AOC squad refers to Trump as occupant of White House, condemns racist remarks, as Trump fires back
In spirited remarks tinged with open animosity, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., standing side-by-side with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib, declared at a news conference Monday on Capitol Hill that “it is time for us to impeach this president” for “openly violating” his constitutional oath.
“The eyes of history are watching us” in this “pivotal moment,” Omar said.
“This is a president who has said ‘grab women by the pu–y,'” Omar continued, as her colleagues stood behind her stone-faced. “This is a president who has called black athletes ‘sons of bit–es.’ This is a president who has called people who come from black and brown countries ‘sh–holes.’ … 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 nationalists.”
Pressley, speaking just before Omar, repeatedly derided President Trump as “the occupant of the White House” and said he was seeking to “marginalize and silence” the women.
But she then issued a call for calm that appeared to go unheeded: “I encourage the American people and all of us, in this room and beyond, to not take the bait,” Pressley said, calling the situation a “disruptive distraction.”
Just hours earlier, Trump forcefully doubled down on his call for progressive congresswomen to “go back” to where they came from and “come back and show us how it’s done,” rather than criticize the Trump administration. He also demanded they “apologize” for what he called their anti-American “hate.”
In response, Omar asserted that the U.S. had a “long way” to go until it could live up to its founding values. She repeated unsubstantiated allegations that people were drinking from “toilets” in immigrant detention centers. U.S. officials have contested those claims fiercely.
“Right now, the president is committing human rights abuses at the border,” Omar said, before saying Trump has been “credibly accused” of criminal conduct, including colluding with a foreign adversary. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s lengthy probe concluded earlier this year, finding no evidence that the Trump team in fact conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 election, despite several outreach efforts by Russian actors.
Omar also slammed Trump for keeping children in “cages” — prompting Trump to tweet, minutes after the news conference, that illegal-immigrant children were photographed in cages under the Obama administration.
Trump added that he wanted to fix the “BAD IMMIGRATION LAWS” that have led to poor border conditions and overcrowding.
Omar, however, curtly dismissed Trump’s rhetoric as “the bile of garbage that comes out of his mouth.”
Asked by a reporter to respond to Trump’s insinuations that she was a pro-terrorist communist, Omar said, “every single Muslim who has lived in this country and across the world has heard that comment, and so I will not dignify it with an answer.”
Tlaib, speaking separately, backed Omar’s call for impeachment, saying Trump’s language was “disgusting and bigoted” and that his administration was “lawless.”
Asked by Fox News’ Chad Pergram about Trump’s criticisms of Omar’s remarks as anti-American, Omar slammed the president’s “complete hypocrisy,” and said his presidential campaign was founded on all the things “wrong” with the United States.
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., accused Trump of “stoking white nationalism.” (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
“Every single statement that we make is from a place of extreme love for every single person in this country,” Omar said. “It is part of the mandate of why we ran for office and why we got elected.”
Ocasio-Cortez added that Trump did not “operate in good faith,” repeating an ill-defined attack commonly employed by activists on social media.
“Weak minds and leaders challenge loyalty to our country in order to avoid challenging and debating the policy,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “This president does not know how to make the argument that Americans do not deserve health care. He does not know how to defend his policies, so what he does is attack us personally.”
Pressley, however, largely focused on other matters.
“At the end of the day, if we improve the conditions of children in a cage, they are still in a cage,” Pressley said. “This is simply a disruption and a distraction from the callous, chaotic, and corrupt culture of this administration all the way down. We want to get back to the business of the American people, and why we were sent here.”
Members of the so-called progressive “squad” have feuded bitterly with top House Democrats in recent days, leading some observers to allege that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s attacks on the freshmen progressives have emboldened Trump.
But, leading up to Monday evening’s news conference, the weight of the party establishment was firmly behind the four members of Congress — united, with all hands on deck, in attacking Trump’s comments. Pelosi announced Monday the House would take up a resolution to condemn the president’s “xenophobic tweets.”
The progressive women offered a preview of their response over the weekend on social media. Tlaib, D-Mich., tweeted that Trump “needs to be impeached” and called him “a lawless & complete failure of a President.”
Rep. Ayanna Pressley, seen here in May 2019, slammed President Trump at the news conference. (REUTERS/Joshua Roberts, File)
Omar, meanwhile, accused Trump of “stoking white nationalism” and added, “As Members of Congress, the only country we swear an oath to is the United States. Which is why we are fighting to protect it from the worst, most corrupt and inept president we have ever seen.”
Pressley, D-Mass., wrote: “THIS is what racism looks like. WE are what democracy looks like. And we’re not going anywhere. Except back to DC to fight for the families you marginalize and vilify everyday.”
Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., penned the most lengthy denunciation of Trump’s comments, asserting, “On top of not accepting an America that elected us, you cannot accept that we don’t fear you, either. You can’t accept that we will call your bluff & offer a positive vision for this country. And that’s what makes you seethe.”
She added: “Mr. President, the country I ‘come from,’ & the country we all swear to, is the United States. But given how you’ve destroyed our border with inhumane camps, all at a benefit to you & the corps who profit off them, you are absolutely right about the corruption laid at your feet.”
Although Trump implied over the weekend they were born elsewhere, three of the four progressive congresswomen were in fact born in the United States. Omar, D-Minn., the first Somali native elected to Congress and one of its first Muslim women, was born in Somalia but spent much of her childhood in a Kenyan refugee camp as civil war tore apart her home country.
Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American woman in Congress, was born in Detroit. Pressley, the first black woman elected to the House from Massachusetts, was born in Cincinnati. Ocasio-Cortez, who is of Puerto Rican descent, was born in the Bronx, N.Y., and raised in suburban Westchester County.
Nevertheless, speaking to reporters outside the White House, Trump denied his tweets were racist and said: “If someone doesn’t like our country, if someone doesn’t want to be in our country, they should leave.”
He continued: “These are people that hate our country. … They hate it, I think, with a passion.”