Democratic Representative from New York Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (R) and Dempocratic Representative from Minnesota Ilhan Omar chat as the US House of Representatives convenes for the 118th Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 3, 2023. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via
(CNSNews.com) – When asked whether she agrees with Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) that Omar’s removal from the House Foreign Affairs Committee is about revenge,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” on Thursday, “Absolutely. I think this was about revenge.
“This was about petty politics, but also, I think it's also important to state that this was not just about Republicans trying to feed a base that they have already primed for years under Donald Trump with racism, misogyny, xenophobia, Islamophobia, but also it represents a stripping of an important perspective on the House Foreign Affairs Committee that Ilhan Omar, as a refugee, as an immigrant, as the only hijabi woman in the United States Congress represents, and that perspective is critical in terms of American foreign policy,” she said.
In addition to Omar, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) also removed Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) from the House Intelligence Committee. Both of them are white males.
“So that's not about race, but this is?” CNN’s John Berman asked.
“I think when we look at all three of these, first of all, when you look at Swalwell and Schiff, they're targeting and the Republican Party is targeting of all three of them have always been about campaigning, and it has always been about the perspectives that they bring. It is about political revenge in the case of all three of them,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
“Political revenge for Adam Schiff for his work on the impeachment of Donald Trump. Political revenge with Eric Swalwell in the incisive -- his incisive ability to communicate against the Trump administration and the wrongdoings of the Republican party, and in the case of Ilhan Omar, I believe that hers is absolutely especially amplified with racist targeting, because this is what fed her base,” she said.
“This is the same representative that Donald Trump held rallies around saying send her back to quote, unquote her country. Her country is the United States of America,” the congresswoman said.
“She is an American, and so, you know, in the case of all three of these expulsions, there is either political revenge, or there is the absolute agenda of racist misogynist and xenophobic targeting. and those three points, in addition to the political revenge, constitute modern Trumpian politics -- pettiness revenge, score keeping, and the use and the race and the baiting of identity in order to divide people up,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
Asked what McCarthy gets out of doing this, the congresswoman said, “I think Speaker McCarthy gets a fundraising boon. I think he gets potentially currying favor with either Trump and his base, saying I delivered on these promises. I'm a good soldier to the Trumpian political base. I am really letting the world know that the House Republican Party is now being fully transformed.
“We are cementing the transformation, even with Donald Trump being gone, they're cementing the transformation of the Republican Party into a Trumpian party. One that settles petty political scores, that is no longer motivated by classic quote, unquote conservative politics of reducing a tax base, et cetera, but that this is truly about service to their benefactors,” she said.
Berman noted that during the vote to make McCarthy speaker, Ocasio-Cortez was seen talking to Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), who posted an animated video showing Gosar attacking Ocasio-Cortez.
When asked whether Gosar apologized to her or whether Ocasio-Cortez was okay with what the congressman did, Ocasio-Cortez said, “No, no. There was never an apology, but I think what a lot of people sometimes fail to understand is that when a workplace has been made unsafe for a person, it is then up to that individual to try to survive on their own.
“This is not an institution that protects. This is not a party that protects people that they disagree with, but that being said, what it comes with those remarks with Representative Gosar, one of the things I told him is, I can't stand what you did, and I can't stand what you stand for, but I don't think that you should support Kevin McCarthy for speaker either, and, you know, that's one thing on one day that I think both of us were in alignment on,” she said.
As to whether she felt safe sitting with Gosar during the vote for McCarthy, the Ocasio-Cortez said, “I think it's uncomfortable serving with people who engage in what many experts deem stochastic terrorism, which is the incitement of violence using digital means and large platforms so that individual themselves may not be the one that's wielding a weapon, but I have had to ride, as had Representative Omar, I've consistently had to ride in 20,000 pound armored vehicles, in engaging in some of the most gruesome threats that you can imagine that were incited by Republican members.
“This is not just about a tweet. It is about what life looks like and the marshalling of hundreds, thousands, if not millions of people into doing something, and Donald Trump knows that very well, and he uses and used his rallies very strategically in order to engage in political intimidation of what he deemed his political enemies,” the congresswoman said.
She said she’s still against Gosar being on committees.
