House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed back hard Wednesday against President Trump’s efforts to cast New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s progressive “squad” as the face of her party, now that the fractious caucus has united to condemn the president's racially charged tweets.
“With all due respect, let’s not waste our time on that,” Pelosi said during a Capitol press conference when asked about the president’s efforts to tie Democrats to the progressive lawmakers.
Speaking of Trump, she said, “We are not having him set our agenda. We are setting our own agenda.”
In recent days, the president and the Republican National Committee have made a concerted effort to tie the entire Democratic Party to freshman lawmakers Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass. This, after Democrats came to their defense over the president’s tweets saying they should "go back" to the countries they came from (despite all but Omar being from the United States) and then return to show everyone how to fix things.
Trump on Wednesday tweeted: “The 'squad' has moved the Democrat Party substantially LEFT, and they are destroying the Democrat Party.” RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel drew attention to the lawmakers' left-wing stances on issues, tweeting, “Listen to what we hear from the Squad: It’s abolish ICE, it’s calling law enforcement Nazis. It’s anti-American and anti-Semitic rhetoric.”
During the press conference, Pelosi dismissed Trump’s actions as a designed distraction.
"You have to give him credit, he’s a great distractor, that’s what this is about,” Pelosi said. “So let’s just take it to a better place: America.”
She also repeatedly cited the late Republican President Ronald Reagan in condemning Trump for his comments.
“He is denigrating all the newcomers who come to our country in complete opposition to the beautiful words of Ronald Reagan in the last speech he made to the country as president of the United States," Pelosi said.
Last week, the four congresswomen had an ongoing public spat with Pelosi, which got heated after Ocasio-Cortez suggested that the speaker was "singling out" them because they were "women of color." Pelosi previously dismissed their vocal opposition to a House-approved border funding bill.
Their feud, however, seemed to have evaporated on Sunday after Trump targeted them on Twitter, suggesting they should "go back" to the countries they came from despite three of the four congresswomen being born in the U.S. and all four of them being U.S. citizens.
Trump's tweets on Tuesday were formally condemned by the Democratic-controlled House, resulting in a 240-187 vote.
But while Trump’s comments are still dominating headlines, Pelosi and the progressive lawmakers are still working through their issues.
During a sit down with "CBS This Morning" host Gayle King on Tuesday, Tlaib sent a warning message to Pelosi: "Acknowledge the fact that we are women of color, so when you do single us out, be aware of that and what you're doing, especially because some of us are getting death threats, because some of us are being singled out because of our backgrounds, because of our experiences and so forth."
King followed up with Ocasio-Cortez, asking if she was "interested in having a conversation" with Pelosi, to which Ocasio-Cortez responded, "Absolutely."
On Wednesday, Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said in a statement they “received a request from the Office of Rep. Ocasio-Cortez for a one-on-one meeting. We are working to ... schedule this meeting.”
Pelosi, during Wednesday's press conference, also signaled she isn’t embracing a renewed effort from Texas Rep. Al Green to launch a fresh bid to impeach Trump because of his comments about the progressive lawmakers, suggesting she wants any effort to come out of the already-established process on Capitol Hill.
“With all due respect in the world for him, we have six committees that are working on following the facts in terms of any abuse of power, obstruction of justice and the rest that the president may have engaged in," she said. "That is the serious path that we’re on.”
Fox News’ Mike Emanuel and Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this report.