Democratic Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison again refused on Thursday to deny that he met Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan in recent years, choosing instead to blame a “smear” campaign for new questions about his ties to the hate group leader.
Ellison, who worked with the Nation of Islam in the 1990s, claimed when he ran for Congress in 2006 that he had left the hate group in his past. But he attended meetings with Farrakhan at least three times since 2013, according to photos, videos and witness accounts reviewed by The Daily Caller. One of those meetings included a visit with Democratic Indiana Rep. Andre Carson to Farrakhan’s hotel room.
CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer noted Ellison’s meetings with Farrakhan in an interview on Thursday and asked him what his relationship with the hate group leader is. Ellison, also the deputy DNC chair, insisted that he has no current relationship with Farrakhan but would not deny privately visiting Farrakhan in his hotel room and offered no explanation for the meeting.
“My political opponents keep pushing this out there in order to try to smear and distract from the key issues, but there’s no relationship, I mean, look, my — I have a clear record. I have always fought for equal rights for all people. I will continue to do so. I’ve always denounced and been a fierce opponent of anti-Semitism from whatever source. I’ll continue to do so, but in this political environment, Wolf, you can expect people to try to say anything they want to try to distract from the core issues,” Ellison said, before pivoting and discussing the “core issues” unrelated to the question at hand.
Blitzer declined to press Ellison on why he visited Farrakhan’s hotel room, considering he supposedly cut all ties with Farrakhan decades before the visit.
Ellison’s ties to radical figures and movements have come under scrutiny in the past. Ellison once advocated for a separate black country in the United States and has said that black people don’t have an obligation to obey the American government.
Haim Saban, a prominent Democratic donor, is on the record saying Ellison is “clearly an anti-Semite.”