Rep. Ilhan Omar on Trump’s Socialism Comments: ‘Most of Us Were Laughing’

By Patrick Goodenough | February 7, 2019 | 4:21am EST
Sporting a blue hijab, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., one of two Muslim women in Congress, arrives for the State of the Union address on February 5, 2019. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

( – Responding to President Trump’s State of the Union criticism of socialism, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) said Wednesday “most of us were laughing,” and argued that the president – whom she called a “liar-in-chief” – seemed unaware of just how popular policies like “Medicare-for-all” are.

Speaking to the left-wing news program “Democracy Now!” Omar said Trump was clearly divorced from reality on issues of that nature, and “lacks leadership.”

She said that underscored the importance for Democrats over the coming year to find a presidential contender “who can lead our nation into prosperity and who’s not going to be a liar-in-chief in the White House.”

In Tuesday night’s speech, Trump spoke out against the Maduro regime in Venezuela, “whose socialist policies have turned that nation from being the wealthiest in South America into a state of abject poverty and despair.”

He then segued into criticism of socialist policies at home.

“Here in the United States, we are alarmed by the new calls to adopt socialism in our country,” he said. “America was founded on liberty and independence, and not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.”

Asked by program host Amy Goodman to respond to those remarks, Omar said, “Most of us were laughing when he made the comments around socialism.”

“What we advocate for – what Bernie, myself, you know, Alexandria, Rashida, what we advocate for is an America that is prosperous, an America that makes sure that everybody has access to jobs, everybody has access to housing, everybody has access to healthcare.”

They were advocating, she continued, for a country where people are not dying because they can’t afford insulin or because “they don’t have a home and they’re freezing outside.”

Omar said Trump seems to be removed from reality when it came to such issues.

“I don’t know if he knows how popular Medicare-for-all is. I don’t know if he understands how popular freeing students from the shackles of debt is. I don’t know if he knows how popular it is for us to critically address climate, climate change,” she said.

“So clearly, clearly he lacks leadership, and it’s going to be really important for the next year for us to find someone who can lead our nation into prosperity, and who’s not going to be a liar-in-chief in the White House.”

Later in the interview, Omar again called Trump a “liar-in-chief.”

Asked to comment on his remarks on Iran, she said it was hypocritical to call for an end to “endless wars” on one hand but pursue “aggressions” on the other.

“The kind of hypocrisy that goes with saying that we can’t continue to fight endless wars, but he stands there and also speaks of um, you know, aggressions that he wants to be part of in, again, that part of the world, um, to me just shows how this president is a liar-in-chief, how this president isn’t really rooted in any reality, how this president can no longer lead this country.”

(Trump did not in fact speak of “aggressions” against Tehran. He said his “administration has acted decisively to confront the world’s leading state sponsor of terror,” pointing to its withdrawal from the nuclear deal and restoration of sanctions.)

‘Do you consider yourself a Democratic Socialist?’

In her earlier response on socialism, Omar aligned herself with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and to her fellow freshmen, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.)

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., joins Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., for a news conference on prescription drugs, at the Capitol in Washington on January 10, 2019. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Both Ocasio-Cortez and Tlaib are members of the Democratic Socialists of America, which supported Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign and is currently considering whether to endorse him if he runs again in 2020.

Sanders is a leading proponent of the policy dubbed Medicare-for-all, and the DSA also actively advocates for the policy.

“Do you consider yourself a Democratic Socialist?” Goodman asked Omar.

“I consider myself a Democrat,” she replied.

Omar was also asked to comment on Trump’s comments on Venezuela, and replied, “We understand that there is a crisis and we believe in furthering democracy, but it is really important that we caution ourselves from getting involved and furthering suffering in countries like Venezuela.”

When the Trump administration recently recognized Venezuela’s National Assembly leader Juan Guaidó as interim president, Omar referred on Twitter to “a U.S.-backed coup.”

She subsequently called U.S. sanctions targeting Venezuela’s oil sector “nothing more than economic sabotage designed to force regime change.”

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