Trump says comments on Democratic congresswomen are not racist

When questioned at the White House if his tweets about Democratic congresswomen of color were racist, President Trump replied "no, not at all."
30:03 | 07/15/19

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Transcript for Trump says comments on Democratic congresswomen are not racist
Everybody into the brink Paramount Devin Dwyer Washington great to have you with us on this Monday we hope you had a good weekend. And now we're back to a firestorm over the president's comments on Sunday morning about four democratic women congressman. Women of color the president. Using racist. Troops to call them out he says and see here it is. He says why don't they go back and help fix the totally broken in crime infested places from which they came. Then they can come back in show us how it's done a short time ago after being condemned by Democrats Nancy Pelosi calling. For resolution in the house condemning the president's comments are even a Republican senator Tim Scott of South Carolina has seen these were unacceptable personal tax the president. In the well White House South Lawn double down. Yeah democratic congresswomen are not American as a problem. With a country that somebody doesn't want to be you know did you do it doesn't. Have those congresswomen not American enough. If you look at her they've been so al-Qaeda. It's Davis and al-Qaeda when you look at his statements about. People were. Rich congressman talking about. Yeah. And I want to bring in now our chief White House correspondent Cecilia Vega who was the one asking those questions as to left. Of the screen to say thanks for common on pretty extraordinary. Attack by the president of the United States something we. Have almost never seen on this level against members of congress. How completely remarkable moment out here DeVon and you know the president is not just defending his tweets. About thus far congresswoman he is. Saying that they weren't racist and he's really. Digging in on that and he says that that these women east for years congresswomen hate our country. That they should leave he says he's not at all concerned about the criticism that he's receiving today. Frankly people calling these tweets outright Brees says. Or people thinking frankly that this is racist if selling is thin and we've talked about this this isn't surprising this is. There's been a pattern leading up to this this is the president who campaigned on birth tourism who ended up in the White House. Partly because he was promoting a conspiracy theory. That Barack Obama wasn't necessarily born in this country that he was born in Africa you'll remember the data he launched his campaign in New York when he said. Mexicans were rapists and some of them are good people of course we think back to Charlottesville where the president said that they were very fine people on both sides in that neo Nazi rally. What is not. What is what is different about this is an American president. Normalizing. This type of Greece's the language in a very public way and DeVon in you know this has been talking about is here at ABC aisle day the white Nationalists. Are really eating them than the ending this these tweaks not then and praising the president he's inspired them. And one very prominent web site saying today quote this is exactly the kind of white nationalism. That we need. And we which put up a picture of the four women. That he is attacking remind our viewers who these people are. All four of them I guess we we can't pull it up right now but all four there they are. Alexander Acosta of Cortez of New York cut Eli and Omar Minnesota oversee its lead. Of Michigan on a Pressley of Massachusetts three of the four born in the United States all four. US citizens and Cecilia as you eluded to there are these white supremacist groups are praising the president and in fact he was pressed about it on the South Lawn. And here's how he answered that. If you're not happy here then you can leave swears I'm concerned if you hate our country. If you're not happy here you can leave. And that's what I say all the time. That's what I said in a tweet which I guess some people think it's controversial a lot of people love it by the way lot of people love it if weak politicians wanna say. And the Democrats in this case if they wanna. Year though wagons around these four people I think they're gonna have a very tough election because I don't think the people of the United States. Will stand for it. Insert. Many people saw that we'd is racist and that white nationalist groups are finding common cause me you on that point doesn't concern me because many people agree with me. It doesn't concern the president that wiped supremacists white Nationalists are embracing him that was John Roberts of Fox News asking the question to Syria. This reminds a lot of people of that Charlottesville moment when the president came out so there are good people on both sides have made a lot of White House staff pretty uncomfortable you getting any sense. Over there in the west wing that there's any distance from the president on this one any discomfort. But certainly making a lot of people uncomfortable here and it is been fascinating to watch people try to do a not so graceful dance today. Particularly when they're on camera of