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Ocasio-Cortez and other freshman lawmakers call Trump’s attacks

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WASHINGTON — Four of the most outspoken progressive freshmen in the House held a press conference on Monday evening to denounce President Donald Trump over a series of racist attacks he directed at them over the last two days.

The group of freshman lawmakers, which Rep. Ayanna Pressley referred to as “our squad,” characterized Trump’s comments a “distraction” and a symptom of his inability to govern. They also reiterated calls to impeach the president, which have gained momentum in the weeks and months that have followed the conclusion of the special counsel probe into Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Read more: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez replaces Nancy Pelosi as Fox News and Republicans’ new boogeyman for 2020

Rep. Pressley of Massachusetts called the attacks a “distraction” from progressives’ overall agenda. After the press conference, Pressley declined to answer questions about whether a non-binding resolution of disapproval would be worthwhile if the president’s comments were indeed a distraction.

“I want to tell children across this country … that no matter what the president says, this country belongs to you, and it belongs to everyone, and today, that notion — that very notion — was challenged,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.

Responding to Trump’s claims that she supports terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda, Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota said, “I know that every single Muslim who has livid in this country and across the world has heard that comment and so I will not dignify it will an answer.”

Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan called the attacks “a continuation of [Trump’s] racist and xenophobic playbook.”

On Sunday, Trump tweeted that the progressive congresswomen of color should “go back” to the “crime infested” countries they came from, despite the fact that only one was born outside the US.

The comments were met with widespread condemnation, including from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who said on Monday that House Democrats would introduce a resolution “condemning the President’s xenophobic tweets.”

The lawmakers all defended themselves against the attack.

“Mr. President, As Members of Congress, the only country we swear an oath to is the United States,” Omar wrote in a Sunday tweet. “Which is why we are fighting to protect it from the worst, most corrupt and inept president we have ever seen.”

Trump doubled down on his comments on Monday afternoon, telling reporters at a press conference that Omar “hates Israel, hates Jews.” He falsely accused the Minnesota lawmaker, who came to the US as a refugee from Somalia, of praising Al-Qaeda. Omar was forced to apologize earlier this year after comments she made about Israel were interpreted by many as anti-Semitic.

“These are people that hate our country,” Trump said. “If they want to leave, they can leave.”

When asked if he was concerned that many believe his comments are racist and that white nationalist groups are finding “common cause” with him on the issue, Trump replied, “It doesn’t concern me because many people agree with me.”

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