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Trump escalates attacks on Democratic congresswomen at 'Made in America' event

Key Points
  • President Donald Trump escalated his attacks on four progressive Democratic congresswomen on Monday amid bipartisan furor over his comments that the lawmakers should "go back" to the "places from which they came."
  • Speaking from the White House at an event showcasing products manufactured in the United States, Trump said that Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., "hates Jews, it's very simple."
  • He claimed "New York has not been the same" since Amazon opted out of moving its second headquarters to the state after activist resistance that was supported by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.
President Donald Trump speaks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, July 15, 2019.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

President Donald Trump escalated his attacks on four progressive Democratic congresswomen on Monday amid bipartisan furor over his comments that the lawmakers should "go back" to the "places from which they came."

Speaking from the White House at an event showcasing products manufactured in the United States, Trump said that Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., "hates Jews, it's very simple" and claimed that "New York has not been the same" since Amazon opted out of moving its second headquarters to the state after activist resistance that was supported by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.

Trump's tweets on Sunday were slammed as xenophobic by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and an increasing number of members of his own party have sought to distance themselves from them. Pelosi said in a letter to Democrats on Monday that a draft resolution condemning the president's tweets was in the works.

VIDEO21:5921:59
Democratic Reps. respond to Trump's comments

Ocasio-Cortez was born in New York. Omar was born in Somalia and became an American citizen as a teenager. The two other lawmakers the president has targeted, Reps. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., were born in the United States. All were elected to Congress last year.

Shortly after the president delivered his remarks, Omar, who apologized in February for statements that some of her colleagues denounced as anti-Semitic, wrote in a post on Twitter that she will not be deterred by the president's attacks.

"They are working to silence the voices of the people who see themselves represented in me. I will stay in the ring, fighting for what is right and will never back down in the face of these attacks," she wrote.

Ocasio-Cortez wrote earlier Monday that the president was using the "hallmark language of white supremacists."

After Trump's tweets sparked outrage on Sunday, he doubled down Monday morning ahead of the "Made in America" products showcase on the White House South Lawn.

"If Democrats want to unite around the foul language & racist hatred spewed from the mouths and actions of these very unpopular & unrepresentative Congresswomen, it will be interesting to see how it plays out," Trump wrote in a post on Twitter.

The president's insistence on singling out the four progressives comes despite resistance from members of his own party.

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., the only black Republican senator, had harsh words for the president.

"The President interjected with unacceptable personal attacks and racially offensive language. No matter our political disagreements, aiming for the lowest common denominator will only divide our nation further," he wrote in a post on Twitter.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said in a statement Monday that while she disagreed with the "far-left" members of Congress, the president's tweets went "way over the line" and urged him to delete them.

Texas Reps. Will Hurd, Pete Olson and Chip Roy, all Republicans, also rejected the president's comments. Hurd denounced the statements as "racist and xenophobic" in an interview with CNN, while Olson wrote on Twitter that they were "not reflective of the values of the 1,000,000+ people in Texas 22."

"POTUS was wrong to say any American citizen, whether in Congress or not, has any 'home' besides the U.S.," Roy wrote in a post on Twitter.

GOP Reps. Paul Mitchell and Fred Upton of Michigan also criticized the president. Mitchell told a local radio station that the president's comments were "really uncalled for," while Upton tweeted "we must be better than comments like these."

But many in the party leadership have been silent on the matter. And Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., defended the president, calling the Democratic lawmakers a "bunch of communists" during a Monday interview on Fox News.

Trump cited Graham's defense approvingly, saying the congresswomen "are socialists definitely." But Trump took issue with Graham's statement that the president should "aim higher" than the four progressive members, sometimes referred to as "the squad."

"What am I supposed to do? Just wait for senators?" Trump asked.

Asked by a reporter about support for his comments from white supremacists, the president said it did not bother him.

"It doesn't concern me because many people agree with me. If they are not happy with the United States, they can leave," Trump said.