Rep. Omar lambasts Special Envoy to Venezuela Elliott Abrams, calls him “Mr. Adams”
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Elliott Abrams, special envoy to Venezuela, clashed over his role in the Iran-Contra affair and possible U.S. military involvement in Venezuela during a hearing at the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday.
Referring to him as “Mr. Adams,” Rep. Omar started her questioning by casting doubt on Abrams’s credibility.
“In 1991, you pleaded guilty to two counts of withholding information from Congress regarding your involvement in the Iran-Contra affair, for which you were later pardoned by President George HW Bush,” Omar said. “I fail to understand why members of this committee or the American people should find any testimony that you give today to be truthful.”
As Abrams attempted to respond, Omar cut him off by saying she was making a statement and not asking him a question.
“It is not right that members of this committee can attack a witness who is not permitted to reply,” Abrams interjected.
“That was not a question. Thank you for your participation,” Omar replied.
The Minnesota freshman Democrat then recounted a testimony Abrams gave as Assistant Secretary of State before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on February 8th, 1982 about the Reagan administration’s policy in addressing the human rights abuses in El Salvador’s civil war. “In that hearing, you dismissed as ‘communist propaganda’ a report about the massacre of El Mozote in which more than 800 civilians, including children as young as two-years-old, were brutally murdered by U.S. trained troops. During that massacre, some of those troops bragged about raping a twelve-year-old girl before they killed them. You later said that the U.S. policy in El Salvador was a ‘fabulous achievement.’ Yes or no, do you still think so?”
Abrams replied: “From the day that President [José Napoleón] Duarte was elected, in a free election, to this day, El Salvador has been a democracy. That’s a fabulous achievement.”
“Yes or no. Do you think that massacre was a fabulous achievement that happened under our watch?” Omar rephrased her question. To which Abrams emphatically responded: “That is a ridiculous question, and—no! I’m sorry, but I am not going to respond to that kind of personal attack, which is not a question.”
Abrams’ testimony was also interrupted by Code Pink protesters. “Don’t listen to Abrams,” the group’s national co-director Ariel Gold yelled. “We must not go down a path to war. We need you to push for negotiations, not a U.S.-orchestrated coup. No coup in Venezuela.”