- Attendees at a campaign rally for President Donald Trump started chanting “send her back” as Trump talked about Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN).
- This prompted numerous responses, including ones from conservative commentators who condemned the chant.
- During Trump’s speech, he also made numerous false claims about Omar and took several of her past statements out of context.
- While speaking to reporters Thursday, Trump was asked why he did not stop the chants. “I think I did—I started speaking very quickly,” the president said. “I was not happy with it—I disagree with it.”
Pundits Respond to Trump Campaign Rally
Several prominent conservative commentators have spoken out against the “send her back” chant that broke out at the Greenville, North Carolina campaign rally for President Donald Trump, following remarks the president made about Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN).
Well-known conservative commentator Ben Shapiro condemned the chants in a tweet, writing that while he disliked Omar and believed she was an anti-Semite, “She is also an American citizen and chanting for her deportation based on her exercise of the First Amendment is disgusting.”
“Omar is a citizen and was elected to congress,” YouTube commentator Tim Pool said on Twitter. “You have a problem? Then vote her out. ‘Send her back’ is disgusting.”
Fox News contributor and conservative talk radio host Guy Benson also chimed in, saying “‘Send her back’ is an appalling chant. Omar is a US citizen.”
Omar herself responded on Twitter, writing, “I am where I belong, at the people’s house and you’re just gonna have to deal!”
Omar also addressed the chants while speaking to reporters in the Capitol on Thursday.
“And as much as he is spewing his fascist ideology on stage, telling U.S. citizens to go back because they do not agree with his detrimental policies for our country, we tell people that here in the United States, dissent is patriotic,” she said.
While speaking to reporters Thursday, Trump was asked why he did not stop the chants. “I think I did—I started speaking very quickly,” the president said. “I was not happy with it—I disagree with it.”
Fact-Checking Trump’s Claims
The rally comes towards the end of a highly polarized week where Trump’s tweets aimed at the four congresswomen, known as The Squad, and the subsequent debate about whether the president’s remarks are racist have dominated the news cycle.
Trump has continually and fervently defended his remarks, arguing that they were not racist. He has repeatedly said that The Squad hates America and that they should be condemned for their past remarks, not him.
Despite receiving backlash from both Democrats and Republicans, Trump has remained steadfast and continued to lash out at Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley to return to the countries they are from if they are unhappy in the U.S., despite the fact that all three women were born in America.
However, throughout this whole ordeal, Trump has specifically targeted Omar, a war refugee from Somalia who has lived in the U.S. almost all of her life and has been a U.S. citizen for nearly 20 years.
Trump reiterated many of his old talking points to attack Omar during the rally Wednesday night. Let’s take a took at his most significant claims.
Omar’s Statements on 9/11
Trump started out his blitz against Omar by reciting a frequently used criticized statement she made about the September 11 attacks.
“Omar minimized the September 11 attacks on our homeland, saying ‘some people did something.’ I don’t think so,” Trump said.
That claim, however, is out of context. Omar’s original statement comes from a speech she made at Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
In that speech, Omar said that the Muslim extremists who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks are not representative of the entire Muslim population and that all Muslims should not be treated poorly because of the actions of a few.
“It doesn’t matter how good you are, if you one day find yourself in a school where other religions are talked about, but when Islam is mentioned we are only talking about terrorists, and if you say something you are sent to the principle’s office,” Omar said.
“So to me I say, raise hell! Make people feel uncomfortable, because here’s the truth, here’s the truth: far too long we have lived with the discomfort of being a second class citizen,” she continued.
“And frankly I’m tired of it and every single Muslim in this country should be tired of it. CAIR was founded after 9/11, because they recognize that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties,” she added.
It’s worth noting that CAIR was actually founded in 1994, and not after 9/11, but that fact still does not change the full context of the quote.
Omar’s Statements on ISIS
Later in his speech, Trump said: “She [Omar] pleaded for compassion for ISIS recruits attempting to join the terrorist organization.”
That claim appears to refer to a letter she wrote on November 8, 2016, to a judge overseeing a case in which nine Somali-Americans were found guilty of attempting to join ISIS.
Omar was just one of many who wrote to the judge, seemingly on the defendant’s behalfs, recommending a lighter sentence than the 30-years the prosecution was recommending.
Omar’s letter did not mention the accused by name, but seems to be recommending that in general, judges should consider lighter sentences for young people attempting to join an extremist group.
