Merkel backs Democratic congresswomen over Trump

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Friday that she stands with the four Democratic congresswomen of color whom President TrumpDonald John TrumpDems want tougher language on election security in defense bill Five aides to Van Drew resign ahead of his formal switch to GOP The myth of the conservative bestseller MORE suggested should "go back" to where they came from even though three were born in the U.S. and all are U.S. citizens.

Merkel said at a Berlin press conference that the comment, which Democrats and handful of Republicans condemned as racist, "undermines America's strength" according to CNN

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"I distance myself from this decidedly and stand in solidarity with the women who were attacked," she said, referring to Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezDemocrats ask if they have reason to worry about UK result Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez to hold campaign rallies in Los Angeles, Las Vegas Overwhelming majority say social media companies have too much influence: poll MORE (N.Y.), Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarIlhan Omar responds to 'Conservative Squad': 'Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery' Biden narrowly ahead in Iowa as Sanders surges, Warren drops: poll Sanders, Omar to hit campaign trail in New Hampshire MORE (Minn.), Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibIlhan Omar responds to 'Conservative Squad': 'Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery' House passes bill that would give legal status to thousands of undocumented farmworkers Biden narrowly ahead in Iowa as Sanders surges, Warren drops: poll MORE (Mich.) and Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyIlhan Omar responds to 'Conservative Squad': 'Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery' Sanders, Omar to hit campaign trail in New Hampshire Booker unveils legislation for federal bill to ban discrimination against natural hair MORE (Mass.)

"U.S.'s strength lies exactly in the fact that people of very different nationalities contribute to the strength of the American people," the chancellor added. 

"Those [Trump's statements] are sentiments which are very much in opposition to my impressions [about the U.S.], which I strongly believe in, and it is something that undermines America's strength," Merkel said. 

Trump on Sunday tweeted that the four women, known collectively as "the squad," should "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came."

The House voted largely along partisan lines this week to condemn the remark as racist, with four Republicans and an Independent joining all Democrats in their rebuke of the president. 

At a Trump campaign rally Wednesday, the president's supporters chanted "send her back" in reference to Omar, who came to the U.S. as a refugee from Somalia. The chant was widely condemned, and Trump later tried to distance himself from it, saying, "I was not happy with it. I disagree with it."

On Friday, however, he blasted the press's "crazed" coverage of the rally, saying not enough attention is paid to past "vile and disgusting statements" from the lawmakers.