May 19, 2020 / 3:10 PM / 17 days ago

False headline claim: Ilhan Omar faces 40 years in prison and deportation

A widely circulated article on social media makes the claim that Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar (D) is facing 40 years in prison and deportation “after newly uncovered crimes”. This headline is false. Additional allegations and speculation within in the articles that the posts reference are beyond the scope of this fact check.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

Omar is one of the first two Muslim women to serve in the U.S. Congress, along with Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D). For years Omar has been the target of unfounded claims by conservative commentators ( here ).

One instance of the claim that she is facing 40 years in prison ( here ) stems from a 2019 video by The Next News Network ( here ) in which the host references a supposed investigation into Omar by right-wing journalist David Steinberg.

David Steinberg ( twitter.com/realDSteinberg ) of PJ Media allegedly uncovered evidence to demonstrate that from 2009 to 2017, Omar committed eight cases of perjury (lying under oath) in relation to her marriage history ( here ).

This fact check will not examine Steinberg’s investigation. Omar, however, cannot “face 40 years in prison and deportation” if no legal proceedings are currently ongoing against her, making these claims and headlines inaccurate (“Ilhan Omar faces 40 years in prison and deportation after newly uncovered crimes”). Reuters did not find any active or ongoing legal proceedings incriminating Omar at the time of this check. Omar’s team confirmed to Reuters via email that she is not under any formal investigation.

In 2016, when Omar was running for the Minnesota state legislature, conservative bloggers began circulating rumors that Omar had wed her brother to help him acquire American citizenship. The same year, Omar issued a statement in which she clarified the timeline of her marital history and called the rumors “baseless”, “false and ridiculous” ( here ).

These remarks resurfaced in October 2019, when President Donald Trump called Omar an “America-hating socialist” during a rally in Minneapolis. The President also promoted debunked claims about Omar and her family in the speech ( here ).

Last year, Minnesota State Rep. Steve Drazkowski, a conservative, called for the opening of an ethics investigation and the removal of security clearance for Omar, for allegedly having “been found guilty of campaign finance abuses by the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board (CFB)” and for being possibly “guilty of federal tax fraud, federal immigration fraud, federal student loan fraud, perjury, and bigamy” ( here ).

It is true that in June 2019, Minnesota’s CFB found that Omar filed “tax returns stating she was married to one man when, in fact, she was married to another,” according to CBS Local, “amid an investigation into allegations of misuse of campaign funds.” ( here )

Omar later agreed to repay thousands in a fine and back taxes over the discrepancies in her filings ( here ). A spokesperson for Omar’s campaign gave a statement at the time that said, “All of Rep. Omar’s tax filings are fully compliant with all applicable tax law.” ( here )

At the time, Business Insider reported that despite Drazkowski’s claims, no hard evidence was presented to verify marriage fraud, despite “inconsistencies” in her marriage history ( here ). The New York Times addressed the claim surrounding Omar’s marriage timeline after President Trump said, “Well, there is a lot of talk about the fact that she was married to her brother. I know nothing about it.“ ( here )

VERDICT

False headline. Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar is not under investigation, nor facing formal charges, meaning she cannot be facing “40 years in prison and deportation”.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts  here

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