Trump Defends 'Racist' Comments Telling Congresswomen To 'Go Back' To Where They Came From
A White House event quickly spiralled into chaos on Monday as President Trump launched into a defiant defense of his earlier tweets suggesting Democratic congresswomen of color should "go back" to their countries.
As reporters shouted questions at an event that was ostensibly meant to showcase American-made products, Trump soon allowed the focus to turn to his explosive comments, at one point saying he is unconcerned by white nationalists championing his words.
A reporter asked, "Does it concern you that many people saw that tweet as racist and that white nationalist groups are finding common cause with you on that point?"
The president responded, "It doesn't concern me because many people agree with me. And all I'm saying, they want to leave, they can leave."
On Sunday, Trump sparked a firestorm with a series of tweets seemingly targeting freshmen Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley and Ilhan Omar that were immediately and widely condemned as racist.
He wrote that the representatives -- three of whom were born in the U.S., and all American citizens -- should "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came."
At Monday's event, the president repeatedly insisted that people who don't love America should leave, as reporters -- positioned far from the president during the event -- continued to lob questions.
"If you're not happy in the U.S., if you're complaining all the time, very simply, you can leave. You can leave right now. Come back if you want, don't come back, it's OK too. But if you're not happy, you can leave," he said. The audience applauded many of the president's remarks.
When a reporter pointed out that many of the congresswomen the president appears to be criticising were born in America and all are citizens, Trump responded, "All they do is complain."
Trump's tweets on Sunday prompted intense criticism from Democrats but very little criticism from Republicans. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the House will vote on a resolution to condemn the president's statement about her colleagues.
But Trump tweeted Monday morning that the people he offended should apologise to him, not the other way around.
"When will the Radical Left Congresswomen apologize to our Country, the people of Israel and even to the Office of the President, for the foul language they have used, and the terrible things they have said. So many people are angry at them & their horrible & disgusting actions!" Trump tweeted Monday morning.
The president's remarks at the event come the same morning his administration has announced it's moving to end asylum protections for migrants coming from Central American countries, a step that's all but certain to face challenges in the courts. The American Civil Liberties Union has already announced its intention to sue.
During Monday's "Made in America" event, the president insisted the U.S. has to defend its borders, and will do so and build a wall, despite any legal challenges.
"The philosophy of my administration is simple if we can build it grow it or make it in the United States, we will," the president said.
The executive order the president signed towards the end of the event, increasing requirements for the government's purchase of products made in the U.S., was overshadowed.