President Donald Trump's recent attacks on four first-term congresswomen of color has prompted a recently divided Democratic party to band together once again.
Trump tweeted Sunday that certain "'Progressive' Democrat Congresswomen" should "go back" to the "broken and crime infested places from which they came." Although he didn't name specific individuals, the tweet was taken to refer to a group of freshmen representatives known as "the squad": Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and Ayanna Pressley. Each of these women are American citizens, and all but Omar were born in the United States.
Trump alluded to earlier conflict between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the congresswomen in his tweet, adding, "I'm sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!"
Pelosi refused to take the bait, however, and jumped to the congresswomen's defense.
"When @realDonaldTrump tells four American Congresswomen to go back to their countries, he reaffirms his plan to 'Make America Great Again' has always been about making America white again," Pelosi tweeted. "Our diversity is our strength and our unity is our power."
The tweet was a message of unity following weeks of conflict between the speaker and "the squad." Pelosi had condemned the progressive Democrats' decision to oppose a border security funding bill earlier in the month. A bipartisan bill was eventually passed, but the four congresswomen maintained the House's provisions didn't go far enough to protect children at the U.S.-Mexico border. Pelosi didn't appreciate the women's division from the party.
"All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world," Pelosi told The New York Times, apparently referring to the progressive congresswomen. "But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got."
In a closed-door meeting with Democrats last week, Pelosi reportedly addressed Ocasio-Cortez's team's use of Twitter to criticize party leadership following these comments, although without using names.
"You got a complaint? You come and talk to me about it," she told Democrats, according the Times. "But do not tweet about our members and expect us to think that that is just O.K."
Ocasio-Cortez tweeted the day before that she and Pelosi just "happen to disagree with each other" and such conflicts are a "normal occurrence in a functioning democracy."
In an interview with the Washington Post, however, she characterized the Speaker's comments as "outright disrespectful," involving "the explicit singling out of newly elected women of color."
"When these comments first started, I kind of thought that she was keeping the progressive flank at more of an arm's distance in order to protect more moderate members, which I understood," Ocasio-Cortez told The Post. "But the persistent singling out . . . it got to a point where it was just outright disrespectful."
Trump injected himself into the conflict on Friday, telling reporters that Pelosi was not a racist and Ocasio-Cortez was "very disrespectful" to the speaker. "I don’t think that Nancy can let that one go," he said.
His tweet early Sunday targeting the freshmen representatives failed to sow further division in the party, however. Trump reversed his defense of Pelosi on Monday, calling her condemnation of his comments racist.
"Speaker Pelosi said, 'Make America white again.' That’s a very racist—that’s a very racist statement. I’m surprised she’d say that," said Trump, according to The New York Times. Trump took the speaker's statement out of context to make it appear derogatory.
The president also demanded Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Tlaib, and Pressley apologize for "the terrible things they have said" (the women accused the president of stoking fear and white nationalism). Meanwhile, Pelosi has continued to defend the congresswomen, calling for House support for a resolution officially condemning the president's comments.
"Let me be clear, our Caucus will continue to forcefully respond to these disgusting attacks," Pelosi wrote in a letter to her colleagues. "The House cannot allow the President's characterization of immigrants to our country to stand. Our Republican colleagues must join us in condemning the President's xenophobic tweets."
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