Freshman lawmaker hit with colleagues’ fury after Hitler comments
CHICAGO — Rep. Mary Miller served less than a week in Congress before moving Illinois Democrats to call for her resignation after she referenced Adolf Hitler in a speech not long before Donald Trump supporters laid siege to the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.
“She’s been on this earth long enough to know that invoking the beliefs of Hitler as being right in any respect is inappropriate and wrong. It’s wrong enough that she should not be in Congress,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said in an interview.
During a rally for the conservative Moms for America, Miller, an Illinois Republican said conservatives would lose unless “we win the hearts and minds of our children. This is the battle. Hitler was right on one thing. He said, ‘Whoever has the youth has the future.'”
Miller, the wife of Illinois GOP state Rep. Chris Miller, issued a statement Friday saying “I sincerely apologize for any harm my words caused” and she “[regrets] using a reference to one of the most evil dictators in history.” But she blasted critics for “intentionally trying to twist my words.” Miller spokesperson Erin O’Malley considered an interview request with the congresswoman Friday but didn’t respond further.
But Schakowsky, who is Jewish and serves in House leadership, found Miller’s statement lacking. The audience she was addressing, Schakowsky said, “is precisely the kind of crowd that I think would hear it and hear it as an affirmation of Hitler and that is dangerous.”
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), an Iraq War veteran, said Miller should resign and be replaced with “someone who better understands the sacrifices our brave service members made during World War II.” Illinois’ Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who also is Jewish, called Miller’s comment at the rally “disgusting.” And Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, one of the first Republicans to press for Trump’s removal from office after Wednesday’s riots, called the Hitler comments “garbage.”
When Congress reconvened after Wednesday’s chaos, Miller voted to object to Arizona’s Electoral College votes.
Even if Miller doesn’t resign, she may be forced out of Congress anyway after the redistricting process fires up later this year.
Illinois is expected to lose one of its 18 congressional seats in the upcoming redistricting process as the state’s population has fallen relative to others. And there’s a good chance the remap doesn’t bode well for Miller: She lacks seniority against GOP Reps. Rodney Davis and Mike Bost for conservative seats. Now her words have further alienated the state’s power structure, where Democrats control both houses of the Illinois Legislature and the governor’s office.
In her Friday statement, Miller said she has “been in discussion with Jewish leaders across the country” but the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and several Jewish organizations also condemned Miller’s comments.
Miller’s spokesperson didn’t respond to an inquiry about whether her boss had tried to bridge things with members of the Illinois delegation. Schakowsky said she didn’t know about Miller’s apology until it was mentioned by POLITICO. The governor hasn’t heard from Miller either.
Miller initially tried to tweet out apologies for her comments at the rally. She deleted one and a follow-up drew scorn from Twitter users.
The freshman Republican represents a large, conservative district in southern Illinois that was previously held by John Shimkus, who retired and endorsed Miller.
Shimkus, who was critical of the assault on the Capitol, swerved around criticizing Miller directly when a local radio station asked about the comments during an interview. “I was disappointed,” Shimkus said. “Proverbs over Hitler” is a better way to to tell a story, he added.
Leading up to November’s election, Miller made it clear she was a Trump supporter and showed off pictures of her and her husband meeting Trump in the White House.
After coasting to victory in November, Miller was asked if she had a message for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her fellow Democrats. Miller said, “I call them a club of kooks.”
Miller isn’t the only freshman drawing scrutiny for her far-right stands. House GOP leaders disavowed Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia before she was even elected because she’s embraced QAnon conspiracy theories and posted racist videos on Facebook.