Democratic Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison again refused on Thursday to deny that he met Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan in recent years, choosing instead to blame a "smear" campaign for new questions about his ties to the hate group leader.

Ellison, who worked with the Nation of Islam in the 1990s, claimed when he ran for Congress in 2006 that he had left the hate group in his past. But he attended meetings with Farrakhan at least three times since 2013, according to photos, videos and witness accounts reviewed by The Daily Caller. One of those meetings included a visit with Democratic Indiana Rep. Andre Carson to Farrakhan's hotel room.

CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer noted Ellison's meetings with Farrakhan in an interview on Thursday and asked him what his relationship with the hate group leader is.

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