EXCLUSIVE – House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson, D-Miss., was seeking extra protection for members of Congress on Monday after President Trump’s tweets and remarks about the progressive “squad.”
Far from backing down, Trump on Monday dug in on comments he had initially made a day earlier on Twitter that if lawmakers “hate our country,” they can go back to their “broken and crime-infested” countries.
The House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, D-Miss., right, is seeking extra protection for members of Congress. The letter is addressed to Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger, left, because, this year, he heads the Capitol Police Board. (Getty, File)
“If you’re not happy in the U.S., if you’re complaining all the time, you can leave, you can leave right now,” he said.
In the letter for House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving and Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger, Thompson argued that the Capitol Police Board should meet to “analyze the current threat environment and set thresholds for enhanced safety of Members.”
Thompson asked for a meeting within 48 hours and a classified readout of the meeting.
The letter was addressed to Stenger because he has headed the Capitol Police Board this year.
Thompson said security officials should set “thresholds for enhanced security for certain targeted Members, and evaluate threat streams with law enforcement partners in Member districts. Being proactive in this instance is vital to the safety of not only these targeted Members, but all Members of Congress.”
Fox News has been told that despite Thompson’s pleas, other lawmakers have faced more serious threats than members of the squad ahead of Trump’s tweets.
A 17-year-old with thousands of followers on Instagram was brutally murdered in New York by a man she met online two months ago — and photos of her dead body have been shared on social media by the alleged killer, authorities said.
Utica police identified the victim as Bianca Devins. The alleged killer is Brandon Clark, 21, of Bridgewater, New York, police said in a news release Monday evening.
Around 7:20 a.m. Sunday, Utica police in New York received several calls reporting Clark had posted on social media that he killed his girlfriend and was threatening to harm himself, according to the release.
Clark then called 911 himself, according to the release, and made “incriminating statements with respect to the homicide.” Police determined the location of the calls and dispatched to a wooded area in Utica.
An officer approached a black SUV and found Clark laying on the ground beside it, according to the release. As the officer approached, Clark began to stab himself in the neck with a knife.
The officer called for emergency medical responders as Clark laid across a green tarp that was nearby, according to the release. The officer noticed brown hair coming out from under the tarp and learned from Clark that Devins was under the tarp. At this time, police said Clark pulled out a cellphone and took photos of himself laying across Devins’ body.
Other officers arrived at the scene and, after a brief struggle, police disarmed Clark. He was taken to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Utica where he underwent emergency surgery, police said.
Clark’s injuries are severe but he is expected to survive and will be interviewed in the near future, police said. Charges are expected to follow.
At the scene, Utica police officers and investigators pulled back the tarp and determined Devins had suffered extensive injuries to her neck.
After investigating the connection between Devins and Clark, police learned the two had met online through Instagram about two months ago. They communicated primarily through social media, and their relationship “progressed into a personally intimate one,” police said.
Clark and Devins spent time together and with each other’s families, police said. On Saturday, police said the pair went to a concert in New York City around 7:30 p.m. They left the venue and headed back to Utica around 10 p.m.
Police believe Clark and Devins argued at the venue, and that sometime during the early hours of Sunday morning, they drove to the location where Clark was found.
At that location, police said the argument intensified until Clark allegedly used a large, black-handled knife to kill Devins. He then took photos of Devins body and shared them on Discord, a messaging platform primarily used for video gaming.
Police confirmed the images distributed online of both Devins and Clark are authentic and occurred at the time of the incident. Police are working with various online platforms to remove them.
A candlelight vigil to honor Devins is scheduled for 8 p.m. Monday at Roscoe Conkling Park in Utica.
Devins’ family released a statement saying she had just graduated from T. R. Proctor High School in Utica and was planning to attend Mohawk Valley Community College in the fall.
“We are very grateful for the outpouring of love and sympathy we have received from our friends, family, Bianca’s friends and the whole community. Your prayers help to strengthen us through this difficult time,” her family said in the statement.
“She is now looking down on us, as she joins her cat, Belle, in heaven. Bianca’s smile brightened our lives. She will always be remembered as our Princess.”
Follow Sean Lahman and Georgie Silvarole on Twitter: @seanlahman and @gilvarole
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Republican strategist Karl Rove ripped Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke‘s for his position on reparations and his revelation that he and his wife are descended from slave owners.
