Politics

Congressional Black Caucus says Trump put Omar's 'life in danger'

Group criticizes president's tweets

Washington, DC - Members of the Congressional Black Caucus directed their outrage Monday at President Donald Trump, for what they say was putting Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar's "life at risk," following a series of Trump tweets that were sharply critical of the Minnesota freshman congresswoman.

The comments came just hours ahead of Trump's visit Monday to the Minneapolis area, which includes Omar's district.

"We know that he is scheduled to go to go Minnesota today and I imagine that he is doing that to further whip up irrational outrage over her comments. And in our opinion, this only furthers to put her life in danger," Rep. Karen Bass of California, the chairwoman of the caucus, said on a conference call with reporters. "I am certainly hoping that when he goes to Minnesota today his purpose is not to rev up a sentiment against Muslims and islamophobia."

The group called again for the President to take down his tweet with the edited video that he posted Friday that used comments Omar made at the Council on American-Islamic Relations last month spliced with news footage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. "We will never forget!" Trump wrote.

Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said he has also ordered a security review, in addition to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to review security both in Washington as well as in her district.

A New York man was arrested and charged earlier this month with threatening to assault and murder Omar, according to the US Attorney's Office for the Western District of New York.

Rep. André Carson, who along with Omar is one of only three Muslim members of Congress, said on the call that he believes that such a security review is "long overdue" and said that the Sergeant at Arms, he believes, has been "too slow" to respond to death threats because the believes they don't have the "capacity" at this point.

The House Sergeant at Arms is the law enforcement body charged with maintaining security for the US House of Representatives.

"I think this is a unique threat. I have found the Sergeant at Arms to be too slow to respond to death threats as it relates to certain members of Congress," Carson said and when asked to clarify added that he would like to see a deeper level of collaboration between the Sergeant at Arms, the FBI and local police enforcement because, "I just don't think they have a capacity at this point."

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Office of the Sergeant at Arms said investigators are working with the Capitol Police.

"The Office of the Sergeant at Arms refers threat matters to the United States Capitol Police and they in turn work very closely with all relevant law enforcement agencies, including the FBI," the spokesperson said. "We also work with member offices offering security assessments and assisting with the coordination of security for member events throughout the country. We monitor the status of threat investigations and work with the United States Capitol Police to follow up and brief the office on the investigations."

Many of the members had spoken to Omar in recent days. They said she is spending time with her family and focused on the work for her district while she is home for recess this week.

"She is strong, she is determined but she is also concerned," Bass said.

In a statement released Sunday night, Omar said in the days since Trump tweeted about the speech she gave last month, she has experienced an increase in death threats.

"Since the President's tweet Friday evening, I have experienced an increase in direct threats on my life — many directly referencing or replying to the President's video," Omar said. "I thank the Capitol Police, the FBI, the House Sergeant at Arms, and the Speaker of the House for their attention to these threats."

On Sunday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told ABC News that 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."

"I find what her 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 out for those comments," Sanders told ABC's George Stephanopoulos.

Trump continued tweeting against Omar on Monday, calling her "out of control" in a tweet that also disparaged Pelosi.

CNN's Ashley Killough contributed to this report.


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