Nancy Pelosi appears to condemn both Ilhan Omar’s 9/11 comment and Trump’s video attack, enraging Democratic activists

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi condemned both Rep. Ilhan Omar – without naming her – and President Donald Trump on Saturday after Trump tweeted out a video attacking Omar for a controversial remark she made about 9/11.
  • “The memory of 9/11 is sacred ground, and any discussion of it must be done with reverence. The President shouldn’t use the painful images of 9/11 for a political attack,” Pelosi tweeted.
  • Some 2020 Democratic candidates condemned Trump’s video attack in much stronger terms and warned it could inflame Islamophobia and incite violence against Omar.
  • Pelosi’s decision not to defend or even name Omar in her statement enraged many progressive activists.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi condemned both Rep. Ilhan Omar – without naming her – and President Donald Trump on Saturday after Trump tweeted out a video attacking Omar for a controversial remark she made about 9/11.

“The memory of 9/11 is sacred ground, and any discussion of it must be done with reverence. The President shouldn’t use the painful images of 9/11 for a political attack,” Pelosi tweeted on Saturday morning, adding, “It is wrong for the President, as Commander-in-Chief, to fan the flames to make anyone less safe.”

Most Democrats initially stayed quiet as video of Rep. Ilhan Omar saying “some people did something” on 9/11 went viral and conservatives attacked her. Only Omar’s closest allies, including freshman Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley, publicly defended Omar before Trump’s attack. They didn’t defend Omar’s comment, but argued that it was “taken out of context” and “manipulated.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Max Rose, a Staten Island Democrat and Army veteran, called Omar’s comment “insensitive.”

But after President Donald Trump tweeted out a video on Friday juxtaposing footage of Omar’s remark with images of the Twin Towers collapsing, several 2020 presidential candidates and Democratic members of Congress began to speak out in defense of the freshman congresswoman. They condemned Trump’s video attack in much stronger terms and warned it could inflame Islamophobia and incite violence against Omar.

South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a Navy veteran, sent a series of tweets on Friday night calling the president’s attack dangerous and divisive.

“After 9/11 we all said we were changed. That we were stronger and more united. That’s what ‘never forget’ was about. Now, a president uses that dark day to incite his base against a member of Congress, as if for sport. As if we learned nothing that day about the workings of hate,” he wrote. “The president today made America smaller. It is not enough to condemn him; we must model something better.”

Buttigieg also named Omar in another tweet, arguing that the threats against her are the result of rhetoric like the president’s.

“I am grateful for @IlhanMN’s courage and leadership and I stand with her – and with others targeted by the President’s anti-Muslim rhetoric,” Julian Castro, another 2020 candidate, tweeted Friday night.

But Beto O’Rourke did not defend or name Omar in a Friday night tweet in which he condemned Trump’s video attack.

Omar has reportedly been targeted with death threats over her comments. And last week, a New York man was arrested and charged with threatening to assault and kill Omar, the US Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York said.

Progressive backlash against Pelosi

Meanwhile, Democratic activists expressed frustration over Pelosi’s statement and pressured her and other party leaders to defend Omar and more forcefully reject Trump’s attack.

The president of Justice Democrats – the progressive group that powered Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign – called Pelosi’s statement “irredeemable” and “disgraceful.”

And Ocasio-Cortez argued that Democratic lawmakers would be “complicit” in Trump’s attacks if they don’t publicy condemn them.

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“Members of Congress have a duty to respond to the President’s explicit attack today,” she wrote. “@IlhanMN’s life is in danger. For our colleagues to be silent is to be complicit in the outright, dangerous targeting of a member of Congress.”