Senate Majority Leader: The president is not a racist

Senator Mitch McConnell urges Democrats and Republicans to tone down their rhetoric amid controversy over Trump tweets.

Ben Ariel ,

Trump shakes hands with Mitch McConnell
Trump shakes hands with Mitch McConnell

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Tuesday urged Democrats and Republicans to tone down their rhetoric but insisted that President Donald Trump is not a racist, after he tweeted over the weekend that minority Democratic lawmakers should "go back" to where they came from.

"The president is not a racist," McConnell said after reporters pressed him on whether Trump's tweets were racist or whether the GOP leader himself would ever use such language, according to The Hill.

McConnell said both sides were guilty of "overheated" rhetoric.

“I think the tone of all of this is not good for the country but it’s coming from all different ideological points of view. To single out any segment of this I think is a mistake,” he added, defending Trump from recent criticism from Democrats.

The president has faced criticism for a series of tweets directed at four congresswomen on Sunday in which he called for them to "go back" to the countries that they came from and criticizing the Democratic party for condoning their “disgraceful behavior”.

While Trump’s tweets did not mention the four by name, it is widely believed that he was targeting Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), Ilhan Omar (MN), Rashida Tlaib (MI) and Ayanna Pressley (MA).

On Monday, Trump reiterated his criticism, calling on the congresswomen to apologize to the US, to Israel, and to the “office of the presidency.”

McConnell in his remarks pointed to claims by House Democrats such as Ocasio-Cortez that immigrant detainment centers are like “concentration camps” and what he called “anti-Semitic tropes” used by Omar, who was criticized after she suggested on Twitter that Republicans were attacking her at the behest of the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC. .

“We’ve seen the far left throw accusations of racism at everyone, anyone who disagrees with them on anything, including the Speaker of the House,” he noted, referring to the claim by Ocasio-Cortez last week that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) had singled out minority women lawmakers for criticism.

“From the president, to the Speaker, to freshmen members of the House, all of us have the responsibility to elevate the public discourse,” he said, addressing his comments to Trump as well as members of Congress.

McConnell’s comments came before the US House of Representatives voted to formally admonish Trump over his tweets, approving a resolution condemning them as “racist”.

The resolution was approved by a majority of 240-187, with four Republicans breaking with party ranks to join every voting Democrat.