Today, Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib held an afternoon press conference in response to Trump’s racist attacks against the four freshmen congresswomen. Though he didn’t name any names, Trump tweeted over the weekend that the Democratic congresswomen of color should “go back to their country.”
Rep. Ayanna Pressley opened the press conference by thanking supporters, but it didn’t take long for her to get to the matter at hand—the racist in the Oval Office.
“I will only refer to him as the occupant of the White House because he is only occupying space,” Pressley said.
"At the end of the day, if we improve the conditions for children in a cage, they're still in a cage."— Charlotte Clymer????️???? (@cmclymer) July 15, 2019
-- Congresswoman @AyannaPressley, in a press conference on Trump's remarks
But that was far from the last mic drop moment.
Rep @IlhanMN goes in on Trump: “This is a president who has said ‘grab women by the pussy’ … who has called black athletes ‘sons of bitches’ … who has called people who come from black and brown countries ‘shitholes.'”
“This is the agenda of white nationalists,” Omar adds. pic.twitter.com/Z6jl6VWQDC
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) July 15, 2019
“This is the agenda of white nationalists,” Rep. Ilhan Omar—who bore the brunt of Trump’s attacks—said of the president’s strategy. “Whether it is happening in chat rooms, or it is happening on national TV—and now it’s reached the White House garden.”
These four women are expressing more patriotism in this one press conference than Donald Trump has in his entire life.— Jon Favreau (@jonfavs) July 15, 2019
Omar also called out President Trump’s hypocritical stance on criticizing the country. “When this president ran and until today, he talked about everything that was wrong in this country and how he was going to make it great,” she said. “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.”
Omar closed her remarks by calling for Trump’s impeachment. “[S]ince the day that I’ve gotten elected, I’ve said to people, it is not if he will be impeached, but when,” she said.
OMAR on TRUMP: “It is time for us to stop allowing this president to make a mockery of our constitution. It’s time for us to impeach this president.” pic.twitter.com/AZJBVLZ5PF
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) July 15, 2019
The four progressive congresswomen—known as “The Squad”—have been battling with both Democratic Leadership in the House and Trump over a bill to fund border security. Trump’s racist weekend tweets nodded toward the intraparty fight.
....it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 14, 2019
AOC initially responded to the attacks on Twitter, and like many, she was not happy about the president’s racist remarks.
Mr. President, the country I “come from,” & the country we all swear to, is the United States.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 14, 2019
But given how you’ve destroyed our border with inhumane camps, all at a benefit to you & the corps who profit off them, you are absolutely right about the corruption laid at your feet. https://t.co/HLKQCotR8T
“Mr. President, the country I “come from,” & the country we all swear to, is the United States,” she wrote. Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley, and Tlaib were all born in the United States, Omar emigrated to the U.S. from Mogadishu, Somalia. Ocasio-Cortez also pointed out that such language is straight out of the white supremacist lexicon.
It’s important to note that the President’s words yday, telling four American Congresswomen of color “go back to your own country,” is hallmark language of white supremacists.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 15, 2019
Trump feels comfortable leading the GOP into outright racism, and that should concern all Americans.
AOC continued in a longer Twitter thread, explaining that the targeted congresswomen represent what America actually looks like, and pointed out that reality is squarely at odds with Trump’s vision of a nationalist, white supremacist base.
“You are angry because you can’t conceive of an America that includes us. You rely on a frightened America for your plunder,” wrote Ocasio-Cortez. In an especially pointed response to the president, she also says that “we don’t fear you.”
But you know what’s the rub of it all, Mr. President?— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 14, 2019
On top of not accepting an America that elected us, you cannot accept that we don’t fear you,either.
You can’t accept that we will call your bluff & offer a positive vision for this country. And that’s what makes you seethe.
Ocasio-Cortez also shared responses from the other congresswomen who were targeted by Trump.
Mr. President,— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) July 14, 2019
As Members of Congress, the only country we swear an oath to is the United States.
Which is why we are fighting to protect it from the worst, most corrupt and inept president we have ever seen. https://t.co/FBygHa2QTt
THIS is what racism looks like. WE are what democracy looks like. And we’re not going anywhere. Except back to DC to fight for the families you marginalize and vilify everyday. pic.twitter.com/vYzoxCgN0X— Ayanna Pressley (@AyannaPressley) July 14, 2019
Omar reiterated that she—like all members of Congress—swore an oath to represent the United States. Pressley called out Trump’s racist comments for what they are, and reminded us that their election to Congress is what “America really looks like.”
Unsurprisingly, Republicans in Congress largely stayed silent or defended Trump’s tweets. Only a handful of elected Republicans have condemned Trump’s remarks—and most of those responses were couched with more jingoistic nonsense, neutered by caveats, or otherwise feckless.
.@MittRomney on Trump calling for 4 congresswoman to go back to their countries of origin? “I certainly feel a number of these new members of Congress have views that are not consistent with my experience and not consistent with building a strong America.” More @NBC10Boston 5pm pic.twitter.com/3tZ4DtCuvW— Alison King NBC10 Boston (@AlisonNBCBoston) July 15, 2019
POTUS was wrong to say any American citizen, whether in Congress or not, has any ‘home’ besides the U.S. But I just as strongly believe non-citizens who abuse our immigration laws should be sent home immediately, & Reps who refuse to defend America should be sent home 11/2020.— Chip Roy (@chiproytx) July 15, 2019
Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, who is black, blasted Trump’s “racially offensive language,” while wrongly accusing Democrats of engaging in similar race-based attacks.
No matter our political disagreements, aiming for the lowest common denominator will only divide our nation further. My full statement below: pic.twitter.com/QXuV8arXso— Tim Scott (@SenatorTimScott) July 15, 2019
In a particularly shameful display of mental gymnastics, Rep. Andy Harris claimed that Trump really meant that the four congresswomen could “go back to the district they came from—to the neighborhood they came from.”
Maryland Congressman @RepAndyHarrisMD tells me President Trump's tweets this weekend were "clearly not racist" and that "he could have meant go back to the district they came from--to the neighborhood they came from." Full interview https://t.co/avXhiW2uBP— Bryan Nehman (@BryanNehman) July 15, 2019
While the witnessing lengths Trump’s supporters will go to in order to defend his indefensible actions has been numbing, this is truly a new low.