White House

Trump suggests Rep. Omar, other Dems cheered 9/11 attacks and ‘should leave’

‘If you're not happy here, you can leave,’ president says amid backlash over comments criticized as racist

President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media prior to his departure from the White House on July 5. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Monday, for the first time in front of television cameras, suggested four freshman House Democratic congresswoman who have harshly criticized him should leave the United States.

Trump, very much in reelection mode during almost every public appearance, suggested the House freshmen congresswoman prefer the al Qaeda terrorist group over the United States and alleged they “hate our country.”

"Not at all," Trump said when asked by reporters during an unrelated event on the White House’s South Lawn Monday if his Sunday and Monday morning tweets about the so-call “Squad” — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts — were racist. “Not at all,” he repeated.

“If somebody has a problem with our country, if somebody doesn’t want to be in our country, they should leave,” he said. “Let me just tell you, when you look at her statements about al Qaeda, when you look at her statements about people...”

After remarks on making products in the United States, Trump took questions from the media. 

[Trump says House ‘Squad’ congresswomen should ‘apologize’ to him after ‘go back’ tweet]

“If you’re not happy here, you can leave. If you’re not happy here, you can leave,” he said as the invited audience responded with tepid applause. “If you’re complaining all the time, you can leave right now. ... Come back, don’t come back. That’s okay, too.”

Then the applause got louder.

He appeared to be referring to Omar, who had to apologize for controversial statements about Israel earlier this year and has raised the ire of Republicans with other comments.

Asked to be clear about which congresswomen he wants to “go back” to countries he — falsely on all but one — claims from which they hail, Trump said only: “You can guess them.”

“I don’t know who’s going to miss them, but maybe somebody will,” Trump said after the event, again indicating Omar prefers al Qeada over the United States — though he dropped his usual line about not knowing the congresswoman personally. “Quiet, quiet, quiet, quiet, quiet,” Trump barked at reporters shouting questions during one of his responses.

He blasted Omar for “being from Somalia,” contending she “hates Jews” and “loves al Qaeda.” He criticized Ocasio-Cortez for helping block Amazon’s plan to build a major facility in New York City. Without providing supporting data, he said that failed business transaction has “hurt” his native New York economically.

When asked if there have been any internal discussions in the West Wing about taking steps to ensure Omar’s safety, a White House official replied, “I’ll get back to you.”

As always, Trump appeared to want to be seen as fighting for his conservative base. “A politician can't be afraid to take them on,” Trump said, suggesting Omar and other Democratic politicians cheered the 9/11 attacks.

The cheers were louder still, and joined by hoots.

“These are people who hate our country,” Trump said, his voice faster and more aggressive than during his prepared remarks. “I do not believe this is good for the Democratic Party. It’s certainly not the party I’ve known for many years.

“It doesn't concern me because many people agree with me,” he replied to Fox News reporter John Roberts’ question about whether claims by some critics that his tweets were racist concerned him. 

Trump’s claim about three of the congresswomen’s places of birth is false. Only Omar was born ouside the U.S. — in Mogadishu, Somalia — but she is a naturalized American citizen.

On Sunday, the president tweeted that the four “Squad” members all came to the United States from countries that each are a “complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world.”

[Democrats condemn Trump’s racist tweets, congressional Republicans mostly silent]

In a second Sunday tweet, Trump prompted immediate outrage from Democratic members who dubbed the post “xenophobic” and “racist:” “Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done.”

He didn’t drop the matter on Monday morning, as morning television news shows discussed his tweets with panel after panel.

“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,” he wrote. “I can tell you that they have made Israel feel abandoned by the U.S.”

Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, went on Fox News to defend the president — and Trump quickly tweeted his Saturday golf partner’s comments in a thread.

Ocasio-Cortez and other Democrats blasted Trump with their own tweets.

“I reject @realDonaldTrump’s xenophobic comments meant to divide our nation. Rather than attack Members of Congress, he should work with us for humane immigration policy that reflects American values,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California wrote.

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