Omar Tweets Out Audio Confirming She Criticized Obama

Rep. Ilhan Omar
Rep. Ilhan Omar / Getty Images
March 8, 2019

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) on Friday accused a reporter of distorting her words in a piece to criticize former President Obama, but her released audio confirms the original account.

Tim Alberta, the chief political correspondent for Politico Magazine, published a piece earlier in the morning with the headline, "The Democratic Dilemma." In the piece, the freshman Democrat, a Somali-born refugee, did not shy away from her personal feelings regarding Obama-era policies, like detention centers for illegal immigrant children and the "droning of countries around the world:"

As she saw it, the party ostensibly committed to progressive values had become complicit in perpetuating the status quo. Omar says the "hope and change" offered by Barack Obama was a mirage. Recalling the "caging of kids" at the U.S.-Mexico border and the "droning of countries around the world" on Obama’s watch, she argues that the Democratic president operated within the same fundamentally broken framework as his Republican successor.

"We can’t be only upset with Trump … His policies are bad, but many of the people who came before him also had really bad policies. They just were more polished than he was," said Omar without naming Obama specifically. "And that’s not what we should be looking for anymore. We don’t want anybody to get away with murder because they are polished. We want to recognize the actual policies that are behind the pretty face and the smile."

"Exhibit A of how reporters distort words," Omar tweeted on Friday, pushing back at Alberta's piece. "I’m an Obama fan! I was saying how Trump is different from Obama, and why we should focus on policy not politics. This is why I always tape my interviews."

The tweet included a SoundCloud audio file of part of the interview, but it only confirmed Alberta's original reporting, prompting him to push back and accuse her and other politicians of using the "media as a straw man to avoid owning what they said."

"Your tape...supports what I wrote 100%. So does my longer tape. It's beyond dispute," Alberta tweeted. "Next time, a phone call from your office before the Twitter ambush would be appreciated."

Omar has been a lightening rod of controversy over the last two months for ant-Semitic remarks. She apologized for anti-Semitic tweets, some of which were quietly deleted last week. She also apologized for a past tweet where she accused Israel of hypnotizing the world and performing evil acts.

There has been pressure from House Republicans and President Donald Trump to strip Omar of her House Foreign Affairs Committee seat, but Rep. Eliot Engel (D., N.Y.), the chairman of the committee, rejected the call and said he doesn't have the power to do it.

The House voted on the resolution Thursday evening, passing it by a vote of 407-23. The vote was initially going to be earlier in the week, but Democrats were divided and started speaking out in support of Omar, who along with Tlaib are the only two Muslim women in Congress. Some of the progressive members of Congress pressured the House leadership to expand the language to "opposing hate" on all sides.