Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Tuesday night that he saw “no evidence whatsoever” of anti-Semitism inside the Democratic Party.
Cicilline’s remarks came during a segment about controversial remarks made by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA). After discussing Greene, Cooper asked Cicilline if he was “concerned” about Democrats such as Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) over her history of anti-Semitism.
Cicilline responded by claiming that Omar had immediately apologized for her anti-Semitic remarks.
“I see no evidence whatsoever in the Democratic Caucus or in the Democratic Party of anti-Semitism at all,” Cicilline said. “In fact, the strongest voices that have condemned acts of anti-Semitism and this rise in anti-Semitic violence have been members of the Democratic Caucus, but everyone should be condemning it.”
“This is the last you will hear from her on the program,” says @andersoncooper of GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.
— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) May 26, 2021
TRANSCRIPT PROVIDED VIA CNN:
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Well, tonight we know how many anti-Semitic utterances from a conspiracy spouting freshman congresswoman it takes for Republican leaders to say anything about it. As for what it’ll take for those same leaders to actually do anything about it, that is anyone’s guess, because for now, talk is all they’ve got.
Some of it is not even unequivocal, not even about Nazis and the Holocaust. What’s more, these words come five days after Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene’s first try comparing anti-COVID measures to the Holocaust.
This morning she tweeted: “Vaccinated employees get a vaccination logo just like the Nazis forced Jewish people to wear a gold star.” As one Jewish colleague put it today, gold stars are what you get for behaving in class, yellow stars of David were what Nazis forced Jews to wear to mark them for everything from public ridicule and attack to official discrimination and extermination.
This is what the Congresswoman has been invoking. Here’s how she started five days ago. And it’s the last you’ll hear from her on the program because as we pointed out last night, this is less about her and her deeply stupid remarks and more about the people leading the Republican Party.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): You know, we can look back at a time in history where people were told to wear a gold star and they were definitely treated like second class citizens so much so that they were put in trains and taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany and this is exactly the type of abuse that Nancy Pelosi is talking about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: She later doubled down, then tripled down this morning, but it was all cut from the same cloth. Nothing today was any more ahistorical, offensive or provocative than her first remarks.
So what changed? Why did it take a full five days for leadership to think, you know, maybe invoking gas chambers and Nazis is not a good idea for the Republican Party.
Well, we have some breaking news on that shortly. In a nutshell, Leader McCarthy had to be pushed. But first, here’s what he and the rest of the leadership finally said today, not five minutes after Greene’s racist remarks, but five days.
House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik tweeted: “Equating mask wearing and vaccines to the Holocaust belittles the most significant human atrocities ever committed.” Minority Whip Steve Scalise’s office put out a statement, it begins: “Representative Scalise does not agree with these comments and condemns these comparisons to the Holocaust.”
And the congressman adds, quote: “We also need to be speaking out strongly against the dangerous anti-Semitism that is growing in our streets and in the Democratic Party, resulting in an alarming number of horrific violent attacks against Jews.”
So not even condemning someone for trivializing the murder of six million Jews can be done without bothsidesing it. The same for Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. His statement reads: “Marjorie is wrong and her intentional decision to compare the horrors of the Holocaust with wearing mask is appalling. The Holocaust is the greatest atrocity committed in history. The fact that this needs to be stated today is deeply troubling.”
That is followed by: “At a time when the Jewish people face increased violence and threats, anti-Semitism is on the rise in the Democratic Party and is completely ignored by Speaker Nancy Pelosi.” Now, keeping them honest, Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar did come
under criticism in 2019 for a tweet playing on anti-Semitic tropes suggesting that Israel’s political allies in this country were motivated by money rather than principle. She later apologized.
Congresswoman Greene has apologized for nothing, because then she couldn’t fundraise off it.
Joining us now Rhode Island Democratic Congressman David Cicilline. Congressman Cicilline, the fact that it took five days for the House Republican leadership to finally address these repulsive comments and according to CNN’s reporting, Kevin McCarthy had to be pushed. What does that say to you?
REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI): Well, it’s disgraceful. I mean, as you said, it took them five days, it should have taken them five minutes. But the reality is, Kevin McCarthy has lost control of his caucus.
