A day after President Trump said in inflammatory tweets that a group of minority, liberal congresswomen should “go back” to their countries, he again called out the outspoken lawmakers. The four he appeared to target — Democratic Reps. Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) and Ilhan Omar (Minn.) — have been feuding with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
“When will the Radical Left Congresswomen apologize to our Country, the people of Israel and even to the Office of the President, for the foul language they have used, and the terrible things they have said,” Trump said in new tweets Monday. “So many people are angry at them & their horrible & disgusting actions!”
He later criticized Democrats for coming to the defense of the congresswomen, who he claimed had shown “racist hatred” in their speech and are “very unpopular & unrepresentative.”
With his latest tweets, Trump dug in further on a line of attack that was widely condemned by Democrats as racist and employed a tactic he has used before: accusing his opponents of the same transgressions for which they have criticized him.
Only one of them — Omar — was born outside the United States.
All four have called for Trump’s impeachment — Tlaib has done so using profane language — and have been highly critical of his administration, notably denouncing conditions at federal detention facilities near the U.S.-Mexico border.
Trump’s comments regarding Israel appeared to target Omar and Tlaib.
Earlier this year, Omar apologized after she was widely accused of anti-Semitic speech for suggesting that supporters of Israel’s government have an “allegiance to a foreign country.”
Tlaib, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, has advocated what has been dubbed a “one-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Arguing that the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu effectively opposes a two-state solution of neighboring Israeli and Palestinian states, she has supported the transformation of Israel into a single, jointly governed Arab-Jewish nation. But the idea has little support among either Israelis or Palestinians.
Republicans remained largely silent Monday morning about Trump’s tweets targeting the minority lawmakers.
Ocasio-Cortez went on Twitter to denounce Trump shortly after his latest posts.
“It’s important to note that the President’s words yday, telling four American Congresswomen of color ‘go back to your own country,’ is hallmark language of white supremacists,” she wrote. “Trump feels comfortable leading the GOP into outright racism, and that should concern all Americans.”
Trump’s tweets on Sunday morning were sent before he headed to his golf club in Sterling, Va.
“So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run,” Trump tweeted.
“Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” Trump added. “Then come back and show us how it is done.”
Pressley was born in Cincinnati, Tlaib was born in Detroit and Ocasio-Cortez was born in New York. Omar was born in Mogadishu, Somalia; her family fled the country amid civil war when she was a child, and she became a U.S. citizen as a teenager.
Pelosi subsequently described Trump’s tweets as racist and divisive.
“When @realDonaldTrump tells four American Congresswomen to go back to their countries, he reaffirms his plan to ‘Make America Great Again’ has always been about making America white again,” she said in a tweet. “Our diversity is our strength and our unity is our power.”
By Sunday evening, at least 90 House Democrats, plus Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.), had denounced Trump’s remarks, with more than half of them using the words “racist” or “racism” to describe his tweets.
The only Republican member of Congress to speak out against Trump on Sunday was Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex.), who wrote on Twitter that “POTUS was wrong to say any American citizen, whether in Congress or not, has any ‘home’ besides the U.S.”
“But I just as strongly believe noncitizens who abuse our immigration laws should be sent home immediately, & Reps who refuse to defend America should be sent home” in the next election, he added.
During a television appearance on Monday morning, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) counseled Trump to focus on policy differences with the congresswomen.
“Aim higher. They are American citizens. They won an election. Take on their policies,” Graham said on Fox News’s “Fox & Friends.”
During the interview, Graham called the congresswomen’s ideas “anti-Semitic” and “socialist.”
Trump later tweeted selective quotes from Graham’s interview that did not include his advice to “aim higher.”
On Sunday night, Trump tweeted that it was “sad” to see Democrats “sticking up for people who speak so badly of our Country and who, in addition, hate Israel with a true and unbridled passion.”
He returned to that argument on Monday morning.
“If Democrats want to unite around the foul language & racist hatred spewed from the mouths and actions of these very unpopular & unrepresentative Congresswomen, it will be interesting to see how it plays out,” Trump wrote. “I can tell you that they have made Israel feel abandoned by the U.S.”
Speaking to reporters at the White House on Monday morning, Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Pence, said that the “intent” of Trump’s tweets was not “in any way racist.”
Asked about the controversy during an earlier appearance on the Fox Business Channel, Short mentioned a recent naturalization ceremony at which Pence presided and that was attended by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who is Asian American.
“So when people write the president has racist motives here, look at the reality of who is actually serving in Donald Trump’s Cabinet,” Short said. “He is making a point about a great frustration a lot of people feel that, I think it’s hard to find anything Ilhan Omar has actually said since elected to Congress that has been positive about the United States of America.”