House Democrats erupted in fury Thursday over President Donald Trump’s attacks on freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar at his reelection rally, fearful that crowd chants of “send her back” have personally endangered her and her family.
Senior Democrats are now calling for authorities to evaluate security for Omar (D-Minn.), as well as the three other lawmakers who Trump called out by name at his Wednesday night rally in North Carolina — warning that Trump has escalated the risk of threats or even acts of violence toward the four minority freshmen.
“It’s crystal clear to me that her life is in imminent danger,” said Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), a senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus. “He has threatened the safety of a member of Congress. That takes this to a whole different level.”
“It’s bad enough that the president didn’t stop the chant last night. But he started it. It’s instilling fear, it’s going to instill violence,” added Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), the House’s No. 4 Democrat.
The Minnesota Democrat on Thursday also warned of the dangers of bigotry.
“Racism distracts, racism hurts, racism kills,” Omar said. “What I’m going to be busy doing is uplifting people and making sure that they understand here in this country we are all Americans, we are all welcome regardless of what he says.”
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), one of the lawmakers Trump railed against Wednesday night and in tweets over the weekend, said she has concerns over her safety and is discussing with Democrats whether to ask for additional security.
“This president is evolving, as predicted, deeper into the rhetoric of racism which evolves into violence,” she said.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that Democrats spoke with the Sergeant-at-Arms office before Wednesday night “about making sure that our members have what they need for their protection.”
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said he plans to once again ask Capitol Police to reevaluate their security protocols for Omar and the other freshmen.
“There are some people who are easily influenced, and I’m afraid the president is part and parcel to the potential danger of those members of Congress. So we’ll have it looked at,” Thompson said in an interview Thursday.
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries also suggested Thursday that the four freshmen might require more security in light of Trump’s attacks, with a crowd of thousands chanting to “send her back.”
“We need to make sure that every single member of the House Democratic caucus, particularly those who have been viciously targeted by Donald Trump, including at the rally last night, are safe and have the protection that they need,” Jeffries said.
Other Democrats responded with rage at Trump’s comments at the capacity-crowd rally at East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C., where he said the freshmen lawmakers “hate our country.” Then he added: “You know what? If they don’t love it, tell them to leave it” — prompting the raucous crowd into chants.
Trump’s attacks Wednesday night came just one day after the House took a historic step to formally condemn the president’s earlier tweetstorm at Omar, Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) — telling them to “go back” where they came from — as racist.
Three of the progressive freshman lawmakers were born in America and Omar, who emigrated from Somalia as a child, became a citizen in 2000 at age 17.
But Democrats say his rhetoric at Wednesday’s rally, where he encouraged crowd chants, crossed yet another line as they feared a rise in personal threats against the four lawmakers of color, including two of Congress’s first Muslim women.
“The president’s comments are extremely dangerous to any person that looks like me. The fact that her continued to incite his supporters the way his just tells me that he frankly doesn’t give a damn about the safety of Americans,” Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.) said.
“Dangerous, obscene, racist, disgusting, quite frankly un-American,” Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said of the comments.