This time President Donald Trump’s racist messages didn’t go without response from his own party.
In tweeting that four congresswomen of color — New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley, Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, and Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib — should all “go back to their countries,” Trump not only received a rebuke from the women — each whom are American citizens, with three of the four actually born in the U.S. — but GOP Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa said the president’s attacks were “not constructive but racist.”
“They’re American citizens,” Ernst said.
Promptly and for the first time during a presidency wrought with racism, Republicans publicly turned on their president.
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said Trump was way over the line.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said the comments were “spiteful” and, according to CNN, urged a “higher standard of decorum and decency.”
Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio called them “divisive, unnecessary and wrong.”
“We should defeat their ideas on the merits, not on the basis of their ancestry,” said Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, according to CNN.
“While we can vary on what policies we support, singling out people whose opinions differ from our own is bad for discourse and public civility,” added Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas.
Seemingly tiring of repeated criticism by the freshman congresswoman, Trump lashed out.
“So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly … and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run,” the president tweeted early Sunday.
“Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how … it is done,” Trump continued.
“These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!”
As CBS News pointed out, All four women, who have come to be known as “the Squad,” broke ethnic and gender barriers when they were elected last year.
Omar and Tlaib are the first two Muslim women to serve in Congress.
Pressley is the first black congresswoman to represent Massachusetts.
Ocasio-Cortez, at 29, became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.
Trump’s tweets arrived as the four congresswomen were engaged in a dispute that’s gone public with Pelosi because they have reportedly grown weary of the Democratic party’s leadership.
News outlets reported that the back-and-forth had spilled out into public view over the past two weeks, after Pelosi appeared to have minimized the influence of the new congresswomen leading Ocasio-Cortez to accuse the Democratic leader of “singling out newly elected women of color.”
Pelosi took still took issue with Trump’s missives.
“When Trump 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 said.
“Our diversity is our strength and our unity is our power,” she said.
Even British Prime Minister Theresa May was moved to chime in, calling Trump’s tweets “completely unacceptable.”
On Monday, July 15, the four congresswomen held a news conference to further denounce the president’s words.
At the news conference, Pressley referred to Trump’s tweets as a “disruptive distraction.”
She said that she would encourage the American people “to not take the bait.”
“This is simply a disruption and a distraction from the callous, chaotic and corrupt culture of this administration all the way down,” Pressley said.
Texas Democratic Rep. Al Green announced plans to force a vote on impeachment.
Green said action is needed after Trump’s latest race-baiting remarks toward the congresswomen.
“I will again, this month, bring impeachment to a vote on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives for bigotry in policy, harmful to our society,” Green said.
Pelosi has steadfastly said impeachment would be futile because the Republican-controlled Senate would never convict Trump even if the House successfully impeached him.
Scholars have also denounced the president and said his statements plays to his base and only amps up racism in America.
“It plays to the fear that somehow America is getting too full or that the mixing of ethnicities and races would somehow aggravate issues,” Michael Cornfield, a scholar of rhetoric at George Washington University, told NPR.
“It’s a potent phrase and part of its potency is its ambiguity…When you use a phrase like this, you’re just asking people to forget about context and forget about policy choices and just get angry at people who don’t look or sound like you do,” Cornfield said.