German Chancellor Merkel expresses 'solidarity' with freshman lawmakers after Trump attack
Merkel took questions from journalists during the summer press conference.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel criticized President Donald's Trump's comments that four Democratic congresswomen should "go back" to where they came from, saying the idea "contradicts America's strength," and expressed "solidarity with the attacked women.”
The chancellor, who made the comments on Friday during her annual press event, said the country's strength is derived from the contributions of people from many backgrounds, and that Trump's comments -- first expressed on Twitter and repeated to his supporters at a campaign rally -- run "counter to this impression."
"This is something that contradicts America's strength,” she said.
Theresa May, the outgoing U.K. prime minister, has also criticized the remarks, saying through a spokesperson they were "completely unacceptable," according to the BBC.
The president targeted four progressive Democrats -- Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass -- saying they "came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe." Three of the lawmakers were born in the U.S., and Omar came to the U.S. as a refugee as a child.
Omar fired back, calling it a "blatantly racist attack on four duly elected members of the United States House of Representatives, all of whom are women of color.”
Trump then doubled down on the comments -- against Omar, in particular -- at a campaign rally in Greenville, NC, saying: "I said I have a suggestion for the hate-filled extremists who are constantly trying to tear our country down. They never have anything good to say, that's why I say, hey, if they don't like it let them leave. Leave, let them leave."
He looked on as his largely white crowd broke into repeated chants of "Send her back!" Omar, who was born in Somalia, is one of the first two Muslim women in Congress.
On Thursday night, a crowd in Omar's home state of Minnesota greeted her arrival from Washington with the chant, "Welcome home, Ilhan!"
The U.S.-German has shown signs of stress since Trump's ascent to the Oval Office. A poll conducted by the Pew Research Center and Koerber-Stiftung in Germany in late 2018 found that 78% of Germans feel the US-German relationship was bad -- a 17% increase from 2017.
Merkel has held her post since 2005 and has said she will leave office when her current term ends in 2021.
Pressed by reporters about her health after it appeared she was shaking during several recent public appearances, Merkel, who turned 65 this week, brushed aside concerns.
"I hope there is life after my time in office and I would like to lead it in good health," she said.