US President Donald Trump took aim at progressive Democratic congresswomen Sunday, telling them to “go back” where they came from in remarks that sparked yet another firestorm over his views on race and immigration.
Trump — whose comments were branded “racist” and “xenophobic” by Democratic presidential candidates and senior legislators — last year reportedly referred to countries in Africa as “shithole” nations and has spoken of an “invasion” of migrants.
He was also a leading proponent of the “birther” conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was not born on US soil and therefore could not legally be president.
On Sunday, Trump referred on Twitter to “‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen” in remarks that appeared to be aimed at a group of outspoken relatively young, liberal women of colour, all first-time members of the House of Representatives.
These include Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts.
Trump did not identify the targets of his comments by name.
But in a tweet later in the day, he said they “hate Israel with a true and unbridled passion,” indicating he may have been referring to Omar and Tlaib, who have recently been embroiled in controversies related to the Jewish state.
Tlaib, who was born in Detroit, is the first American of Palestinian descent elected to Congress, while Omar, who fled war-torn Somalia as a child and came to the United States as a refugee, is the first black Muslim woman in Congress.
Ocasio-Cortez, who was born in New York, is of Puerto Rican ancestry, and Pressley, who was born in Cincinnati, is the first African American elected to Congress from Massachusetts.
ACCUSED OF RACISM, XENOPHOBIA
The four hit back at Trump on his favoured social media site.
They were joined in their criticism of Trump by Democratic presidential candidates as well as leaders from the party, which holds the majority in the House of Representatives.
Senator Elizabeth Warren termed Trump’s comments “a racist and xenophobic attack on Democratic congresswomen,” while Senator Kamala Harris tweeted: “Let’s call the president’s racist attack exactly what it is: un-American.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has warned her party to avoid the “menace” of liberal policies pushed by Ocasio-Cortez and other progressives, if Democrats hope to beat Trump in the 2020 election.
But on Sunday, she criticised Trump’s “attack.”
Trump’s remarks, she said, reaffirmed “his plan to ‘Make America Great Again’ has always been about making America white again.”
Senior Republican lawmakers were notably silent on Trump’s comments, while the president later doubled down on his remarks, attacking Democrats for coming to the lawmakers’ defence.
Trump tweeted earlier today saying: