- The White House defends President Donald Trump's tweet about Mika Brzezinski, arguing he has a right to defend himself.
- Critics called Trump's tweet sexist and some Republicans said it was beneath the office of the president.
The White House is not backing down after widespread condemnation of President Donald Trump's Thursday tweet about "Morning Joe" host Mika Brzezinski.
Principal deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders repeatedly and vehemently defended the tweet Thursday, arguing it was justified because Trump felt "personally attacked" by the show.
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"I don't think you can expect someone to be personally attacked, day after day, minute by minute, and sit back. Look the American people elected a fighter. They didn't elect somebody to sit back and do nothing. They knew what they were getting when they voted for Donald Trump, and he won overwhelmingly," Sanders told reporters.
In a pair of morning tweets, Trump said he heard "Morning Joe" hosts Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough — who were known to have the president's ear in the past — speak "badly of me." He then said that "low I.Q. Crazy Mika" and "Psycho Joe" came to his Mar-a-Lago resort around New Year's Eve and wanted to join him, but he "said no!"
He drew the most shock and criticism for adding that Brzezinski was "bleeding badly from a face-lift" at the time.
Trump: I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don't watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came..
Trump: ...to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year's Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!
Bipartisan criticism immediately followed. Some critics said his comment about Brzezinski's face-lift was reminiscent of crude remarks he made about women on the campaign trail, which many voters — and lawmakers — ended up shrugging off.
Republican senators condemned the tweet Thursday, with some saying his comments were beneath the office of the president.
Murkowski: Stop it! The Presidential platform should be used for more than bringing people down.
Murkowski 2: @POTUS, do you want to be remembered for your tweets or your accomplishments?
Lindsey Graham: Mr. President, your tweet was beneath the office and represents what is wrong with American politics, not the greatness of America.
Ben Sasse: Please just stop. This isn't normal and it's beneath the dignity of your office.
Susan Collins: This has to stop – we all have a job – 3 branches of gov't and media. We don't have to get along, but we must show respect and civility.
Pressed about whether the president of the United States should be held to a different standard than cable news hosts, Sanders repeatedly said that Trump has a right to fight back if he gets personally attacked.
She also said that Trump would "love for us all to focus on the legislative agenda." Trump himself hasn't often made his agenda his main focus in public statements, tweeting attacks at media outlets that have driven news coverage for each of the past two days.