of offering up a word salad of defense I mean it's in this is really. A tough thing to defend and it's an almost impossible thing to spin what I'm hearing is need people not necessarily. Defending the president. But no one that I Spock spoken to today or heard from a personally or on camera. Is willing to go as far as to say that these treats are out right. Recess. And DeVon now are only now more than 24 hours after the president sent those streets are we starting to hear. A call of criticism and from Republicans denouncing these streets as well. He had 24 hours later and tepid at at best on that front as well Cecilia Bayer chief White House correspondent thanks so much is suing her for more on this hour to bring in a Reuters reporter Rachel Scott. Ben Siegel our Capitol Hill reporter who has a fact check force also want to bring in Mike muse. With serious sex and who is join us from New York he's an analyst and agree to see you Mike a nursery and Marshall is up on Capitol Hill right now. Our tracking reaction from members of congress rich wants are with you go lot of people wondering you cover the trump campaign. Why now why did the president stick his finger into this on a sunny Sunday morning just before going to play golf. And I think the big question too is will his political base actually care. That people are calling mr. rhesus outward recent since it's reminiscent of racist troops they need it it's a recent stroke and I think that one of the test will be wet the president's rally this week but I just got a fresh. Campaign statement from the president's communications director saying that all Democrats have now laughed and lit lots of the defense then blame America first crowd. When he really should be defending America and they say the the president was simply pointing out the Democrats have said terrible things out of country. And we rejection just putting up we can put it back up I was were calling today 52 years ago then campaign strategist White House strategist Steve Bannon said this in an interview. I yet she said this is part of his strategy that he wanted to try a campaign to place and the Democrats the longer they talk about it and and then he talks politics they got him. I want them to talk about racism every day at the left is focused on race and identity. We go in economic nationalism we can cross the Democrats certainly something that is. Sort of resonates here echoes of Steve banning in what the campaign is doing now we should say that none of the campaign people would come on. Yeah exactly an end to that point you just heard Cecilia talk about. The pattern but the president has used talking about race in this country racism is not new but at Cecilia said the president is elevating these remarks on the national stage. And at every seen a shift has any of his supporters moved over to the NSI and said listen I'm not gonna support the president what I'm not in the field. And I talked to some of these supporters if they left and I hear the president on here race saying but the economy's doing great. In and the question is will this way any of his base liberal just simply get them riled up. Yeah and what ruled the middle think of all this Ben Siegel let's just do a quick look at the facts the president throwing up around a lot of claims. In this tirade on the South Lawn today on top of the tweet suggesting that these congresswoman are not from here they. As we said are all American citizens they are born here they've given no indication they want to leave the country. But the president also accuse some of them of being supporters of al-Qaeda that true. It's not true basically what the president was doing and the system and its made the rounds on Fox News on conservative media along these four members of congress they've seen our our. Sort of punching bags for the right there people who. Conservatives and in congress and the president have repeatedly criticized their people that they're Republican strategists are hoping to tie the party to the very progressive. Very liberal and specifically today he accused he'll Hun Omar of of supporting al-Qaeda. Probably saying al-Qaeda we dug ins that a little did he seem to be referring to a clip that's been taken out of context. From the public affairs show she didn't play thirteen before she was in congress. It was part of a new wants context. Really specific discussion about the use of Arabic words to describe some these terrorist groups and she was talking about a professorship in college. So she was not saying anything about. Associating with al-Qaeda issues the senator so much of this criticism the president hats because she's the first. Elected Muslim woman in congress says she's sort of this high profile figure she sets a very controversial things. About Israel and about Jews which had been condemned. By the House of Representatives right as well the president accused her of being anti semite. Sure she's she's a. I've been accused of pretty loose talk around or criticism of Israel. On policy grounds she's in the past waded into hot water about comments about the influence of the pro Israel lobby. Accused of trafficking in some anti Semitic troops that's what some members of the house Republicans and Democrats. To come out and criticize her led to eventually emotion on the house floor to condemn anti semitism