She did not say this because she supports ISIS, nor anyone joining ISIS, but because she believes a “compassionate” and restorative justice approach is a better way to combat extremism.
She also argued that a 30-plus year sentence for a 20-year-old man is essentially a life sentence, and feeds narratives that extremists use to recruit.
“Such punitive measures not only lack efficacy, they inevitably create an environment in which extremism can flourish, aligning with the presupposition of terrorist recruitment: ‘Americans do not accept you and continue to trivialize your value. Instead of being a nobody, be a martyr,’” she wrote.
Some of the most controversial comments of the night were Trump’s comments about Omar and Al-Qaeda.
“Omar laughed that Americans speak of al-Qaeda in a menacing tone and remarked that you don’t say ‘America’ with this intensity,” he said. “You say ‘al-Qaeda’ makes you proud. Al-Qaeda makes you proud!”
What he is referring to here is a 2013 interview Omar had on a local PBS show in Minneapolis while she was working as an activist.
In that interview, she talked about how Islamic terrorist groups seem frightening to Americans because the words seem foreign, even though they usually come from everyday Arabic words.
She says she took a class about terrorism in college and goes on to say, “The thing that was interesting in the class was every time the professor said ‘al-Qaeda,’ he sort of like — his shoulders went up ‘Al-Qaeda,’ ‘Hezbollah.’”
“But it is that, you don’t say ‘America’ with an intensity, you don’t say ‘England’ with the intensity. You know, you don’t say ‘the Army’ with an intensity,” she continued. “But you say these names [of terrorist groups] because you want that word to carry weight, you want it to leave something.”
Nowhere in that interview does Omar say she is proud of Al-Qaeda, or that she supports them. In fact, she describes Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups linked to them as “evil” and said they were “taking part in terror” around the world.
Trump also went on to make another comment about Omar and Al-Qaeda.
“And at a press conference just this week, when asked whether she supported al-Qaeda,” he said. “She refused to answer. She didn’t want to give an answer to that question.”
That comes from the press conference The Squad held earlier this week to formally respond to Trump’s tweets. When a reporter asked Omar what her response was to Trump’s claim that she supports Al-Qaeda, she responded, “I will not dignify it with an answer.”
“I do not expect every time there is a white supremacist who attacks or there is a white man who kills in a school or in a movie theater, or in a mosque, or in a synagogue, I don’t expect my white community members to respond on whether they love that person or not,” she added.
Accusations of Anti-Semitism
The final claim that Trump made about Omar, which promoted the crowd to start chanting, was about the allegations of anti-Semitism.
“And obviously, and importantly, Omar has a history of launching vicious anti-Semitic screeds,” he said. That statement refers to a few things.
In February, both parties criticized Omar after she posted a tweet suggesting that pro-Israel groups buy off politicians. In the since-deleted tweet, Omar wrote: “It’s all about the Benjamins baby.”
That tweet got a lot of backlash from people who called the post offensive for using what many took as an anti-Semitic trope. Omar later apologized for the tweet.
“Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes,” she wrote.
“We have to always be willing to step back and think through criticism, just as I expect people to hear me when others attack me for my identity,” she continued. “This is why I unequivocally apologize.”
The second instance occurred when Omar responded to another member of Congress who criticized her stance on pro-Israel lawmakers, writing, “I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee.”
Some took that as offensive because they felt that Omar suggested that pro-Israel lawmakers have dual loyalties to Israel and the U.S.
Trump also attacked Omar for her statements, but then a month later, he made a very similar statement. Speaking in front of the Republican Jewish Coalition Trump referred to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as “your prime minister” to a group of Jewish Americans.
See what others are saying: (PolitiFact) (The Washington Post) (Fox News)
Pelosi Announces House Will Draft Articles of Impeachment Against Trump
- Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced that the House will begin drafting the official articles of impeachment for President Trump.
- This follows the release of the final report from the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation and the Judiciary Committee formally launching impeachment proceedings.
- The process is anticipated to move very quickly, with a Committee vote as soon as next week, and a full House vote before Christmas.
Pelosi Announces Articles of Impeachment
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday that the House of Representatives will officially begin drafting articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.
“The facts are uncontested,” the Speaker said. “The president abused his power for his own personal political benefit at the expense of our national security, by withholding military aid and crucial Oval Office meeting in exchange for an announcement of an investigation into his political rival.”
“His wrongdoing strikes at the very heart of our Constitution,” she continued.
