Top House Democrats Defend Omar's 9/11 Comment: 'I Saw Nothing Wrong With It'

April 14, 2019

Two Democratic House chairmen came out in defense of freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar's (D., Minn.) controversial September 11 comment last month.

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.

After the clip of Omar went viral, Republicans and some Democrats in Congress voiced their disgust at the comment. President Donald Trump tweeted out a video of Omar's comments followed by footage of the airplanes flying into the Twin Towers and then the towers collapsing, sparking outrage from Democrats who believed criticism of Omar's comment was "inciting violence" against her.

Reps. Bennie Thompson (D., Miss.), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and Jerry Nadler (D., N.Y.), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, appeared on ABC and CNN, where they defended her comment and pushed back against Trump's tweet.

"I saw the speech she gave and I saw nothing wrong with it," Thompson said. "I saw the president's manufactured tweet where he put pieces in there, but George, we are a nation of laws, a democracy, free speech is here. I saw nothing wrong with the congresswoman's speech."

ABC's This Week host George Stephanopoulos was not satisfied with Thompson's answer, pressing him further.

"You say you saw nothing wrong with it, but she did characterize the most deadly attack ever on American soil-- terrorist attack ever on American soil, a cold-blooded mass murder as 'some people did something,' Stephanopoulos said. "That does seem to downplay the importance of what happened on 9/11, doesn't it?"

"No question about it. We had over 3,000 people who got killed at that event, so nothing to downplay on it, but, again, she spoke to it," Thompson said. "I think the president is just seizing that moment, manufacturing what he said and then moving forward with a traditional speech, so I think there are other issues we have to deal with in this country."

CNN's State of the Union host Jake Tapper asked Nadler whether he took issue with Omar's 9/11 comment, prompting him to say that he had no problem with what she said.

"No, I did not. She characterized it only in passing. She was talking about discrimination against Muslim Americans and she just said after that happened it was used as an excuse for lots of discrimination and with withdrawal of civil liberties. I've had some problems with some of her other remarks, but not with that one."