressing civil rights and the “danger of Islamophobia in the United States and around the world – in particular the danger of associating all members of a religion with the acts of a few despicable terrorists”.

Ms Pelosi, who is travelling in Europe during the congressional recess, has tried to contact Ms Omar, but her travel schedule has made it difficult for the two to connect, a Democratic aide said.

The speaker criticised Trump in a series of early-morning tweets Sunday from Germany, where she was visiting with US service members.

“It is wrong for the President, as Commander-in-Chief, to fan the flames to make anyone less safe,” she wrote.

But the remarks have caught fire in conservative circles. The New York Post, owned by Trump ally Rupert Murdoch, juxtaposed Ms Omar’s comments with a picture of the twin towers on its cover last week.

On Friday, Trump followed suit. “WE WILL NEVER FORGET,” the president tweeted to his nearly 60 million followers, while posting the video that repeatedly played Ms Omar’s reference to “some people”, then cut to the planes slamming into the Manhattan skyline.

Ms Omar has been the subject of numerous threats.

Earlier this month, federal prosecutors charged a New York state man with phoning in a death threat to her.

The attacks on the congresswoman have provided Democrats with a rare opportunity to unify around Ms Omar, whose previous comments about Israel have been interpreted as antisemitic by some Jewish Democrats in Congress.

After a fierce internal debate, Democrats passed a catchall anti-bigotry resolution in March that was intended, in part, to put the controversy over Ms Omar’s remarks to rest.

Ms Pelosi joins a growing list of Democrats, including many of the declared 2020 candidates, who have denounced Trump’s tweet.

On Saturday, Senator Elizabeth Warren accused the president of “inciting violence against a sitting Congresswoman – and an entire group of Americans based on their religion” in a tweet.

Senator Kamala Harris said Trump’s actions were another reminder of how important it was to unseat him in 2020.

“For two years, this President has used the most powerful platform in the world to sow hate & division,” she tweeted. “I’ll be blunt – we must defeat him.”

The New York Times