House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the President is “bankrupt of any ideas” whenever he accuses the Democratic Party of pushing an anti-Semitic agenda and flatly denied the party was growing more hostile to Jews.
“We have no taint of that in the Democratic Party, and just because they want to accuse somebody of that doesn’t mean … that we take that bait,” Pelosi said Tuesday in a wide-ranging interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in Dublin, Ireland.
Pelosi is currently leading a congressional delegation on a trip that has so far taken them to US European and Africa military commands based in Stuttgart, Germany. They’ve also stopped in London to meet with government leaders and civil society leaders, and they will also visit Northern Ireland.
Her comments come after Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar – one of the first two Muslim women members of Congress – made controversial comments this year about US support for Israel, igniting an emotionally charged debate among Democrats that Republicans have framed as a growing wave of anti-Semitism.
But Pelosi dismissed the attacks from the GOP. When Democratic members of Congress travel to meet with leaders of other countries, Pelosi said she advises them to express the party’s concern about anti-Semitism “raising its head all over, including in our own country.”
“This is nothing new for us,” she said.
Pelosi said she brought up the issue herself during her trip to the United Kingdom this week, where the Labour Party faces controversy over its handling of anti-Semitism allegations.
“When we met the leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, we said we have concerns about how the Labour Party is perceived in terms of anti-Semitism,” Pelosi said.
When asked for comment on Pelosi’s remarks to CNN, a Labour Party spokesperson directed CNN to a tweet from Corbyn sent on Sunday following the meeting, but did not reference anti-Semitism.
“Open and wide ranging meeting with US House of Representatives @SpeakerPelosi today. We discussed the need to protect the Good Friday Agreement, take action on inequality and the climate crisis, confront racism and promote peace,” Corbyn tweeted.
The spokesperson also said the party “is committed to tackling antisemitism in all its forms wherever it arises, and we have sped up and strengthened our processes for dealing with complaints.”
“Antisemitism complaints received since April 2018 relate to about 0.1% of our membership, but one antisemite in our party is one too many,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “We are determined to tackle antisemitism and root it out of our Party.”
As for Omar, critics have also taken issue with the way she characterized the 9/11 attacks at an event last month, a controversy that ultimately snowballed into an inflammatory video tweeted by President Donald Trump that attacked Omar for her comment and featured footage of 9/11. Omar said over the weekend that she saw an increase in death threats after the video posted.
In the interview Tuesday, Pelosi continued to express concern for the well-being of Omar, and she again criticized the President for his tweet, saying he used video of 9/11 “as a political tool.”
Pelosi said she still hasn’t spoken to Omar about her original comment.
“I haven’t had a chance to speak with her. I’m traveling, she’s traveling. But we couldn’t catch up with her. Until I talk to somebody, I don’t even know what was said,” Pelosi said. “But I do know what the President did was not right.”
While speaking last month to a California chapter of CAIR – the Council on American-Islamic Relations – Omar expressed frustration with the treatment of Muslims after 9/11.
“For far too long we have 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. CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to civil liberties,” she said. (CAIR was actually founded in 1994.)
Critics and the Trump video focused on the phrasing of 9/11 as “some people did something.”
Trump said Monday while in Minnesota – Omar’s home state – that he had no regrets of posting the video.
“Look, she’s been very disrespectful to this country. She’s been very disrespectful, frankly, to Israel. She is somebody that doesn’t really understand, I think, life. Real life, what it’s all about,” he told KSTP news.
“It’s unfortunate,” he added. “She’s got a way about her that’s very, very bad, I think, for our country. I think she’s extremely unpatriotic and extremely disrespectful to our country.”
This story has been updated with additional developments Tuesday.
CNN’s Simon Cullen contributed to this report.