Just a day after his hiring was announced, Vice President Kamala Harris‘ new communications director is the center of a controversy over things he said and posted on social media. In two tweets drawing the most criticism, Jamal Simmons wondered why undocumented immigrants weren’t being apprehended by federal immigration authorities.
His tweets came to light in a Fox News hit piece published Friday morning.
In one tweet from 2010, he wrote, “Just saw 2 undocumented folks talking on MSNBC. One law student the other a protester. Can someone explain why ICE is not picking them up?”
He expressed the same sentiment in a second tweet that day.
Simmons apologized on Friday.
“As a pundit I tweeted [and] spoke A LOT. At times I’ve been sarcastic, unclear or plainly missed the mark,” Simmons tweeted. “I apologize for offending ppl who care as much as I do about making America the best, multiethnic, diverse democracy [and] I’ll rep the Biden-Harris admin w/ humility, sincerity [and] respect.”
These aren’t the only tweets and comments Simmons, a longtime political pundit, made in the past that are raising eyebrows.
Last January, Simmons suggested that former President George Bush wasn’t impeached for waterboarding people because it was intended to protect the country.
“If Bush waterboarded ppl to get someone to buy his [Texas] ranch that would be different,” he wrote.
Simmons has also made statements critical of the administration he’s joining.
“Not the first time VP #biden made mistakes after 10pm,” he tweeted in November 2019. That summer, he aired a segment on his show called “dazed and confused” in which he made fun of President Joe Biden’s gaffes, Fox reports.
Simmons also once cautioned Biden not to get too comfortable assuming he’d get the Black vote.
In the summer of 2019, he wrote on Facebook that Harris’ campaign was “listless, unfocused” and that her “lackluster fundraising totals” weren’t surprising.
“I’m curious to see how this changes over the summer, now that Kamala’s poll numbers have increased and Biden seems more like a winged bird than the inevitable nominee,” Simmons added.
However, the resurfaced tweets expressing the opposite sentiments attracted far more attention.
Reactions varied widely. Some felt that the White House should rescind his job offer or that his previous statements reflected negatively on the administration.
“Seems like a good quality for a comms director to fire off public statements that are often ‘unclear or plainly miss the mark,'” @PresidentXavi tweeted sarcastically.
Conservatives had a field day with the old tweets.
“I agree with @JamalSimmons,” former Trump staffer Stephen Miller tweeted. “If you break into our nation there must be deportation.”
Miller is notoriously anti-immigrant.
Others viewed the controversy as overblown.
“So-called progressives are pretending to be offended at a tweet they’re deliberately taking out of context from over a decade to smear the VP,” said one.
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