Four Democratic women targeted by Trump accuse him of following an agenda of white nationalists at a press conference
Four Democratic congresswomen of color targeted by Donald Trumps racist attacks have accused the US president of following an agenda of white nationalists and asked that Americans do not take the bait of his divisive rhetoric.
In a joint press conference at the Capitol, the congresswomen spoke out after Trump said they should go back to the crime infested countries they came from, prompting condemnation in the US and across the world.
Of the four, all are non-white and all except Ilhan Omar of Minnesota were born US citizens. Omar came to the US aged 12 as a refugee and took up American citizenship five years later. All are progressives within the Democratic party, and advocate for left-leaning policies.
The women Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts called Trumps remarks a blatantly racist attack on elected leaders, and an attempt to distract from the corrupt and inhuman practices of his administration.
This is a disruptive distraction from the issues of care, concern and consequence to the American people that we were sent here with a decisive mandate from our constituents to work on, said Pressley, who was the first black woman elected to Congress from Massachusetts.
This is the agenda of white nationalists, whether it is happening in chat rooms, or it is happening on national TV, and now it is reached the White House garden, said Omar, who called this a pivotal moment in our country with the eyes of history watching.
Listing vulgar comments Trump has made publicly and privately about women, people of color and African nations, Omar said he has openly violated the oath he took by allowing human rights abuses at the US Mexico border and of colluding with a foreign government during the 2016 presidential election, which Trump has denied.
It is time for us to stop allowing this president to make a mockery of our Constitution, she said. It is time to impeach this president.
Ocasio-Cortez, who was born in the Bronx and is of Puerto Rican descent, said she was not surprised by Trumps comments.
This president does not know how to defend his policies and so what he does is attack us personally, Ocasio-Cortez said.
Tlaib, the Detroit-born daughter of Palestinian immigrants, renewed her calls for Trump to be impeached for his utter disregard and disrespect of the United States Constitution.
Sadly, this is not the first nor will it be the last time we hear disgusting, bigoted language from the president, Tlaib said. We know this is who he is.
But she stressed that she would continue to stay focused on the priorities that she believes her constituents want her to address, including the conditions at the US border, poverty in America, and the expansion of access to healthcare.
As the four women were speaking, Trump was live tweeting his own caustic commentary. He implied that his provocative stance had forced the Democrats to embrace the congresswomen which in turn meant they are endorsing Socialism, hate of Israel and the USA! Not good for the Democrats!
The Democratic congresswomen spoke out at the end of an extraordinary 24 hours in which Trump doggedly dug himself deeper into the row over his xenophobic tirade that began on Sunday morning with a stream of unashamedly racist tweets.
In them, the US president interjected himself uninvited into the middle of an argument that had been developing between the four progressive members of Congress and Nancy Pelosi, the most powerful Democrat on Capitol Hill.
In his Twitter storm, Trump called on the four who he did not name directly but clearly invoked to go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.
The presidents use of the go back home racist trope led to an immediate and explosive response, with condemnation erupting across the US and around the world.
Race-baiting has been a consistent theme of Trumps presidency starting on the day he announced his presidential run in June 2015 when he accused Mexico of sending rapists to the US as immigrants.
Pelosi made clear her deep displeasure that Trump had chosen to interfere in her partys internal affairs in such poisonous terms, denouncing his comments as another manifestation of his desire to make America white again.