Feb 13, 2019

Ilhan Omar clashes with Elliott Abrams in heated Venezuela hearing

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) grilled President Trump's special representative to Venezuela Elliott Abrams during a House Foreign Affairs hearing on Capitol Hill Wednesday, arguing that she doesn't understand why the committee should believe Abrams' testimony in 2019 since he pleaded guilty to lying to Congress in the 1980s about the Iran-Contra affair.

Highlights

On Iran-Contra:

  • Omar: "Mr. Abrams, 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 H.W. Bush. I fail to understand why members of this committee or the American people should find any testimony that you give today to be truthful.”
  • Abrams: “If I could respond to that …”
  • Omar: “It wasn’t a question.”
  • Abrams: "It was an attack."

On the El Mozote massacre in El Salvador:

  • Omar: “You dismissed as 'communist propaganda' reports about the massacre of El Mozote in which more than 800 civilians, including children as young as 2 years old, were brutally murdered by U.S.-trained troops. ... You later said the U.S. policy in El Salvador was a 'fabulous achievement.' ... Do you think that massacre was a 'fabulous achievement?'"
  • Abrams: “That is a ridiculous question."
  • Omar: "Yes or no?"
  • Abrams: "No."
  • Omar: "I will take that as a yes."
  • Abrams: "I’m not going to respond to that kind of personal attack.”

On U.S. Venezuela policy under Trump:

  • Omar: “Would you support an armed faction within Venezuela that engages in war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide if you believe they were serving U.S. interests, as you did in Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua?’
  • Abrams: “I am not going to respond to that question. I'm sorry. I don't think this entire line of questioning is meant to be real questions, and so I will not reply.”

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

Putin sets referendum that could allow him to rule until 2036 for July 1

Putin has not seemed to enjoy governing by video conference. Photo: Alexey Nikolsky/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin has set July 1 as the new date for a constitutional referendum that could allow him to remain in power through 2036.

Why it matters: Putin was forced to delay the referendum from April due to the coronavirus pandemic, and has set the date despite Russia's continued struggles to contain its outbreak. Putin's popularity has fallen in recent weeks amid his response to the pandemic and its economic repercussions.

A busy week for IPOs despite upheaval from protests and pandemic

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

This week is expected to be the busiest for U.S. IPOs since February, with Warner Music leading a group of four companies that could raise over $3 billion.

Why it matters: This shouldn't be happening, under any traditional rubric for how markets work.

How Big Tech has responded to the protests

A protester holds a sign in downtown Minneapolis to protest the death of George Floyd on May 31. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

An explosive weekend in America sent Silicon Valley grasping for moral clarity. While many companies and executives spoke out against racial inequities, critics and even some of the rank-and-file found some of the companies' responses lacking.

Why it matters: Tech companies have giant platforms, and their leaders have become public figures, many of them household names. History will record their words and actions — which, in the case of platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, directly shape the bounds of public discourse.