House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) attempted to brush aside the recent pushback coming from congressional Democrats sparked by controversial comments from Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) equating the US with Hamas and the Taliban; while downplaying the latest civil war brewing between Democratic leadership and members of progressive “Squad.”
In an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Pelosi called Omar a “valued member of the House Democratic caucus, emphasizing that she is satisfied with the Minnesota congresswoman’s subsequent “clarification” of her remarks.
“We did not rebuke her,” Pelosi told Dana Bash on Sunday. “We acknowledged that she made a clarification. The congresswoman, Omar is a valued member of our caucus.”
“She asked her questions at the Secretary of State. Nobody criticized those about how people be held accountable if we are not going to the International Court of Justice. That was a very legitimate question. That was not of concern. Members did become concerned when the tweet that was put out equated the United States with Taliban and Hamas … and then she clarified it, and we thanked her for clarification,” Pelosi added.
Bash followed up, asking the House Speaker, “So do you want people to just let it go and move on?”
“They can say whatever they want,” Pelosi interjected. “But what I’m saying, end of subject. She clarified. We thanked her, end of subject. What people go out and say, it’s up to them.”
Pelosi added, “But what happened is a reflection of the respect we have of our member when she made her questions at the hearing. But the disagreement that we have is to equate the United States of America with Hamas and the Taliban.”
The controversy began when Omar last Monday tweeted a video where she questioned Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the State Department’s budget request and captioned the clip with the controversial comment of grouping America with terrorist organizations.
“We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity. We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban,” Omar tweeted on June 7.
Omar issued a mea culpa Thursday following a firestorm of criticism, with Pelosi and other members of the Democratic leadership praising Omar for her “clarification,” but also blasted the Minnesota Democrat for her anti-America and anti-Israel tweet, saying the rhetoric should be condemned.
“Legitimate criticism of the policies of both the United States and Israel is protected by the values of free speech and democratic debate. And indeed, such criticism is essential to the strength and health of our democracies,” the Democratic leaders said in a joint statement.
“But drawing false equivalencies between democracies like the U.S. and Israel and groups that engage in terrorism like Hamas and the Taliban foments prejudice and undermines progress toward a future of peace and security for all. We welcome the clarification by Congresswoman Omar that there is no moral equivalency between the U.S. and Israel and Hamas and the Taliban,” the joint statement added.
The initial tweet prompted sharp pushback from pro-Israel lawmakers, with nearly a dozen Jewish Democrats, including three being Florida lawmakers, first released a joint statement condemning her remarks and asked Omar for “clarification.”
“Equating the United States and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban is as offensive as it is misguided. Ignoring the differences between democracies governed by the rule of law and contemptible organizations that engage in terrorism at best discredits one’s intended argument, and at worst reflects deep-seated prejudice,” the statement said.
Some progressive members of the Democratic caucus took issue with their leadership’s letter, including fellow Squad member, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), who personally took aim at the House speaker, and other members of the Democratic leadership, claiming “freedom of speech doesn’t exist for Muslim women in Congress.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, appearing separately on “State of the Union,” reiterated her support for Omar, saying she was “very clearly” speaking about the ICC investigations while blaming the “whole hubbub” that “started with right-wing news outlets” taking the remarks out of context.