- Rep. Keith Ellison attended meetings with Louis Farrakhan.
- Farrakhan is a noted anti-Semite.
- Despite protests, Ellison has maintained a relationship with Farrakhan.
Democratic Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, the deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee, has attended multiple meetings with Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan while in Congress, The Daily Caller has learned.
Ellison’s past ties to Farrakhan are well known: he admitted to The Washington Post during his first congressional campaign in 2006 that he worked with the Nation of Islam for approximately 18 months ahead of Farrakhan’s 1995 Million Man March. Since he ran for Congress, Ellison has repeatedly promised the public that he left Farrakhan in the past.
But Ellison’s associations with Farrakhan continued even as he served in Congress, TheDC has found.
Ellison attended at least three meetings where Farrakhan was present — including a private visit to Farrakhan’s hotel room — according to photos and videos reviewed by TheDC and Farrakhan’s own statements.
Ellison has publicly responded to questions about one of those meetings — a private dinner for American Muslim leaders hosted by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in 2013 revealed by the Wall Street Journal on Friday — but his office declined to return a phone call and multiple emails from TheDC regarding the other two meetings.
Johari Abdul-Malik, then director at Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center in Virginia, uploaded a YouTube video in 2013 that shows Ellison casually chatting among a crowd of men, including Farrakhan. The video is short — just 28 seconds —- but what it shows is indisputable: Ellison comfortably socializing in the same group as Farrakhan, decades after Ellison supposedly cut ties with him.
The exact date of the video is unclear, but Abdul-Malik’s caption indicates it took place no earlier than 2010. In the video, Farrakhan is seen hugging Muslim American activist Mahdi Bray. “Min Farrakhan gives thanks for Mahdi Bray’s recovery from stroke,” Abdul-Malik wrote. Bray suffered his stroke in 2010, according to PBS.
TheDC reached out to Ellison’s spokesman, Karthik Ganapaphy, to solicit Ellison’s explanation for the event and give the congressman the opportunity to put the meeting in context. He ignored the request, as Ellison’s office has done for all of TheDC’s inquiries about Farrakhan.
Abdul-Malik resigned from the center last year over comments he made supporting female genital mutilation. He did not return an interview request from TheDC. (RELATED: Democrat Danny Davis Claims Anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan Is An ‘Outstanding Human Being’)
Ellison’s op-ed was “deceitful,” Farrakhan said in an interview posted to his Facebook page, in part because he and Democratic Indiana Rep. Andre Carson had only recently paid Farrakhan a friendly visit.
“Both of them, when I was in Washington, visited my suite and we sat down talking like you and I are talking,” Farrakhan told his interviewer, a Nation of Islam videographer. Farrakhan blamed “Jewish control” of politics and media for Ellison’s distancing from the Nation of Islam.
TheDC reached out to both Carson and Ellison’s offices to give them the opportunity to deny Farrakhan’s account of the meeting, which neither of them did. A voicemail left for Farrakhan with the Nation of Islam was not returned.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani hosted both Ellison and Farrakhan for a 2013 dinner, following Rouhani’s address to the United Nations. Rep. Carson and Democratic New York Rep. Gregory Meeks both attended the dinner as well. Photos reviewed by TheDC show Ellison sitting at Rouhani’s dinner with a name card in front of him.
Jonathan Greenblatt, the head of the Anti-Defamation League, called the meeting “extremely disturbing” and demanded an explanation.
Ellison released a statement on Tuesday and claimed that he did not know who was going to be in attendance. Ellison’s statement didn’t address whether he spoke with Farrakhan at the dinner. In fact, it didn’t mention Farrakhan once:
As part of the 2013 U.N. General Assembly, and as negotiations were under way for what would become the Iran deal, I attended a meeting with President Rouhani and nearly 50 American Muslim leaders. This was not a private dinner, I didn’t know in advance who else would be there, and my decision to attend was not an endorsement of the political views of other attendees.
I attended the meeting to advocate for a peaceful resolution to the Iranian nuclear issue and to press President Rouhani face-to-face for the release of former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, who was illegally detained and tortured by the Iranian regime. As always, I disavow anti-Semitism and bigotry in all of its forms.
Ellison did not explain why his attendance at the dinner remained a secret for five years. He did not return a request from TheDC inquiring whether the Obama administration was aware that he was, as Ellison says, meeting with the Iranian president about their nuclear program.
The Nation of Islam teaches that black people are inherently superior to white people and is widely acknowledged as a racist, anti-Semitic organization. Farrakhan, who became the group’s leader shortly after its founder Elijah Muhammed died in 1975, has unapologetically spouted racism and anti-Semitism for decades. He is on record praising Hitler as a “very great man,” saying white people “deserve to die” and blaming Jews for everything from the Holocaust to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Ellison’s ties to the Nation of Islam go back decades.
In college, Ellison publicly defended Farrakhan — who has consistently referred to Jews as “Satanic” — against charges of anti-Semitism. (RELATED: Keith Ellison Headlined Fundraiser For Muslim Activist Who Called For Palestinians To Embrace ‘The Jihad Way’)
As noted above, Ellison admitted to working with the Nation of Islam for roughly 18 months before the 1995 march, but even that admission appears to be incomplete. Ellison was still known as a Nation of Islam supporter in 1998 when he ran for state legislature.
In a 1998 article reviewed by TheDC, the Minnesota Star Tribune described Ellison then as “well-known in the black community as the former head of the Legal Rights Center and a supporter of Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam.”