did not mention congressman Omar by name but it was meant as a rebuke. To her NG it's the pupa with racial earlier in this conversation. This is a conversation that the president is having and it's also having an effect on Capitol Hill. This week Democrats are not talking about their agenda for the people they're spending all their time attacking the president and then there they were having a bit of an in your family fight earlier this week about the vision for the party this is brought them together but it's also sort of derailed their vision and their policy vision for the country. So the president's comments certainly part of a political strategist year appearing like one taking the Democrats off message from Mike muse. The spin machine is in full year. Ally in trump campaign land the deflection operation taking place. They wouldn't come on the show to talk about the president's comments but clearly here. They are trying to to draw attention away from the fact that go back to where you came from is in an ambiguous recent stroke. Absolutely. There's so many things have been wrong with the statement and is amending the minute wrong. That's concerned me throughout the weekend as president hunt has made this statements but the most jarring aspect of it is how Republican Party has not come out. Full force flow stopped to denounce this type of rhetoric there's a danger when you are synthetic Oval Office the Oval Office means I'm not only to America but to warm to the global truck global society -- global community and it's important whoever is in that space Webber then Nancy it's really set the standard and to what America is and really who we are. And an Intel you DeVon is not comfortable as a black man as I sit here speaking with you. Stephen had a hat is habit that just discussions that are coming from the civil rights era that a coming from the Jim Crow air when it comes back of our goal back to where you come from go back to Africa these are things that we've heard. As if we are come from a foreign place right is almost is that we don't have a right to be here but it also large and Aronson that we talk about the First Amendment as we talk about freedom of speech as we talk about ten to sit. As if we don't have average candidate critique our government to critique our democracy to make it better and to really bring into the fullness of what we know it can be it's also traveling Tuesday here president Tom tolls so his ignorance away it is to be an American as he sets to redefine what American value is also a Jew who was an American Arlington a fact that doesn't recognize that being from Puerto Rican descent you are an American citizen but that doesn't tell I was right as a whole issue of the hurricane that happened in the relieved that has yet to happen as a -- and xenophobia that Puerto Ricans aren't Americans but they are American citizens and that concerns me about how the guns and immigration debate about Heidi not aware I'm Barbara president of Omar. It's actually a naturalized the sentiments and makes our United States innocent until there is troubling effect when someone sitting in the Oval Office who doesn't understand the basics of historical nature of racism who does understand that basing this than what freedom of speech and censorship is but get this individual is going to be setting tone for a immigration to where we have a huge backup was happening and ice of the weekend so there really is going back this other rank and it's troubling that these individuals are people of color right and that basketball is back to it and that they're also lets you freshman class members who have a right to speak out and so where did treading into a very dangerous position. Karen America we start using this my concern DeVon house into a security and safety of these four members of congress. And enactment the president's Iraq is this this propane right to write this fear of to rise as other rain. On these congress people they've already have received death threats are ready the president isn't helping with this and there's a danger when you cannot critique your government. To be fearful of your life even as American citizens and against a critique on social media on platforms as ABC you. Do those of us who are a people of color do we have to now begins on with our safety because the president has growth in this type of level. Yet certainly raise some pretty disturbing responses from the white supremacist community those death threats are really drilling down on the hill on the you'd. Don't Capitol Hill police they have had to step watch protection of these women as well. And it did it's worth pointing out the congressman Omar in particular the president singled out. Has and some of these comments she's made in the passage is been criticized for. They've had to step up her security she's received death threats in the past and I don't think people understand capital holds very secured when these members go home. Then they're often very but often alone there's no security there were in their pain they can be easily Marc-Andre. Lose and we all remembered shooting at the baseball practice not far from here or get real difference in the parking lot of a grocery store attack right demonstrator Marshall your up on capitol even trying. To get response to the present suites on