Perversely, President Donald Trump and Minnesota 5th District freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar deserve each other.
The one characteristic they have in common is that they both act guilty, whether the allegations made against them are true or not.
Trump, for example, complained about the Mueller investigation from the outset. Periodically, he said that Robert Mueller, the chief investigator, should be fired. He allegedly said — well, I can’t repeat in a family newspaper what he actually said — that he was in big trouble if the investigation moved forward. He acted like he was guilty, even though the investigation came up with no collusion between his campaign and Russians interfering in his election.
In addition, Trump’s tax returns remain an issue. Most people understand that his claim of being audited is just a dodge to keep the public from knowing either how wealthy he really isn’t or how little in taxes he really paid. The federal government leaks like a sieve, even on issues of national security. To think that this one document in that vast bureaucracy has failed to surface is incredible. Does anyone else wonder why we know every time the president uses profanity, but somehow his taxes are kept with the nuclear codes?
And then there is Omar. Her detractors have charged that she committed immigration fraud by marrying her brother while married to another man, and then filed a fraudulent tax return by filing jointly with her first husband while allegedly being married to the man who is allegedly her brother. At one point, the three lived together.
A growing body of evidence exists that she married one man, Ahmed Hirsi, as she says, “in her faith tradition,” in 2002, then divorced him in her faith tradition in 2008, then married Ahmed Nur Said Elmi, who her opponents claim is her brother, in 2009. The opponents assert that Omar married him to keep him from being deported. They divorced in her faith tradition in 2011 and officially through the state in 2017.
However, in 2014 and 2015, she filed a joint tax return with Hirsi. As a result, she was assessed $3,469.23 in fines and reimbursements by the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board because she used campaign funds to pay legal fees to correct her allegedly fraudulent returns.
It would be easy to clear these matters up with state-certified marriage and divorce papers. Also needed are her tax returns. Like Trump, she has refused to give them up.
In addition, she has not been forthcoming with any evidence to counter the other claims. Instead, she has termed them “rumors” and accused those who raise them of being racist, misogynist and Islamophobic. The media are trying to track down family members, some of whom live in other countries, and are being stonewalled at every turn.
These are serious matters. In the history of the U.S. House of Representatives, five members have been expelled. Three committed treason during the Civil War. Another was convicted of bribery. The last, Rep. James Traficant, D-Ohio, was booted in 2002, in part for filing false tax returns.
Three weeks ago, it seemed as if the Democrats were splitting. Speaker Nancy Pelosi had agreed with Senate Republicans to pass a bill providing $4.6 billion in emergency funding to address the invasion at this nation’s southern border. If we don’t want kids sitting in cages without parents, or 80 adults crammed in a cage suitable for 20, we need to build larger facilities and reduce the backlog faced by overwhelmed border guards. Omar was among those Democrats who refused to back Pelosi on this vote.
Trump took one look at that and realized, if Pelosi is perceived as a moderate, his re-election could be jeopardized. So, he stooped to a new low, and suggested that Omar and her pals on the so-called “Squad”: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.; Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich.; Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass.; go back where they came from. The trouble with that is, except for Omar, they were born in the U.S. Omar has been here since she was age 9 or 10. All four were elected in fair, open elections.
With the attack, Trump managed to galvanize the Democrats against him. Pelosi led the passing of a resolution accusing Trump of making racist comments.
The irony is that Omar has made racist remarks, too — about Jews.
Republicans have been a non-factor in the 5th District since 1964. Hope was growing, however, that the DFL would field a more mainstream primary challenger to Omar, whose political philosophy is on the leftist precipice. Then, at a rally in South Carolina, Trump supporters started chanting “Send her back” in reference to Omar. The next day, Trump tried to distance himself from the hatred behind the chant, a hatred that he himself had stoked.
He turned Omar into an international celebrity. Her campaign had already raised $1.5 million in the first six months of 2019 and had $949,748 cash on hand. After this latest attack, it’s easy to expect she will have another $1 million in time to fend off any primary attack.
Trump and Omar both treat their enemies with contempt. What are they hiding? They deserve each other, but the nation needs less divisive leaders.
Tom West, now retired, is the former general manager of this paper. Reach him at email@example.com.