Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the second-highest ranking Democrat in the Senate, denounced President Trump'sabout four progressive congresswomen of color, calling the comments "careless rhetoric" designed to sow division.
"I could just tell you that when we are dealing with mass arrests or mass deportations and that kind of careless rhetoric by the president, it doesn't help one bit," Durbin said on "Face the Nation" Sunday.
Although he did not name them specifically, Mr. Trump on Sunday morning posted a series of tweets deriding "'Progressive' Democrat Congresswomen," alluding to Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, who've been engaged in a public intra-party dispute with Democratic leaders in the House, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
"So interesting to see 'Progressive' Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run," Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. "Why don't they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done."
"These places need your help badly, you can't leave fast enough. I'm sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!" the president added.
The comments drew quick and scathing condemnation from Democrats in Congress and those hoping to challenge Mr. Trump in the general presidential election next year. Like others in her party who accused the president of stoking racial animus, Pelosi called the remarks "xenophobic."
Some also pointed to the factual inaccuracies in Mr. Trump's comments. He claimed that the four Democratic congresswomen "originally came" from foreign countries but only Omar was born outside the U.S. Pressley, an African American, was born in Ohio. Ocasio-Cortez, of Puerto Rican heritage, was born in New York. Tlaib, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, was born in Detroit.
Omar, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was born in Somalia, a country she and her family fled from because of a civil war and ethnic strife. They stayed in a refugee camp in Kenya before settling in the U.S. when she was 10 years old, and she became a citizen at 17.
To push back on the president's comments, Durbin highlighted Omar's story — which he suggested serves as concrete validation of America's ethos.
"The fact that they went through refugee camps, came the United States, clawed their way into an existence and eventually were elected. Thank goodness," he said. "That is part of what America holds as a dream for people around the world and the president should not diminish it."