Democratic Reps. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York lashed out at President Donald Trump on Monday over his remarks targeting them.
The freshmen lawmakers held a news conference at the Capitol hours after Trump defended his tweets singling out the congresswomen of color, falsely claiming “these are people who hate our country”.
Trump issued the controversial tweets Sunday against “‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen” whom he did not name, saying they should go back to “the totally broken and crime infested” countries they came from.
“I encourage the American people and all of us in this room and beyond to not take the bait,” Pressley said. “This is a disruptive distraction from the issues of care, concern and consequence to the American people.”
Trump’s remarks have been condemned as racist and xenophobic.
“This is the agenda of white nationalists,” said Omar, and the remarks were Trump’s “blatantly racist attack”.
“And so for him to condemn us and to say we are un-American for wanting to work hard to make this country be the country we all deserve to live in, it’s complete hypocrisy,” she said.
The group of progressive lawmakers is collectively known as “the squad,” and all of them were born in the U.S. except Omar, who is a naturalized citizen.
“We all know the tweets and words from the president are simply a continuation of his racist and xenophobic playbook,” Tlaib, for her part, said. “We cannot allow these hateful actions to distract us from the critical work to hold this administration accountable.”
Omar stirred controversy with a series of comments critical of Israel’s lobbying efforts in Congress, and Tlaib used an expletive to describe the president when addressing supporters.
Trump posted messages on Twitter while the conference was underway.
“We will never be a Socialist or Communist Country. IF YOU ARE NOT HAPPY HERE, YOU CAN LEAVE! It is your choice, and your choice alone. This is about love for America. Certain people HATE our Country,” he tweeted.
House Democrats could vote Tuesday on a resolution to condemn Trump’s tweets sponsored by Rep. Tom Malinowski of New Jersey.
In a letter, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused Trump of “going beyond his own low standards using disgraceful language about Members of Congress”.
“The House cannot allow the president’s characterization of immigrants to our country to stand,” Pelosi wrote.
“We’ll stay focused on our agenda and we won’t get caught slipping,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “Because all of this is a distraction. It is a distraction from what is most important and from our core values as American citizens.”