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Ayanna Pressley Responds: Trump’s Attacks a Reminder of ‘Who the Real Enemy Is’

The Massachusetts congresswoman compared listening to Trump to "drinking from a firehose daily of insult and assault"

What to Know

  • President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday that four congresswomen of color should go back to their "broken and crime infested" countries.
  • The tweet appeared to reference a group of women known as "the squad" that includes Democratic Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley.
  • Pressley said Monday that Trump's comments are a good reminder of "who the real enemy is," adding that she is not expecting an apology.

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley said President Donald Trump's comments about how she and three other congresswomen of color should go back to their "broken and crime infested" countries serves as a good reminder of "who the real enemy is."

"I think it's really par for the course," the Massachusetts Democrat told NBC10 Boston's Alison King as she prepared to board an airplane at Logan Airport on Monday. "It's just another day in the world under this administration. It's a very predictable prompt and reaction, a bigoted, xenophobic response. I can't even feign surprise about it, and I won't even offer outrage about it because I'm focused on the work."

In his Sunday tweet, Trump cited "Congresswomen" — an almost-certain reference to a group of women known as "the squad" that includes Pressley and Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.

The four congresswomen are set to give a statement at 5 p.m. ET.

"I'm just glad that everyone is focused on and has been reminded again about who the real enemy is here," Pressley told NBC10 Boston. "That is the person who is spreading the claims of xenophobia and each day eroding at our humanity, our civil rights. It's like drinking from a firehose daily of insult and assault."

She said she's convinced that Trump is just doing this as a diversion: "I don't have time for this."

Pressley said she's not waiting on an apology from the president, especially given his comments Monday, where he asked on Twitter when "the Radical Left Congresswomen" would "apologize to our Country, the people of Israel and even to the Office of the President, for the foul language they have used, and the terrible things they have said."

"Oh, I don't care. I'm not focused on any of that," she said. "This is a war of words. I've moved on, and the American people in my district need for me to move on. I don't have the time to be offended or outraged about a pattern of behavior of hateful, bigoted rhetoric from the occupant of this White House."

Pressley reiterated those points at a news conference in Washington with Omar, Ocasio-Cortez and Tlaib later Monday, drawing attention to the work the congresswomen are doing at the Capitol, including recent hearings on childhood trauma, and thanking the many people who have reached out to support them.

"Our squad is big. Our squad includes any person committed to building a more equitable and just world," Pressley said. "We cannot, we will not be silenced."

She and the other congresswomen called Trump's tirade a distraction from his policies and corruption they said was evident in the administration.

"He does not know how to defend his policies, so what he does is attack us personally," Ocasio-Cortez said. "He can't look a child in the face ... and justify why this country is throwing them in cages, so instead, he tells us that i should go back to the great borough of the Bronx, and make it better."

Omar called Trump's words "a blatantly racist attack on four duly elected" members of Congress and called for his impeachment over his actions in office, a call that Tlaib joined.

Trump reacted on Twitter during the news conference: "IF YOU ARE NOT HAPPY HERE, YOU CAN LEAVE!"

Democrats were quick to label the president's comments as racist and divisive, but many Republicans have remained silent.

Republican Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker called the comments "shameful." Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins said the tweet was "way over the line and he should take that down."

Asked whether Trump's comments were racist, Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, defended Trump, telling reporters he had been responding to "very specific" comments made by Omar, and was not making a "universal statement."

Omar, the first Somali native elected to Congress and one of its first Muslim women, was born in Somalia but spent much of her childhood in a Kenyan refugee camp as civil war tore apart her home country. She immigrated to the United States at age 12, teaching herself English by watching American TV and eventually settling with her family in Minneapolis.

Pressley, the first black woman elected to the House from Massachusetts, was born in Cincinnati.

Ocasio-Cortez, who is of Puerto Rican descent, was born in the Bronx, New York, and raised in suburban Westchester County.

Tlaib was born in Detroit.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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