Angry GOP confronted CNN’s Jake Tapper on Israel controversy

CNN’s Jake Tapper moderated a panel that included Republican Rep. Liz Cheney and Democratic Rep. David Hensarling

Conservative CNN anchor Martha MacCallum defended Rep. Ilhan Omar’s controversial comments about Israel this week and said the controversy surrounding her remarks are ‘problems” for Congress and the party.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy immediately moved Friday to censure Omar for anti-Semitism, a highly unusual step that comes as new analysis shows the Utah Democrat was referring to actions and not the country, in much of her remarks about Israel and its supporters.

“Democrats have lost a serious opportunity in fighting for American values and standing up to those who would disrespect and attack those who share those values,” she said.

“We can’t give the impression that we don’t respect America.”

MSNBC’s Craig Melvin laid out the criticism from Omar’s fellow lawmakers this week that while they believed Omar was wrong to attack Israel, they disagreed with her choice of words and not all of them believed she should apologize.

“I think she has a serious problem as a member of Congress but it doesn’t excuse what’s essentially a personal attack,” MacCallum said.

“I don’t want to conflate anti-Semitism and free speech,” Tapper said. “I think we have something real here about the dangers in what that does.”

MacCallum said it’s tough to trust Democrats when it comes to how they handle controversial statements like Omar’s and said Republicans have a legitimate point in saying the party doesn’t have a robust policy platform on a number of hot button issues, including the Middle East.

“They certainly could use more of a policy on the Middle East and there are these issues that they say are not up for debate,” she said.

“The Democratic party has the greatest Jewish-American members of Congress in history and they’re hurting our party, the Democratic party, by constantly making bad choices,” she added.

–Alex Weprin contributed to this report.

– CNN’s Dana Bash contributed

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