“I think it trivializes the issue. I mean … you feel only urgent about this because in the 1850s, 160 years ago, his forbears had two slaves. You know, you either feel that we ought to make reparations … for slavery because … you feel it’s necessary and a moral obligation, or not,” Rove said on “The Story with Martha MacCallum” on Monday.
The Democratic presidential hopeful also posted an article on Medium where he promised to continue to support reparations, “beginning with an important national conversation on slavery and racial injustice.”
Rove said: “There are just so many ways that this issue will simply cause greater racial division in this country and divide us more deeply. And I don’t think … Robert Francis O’Rourke’s approach to this helps at all.”
Sheryl Powell disappeared from the Grandview campground in the White Mountains on Friday while taking her dog for a walk as her husband, Joseph Powell, prepared to set up camp.
Searchers worried Powell, 60, would struggle to survive in rugged terrain with no water, little shade and no cell phone signals to call for help.
Her family worried Powell could have been abducted while social media speculation centered on Joseph Powell, who investigators and the family were adamant had no connection to her disappearance.
After three dispiriting days the search hit a milestone late Monday morning when rescuers found the dog, Miley, alive about 2.5 miles from where Powell went missing.
Within a few hours rescuers reported finding Powell herself, alive but exhausted by the ordeal.
“Searchers describe her as resilient and strong but exhausted after being lost in an extremely remote area above Big Pine, (California),” the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office reported in a Facebook post.
“We are beyond grateful for the continued support from her family, local residents, visitors, and the media. We also cannot thank our assisting agencies enough for their amazingly hard work in difficult terrain throughout this 4-day search.”
Farrah Powell, a daughter who launched an online fundraising drive to help with the search and posted updates on Facebook, published a photo of the family together in a hospital room on Monday afternoon.
“This is the happiest day of our lives,” the post stated. “We can’t thank everyone enough.”
The site where the couple was preparing to camp is located at about 8,600 feet in elevation in a remote area with steep terrain, no water and very little shade.
“It is primarily a lot of rocky slopes and difficult shale type terrain,” said Carma Roper, a spokesperson for the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office.
The area also lacks cellular reception which adds to the difficulty of the search.
“That has definitely been one of the challenges,” Roper said.
What happened the day she disappeared
According to authorities, the couple from Huntington Beach, California, was preparing to make camp at around 2 p.m. when Sheryl Powell went missing.
The sheriff’s department said while Joseph Powell was positioning their Jeep, Sheryl Powell took the couple’s small, black-and-white dog, Miley, for a walk and didn’t return.
When Sheryl Powell and Miley didn’t return, Joseph Powell started looking for them. After about an hour he used a satellite messaging device to call for help, authorities stated.
Authorities described Sheryl Powell as an experienced outdoorswoman.
Hazards in the area include hot weather, lack of shade, steep, rocky terrain, venomous snakes, lack of water and difficult communication.
Searchers worked via helicopter and on foot along with help from search dogs.
A Facebook post from the Inyo Sheriff’s Department listed 14 agencies participating in the search.
‘Mr. Powell had no connection’ to wife’s disappearance
Roper said that investigators quickly ruled out any connection between Joseph Powell and the disappearance, despite social media speculation that proved inaccurate.
“After thoroughly interviewing him they are confident in saying Mr. Powell had no connection,” Roper said. “We really want to eliminate that rumor.”
Facebook posts and an online fundraising page Farrah Powell said the family worried Sheryl Powell may have been abducted.
“We spent the entire day searching today as well but still no trace except the footprints she left at the campground,” the fundraising page states. “ … a major concern we have is in my mind there is a high likelihood of abduction which many rescue personnel are skeptical of.”
The page also highlighted a frustrating lack of clues, saying there’s “still no trace (of Powell) except the footprints she left at the campground.”
It also described the emotional strain on Joseph Powell, saying the couple has been married for 42 years.
“My parents have an extremely loving relationship and my dad (who has refused to leave the campsite) is on the verge of breakdown,” the page stated.
Messages to the family sent from the Reno Gazette Journal via Facebook and the fundraising pages were not immediately returned.
Roper said authorities didn’t rule out the possibility of abduction. But efforts focused on the search and their persistence paid off when they found Powell alive.
