Trump says his remarks to lawmakers ‘not at all’ racist

(Photo: MGN / US Congress / Kristie Boyd / NRKbeta / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Shealah Craighead)

(ABC) — President Donald Trump extended his online attacks of progressive Democratic congresswomen on Monday, asking when they will apologize to the U.S. adding a host of new and unsubstantiated charges.

“When will the Radical Left Congresswomen apologize to our Country, the people of Israel and even to the Office of the President, 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!” Trump tweeted.

- Advertisement -

Trump’s tweets come a day after he ratcheted up his attacks on the group of freshman lawmakers tweeting that “‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen” should stop criticizing the government and “go back” to where they came from.

Without naming the lawmakers, he appeared to be referring to what has come to be known as a “squad” of progressive freshman women of color, which includes Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass.

At an event at the White House on Monday afternoon, Trump was asked which congresswomen he was referring to in his tweets, and he said, “You can guess.”

Ocasio-Cortez responded on Twitter Monday morning saying that his comments are “hallmark language of white supremacists.”

“It’s important to note that the President’s words today, telling four American Congresswomen of color “go back to your own country,” is hallmark language of white supremacists. Trump feels comfortable leading the GOP into outright racism, and that should concern all Americans,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.

The president said to reporters that his remarks where “not at all” racist, adding “if you’re not happy here, then you can leave.”

“Do you think those Democratic women are not American,” ABC News senior White House Correspondent Cecilia Vega asked Trump Monday afternoon.

He replied, “If somebody has a problem with our country, if someone doesn’t want to be in our country they should leave. That’s all.”

Trump was also asked by reporters if he is concerned that many people have viewed his tweets as racist and that white nationalist groups are finding common ground with him.

“It doesn’t concern me because many people agree with me, and all I’m saying, they want to leave, they can leave now,” Trump responded. “It doesn’t say leave forever. It says leave.”

Trump’s comments have been widely criticized by Democratic lawmakers, many who have characterized his attacks as racist.

The president’s tweets follow a week of contention between the freshman lawmakers and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“I reject @realDonaldTrump’s xenophobic comments meant to divide our nation,” Pelosi tweeted on Sunday morning.

“When @realDonaldTrump 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. Our diversity is our strength and our unity is our power,” Pelosi added coming to the defense of the lawmakers despite recent public disagreements.

Top Republicans in Congress had been largely silent on the attacks, but more were speaking out on Monday.

In an interview with the anchors of Fox & Friends on Monday morning, Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Trump ally, justified the president’s attacks on those four freshman congresswomen by branding them as “a bunch of Communists” who “hate Israel” and “hate our own country.”

“We all know AOC and this crowd are a bunch of communists they hate Israel, they hate our own country,” Graham said. “I think they’re American citizens duly-elected running on an agenda that is disgusting, that the American people will reject.”

Later Monday morning, Rep. Paul Mitchell, R-Mich., responded to the president on Twitter, writing that “we must be better than comments like these.”

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, released a statement Monday afternoon saying that Trump’s tweets were “way over the line.”

“I disagree strongly with many of the views and comments of some of the far-left members of the House Democratic Caucus — especially when it comes to their views on socialism, their anti-Semitic rhetoric, and their negative comments about law enforcement — but the President’s tweet that some Members of Congress should go back to the ‘places from which they came’ was way over the line, and he should take that down,” Collins said.

British Prime Minister Theresa May and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have also weighed in.

“The language that was used to refer to these women was completely unacceptable,” May told CNN on Monday morning.

Trudeau told CBC News Network, “That’s not how we do things in Canada.”

He added, “Canadians and indeed people around the world know exactly what I think about those particular comments.”

Coming to the president’s defense is Andrew Anglin, founder of the neo-Nazi news site The Daily Stormer.

“This is the kind of WHITE NATIONALISM we elected him for,” Anglin said.

“This is what elected Trump and this is what will always be the best way for him to gain support,” he added.