President Trump on Tuesday insisted he is not a racist amid sustained criticism of his attacks on four minority, progressive Democratic congresswomen.
The president’s latest defense of his tweets telling the lawmakers to “go back” to their home countries, even though they are all U.S. citizens, came hours before the House is set to vote on a resolution condemning them as racist.
“Those Tweets were NOT Racist. I don’t have a Racist bone in my body!” Trump tweeted.
Trump condemned the “so-called vote” on the resolution as a “Democrat con game,” sending a message to Republicans to vote against the measure.
“Republicans should not show ‘weakness’ and fall into their trap. This should be a vote on the filthy language, statements and lies told by the Democrat,” he tweeted.
Trump also repeated his belief that the four Democratic lawmakers “hate our Country.”
Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) — the group targeted by Trump — held a press conference Monday to push back against his statements the previous day.
Omar accused Trump of launching a “blatantly racist attack” against her and her three colleagues and said he is advancing the “agenda of white nationalists.”
As the controversy raged on for a third day, the president telegraphed his strategy to elevate the group of lawmakers in an attempt to paint Democrats as extreme during his reelection race.
“Nancy Pelosi tried to push them away, but now they are forever wedded to the Democrat Party. See you in 2020!” Trump tweeted.
But his attacks have also galvanized Democrats who have been plagued by infighting, in part due to a public spat between Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the group of four progressive lawmakers.
The House plans to vote on its resolution against Trump’s comments later Tuesday. The text of the measure “strongly condemns President Donald Trump’s racist comments that have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color by saying that our fellow Americans who are immigrants, and those who may look to the President like immigrants, should ‘go back’ to other countries.”
In a series of tweets Sunday, Trump wrote that the women should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
Three of them are natural-born U.S. citizens and the fourth, Omar, is a naturalized citizen who was a refugee from Somalia.
The tweets are the latest instance of Trump stoking racial animus since he burst onto the political stage. Before he was elected president, Trump questioned whether former President Obama was a U.S. citizen even though he was born in Hawaii. Trump also lashed out at a federal judge by arguing his Mexican heritage would not allow him to fairly decide lawsuits against Trump University.
Almost two years ago, Trump drew widespread condemnation for saying there were “very fine people on both sides” of a violent protest in Charlottesville, Va., where a white nationalist killed a counterprotester.