“The president leaves us no choice but to act because he is trying to corrupt, once again, the election for his own benefit. The president has engaged in abuse of power, undermining our national security, and jeopardizing the integrity of our elections.”
“Sadly, but with confidence and humility, with allegiance to our founders and a heart full of love for America, today I am asking our chairmen to proceed with articles of impeachment,” she concluded.
Pelosi’s announcement marks a significant step in the impeachment process. The articles of impeachment the House now drafts will essentially be the “charges” they will bring against President Trump.
Intelligence Committee Report
The decision follows several major developments in the impeachment proceedings that have occurred throughout the week.
On Tuesday, the House Intelligence Committee— which has been leading the impeachment investigation for the last two months— released its final report on the findings of that investigation.
In the 300-page report, the Committee found that Trump pressured Ukraine to announce investigations into his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, by withholding a White House meeting and nearly $400 million in military assistance to Ukraine.
“The President engaged in this course of conduct for the benefit of his own presidential reelection, to harm the election prospects of a political rival, and to influence our nation’s upcoming presidential election to his advantage,” the Committee wrote.
“In doing so, the President placed his own personal and political interests above the national interests of the United States, sought to undermine the integrity of the U.S. presidential election process, and endangered U.S. national security.”
The report also goes on to say that in response to the House launching the impeachment investigation, “President Trump engaged in an unprecedented campaign of obstruction of this impeachment inquiry.”
The Committee outlined how examples of how Trump obstructed their investigation, such as his refusal to cooperate with the investigation or hand over subpoenaed documents, and his efforts to direct State Department and White House officials to do the same.
The report said that Trump also obstructed their investigation by blocking key witnesses from testifying, including those who had been subpoenaed. It also accused Trump of engaging in “a brazen effort to publicly attack and intimidate witnesses who came forward to comply with duly authorized subpoenas and testify about his conduct.”
“Donald Trump is the first and only President in American history to openly and indiscriminately defy all aspects of the Constitutional impeachment process,” the report notes.
Judiciary Committee Starts Proceedings
The Intelligence Committee report does not include a direct recommendation for impeachment, but it will likely serve as the basis for which the articles of impeachment are drafted.
The articles will be written by the Judiciary Committee, which officially began the formal impeachment proceedings on Wednesday by holding a hearing where constitutional experts discussed the legal basis for impeaching Trump.
Four experts testified at the hearing: three brought in by Democrats and one brought in by Republicans.
The experts requested by Democrats argued that Trump’s dealings with Ukraine definitely met the threshold for an impeachable offense set by the framers of the Constitution.
Meanwhile, the expert the Republicans brought in argued that the Democrats were rushing the process and did not have adequate evidence and that Trump should be investigated more.
But Democrats appear eager to press on, with leadership pushing to hold the full House vote on the impeachment articles before Christmas.
As a result, it has been reported that the Judiciary Committee will draft the articles in the next few days and hold the debate and vote on the articles as early as next week. The bigger question is what the articles will be, and how many the Committee will propose.
Each offense they claim Trump committed must be its own article— for example “obstruction of justice” would be a separate article from “misconduct.”
Right now, the Democrats are deciding if they want to zero in on the Ukraine matter, or include a broader look at Trump’s other alleged wrongdoings, which notably could include his alleged efforts to obstruct the Mueller report investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Once the Judiciary has approved the articles, they will go to the full House for a vote.
The House just has to approve one of the articles for the president to be impeached, and if approved, the matter would head to the Senate for the trial portion of the process, which would likely be held in January.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (Vox) (Fox News)
Trump and Macron Spar at NATO Summit
- At the NATO summit in London, President Donald Trump criticized French President Emmanuel Macron for previously saying NATO was experiencing “brain death” due to the lack of U.S. commitment under Trump.
- While condemning Macron, Trump defended NATO, a sharp reversal from previous stances taken by the president.
- Later, Macron and Trump sparred over the Turkish incursion in Syria and Turkey’s relationship with NATO.
- U.S.-French relations have experienced recent strains. The meeting between the two leaders follows an announcement made by the U.S. the day before saying it was considering levying tariffs on $2.4 billion worth of French goods.
Trump Condemns Macron Remarks
President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron publicly sparred during a meeting on the first day of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit Tuesday.
Speaking during a press event with the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg earlier in the day, Trump condemned a remark made by the French leader in an interview last month.
In that interview, Macron said that NATO was experiencing “brain death” because America’s commitment to the organization has been called into question under Trump.
