There is no doubt that Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar is in life-threatening danger—through no fault of her own, but as a result of bad-faith criticism over a speech she made last month against the rise of American Islamophobia and anti-Muslim culture following the 9/11 terrorists attacks.
Conservatives initially twisted her words in order to stoke their white reactionary base, but the Democratic leadership hasn’t responded much better, only finally beginning to defend her in earnest after days of throwing her under the bus. Leave it to the Trump campaign, however, to double down on the president’s part in the rise of death threats against her, blaming Omar for inciting the charges of violence she’s faced over the weekend following Trump sharing a disgusting misrepresentation of Omar’s comments.
Speaking to CNN’s Alisyn Camerota, Trump’s 2020 strategic communications director Marc Lotter denied that Trump’s April 12 tweet sharing a segment of video from Omar’s March speech at a CAIR event (“some people did something,” without context of her admonishment of the Islamophobia that followed 9/11), spliced with footage of airplanes hitting the Twin Towers, brought on threats against the congresswoman.
He went on to blame Omar’s words for the threats of violence against her. “I don’t think it’s the president that’s putting her in danger,” Lotter said when asked by Camerota if Trump knew that by tweeting the video, he was putting Omar in danger. “I think it’s her ill-thought-out words that she used to describe the greatest terror attack on the history of United States soil which killed nearly 3,000 Americans. Those are her words. That’s what’s making the threats.”
Lotter’s victim-blaming comments come the morning after Omar tweeted about the increase in direct threats to her life that she’s witnessed since Trump tweeted out his video pairing her speech against Islamophobia with the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In her tweet, Omar thanked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for taking these threats seriously (finally) and called for Trump’s violent rhetoric to stop.
“Make no mistake, no congressperson, no American should be threatened and no one is inciting violence,” Lotter said, only to later claim that people threatening Omar’s life are just “showing outrage toward words that should have been better thought out.” He then compared Trump’s tweet to the New York Post’s cover story last week using a photo of the Twin Towers aflame to take Omar’s words further out of context and incite baseless hatred toward her.
“I wouldn’t hold the New York Post accountable for how a headline might be viewed, I’m not going to hold the president’s Twitter account to that either,” Lotter said. “Ultimately what Congresswoman Omar needs to do is retract those statements.”
So no one’s going to hold Trump accountable for the hateful and violent threats that have resulted from his actions? What a surprise.