'The Squad' — Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Pressley and Tlaib — hit back at Trump and call for his impeachment

Four female Democratic congresswomen responded Monday to President Trump’s attacks of the past two days by calling for an impeachment inquiry and turning the focus of the feud back to White House policies on immigration.

“This is a distraction and we should not take the bait,” Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., said at a Capitol Hill press conference in reference to the president’s remarks, adding,“This is simply a disruption and a distraction from the callous, chaotic and corrupt culture of this administration, all the way down. We want to get back to the business of the American people.”

Pressley was one of four freshmen congresswomen of color who Trump told to go back to their home countries in a tweet posted Sunday. Three of the four women the president targeted were born in the United States (Pressley, Ocasio-Cortez of New York, and Tlaib of Michigan) while the other, Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, is a Somali refugee who became a U.S. citizen in 2000.

Earlier Monday, Trump doubled down on his criticism of the Democratic women, stating that the four “hate our country.” Asked whether he had any concerns that white supremacists had found common cause with his remarks, Trump said he did not because “many people agree with me.”

Throughout the day, Trump continued to urge the lawmakers to leave the U.S., tweeting just before the press conference, “We will never be a Socialist or Communist Country. IF YOU ARE NOT HAPPY HERE, YOU CAN LEAVE! It is your choice, and your choice alone.”

At their own press conference, the four congresswomen known collectively as “the Squad,” put forth theories on the president’s strategy for targeting them.

“Weak minds and leaders challenge loyalty to our country in order to avoid debating the policy,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “This president does not know how to make the argument that Americans do not deserve health care. He does not know how to defend his policies, so what he does is attack us personally and that is what this is all about. He can’t look a child in the face and he can’t look all Americans 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. And that’s what I’m here to do.”

Omar called Trump’s policies “the agenda of white nationalists” and in a comment that that could be read as directed at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said that it was time to begin impeachment proceedings. “So we can either continue to enable this president and report on the pile of garbage that comes out of his mouth or we can hold him accountable to his crimes,” Omar said.

