President Trump said Sunday that some female Democratic House lawmakers who are feuding with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should go back to the dysfunctional countries “from which they came” instead of criticizing the U.S.
Apparently referring chiefly to Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, the president criticized Democratic 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, he said, these lawmakers are “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.”
“Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “Then come back and show us how it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!”
Ms. Omar is a native of Somalia. Ms. Tlaib was born in the U.S. to Palestinian parents. Together with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, both of whom were born in the U.S. to American parents, they are known as “The Squad” of freshman liberals who are feuding openly with Mrs. Pelosi.
The president’s comments prompted a furious response from all four women.
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez tweeted at Mr. Trump, “you can’t conceive of an America that includes us.”
“Mr. President, the country I ‘come from,’ & the country we all swear to, is the United States,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said. “On top of not accepting an America that elected us, you cannot accept that we don’t fear you, either. You can’t accept that we will call your bluff & offer a positive vision for this country. And that’s what makes you seethe. … You rely on a frightened America for your plunder.”
Ms. Omar joined in Sunday by telling the president, “As Members of Congress, the only country we swear an oath to is the United States. Which is why we are fighting to protect it from the worst, most corrupt and inept president we have ever seen.
“You are stoking white nationalism bc you are angry that people like us are serving in Congress and fighting against your hate-filled agenda,” she tweeted at Mr. Trump.
Ms. Tlaib also fired back at the president, “I am fighting corruption in OUR country. I do it every day when I hold your admin accountable as a U.S. Congresswoman. … Keep talking, you’ll be out of the WH soon. #TickTock”
Added Ms. Pressley, to an image of Mr. Trump’s tweets: “THIS is what racism looks like. WE are what democracy looks like.”
Despite her feuds with “The Squad,” Mrs. Pelosi promptly took their side against the president on Twitter, “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.
“Our diversity is our strength and our unity is our power,” she said. “I reject @realDonaldTrump’s xenophobic comments meant to divide our nation. Rather than attack Members of Congress, he should work with us for humane immigration policy that reflects American values.”
Former Obama administration Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson called Mr. Trump’s tweets “offensive” and said he was undermining his own administration’s ability to work with Congress.
“I cannot believe a president of the United States would make a statement about foreign-born members of Congress suggesting they go back where they came from,” Mr. Johnson said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
The Democrats’ 2020 presidential hopefuls also rallied behind the women.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio accused the president of trying to divide Americans.
“He said he would make America great again. What he’s trying to do is make America hate again,” Mr. de Blasio said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont tweeted, “When I call the president a racist, this is what I’m talking about.”
The president showed no sign of backing down later Sunday night.
“So sad to see the Democrats sticking up for people who speak so badly of our Country and who, in addition, hate Israel with a true and unbridled passion,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “Whenever confronted, they call their adversaries, including Nancy Pelosi, ‘RACIST.’ Their disgusting language and the many terrible things they say about the United States must not be allowed to go unchallenged.”
He added, “If the Democrat Party wants to continue to condone such disgraceful behavior, then we look even more forward to seeing you at the ballot box in 2020!”
Some observers questioned the president’s wisdom of giving the Democrats an issue to rally around at a moment when the party was increasingly divided over issues such as immigration and impeachment.
CNN analyst Bakari Sellers, a former Democratic state legislator from South Carolina, tweeted that “Democrats have tried all week to lose this 2020 [election] with this inside the beltway bickering, then like clockwork Trump goes full racist.”
⦁ Valerie Richardson contributed to this report.
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