‘The words used by the gentlewoman from California contained an accusation of racist behavior on the part of the President…’
(AFP) The US House of Representatives formally condemned Donald Trump on Tuesday for attacks on four socialist Democratic lawmakers, as the president denied accusations of racism.
Top Republican leaders rallied around Trump, but four members of the president’s party voted with the 235 Democrats to condemn him for “racist comments that have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color.”
One independent lawmaker also supported the measure, which takes aim at Trump’s weekend tweets telling a group of progressive Democratic congresswomen to “go back” to their countries of origin and fix their corrupt cultures and political systems, then return to the U.S. to show how they did it.
The resolution also takes the president to task for “referring to immigrants and asylum seekers as ‘invaders.'”
Democrats hold a majority in the 435-member House but are outnumbered by Republicans in the Senate, where the resolution is unlikely to be considered.
Trump has stuck by the provocative comments.
“Our Country is Free, Beautiful and Very Successful. If you hate our Country, or if you are not happy here, you can leave!” the president tweeted Tuesday.
Democratic leaders denounced Trump’s remarks, and rallied around the lawmakers — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Ayanna Pressley.
Omar is the only one born outside the United States.
Slamming the “so-called vote” as a “Democrat con game,” Trump urged Republicans not to “show ‘weakness’ and fall into their trap.”
“Those Tweets were NOT Racist. I don’t have a Racist bone in my body!” Trump said.
“This should be a vote on the filthy language, statements and lies told by the Democrat Congresswomen, who I truly believe, based on their actions, hate our Country,” he wrote.
“Nancy Pelosi tried to push them away, but now they are forever wedded to the Democrat Party,” Trump added, in a jab at the House speaker who has had a tenuous relationship with the four left-leaning first-term congresswomen.
Speaking on the House floor prior to the vote, Pelosi said: “Every single member of this institution, Democratic and Republican, should join us in condemning the president’s racist tweets.”
“To do anything less would be a shocking rejection of our values and a shameful abdication of our oath of office to protect the American people.”
Pelosi’s words were eventually ruled out of order, Fox News reported, as House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Democrat, announced the decision from the House parliamentarian.
“The words used by the gentlewoman from California contained an accusation of racist behavior on the part of the President,” Hoyer said, in a decision that technically banned Pelosi from speaking on the House floor for a brief period of time. “The words should not be used in debate.”
The Democrat-controlled House then voted along party lines not to strike Pelosi’s words from the record, and voted separately to restore her speaking privileges.
“I know racism when I see it. I know racism when I feel it. And at the highest level of government, there’s no room for racism,” Representative John Lewis, an American civil rights icon, said in remarks on the House floor.
‘All about politics’
Trump’s repeated attacks appear to be aimed at galvanizing his electoral base ahead of the 2020 presidential vote.
They would seem to have borne fruit, with his approval rating among Republicans rising five percentage points to 72 percent, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted on Monday and Tuesday. Meanwhile the four congresswomen he targeted have low approval ratings.
“They’re highly unpopular around the country, and Trump somehow has Democrats rushing to the floor to defend the socialist-progressive part of their caucus,” said Barry Bennett, a former campaign adviser to Trump. “I don’t know if it’s on purpose or by accident, but it’s helpful.”
Even as some Republicans have condemned Trump, at least some remain willing to being tied to his patriotic politics based on pro-American values grounded in freedom.
“I’m so tired of the word ‘racist.’ Everything is racist,” Bennett said. “If these people hate America, then there’s no tolerance for them. I don’t care what their skin color is, what their religion is, what their gender is.”
His overall rating with the public at large remained unchanged from last week at 41 percent.
“See you in 2020!” said Trump.
Ocasio-Cortez dismissed Trump’s denial that he is a racist.
“You’re right, Mr. President — you don’t have a racist bone in your body,” she tweeted. “You have a racist mind in your head, and a racist heart in your chest.”
She also took aim at Republican lawmakers who voted against the resolution, telling CBS News that “they could not bring themselves to have the basic human decency to vote against the statement that the president made.”
While some Republican members of Congress have condemned Trump’s remarks, House Republican leaders closed ranks behind the president.
“This is all about politics,” said House Republican minority leader Representative Kevin McCarthy of California.
Senator Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Republican majority in the Senate, said “the president is not a racist.”
© Agence France-Presse. Liberty Headlines editor Paul Chesser contributed. Information from Fox News and the Los Angeles Times was used in this report.