“I think almost all the others are equally unimpressive in the sense that it’s all identity politics of one flavor or another,” he said.
“I wouldn’t want to rank how unimpressive they are, since that would be forcing me to rank the different identities and which one’s more privileged and more special, and that would be a dangerous thing to get into.”
Thiel made the comments during a speech at the National Conservatism Conference in Washington. He said the FBI and CIA needed to ask Google three questions to determine if the tech giant had been compromised by Chinese intelligence.
“There’s this very peculiar background where Google is working with the Chinese on Communist government and not with the U.S. military; so the Project Maven decision was a decision not to work with A.I., with the U.S. military — but they’re working with the Communist Chinese.”
Fox News’ Bradford Betz contributed to this report.
Last month, Curtis revealed that after parting ways with DIY at the beginning of 2018, she will be returning to HGTV in the near future.
“So we’re coming back, which is really cool,” Curtis gushed to Fox News. “We’re ready, but it’s always at our pace and that’s the cool thing. Again, I’m very lucky to be able to do that. We’re excited. My fans have been asking every single day: ‘When are you coming back? When are you coming back?’ And now we finally have an answer: soon,'” Curtis shared, before clarifying it won’t be “too soon though.”
“It’s summer and we like to be home with our kids,” the mom of two explained.
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“‘Go back where you came from’ is among the worst of racist tropes. It divides us by ethnicity and skin color. It says that even if someone is a citizen or legal immigrant, they are not part of the rest of us,” The Charlette Observer’s editorial board said Monday. “That runs contrary to who we should be as Americans, and if Donald Trump didn’t know it when he typed the words, he surely did later when people responded with appropriate outrage.”
The Observer called on the state’s Republicans in Congress to challenge Trump on his racism, including North Carolina’s most senior leaders, Sen. Richard Burr and Sen. Thom Tillis, who is up for reelection.
The paper declared that the Republican Party is “firmly Donald Trump’s party now. It’s the party where insults and other ugliness are just being ‘rough around the edges,’” the Observer noted. “It’s the party where locking legal migrants in crowded, unhealthy cages is acceptable immigration policy. It’s the party where it’s OK to say racist things so long as the next jobs report is encouraging.”
Now, the newspaper said, GOP lawmakers, including those of North Carolina, are “bowing to the worst of who we are.”
WASHINGTON — The lack of widespread Republican condemnation of President Trump for his comments about four Democratic congresswomen of color illustrated both the tightening stranglehold Mr. Trump has on his party and the belief of many Republicans that an attack on progressivism should in fact be a central element of the 2020 campaign.
While a smattering of Republicans chastised Mr. Trump on Monday, most party leaders in the House and Senate and much of the rank-and-file remained quiet about the president’s weekend tweets directing dissenters to “go back” where they came from. He followed up on those comments on Monday with harsh language directed at “people who hate America” — an inflammatory accusation to be leveled against elected members of the House.
With Mr. Trump far more popular with Republican voters than incumbent Republican members of Congress, most are loath to cross the president and risk reprisals. The case of Representative Justin Amash, the Michigan lawmaker who was forced to leave the party after he dared to suggest Mr. Trump should be impeached, serves as a cautionary tale.
At the same time, many Republicans find what they are attempting to label as the “far left” stances of the four congresswomen who were the targets of Mr. Trump’s tirade to be the potential foundation of a sweeping critique of Democrats in 2020. In an appearance on Fox News, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, called the four “a bunch of communists,” a step beyond the president, who said he was at the moment only willing to go so far as calling them “socialists.”
Both the willingness of Republicans to attach extremist labels to Democrats and the Democratic assault against Mr. Trump as a racist and white supremacist presage a particularly bitter 2020 campaign.
Even those lawmakers who took Mr. Trump to task were careful to underscore their differences with the political and policy views of the House Democrats at the center of the storm — Representatives Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.
Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, one of the few Republicans who has criticized Mr. Trump since he became president, told a Boston TV station that while the president might have gone too far, “I certainly feel that a number of these new members of Congress have views that are not consistent with my experience and not consistent with building a strong America.”
“I couldn’t disagree more with these congresswomen’s views on immigration, socialism, national security and virtually every policy issue,” said Senator Patrick J. Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania. “But they are entitled to their opinions, however misguided they may be.”
