Trump doubles down on tweets against Democratic Congresswomen


Washington, Jul 16 (IANS): US President Donald Trump has doubled down on his widely criticized suggestion that four non-white Democratic Congresswomen should "leave" the country because they "hate it", while the Democrats and some Republican lawmakers have accused him of racism and white supremacy.

A day after implying on Twitter that they were not born in the US and suggesting that "they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came", Trump on Monday denied that his comments about the Congresswomen were racist even as the hashtag #RacistPresident was gaining popularity on Twitter, reports Efe news.

The President augmented and doubled down on his comments on Monday, telling reporters at the White House that if the four lawmakers "hate our country", they can leave.

He lashed out at those who have criticized his series of tweets for being racist, saying that it "doesn't concern me because many people agree with me".

Trump did not back down from his earlier remarks despite that fact that in making them he has sparked negative coverage perhaps unprecedented since in 2018 he called El Salvador and Haiti "s**thole countries."

Trump focused most of his rant against Ilhan Omar, the first Somali-American, the first naturalized citizen from Africa, the first non-white woman elected from Minnesota and one of the first two Muslim women to serve in Congress. She was not born in the US.

"Somebody that comes from Somalia, which is a failed government, a failed state, who left Somalia and ultimately came here and now is a congresswoman, is never happy," said Trump at a planned "Made in America" event on Monday.

Omar "says horrible things about Israel, hates Israel, hates Jews, hates Jews, it's very simple", he declared.

"If you're not happy here, then you can leave," Trump said to cheers from attendees of the event at the White House. "As far as I'm concerned, if you hate our country, if you're not happy here, you can leave."

"Come back if you want, don't come back, that's okay too. But if you're not happy, you can leave," he added.

The other Congresswomen Trump criticized were born in the US. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a New Yorker with Puerto Rican roots, Rashida Tlaib comes from Detroit and her parents are Palestinian and African-American Ayanna Pressley was born in Chicago.

At present, there are 11 naturalized citizens serving in the US Congress.

The four women entered Congress in January, having been elected in the November balloting, and they now make up a group popularly known as "The Squad" which has attracted much media attention for being in the vanguard of the Democratic Party's progressive wing and for their verbal jousting over policy with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, also a Democrat.

At a press conference, the four women on Monday condemned Trump's tweets but asked that not so much attention be paid to this latest "distraction" by the President.

"Weak minds and weak leaders challenge loyalty to our country to avoid challenging and debating policy. This president does not know how to defend his policies, so what he does is attack us personally," said Ocasio-Cortez, accompanied by the other three lawmakers.

Omar said she refused to dignify Trump's earlier claim that she supports Al Qaeda with a response, adding that white nationalists say similar things on the Internet and now have arrived at the White House.

Meanwhile, amid the controversy, Pelosi prepared a resolution asking her Democratic colleagues in Congress to formally condemn Trump's comments and urging Republicans to denounce his "xenophobic tweets".

Initially, just one Republican, Chip Roy, openly condemned the president's remarks, but later the only two Republican African Americans in Congress, Senator Tim Scott and Congressman Will Hurd, criticized what they called his "racist" and "xenophobic" remarks.

Moderate Republican senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski also criticized Trump's tweets, while Senator Pat Toomey said that the US citizenship of the four Democratic congresswomen is just as valid as the President own, being the grandson of Irish immigrants.

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