Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar was the subject of cheers and jeers as she raked special envoy to Venezuela Elliott Abrams over the coals with questions about his role in Central American war crimes during the 80s.
Abrams, who was infamously charged with multiple felonies concerning his part in the Iran-Contra scandal that nearly tanked Ronald Reagan’s presidency, came close to losing his temper at the Democratic representative, who seemed to be enjoying her chance to hold him to account for his past actions during Wednesday’s House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Venezuela.
Omar described the El Mozote massacre, in which over 800 civilians were murdered by US-trained troops in El Salvador, and noted that Abrams had once called US policy in the country “a fabulous achievement.”
“Yes or no – do you still think so?” she pressed.
Abrams stood fast in his defense, crediting that same policy with turning El Salvador into a democracy, which was “a fabulous achievement,” he said. When she subsequently pinned him down with a direct question whether he believed the El Mozote massacre itself to be similarly “fabulous,” he dismissed the question as ridiculous before finally shouting “no!” in response.
“Would you support an armed faction within Venezuela that engages in war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide, if you believe they serve the US interests as you did in Guatemala, El Salvador or Nicaragua?” Omar asked.
“I am not going to respond to that question,” Abrams replied, calling her line of questioning a personal attack.
Is this really happening? She should be carried out of that hearing on people’s shoulders praising her for exposing that walking criminal fraud posing as a person. Thank you from the bottom of my heart @IlhanMN !
— Tom Swetland (@fedbooks) February 13, 2019
Omar’s performance was soon trending on social media, with the congresswoman polarizing the country for the second time in a week. While critics of the US’ never-ending regime-change operations cheered her on, conservatives looked askance at the Somalian immigrant’s accent and her mispronunciations of several key words central to her questioning – including “Communist” and “contra.” Her addressing of Abrams as “Mr. Adams” – whether intentional or not – also rubbed some people the wrong way.
Oh, my. In just 2 mins of talking she mispronounces “Abrams,” “contra,” “pardoned,” “El Salvador,” and “communist.”
Also just extremely rude. https://t.co/6rOMER4xLT
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) February 13, 2019
…though fans pointed out that winning an election in one’s second language was no mean feat.
Omar *literally* couldn’t speak English when she immigrated to the U.S. and has now won multiple elections using a second language, but go off, I guess? pic.twitter.com/VxejVihIcR
— Frank Dale (@fwdale) February 13, 2019
Another critic insinuated that Omar’s grilling of Abrams was motivated by anti-Semitism, bringing up accusations against the congresswoman from earlier this week.
One wonders why @IlhanMN seems to harbor such particular contempt for Elliott¹ Abrams².
¹ from the Hebrew “Elijah,” meaning “My God is Yahweh”
² the father of the Jewish people
— Michael Knowles (@michaeljknowles) February 13, 2019
…and Abrams’ fellow neocons leaped to his defense.
Reminder that in the present instance Rep Omar is de facto defending the Maduro regime, which is a notorious human-rights violator and despoiler of democracy, while Elliott Abrams is attempting to restore democracy in Venezuela. https://t.co/wMqvDJe8Wv
— Max Boot (@MaxBoot) February 13, 2019
But, it was pointed out, Abrams did plead guilty…
Context is everythinghttps://t.co/zCagXJYbDM
— Paul Dudack (@Paulied_D) February 13, 2019
Lest anyone think Omar was being too harsh – the Contra revolution in Nicaragua was just one war, after all – another user took the time to write up a quick summary of Abrams’ role in the Guatemalan civil war, as well.
5/ Instrumental in paving the way for US funding to Rios Montt was none other than, you guessed it, Elliott Abrams! He played a key role in whitewashing the utterly brutal tactics that Rios Montt used during the war
— Brad Reed (@bwreed) February 13, 2019
8/ And this, frankly, is why everyone who has a basic understanding of history should not believe for a single second that the Trump administration appointed Abrams to bring freedom and democracy to Venezuela. That’s not what he does — it’s not what he’s ever done.
— Brad Reed (@bwreed) February 13, 2019