Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez on Friday dodged questions about Rep. Ilhan Omar's (D., Minn.) controversial comment about 9/11, calling it a "distraction."
Speaking to the Council on American Islamic Relations at a March fundraiser, Omar talked about the difficulties Muslims faced following the Sept. 11, 2001, al Qaeda attacks. She claimed they saw their civil liberties infringed upon, and she referred to the events as an instance when "some people did something." Her point was to praise CAIR for organizing in response.
Perez appeared on CNN's Cuomo Prime Time to discuss the Democratic Party's agenda, but host Chris Cuomo began the segment by asking Perez what he thought of her comments, prompting him to immediately deflect the question and talk about various political issues like health care.
"We have 571 days until the most important election of our lifetime. We have health care on the ballot. We've got good wages on the ballot. Our democracy is on the ballot and what Donald Trump wants to do in the 571 days between now and the election is distract people," Perez said. "He doesn't want to talk about health care because he doesn't have a plan other than to take away people's health care. He doesn't want to talk about the issues that matters most in communities across this country."
He continued by talking about how Trump has a knife in the back of the American people and that he has "passed the most reckless tax cut in American history."
"I hear you on the issues. Nobody will ever give you more time or your candidates more time to discuss them than my show will. I promise you that because it matters," Cuomo said. "However, so does 9/11, and having a member of your ranks that deals with it that way, ‘Some people did something'—and I gave her the benefit of full context—isn't that something that you should have a comment on as opposed to just seeing it as a distraction?"
Perez deflected the question again by talking about previous comments President Donald Trump made about 9/11, including when he falsely claimed that he had the tallest building in lower Manhattan after the Twin Towers fell. Cuomo later pushed back against Perez bringing up Trump's comments, saying that "[Trump] didn't start this particular round of it."
"This is about her comments and not the first ones she's made. I've invited her on the show. It's an open invite. I'd love for her to explain herself about it," Cuomo said. "I think the audience should hear from that. That's why I asked you a couple different times to opine on it. I don't want to spend all our time on it."