Pence aide: Trump’s ‘intent’ wasn’t racist | TheHill

The chief of staff to Vice President Pence on Monday attempted to defend President TrumpDonald John TrumpDurbin responds to Trump tweet: ‘Thank goodness’ Omar made it to United States ICE chief: I would not describe border facilities as ‘sweltering’ Pelosi: Trump’s attack on Democratic lawmakers reaffirms his plan to make ‘America white again’ MORE‘s incendiary tweets targeting progressive congresswomen, asserting that the president’s “intent” was not racist.

Marc Short, the former White House legislative liaison and current top aide to Pence, told reporters the administration is welcoming to all nationalities after Trump tweeted that the Democratic lawmakers should “go back” where they came from.

“I don’t think that our president’s intent in any way is racist,” Short said.

Short became the first administration official to publicly defend Trump over the tweets, which Democrats have universally condemned as racist. Republicans have remained largely silent on the issue.

Short disputed the charge that Trump is racist, noting that he has an Asian American Cabinet official in Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine Lan ChaoPence praises ‘generous’ US immigration system at July 4 naturalization ceremony 2020 candidate Tim Ryan questions Trump administration about planned July 4 event cost The Hill’s 12: 30 Report: Trump targets Iran with new sanctions MORE. He also cited a naturalization ceremony for new citizens that Pence and Chao attended on Independence Day.

Trump did not attend that ceremony, as he was at his golf club in Virginia.

The president sparked an uproar on Sunday morning when he tweeted that unnamed progressive congresswomen “who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe” should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

Trump did not specify which lawmakers he was referring to, but the comments were widely interpreted as targeting Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezHillary Clinton responds to Trump tweets telling Dem lawmakers to ‘go back’ to their countries Trump doubles down after telling Democratic congresswomen to ‘go back’ to their countries #RacistInChief takes off on Twitter after Trump tells Dems to go back where they ‘came from’ MORE (D-N.Y.), Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarDurbin responds to Trump tweet: ‘Thank goodness’ Omar made it to United States Sanders: Pelosi is being ‘a little bit’ too tough on Ocasio-Cortez Pelosi: Trump’s attack on Democratic lawmakers reaffirms his plan to make ‘America white again’ MORE (D-Minn.), Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibDurbin responds to Trump tweet: ‘Thank goodness’ Omar made it to United States Sanders: Pelosi is being ‘a little bit’ too tough on Ocasio-Cortez Pelosi: Trump’s attack on Democratic lawmakers reaffirms his plan to make ‘America white again’ MORE (D-Mich.) and Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyDurbin responds to Trump tweet: ‘Thank goodness’ Omar made it to United States Sanders: Pelosi is being ‘a little bit’ too tough on Ocasio-Cortez Pelosi: Trump’s attack on Democratic lawmakers reaffirms his plan to make ‘America white again’ MORE (D-Mass.). All four are U.S. citizens, and only Omar, who came to the U.S. as a refugee from Somalia, was born outside the U.S.

The president doubled down on Sunday night and into Monday morning, suggesting the Democratic congresswomen should apologize to the country and his office.

Despite Trump’s use of “congresswomen,” Short suggested on Monday that the president may have been speaking specifically about Omar.

“He’s making a point about great frustration that a lot of people feel that I think it’s hard to find anything Ilhan Omar has actually said since elected to Congress that’s been positive about the United States of America,” he said.

The Minnesota Democrat has regularly referenced her experiences as a refugee coming to America since joining Congress in January. She has also been an outspoken critic of the United States’ relationship with Israel.

Omar prompted allegations of anti-Semitism earlier this year when she suggested those pressing support for Israel were pushing “allegiance to a foreign country.”

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