House GOP leaders defend Trump’s racist attack on lawmakers

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Leaders of the Republican Party in Congress on Tuesday came to the defense of President Donald Trump amid an intense backlash to racist comments from the President suggesting that four Democratic congresswomen of color should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, repeated comments he made Monday that the President’s remarks were not racist.

“No. And I do not believe the speaker of the House was racist either when those individuals on her side of the aisle … claimed she was racist either,” McCarthy said at a Capitol Hill news conference, flanked by other members of House GOP leadership. “I do not believe that. I believe this is about ideology.”

“I think this party has been very clear, we are the party of Lincoln. This party believes in the content of the individual. I’ve watched from our own actions,” he said, referring to the decision to strip Rep. Steve King, an Iowa Republican, of his committee assignments following racist comments he made to The New York Times.

McCarthy also said he’ll be voting against the Democratic-backed resolution condemning the President’s tweets and suggested he was encouraging other members to vote against it as well.

“Yeah, it’s all politics,” McCarthy said at the GOP leadership press conference when asked if he’s encouraging Republicans to oppose it.”

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican, said the resolution being considered Tuesday is just “one more attempt to personally attack President Trump instead of focusing on things that can actually get this economy going.”

Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the conference chair and No. 3 House Republican, argued on Tuesday that GOP opposition to Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts is about opposing their policies.

Cheney initially did not refer to the four progressive Democratic women of color by name, saying instead, “I want to make absolutely clear that our opposition to our socialist colleagues has absolutely nothing to do with their gender, with their religion, or with their race. It has to do with the content of their policies. They’re wrong when they attempt to impose the fraud of socialism on the American people.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, is expected to speak publicly at a press conference later Tuesday.

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