Politics & Policy

Ten Questions for the ‘Squad’

From left to right: Ayanna Pressley (D, Mass.), Ilhan Omar (D, Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D, Mich.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D, N.Y.) on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., July 15, 2019. (Erin Scott/Reuters)
Now that they’re doing interviews again, journalists should get some crucial information.

Democratic infighting reached a fever pitch last week with bickering and personal attacks between members of the “Squad” and other House Democrats. During that period, Squad members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley mostly avoided doing interviews. However, that all changed after Donald Trump’s deplorable tweet thread aimed at the freshman members.

That attack united House Democrats in condemnation and redirected the press’s focus. As a result, those members have suddenly agreed to do interviews again. While it makes sense that those interviews cover the Trump attack, one would think the press would also ask these members some tough questions that have otherwise gone unanswered. That hasn’t happened thus far, but here are ten suggestions for journalists actually interested in accountability from those in power, including those with a D by their name:

Questions for all four members:

1) Given the attack this week against an ICE facility by an Antifa member who parroted some of the rhetoric used by your group about similar facilities, do you feel any responsibility to tone down that rhetoric?

2) The initial dispute with other Democrats originated from your voting against the House Democrats’ border-aid bill and the bipartisan compromise bill. Several of you have also promoted boycotts against furniture providers that work with detention facilities. How can you legitimately complain about the conditions at these facilities while opposing the aid and resources that officials say are needed to improve those conditions?

3) If you could fully control how we deal with the current influx of migrants from Central America at the border, what would the process look like? Without detention facilities, what would you do with migrants who cross the border without proper documentation? How will you deal with those who do not show up to court and have deportation orders issued against them?

Questions for Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez:

4) Part of the recent infighting in the House caucus seems to be in reaction to tweets from your chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, suggesting that some of your colleagues were enabling racism with their immigration votes and comparable to southern segregationists in the ’40s. Do you agree with his comments? Do you still support Nancy Pelosi as the speaker of the House?

5) You have repeatedly defended comparing U.S. migrant-detention facilities to concentration camps and invoking the phrase “never again.” These Holocaust comparisons have led to condemnation from mainstream Jewish and Holocaust-remembrance groups, including the ADL, the U.S. Holocaust Museum, and Yad Vashem. Why do you feel that comparison is necessary despite concerns that you are diminishing the suffering of Holocaust victims?

Questions for Ilhan Omar:

6) The Minnesota Star Tribune recently did a story raising questions about your previous marriage. Documents appear to indicate that you filed joint tax returns with your current husband while you were still married to your previous husband, Ahmed Nur Said Elmi. Legal documents also show your current husband and your former husband claiming the same residence around the same time. Can you explain these discrepancies?

7) During the 2018 election, you denied complaints claiming you misused campaign funds, but the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board recently found you had misappropriated funds for your divorce attorney and travel expenses. Can you explain how that happened?

8) Can you please explain why you believe sanctions against the Maduro regime in Venezuela are “bullying” and a form of “economic sabotage” against Venezuelans, but support the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement against Israel?

Questions for Rashida Tlaib:

9) A few months ago, pro-Israel group Stand With Us did an investigation looking at 18 individuals associated with you or your campaign. You have personally praised some of these individuals on Facebook for their work on your campaign. All 18 have publicly expressed sympathy for terrorism or posted blatantly anti-Semitic content — such as images depicting Jews as rats or suggestions that “Hitler would be a dove” compared with what they wanted done to Jews. There is also evidence that you followed an Instagram account that regularly posted anti-Semitic content, and that your campaign fundraiser shared similar material. How do you explain so many associations with people who promote anti-Semitism? Do you share any of these views?

Questions for Ayanna Pressley:

10) Can you please explain your comments at Netroots Nation about not needing any more “brown faces that don’t want to be a brown voice” or “black faces that don’t want to be a black voice”? Are you suggesting that individuals with a particular skin tone must adopt a particular viewpoint?


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