Trump’s racist comments ‘strongly condemned’ by congress amid fresh calls for impeachment

Four Republicans and independent back measure censuring president’s remarks about Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other women of colour

Andrew Buncombe
Seattle
Tuesday 16 July 2019 19:51
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Donald Trump shouts 'quiet' at a reporter six times for challenging him on his racist tweets

The House of Representatives has “strongly condemned” Donald Trump’s racist language, as some Democrats renewed calls to launch impeachment proceedings against the president.

In proceedings that underscored the toxicity between Democrats outraged by Mr Trump’s remarks, and Republicans who have largely declined to condemn him, the House denounced the president’s recent comments about four congresswomen, all of them women of colour.

The vote on Tuesday afternoon, which passed 240 – 187, approved a resolution saying “Donald Trump’s racist comments have legitimised fear and hatred of new Americans and people of colour”. It said it “strongly condemned” Mr Trump’s remarks that called for “our fellow Americans who are immigrants, and those who may look to the president like immigrants, should ‘go back’ to other countries”.

The resolution was passed after the president launched a series of attacks both on social media and in public appearances, against four Democratic congresswomen - New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.

The four women, dubbed “The Squad” by US media, are among the most progressive of those members congress elected in the 2018 midterms, and have been outspoken about Mr Trump and members of their own party.

In what appeared to be a calculated strategy to energise supporters as he campaigns for re-election, Mr Trump last Friday said the women – who had been involved in a spat with Nancy Pelosi – ought to show the House speaker some respect.

He followed up with a series of tweets and remarks, calling on the four women, three of whom were born in the US and one of whom came here two decades ago as a refugee from Somalia, to “go back” to their countries”.

Speaking at the White House on Monday, he was asked about his comments. “As far as I’m concerned if you hate our country, if you’re not happy here, you can leave,” Mr Trump said.

Asked if he was concerned him that many people considered his tweets as raves and that “white nationalist groups are finding common cause with you”, he said: “It doesn’t concern me because many people agree with me. All I’m saying, they want to leave, they can leave. Now, it doesn’t say leave forever. It says leave if you want.”

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On Tuesday, Mr Trump tweeted that his comments had not been racist but that the remarks of the four congresswomen had been. He also falsely claimed they had been antisemitic and supported al-Qaeda.

On Monday evening, the four women held their own press conference, urging people not to be “distracted” by the president’s actions.

“He would love nothing more than to divide our country based on race, religion, gender, orientation, or immigration status,” said Ms Omar.

In practical terms, the resolution is likely to do nothing to alter Mr Trump’s language or actions. It may well help in his efforts to drive out his base in in the 2020 election.

What has been noticeable since Mr Trump launched the attacks, has been the paucity of Republicans stepping forward to condemn his racist language. Commentators say the president now has such a grip on the party, its elected politicians feared speaking out against him in case he encourages a damaging primary challenge to them next year.

On Tuesday, four Republicans voted with Democrats – Will Hurd of Texas, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Fred Upton of Michigan, and Susan Brooks of Indiana. A fifth member of the congress, Justin Amash of Michigan, who has called for Mr Trump’s impeachment and earlier this month quit the Republican Party, also voted in favour.

What also remains unclear is whether the vote will benefit those Democrats seeking Mr Trump’s impeachment. While many progressive members of the party have supported such a censure, including the four members, Ms Pelosi has tried to avoid such a move, believing it would distract the nation as it prepares for next year’s elections.

On Tuesday, shortly after the House passed the resolution, congressman Al Green of Texas, once again filed articles of impeachment against Mr Trump. It was the third time he had so since the president took office in 2017.

Reading from the floor, Mr Green said Mr Trump was “unfit to defend the ideals that have made America great”.

“What do you do when the leader of the free world is a racist,” said Mr Green. “What do you do? You file articles of impeachment, impeaching the president of the United States of America.”

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