The lower house of the US Congress on Tuesday passed a motion condemning statements deemed “racist” by President Donald Trump, an accusation he defended while continuing to attack violently four elected minority Democrats.
The House of Representatives, with a Democratic majority, “strongly condemns the racist comments of President Donald Trump legitimizing and accentuating the fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color,” says the text.
In a series of tweets, the stormy Republican President had advised Sunday several elected, including three born in the United States, to “return” in “these places completely failing and infested by the crime of which they come”. He intensified his attacks the next day, accusing them of “hating” America.
Donald Trump had called on Tuesday the elected officials of his party not to fall into the “trap” tense, according to him, by his opponents.
“These tweets were NOT racist, there is not a hint of racism in me!”, He said, citing his attacks on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (New York), Ilhan Omar (Minnesota), Ayanna Pressley (Massachusetts) and Rashida Tlaib (Michigan).
Then, true to his strategy of fueling the controversies he himself created, Mr. Trump took care to repeat his message: “Our country is free, beautiful and prosperous.If you hate our country, or if you you're not happy here, you can go! “
With the run-up to the November 2020 presidential election, he seems more determined than ever to galvanize his electoral base – overwhelmingly white – and to do everything possible to fuel divisions among his political opponents.
Mr. Trump knows he can count on the support of the Republican Congressmen.
Because if, here and there, elected officials of the “Grand Old Party” have denounced the presidential tweets, they are on the whole very cautious in their criticisms towards the one who will be – if not huge surprise – their candidate in 2020. And alone four elected Republicans in the House of Representatives voted for the text of the Democratic majority.
Mitch McConnell, leader of the Republican majority in the Senate, has stuck to a very general statement. “We all have a responsibility (…), our words are important”, he simply said, before adding, in response to a question, that the president was, in his eyes, “not a racist “.
For Kevin McCarthy, leader of the Republican minority in the House, the whole controversy “is just a political story.”
Mr. Trump returned to Twitter on the evening of Tuesday to congratulate himself on the cohesion of his party in this circumstance. He stressed “how much the Republican Party was united on today's vote”.
These statements do not seem to affect the popularity of Mr. Trump among Republican voters: his approval rate at home has even increased five points to 72%, according to a Reuters / Ipsos poll conducted Monday and Tuesday. Compared to last week, its popularity rating in the overall population remained stable at 41%.
The four women targeted by the president have responded together on Monday night, showing their determination not to give in to attacks from the White House.
Donald Trump “does not know how to defend his policy, so he attacks us personally,” said Rashida Tlaib. Her attacks “are a continuation of her racist and xenophobic stance,” she added.
“Ignorant and insulting”
For former Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake, who has many mouthpieces with the President, the silence of his party can not be justified in such a case.
“I have often said that Republican politicians can not be expected to answer all the presidential statements, but there are times when they are so ignoble and insulting that it is up to them to condemn them.” he tweeted.
Chuck Schumer, leader of the Democratic Senators, has once again deplored the silence in the ranks of the presidential party.
“It's frightening to see how many of my Republican colleagues have just let the storm pass without saying a word,” he said. And to question the reasons for this silence: an “agreement” with the president or “embarrassment” in his remarks.
“In both cases, it's inexcusable,” he said.
For Joe Biden, vice president under Barack Obama and Democratic nomination candidate for 2020, no president in American history “has been as overtly racist as this man”.
“Can you imagine a conservative president like George W. Bush making such racist statements?” launched Bernie Sanders, who also hopes to wear the colors of democracy in the upcoming presidential election.