US Envoy Accuses Rep. Ilhan Omar of Personal Attacks During Venezuela Hearing

Melanie Arter | February 13, 2019 | 7:14pm EST
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Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) (Screenshot)

( – During Wednesday’s House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Venezuela, U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams accused Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) of personally attacking him.

Omar began her line of questioning by saying she didn’t know why Abrams’s testimony would be seen as “truthful” since he pleaded guilty decades ago of withholding information from Congress about his involvement in the Iran-Contra affair.

After refusing to let Abrams respond, she questioned his 1982 congressional testimony describing U.S. policy in El Salvador as “a fabulous achievement,” despite reports that the Salvadoran Army there had murdered 800 civilians and raped girls.

When he refused to respond to Omar’s line of questioning, the congresswoman asked whether he would support “an armed faction” in Venezuela that “engages in war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide” if he believed they were serving U.S. interests.



OMAR: Mr. Adams, in 1991, you pleaded guilty to two counts of withholding information from Congress regarding your involvement in the Iran-Contra affair, for which you were later pardoned by President George H.W. Bush. I fail to understand why members of this committee or the American people should find any testimony that you give today to be truthful.

ADAMS: If I could respond to that--

OMAR: It wasn’t a question.

ADAMS: It was an attack.

OMAR: That was not a question. I reserve the right to my time.

ADAMS: It is not right members of this committee can attack a witness who is not permitted to reply.

OMAR: That was not a question. Thank you for your participation.


Omar then questioned Adams about his decades-old testimony on the massacre at El Mozote, which considered to be the worst massacre in modern Latin American history.


OMAR: On February 8th, 1982, you testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about U.S. policy in El Salvador. In that hearing, you dismissed as communist propaganda a report about the massacre of El Mozote, in which more than 800 civilians – including children as young as two years old – were brutally murdered by U.S.-trained troops. During that massacre, some of those troops bragged about raping a 12-year-old girl before they killed them – girls before they killed them. You later said that the U.S. policy in El Salvador was a fabulous achievement. Yes or no? Do you still think so?

ADAMS: From the day that [Salvadoran] President [Jose Napoleon] Duerte [Fuentes] was elected in a free election, to this day, El Salvador has been a democracy. That’s a fabulous achievement.

OMAR: Yes or no? Do you think that massacre was a fabulous achievement that happened undezr our watch?

ADAMS: That is a ridiculous question, and I am not going to respond to it —

OMAR: Yes or no?


OMAR: I will take that as a yes.

ADAMS: I’m sorry, Mr. Chairman, I am not going to respond to that kind of personal attack, which is not a question.

OMAR: Yes or no? Would you support an armed faction within Venezuela that engages in war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide if you believe they were serving U.S. interests as you did in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua?

ADAMS: I am not going to respond to that question. I’m sorry. I don’t think this entire line of questioning is meant to be real questions, and so I will not reply.


Adams later decided to respond to Omar’s question about whether he would make sure the U.S. upholds human rights and international rights in Venezuela.


OMAR: Whether you, under your watch, a genocide will take place, and you will look the other way, because American interests were being upheld is a fair question, because the American people want to know that anytime we engage a country that we think about what our actions could be and how we believe our values are being furthered. That’s my question. Will you make sure that human rights are not violated and that we uphold international and human rights?

ADAMS: I suppose there is a question in there, and my answer is that the entire thrust of American policy in Venezuela is to support the Venezuelan people’s effort to restore democracy to their country. That’s our policy.

OMAR: I don’t think anybody disputes that. The question I had for you is that the interest—does the interest of the United States include protecting human rights and include protecting people against genocide?

ADAMS: That is always the position of the United States.

As previously reported, Omar has been under fire lately for making what’s seen as anti-Semitic remarks for insinuating that the pro-Israel lobby pays members of Congress to support Israel. So far, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) - who has condemned Omar’s remarks - has resisted calls for Omar to be removed from the Foreign Affairs Committee.


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