Trump defends tweets as 'not at all' racist

President TrumpDonald John TrumpCampaigns face attack ad dilemma amid coronavirus crisis Outgoing inspector general says Trump fired him for carrying out his 'legal obligations' Trump hits Illinois governor after criticism: 'I hear him complaining all the time' 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-CortezOvernight Health Care: Global coronavirus cases top 1M | Cities across country in danger of becoming new hotspots | Trump to recommend certain Americans wear masks | Record 6.6M file jobless claims Trump blasts Schumer over 'incorrect sound bites' on coronavirus Trump warns against 'partisan investigations' after Pelosi establishes select committee on virus response MORE (D-N.Y.), Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibDemocrats eye additional relief checks for coronavirus 20 House Dems call on Trump to issue two-week, nationwide shelter-in-place order Pressley, Tlaib introduce bill providing .5B in emergency grants for the homeless MORE (D-Mich.), Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyMaryland Legislative Black Caucus pushes for state to release racial breakdown of coronavirus impact Pressley experiencing flu-like symptoms, being tested for COVID-19 The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Airbnb - Senate overcomes hurdles, passes massive coronavirus bill MORE (D-Mass.) and Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarTexas man arrested for allegedly threatening Democrats over coronavirus bill Undocumented aliens should stay away as COVID-19 rages in the US The Southern Poverty Law Center and yesterday's wars 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.