New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, fresh from a bitter public spat with House Democrat leaders, unloaded on President Trump Sunday afternoon after he suggested that several unnamed progressive congresswomen “go back” to their own “corrupt” countries of origin, then “come back and show us how it is done.”
Ocasio-Cortez’s fiery Twitter barrage could be the call to action that unifies a Democrat Party currently divided along establishment and progressive lines, observers said, even as some analysts indirectly blamed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for Trump’s remarks.
“Mr. President, the country I ‘come from,’ & the country we all swear to, is the United States,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “But given how you’ve destroyed our border with inhumane camps, all at a benefit to you & the corps who profit off them, you are absolutely right about the corruption laid at your feet.”
Ocasio-Cortez, who is of Puerto Rican descent, was born in the Bronx, New York, and raised in suburban Westchester County. Ayanna Pressley, the first black woman elected to the House from Massachusetts, was born in Cincinnati.
Ilhan Omar, the first Somali native elected to Congress and one of its first Muslim women, was born in Somalia but spent much of her childhood in a Kenyan refugee camp as civil war tore apart her home country. Tlaib was born in Detroit.
She continued: “You are angry because you don’t believe in an America where I represent New York 14, where the good people of Minnesota elected @IlhanMN, where @RashidaTlaib fights for Michigan families, where @AyannaPressley champions little girls in Boston. You are angry because you can’t conceive of an America that includes us. You rely on a frightened America for your plunder. You won’t accept a nation that sees healthcare as a right or education as a #1 priority, especially where we’re the ones fighting for it. Yet here we are.”
“But you know what’s the rub of it all, Mr. President?” she concluded.” On top of not accepting an America that elected us, you cannot accept that we don’t fear you, either. You can’t accept that we will call your bluff & offer a positive vision for this country. And that’s what makes you seethe.”
Trump specifically invoked Pelosi, D-Calif., in his original comments, writing, “I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!”
Just days earlier, the House speaker had urged junior members of her caucus not to tweet and had spoken dismissively of the new freshman firebrands.
And Pelosi told The New York Times last week that Ocasio-Cortez and Omar, Pressley, and Tlaib “have their public whatever and their Twitter world, but they didn’t have any following. They’re four people, and that’s how many votes they got.”
On Sunday, after Trump’s remarks, Pelosi came under renewed scrutiny.
“Make no mistake: Nancy Pelosi’s dogwhistling snipes at @AOC, Ilhan Omar, @RashidaTlaib and @RepPressley helped pave the way for this vicious, racist attack from the president,” wrote Washington Post global opinions editor Karen Attiah.
For her part, Pelosi quickly condemned Trump’s comments, and said they showed he wanted to make America “white again.”
Meanwhile, some conservatives said Trump’s comments would likely unite feuding Democrats and strengthen their political position with the 2020 presidential campaign heating up.
For example, Jerry Dunleavy, a reporter at the D.C. Examiner, was one of several commentators who compared Trump to “Leroy Jenkins,” the videogame player who, according to viral video legend, charged wildly into the fray and upset his teammates’ carefully crafted plan.
But MSNBC analyst Matthew Miller said those concerns were misplaced.
“Spare me the analysis about how Trump’s racist tweets will unite the Democratic Party,” he wrote. “Isn’t the relevant question now and forever what the hell Republicans are willing to do about it?”
Matt Wolking, the deputy director of communications for Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign, insisted that president was being misinterpreted.
“Anyone who says the president told members of Congress to go back to where they came from is lying,” he wrote on Twitter. “He told them to “Then come back and show us how it is done.”
Regardless, Democrats were far more united on Sunday than they were over the weekend. In a highly unusual move Friday night, the official House Democratic Caucus Twitter account ripped into Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff for his criticism of another Democratic lawmaker — an astonishing tirade that laid bare the simmering tensions between the freshman congresswoman and her party’s leadership.
The caucus’ Twitter account flagged a June 27 tweet by Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, in which he criticized Rep. Sharice Davids, D-Kansas, for her votes on issues to do with the migrant crisis at the border.
“I don’t think people have to be personally racist to enable a racist system. And the same could even be said of the Southern Democrats. I don’t believe Sharice is a racist person, but her votes are showing her to enable a racist system,” he tweeted.
On Friday night, the caucus account took aim.
“Who is this guy and why is he explicitly singling out a Native American woman of color?” it said.
“Her name is Congresswoman Davids, not Sharice,” the House Democrats added. “She is a phenomenal new member who flipped a red seat blue.”
“Keep Her Name Out Of Your Mouth,” it said with interspersed emojis of clapping hands.
Several top Democrats, including Pelosi deputy chief of staff Drew Hammill, retweeted the post.
The spat delighted conservatives, who expressed their glee at the eruption of blue-on-blue infighting. Chakrabarti, meanwhile, fired back and accused the caucus account of taking his tweet out of the context of a conversation where someone else brought up Davids.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw and Nick Givas contributed to this report.