What was supposed to be an interview about the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling today upholding the current travel ban, turned into a five minute long denial of one question. The question was posed by CNN’s Jake Tapper to guest Dem. Congressman Keith Ellison on his well known connection with notorious bigot and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
Farrakhan said Ellison met with him and Congressman Carson at Farrakhan’s hotel suite in 2016 in Washington D.C.
When Tapper asked Ellison about the meeting the Congressman responded, “That is false, that did not happen. That is untrue. I don’t know if he’s lying or not. I can tell you I was in no such meeting, I was in no such meeting–I’ve made that clear and you know that Jake. I have denied that because it is not true, but here I am on your show having to talk about this when the Supreme Court just upheld what the president said was a Muslim ban from the very beginning. So now, I have to defend myself when that’s not what the context of this discussion is about at all. I was in no such meeting.”
“You’ve been decrying president Trump’s bigotry. Obviously, you used to follow somebody who continually expressed sexist anti-LGBTQ and anti-semitic bigotry, Louis Farrakhan,” Tapper said during the interview on”The Lead with Jake Tapper” on CNN.
He continued his denial by repeating the same phrase over and over again,“I can tell you that I was not in a meeting, it’s not true-simply not true. I wrote about this months ago Jake. I was not in any such meeting with that individual, I simply wasn’t. I wasn’t in the meeting.”
Jake Tapper said he wanted to get Congressman Ellison on the record regarding the alleged meeting and that he would take Ellison at his word, but that the Washington Post had given him 4 Pinocchios on Ellison’s claim that he’d never met with Farrakhan at his hotel. “Jake, they were wrong,” Ellison said. “It is untrue, Jake, I’m sorry. And I’m disappointed that that is why you called me on your show today.”
Ellison ended the interview with Tapper saying, “I worked on the Million Man March and I was proud to do so.”
Congressman Ellison has been trying to deny any connection to Farrakhan since he first decided to run for Congress in 2006, but his support of the notorious bigot has haunted Ellison like a ghost. “I was hoping it wouldn’t come up,” he told the Star Tribune, when pressed. When Ellison attended the University of Minnesota Law School, he became a fierce defender of Farrakhan. During this time Ellison published a series of op-eds in the student paper, the Minnesota Daily defending Farrakhan and under the pen name“Keith Hakim”.
According to website motherjones.com, in 1995, Ellison and a small group of activists and pastors he’d worked with on policing issues, (including the leader of the local Nation of Islam chapter), organized buses from the Midwest to attend Farrakhan’s Million Man March. Keith Ellison, under they byline Keith X Ellison penned an op-ed in the Twin Cities black weekly Insight News, pushing back charges of anti-Semitism directed at Farrakhan. When Ellison ran for state representative in 1998, Insight News described him as affiliated with the Nation of Islam and stated that when he would arrive at different community meetings, he would show up in a bow tie and be accompanied by dark-suited members of the Fruit of Islam, the Nation’s security detail.
This is not the first time that Rep. Keith Ellison has tried to dodge any line of questioning that would tie him to his support of Farrakhan. In the fall of 2016, Ellison canceled a scheduled interview with the New York Times when told that there would be questions about Farrakhan raised.
In 2016, Farrakhan posted a video on his Official Minister Farrakhan Facebook page in response to Ellison’s denouncement stating, “If you denounce me to achieve greatness, wait until the enemy betrays you and then throws you back like a piece of used tissue paper to your people.”
Farrakhan also states that Ellison and the only other Muslim member in congress, Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.) did meet with him and have a private chat. “Both of them, when I was in Washington, visited my suite and we sat down talking like you and I are talking,” Farrakhan told interviewer Munir Muhammad in the Facebook video. “But evidently, the enemy has made me the litmus test for all black people who want to rise in their world.”
Carson confirmed that he had met with Farrakhan but did not discuss the circumstances of the meeting in a statement to The Fact Checker: “I’ve spent my life fighting discrimination in every form, from anyone. As a Member of Congress, I have met with a diverse array of community leaders, including Minister Farrakhan, to discuss critical issues that are important to my constituents and all Americans.”
Minister Farrakhan and Rep. Carson’s acknowledgment that the private meeting did occur while Congressman Ellison continued to deny the claim is what ultimately earned him the 4 Pinocchios by the Washington Post in 2016.