House Republican leaders stood by President Trump on Tuesday in response to a Democratic resolution condemning his controversial tweets about four freshman lawmakers, alleging their outrage is “all about politics” and suggesting it's being used to revive an impeachment push.
“They talked more about impeachment than anything else,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said, referring to Monday's fiery press conference with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley. "We should get back to the business of America."
The battle between Trump and congressional Democrats over his weekend tweets has become all-consuming, effectively putting other skirmishes -- ranging from a bid to hold Trump Cabinet officials in contempt to feuding inside the Democratic caucus over those same freshman lawmakers' conduct -- on the backburner.
If anything, Trump's comments -- telling the freshmen to “go back” to the countries they came from (despite all but Omar being from the United States) and then come back and show everyone how to fix things -- have united the fractured Democrats for the time being.
Democratic leaders are now preparing a resolution condemning Trump's remarks for the House floor later Tuesday. And in a House Democratic Caucus meeting Tuesday morning, Speaker Nancy Pelosi made clear her support for the four freshmen amid these attacks -- just days after she and Ocasio-Cortez were trading jabs in dueling media interviews.
“These are our sisters,” Pelosi said, according to an aide in the room.
Despite the resolution's focus on Trump's tweets, McCarthy said that Monday's press conference held by the four congresswomen revealed their true goal.
“On the night of being sworn in … they spoke about impeachment in words I will not use here,” McCarthy said, likely referring to when Tlaib said, “Impeach the motherf----r.”
McCarthy also accused House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., of working to win the chairmanship based on his supposed ability to impeach the president, before Special Counsel Robert Mueller had even released his report on the Russia investigation. (Publicly, Nadler has said there's justification to pursue impeachment but has urged caution.)
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise also accused Democrats of calling “for impeachment of the president from day one.”
In advance of the House vote on the resolution, Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., in a Capitol press conference, said Trump must “tone down the xenophobic and racist rhetoric that is consistently peddled out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.” He called for Republicans to join Democrats in voting to condemn the president’s remarks in Tuesday’s vote.
“We want the strongest vote possible,” Jeffries said. “And we’re hopeful that our colleagues on the other side of the aisle would put country ahead of party, would put decency ahead of Donald Trump. Let’s see what happens on the floor later on this evening.”
Some Republicans have condemned the president's remarks, including Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who tweeted: “There is no excuse for the president’s spiteful comments –they were absolutely unacceptable and this needs to stop.”
But McCarthy, while clarifying that he believes the Democratic lawmakers in question "love this country," said he is not on board with the resolution and will encourage other Republicans to vote against it.
“Let’s not be false about what is happening here today – this is all about politics,” McCarthy said.
This echoed Trump’s own warnings about the resolution that he delivered in a tweet Tuesday morning.
“The so-called vote to be taken is a Democratic con game,” Trump said, warning that “Republicans should not show ‘weakness’ and fall into their trap.”
When asked whether he thought Trump’s tweets were racist, McCarthy said no. When asked if he was concerned about the optics of the GOP backing Trump amid accusations of racism, he said, “This is the party of Lincoln … this party believes in the content of the individual.”
House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney tried to turn the issue of racism around on Democrats, specifically Pressley for saying recently that, "We don’t need black faces that don't want to be a black voice."
“Our colleagues are wrong when they tell Americans, as Congresswoman Pressley did just last weekend that any individual’s seat that the table is only valuable, only legitimate if that person espouses some preapproved set of beliefs deemed appropriate based on their religion or their gender or their race. When they say that, that is racist,” Cheney said, stating that the GOP’s opposition to the so-called “Squad” of progressive women “has to do with the content of their policies,” not their gender, religion, or race.
Fox News' Alex Pappas and Mike Emanuel contributed to this report.