WASHINGTON (CBS/AP) — President Donald Trump is not apologizing for his weekend tweets that four congresswomen of color should go back to the “broken and crime infested” countries they came from. Instead, Trump tweeted Monday that they ought to apologize to him for past remarks about Israel and about him.
Trump’s tweets about the “Congresswomen” are an almost-certain reference to a group of women known as “the squad” that includes Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. Three of them were born in the United States and all are American citizens.
The president told reporters on Monday that his controversial tweets are “not at all racist.”
Trump said Monday at the White House, “If you’re not happy in the U.S., if you’re complaining all the time, you can leave, you can leave right now.”
Democrats and some Republicans have condemned Trump’s tweets as racist and divisive. But Trump says that “a lot of people love” what he said.
Pressley responded in a tweet over the weekend, saying “THIS is what racism looks like.” On Monday, she followed up with a statement saying that Trump’s “racist and bigoted lies are disgusting and unsurprising.”
“His cruel efforts to rile up his base have serious consequences on our collective safety and well-being,” Pressley said. “We will not be dismissed and we will not be bullied by a Twitter thug.”
The four congresswomen spoke at a press conference Monday afternoon. Pressley referred to President Trump as the “occupant of the White House.”
“I will always refer to him as the occupant as he is only occupying space,” Pressley said. “He does not embody the grace, the empathy, the compassion, the integrity that that office requires and that the American people deserve.”
Pressley described the tweets as a “disruptive distraction” and encouraged people to “not take the bait.”
“Despite the occupant of the White House attempts to marginalize us and to silence us, please know that we are more than four people,” Pressley said. “Our squad is big, our squad includes any person committed to building a more equitable and just world and that is the work that we want to get back to.”
Rep. Ilhan Omar said the “garbage” from Trump is his plan to “pit us against” each other. She and Rep. Rashida Tlaib called for impeachment at the press conference.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said that “no matter what the president says,” the country “belongs to everyone.”
In response, President Trump tweeted that Democrats were trying to distance themselves from the four congresswomen, but are now “forced to embrace them.”
Omar, born in Somalia, ignited a bipartisan uproar in Washington several months ago when she suggested that members of Congress support Israel for money. Tlaib riled up a supportive crowd by calling the president a profanity and predicting that Trump will be removed from office.
WATCH: Rep. Pressley Responds To Trump’s Tweets
“Let’s be clear about what this vile comment is: A racist and xenophobic attack on Democratic congresswomen,” tweeted Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic presidential candidate, about Trump’s tweets.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh also weighed in on the president’s attacks on Monday, calling his words “shameful and racist.”
“Our representatives and the American people deserve more than a fearful, small-minded commander-in-chief who continues to belittle the Americans he was elected to serve,” Walsh said.
Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, also condemned the president’s “disgraceful” tweets.
“The tweets were shameful and racist and there’s no place for them in public discourse,” he told reporters. “Tweets like that send a horrid, debilitating, hateful message.”
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)