Backlash after Trump's racist tweets

By Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes, Elise Hammond and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 8:08 p.m. ET, July 16, 2019
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5:31 p.m. ET, July 16, 2019

Nancy Pelosi: I am "proud of my remarks" on the House floor

From CNN's Kristin Wilson

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she will not take back her remarks describing President Trump's comments as racist earlier today on the House floor.

She went on to say she doesn’t think any of the words the President said would have stood up on the floor.

"Look, I stand by my statement. I’m proud of the attention has been called to it because what the President said was completely inappropriate against our colleagues but not just against them but against so many people in our country and he said to them “go back to where you came from," Pelosi said. 

"So I’m proud of my remarks and I’m glad they’re getting the attention they’re getting," she added.

What happened earlier today: While addressing the House of Representatives during the debate over a resolution calling for members to condemn Trump's racist comments, Pelosi called the President's continued defense of his remarks "shameful."

"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," she said.
4:38 p.m. ET, July 16, 2019

A debate over Pelosi's floor speech is still going on

From CNN's Ashley Killough and Clare Foran 

Deliberations over whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's words should be taken down are still ongoing, more than an hour and 15 minutes since they started. 

Pelosi described President Trump's comments as racist in her floor speech today. She also said the "comments from the White House" are "disgraceful" and "disgusting" and that "these comments are racist." 

Pelosi left for a religious freedom event off campus, but her staff has been on the floor near the dais in a tense huddle with parliamentarian staff and other staff for most of the time.

The top three Republican leaders — Kevin McCarthy, Steve Scalise and Liz Cheney — also came to the floor as they awaited the decision, talking with each other as well as with other GOP members who were on the floor during the deliberations.

And Democratic leaders like House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler were also on hand. Nadler stood by the dais huddling with others, including at one point Eric Swalwell, while Hoyer stayed seated for much of the time on the floor.  

One thing to note: If it's ruled that Pelosi's words are taken down because they violate the decorum of the House, it would mean that she's not allowed to speak again on the floor today without the House's permission. She could still vote, though.

It's fair to say it's a highly unusual thing for a speaker's words to be taken down — if that happens.

4:04 p.m. ET, July 16, 2019

A brief timeline of Trump vs. "the Squad"

For three days in a row, President Trump has tweeted racist attacks on a group of four progressive congresswomen — and they have jabbed back.

The tensions have spread across Washington, with GOP leadership defending the President, while Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced a resolution to condemn Trump's comments.

Here's a timeline of how we got here:

  • Last week: A group of Democrats condemns the conditions of border detention facilities. The group of women consisted of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts.
  • Sunday: Trump tweets a racist attack on progressive Democratic congresswomen, suggesting "they go back" to the countries from which they came. The tweet did not name any specific Democrat.
  • Later Sunday: Ocasio-Cortez writes on Twitter that the country she "come(s) from" and "swears to" is the US. Tlaib, Pressley and Omar also tweet back at the President.
  • Monday: Congress returns to Washington, and both Democratic lawmakers and some Republicans begin to condemn Trump's remarks. Meanwhile, Trump continues attacking the congresswomen.
  • Also on Monday: Pelosi announces that the House will vote on a resolution to condemn Trump's "xenophobic" comments.
  • Monday evening: The four congresswomen — know as "the Squad" — hold a news conference to respond to Trump's attacks. They say the US "belongs to everyone."
  • This morning: Trump again tweets attacks on the congresswomen, saying they "hate our Country." The President also defends his previous tweets, saying they were "NOT Racist" and adds that he does not have “a Racist bone in my Body."
  • Also this morning: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy leadership defends Trump's remarks, saying the dispute is about "ideology," and "the ideology of the Democratic Party is socialism."
3:38 p.m. ET, July 16, 2019

Republicans call out Pelosi after she describes Trump's comments as racist in her speech

From CNN's Ashley Killough

Republicans called out House Speaker Nancy Pelosi moments ago when she specifically described President Trump's comments as racist in her floor speech.

She also said the "comments from the White House" are "disgraceful" and "disgusting" and that "these comments are racist." 

After Republican Rep. Doug Collins interjected and gave Pelosi a chance to withdraw her remarks from the record, Pelosi said she had cleared her remarks with the parliamentarian. Collins asked for her words to be taken down anyway, and now House officials are discussing what to do. 

Why this matters: Congressional members have to be careful with how they debate a condemnation resolution because they're not allowed to attack the personalities or character of members, senators, or the President on the House floor. 

