GOP lawmaker: Trump's tweets 'obviously not racist'

Maryland Rep. Andy HarrisAndrew (Andy) Peter HarrisHouse Republicans urge White House to support TSA giving travelers temperature checks Coronavirus protests take aim at scientists, elites OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court vacates nearly 300 oil and gas leases on public lands | GOP lawmaker seeks review of Harvard study tying air pollution to coronavirus deaths MORE on Monday morning became one of the first Republicans to address President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump second-term plans remain a mystery to GOP Trump to hold outdoor rally in New Hampshire on Saturday Eighty-eight years of debt pieties MORE's tweets calling on a group of progressive female lawmakers to "go back" to their countries, arguing the comments are "obviously not racist."

"No they're not, they're obviously not racist," Harris told WBAL's Bryan Nehman when asked about Trump's tweets from the day prior. "But again, when anyone disagrees with someone now the default is to call them a racist, and this no exception."

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Asked by Nehman on why it's not racist to tell American citizens to go back to their countries of origin, Harris said, "Well, ask the president what he meant by it, but clearly it's not a racist comment. He could have meant go back to the district they came from, to the neighborhood they came from."

"They all didn't come from foreign countries, so you'd have to presume that it was not a country," Harris added, when pressed on whether he believed Trump meant neighborhoods or districts and not other countries.

The president sparked an uproar on Sunday with his comments targeting unnamed female Democrats "who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe." Trump said the women — thought to be Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezDemocratic strategist Andrew Feldman says Biden is moving left Hispanic Caucus asks Trump to rescind invitation to Mexican president Nadler wins Democratic primary MORE (D-N.Y.), Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarThe Hill's Campaign Report: Colorado, Utah primary results bring upsets, intrigue Progressive lawmakers call for conditions on Israel aid Black lives and the CBC: What happens to a dream deferred? MORE (D-Minn.), Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibThe Hill's Campaign Report: Colorado, Utah primary results bring upsets, intrigue Progressive lawmakers call for conditions on Israel aid Ocasio-Cortez pitches interns to work for her instead of McConnell MORE (D-Mich.) and Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyThe Hill's Campaign Report: Colorado, Utah primary results bring upsets, intrigue Progressives zero in on another House chairman in primary Ocasio-Cortez pitches interns to work for her instead of McConnell MORE (D-Mass.), collectively known as "the squad" — should "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came."

The tweets were widely condemned as racist, as all four of the freshman congresswomen are U.S. citizens, while only Omar, who came to the U.S. as a refugee from Somalia, was born outside the United States.

The outrage provided Democrats with an opportunity to unify after a week of infighting sparked by barbs traded between Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiRussian bounties revive Trump-GOP foreign policy divide On The Money: Breaking down the June jobs report | The biggest threats facing the recovery | What will the next stimulus bill include? Military bases should not be renamed, we must move forward in the spirit of reconciliation MORE (D-Calif.) and Ocasio-Cortez. The feud escalated earlier last week when Ocasio-Cortez told The Washington Post that Pelosi appeared to be targeting women of color.

Harris referenced those remarks, saying, "Even when Ocasio-Cortez disagrees with Nancy Pelosi she calls her a racist."

Ocasio-Cortez, however, explicitly said she does not think the Speaker is a racist.

Harris, an ardent defender of Trump, has long criticized the media, at one point saying he disregards anything mainstream media outlets report. He continued that line of criticism on Monday, telling Nehman, "You listen to the mainstream media, the mainstream media all thinks that this is a racist comment."