Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, considered an early favorite to be the next Democratic National Committee chair, bailed on an interview with the New York Times after he found out they were going to ask about his praise for a notorious anti-Semite.
The nation’s first Muslim congressman, Ellison has faced questions over his praise for Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, his ties to a group linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and the fact that he campaigned for an activist who encouraged Palestinian Muslims to “embrace the jihad way.”
Ellison defended Farrakhan — whose history of anti-Semitism is well documented by the Anti-Defamation League — in the 1990s, saying Farrakhan is “not an anti-Semite.”
The New York Times reported Tuesday night that “Aides to Mr. Ellison were going to make him available for a telephone interview, but then declined when informed that he would be asked about his past comments on Mr. Farrakhan.”
As reported by The Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross, Ellison campaigned in 2009 on behalf of a Libyan-born activist who previously called for Palestinians to “embrace the jihad way.”
While speaking to an atheist group in 2007, Ellison compared the September 11 attacks to the Reichstag fire, stopping just short of accusing then-President George W. Bush of having a hand in the attacks.
“It’s almost like the Reichstag fire, kind of reminds me of that,” Ellison said of 9/11, according to reports at the time. “After the Reichstag was burned, they blamed the Communists for it, and it put the leader [Hitler] of that country in a position where he could basically have authority to do whatever he wanted.”
Ellison went on to say he wouldn’t suggest the U.S. had a hand in the attacks because “you know, that’s how they put you in the nut-ball box — dismiss you,” before later walking back his comments.
Ellison was the subject of a House Ethics Committee investigation after failing to disclose that an American Muslim organization with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood had paid $13,500 for him to take a pilgrimage to Mecca in 2008. (RELATED: Keith Ellison Failed To Disclose Group Tied To Muslim Brotherhood Sponsored Mecca Pilgrimage)