Absolutely. You know, there has never been an apology, and by the way, that is something that highly distinguishes these situations. These individuals that Kevin McCarthy has appointed, chosen to appoint to committee, George Santos claimed that his grandparents were in the Holocaust. That was a lie, a disgusting lie. Marjorie Taylor Greene regularly trafficking in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, Paul Gosar inciting.
These are individuals, Marjorie Taylor Greene included, inciting violence against specific members in the body. He has appointed all three of them to house committees, not just one, but multiple. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who was engaging in 9/11 conspiracy theories. Kevin McCarthy appointed her to the Homeland Security committee.
So there is really no consistency here, and it needs to be very well-known that this targeting of Ilhan Omar is because the Republican base finds it easy. The Republican base finds it politically self-rewarding, and I also believe that the Republican base seeks to remove a perspective that challenges a certain foreign policy establishment in this country.(Video) Rep. Ilhan Omar voted off foreign affairs committee
She advocates against the -- just pivoting toward the defaulting to use of violent means in American foreign policy, and she really pushes this country to engage in diplomatic means and to center the needs of refugees and survivors and the casualties of war.
McCarthy has explained that Omar, Schiff, and Swalwell have not been removed from all committees, just from the House Foreign Affairs and House Intelligence Committees, respectively. When asked if the speaker has a point, Ocasio-Cortez said, “I don't think he does.
“First of all, when he says that Gosar and all these folks removed from their committees, Republicans did not do that. In fact, they appointed them to committees. Paul Gosar is on House Oversight and I believe natural resources. The same two committees that I serve on, by the way, very selectively put this individual on the exact two committees,” she said.
The congresswoman said she doesn’t know whether that was intentional.
“I cannot speak into Kevin McCarthy's mind, but it certainly should have been a consideration as speaker of the House that he should have taken into account,” she said.
“Because Gosar posted the video attacking you?” Berman asked.
“Absolutely,” Ocasio-Cortez said, “but beyond that, he also appointed Marjorie Taylor Greene to Oversight and Homeland Security. So this idea that they did it to one and the other is, you know, I think is something that can be dispensed with, but when it comes to representative Omar's role on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, she has modeled what coming together with a community looks like, what apology looks like.
“One of the leaders of the large group of Jewish members in congress stood up and several Jewish members of Congress, Jan Schakowsky, Dean Phillips stood up in defense saying she has engaged in a process of reconciliation with us. This is a model of what this kind -- kind of incident should look like,” she said.
"They were begging Kevin McCarthy as Jewish members of Congress, if you listen to what Jan Schakowsky was saying, you do not speak for me. You cannot do this on my behalf, and yet he still railroaded this, which is really what gives the whole game away,” the congresswoman said.
"In fact, Representative Miller, who brought forth the resolution, in discussing it today really gave the whole game away when he started to equate a position that amnesty international, certain bodies within the U.N., even Israeli human rights organizations have been sounding the alarm that the human rights crisis in the West Bank and that Palestinians face is constituting apartheid, and he equated that position, that global human rights organizations have already raised as anti-Semitic, and that right there is the slippery slope that we really need to be paying attention to,” she said.
BERMAN: So, so far in the House of Representatives, it's been a big battle, days long battle over who would be speaker. Now there have been days spent knocking people off committees. How much do you think is going to get done in this Congress?
AOC: I mean, Kevin McCarthy took a week -- took about a week to become selected speaker of the house, something that is typically a ceremonial formality, because all of that brawling happens in the months between November and January. So he took a week to become speaker. They have taken almost an entire month to even organize their committees.
We just had our first Oversight Committee hearing yesterday. Serving in oversight under the great Elijah Cummings, one of the things he told us is a congressional term is two years, but you really have the first six months to be effective, because you go out in August and when you come back, members of Congress already have primary elections coming up.
So you have that first six months to really legislate and get your agenda rolling. Kevin McCarthy has already burned through month one doing nothing. No committees being formally organized. He burned a week becoming speaker of the House. These first six months he cannot afford to lose that kind of time.
So now he is down to five months, and what we're seeing next week on the docket for, you know, Oversight Committee, for example, they're spending a week doing a hearing on Twitter.
So I do not anticipate this Republican majority being able to do much or be effective beyond engaging in political stunts, and that is to the detriment of Americans, both Republican and Democrat, as well as independent because things are not going to be getting done in the way that they need to be under his leadership.(Video) George Santos Celebrates Ilhan Omar's Removal From Foreign Affairs Committee