“NATO serves a great purpose,” Trump said, responding to a question about Macron’s statement. “And I hear that President Macron said NATO is ‘brain dead.’ I think that’s very insulting to a lot of different forces.”
“When you make a statement like that, that is a very, very nasty statement to 28 — including them — 28 countries,” the president continued, referring to the NATO member-states, which number 29.
“They’ve had a very rough year and you just can’t go around making statements like that about NATO. It’s very disrespectful,” he added.
Trump’s defense of NATO came was a surprising reversal from his previous stance on the intergovernmental military alliance, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary.
Trump has a long history of being critical of NATO. He has argued that the U.S. is being treated unfairly by other NATO members because they do not spend as much money on their militaries as the U.S. does.
NATO members are required to spend at least 2% of their GDP on their own national defense. Trump has claimed that many members are not meeting that goal.
Trump also repeatedly called NATO “obsolete” while on the campaign trail, though he later backtracked on those comments once he was elected. And there have been multiple reports that Trump has threatened to pull the U.S. out of NATO altogether.
Even before Trump’s comments, experts and leaders were anticipating tensions and possibly even conflict between Trump and Macron at the summit.
The two leaders, who in the past have had a strong relationship, have recently seen strained ties.
On Monday, just one day before the summit began, the U.S. threatened to put new tariffs on $2.4 billion in French products including wine, cheese, and yogurt.
Trump’s chief trade negotiator said the tariffs would be in response to a French digital services tax that the U.S. believes discriminates against American internet companies.
During the press conference with Stoltenberg, Trump indicated that the U.S. was moving forward with the tariffs.
“They’re starting to tax other people’s products so therefore we’re going to tax them,” the president said. “That’s just taking place right now on technology and we’re doing their wines and everything else.”
However, shortly after, Trump sat down for his meeting Macron, where he emphasized the positive trade relations between France and the U.S. in his opening remarks.
“We do a lot of trade with France,” Trump said. “We have a minor dispute I think we’ll probably be able to work it out. But we have a big trade relationship and I’m sure that in a very short period of time, things will be looking very rosy.”
Trump also went on to say that some NATO members were not paying enough in defense spending, but that the organization has gotten a lot more flexible since he assumed office.
Macron for his part defended his earlier statements about NATO being “brain dead,” and said he stood by it.
The Turkey Situation
The conversation started to escalate when the two leaders began to discuss ISIS and the situation with Syria and Turkey.
Trump and his administration have frequently claimed that ISIS has been defeated in Syria.
This claim, which has largely been debunked, was a big part of the justification for Trump’s decision to remove troops from Northern Syria and step aside to let Turkey launch a military operation to clear Syrian Kurdish groups at the border.
Turkey considers those groups to be terrorists, but the U.S. and many other NATO members consider them key allies who have fought alongside the U.S. to combat ISIS in the region.
The Turkey question also appeared to be a point of conflict between Trump and Macron.
Trump claimed that most of the captured ISIS fighters in Syria were from Europe. Macron responded by contradicting Trump, and pointing out that only a small amount of captured fighters were European.
The French leader also condemned Turkey for fighting against the Kurds and said the situation today has lead to more ISIS fighters in the region and that getting rid of ISIS was the number one priority.
Trump responded by saying that Macron’s response “was one of the greatest non-answers I’ve ever heard.”
Macron hit back by saying that it is not Europe’s responsibility, and added that “any ambiguity with Turkey vis a vis these groups is detrimental to the situation on the ground.”
Still, Trump emphasized his strong relationship with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a move many experts argue will cause even more divisions within NATO.
Erdogan is already in hot water with the alliance over the Turkish incursion in Syria, as well as the fact that Turkey recently purchased an antiaircraft missile system from Russia, which goes against NATO commitments not to buy Russian systems.
Despite the tension between NATO and Turkey, Erdogan has already asked NATO members at the summit to recognize the Syrian Kurdish Forces as a terrorist group.
The Turkish leader also threatened to oppose NATO’s plans to update the defense of member states like Poland and other Baltic countries if the organization does not agree to his demands.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (Axios) (Reuters)
Gordon Sondland Gives New Public Testimony in Impeachment Hearing. Here’s What You Need to Know
- U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland testified in a public hearing as part of the impeachment inquiry.
- Notably, Sondland testified that requests made by Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, were “a quid pro quo for arranging a White House visit for [Ukranian] President Zelensky.”
