US President Donald Trump did not wish any harm in his Twitter post criticising Democratic Congressperson Ilhan Omar’s comments on the 9/11 attacks, White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders said on Sunday.
“Certainly President is wishing no ill will, certainly not violence towards anyone,” Sanders told broadcaster ABC News’ This Week show.
“But the President is absolutely and should be calling out the congresswoman for her, not only one-time but [a] history of antisemitic comments,” she said.
Lawmakers from Trump’s Republican party have accused Omar of minimising the 9/11 attacks, while critics of the president say he took Omar’s words out of context in order to stoke anti-Muslim sentiment.
On Saturday, Trump tweeted a video suggesting that Omar, a US representative from Minnesota, had been dismissive of the 9/11 attacks.
The video spliced news footage of 9/11 with a clip from a speech Omar gave last month in which she described the attack as “some people did something”.
Several prominent Democrats — including presidential hopeful Senators Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren — condemned Trump’s tweet, saying he was inciting racism and violence towards Omar with the video. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Saturday criticized the president for using the “sacred” memory of 9/11 for a political attack.
In her speech before a Muslim civil rights and advocacy group, Omar said Muslims had “lived with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen and, frankly, I’m tired of it, and every single Muslim in this country should be tired of it”.
Sarah Sanders called Omar’s comments “disgraceful and unbefitting”. and questioned what she sees as lack of action from Democrats on the issue.
“I think it’s a good thing that the president is calling her out for those comments and the big question is why aren’t the Democrats doing it,” she said.