As the House of Representatives prepared to vote on a resolution condemning President Donald Trump’s racist tweets about four minority lawmakers, he lashed out at the freshman Democrats again on Tuesday and questioned why Congress was not rebuking them instead.
“The Democrat Congresswomen have been spewing some of the most vile, hateful, and disgusting things ever said by a politician in the House or Senate, & yet they get a free pass and a big embrace from the Democrat Party,” Trump wrote on Twitter, listing several grievances about the lawmakers. “Why isn’t the House voting to rebuke the filthy and hate laced things they have said? Because they are the Radical Left, and the Democrats are afraid to take them on. Sad!”
His tweets marked the third day in a row of attacks on the lawmakers – a series that began Sunday with tweets in which the president said the four Democrats should “go back” to “the crime infested places from which they came.” Three of the lawmakers were born in the United States, and the fourth is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Somalia.
House Democratic leaders announced Monday that they were preparing a resolution condemning Trump’s remarks. In a letter to Democratic colleagues, Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said Trump had gone “beyond his own low standards using disgraceful language about Members of Congress” and that Democrats would “forcefully respond to these disgusting acts.”
A vote on the resolution is planned for Tuesday night. It says that the House “strongly condemns President Donald Trump’s racist comments that have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color.”
The rebuke of Trump presents an opportunity for the Democratic caucus to unite around a common aim at a time when there has been infighting between Pelosi and the four liberal lawmakers informally known as “the Squad” on Capitol Hill.
The vote will also force Republicans to go on the record about Trump’s comments. Congressional Republicans were largely silent Sunday after his initial tweets – with some fearful of chastising a president popular with the party’s base – although a handful began speaking out critically Monday.
The four Democrats – Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan – held a news conference Monday in which they described themselves as part of a nation of tolerance that offers opportunity to people like themselves. Pressley was born in Cincinnati, Tlaib was born in Detroit and Ocasio-Cortez was born in New York. Omar was born in Mogadishu, Somalia; her family fled the country amid civil war when she was a child, and she became a U.S. citizen as a teenager.
Ocasio-Cortez echoed the tone of the news conference Tuesday morning in which she said Trump had “decided he does not want to be president of the United States.”
“He does not want to be a president to those who disagree,” she said. “And he’d rather see most Americans leave than handle our nation’s enshrined tradition of dissent. But we don’t leave the things we love.”
Several Democratic lawmakers said Tuesday that while they supported the resolution backed by House leaders, they were interested in a more forceful response – such as a censure resolution introduced by Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., and supported by the four liberal freshmen.
“I think there’s going to be a number of responses, and frankly I think what the president did was so egregious I think all of the responses are good,” said Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. “So we’ll see what happens.”
Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, said Monday that he plans to try to force a vote on impeachment articles against Trump in coming days. But many members stopped short of backing that push.
“I want to talk to him about that,” Bass said.
In his latest tweets, Trump accused the four lawmakers of being “Horrible anti-Israel, anti-USA, pro-terrorist” and took issue with the “public shouting of the F…word, among many other terrible things.”
All four lawmakers have called for Trump’s impeachment, and Tlaib has done so using profane language.
Trump frequently used profanity at his campaign rallies, including one in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in February 2016 when he said that companies that have relocated overseas for more favorable tax rates can “go f— themselves.”
Trump’s comments on Israel and terrorism appeared to target Omar and Tlaib.
Earlier this year, Omar apologized after she was widely accused of anti-Semitism for suggesting that supporters of Israel’s government have an “allegiance to a foreign country.” She also came under scrutiny for a speech in which, while defending Muslims who lost their civil liberties in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, she said that “some people did something,” referring to the hijackers.
Tlaib, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, has advocated a “one-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Arguing that the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu effectively opposes the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, she has supported the transformation of Israel into a single, jointly governed Arab-Jewish nation. The idea has little support among either Israelis or Palestinians.
In a later tweet Tuesday morning, Trump wrote: “Our Country is Free, Beautiful and Very Successful. If you hate our Country, or if you are not happy here, you can leave!”
That echoed comments Trump made Monday at a White House event staged to promote American-made products. At the event, Trump alleged the four lawmakers “hate our country” and said they should leave if they are unhappy.
Some Republican lawmakers, meanwhile, continued to struggle Tuesday when asked about Trump’s racist tweets.
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio. said during a CNN interview that he agreed that Trump’s comments were wrong. Asked what he was going to do about it, Portman said, “Well, I think all of us have a responsibility to speak our mind on it, and so I’ve done that, and again I think we ought to focus on how to work together to solve problems.”
He then suggested talking about immigration challenges at the U.S.-Mexico border.
(c) 2019, The Washington Post · John Wagner, Mike DeBonis