US President Donald Trump on Sunday took aim at progressive Democratic lawmakers, telling them to “go back” where they came from in remarks that sparked yet another firestorm over his views on race and immigration.
Trump — whose comments were branded “racist” and “xenophobic” by Democratic presidential candidates and senior legislators — last year reportedly referred to countries in Africa as “shithole” nations, and has spoken of an “invasion” of migrants.
Trump referred on Twitter to “‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen” in remarks that appeared to be aimed at a group of outspoken relatively young, liberal women of color, all first-time members of the US House of Representatives.
These include Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts.
They “originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world,” Trump tweeted.
He accused the women of “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. Then come back and show us how it is done,” Trump wrote.
He did not identify the targets of his comments by name.
However, in a tweet later in the day, he said they “hate Israel with a true and unbridled passion,” indicating he might have been referring to Omar and Tlaib, who have recently been embroiled in controversies related to the Jewish state.
Tlaib, who was born in Detroit, is the first American of Palestinian descent elected to Congress, while Omar, who fled war-torn Somalia as a child and came to the US as a refugee, is the first black Muslim woman in Congress.
Ocasio-Cortez, who was born in New York, is of Puerto Rican ancestry, and Pressley, who was born in Cincinnati, is the first black American elected to Congress from Massachusetts.
The four hit back at Trump on his favored social media site.
“I am fighting corruption in OUR country. I do it every day when I hold your admin accountable as a US Congresswoman,” Tlaib tweeted.
“You are stoking white nationalism bc you are angry that people like us are serving in Congress and fighting against your hate-filled agenda,” Omar wrote on Twitter.
“THIS is what racism looks like. WE are what democracy looks like,” Pressley wrote over a screenshot of Trump’s tweets, while Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that Trump is “angry because you can’t conceive of an America that includes us.”
They were joined in their criticism of Trump by Democratic presidential candidates as well as leaders from the party, which holds the majority in the US House of Representatives.
“Racism and xenophobia have no place in America,” former US vice president Joe Biden tweeted.
US Senator Elizabeth Warren termed Trump’s comments “a racist and xenophobic attack on Democratic congresswomen,” while US Senator Kamala Harris tweeted: “Let’s call the president’s racist attack exactly what it is: un-American.”
“That’s a racist tweet,” US House of Representatives Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Lujan, the highest-ranking Latino member of Congress, said on Fox News Sunday.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has warned her party to avoid the “menace” of liberal policies pushed by Ocasio-Cortez and other progressives, if Democrats hope to beat Trump in next year’s election.
However, on Sunday, she criticized Trump’s “attack.”
“I reject @realDonaldTrump’s xenophobic comments meant to divide our nation,” she tweeted.
Trump’s remarks reaffirmed “his plan to ‘Make America Great Again’ has always been about making America white again,” she said.
Senior Republican lawmakers were notably silent on Trump’s comments, while the president later doubled down on his remarks, attacking Democrats for coming to the lawmakers’ defense.
“So sad to see the Democrats sticking up for people who speak so badly of our Country,” Trump tweeted.
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