Members of the president’s party have remained largely silent after the xenophobic remarks aimed at progressive congresswomen, presumed to be Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez , Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Ayanna Pressley.
A spokesman for Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s majority leader, declined to comment on the remarks and representatives for GOP leaders in the House have also chosen not to respond to requests for comment.
Only Rep. Chip Roy, a Republican congressman for Texas, offered any disapproval, tweeting that Mr Trump was “wrong to say any American citizen, whether in Congress or not, has any ‘home’ besides the US”.
Yet Mr Roy couched his criticism with supportive remarks, adding: “But I just as strongly believe non-citizens who abuse our immigration laws should be sent home immediately, & Reps who refuse to defend America should be sent home 11/2020.”
Rep. Justin Amash, the Michigan congressman who last month quit the Republican Party to become an independent, called Mr Trump’s tweets “racist and disgusting”.
Aside from fierce denunciation from leading Democrats , independent groups also lambasted the tweets. Nihad Awad, the national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said: “It is sad to see the occupant of the Oval Office transition from empowering and encouraging racist taunts to actually using them himself.”
— Media Matters (@mmfa)July 14, 2019
The GOP’s reticence to speak out on the president’s latest outrageous statements contrasts with the period Mr Trump was still only a candidate for the White House.
In June 2016 Paul Ryan, then speaker of the House, was willing to call Mr Trump out on his racist rhetoric. When the presumptive nominee dismissively referred to the “Mexican judge” presiding over a lawsuit about Trump University, Mr Ryan said it was “the textbook definition of a racist comment”.
In 2015, Senator Lindsey Graham called Mr Trump a “race-baiting xenophobic bigot”, but in 2018, with his former adversary firmly embedded in the Oval Office, Mr Graham claimed he had “never heard him make a single racist statement”.
Fox News hosts and correspondents attempted to laugh off the president’s latest tweets on Sunday. Todd Piro said they showed the “comedian in chief” at work, while Jedediah Bila added: “Someone’s feeling very comedic today.”