At a press conference Monday afternoon, Democratic members of Congress, Minn. Rep. Ilhan Omar, N.Y. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Mass. Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Mich. Rep Rashida Tlaib, known as ‘The Squad,’ hit back at U.S. President Donald Trump for a tirade of racist tweets he posted over the weekend, saying the attack was an attempt to distract from what they say are “hateful” and “dangerous” policies from his administration.
“This is a president who has openly violated the very value our country aspires to uphold,” Omar said. “Equality under the law, religious liberty, equal protection and protection from persecution. And to distract from that, he’s launching a blatantly racist attack on four duly elected members of the United States house of representatives, all of who are women of colour.
“This is the agenda of white nationalists,” she continued, “whether it’s happening in chatrooms or it’s happening on national TV, and now its reached the White House garden.
WATCH: Trump can’t defend policies so he ‘attacks us personally’, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says
“He would love nothing more than to divide our country based on race, religion, gender, orientation or immigration status because this is the only way he knows he can prevent the solidarity of us working together across all of our differences, the only way to prevent us from confronting the problems our country is facing.”
Ocasio-Cortez said the attacks are a ploy Trump uses instead of defending his administration’s policy.
“Weak minds and leaders challenge loyalty to our country to avoid challenging and debating the policy,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “This president does not know how to make the argument that Americans do not deserve healthcare, he does not know how to defend his policies, so what he does is attack us personally. And that is what this is all about.”
Pressley urged the American people and other lawmakers not to “take the bait,” and to regain focus.
“I encourage the American people, and all of us in this room and beyond, to not take the bait,” Pressley said. “This is a disruptive distraction from the issues of care, concern and consequence to the American people.”
WATCH: ‘Our squad is big’: Ayanna Pressley says she won’t be silenced by Trump attacks
She added that ‘The Sqaud’ will not be silenced.
“We are more than four people; we ran on a mandate to advocate for and to represent those ignored left out and left behind. Our squad is big,” she said. “Our squad includes any person committed to building a more equitable and just world, and that is the work we want to get back to.”
Tlaib echoed her colleagues’ remarks and called upon House leadership to begin the impeachment process against Trump.
“Sadly this is not the first nor will it be the last time we hear disgusting, bigoted language from the president,” she said. “Despite this and other many attempts to distract us I remain focused, we remain focused on holding him accountable to the laws of this land and accountable to the American people.”
“I urge House leadership, many of my colleagues to take action to impeach this lawless president today,” Tlaib continued.
WATCH: Trump accuses Omar of hating Jews while defending tweets against congresswomen
On Sunday the president attacked the congresswomen in a tweet, saying they should “go back and help fix the totally broke and crime infested places from which they came,” and then “come back and show us how it is done.”
“So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democratic Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run,” Trump wrote.
Faced with harsh backlash for the tweets, Trump doubled down on the attacks in a speech on Monday, saying “if you’re not happy here, you can leave.”
Ilhan Omar reacts to Trump’s attacks: ‘Every single Muslim has heard that’
He also singled out Omar, claiming she “hates Jews.”
“In one case, you have somebody that comes from Somalia, which is a failed government, a failed state, who left Somalia, who ultimately came here,” he said. “And now is a congresswoman who’s never happy, says horrible things about Israel, hates Israel, hates Jews, hates Jews. It’s very simple.”
WATCH: Trump denies tweets against 4 Democrats were racist
When asked during the press conference Monday to respond to those comments, Omar said she would not dignify his attack with a response.
“I know that every single Muslim that has lived in this country and across the world has heard that comment and so I will not dignify it with an answer,” she said.
“Because I know that every single Islamophobe, every single person who is hateful, who is driven by an ideology of othering as this president is, rejoices in us responding to that and us defending ourselves.”
When asked by reporters on Monday whether he was concerned that many considered his tweets to be racist, Trump said he wasn’t.
“It doesn’t concern me because many people agree with me, and all I’m saying — if they want us to leave, they can leave,” he said.
WATCH: Schumer says people who side with Trump after ‘bigoted’ comments have made ‘a deal with the devil’
On Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted, denouncing Trump’s tweets.
“When @realDonaldTrump tells four American Congresswomen to go back to their countries, he reaffirms his plan to ‘Make America Great Again’ has always been about making America white again,” she wrote.
“Our diversity is our strength and our unity is our power.”
WATCH: Pedestrians in Queens, N.Y. react to Trump’s ‘go back’ rhetoric
Pelosi announced on Monday that House Democrats will introduce a resolution condemning Trump’s “xenophobic tweets.”
“Our Republican colleagues must join us in condemning the president’s xenophobic tweets,” she wrote in a letter to her Democratic colleagues in the House.
— With files from Maryam Shah and Reuters.