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Trump defends tweets as 'not at all' racist

President TrumpDonald TrumpNYT: Rep. Perry played role in alleged Trump plan to oust acting AG Arizona GOP censures top state Republicans McCain, Flake and Ducey Biden and UK prime minister discuss NATO, multilateralism during call MORE on Monday denied he was being racist this weekend when he told four Democratic congresswomen of color to “go back” to their home countries, even though they are U.S. citizens. 

“Not at all,” Trump told reporters at the White House when asked if his tweets about the lawmakers were racist. “If somebody has a problem with our country, if somebody doesn’t want to be in our country, they should leave.”

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Trump declined to specify the members he was targeting, telling reporters “I think you can guess” when asked to name them.

The president’s remarks were aimed at Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezTexas man charged for alleged role in Capitol riots, online death threats to Ocasio-Cortez DC residents jumped at opportunity to pay for meals for National Guardsmen Tensions running high after gun incident near House floor MORE (D-N.Y.), Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibBiden and the new Congress must protect Americans from utility shutoffs Overnight Energy: EPA rule exempts many polluting industries from future air regulations | Ex-Michigan governor to be charged over Flint water crisis: report | Officials ousted from White House after papers casting doubt on climate science Ex-Michigan governor to be charged over Flint water crisis: report MORE (D-Mich.), Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyBelfast's Troubles echo in today's Washington Federal government carries out 13th and final execution under Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Biden asks Congress to expand largest relief response in U.S. history MORE (D-Mass.) and Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarDemocrats poised to impeach Trump again Pence opposes removing Trump under 25th Amendment: reports Pelosi vows to impeach Trump again — if Pence doesn't remove him first MORE (D-Minn.) The first three were all born in the U.S., and the last is a naturalized citizen who was a refugee from Somalia.

Trump cut himself off after engaging in reporters' questions at an event highlighting American-made products, saying “this is really about economic development” and “I’m going to discuss the issues.” 

Earlier Monday morning, the president escalated his attacks on the group of progressive Democrats known as "the squad," who have been deeply critical of his hard-line immigration policies. 

“When will the Radical Left Congresswomen apologize to our Country, the people of Israel and even to the Office of the President, for the foul language they have used, and the terrible things they have said,” he tweeted.

“If Democrats want to unite around the foul language & racist hatred spewed from the mouths and actions of these very unpopular & unrepresentative Congresswomen, it will be interesting to see how it plays out,” Trump added in another tweet.

The tirade prompted widespread denunciation from Democrats, who plan to introduce a resolution in the House condemning Trump’s “xenophobic tweets.”

A growing number of Republican lawmakers have also criticized the tweets as offensive and inaccurate.