This is a set of leaders in the Republican caucus in the House that are focused on one issue and that is returning to power and so they’re willing to put up with a former President who is promoting a big lie about the election being stolen.
CICILLINE: Who led an insurrection against the government of the United States, and they have excused that. And now, they are willing to excuse the conduct of Marjorie Taylor Greene because they see her as an important person in their caucus. They still welcome her. She’s a member in good standing of the Republican conference. They haven’t expelled her from that. They haven’t — she hasn’t been held accountable in any way.
Five days later, after enormous pressure from everyone, including Jewish members on the Democratic side, he finally says something, but it’s disgraceful. This is a person who has said the most outrageous anti-Semitic things, comparing the death of six million Jews to following the public health guidance of the attending physician is an outrage.
And unfortunately, I think they think that Marjorie Taylor Greene speaks to the base of their party, and so she is a welcome member of the Republican conference. And they waited a very long time before they had the decency to speak out against what she said and it’s an outrage.
COOPER: I mean, amongst many Republicans, she — or at the least the former President’s supporters, she is more popular than Kevin McCarthy. I mean, it seems hard to imagine that there’s really going to be any repercussions for her, as long as you know, McCarthy, as you said, and the others are just eager to stay to reclaim power.
CICILLINE: Yes, and she raises money for them. She is, you know, she is more popular and he isn’t. And remember, they moved quickly to remove Liz Cheney from a leadership position in their conference because she had the audacity to tell the truth, to call out the big lie. And yet they are fully embracing Marjorie Taylor Greene.
Kevin McCarthy has showed a complete failure of leadership, and the fact that she is more popular among Republican voters, and maybe even among the Republican Members of Congress tells you something.
So they did nothing to impose any consequence, any sanction on her for her conduct, and this is one of many things she has done to demonstrate deep anti-Semitism, and it’s outrageous that she is an important member of their conference.
COOPER: You, along with other Jewish Members of Congress wrote a letter to Kevin McCarthy today asking him to make it clear that he doesn’t support Green’s anti-Semitic remarks. How do you respond to McCarthy’s accusation in his statement that, quote, anti-Semitism is on the rise in the Democratic Party.
CICILLINE: Well, it’s just not true. And again, there’s never any responsibility, you know, the people who refuse to certify the election, despite the fact that they were in fact the valid results. They’ve never apologized for that. The people who have excused the conduct of Marjorie Taylor Greene, and she herself has not apologized.
But it’s always about trying to assign responsibility to somebody else, something they privately learned from the former President. You know, deny it and then attribute it to someone else. And that’s what Mr. McCarthy did, rather than taking responsibility for his failure to respond immediately to these comments, to strongly condemn them, and then to impose some sanction.
You know, there’s no reason that she has to remain a member of the Republican conference. She should be expelled, but they welcome her with open arms. They’ve imposed no consequence to her for this conduct, and in fact, waited a good long time before they finally spoke out.
So I think it speaks to a failed leadership on behalf of the Republican conference, and her popularity within the Republican caucus.
COOPER: Are you concerned about any Democrats and their own issues or past comments like Congresswoman Ilhan Omar from Minnesota playing on anti-Semitic trope?
CICILLINE: Look, I think Congresswoman Omar apologize for that almost immediately. But you know, I see no evidence whatsoever in the Democratic Caucus or in the Democratic Party of anti-Semitism at all.
In fact, the strongest voices that have condemned acts of anti- Semitism and this rise in anti-Semitic violence have been members of the Democratic Caucus, but everyone should be condemning it.
This is unacceptable in America that American-Jews face any kind of discrimination or violence or, you know, harassment. And we — you know, we’re the party that is speaking out against hate and division and bigotry and racism, and anti-Semitism. We don’t get the same from our Republican colleagues, sadly. And Marjorie Taylor Greene is one of the most recent and I think most despicable examples of that. And it should have been easy for the Republican leaders in the Congress to condemn what she said to immediately call upon her to apologize, and they didn’t do any of that, because she is welcome in their caucus.
COOPER: Congressman Cicilline, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
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