President Donald Trump on Wednesday ratcheted up his racist attacks on a group of Democratic lawmakers during an impromptu press conference on the White House lawn, reigniting a false and defamatory rumor about Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) that first surfaced during her victorious state Senate campaign in 2016.
Responding to a question during a televised press availability shortly before he departed for a campaign event, Trump suggested that Omar was once married to her brother.
“Well there’s a lot of talk about the fact that she was married to her brother,” he said. “I know nothing about it, I hear that she was married to her brother, you’re asking me a question about it. I don’t know but I’m sure that somebody would be looking at that.”
The libelous statement dates back to Omar’s 2016 campaign for the Minnesota legislature. At the time, several conservative sites falsely accused Omar of being married to two men at the same time — an accusation easily disproved by state records — claiming one of the men in question was Omar’s brother.
Those allegations are baseless, but they have persevered on far-right fringes.
while reporting on anti-muslim group in st. cloud, this was by farr this most oft-mentioned conspiracy https://t.co/D6y4WA5Tcb
— Steadman (@AsteadWesley) July 17, 2019
Trump surfacing the allegation publicly as he did on Wednesday follows a well-worn pattern of dabbling in libelous allegations under the guise of simply “asking questions.” As with past instances, Trump’s talking points appear to come from various white supremacist cesspools of the internet.
The president’s comments Wednesday afternoon come as he faces intensifying scrutiny over his continued racist attacks on four freshman House Democrats, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Omar, who have objected to his various actions as president, specifically his administration’s immigration policies.
Over the weekend, Trump told the four women to “go back” to their home countries (three of the four were born in the United States), a well-worn racist trope, and earlier this week, he claimed the lawmakers hated America and supported Al Qaeda, offering no proof to support that defamatory claim.
Trump has faced widespread condemnation for those remarks on the left but Republicans have, by and large, remained silent on the matter, with a few exceptions. Some GOP lawmakers have instead doubled down, defending Trump and claiming the four Democratic lawmakers are a threat to the country.
On Tuesday, Republicans in the House also rejected a measure to condemn the president’s remarks, instead objecting to Democrats’ use of the term “racist” to describe his comments. The measure passed 240-187, with just four Republicans — Reps. Will Hurd (TX), Susan Brooks (IN), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA), and Fred Upton (MI) — crossing party lines. Michigan Rep. Justin Amash (I), who recently left the Republican Party, also voted in favor of the measure.