Trump Rejects Criticism That His Weekend Tweet About Four Minority Lawmakers Was Racist, Says They ‘Hate Our Country’
John Wagner and Rachael Bade, Washington Post, July 15, 2019
President Trump said Monday that he is not concerned by criticism that his tweets suggesting four minority congresswomen return to their home countries were racist, asserting that they hate the United States and are free to leave.
His comments at a White House event came as Democratic leaders in the House prepared a resolution condemning tweets over the weekend in which Trump said the liberal lawmakers critical of him should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
Trump expressed no regrets at a White House event to celebrate American-made products when asked by reporters if he were concerned by widespread criticism that his tweets about the lawmakers were racist.
“It doesn’t concern me because many people agree with me,” Trump said. “And all I’m saying — they want to leave, they can leave.”
Trump’s tweets targeted a group of liberal freshmen who have been feuding with Pelosi, including Reps. Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) and Ilhan Omar (Minn.). All are U.S. citizens, and only Omar was born outside the United States.
Trump said at the White House event that all four have been “complaining constantly” about the United States.
“These are people that hate our country,” Trump said. “They hate our country. They hate it, I think, with a passion.”
And it would also put Republicans on record about Trump’s comments. Congressional Republicans were largely silent on Sunday after his initial tweets — with some fearful of chastising a president popular with the GOP base — although some began speaking out critically on Monday.
Trump doubled down on his weekend tweets early in the day Monday, saying that the congresswomen should apologize to the United States and Israel, as well as to him.
“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 wrote. “So many people are angry at them & their horrible & disgusting actions!”
He later criticized Democrats for coming to the defense of the congresswomen, whom he claimed had shown “racist hatred” in their speech and are “very unpopular & unrepresentative.”
All four lawmakers targeted by Trump have called for his 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.
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. So many people are angry at them & their horrible & disgusting actions!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 15, 2019
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. I can tell you that they have made Israel feel abandoned by the U.S.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 15, 2019
Ocasio-Cortez went on Twitter to denounce Trump shortly after his latest tweets.
“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.”
“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.”
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.
A few other Republicans were critical of Trump’s tweets when asked about them on Monday.
During a television appearance Monday morning, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) counseled Trump to focus on policy differences with the congresswomen rather than on them personally.
“Aim higher. They are American citizens. They won an election. Take on their policies,” Graham said on Fox News’s “Fox & Friends.”
“We all know that AOC and this crowd are a bunch of communists,” Graham said, referring to Ocasio-Cortez. “They hate Israel. They hate our own country.”
Meanwhile Rep. Al Green (D-Tex.) said Monday he would move forward within the next two weeks with articles of impeachment targeting Trump for racism and bigotry.
He returned to that argument 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: “I don’t think the president’s intent in any way is racist . . . This is not a universal statement that he is making.”
Asked about the controversy during an earlier appearance on the Fox Business Network, 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.”