President Donald Trump tweeted on Monday that four congresswomen, all people of colour ― Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley and Ilhan Omar, known colloquially as “the Squad” ― are “a very Racist group of troublemakers.” The hypocritical tweet comes after a week of Trump’s own repeated, racist comments about the congresswomen.
After calling them “young, inexperienced, and not very smart,” Trump accused the women of pulling the “once great Democrat Party” further to the left. He said they were against humanitarian aid at the border ― although three of the four lawmakers actually testified before Congress about the unhealthy conditions in detention centres and advocated for better treatment of migrants.
He also brought up the Squad’s calls to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security, a position that Ocasio-Cortez said is “really not that radical” in a tweet earlier this month. She said that at the time DHS was established, lawmakers had concerns that the agency could be “a ticking time bomb” leading to the erosion of civil liberties and abuses of power.
Trump’s statements were retweeted by the official White House Twitter account:
Trump doubled down on his statements about the four congresswomen when speaking to reporters during a meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday. “They’re very bad for our country. Absolutely,” he said.
Trump reiterated his dislike of how the lawmakers have criticised the United States and Israel. He also referenced a statement made by Pressley at the Netroots Nation conference on July 13.
“We don’t need any more brown faces that don’t want to be a brown voice. ... We don’t need Muslims that don’t want to be a Muslim voice,” Pressley said. “If you’re worried about being marginalised and stereotyped, please don’t even show up because we need you to represent that voice.”
Trump said those kinds of statements are “not what this country is about.” He also claimed there is no racial tension between him and the Squad, even though he has focused these attacks solely on women of colour.
Other Democrats came to the lawmakers’ defence after Trump’s tweet on Monday. Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (D-N.Y.) retweeted his statement, calling it “False.” The Congressional Hispanic Caucus tweeted that the four lawmakers are experienced and intelligent and that they were elected to fight “#ForThePeople.”
The public ― and virtual ― fight between the president and the four congresswomen started after Trump criticised them in a string of tweets earlier this month, telling them to “go back” to the “totally broken and crime-infested” countries they came from. All four lawmakers are American citizens.
Last Tuesday Trump insisted that his tweets were “not racist,” but House Democrats disagreed. They decided to support the congresswomen and voted for a resolution to officially condemn his statements later that day. Republicans called out the resolution as a technical violation of House rules. It passed anyway, with four Republicans joining Democrats for a 240-187 vote.
This story has been updated with more commentary from Trump.