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Debate over anti-Semitism charges exposes divide in Democratic Party

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Debate over anti-Semitism charges exposes divide in Democratic Party

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A debate within the Democratic Party over charges that one of its U.S. House of Representatives lawmakers made anti-Semitic remarks has exposed an ideological and generational rift in the party, prompting a vote condemning bigotry against minorities.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) leaves the U.S. Senate chamber and walks back to the House of Representatives side of the Capitol with colleagues after watching the failure of both competing Republican and Democratic proposals to end the partial government shutdown in back to back votes on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 24, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

Some Democrats, including several U.S. senators who are seeking the party’s 2020 presidential nomination, warned party leaders were playing into Republicans’ hands and had stymied legitimate debate over U.S.-Israel policy.

The House, which is controlled by Democrats, will vote Thursday on a broad resolution condemning anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim discrimination and other forms of bigotry.

The vote comes less than a week after Representative Ilhan Omar, one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress, made statements at a Washington event that were denounced by some as anti-Semitic.

The resolution does not mention Omar by name. But Republicans have seized on Omar’s statements, and the resulting intra-party conflict, as a sign the Democratic Party is fractured.

Many Democrats, in turn, have said House leaders were cowed by a Republican effort to divert attention from bigotry within their own ranks and that Omar is being held to a different standard.

“Unfortunately, I think the Democratic leadership here has made what I think is a pretty serious mistake in caving to this pressure,” said Democratic strategist Peter Daou, who has advised Hillary Clinton and John Kerry.

The disagreement began after Omar, in an appearance at a Washington book store, said she feared statements she and fellow Representative Rashida Tlaib made about foreign policy and the pro-Israel lobbying group the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) would be viewed as anti-Semitic because they are Muslim.

“I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it’s okay for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country. I want to ask why is it okay for me to talk about the influence of the NRA (National Rifle Association), of fossil fuel industries or Big Pharma, and not talk about a powerful lobbying group that is influencing policies?” Omar said.

Omar’s critics denounced the statement as playing into the anti-Semitic trope that Jewish Americans are loyal to Israel over the United States. Omar said opposing the policies of Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not synonymous with anti-Semitism.

She previously apologized for February tweets that her critics said suggested Jewish Americans used money to influence pro-Israel U.S. policies.

Representative Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, told reporters on Wednesday that Omar “embodies a vile, hate-filled, anti-Semitic, anti-Israel bigotry.” President Donald Trump on Twitter called the Democratic response “shameful.”

Democrats have been divided over how best to handle the uproar.

Democratic Representative Eliot Engel, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee, said he welcomes policy debate but that it was “deeply offensive to call into question the loyalty of fellow American citizens because of their political views, including the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

Young, progressive House newcomers like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and several presidential candidates, however, have come to Omar’s defense.

Senator Bernie Sanders said in a statement that “we must not … equate anti-Semitism with legitimate criticism of the right-wing, Netanyahu government.” Senator Elizabeth Warren said “branding criticism of Israel as automatically anti-Semitic has a chilling effect on our public discourse.” Senator Kamala Harris said she was concerned about Omar’s safety.

Daou said a political double standard was at play, pointing to a recent tweet from Republican Representative Jim Jordan, what used a dollar sign for a letter in the name of Democratic donor Tom Steyer, who is Jewish.

“Why is it that a white, male Republican can largely get away with the same thing and this massive outcry happened over a Muslim, progressive woman of color? That’s something we have to grapple with,” Daou said.

Reporting by Amanda Becker; Additional reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Tom Brown

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Bernie Sanders’ hiring of non-American campaign advisers may violate federal election laws, complaint says

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New spokeswoman for Bernie Sanders won't be able to vote for him in 2020 -- she's an illegal immigrant

Bernie Sanders was hit a complaint this week, claiming his presidential campaign violated federal election laws by employing non-Americans in advisery positions.

A new complaint by the Coolidge Reagan Foundation filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) notes that three members of the Sanders campaign are foreign nationals, which appears to be a violation of federal election laws that prohibit foreign interference.

NEW SPOKESWOMAN FOR BERNIE SANDERS WON’T BE ABLE TO VOTE FOR HIM IN 2020 — SHE’S AN ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT

Maria Belén Sisa, Sanders’ deputy national press secretary who joined the campaign last month, was among the staffers named in the complaint, as first reported by the Washington Free Beacon. Sisa claims to be an illegal immigrant whose residency is protected under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an Obama-era program for assisting illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.

Sisa recently caused an uproar after invoking an anti-Semitic “dual allegiance” trope of Jewish Americans while defending Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and questioning whether American Jews, including Sanders, were loyal to the United States.

The complaint notes that Sisa not only got a salary from Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, she also contributed money to it and is now serving in “an advisory position” in the 2020 campaign – all of which are “direct and serious violations” of federal election laws.