the other side of the aisle Republicans just coming back into town from the weekend. Pretty muted response we're even hearing. DeVon and trying in vain to get a response from some of these members of congress here. Walking through the halls of Capitol Hill going to turn members' offices asking them if they speak on camera weren't back yet it is a travel day for member is as those don't happen until later this evening but some of them weren't there opposite. We could convince them to speak to us on camera now when you talk about the reaction from Republicans. Remember is banned more than 24 hours and we're just starting to see a trickle of a response. On Twitter those who have spoken on camera like senator Lindsey Graham thinks you defending the president says he told him he should also perhaps tone down a writer. That we are we're also here answered a firm from Tim Scott the only Republican. African American Republican senator from South Carolina I believe we have party his statement he is talking about how Democrats and also engaged in. In some racist debate. But then goes on to say that the president's behavior is unacceptable. It's in the bottom half of the statement unacceptable personal attacks racially offensive language. We in a matter of political disagreements 83 lowest common denominator will only divide our nation further. I've read Susan Collins Serena. A prominent Republican moderate in the senate was also Qwikster to respond this morning one of the first Republicans. She said he. Yet when you know you're hearing from some of the more moderate Republicans who are really coming out hard bit like you said. I kept senators Scott there really was kind of that backing the president in the top and then calling inappropriate and the bottom so you don't get through the whole statement you rate might miss that but a lot of Republicans. Our standing by the president where it is especially members of his own party we actually heard from. The new -- of the Treasury Secretary just a little bit ago here's what he had to say. It's a member of it happening. I'm think I'm pretty extensively he's he's worked on earth. East breezes and what do you make of white nationalist bring this week stating I think the president I don't find them racist the president just. Why no I didn't clarify his comments I think he speaks for himself on that he was very clear. But again we're focused on crypto currency is a little peace and that's all. So DeVon the president saying Eric Sydney finished insane and that the president clarified his statements because he's now and I thank you go back to where you came from if you're unhappy in the United States you should just leave now it is not an American. To question the United States government and fax Theodore Roosevelt and I paraphrasing here said. It if anything it is. Unpatriotic to say you can't question the president he called. To say to you cannot question the president. Treason as and so. For them to try now flip the script on this and point out says what day it was women and those people might have said in a negative context that would take the attention. Away from what the president said but remember this is not uniting the Democratic Party and has. Cecilia was saying earlier could be a political gain the president's plane because he would love nothing more than to go up again. The far left of that day Democratic Party vs those moderate purple show him possibly losing the president until election. And also just hearing right now from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer who says two Republicans you're making a deal with the devils. It by your silence in this Nancy Pelosi going on to say that the president is trying to make America white again. Although there are some in the house then you're just hearing now is a footnote to all of this from a Republican from Texas who is criticizing the president now. That's right will turn African American from Texas one of the few moderate Republicans left in the house after the mid terms he did call this racist and xenophobic. But I think to underscore the point that street is making their so few members like will her left in congress after the last election. Many more members like Jim Jordan who were also hearing from in supported Truman saying the real concern is not what the president said but with what Democrats want to do with the immigration. And much more to come on this debate a lot of accountability to be done as well Serena Marshall lies to come with us Mike muse thanks for your analysis will be seeing you soon might think you. Then Siegel Rachel Scott thank you both very much turning now. To the crisis at the border in the prompt administration's immigration crackdown. After a weekend of ice raids across the country that didn't materialize in the way the president has suggested. The White House is up this morning announcing a new policy on asylum seekers now requiring anybody Seeking Asylum in the United States from Central America. To do so in the first country these stepped foot in. After they leave their home country this is a sweeping change magic cracking down on the backlog or Serena Marshall. Back on the hill is also tracking this this important story covers immigration for Serena. Help us understand what exactly the administration announced with respect fissile. It