Despite occasional rifts, Republicans have mostly tried to sidestep Mr. Trump’s nearly daily Twitter battles.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times
Senator Thom Tillis, a North Carolina Republican who faces a potentially difficult re-election campaign next year, sought to dodge the debate over the president’s comments and focus on the differences between the parties. “The reality is I want to shift back to the issues and the America they represent versus the America that I want to see,” Mr. Tillis told reporters.
The rapid approach of the 2020 campaign has drawn Mr. Trump and Republicans on Capitol Hill closer as the lawmakers see their fate inextricably linked to the president, diminishing any possibility that they would break from Mr. Trump.
And the spotlight put on the Democratic presidential candidates and the advocacy by some of them for eliminating private health insurance in favor of a government program, sweeping revisions in the tax code and the institution of liberal immigration policies have galvanized Republicans.
They see Mr. Trump, as outrageous and unpredictable as he might be, as far preferable to any of the Democrats.
“I’m not going to vote for a socialist,” said Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, perhaps the most endangered Republican in the Senate, who has made clear he is firmly allied with the president.
Republicans may cringe at some of Mr. Trump’s crude comments and insults. They may wince at his easily unmasked falsehoods. They may roll their eyes at his lack of understanding of government fundamentals. To many, his personality itself is off-putting. But he is now their guy.
Despite occasional rifts, Republicans have in the main tried to ignore Mr. Trump’s nearly daily Twitter battles.
Senator Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican and majority leader, routinely refuses to engage when pressed about remarks by Mr. Trump that have electrified social media. Other Republicans say they do not see it as their job to be political pundits or to join with the news media and Democrats in castigating Mr. Trump. They also believe that, in most cases, the firestorm lasts only so long and will be quickly followed by the next iteration, making it pointless to get caught up in the repeating cycle.
Over the course of the administration, most Republicans have grown accustomed to Mr. Trump’s fiery outbursts and practiced in how to avoid commenting on them. They find the president, a man who wields his cellphone like a weapon, to be almost always accessible, cajoling and complimenting lawmakers who appreciate the attention.
“My personal recipe for a productive relationship with the president is to work with him in public all I can,” said Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas.CreditGabriella Demczuk for The New York Times
They have also gained experience in how to diplomatically push back against the president and challenge his views when they differ — though usually in private to avoid inciting his ire.
“My personal recipe for a productive relationship with the president is to work with him in public all I can,” said Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas. “When we have disagreements, as we’ve had on tariffs and things like that, we talk in private, try not to embarrass him or ourselves. I’ve found that’s a good way to handle it.”
Recognizing this pattern, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, accused Senate Republicans on Monday of cowardice. “It’s become frighteningly common for many of my Republican colleagues to let these moments sail by without saying even a word,” Mr. Schumer said. “Republican leadership — especially — rarely criticizes the president directly even in a situation like this that so clearly merits it.”
Jeff Flake, the former Arizona Republican senator whose feud with Mr. Trump helped end his congressional career, said he sympathized with the desire of his former colleagues not to address every comment made by Mr. Trump. “But there are times when the president’s comments are so vile and offensive that it is incumbent on Republicans to respond and condemn,” he said on Twitter. “This is one of those times.”
Those hoping for a wide rupture between the president and the more conventional Republican politicians on Capitol Hill say they have finally come to terms with the reality that no break is in the offing with the economy prospering, the election looming and the Trump administration so far avoiding a cataclysmic foreign policy blunder.
“They have made their bed and are trying to sleep in it and hope they don’t have nightmares,” said William Kristol, the conservative Trump critic. “They don’t feel like they are paying a huge price.”
Mr. Kristol said he once believed that the combination of the 2018 election results, the extended government shutdown and the departure of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis — a source of comfort for Republicans who feared Trump would do something rash with the military — might give congressional Republicans pause. But any deep distress that existed seems to have dissipated.
“I am more pessimistic about the notion that the Republican Party will throw off Trump than I was a year ago,” he said.
Instead, Republicans worry that, even at a moment when the president is stirring division, a perceived slight or unwarranted criticism could lead Mr. Trump to throw them off, an outcome that could be ruinous to their political careers.
