Republican Lawmakers Largely Fail to Condemn Trump for Tweet

President Donald Trump sent out a tweet largely seen as racist over the weekend, telling progressive members of Congress, New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Michigan's Rashida Tlaib, Minnesota's Ilhan Omar and Massachusetts' Ayanna Pressley, to go back to their "crime infested" countries of origin.

All of the congresswomen mentioned, aside from Omar, were born in the United States.

"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," the president tweeted. "These places need your help badly, you can't leave fast enough. I'm sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!"

Trump's 2020 rapid response team defended the president by saying that he added that he wanted the congresswomen to "come back."

But the president doubled down on his remarks to reporters on Monday. "They're free to leave if they want. If they want to leave, that's fine. If they want to stay, that's fine," he said.

The president also said he wasn't concerned that the tweets might be seen as racist and are being lauded by white supremacists "because many people agree with me."

A number of Democrats and former Republican officials came out to criticize the president's words, but the vast majority of Republicans serving in Congress remained silent.

"'Make America Great Again,' has always been about making America white again," said Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

Ocasio-Cortez commented that the president was using the "hallmark language of white supremacists" and that "Trump feels comfortable leading the GOP into outright racism, and that should concern all Americans."

Trump at Made in America Event
U.S. President Donald Trump talks with invited guests at the conclusion of his 'Made In America' product showcase at the White House July 15, 2019 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla/Getty

But many Republicans have been mum, or in some cases come to the president's defense.

Speaking on Fox & Friends this morning, Sen. Lindsey Graham said "we all know that [Ocasio-Cortez] and this crowd are a bunch of communists, they hate Israel, they hate our own country."

"They're calling the guards along our border, the border patrol agents, 'concentration camp guards.' They accuse people who support Israel of doing it for the Benjamins. They're anti-Semitic. They're anti-America," Graham added.

The comments caused conservative commentator Meghan McCain to say that "whatever is happening to Lindsey, this is not the person I used to know."

In December of 2015, Graham called Trump "a race baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot."

Some Republicans, however, did condemn the president's actions.

"I am confident that every Member of Congress is a committed American. Donald Trump's tweets from this weekend were racist and he should apologize. We must work as a country to rise above hate, not enable it," tweeted Ohio Congressman Mike Turner.

Representative Chip Roy of Texas said that the president was "wrong to say any American citizen, whether in Congress or not, has any 'home' besides the U.S."

Representative Will Hurd, also of Texas, wrote on Twitter that "Those tweets are racist, and xenophobic... It's also behavior that's unbecoming of the leader of the free world. He should be talking about things that unite, not divide us."

Other Republicans offered half-hearted condemnations when speaking to the press.

"I certainly feel a number of these new members of Congress have views that are not consistent with my experience and not consistent with building a strong America," Mitt Romney told NBC Boston. "At the same time, I recognize that the [president] has a unique and noble calling to unite all Americans regardless of our creeds or race or place of our national origin and I think in that case, the [president] fell far short."