US President Donald Trump on Friday falsely claimed a group of four Democratic congresswomen he has repeatedly attacked this week had referred to Jews as “evil.”
Speaking to reporters outside the White House, the president said of the four women: “They can’t call our country and our people ‘garbage.’ They can’t be anti-Semitic. They can’t talk about evil Jews, which is what they say. ‘Evil Jews.'”
None of the women has ever been documented referring to “evil Jews.”
The president may have been referring to Rep. Ilhan Omar tweeting in 2012 during a conflict in the Gaza Strip: “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.”
That tweet has been condemned by many as anti-Semitic for its reference to hypnotism, and Omar later apologized for using that phrase.
Trump was also misrepresenting the use of the word “garbage,” which Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did not use to denigrate her country or its people. Rather, asked in March about her so-called radical socialist agenda, she said: “We’ve strayed so far away from what has really made us powerful and just and good and equitable and productive. And so, I think all of these things sound radical compared to where we are. But where we are is not a good thing. This idea of 10 percent better from garbage shouldn’t be what we settle for.”
Trump has in recent days repeatedly accused Omar, Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley of being anti-Semitic and hating Israel, and in tweets later rebuked by the House as racist, called on the women of color to “go back” to their home countries — though all are citizens and three were born in the US.
“When I hear the way they talk about our country, when I hear the anti-Semitic language they use, when I hear the hatred they have for Israel, and the love they have for enemies like al-Qaeda, then you know what, I will tell you I do not believe this is good for the Democrat party,” Trump said Monday.
Omar was accused of anti-Semitism in February after she said that American support for Israel was driven by money from the powerful pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC. She was roundly condemned for those comments, including within her own party. In May, Tlaib sparked a similar firestorm after she claimed her Palestinian ancestors “had to suffer” for the Jews to have a safe haven in the wake of the Holocaust.
On Friday Trump renewed his attacks on Omar while reversing his previous criticisms of a North Carolina crowd who chanted “send her back,” defending them as “patriots” while again questioning the loyalty of the four lawmakers.
“You know what I’m unhappy with?” Trump answered when reporters at the White House asked if he was unhappy with the Wednesday night crowd. “Those are incredible people. They are incredible patriots. But I’m unhappy when a congresswoman goes and says, ‘I’m going to be the president’s nightmare.'”
During the rally the crowd chanted “send her back” as Trump made no attempt to interrupt them. He paused in his speech and surveyed the scene, taking in the uproar, though the next day he claimed he did not approve of the chant and tried to stop it.
But on Friday, he made clear he was not disavowing the chant and again laced into Omar, the target of the chant.
“You can’t talk that way about our country. Not when I’m president,” Trump said. “These women have said horrible things about our country and the people of our country.”
He also tweeted that it was “amazing how the Fake News Media became ‘crazed’ over the chant ‘send her back’ by a packed Arena (a record) crowd in the Great State of North Carolina, but is totally calm & accepting of the most vile and disgusting statements made by the three Radical Left Congresswomen.”
The chants at the Trump rally brought criticism from GOP lawmakers as well as from Democrats, though the Republicans did not fault Trump himself.
Citing Trump’s rhetoric, House Democrats said they were discussing arranging security for Omar and the three other congresswomen.