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US House condemns Trump's racist tweets about lawmakers

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks as Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib listen during a press conference at the US Capitol on July 15, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP Photo)

The U.S. House of Representatives voted late Tuesday to condemn racist remarks by President Donald Trump on Twitter about freshmen lawmakers, with four Republicans breaking ranks with him by backing the resolution.

The 240-187 vote saw Republican lawmakers Susan Brooks, Brian Fitzpatrick, Will Hurd -- the sole black Republican in the House caucus -- and Fred Upton join with former Republican-turned-Independent congressman Justin Amash and a uniform Democratic caucus in support of the resolution.

"If we're going to bring civility back to the center of our politics, we must speak out against inflammatory rhetoric from anyone in any party anytime it happens," Upton wrote on Twitter after he bucked the president's call to stand against the measure. "America embraces diversity, and that must continue."

Most Republicans, however, lined up squarely behind the president, accusing their Democratic colleagues of harassing Trump.

The resolution "strongly condemns President Donald Trump's racist comments that have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color by saying that our fellow Americans who are immigrants, and those who may look to the President like immigrants, should 'go back' to other countries."

Trump kicked off the firestorm on Sunday when he told a group of progressive Democratic congresswomen on Twitter to "go back" to the "totally broken and crime infested" countries they come from.

He initially declined to indicate whom he was referring to but on Tuesday quoted a former congressman who referred to them as "the squad," a colloquialism that refers to freshmen congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley.

Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib and Pressley were all born in the U.S. and Omar is a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Somalia. All are Americans of color who were duly elected to serve in the federal legislature.

Trump has insisted that neither he nor his tweets are racist, exclaiming on the microblogging website that he does not "have a Racist bone" in his body.

Trump has accused the female lawmakers of hating America, but he has not supported the allegation other than suggesting they "have been spewing some of the most vile, hateful, and disgusting things ever said by a politician in the House or Senate".

Tlaib notably used a harsh expletive to refer to Trump while addressing supporters, but that is not akin to hating the U.S.

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