Ilhan Omar Admits Lying to High School Students

Omar told a fake story to illustrate 'American racism, cruelty and injustice'

Ilhan Omar on at the 2019 ESSENCE Festival / Getty Images

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) admitted to flubbing the facts of an anecdote she told a large group of students to illustrate the "racism, cruelty, and injustice" she's seen in America since being accepted as a refugee more than two decades ago.

The freshman representative told 400 high school students she was sent to a Minneapolis courtroom where she witnessed a "sweet, old … African American lady" who spent the weekend in jail for stealing a $2 loaf of bread to feed her "starving 5-year-old granddaughter," according to the Washington Post. Omar says she screamed "Bullshit!" in the court room after the woman was fined $80 for the crime.

"I couldn’t control my emotions," Omar told the crowd, "because I couldn’t understand how a roomful of educated adults could do something so unjust."

The Post had several pieces of evidence indicating Omar was not entirely truthful about this experience.

"Omar’s story echoed the plot of ‘Les Miserables.' If true, it is also probably embellished," wrote Greg Jaffe and Souad Mekhennet, the author's of the Post‘s article.

"City officials said that police aren’t allowed to arrest people for shoplifting unless there’s a likelihood of violence or further crime. Typically, shoplifters are sentenced to attend a three-hour class."

Asked about the story, Omar admitted "she may have flubbed some facts," Jaffe and Mekhennet wrote.

"She might have had a prior [arrest]," Omar told the Post. "I’m not sure…The details might not have all matched, but that’s what I remember."

Omar has also been dinged recently by the Post and others for "botched basic facts" during her attempts to "go viral."

"Recently, she told a group of veterans that about 45 percent of military families rely on food stamps," Jaffe and Mekhennet wrote. "She was trying to make the point that Republicans didn’t care for the troops. The actual number is less than 5 percent, according to Pentagon statistics."