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Democratic congressional candidate the Midterm elections, Ilhan Omar, speaks to a group of volunteers in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on October 13, 2018. - Somali-American state legislator Ilhan Omar claimed victory in her primary in Minnesota in August, putting her on track to become one of the first female Muslim members of the US House of Representatives. (Photo by Kerem YUCEL / AFP) (Photo credit should read KEREM YUCEL/AFP/Getty Images)
Ilhan Omar, Democratic congressional candidate, poses for a selfie with a supporter and her son while campaigning in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on October 13, 2018. - Somali-American state legislator Ilhan Omar claimed victory in her primary in Minnesota in August, putting her on track to become one of the first female Muslim members of the US House of Representatives. (Photo by Kerem YUCEL / AFP) (Photo credit should read KEREM YUCEL/AFP/Getty Images)
FILE - In this Jan. 5, 2017, file photo, new State Rep. Ilhan Omar is interviewed in her office two days after the 2017 Legislature convened in St. Paul, Minn. Omar, already the first Somali-American to be elected to a state legislature, is jumping into a crowded race for a Minnesota congressional seat. Omar filed Tuesday, June 5, 2018, for the Minneapolis-area seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)
FILE - In this Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017 file photo, State Rep. Ilhan Omar takes the oath of office as the 2017 legislature convened in St. Paul, Minn. Omar, a Muslim, is the nation's first Somali-American to be elected to a state legislature. Religion's role in politics and social policies is in the spotlight heading toward the midterm elections, yet relatively few Americans consider it crucial that a candidate be devoutly religious or share their religious beliefs, according to an AP-NORC national poll conducted Aug. 16-20, 2018. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar, left, laughs while speaking with an attendee during the Democratic Farmer Labor (DFL) Party endorsement convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S., on Sunday, June 17, 2018. The DFL will endorse a primary candidate for the seat of Representative Keith Ellison, a democrat from Minnesota, as he runs for state attorney general. Photographer: Emilie Richardson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar speaks during the Democratic Farmer Labor (DFL) Party endorsement convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S., on Sunday, June 17, 2018. The DFL will endorse a primary candidate for the seat of Representative Keith Ellison, a democrat from Minnesota, as he runs for state attorney general. Photographer: Emilie Richardson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 21: Ilhan Omar attends the premiere of 'Time For Ilhan' during the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival at Cinepolis Chelsea on April 21, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)
In this Aug. 16, 2018 photo, Democrat Ilhan Omar, the nation's first Somali-American legislator who won her party's congressional primary in the race, talks during an interview at Peace Coffee in Minneapolis. Just two years ago, the Minnesota Democrat became the first Somali-American elected to a state legislature. Now she's likely to become one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress. (AP Photo/Jeff Baenen)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 21: Amal Sabrie, Isra Hirsi, Ilhan Omar, Ilwad Hirsi, Ahmed Hirsi, Adnan Hirsi attend the premiere of 'Time For Ilhan' during the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival at Cinepolis Chelsea on April 21, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)
Ilhan Omar, candidate for State Representative for District 60B in Minnesota, arrives for her victory party on election night, November 8, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Omar, a refugee from Somalia, is the first Somali-American Muslim woman to hold public office. / AFP / STEPHEN MATUREN (Photo credit should read STEPHEN MATUREN/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 07: Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., attends a rally on the East Front of the Capitol with groups including United We Dream, calling on Congress to defund Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on Thursday, February 7, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 13: Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., attends a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing in Rayburn Building titled 'Venezuela at a Crossroads,' on Wednesday, February 13, 2019. Elliott Abrams, U.S. special representative for Venezuela, testified. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JULY 15: Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., arrives for a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center to respond to negative comments by President Trump that were directed at freshmen House Democrats on Monday, July 15, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JULY 15: Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., conducts a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center responding to negative comments by President Trump that were directed at the freshmen House Democrats on Monday, July 15, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JULY 15: Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., conducts a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center responding to negative comments by President Trump that were directed at the freshmen House Democrats on Monday, July 15, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 15: U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) speaks during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol on July 15, 2019 in Washington, D.C. President Donald Trump stepped up his attacks on four progressive Democratic congresswomen, saying if they're not happy in the United States "they can leave." (Photo by Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images)
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) at Netroots Nation convention in Philadelphia, PA on July 13, 2019. (Photo by Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JULY 06: Congresswoman Ilhan Omar speaks on stage at 2019 ESSENCE Festival Presented By Coca-Cola at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on July 06, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for ESSENCE)
WASHINGTON, USA - JUNE 26: U.S. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar speaks during a demonstration held by Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) on one-year anniversary of Supreme Court's decision about US President Donald Trump's travel ban for Muslims in front of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, United States on June 26, 2019. (Photo by Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 19: U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) speaks at a press conference on the No Shame at School Act on June 19, 2019 in Washington, DC. The bill, which is sponsored by Omar, will ensure that no child is shamed or goes without eating a school lunch due to a lack of money. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 7: Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., arrives for a Congressional Black Caucus Emergency Taskforce on Black Youth Suicide and Mental Health forum in Rayburn Building on Friday, June 7, 2019. Actress Taraji Henson, founder of the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, spoke about her struggle with depression. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 19: U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) speaks at a press conference on the No Shame at School Act on June 19, 2019 in Washington, DC. The bill, which is sponsored by Omar, will ensure that no child is shamed or goes without eating a school lunch due to a lack of money. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 20: U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) listens to remarks during a congressional Iftar event at the U.S. Capitol May 20, 2019 in Washington, DC. Muslims around the world are observing the holy month with prayers, fasting from dawn to sunset and nightly feasts. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 16: Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) speaks at the America Welcomes Event with a Statue Of Liberty Replica Shows Solidarity With Immigrants & Refugees at Union Station on May 16, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for MoveOn.org)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 16: Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) speaks at the America Welcomes Event with a Statue Of Liberty Replica Shows Solidarity With Immigrants & Refugees at Union Station on May 16, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for MoveOn.org)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 16: The House Foreign Affairs' Committee's Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations Subcommittee member Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) questions witnesses during a hearing in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill May 16, 2019 in Washington, DC. Hatice Cengiz, fiancee of murdered Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, testified before the committee. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 08: Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Mika Brzezinski at the 2019 Town & Country Philanthropy Summit Sponsored By Northern Trust, Memorial Sloan Kettering, Pomellato, And 1 Hotels & Baccarat Hotels on May 08, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Town & Country)
UNITED STATES - MAY 16: Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., attends a news conference at the House Triangle, on legislation to create special immigrant visas for Iraqi and Afghan wartime translators on Thursday, May 16, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 08: Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Ava DuVernay at the 2019 Town & Country Philanthropy Summit Sponsored By Northern Trust, Memorial Sloan Kettering, Pomellato, And 1 Hotels & Baccarat Hotels on May 08, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Town & Country)
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Tlaib echoed her colleagues, saying the time had come to begin an impeachment inquiry, but it was Omar and Ocasio-Cortez who spent the bulk of the press conference at the microphones.

