US President Donald Trump on Sunday night doubled down on tweets telling a group of Democratic congresswomen that they should "go back" to the countries that they came from.
"So sad to see the Democrats sticking up for people who speak so badly of our Country and who, in addition, hate Israel with a true and unbridled passion. Whenever confronted, they call their adversaries, including Nancy Pelosi, 'RACIST,'" Trump wrote.
"Their disgusting language and the many terrible things they say about the United States must not be allowed to go unchallenged. If the Democrat Party wants to continue to condone such disgraceful behavior, then we look even more forward to seeing you at the ballot box in 2020!" he added.
The two tweets were a response to outrage over tweets Trump made earlier on Sunday in which he targeted a group of unnamed progressive congresswomen "who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe."
In the tweets, Trump suggested the lawmakers "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came."
Though he did not mention any congresswoman by name, the tweets appeared to be directed at Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA).
Ocasio-Cortez has come under fire after saying the United States operated "concentration camps" on its southern border, she previously said that cutting military and economic aid to Israel as a way to signal opposition to Israeli policies should be “on the table.”
Omar was criticized after she suggested on Twitter that Republicans were attacking her at the behest of the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC. She subsequently issued a half-hearted apology before ultimately deleting the controversial tweets.
Tlaib claimed in an interview in May that Palestinian Arabs living in the British Mandate prior to the establishment of the State of Israel “provided” a safe haven to Jews after the Holocaust.
She has also backed BDS and, when asked in a past television interview whether she would vote against military aid to Israel when she goes to Congress, replied “absolutely.”
Trump's tweets were quickly condemned as racist by his critics, noted The Hill. All four of the freshman congresswomen are US citizens, and only Omar, who came to the US as a refugee from Somalia, was born outside the US.
The furor over Trump's tweets offered an increasingly fractious Democratic Party the chance to unify in its criticism of the president. The party has been riven by infighting over the past week, sparked by an interview given to the New York Times by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) last Sunday in which she made remarks about the freshman congresswomen that were seen by some as dismissive.
The tensions within the party escalated after Ocasio-Cortez told the Washington Post that she felt Pelosi was targeting women of color, though the New York Democrat said she doesn't believe the Speaker is racist.
Trump's tweets, however, provided Democrats with an opportunity to show a united front, however temporary, noted The Hill.
Democrats across the spectrum, from Ocasio-Cortez's fellow progressives to close Pelosi allies like Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), condemned the tweets, with Jeffries calling Trump a "racial arsonist."