U.S. President Donald Trump refused to back down from his weekend tweets taunting four minority Democratic congresswomen to “go back” to the “the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” alleging on Tuesday that they “hate our country.”
WATCH: Trump continues attack on Democratic congresswomen: They should love our country
“It’s my opinion they hate our country,” Trump told reporters. “And that’s not good. That’s not acceptable.”
In a video clip, a reporter is heard asking “Isn’t it a core value to be able to criticize this country?”— a question Trump doesn’t appear to address as he says “Thank you very much.”
Trump has aggressively defended himself since he first sent the tweets that prompted Democrats to accuse him of racist and divisive rhetoric. The four first-term minority Democratic congresswomen in question are Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Abdullahi Omar, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib.
“Those Tweets were NOT Racist. I don’t have a Racist bone in my body!” Trump wrote on Tuesday.
As House Democrats planned a vote on a resolution denouncing Trump’s racist comments about the four women, Trump fired back at them on Twitter.
WATCH: Nancy Pelosi responds to Trump comments about Congresswomen, says they are ‘racist’
The proposed resolution says Trump’s words “have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color.”
“Republicans should not show ‘weakness’ and fall into their trap,” Trump wrote. “This should be a vote on the filthy language, statements and lies told by the Democrat Congresswomen, who I truly believe, based on their actions, hate our country. Get a list of the HORRIBLE things they have said.”
While some Republicans have spoken out against Trump’s tweets to the women to “go back” to the countries they came from, others have chosen their words carefully, criticizing Trump in language that also levels criticism at the four congresswomen.
Most notably, Republican leadership in Congress said more than most by staying silent or defending the president’s inflammatory remarks and claimed the four female lawmakers were engaging in personal attacks.
WATCH: Steve Scalise says ‘Squad’ has disgraced the office of the President
“They continue to call for impeachment and [Democratic congresswoman Ayanna] Pressley would not even refer to the president by the title,” Republican congressman Steve Scalise said at a press conference Tuesday.
“We disagreed with Barack Obama on a lot of things that he did, the policies,” Scalise said. “But we never disrespected the office. I called him president of the United States, as we all did. If he asked us to go meet with him at the White House, we went. We expressed our disagreements in a respectful way, but what they continue to do is go after [Trump] personally, to call for impeachment of the president from day one.”
Republican congresswoman Liz Cheney said any opposition to “the squad” was based on policy.
“I want to make absolutely clear that our opposition to our socialist colleagues has absolutely nothing to do with their gender, with their religion, or with their race,” she said.
Republican congressman Kevin McCarthy’s response was a resounding “No” when he was asked at the press conference whether he thought Trump’s tweets were racist.
WATCH: Republican Kevin McCarthy says Trump’s tweets attacking Democratic congresswoman were not racist
“No, and I do not believe that the Speaker of the House was racist last week either when those individuals on her side of the aisle, who are claiming the president is racist, when they claimed she was racist either,” McCarthy said. “I do not believe that. I believe this is about ideology, this is about socialism versus freedom.”
This earned McCarthy a grateful tweet from Trump, who appeared to misquote McCarthy’s own words: “Kevin McCarthy
@GOPLeader, ‘The President’s Tweets were not Racist. The controversy over the tweets is ALL POLITICS. I will vote against this resolution.’ Thank you Kevin!”
White House adviser Kellyanne Conway defended Trump in front of reporters as well, saying Trump’s tweets were not racist.
WATCH: Kellyanne Conway defends Trump comments, saying ‘these are just lies’
“No, they’re not,” she said. “What he’s saying is — he explained what he meant by that. Just as you correct yourselves all the time and expand on what you’re trying to say, he has a right to — in the press conference yesterday, in his subsequent tweets — to tell you what he’s talking about.”
WATCH: Conway says ‘The Squad’ has ‘lost moral authority’ for voting against humanitarian aid
Conway went on to attack the four congresswomen by calling them the “squad that hasn’t done squat legislatively.”
“Everything is hyper-partisan, everything is politicized,” she said.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Trump is “not a racist” and that “everybody ought to tone down their rhetoric.”
WATCH: McConnell says Trump is ‘not a racist’, says everyone must tone down rhetoric
But one Senate Republican did speak out Tuesday, saying he disagrees with Trump’s tweets and would not have posted them.
Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, who is likely to face a competitive re-election race next year, was asked by Denver-area KOA NewsRadio about Trump’s tweets.
He replied: “I disagree with the president. I wouldn’t have sent these tweets.”
Referring to the four congresswomen as “our sisters” in a closed-door meeting Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made it clear that Democrats are offended by Trump’s words.
Pelosi said the House resolution — opposed by Republican leaders — is about “who we are as a people” and recognizes “the unacceptability of what his goals were.”
WATCH: Kellyanne Conway asks reporter ‘what’s your ethnicity’ when questioned about Trump tweet
Her remarks were recounted by an aide who attended the session and who spoke on condition of anonymity because the aide wasn’t authorized to speak on the record.
— With files from The Associated Press
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