Updated at 1:02 p.m. ET
President Trump, a day after using racist language in a tweet directed at four minority members of Congress, dug in further Monday on Twitter and at a live event at the White House.
“They can leave,” if they want, Trump said. He also accused them of hating America. He is continuing to take questions at the impromptu press conference.
Earlier in the day, he said they should apologize “to our Country, the people of Israel and even to the Office of the President.”
Trump said “the Radical Left Congresswomen,” should apologize 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!”
On Sunday, Trump said the Congresswomen, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Rashida Tlaib D-Mich., and Ayanna S. Pressley, D-Mass., should “go back” to their countries of origin (Rep. Omar was born in Somalia, the other three were all born in the United States).
Ocasio-Cortez described Trump’s tweets as “hallmark language of white supremacists.”
In brief comments to reporters Monday at the White House, Trump denied his tweets were racist. “Not at all,” he said.
Democrats have widely criticized the President’s Sunday tweet.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has been at odds with the four members of her caucus, came to their defense Sunday. She tweeted that when Trump “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.” Pelosi added “Our diversity is our strength and our unity is our power.”
Pelosi also said the House will take up a resolution “condemning the President’s xenophobic tweets,” which she said will be sponsored by Democratic lawmakers who were born overseas.
Republicans stayed mostly quiet about Trump’s tweets on Sunday but several weighed in on Monday, critical of Trump’s language.
In an interview on Fox & Friends Monday morning, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. said Trump should “Aim higher. They are American citizens. They won an election. Take on their policies.” But Graham added that “We all know that AOC and this crowd are a bunch of communists,” and that “They hate Israel, they hate our own country.”
Rep. Paul Mitchell, R-Mich tweeted at Trump “we must be better than comments like these. I share the political frustrations with some members of the other party, but these comments are beneath leaders.”
Another Michigan GOP lawmaker, Rep. Fred Upton tweeted that he was “appalled by the President’s tweets,” adding “there’s no excuse.” Upton also condemned what he labeled “inflammatory rhetoric from both sides of the aisle that is used to divide us.”
Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., also issued a statement condemning the tweets. “President Trump was wrong to suggest that four left-wing congresswomen should go back to where they came from. Three of the four were born in America and the citizenship of all four is as valid as mine. I couldn’t disagree more with these congresswomen’s views on immigration, socialism, national security, and virtually every policy issue. But they are entitled to their opinions, however misguided they may be. We should defeat their ideas on the merits, not on the basis of their ancestry.”
Trump, who in a separate tweet Sunday claimed 94% support by Republican party members, seemed to welcome the storm he set off, saying in another tweet 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.”
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