President Trump suggested Tuesday that Rep. Ilhan Omar, the Minnesota Democrat who is one of two Muslim women elected to Congress last year, should resign over the “terrible” things she said about the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC.
He did not offer to resign himself over a mocking reference to Native American genocide, or call out his son, Donald Jr., for applauding that remark.
“Congressman Omar, it's terrible what she said and I think she should either resign from Congress or she should certainly resign from the House Foreign Affairs Committee,” said Trump at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday. Omar apologized Monday for two tweets about the role money plays in U.S. support for Israel that were denounced by many of her House colleagues from both parties, as well as Jewish-American groups including the Anti-Defamation League.
"What she said is so deep-seated in her heart that her lame apology, that's what it was, it was lame and she didn't mean a word of it, was just not appropriate,” said Trump. "I think she should resign from Congress frankly, but at a minimum, she shouldn't be on committees, certainly that committee."
Trump showed less concern for the feelings of minorities on Saturday after Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., officially launched her presidential candidacy. He posted, “Elizabeth Warren, sometimes referred to by me as Pocahontas, joined the race for President. Will she run as our first Native American presidential candidate, or has she decided that after 32 years, this is not playing so well anymore? See you on the campaign TRAIL, Liz!”
Emphasizing “TRAIL” in all capitals was taken by many commenters as an intentional, mocking reference to the Trail of Tears, a series of forced removals of Native Americans from the Southeastern states to the Plains that resulted in thousands of deaths. The episode, which native Americans regard as an example of ethnic cleansing, if not outright genocide, was carried out under the president Trump most admires, Andrew Jackson. Fox News anchor Brit Hume defended Trump on the basis that he is too ignorant to know what he was talking about.
Trump has frequently mocked Warren with the sobriquet “Pocahontas” for claiming partial Native American ancestry on the basis of family legend, a claim for which she has apologized. When Warren launched her exploratory committee in January, the president made a glib reference to Wounded Knee, a massacre of hundreds of Lakota Tribe members by the U.S. Army in 1890.
Shortly after Trump’s tweet, his son removed any doubt about what he meant by posting an Instagram of a tweet by the author Michael Malice, proclaiming “The Native American genocide continues with another murder by the president.” Trump, Jr. captioned the post with “Savage!!! Love my President.” The group United to End Genocide estimates that the population of about 10 million Native Americans in the 15th century living on what is now the United States had dwindled to 300,000 by 1900. A recent study found that European colonization killed so many indigenous people in North, Central and South America — both intentionally and as a result of the introduction of diseases from Europe — that the resulting reversion of cropland and pasture to forest soaked up enough carbon to precipitate a reverse global-warming effect, known as the “Little Ice Age.”
Trump Jr. is not just the eldest son of the president, with an affinity for posting on social media, but a key player for Republicans. He spoke at the Republican National Convention in 2016 and was a leading fundraiser and surrogate in the lead-up to November’s midterm elections. Trump Jr. stumped for Sen. Ted Cruz in Texas, campaigned for six House candidates in a single day and was designated by the New York Times as one of the party’s “most visible headliners.”
Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M., one of the first Native American women elected to Congress, told CNN Tuesday “it was evident to me” that Trump was mocking the Trail of Tears in his tweet.
"At this point, he needs to be ignored because he's not learning anything. It would be nice if he picked up a book and decided to read about Indian history,” Haaland said.
The Republican National Committee did not respond to a request for comment on Trump Jr.’s remarks.
Trump’s opposition to anti-Semitism did not extend to denouncing Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, a strong supporter of the president’s immigration policies, who made remarks last fall that the ADL said reflected “anti-Semitism and hate.”