Ilhan Omar on Rachel Maddow (MSNBC)

Ilhan Omar to Rachel Maddow: Donald Trump is the "worst president we've ever had"

Omar doubles down on her belief the president needs to be impeached — and now is the time to begin that process


Shira Tarlo
July 16, 2019 2:10PM (UTC)

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., called President Donald Trump the "worst" executive the U.S. has ever had on Monday, continuing an ongoing public feud between the White House and members of Congress over a series of racist messages shared by the president.

Omar spoke with MSNBC host Rachel Maddow for her first television interview after Trump tweeted that a group of unnamed progressive congresswomen "who originally came from countries where governments are a complete and total catastrophe" should "go back and fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came."

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Trump did not mention the lawmakers he was criticizing by name, but his comments were widely interpreted as targeting the four freshmen women of color known as "The Squad," which includes Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts. The four legislators are U.S. citizens and only Omar, who arrived to the U.S. as a refugee from Somalia, was born abroad.

"This is a president who believes it is OK for him to think that people who say something that will move this country forward should be deported. He's called on us to go back and fight corruption and fight these countries that have worse leaders and inept leaders," Omar told Maddow on Monday night. "Well, we are living in one. He is that president."

The Minnesota Democrat blasted Trump for the "vile garbage that constantly comes out of his mouth" — and made clear she has no plans to stop holding him in check.

"He is corrupt. He is the worst president we've had," Omar said. "He is inept, and we are going to call him out for it. And we're going to hold him accountable."

The outspoken congresswoman and her colleagues held a press conference earlier Monday to issue a scathing rebuke to the president's tirade, calling his tweets "blatantly racist" and the "agenda of white nationalists."

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Trump, on the other hand, spent the day doubling down on his remarks. He accused Omar and the three other lawmakers of being "anti-America" and said that the lawmakers could leave if they were unhappy with the state of things.

"If you hate our country — if you're not happy here, you can leave," the president said outside the White House. "You can leave. You can leave right now. Come back if you want. Don't come back — that's OK, too. But if you're not happy, you can leave."

He also mentioned Omar by name, falsely claiming the congresswoman praised the terrorist organization al Qaeda while further accusing her of "hating Jews." Trump also brought up comments she made earlier this year about the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which prompted immediate outrage from conservatives and spurred an increase in death threats against the congresswoman.

The congresswoman told Maddow on Monday that she hoped to hold the president accountable for his inflammatory remarks and his conduct, saying she has "to make sure to let him know that here in this country, we see everyone, we welcome everyone and we remind people that they are valued."

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Omar concluded the interview by doubling down on her remarks that Trump needs to be impeached — and now is time to begin that process.

"Look, we have a president that truly believes that if you say something that he doesn't agree with that you should no longer have the opportunity to exercise your First Amendment rights,” Omar said. "Here we are as members of Congress doing the work that will get us the country we all deserve — one that is truly functioning for all of us, one that sees and values every single person in it and one that is making sure that our shiny and wonderful Constitution is fully intact and the protections offered is enjoyed by all of us."

Watch Omar's interview with Maddow here:

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Shira Tarlo

Contact Shira Tarlo at shira.tarlo@salon.com. Follow @shiratarlo.

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