condemn any administration is saying and this rule change today is effective immediately is anissina and has published in the federal register it'll go into effect this means. Those people waiting at the border right now on a claim asylum essentially will be denied they're hoping to stem the flow that by doing this there's sane any third party country that you come you're on you're waiting the United States. If you don't apply for asylum there you are denied flatly at the United States borders so it's a huge change to how our asylum lines are actually impacted the changing how the federal government. Actually crosses a silently says every asylum claim. Must be heard and adjudicated at a court system so we definitely expect a legal challenge to that. It did especially from some of those nonprofits an immigrant right activists who were sent to say that this rule goes flatly against international law and US. Law officer in a Marshall thank you so much the issue of asylum seekers. Is front and center of the trump administration blames. Which are phony asylum claims. For being mirrored the responsible for the backlogs that we see at this attention senators on the southern border are Merriam kind traveled. Exclusively with the vice president of the United States on Friday to see that crowding up close are caught up with no real earlier today about her visit. Visited two facilities in the ground there McAllen Texas on Friday. The versatility as a processing center I was lot of children and family. My fence he. You know I spoke with the many of them had a translator let him. And then the second facility is rare inside and warm it. You don't and that's contained in or those conditions and we've been hearing about just when this inside there and so few people have been in you go in with the vice president. At the United States. What's the scene. So when we first got there it's McAllen where all speech. They you know kind of shows the facility. We are hearing. Snacks and water bottles inside that diapers the other player with the both started complaining that like this is not accidents that we Oliver and yet. Aren't themselves just as soon as we said it and needed. Consists other team at center where they actually happy. Adult men and as soon as he walked and you're just collapsed in the east this overwhelming smell. I'm in the humidity. And that was the first thing I noticed that something that I'm still thinking of. Who were inside crammed inside its new. On Sunday and lying down yeah. Hopefully. Right now. Other left wondering tech. What's going. It was supposedly out. Any good. It felt good Weaver and there are a lot longer than it turns out we were. It's not enough. I'm pretty horrible. Facilities are hopeful that overwhelms their overcrowded. And one of the Davis for fast they're hearing from. Thanks again to Merriam Connor travel with the vice president to Texas to see that overcrowding from this asylum seekers. I want every now why immigration lawyer Francis or worry order very on. A rich were more Ramirez one of our producers who's covered immigration spent some time down hand Honduras as well thank you both. Efforts a source are with you way. This challenge to asylum seekers is setting off alarm bells for civil liberties advocates because federal law says that asylum seekers have a right to come the United States to ready means. Hot and make this claim how significant is it that the administration is gonna try to keep these people out. In order to make and a sound quite. Look we heard today get out and are essentially barring them seekers it. The costs are protections and a third country and this is a problem essentially all central and will be Barton's. However we need to remember that there propose regulations don't bar. Protections under withholding Pringle and eat from the section it's torture so only sports science which is different but law. How and where it's very important to know notes that an attack on immigrants we see it in the close mortars rained out my current protection policy. I doesn't do you wanna few weeks ago. Where I visited shelters to help fill out applications. And shelters are older crowd why. Are close supporters. We need to remember that this situation is create and I am Aaron president Trump's own policies. General attack on immigrants and it's an agenda is trying to do so you get more votes. And actions now we we can see your eyes straits right now. And hair are hiding their homes. We're seeing it in that are in place for military. Are essentially cancel its program to help. I'm our people are in the armed forces. It's a general attack immigrants and it's significant and it completely. A lot of people feel that way even though the administration denies its an attack they say they're simply enforcing the laws in these places Victoria though you've been hearing. Our from a number in of immigrants and documented document its citizens. Legal residence in different corners in the country who. Are have been just living in fear over these past couple of weeks because of the threats of deportation raids. I didn't support or my people this isn't just about those and document it's about entire communities. Absolutely that an in the conversations I've had with the various types of immigrants. Regardless of legal status from naturalized citizens to