The contrasting responses to the opinions, offered by then-presidential candidate Donald Trump in December 2015 and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.)
Earlier in the day, Trump and other GOP leaders had eagerly joined the political pile-on besetting Omar, a freshman Democrat who is one of the first two Muslim women in Congress, after she appeared to draw on an anti-Semitic trope about the currency of Jewish clout in political life.
In a pair of tweets on Sunday, Omar had cited Puff Daddy’s 1997 paean to money — “It’s All About the Benjamins” — to paint Israel’s supporters in Congress as beholden to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a powerful lobbying group whose members contribute generously to lawmakers who share its right-wing perspective on the Middle East.
“I think it was a terrible statement, and I don’t think her apology was adequate,” Trump said.
But Trump, as a presidential candidate in December 2015, said much the same about what Jewish donors supposedly expect in return for their money.
Speaking at a presidential forum hosted by the Republican Jewish Coalition, he told members of the lobbying group, which describes itself as the “unique bridge between the Jewish community and Republican decision-makers,” that he wasn’t seeking their money because he didn’t want to be beholden to them.
Drawing a contrast to former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who raked in vast sums of money, Trump said, “That’s why you don’t want to give me money, okay?
Ari Fleischer, White House press secretary under George W. Bush and an RJC board member, was less enthused about Trump’s pitch.
The Jewish group’s spokesman, Mark McNulty, told CNN at the time that the comments reflected only Trump’s awareness “of the composition of our board and our audience — one that includes many successful businessmen and women as well as dealmakers like him.”
“We do not believe he intended his comments regarding negotiations and money to relate specifically to their Jewishness, but we understand that they could be interpreted that way,” Jonathan A. Greenblatt, the group’s chief executive, who has spoken out against Trump on other occasions, said in a statement later that day.
And his participation in the vilification of George Soros, a liberal financier and 88-year-old Holocaust survivor, signals how decisively the conspiracy theory, which smacks of anti-Jewish fearmongering given archetypical expression by “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” has moved from the far-right fringes to the mainstream of the GOP.
It was McCarthy who called on Democratic leaders last week to sanction Omar and her Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), in a joint statement with five other House Democratic leaders, called her comments “deeply offensive.”
Rep. Max Rose (D-N.Y.), who had been among the first in his caucus to criticize Omar, calling her words “deeply hurtful to Jews, including myself,” said Monday that he accepted her apology.
Then, he had this reflection for reporters hounding him for comment on the latest Democratic infighting: “I do want to, though, to point out to all of you that when Kevin McCarthy said that it was Bloomberg, and it was Soros, and it was Steyer pulling the strings behind the scenes, none of you camped out, right?”
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