NEW YORK — As long as President Trump has focused on what he said was the danger lurking at the southwestern border, he has also talked about the supposed threat from one specific group already in the country: Muslims.
During the 2016 campaign, he would not rule out creating a registry of Muslims in the United States. He claimed to have seen “thousands” of Muslims cheering on rooftops in New Jersey after Sept. 11, 2001, a statement that was widely debunked. After deadly attacks in Paris and California, Trump called for a moratorium on Muslims traveling to the United States.
Now, with 19 months until the 2020 election, Trump is seeking to rally his base by sounding that theme once again. And this time, he has a specific target: Representative Ilhan Omar, the Minnesota Democrat who is one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress.
Trump and his team are trying to make Omar, one of a group of progressive women Democratic House members who is relatively unknown in national politics, a household name, to be seen as the most prominent voice of the Democratic Party, regardless of her actual position. And they are gambling that there will be limited downside in doing so.
On Monday, Trump visited Minnesota — a state that some of the president’s aides speak of as a place to expand his electoral map — and will hold an economic round table. The event is outside Omar’s congressional district, but the president’s decision to appear there is a calculated choice.
His Minnesota appearance comes after his tweet of a video interspersed with Omar speaking and the burning World Trade Center towers. Omar’s critics have asserted a portion of the remarks, in which she highlighted Islamophobia faced by Muslims after Sept. 11, were dismissive of the terrorist attacks.
Trump is banking on painting the entire Democratic Party as extreme. And Omar has become a point of contention for some members of her own party, after remarks she made about the Israel lobby were condemned as anti-Semitic by some long-serving Democrats, and as well as by Republicans and Trump.
But Trump’s electoral success in 2016 was based partly on culture wars and fears among an older, white voting base that the country it knew was slipping away. Like his hard line on immigration, his plays on fears of Muslims — including inaccurately conflating them with terrorists — proved polarizing among the wider electorate, but helped him keep a tight grip on his most enthusiastic voters. In the South Carolina Republican primary in February 2016, for instance, exit polls showed that 75 percent of voters favored his proposed Muslim ban.
Now, as he looks toward 2020, he is betting that electoral play can deliver for him again. It is a strategy that risks summoning dark forces in American society, a point Omar made in a statement Sunday evening.
“Since the president’s tweet Friday evening, I have experienced an increase in direct threats on my life — many directly referencing or replying to the president’s video,” Omar said. “This is endangering lives. It has to stop.”
New York Times
Ocasio-Cortez suspends personal Facebook account
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose mastery of social media has helped drive the national conversation and shed light on the inner workings of congressional power, has given up on the most popular social network in the world.
In an interview Sunday with the Yahoo News podcast ‘‘Skullduggery,’’ the New York Democrat said she suspended her personal Facebook account and was scaling back on all social media, which she described as a ‘‘public health risk’’ because it can lead to ‘‘increased isolation, depression, anxiety, addiction, escapism.’’
Ocasio-Cortez, 29, who burst onto the national stage after defeating a high-ranking incumbent, said her departure from Facebook was a ‘‘big deal’’ because the platform was crucial to her campaign. She still has accounts on the site, she said, and according to the company’s ad library, her Facebook account has dozens of active advertisements sponsored by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for Congress.
Ocasio-Cortez joins other prominent users who have given up on the social network, including WhatsApp cofounder Brian Acton, who sold his company to Facebook in 2014, and Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak. Both technologists parted ways with the social network amid a user boycott and as the company faced a congressional inquiry over the Cambridge Analytica controversy, when it was revealed that the political firm had improperly obtained personal information from millions of Facebook users.
Woman arrested at Trump resort to remain in jail
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A judge ruled Monday that a Chinese woman must remain jailed following charges that she lied to a federal officer after entering Mar-a-Lago, President Trump’s resort, saying he deemed her a flight risk.
During a hearing, US Magistrate Judge William Matthewman appeared swayed by the argument made by federal prosecutors that Yujing Zhang — who authorities said made her way through Mar-a-Lago’s security last month before being arrested carrying multiple cellphones and other electronics — had ulterior motives in accessing the president’s club.
Zhang was indicted by a grand jury, charging her with the same two counts — entering restricted grounds and making a false statement to the Secret Service — she faced previously, according to the indictment filed Friday. On Monday, she entered a plea of not guilty and asked for a jury trial.
Additional charges in the case are possible, Assistant US Attorney Rolando Garcia told Matthewman on Monday.
President, Carter said to discuss China trade talks
WASHINGTON — President Trump spoke over the weekend with former president Jimmy Carter about his China policies and ‘‘numerous other topics.’’
White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said Trump reached out to Carter on Saturday after the former president wrote him ‘‘a beautiful letter’’ about ongoing trade negotiations between the United States and China.
Trump’s presidency has strained relations among the traditionally genial club of former presidents, and he has publicly feuded with the families of the other three former living American leaders.