Rep. Ilhan Omar will support Biden, but said it’s important to ‘believe survivors’


Posted on: May 26th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

ABC NewsBy ALLISON PECORIN, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., said that while she will support 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden in his White House bid, she also thinks it is important to believe survivors of sexual assault, including a woman who has leveled allegations against the former vice president.

Omar appeared on ABC News’ Good Morning America on Tuesday morning and responded to questions about a recently published interview with the Sunday Times of London in which she said she believed Tara Reade, a former Senate staffer for Biden who has accused him of sexual assault during her time in the office.

Omar said that the interview quoted in the Sunday Times of London was several weeks old, and did not take a firm stance on whether she still believes all aspects of Reade’s allegations. Instead, she said it’s possible to support Biden in his presidential run while still creating a space for survivors to come forward.

“There’s obviously parts of what she has said that have been corroborated and parts that haven’t, that is not my place to litigate her story,” Omar told GMA of Reade’s allegations against Biden. “I think it’s important when someone says they have been assaulted and they see themselves as survivors that we, as we have been saying, believe survivors.”

Biden and his closest advisors have vehemently denied Reade’s allegations.

“What matters is the truth … And the truth of the case is nothing like this, ever, ever happened. She has a right to be heard. But then it should be vetted and the truth ultimately matters. And I give you my word, it never, ever happened,” Biden said earlier this month.

Omar campaigned against Biden during the Democratic primary race, throwing her support behind Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt. But now, as Biden has emerged as the Democratic presidential candidate, Omar said she will still vote for Biden to combat President Donald Trump’s reelection efforts.

Omar also appeared on GMA to promote her new book, This is What America Looks Like, which was released Tuesday.

In the book, Omar details her journey to Congress, beginning with the outbreak of war in her Somalian hometown all the way to her time serving in the U.S. Capitol.

Omar made waves when she was elected to Congress in 2018, the largest freshmen class of women ever elected to Congress.

Her book begins in Somalia, where Omar, the youngest of seven, fled her hometown after a gunmen raided her compound. She resettled with refugee status in Virginia, attained a college degree, became a community organizer and eventually, ran and was elected to Congress.

In the book, Omar details intimate experiences from her time in Somalia, including being questioned by gunmen outside her home in an experience that made her fearful for her life.

“Reliving those moments and getting the opportunity to tell these stories in my book has both been difficult and therapeutic,” Omar told GMA. “I realize now that going through something like that and facing death at such a young age, I am transformed into someone who really doesn’t have the patience to sit around and expect someone to come and save me, but to work and create a life that is purposeful in pursuing peace and justice around the world.”

Omar is the first Somali-American, first African refugee, and one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, along with Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich.

Omar quickly emerged as a face of the 2018 freshmen Congressional class. She is one of the four members of the all-female “squad” of representatives alongside Tlaib, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass.

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