President Donald Trump stood by his comments on July 15 by telling progressive Democratic Congresswomen who have been bad-mouthing the United States to leave the country if they are not happy here.
“If you’re not happy here, then you can leave. As far as I’m concerned, if you hate our country, if you’re not happy here you can leave. And that’s what I say all the time,” Trump told reporters while responding to questions during the “Made in America” event at the White House.
President Trump: “If you’re not happy in the U.S., if you complain all the time, very simply – you can leave. You can leave right now.”
— CSPAN (@cspan) July 15, 2019
“That’s what I said in a tweet that I guess some people think is controversial. A lot of people love it, by the way. A lot of people love it. But 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, that’s ok too. But if you’re not happy, you can leave.”
Trump’s comments at the White House come after a series of Twitter posts he made on June 14 and 15, where he most notably called on “‘progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen” to “go back” to their countries to help fix the “totally broken and crime infested places” before returning to the United States to “show how us it is done.”
Many of Trump’s opponents denounced the comments, calling them racist. Moreover, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also weighed in, describing the remarks as “xenophobic” and accusing the president of “making America white again.”
Trump showed no signs of backing down when asked to respond to the criticism. Responding to Pelosi’s statement, he said, “That’s just a very racist statement, somebody who would say that. So, Speaker Pelosi said ‘Make America white again.’ Let me tell you that’s a very racist statement and I’m surprised she’d say that.”
Although Trump had not specifically identified the Congresswomen in his Twitter posts, several Congress members and media outlets have linked the president’s comments to four far-left members of the Democratic party—Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.).
During his comments at the White House, the president doubled down on his Twitter post comments, while also providing more clarity about who he was referring to.
“Well, they’re very unhappy. I’m watching them; all they do is complain. So all I’m saying is, if they want to leave, they can leave … They can leave,” Trump said while directing specific criticism to Omar, who came to the United States as an immigrant from Somalia, and Ocasio-Cortez.
“Somebody that comes from Somalia, which is a failed government, a failed state, who left Somalia, who ultimately came here and now is a congresswoman, who’s never happy,” he said. “[Omar] says horrible things about Israel, hates Israel, hates Jews, hates Jews, it’s very simple.”
Trump also referenced how Omar had once joked about the way her professor would say “al Qaeda” during an interview and also pointed out how the freshman congresswoman had previously trivialized the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks during a CAIR speech where she controversially said, “Some people did something.”
He then went on to criticize Ocasio-Cortez for causing Amazon to pull out from their plans to build part of their second headquarters in New York.
“If the Democrats want to wrap their bows around this group of four people—one of them kept Amazon out of New York, tens of thousands of jobs. Would have been a great thing and she kept Amazon from going,” Trump said. “But tens of thousands of jobs and New York has not been the same since that happened. It’s really hurt New York and New York City.”
Following Trump’s tweets on July 14, Omar responded saying that the president was “stoking white nationalism bc you are angry that people like us are serving in Congress and fighting against your hate-filled agenda.”
Similarly, Ocasio-Cortez said: “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.”
Ocasio-Cortez also said in a separate post on July 15, “It’s important to note that the President’s words yday[sic], telling four American Congresswomen of color ‘go back to your own country,’ is hallmark language of white supremacists. Trump feels comfortable leading the GOP into outright racism, and that should concern all Americans.”
In his July 15 comments, Trump added that the Democratic party is no longer the same party as he had known over the years.
“They hate our country. They hate it, I think, with a passion. Now, it’s possible I’m wrong. The voter will decide. But when I hear the way they talk about our country, when I hear the anti-Semitic language they use, when I hear the hatred they have for Israel, and the love they have for enemies like al Qaeda—then you know what?” Trump also said during the event.
“I will tell you that I do not believe this is good for the Democrat Party. Certainly, it’s not the party that I’ve known over the years.”
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.