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

Maryland Rep. Andy HarrisAndrew (Andy) Peter HarrisOvernight Defense: Trump clashes with Macron at NATO summit | House impeachment report says Trump abused power | Top Dem scolds military leaders on Trump intervention in war crimes cases House conservatives attempt to access closed-door impeachment hearing GOP lawmakers, states back gunmaker in Sandy Hook appeal MORE on Monday morning became one of the first Republicans to address President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump's newest Russia adviser, Andrew Peek, leaves post: report Hawley expects McConnell's final impeachment resolution to give White House defense ability to motion to dismiss Trump rips New York City sea wall: 'Costly, foolish' and 'environmentally unfriendly idea' 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."


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-CortezAyanna Pressley's 'squad' of congresswomen offers support after she opens up about alopecia Here are the 10 senators who voted against Trump's North American trade deal Artist paints Michelle Obama, other women as battered in campaign against domestic violence MORE (D-N.Y.), Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarAyanna Pressley's 'squad' of congresswomen offers support after she opens up about alopecia With surge in anti-Semitism, political leaders need to be aggressive and reflective in response Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair endorses Sanders MORE (D-Minn.), Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibHillicon Valley: Biden calls for revoking tech legal shield | DHS chief 'fully expects' Russia to try to interfere in 2020 | Smaller companies testify against Big Tech 'monopoly power' Michigan governor urges Zuckerberg to enforce community guidelines after hate speech, threats surface Ayanna Pressley's 'squad' of congresswomen offers support after she opens up about alopecia MORE (D-Mich.) and Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyAyanna Pressley's 'squad' of congresswomen offers support after she opens up about alopecia Ayanna Pressley opens up about having alopecia for first time, reveals bald head in interview Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair endorses Sanders 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 PelosiREAD: House impeachment managers' trial brief Desperate Democrats badmouth economy even as it booms Pelosi offers message to Trump on Bill Maher show: 'You are impeached forever' 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."