doctor recipients to even undocumented folks people are on edge in general wrong. I spokesman undocumented woman who this morning who said she spent all of yesterday for the most part. Locked up out home she only left to go to church she told me. One after what her message the president why she said it's not fair to have us removed as of four worthless objects. Many of us come to work give us a chance to prove her keys were not all criminal but we're not all criminals and we contributes in the economy. She says she's paralyzed with fear she has to US born children her husband is a US citizen they're in this would be what we caught makes. Legal status Fannie and mixed status family and it it and people are just trying to go about their day but they don't know how to. Yeah there's a lot of concern even though the. Immediate threat of these deportation grades of millions being taken out seems to have passed for now a lot of people even carrying their passports within we've been hearing American citizens. In immigrant communities carrying their passports because if you're being swept up in these rates fixed. Victoria Ramirez thank you so much for your analysis and Francis Oreo thanks for your. I take on this as well moving on out of the race for 20/20 eight immigration of course in the democratic primary is a hot issue but health care. Is the issue that tops the list according to most democratic voters today. Vice president Joseph Biden is getting into the race with his plan unveiling what he's calling the Affordable Care Act 2.0 or Obama care plus. If you will it's his counterproposal. To Medicare for all which has been talked about. Extensively on the trail and our Molly Nagle is traveling with former vice president Joseph Biden she has the skinny on his health care plan. Migrate to see is that this is a big deal for Joseph Biden because after weeks of talking about these more sweeping changes to our health care system Biden is coming out. But a pretty modest counter proposal tell us about it. That's right seven and quite Vice President Biden talks about how health care is very personal for him and in his new proposal he very much the pants you. Expand upon obamacare Obama care plus as he is that this proposal would build upon what is Ari exists. Including its offering a and in a buy in option that's similar to Medicare where people who want to buy into health care system but it allows for folks to keep. They're in their private health care insurance if they like their current insurance. Biden's plan also includes specific sign up prescription drug care on how to deal with health care for rural community of I'm Andy can't quite a hefty price tag 750 billion dollars over ten years. Buying has a proposal how to pay for that including raising taxes on the super wealthy making more than one million dollars a year annually and increasing the top tax bracket but I also want to focus on making it more affordable. We're middle class families that include expanding current tax cut that exists. For for folks in the middle class to help cover a high health care premiums. That currently exist so clearly during a contact contrasts with some of his 20/20 competitors who call for a Medicare for all system he says we can't start from scratch on health care. But expand upon what is already there it's like adding urgency as the big need. Yeah a lot of help our analysts say that this is probably the most practical in terms of getting it implemented Easter once an Al most of Bernie Sanders are Adam Kelsey is tracking. Bernie today and and he in remind us Adam well what his plan does I think as people look at Joseph Biden made on that might make sense for Bernie Sanders is advocating for a much. More us sweeping change horses. Yet DeVon as you said a much more sweeping change probably need those sweet being op proposal that we've seen from any of the democratic presidential candidates. Bernie Sanders kind of the originated or of the Medicare for all for. Proposal under sanders' plan there would be one health care plan. For every American a public health care plan. That covers all of the services whether it's routine doctor's visits emergency services specialist Stephen vision and dental care as well and it would completely abolish private insurance if you have a plan right now from your employer. Over the next couple years as this public plan that Sanders on points implemented with the news that private insurance. And he would shift over to the public plan so in sanders' mind his argument. Is that this is a much more simple version of some of these Health Care Reform proposals everybody is operating under the same system. And it reduces and in some cases completely outlawed influence of the for profit. Private insurance companies the for profit health care company that he says driving up costs under the current. Hi Adam Kelsey coming to us from Philadelphia tracking the Bernie Sanders campaign thanks for your reporting Adam and Molly Natal which former us president Joseph Biden a lot of contrast community view there is health care. Thanks for joining us today here on the briefing her mom dad and Warren Washington were your 3:30 eastern time every day on ABC news live. Hope to see him.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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