- While Sondland said he was concerned the Trump administration’s decision to withhold military aid from Ukraine was a quid pro quo, he also said that Trump “never told me directly that the aid was conditioned on the meetings.”
- Sondland also implicated a number of other high-ranking officials, saying that “everyone was in the loop.”
Gordon Sondland, the U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. and a key player in the ongoing House impeachment inquiry, testified in his first public hearing before the House Intelligence Committee Wednesday.
Sondland’s testimony shed new light on the investigation into whether or not President Donald Trump pressured Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Burisma, a Ukrainian company Joe Biden’s son Hunter was on the board of.
The inquiry stems from a whistleblower complaint that alleged Trump withheld nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine that had already been approved by Congress on the condition that President Zelensky conduct the investigation.
The complaint also claims that Trump refused to meet with Zelensky until after he had publicly agreed to the investigations.
Sondland’s public hearing is also important to the impeachment inquiry because his testimonies have not always been consistent. In his closed-door hearing last month, Sondland testified originally that there was not a quid pro quo regarding military aid.
“I do not recall any discussions with the White House on withholding U.S. security assistance from Ukraine in return for assistance with the President’s 2020 re-election campaign,” he said.
Sondland later revised his closed-door testimony after several people contradicted his deposition. Those individuals said that it was actually Sondland himself who told a Zelensky aide that the military assistance would be conditioned on the investigation.
In an amendment to his testimony, Sondland wrote that he told Zelensky’s aide “that resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we had been discussing for many weeks.”
In his public testimony, Sondland restated much of the content in his closed-door deposition, but he also provided some new information.
Here is some of the new information we got from Sondland’s hearing today.
Explicit Quid Pro Quo
In his opening statement, Sondland said for the first time that there was an explicit quid pro quo regarding the investigation and the meeting with Trump.
“[Trump’s personal attorney Rudy] Giuliani’s requests were a quid pro quo for arranging a White House visit for President Zelensky,” he said. “Mr. Giuliani demanded that Ukraine make a public statement announcing the investigations of the 2016 election, DNC server, and Burisma.”
“Mr. Giuliani was expressing the desires of the president of the United States, and we knew that these investigations were important to the president,” he added.
However, regarding the military aid and investigations, Sondland said President Trump “never told me directly that the aid was conditioned on the meetings. The only thing we got directly from Guiliani was that the Burisma and the 2016 elections were conditioned on the White House meeting.”
But Sondland still said he personally had “concerns of the potential quid pro quo regarding the security aid.”
Sondland Involves Key People in Trump Administration
Sondland later said that he expressed his concerns about the military aid to Vice President Mike Pence.
“I mentioned to Vice President Pence before the meetings with the Ukrainians that I had concerns that the delay in aid had become tied to the issue of investigations,” he said.
A spokesperson for Pence’s office denied that the conversation ever happened.
Sondland went on to say that many people high up in the administration, including Trump’s acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney as well as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, knew what was going on, saying, “Everyone was in the loop.”
During a key interaction, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) asked Sondland if: “Mulvaney was aware of this quid pro quo of this condition that the Ukrainians had to meet, that is announcing this public investigations to get the White House meeting. Is that right?”
“Yeah, a lot of people were aware of it,” Sondland responded.
“Including Mr. Mulvaney?” Schiff asked.
“Correct,” Sondland responded.
“And including the secretary of state?” the representative asked.
“Correct,” the ambassador answered.
Sondland also said that when he told Pompeo he was concerned about the military aid being withheld, Pompeo directed him to keep up the pressure campaign.
Trump Only Cares About Investigation Announcement
Sondland additionally said that Trump’s priority was always just to have the Ukranian’s announce the investigation, but he was not sure whether he actually cared about the investigation happening.
In a line of questioning, the Democrats’ lawyer, Daniel Goldman asked Sondland: “you understood that in order to get that White House meeting — that you wanted President Zelensky to have and that President Zelensky desperately wanted to have — that Ukraine would have to initiate these two investigations. Is that right?”
“Well, they would have to announce that they were going to do it,” Sondland responded.
“Right. Because Giuliani and President Trump didn’t actually care if they did them, right?” Goldman followed up.
“I never heard, Mr. Goldman, anyone say that the investigations had to start or had to be completed,” Sondland said. “The only thing I heard from Mr. Giuliani or otherwise was that they had to be announced in some form and that form kept changing.”