“Right now, the president is carrying out mass deportation raids across this country, in each one of our districts,” said Omar. “Right now, the president is committing human rights abuses at the border, keeping children in cages and having human beings drinking out of toilets. This president who has been credibly accused of committing multiple crimes, including colluding with [a] foreign government to interfere with our election. This is a president who has overseen the most corrupt administration in our history and pursued an agenda to allow millions of Americans to die from a lack of health care while he transfers millions of dollars in tax cuts to corporations. This is a president who has said, grab women 'by the pussy.' This is a president who has called black athletes ‘sons of bitches.’ This is a president who has called people who have come from black and brown countries ‘shitholes.’ This is a president who has equated neo-Nazis with those who protest against them in Charlottesville.”

Ocasio-Cortez began her remarks with a story about visiting Washington, D.C., with her father and him telling her that, as a citizen, the capital belonged to her. She dismissed Trump’s proposal that those critical of the United States should leave it.

“We don’t leave the things that we love,” said Ocasio-Cortez in response. “And when we love this country, what that means is we propose the solutions to fix it. WE love all people in this country and that’s why we believe health care is a human right. We love all children in this country and because we do that’s why we fight for education for all children through college. And so we’ll stay focused on our agenda and we won’t get caught slippin’ because all of this is a distraction. It’s a distraction from what’s most important and from our core values as American citizens.”

“Every single statement that we make is from a place of extreme love for every single person in this country,” Ocasio-Cortez continued. “It is part of the mandate of why we ran for office and why we got elected. ... Every single person here in the United States knows that we are fighting every single day to create a more perfect union and to fight on their behalf.”

Omar pointed to what she called the “complete hypocrisy” of Trump criticizing the Democratic lawmakers for wanting to work to improve America, while his 2016 presidential campaign was focused on problems with the country and how to make it great again.

As the president’s comments dominated the airwaves across the nation, Republicans were slow to criticize Trump’s attacks, which came after a week of feuding between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the four congresswomen who had been critical of the border funding deal Pelosi made with Republicans in the Senate and moderate House Democrats.

Last week, after Ocasio-Cortez had accused Pelosi of persistently “singling out” women of color, Trump defended the speaker. “I’ll tell you something about Nancy Pelosi that you know better than I do: She is not a racist,” he said. On Monday, he was defensive after she attacked his tweets: “Speaker Pelosi said ‘Make America white again,’ let me tell you that’s a very racist, that’s a very racist statement. I’m surprised she’d say that.”

Pelosi rejected what she called Trump’s “xenophobic comments meant to divide our nation” and on Monday told House Democrats in a letter that she would hold a vote on a resolution condemning the tweets.

“This morning, the President doubled down on his attacks on our four colleagues suggesting they apologize to him,” wrote Pelosi. “Let me be clear, our Caucus will continue to forcefully respond to these disgusting attacks.”

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