This story was updated on July 15 at 7:24 am
WHITE HOUSE - U.S. President Donald Trump remained focused on several Democratic members of Congress on Monday, after he drew sharp criticism for a series of tweets in which he suggested four lawmakers of color "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came."
"When will the Radical Left Congresswomen apologize to our Country, the people of Israel and even to the Office of the President, for the foul language they have used, and the terrible things they have said," Trump wrote Monday.
Of the four apparently targeted in his original complaint Sunday morning, only one – Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, a native of Somalia – is foreign born. The other three are native Americans: Ayana Pressley (who is a representative from Massachusetts) was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a native New Yorker (and represents the eastern part of the Bronx and a portion of north-central Queens), and Rashid Tlaib, of Michigan, was born in Detroit.
The White House has not responded to a request from VOA on whether the president was aware prior to sending the tweets that three of the four are citizens by birth.
The progressives have been squabbling with Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over immigration policy and other issues. The dispute has attracted Trump's attention in recent days, even prompting him to utter rare public support for Pelosi – at least when it comes to her attempt to rein in the newly elected foursome.
Trump's first tweets about the minority novice female members of Congress, known as 'the squad,' came about 20 minutes after a segment about them on the Fox News Channel. The president frequently reacts quickly on social media to what he sees on Fox.
Omar, in particular, has been a frequent topic of critical coverage on the cable television channel, in part due to her frequent criticism of Israel and comments perceived as anti-Semitic.
Omar and Tlaib are the first two Muslim women to serve in Congress.
In a Twitter response to Trump on Sunday, Omar reminded him that the United States is the only country to which members of Congress swear an oath.
“Which is why we are fighting to protect it from the worst, most corrupt and inept president we have ever seen,” the Minnesotan added.
Many others on social media are condemning Trump’s tweet, which even by his provocative norms are viewed as crossing a new line.
Among the most prominent is Pelosi, who terms Trump’s remark xenophobic, “meant to divide our nation” and “reaffirm his plan to ‘Make America Great Again’ has always been about making America white again.”
“You are angry because you can’t conceive of an America that includes us,” Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez responded to Trump on Twitter. “You rely on a frightened America for your plunder.”
You are angry because you can’t conceive of an America that includes us. You rely on a frightened America for your plunder.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 14, 2019
You won’t accept a nation that sees healthcare as a right or education as a #1 priority, especially where we’re the ones fighting for it.
Yet here we are.
“He’s demonstrating he’s a racist,” Congressman Ted Lieu of California, a Democrat who was born in Taiwan and grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, said on MSNBC.
“There is no more calling balls and strikes on Trump now that there is no question about who and what he is,” says former Republican National Committee spokesperson Cheri Jacobus, a frequent critic of the president.
The president brushed off criticism and added new tweets Sunday night saying, “So sad to see the Democrats sticking up for people who speak badly of our Country.”
Trump made the initial series of tweets before emerging from the North Portico of the White House clad in dark pants, a white short-sleeved shirt and a red “Make America Great Again” ball cap.
As his motorcade traveled to one of his private golf courses in northern Virginia, Trump took to Twitter again to refute what reporters described as they accompanied Vice President Mike Pence during a visit to two detention centers for migrants in Texas.
“Great Reviews!” declared Trump of the tour by politicians and media to the facility for children. He characterized the pen holding adult men as “clean but crowded.”
The Washington Post’s Josh Dawsey, who filed the collective print report from the scene, described a guarded area where nearly 400 men were crammed behind caged fences with not enough room for all of them to lie down on the concrete floor.
“A stench from body odor hung stale in the air,” wrote Dawsey, who said some of the men screamed they had been held for more than 40 days.
At the location, Pence had commented “this is tough stuff” as a group of detainees shouted, “no showers.”
Trump has repeatedly warned that if he is unseated by a Democrat in next year’s presidential campaign that the opposition party would turn the United States into a socialist country and open its borders to dangerous immigrants.
An NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey of voters released on Sunday shows Trump trailing the top four Democratic Party contenders in a hypothetical matchup.
Trump defied the polls in 2016 to defeat former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the presidency.