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Emmer calls for Ethics investigation into Omar; Democrat says she’s embarrassed for him

House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) is calling for a House Ethics Committee investigation into Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) over a disputed translation of Omar’s remarks about Somalia and Somaliland over the weekend.

Emmer accused Omar of “delivering shocking remarks expressing allegiance to the interests of Somalia” in a letter to Ethics Committee Chair Rep. Michael Guest (R-Miss.) and Ranking Member Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.). He has also called for Omar, the first Somali American to serve in Congress, to resign over the remarks.

“Ilhan Omar’s appalling, Somalia-first comments are a slap in the face to the Minnesotans she was elected to serve and a direct violation of her oath of office. She should resign in disgrace,” Emmer wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Omar said she was “embarrassed” for Emmer, and accused him of trying to get attention after he lost a bid to be House Speaker after former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was unseated last year.

“The attacks being lobbed against me are not only completely false, they are rooted in xenophobia and Islamophobia,” Omar said in a statement.

The remarks at issue were shared by Ambassador Rhoda J. Elmi, the deputy minister of foreign affairs for Somaliland, a region along the Gulf of Aden that broke away from Somalia in 1991.

Her translation of the remarks has now been disputed by Omar and others. Omar said Elmi’s translation, which was cited by Emmer as the reason for the investigation, was inaccurate.

According to Elmi’s translation, Omar said in remarks in Minneapolis that the U.S. government “will only do what Somalians in the United States tell them to do.”

“They will do what we want and nothing else. They must follow our orders and that is how we will safeguard the interests of Somalia,” the reported translation of Omar’s remarks states.

“Sleep in comfort, knowing I am here to protect the interests of Somalia from the inside of the United States’s system,” the reported translation added later on.

According to a translation from Somalia analyst and co-founder of the Heritage Institute for Policy Studies Abdirashid Hashi, Omar said: “The U.S. government will do what we ask it to do. We should have this confidence in ourselves as Somalis. We live in this country. We are taxpayers in this country. This country is one where one of your daughters sits in Congress.”

“While I am in Congress, no one will take Somalia’s sea. The United States will not back others to rob us. So, do not lose sleep over that, O Minnesotans. The lady you sent to Congress is on this, and she is as cognizant of this interest as you are,” Hashi’s translation of Omar’s remarks states.

Somalia and Somaliland are battling over an agreement Somaliland signed with Ethiopia which would give that country access to the sea. The deal has been criticized by a number of countries in the West as potentially destabilizing the Horn of Africa region.

Somaliland has not been recognized as an independent state internationally.

“This is a manufactured controversy based on an inaccurate translation taken entirely out of context. I am embarrassed for Tom,” Omar said. This is clearly a desperate attempt to garner attention after his failed four hour Speaker bid last year and a gross misuse and waste of taxpayer funds for something that is clearly false.”

“I categorically reject these disingenuous attempts to malign my character and question my loyalty to my home, America.”

Emmer argued an investigation is warranted based on the translation of Omar’s remarks he had seen.

“I hold the First Amendment’s protections for speech in the highest regard; however, her remarks suggest a disregard for her oath of office in a manner that is unbecoming of an American elected official, reflect poorly on the United States House of Representatives and is a slap in the face to the Minnesotans she represents,” Emmer wrote in the letter.

Omar, however, says she was following existing U.S. policy.

“As I said in the video – I support a unified Somalia, which aligns with longstanding US policy favoring a one Somalia approach. My stance remains consistent with the goal of a stable and unified Somalia,” she said.

The Hill has reached out to Emmer’s offices for comment.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

This story was updated at 3:12 p.m.

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