WASHINGTON — Members of “the squad” responded to President Donald Trump’s racist tweets at a press conference Monday, where the four first-term representatives hit the president for promoting an “agenda of white nationalism” and called for renewed focus on immigration issues.
The group, which consists of Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib, were the subject of a series of tweets sent by the president over the weekend. “Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” he tweeted Sunday.
“So sad to see the Democrats sticking up for people who speak so badly of our Country and who, in addition, hate Israel with a true and unbridled passion. Whenever confronted, they call their adversaries, including Nancy Pelosi, ‘RACIST,’” Trump wrote. “Their disgusting language … and the many terrible things they say about the United States must not be allowed to go unchallenged.”
Monday’s press conference, called less than two hours before it was held, was packed with reporters, and the group pulled no punches.
“This is a president who has openly violated the very values our country appears to uphold: equality under the law, religious liberty, equal protection, and protection from persecution,” Omar said when she took the mic. “And to distract from that, he’s launching a blatantly racist attack on four duly elected members of the United States House of Representatives, all of whom are women of color. This is the agenda of white nationalist[s], whether it is happening in chat rooms, or it is happening on national TV, and now it has reached the White House garden.”
Ocasio-Cortez, for her part, said the president’s comments did not surprise her.
“What I want to tell children across this country is that no matter what the president says, this country belongs to you. And it belongs to everyone,” she said. “And today that notion, that very notion was challenged. This weekend that very notion was challenged. So I am not surprised when the president says that four sitting members of Congress should, quote, ‘go back to their own country’ when he has authorized raids without warrants on thousands of families across this country.”
“Weak minds and leaders challenge loyalty to our country in order to avoid challenging and debating the policy,” Ocasio-Cortez later added.
Monday’s press conference comes after a week of Democratic Party infighting that began when Pelosi was asked about tensions between her and the group in an interview with the New York Times.
“All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world,” the speaker said. “But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people, and that’s how many votes they got.”
Without mentioning Pelosi’s name, Pressley said during Monday’s press conference: “We are more than four people. We ran on a mandate to advocate for and to represent those ignored, left out, and left behind. Our squad is big. Our squad includes any person committed to creating a more equitable and just world.”
The House is preparing to vote on a resolution to condemn the president’s remarks, Pelosi said Monday morning.
“Let me be clear, our Caucus will continue to forcefully respond to these disgusting attacks,” Pelosi said in a letter released by her office. “The House cannot allow the President’s characterization of immigrants to our country to stand. Our Republican colleagues must join us in condemning the President’s xenophobic tweets.”
Moments before the press conference started, Trump went on Twitter again, calling the group “anti-Israel and pro Al-Qaeda” and writing, “The Dems were trying to distance themselves from the four ‘progressives,’ but now they are forced to embrace them. That means they are endorsing Socialism, hate of Israel and the USA! Not good for the Democrats!”