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2020 Dems stand by Omar as she's hammered for 9/11 comments

Image: Ilhan Omar (D-MN)  listens during a news conference on prescription
Ilhan Omar (D-MN) listens during a news conference on prescription drugs on Jan. 10, 2019 at the Capitol in Washington. Copyright Alex Wong Getty Images file
Copyright Alex Wong Getty Images file
By Allan Smith with NBC News Politics
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"Putting the safety of a sitting member of Congress @IlhanMN at risk & vilifying a whole religion is beyond the pale," Sen. Kamala Harris tweeted.


Several 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have come to the defense of Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., as she was blasted for comments about the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and Muslim civil rights at a recent conference.

While speaking last month at an event hosted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Los Angeles, Omar discussed how Muslim Americans had their constitutional rights and freedoms infringed upon following the 9/11 attacks, making a comment that some saw as minimizing the terrorist act.

"CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties," she said, incorrectly stating the organization's history. The group was actually founded in 1994, although it became much more active following the terror attacks.

Most prominent among her critics was President Donald Trump, who tweeted a video of the Twin Towers being hit by airplanes and burning down interspersed with a cut of Omar saying "some people" did "something" when speaking about the terror attacks. His video echoedcriticism of Omar onthe front page of Thursday's New York Post, which included the headline "Here's Your Something" over an image of the Twin Towers burning.

Democratic contenders denounced that tweet over the weekend as an attempt to incite violence against Omar, a freshman member of Congress who has previously found herself at the center of debate over controversial remarks she made about Israel and its lobbying efforts — comments that were denounced by Democrats.

Omar has already been subjected to numerous death threats over the past months.

Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke also defended Omar during a campaign event in South Carolina, saying, "This is an incitement to violence against Congresswoman Omar, against our fellow Americans who happen to be Muslim." On Sunday, Warren added to her criticism, saying Trump "is trying to incite violence and to divide us."

"Those who don't speak out in the Republican leadership are complicit in what he is doing," she added. "It is wrong."

Responding to the criticism, Omar tweeted Saturday that she stands "undeterred to continue fighting for equal opportunity in our pursuit of happiness for all Americans."

"No one person - no matter how corrupt, inept, or vicious - can threaten my unwavering love for America," she wrote.

Omar's comments were a feature of the Sunday political talk shows, where both Democrats and Republicans addressed them.

Asked about Trump's tweet, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told ABC's "This Week" Trump "is wishing no ill will and certainly not violence towards anyone, but the president is absolutely and should be calling out the congresswoman for her not only one time, but history of anti-Semitic comments."

"The bigger question is why aren't Democrats doing the same thing?" she added. "It's absolutely abhorrent the comments that she continues to make and has made and they look the other way."

Sanders added that she finds Omar's comments "to be absolutely disgraceful and unbefitting of a member of Congress, and I think that it's a good thing that the president is calling her our for those comments."

On CNN's "State of the Union," House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said he had no problem with Omar's comments.

"She was talking about discrimination against Muslim Americans," he said. "And she just said that, after that happened, it was used as an excuse for lots of discrimination and for withdrawal of civil liberties. I have had some problems with some of her other remarks, but not with that one."

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