WASHINGTON — President Trump, under fire for comments that even members of his own party called racist, amplified his attacks on four Democratic congresswomen of color on Monday, saying that they hated America and that one of the first two Muslims elected to Congress sympathized with Al Qaeda.
In an extraordinary back and forth from opposite ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, Mr. Trump appeared to revel in the viciousness of his brawl with the four progressive women who have become the young faces of the Democratic Party. He goaded them into a response from Capitol Hill in which they denounced the president’s rhetoric and his policies, charging that he was pressing the agenda of white nationalists from the White House.
“He’s launching a blatantly racist attack on four duly elected members of the United States House of Representatives, all of whom are women of color,” said Representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota and the target of Mr. Trump’s most outrageous charges. “This is the agenda of white nationalists, whether it is happening in chat rooms, or it is happening on national TV, and now it’s reached the White House garden.”
The exchange was the latest episode in a presidency in which Mr. Trump has skittered from condemnations of black athletes kneeling during the national anthem to insults lobbed at developing countries to a defense of protesters at a white supremacist march. But now Mr. Trump is going after members of the majority party in the House, capable of fighting back.
The congresswomen vowed not to be baited into a sprint to the bottom with a president they condemned as racist, xenophobic, misogynistic and criminal. Their leader, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, pledged to put a resolution on the floor condemning the president’s language — putting House Republicans on defense.
But Mr. Trump showed no sign of relenting. Even as the four spoke, he was online calling them “radical Democrats” and Twitter-shouting, “IF YOU ARE NOT HAPPY HERE, YOU CAN LEAVE!”
It was a message the president appeared determined to amplify throughout the day.
“They’re free to leave if they want,” Mr. Trump said on Monday morning of the congresswomen, referring to Representatives Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts. On Sunday, he tweeted that the social-media-savvy women known as “the squad” should “go back” to the countries they came from, a well-worn racist trope that dates back centuries.
[Analysis: No president in modern times has made appeals to the resentments of white Americansas overtly as Mr. Trump.]
On Monday, he added that Ms. Omar, a Somali refugee and the only one not born in the United States, was a Qaeda sympathizer — a false charge that she said she would not “dignify” with an answer.
“Every time there is a white supremacist who attacks or there is a white man who kills in a school or in a movie theater, or in a mosque, or in a synagogue, I don’t expect my white community members to respond on whether they love that person or not,” she said.
At their news conference, the four condemned rhetoric that they said was intended to distract from what they called brutal, misguided policies and misconduct in office.
During a news conference on Monday on Capitol Hill, Ms. Omar, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, Ms. Tlaib and Ms. Pressley responded to Mr. Trump’s comments.CreditAnna Moneymaker/The New York Times
“This is simply a disruption and a distraction from the callous, chaotic and corrupt culture of this administration,” said Ms. Pressley, who made a point of not referring to the president by name, instead calling him “the occupant of the White House.”
In his appearance earlier Monday, Mr. Trump had sought to deflect criticism about his tweets even as he made it clear he stood behind them, saying it was Ms. Pelosi who was the real racist. As evidence, he pointed to a tweet in which Ms. Pelosi said his statements about the congresswomen confirmed that his “Make America Great Again” slogan “has always been about making America white again.”
Mr. Trump repeatedly sought refuge, as he often has before, in what he insisted was broad public agreement with his inflammatory comments. “A lot of people love it by the way,” the president said. Asked whether he was concerned that his comments were racist and being embraced by white supremacists, who took to Twitter to cheer them, Mr. Trump shrugged.
“It doesn’t concern me, because many people agree with me,” he said. “All I’m saying is if they want to leave, they can leave now.”
But even as he spoke, a handful of Republicans joined a chorus of Democrats in criticizing his incendiary posts, a rare break that demonstrated the degree to which the latest episode is being regarded as a new low for a president who has repeatedly shown a penchant for diminishing the level of discourse.
Representative Michael R. Turner, Republican of Ohio, wrote on Twitter that the president’s tweets “were racist and he should apologize,” adding, “We must work as a country to rise above hate, not enable it.” And Representative Will Hurd of Texas, the lone African-American among House Republicans, called the president’s remarks “racist and xenophobic.”
Others gently distanced themselves from the tweets — “aim higher,” Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said during an interview on Fox News, the president’s favorite channel — but grabbed the opportunity to criticize the progressive policies for which the squad has become the most visible advocates.
Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only African-American Republican in the Senate, called out both the Democrats’ policies and Mr. Trump.
“Instead of sharing how the Democratic Party’s far-left, pro-socialist policies — not to mention the hateful language some of their members have used towards law enforcement and Jews — are wrong for the future of our nation,” he said, “the president interjected with unacceptable personal attacks and racially offensive language. No matter our political disagreements, aiming for the lowest common denominator will only divide our nation further.”
Mr. Trump appeared to have particular contempt for Ms. Omar, who came to the country as a child and wears a hijab.
Mr. Trump falsely accused the Minnesota congresswoman of proclaiming “love” for Al Qaeda, “talking about how great Al Qaeda is” and saying that “when I think of Al Qaeda, I can hold my chest out.” He was distorting remarks she made in a 2013 interview with a local television program on Middle Eastern community issues.
In the interview, Ms. Omar repeatedly denounced Al Qaeda and one of its affiliates, Al Shabab, for committing “heinous” and “evil” acts and “atrocities.” The “hold my chest out” comment referred to her description of how she said her former college professor said “Al Qaeda” with physical intensity to emphasize the weight of the words during a discussion about why the Arabic names of terrorist groups are left untranslated.
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The war of words shifted the spotlight, at least for now, away from internal divisions among Democrats that had taken on a racial dimension, after Ms. Pelosi publicly sparred with the congresswomen and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez suggested that they were being targeted because of their race.
Instead, Democrats were focused Monday on their fight with Mr. Trump, as the speaker has repeatedly counseled it should be, lest they play into the hands of an opportunistic president. In a letter to colleagues that called the tweets against the congresswomen “disgusting attacks,” Ms. Pelosi announced that the House would move to officially reject the sentiment in a resolution.
“Let me be clear, our caucus will continue to forcefully respond to these disgusting attacks,” Ms. Pelosi wrote. “The House cannot allow the president’s characterization of immigrants to our country to stand. Our Republican colleagues must join us in condemning the president’s xenophobic tweets.”
The resolution, which was introduced on Monday evening by Representative Tom Malinowski of New Jersey, who was born in Poland, cites positive statements by the nation’s founders and past presidents of both parties about the importance of immigrants to the United States, and asserts that the House “strongly condemns President Trump’s racist comments that have legitimized increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color.” It mentions both Mr. Trump’s “go back” tweet and his branding of immigrants and asylum seekers as “invaders.”
Mr. Scott and Mr. Hurd said the president’s remarks were particularly detrimental because they appeared to unify Democrats at a time when they had been engaged in an internal dispute about race.
For months there has been a rift between Ms. Pelosi and the four lawmakers, and last week tensions grew when Ms. Pelosi pointedly said they had no following in Congress. The four women opposed a $4.6 billion aid package for the border, approved by Congress, because they said it supported Mr. Trump’s immigration policies.
The tone of the president’s remarks, however, is something they agree on.
“We’ll stay focused on our agenda and we won’t get caught slipping, because all of this is a distraction,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said.
Mr. Trump clearly sees a political advantage in his targeting of the congresswomen, betting that by focusing attention on them, he will be better able to paint all Democrats with a broad brush of socialism and radical policies.
“The Dems were trying to distance themselves from the four ‘progressives,’ but now they are forced to embrace them,” Mr. Trump gloated on Twitter on Monday evening. “That means they are endorsing Socialism, hate of Israel and the USA! Not good for the Democrats!”
Cornell Belcher, a Democratic pollster and strategist, said Mr. Trump’s latest remarks reflected a broader strategy to use the same kind of racial animus that helped propel his 2016 presidential bid to bolster his base for his 2020 re-election push.
“He’s crazy like a fox, and it only makes perfectly good sense for him to go back to what got him here in the first place, which is driving this racial angst in the electorate,” Mr. Belcher said.
There are risks for Democrats in the strategy, he added, if they accede to Mr. Trump’s wishes.
“To a certain extent, the electorate already gets that Donald Trump is racist and he says racist, offensive things, so of course, you have to condemn what he says as a matter of principle,” Mr. Belcher said. “But from a strategic standpoint, does it get you anything to fall into where he clearly wants the battle to be fought? It’s almost like he’s picking the battlefield for 2020.”