Donald Trump has once again attacked the four Democratic congresswomen he launched racist tweets at last week, demanding Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Ayanna Pressley apologise “for the horrible (hateful) things they have said”.
“I don’t believe the four Congresswomen are capable of loving our Country,” the president wrote in a Sunday morning tweet. “They should apologise to America (and Israel) for the horrible (hateful) things they have said.”
He added, “They are destroying the Democrat Party, but are weak & insecure people who can never destroy our great Nation!”
The latest tweets arrived after an extraordinary rebuke of the president’s racist attacks against the four congresswomen of colour – colloquially known as “the squad” – last week, in which the US House of Representatives passed a resolution condemning Mr Trump’s “racist comments”.
Mr Trump tweeted that the four Democratic freshmen should “go back” to their countries, despite the fact the congresswomen are all US citizens and all but one were born in the US (Ms Omar emigrated to the US from Somalia as a refugee 23 years ago).
The resolution passed by a 240-187 vote, marking an embarrassing moment for Mr Trump despite carrying no legal repercussions. The Democrats were joined by Republicans Brian Fitzpatrick, Fred Upton, Will Hurd and Susan Brooks. Justin Amash, who left the Republican party months after becoming the its sole member of congress to back an impeachment inquiry into Mr Trump, also backed the measure.
Democrats saved one of the day’s most passionate moments until near the end. “I know racism when I see it,” said John Lewis of Georgia, whose skull was fractured at the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” civil rights march in Selma, Alabama.
“At the highest level of government, there’s no room for racism,” he added.
Before the showdown roll call, Mr Trump characteristically plunged forward with time-tested insults. He accused his four outspoken critics of “spewing some of the most vile, hateful and disgusting things ever said by a politician” and added, “If you hate our Country, or if you are not happy here, you can leave !” – echoing taunts long unleashed against political dissidents rather than opposing parties’ lawmakers.
The president was joined by House minority leader Kevin McCarthy and other top Republicans in trying to redirect the focus from Trump’s original tweets, which for three days have consumed Washington and drawn widespread condemnation. Instead, they tried playing offense by accusing the four congresswomen – among the Democrats’ most left-leaning members and ardent Trump critics – of socialism, an accusation that’s already a central theme of the GOP’s 2020 presidential and congressional campaigns.
Underscoring the stakes, Republicans formally objected after Nancy Pelosi said during a floor speech that Mr Trump’s tweets were “racist”. Led by Doug Collins, Republicans moved to have her words stricken from the record, a rare procedural rebuke.
After a delay exceeding 90 minutes, Steny Hoyer said Ms Pelosi had indeed violated a House rule against characterising an action as racist. Mr Hoyer was presiding after Emanuel Cleaver stormed away from the presiding officer’s chair, lamenting, “We want to just fight,” apparently aimed at Republicans. Even so, Democrats flexed their muscle and the House voted afterward by party line to leave Ms Pelosi’s words intact in the record.
Mr Trump took a positive view of the vote on Twitter, saying it was “so great” that only four Republicans had crossed party lines and noting the procedural rebuke of Ms Pelosi. “Quite a day!” he wrote.
Some rank-and-file GOP lawmakers have agreed that Mr Trump’s words were racist, but on Tuesday party leaders insisted they were not and accused Democrats of using the resulting tumult to score political points. Among the few voices of restraint, Mitch McConnell said Mr Trump wasn’t racist, but he also called on leaders “from the president to the speaker to the freshman members of the House” to attack ideas, not the people who espouse them.
“There’s been a consensus that political rhetoric has gotten way, way heated across the political spectrum,” said the Republican leader from Kentucky, breaking his own two days of silence on Mr Trump’s attacks.
Hours earlier, Mr Trump tweeted, “Those Tweets were NOT Racist. I don’t have a Racist bone in my body!” He wrote that House Republicans should “not show ‘weakness’” by agreeing to a resolution he labelled “a Democrat con game”.
Additional reporting by AP
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