Donald Trump Sees Omar Attacks As 'Political Winner,' Says CNN Panelist: 'He Seizes on Every Opportunity'

President Donald Trump is reveling in the attacks on Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar because he sees the issue as a solid vote winner, a CNN panelist has suggested.

Toluse Olorunnipa, a White House reporter for The Washington Post, said Republican criticism of the Minnesota congresswoman offered the president a distraction from Democrats' demands to see his tax returns or the full report from special counsel Robert Mueller.

Omar is under attack for allegedly underplaying the severity of the 9/11 attacks. The criticism relates to a speech she gave to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) last month, in which she condemned heightened prejudice against American Muslims in the wake of the attacks.

"Far too long we have lived with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen, and frankly, I'm tired of it, and every single Muslim in this country should be tired of it," she said. "CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties."

Edited videos have been shared online—including by the president himself—of Omar saying, "CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something," alongside images of the attacks. The New York Post prompted anger by including Omar's words on its front page, set over an image of the burning World Trade Center.

Olorunnipa suggested the controversy has come at a perfect time for the president. "He seizes on every opportunity that he gets to shine the spotlight on some of these progressive members of Congress and to paint them as the other," he said.

Omar has said she is receiving an increase in death threats following the attacks on her. "Since the president's tweet Friday evening, I have experienced an increase in direct threats on my life—many directly referencing or replying to the president's video," she wrote on Twitter Sunday.

Olorunnipa said, "This is, in the eyes of several Democrats, an incitement to violence. The president doesn't seem to mind that there are people out there that are making death threats based on this video.

"He sees it as a political winner for him," the journalist added. "He can sort of stand next to the flag and say, 'We will never forget 9/11, and look at these Democrats who are downplaying the tremendous loss that happened on that day.' This is a clearly political move by the president."

Donald Trump Ilhan Omar
President Donald Trump on April 12 in Washington, D.C. Tom Brenner/Getty Images