“Senator Sanders and Bernie 2020 is permitting a foreign national, Ms. Sisa, to serve in an advisory position which allows her to directly or indirectly participate in the decision-making process of persons with regard to election-related activities in violation of FEC regulations,” the complaint reads.

“Senator Sanders and Bernie 2020 is permitting a foreign national, Ms. Sisa, to serve in an advisory position which allows her to directly or indirectly participate in the decision-making process of persons with regard to election-related activities in violation of FEC regulations.”

— The complaint

BERNIE SANDERS AIDE DEFENDS OMAR WITH TERM SEEN AS ANTI-SEMITIC, APOLOGIZES

According to the FEC rules, foreign nationals, who aren’t lawfully admitted permanent residents, cannot directly or indirectly participate in political campaigns. Such individuals are also barred from making political contributions.

The complaint also names two other foreign nationals on the Sanders’ 2016 campaign, immigration activists Erika Andiola and Cesar Vargas, who worked as the campaign’s national Latino outreach strategist and press secretary for Latino outreach, respectively.

“Due to the high profile of Cesar Vargas, Erika Andiola, and Maria Belén Sisa as leading activists in the undocumented community, there is reason to believe that respondents are ‘foreign nationals’ within the meaning of 52 U.S.C. § 301219b)(2), and in violation of 11 C.F.R. § 110.20 (i) and A.O. 2004-26, directly or indirectly participated in the decision-making process of persons with regard to the election-related activities of Bernie 2016,” the complaint continued.

“There is reason to believe, having previously employed Ms. Sisa, that Bernie 2020 is currently, and knowingly, permitting a ‘foreign national’ … to directly or indirectly participate in the decision-making process of persons with regard to the election-related activities of Bernie 2020.”

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The complaint calls on the FEC to investigate both the 2016 and the current presidential campaigns and take action to curb the violations.

“The Commission should determine and impose appropriate sanctions for any and all violations,” the complaint read. “Further, the Commission should enjoin respondents from any future violations and impose any necessary and appropriate remedies to ensure respondents’ future compliance with the Federal Election Campaign Act.”

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Democrats vow to keep investigating Trump despite Mueller's conclusions, no new indictments

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Congressional Democrats vowed Friday to keep investigating President Trump, his family, and associates despite Special Counsel Robert Mueller wrapping up his Russia investigation with no new indictments.

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‘There needs to be a reckoning’ for those who spread Russia collusion narrative: Mollie Hemingway

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MSNBC’s Chris Matthews livid over Mueller report: ‘How could they let Trump off the hook?’

Those who spent the last two years pushing the narrative that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential election need to be held accountable, the Federalist senior editor Mollie Hemingway argued Friday.

Earlier in the day, the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller handed in its report on the Russia investigation to the Department of Justice and it was announced that no new indictments would be forthcoming.

During Friday’s All-Star panel segment on Fox News’ “Special Report with Bret Baier,” Hemingway — along with Washington Free Beacon editor-in-chief Matthew Continetti and Reuters White House correspondent Jeff Mason — weighed in on the breaking news that reverberated throughout Washington.

MUELLER SUBMITS LONG-AWAITED RUSSIA PROBE REPORT TO JUSTICE DEPARTMENT

Hemingway began by noting that the “Russia narrative” predates the Mueller probe, having begun circulating during the 2016 election after the creation of the infamous Clinton campaign-funded Steele dossier, which pushed the theory that then-Republican candidate Donald Trump was a “Russian agent.”

“We have, for the last three years … frequently [witnessed] hysteria about treasonous collusion with Russia to steal the 2016 election,” Hemingway told the panel. “The fact [is] that there are no more indictments coming and the fact [is] that all of the indictments that we’ve seen thus far have been for process crimes or things unrelated to what we were told by so many people in the media was ‘treasonous collusion’ to steal the 2016 election.”

“If there is nothing there that matches what we’ve heard from the media for many years, there needs to be a reckoning and the people who spread this theory both inside and outside the government who were not critical and who did not behave appropriately need to be held accountable,” she added.

“The people who spread this theory both inside and outside the government … and who did not behave appropriately need to be held accountable.”

— Mollie Hemingway, senior editor, the Federalist

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Mason told the panel that there’s likely “some relief” in the White House, particularly from Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and top adviser. And while he insisted it was “too early” to draw major conclusions, he later added that those who attacked Mueller’s credibility throughout his investigation will have to walk back their hostility if he concludes that there was no collusion, including President Trump.

Meanwhile, Continetti suggested that the Mueller report could be the “greatest anticlimax in American history,” and that the entire investigation could be “for nothing” because it was “an investigation without a crime.” He did, however, insist that the “battle will continue” as the White House will fight Congress on transparency of the Mueller findings.

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