Boebert Won't Apologize for Remarks 11/30 06:11
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Days after firebrand conservative Rep. Lauren Boebert of
Colorado was harshly criticized for making anti-Muslim comments about Rep.
Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat whom she likened to a bomb-carrying terrorist,
the two spoke by phone.
By both lawmakers' accounts, it did not go well.
Monday's conversation, which Boebert sought after issuing a tepid statement
last Friday, offered an opportunity to extend an olive branch in a House riven
by tension. Instead, it ended abruptly after Boebert rejected Omar's request
for a public apology, amplifying partisan strife that has become a feature, not
a bug, of the GOP since a mob of Donald Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on
Boebert previously apologized "to anyone in the Muslim community I
offended," but not directly to Omar.
It's just the latest example of a GOP lawmaker making a personal attack
against another member of Congress, an unsettling trend that has gone largely
unchecked by House Republican leaders. It also offers a test of Democrats'
newfound resolve to mete out punishment to Republicans.
Earlier this month conservative Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona was censured over
a violent video. In February Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia was booted
from congressional committees for her inflammatory rhetoric.
After Monday's phone call, Omar and Boebert quickly issued statements
condemning each other.
"I believe in engaging with those we disagree with respectfully, but not
when that disagreement is rooted in outright bigotry and hate," Omar said in a
statement. She said she "decided to end the unproductive call."
Boebert shot back in an Instagram video: "Rejecting an apology and hanging
up on someone is part of cancel culture 101 and a pillar of the Democrat Party."
The chain of events was set in motion over a week ago when a video posted to
Facebook showed Boebert speaking before constituents, describing an interaction
with Omar -- an interaction that Omar maintains never happened.
In the video, the freshman Colorado lawmaker claims that a Capitol Police
officer approached her with "fret on his face" shortly before she stepped
aboard a House elevator and the doors closed.
"I look to my left and there she is -- Ilhan Omar. And I said, 'Well, she
doesn't have a backpack. We should be fine,'" Boebert says with a laugh.
Omar is Muslim. Boebert's comment about Omar not wearing a backpack was an
apparent reference to her not carrying a suicide bomb.
Reaction to the video was swift. Omar called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
and Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to "take appropriate action"
because "normalizing this bigotry not only endangers my life but the lives of
all Muslims. Anti-Muslim bigotry has no place in Congress."
House Democratic leadership also issued a joint statement condemning
"Boebert's repeated, ongoing and targeted Islamophobic comments and actions,"
while calling on McCarthy "to finally take real action to confront racism."
Yet McCarthy, who is in line to become House speaker if Republicans retake
the majority next year, has proven reluctant to police members of his caucus
whose views are often closely aligned with the party's base.
Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said the speaker had nothing new to add Monday
and pointed to the statement issued by Democratic leaders last week calling on
McCarthy to act.
Boebert tweeted Friday that "I apologize to anyone in the Muslim community I
offended with my comment about Rep. Omar," adding that "there are plenty of
policy differences to focus on without this unnecessary distraction."
It's not Boebert's first brush with controversy -- nor Omar's. Since
Boebert's election to Congress in 2020, she has leaned in to provocative
broadsides that delight the party's base. Omar has drawn her focus in
particular. She has previously called Omar and others "full time propagandists"
for "state sponsored terrorism," and "politicians with suicide belts strapped
In May, she tweeted that Omar was "a full-time propagandist for Hamas." She
has also called Omar and Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib "evil" while also
referring to them as the "jihad squad." Tlaib, like Omar, is Muslim.
Omar too has drawn scrutiny for her comments, often in reference to Israel,
some of which have been blasted as anti-Semitic.
In 2019, she suggested that Israel's supporters are pushing U.S. lawmakers
to take a pledge of "allegiance to a foreign country." She was also pressured
to apologized "unequivocally" for suggesting that congressional support for
Israel was "all about the Benjamins baby," a longstanding trope about Jews
House Democratic leadership directly rebuked Omar over the remarks.