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House Foreign Affairs Chair: Removing Ilhan Omar from Committee May ‘Exacerbate’ Situation, I’m Not Looking to ‘Punish’ Anyone

Democratic congressman Eliot Engel denounced colleague Ilhan Omar in a recent statement for “invoking a vile anti-Semitic slur” and calling on her to apologize. Democrats are planning a vote on a resolution to denounce anti-Semitism (reportedly not naming her in particular) following her comments last week about “the political influence in this country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”

Omar tweeted this in response to another colleague condemning her remarks:

On CNN tonight, Engel––the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee––spoke with Erin Burnett, who asked directly if he thinks Omar is an anti-Semite.

“I don’t throw names around,” he said. “I think the remarks she’s made have been very troubling. I have spoken out very publicly and forcefully about it in saying she should apologize. Look, you hope that people who get elected to office and they grow. I would hope the same thing would happen to her, but I’m not going to sit silent as long as there are people who are yelling out anti-Semitic tropes or anti-anything tropes, by the way. I’m opposed to Islamophobia. I’m opposed to hatred of any group.”

When Burnett pressed him on whether he doesn’t “want to lob the charge anti-Semite at her,” Engel said, “I’m hoping that she’ll grow and she’ll change. I’m hoping. Some people change their beliefs, I’m hoping she’ll change hers. I think what she said was wrong and hurtful. I think she should understand that.”

Burnett also asked Engel about whether Omar would be removed from the Foreign Affairs committee. Engel said he’s not close on that before noting it’s “not up to me.”

“I don’t know that that would do anything except exacerbate the situation even more,” he said. “I’m looking to get rid of anti-Semitism, not looking to punish anybody.”

You can watch above, via CNN.

[image via screengrab]

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Josh Feldman is a Senior Editor at Mediaite. Email him here: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @feldmaniac