Kevin McCarthy avoided condemning Lauren Boebert's Islamophobic comments about Ilhan Omar, instead praising her for a phone call that ultimately went off the rails

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyDrew Angerer/Getty Images
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyDrew Angerer/Getty Images  
  • McCarthy avoided condemning Lauren Boebert's Islamophobic comments about Ilhan Omar.

  • "She apologized publicly, she apologized personally," McCarthy said at a press conference Friday.

  • Boebert is likely to face punishment soon as Democratic calls for her to lose committee seats grow.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy signaled on Friday that House Republicans would not take action against Rep. Lauren Boebert after the far-right Colorado congresswoman made Islamophobic comments about Rep. Ilhan Omar.

After a reporter asked why McCarthy had yet to condemn Boebert, whose remarks the reporter described as "so clearly wrong," the Republican leader struck a defiant tone.

"This party is for anyone and everyone who craves freedom and supports religious liberty," he said. McCarthy then said that he called Boebert when the video of Boebert's remarks surfaced.

"We talked, she apologized publicly, she apologized personally," said McCarthy. He then went on to recount his attempts to broker a meeting between the two lawmakers with Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, saying he considered having the two of them in the room as well. "We should lower the temperature of this Congress," he said.

"Lauren Boebert apologized publicly, and then picked up the phone," he also said. "It took a lot of effort. She wanted to meet personally."

Boebert apologized to "anyone in the Muslim community I offended," but the Nov. 29 call broke down after Omar said she should also disavow her suggestion that the Democratic lawmaker was a suicide bomber. At that point, Boebert apparently replied that Omar should then apologize for her "anti-American" rhetoric.

Hoyer, for his part, told reporters on Tuesday that he did not help broker a call and agreed with Omar that it was a bad idea.

"Denied the ability to meet personally, she picked up the phone and she called Congresswoman Omar," McCarthy said.

The call ended up going off the rails, with Boebert calling the congresswoman "anti-American" in an Instagram video she posted after the fact. In a statement issued around the same time, Omar condemned Boebert for not more forcefully retracting her remarks. Omar is one of only three House members of Muslim faith, and there are none in the Senate.

"I think in America, that's what we do, and then we move on the issues that need to take place," McCarthy said.

In response, Omar's communications director Jeremy Slevin called McCarthy statements a "blatant lie," disputing that Boebert ever actually apologized to Omar.

The Republican leader also sought to draw an equivalency between Boebert's Islamophobic remarks and comments made by Democratic lawmakers.

"Someone on their side of the aisle said I work with the Klu Klux Klan," McCarthy said, referring to a tweet by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Wednesday. "Omar said the only reason I support Israel is about the Benjamins," he also said, referring to a controversial years-old tweet by the congresswoman.

McCarthy was also asked whether he thought far-right Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Paul Gosar, and Boebert were "distractions to winning back the majority next year."

"It's things we would not want to deal with," he said. "The American people want to focus on stopping inflation, gas prices and others, and anything that deviates from that causes problems."

With McCarthy refusing to take action, Boebert appears to be headed for some form of punishment by House Democrats. Omar met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for about 40 minutes on Thursday evening, telling Insider afterwards that the speaker agrees that Boebert needs to be "sanctioned" after dozens of House progressives called for her to lose her committee assignments.


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