That's problematic when they're debating a resolution that characterizes something the President said as racist. 

5:38 p.m. ET, July 16, 2019

Pelosi says Trump's comments about congressional members are "not only divisive but dangerous"

House TV
House TV

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, speaking from the House floor today, called President Trump's continued defense of his remarks "shameful" and added that the "comments are racist."

While addressing the House of Representatives during the debate over a resolution calling for members to condemn Trump's racist tweets, she quoted former President Ronald Reagan: "If we ever close the door to new Americans, our leadership in the world would soon be lost." 

"Yet the President's comments about our colleagues this weekend show that he does not share those American values," Pelosi said. "These comments from the White House are disgraceful and disgusting and the comments are racist." 

She added that the Democratic House caucus "will continue to respond to the attacks on our members which reflect a fundamental disrespect for the beautiful diversity of America." 

Pelosi went on to call the President's remarks "not only divisive but dangerous" and said that his comments "have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color."

She said that to do "anything less" than condemn these remarks from Trump "would be a shocking rejection of our values and a shameful abdication of our oath of office to protect the American people."

"I urge a unanimous vote," she said.

2:56 p.m. ET, July 16, 2019

Mitch McConnell sidesteps question about his wife, who's an immigrant

From CNN's Manu Raju

Asked if he would consider it a racist attack if someone told his wife Elaine Chao — who is the US Secretary of Transportation and an immigrant and naturalized US citizen — to go back to her own country, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sidestepped the question and talked about his support for legal immigration.

"The Secretary of Transportation came here at the age of 8 not speaking a word of English, and has recognized the American dream. This is a process of renewal that's gone on in this country for a very long time, and it's good for America. We ought to continue it," he told reporters.

McConnell continued: "As I said, the legal immigration has been a fulfilling of the American dream. The new people who come here have a lot of ambition, a lot of energy, tend to do very well and invigorate our country. My wife is a good example of that."

He went on to say President Trump is "not a racist."

"I think the tone of all of this is not good for the country," the Kentucky senator said.

2:41 p.m. ET, July 16, 2019

The House begins debate on resolution to condemn Trump's "racist comments"

From CNN's Ashley Killough

The House of Representatives has begun debating a resolution condemning President Trump's racist tweets and remarks ahead of the vote tonight.

What the resolution would do: It would denounce the President for "racist comments." The resolution states that "President Donald Trump's racist comments have legitimized fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color" and "strongly condemns" the President's remarks, including "that our fellow Americans who are immigrants, and those who may look to the President like immigrants, should 'go back' to other countries."

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy said he'll be voting against the Democratic-backed resolution and suggested he was encouraging other members to vote against it as well.

2:41 p.m. ET, July 16, 2019

Mitch McConnell calls out Trump, congressional members: "All of us have a responsibility to elevate the public discourse"

Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, spoke Tuesday afternoon about the feud between President Trump and the Democrats, saying that he believes "political rhetoric has really gotten way, way over heated all across the political spectrum." 

"We've heard facilities on the US Border called concentration camps. 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," McConnell said.

He added that over the past few days "the most vile accusations and insults against our nation have become incredibly routine."

In his remarks, McConnell referenced a saying that he attributed to former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who he called "my all-time favorite."

"[Scalia] said 'I don't attack people, I attack ideas' and I think that's a good lesson for all of us. From the President to the Speaker, to freshmen members of the House, all of us have a responsibility to elevate the public discourse," McConnell said. 
1:29 p.m. ET, July 16, 2019

Trump continues attack on congresswomen: "They can leave, they can stay"

Asked today about the four progressive Democratic congresswomen at the center of his racist tweets, President Trump continued his attacks, saying, "They can do what they want. They can leave."

A reporter asked the President during a Cabinet meeting where the four congresswomen should go.

Here's how Trump responded:

"It’s up to them. Go wherever they want or they can stay. But they should love our country. They shouldn’t hate our country. You look at what they have said. I have clips right here. The most vile, horrible statements about our country, about Israel, about others. It’s up to them. They can do what they want. They can leave, they can stay. But they should love our country and they should work for the good of our country."

Some background: The controversy erupted when Trump tweeted that the women, all of whom are US citizens, should "go back" to where they came from.

Later in the Cabinet meeting, Trump said the congresswomen "hate our country."

"What they did and the way they're treating Israel is a disgrace. But not only Israel, it's what they say about our country," Trump said. "It's my opinion they hate our country. And that's not good. It's not acceptable."