The lawmakers holding the press conference included Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (New York), Ilhan Omar (Minnesota), Rashida Tlaib (Michigan) and Ayanna Pressley (Massachusetts).
"For him to condemn us and to say we are un-American for wanting to work hard to make this country be the country we all deserve to live in, it's complete hypocrisy," Omar said, noting that Trump ran his 2016 presidential campaign on the notion that America was broken and needed fixing. She added that it was time to impeach Trump, who was promoting a white nationalist agenda.
The four women are part of an informal group of freshman congresswomen of color dubbed "the Squad," who have quickly become known for their outspoken politics, most recently on the issue of Immigration, Customs and Enforcement (ICE) detention centers for undocumented migrants entering the US.
Trump taunted them indirectly in a series of Sunday tweets, saying, “Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough."
"As far as I'm concerned if you hate our country, if you're not happy here, you can leave," Trump said at an event at the White House that evening. "If you're not happy in the US, if you're complaining all the time, very simply: you can leave. You can leave right now. I don't know who's going to miss 'em."
"Do not take the bait," Pressley advised the American people, calling Trump's comments "xenophobic, bigoted words" and "a distraction."
"Despite attempts to marginalize us, we are more than four people," Pressley said. "Our Squad is big. Given the size of this Squad and this great nation, we cannot and will not be silenced."
"Weak minds and leaders challenge loyalty to our country in order to avoid challenging and debating the policy," Ocasio-Cortez said. "This president does not know how to defend his policies, so what he does is he attacks us personally, and that is what it is all about. He can't look a child in the face and he can't look Americans in the face and justify why this country is throwing them into cages."'
"I urge House leadership, many of my colleagues, to take action to impeach this lawless president today," Tlaib told reporters.
However, Trump fired off another set of tweets just moments before the Squad's presser, in which he pressed the attack.
We will never be a Socialist or Communist Country. IF YOU ARE NOT HAPPY HERE, YOU CAN LEAVE! It is your choice, and your choice alone. This is about love for America. Certain people HATE our Country....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 15, 2019
"We will never be a Socialist or Communist Country. IF YOU ARE NOT HAPPY HERE, YOU CAN LEAVE! It is your choice, and your choice alone. This is about love for America. Certain people HATE our Country. They are anti-Israel, pro Al-Qaeda, and comment on the 9/11 attack, 'some people did something.' Radical Left Democrats want Open Borders, which means drugs, crime, human trafficking, and much more. Detention facilities are not Concentration Camps! America has never been stronger than it is now – rebuilt Military, highest Stock Market EVER, lowest unemployment and more people working than ever before. Keep America Great!"
....Detention facilities are not Concentration Camps! America has never been stronger than it is now – rebuilt Military, highest Stock Market EVER, lowest unemployment and more people working than ever before. Keep America Great!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 15, 2019
"The Dems were trying to distance themselves from the four 'progressives,' but now they are forced to embrace them," Trump tweeted during the presser. "That means they are endorsing Socialism, hate of Israel and the USA! Not good for the Democrats!"
Trump's broadside against the Squad helped quickly heal a growing rift in the Democratic Party between them and the party's veteran leadership surrounding House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who leads the Democrats in the US House of Representatives. An internal debate had erupted Friday along the voting lines for a recent bill authorizing emergency funding for border services, but quickly became about about whether or not the party had marginalized the four congresswomen, who felt the bill didn't do enough to protect migrant children held in federal detention centers. Pressley at one point accused those who endorsed the bill of voting to “enable a racist system," and Omar said it was a vote “to keep kids in cages.”