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The political fallout from Trump’s racist tweets

President Trump is defending racist tweets targeting four House freshmen, all women of color. Three of the four lawmakers had recently testified about their visits to crowded border detention facilities, lamenting what they saw there. But despite condemnation from congressional Democrats, some Republicans and even the British Prime Minister, Trump isn’t expressing remorse. Yamiche Alcindor reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    It is a political fight that could worsen already deep divisions in our country.

    President Trump escalates his nationalist rhetoric, while Democrats in Congress unite around the idea of diversity.

    Yamiche Alcindor begins our coverage.

  • Question:

    Do you think your tweets were racist?

  • President Donald Trump:

    Not at all.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    President Trump doubling down on racist tweets. Today at a White House event aimed at celebrating American manufacturing, the president defended his targeting of four freshmen congresswomen of color.

    And he once again questioned their status as Americans and suggested they leave the United States.

  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.:

    Children being separated from their parents in front of an American flag.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Three of the four lawmakers had testified last Friday about their visits to crowded border detention facilities. On Twitter Sunday, the president wrote — quote — "Why don't they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came?"

    The four congresswomen? New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar, Massachusetts Representative Ayanna Pressley, and Michigan Representative Rashida Tlaib. All four women are American citizens. Three of the four were born in the U.S.

  • President Donald Trump:

    It doesn't concern me, because many people agree with me. And all I'm saying, they want to leave, they can leave.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    The four congresswoman pushed back today.

  • Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.:

    This is the agenda of white nationalists.

  • Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.:

    Maybe the president just feels comfortable stoking racial divisions in this country.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    But, today, the president earned a sharp rebuke from Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

  • Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.:

    Those who fail to condemn the president are fellow travelers on the president's racist road.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Earlier today, international leaders, including British Prime Minister Theresa May, spoke out against the president's tweets. And now a small, but growing number of Republicans in the U.S. have begun to do the same.

    Maine Senator Susan Collins today called it — quote — "way over the line." And South Carolina Senator Tim Scott called it — quote — "racially offensive" and — quote — "aiming for the lowest common denominator."

  • Question:

    Do you find the president's tweets racist? And what do you make of white nationalists praising those tweets?

  • Steven Mnuchin:

    Again, I think the president — I don't find them racist.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Among the president's defenders today, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

    Earlier, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, a close ally of the president, made similar attacks against the four lawmakers on FOX News.

  • Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.:

    we all know that AOC and this crowd are a bunch of communists. They hate Israel. They hate our own country. They're calling the guards along our border, the Border Patrol agents, concentration camp guards.

    Make them the face of the future of the Democratic Party, you will destroy the Democratic Party.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    But even Graham warned the president against questioning the lawmakers' citizenship.

  • Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.:

    They are American citizens. They won an election.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    This all comes as the Trump administration announced today that it is trying to end asylum protections for nearly everyone who tries to enter the U.S. through the southern border.

    Under the new rule, any immigrant crossing into the United States from Mexico seeking asylum would need to first apply for asylum in at least one other country that is not their native country.

  • Vice President Mike Pence:

    Are you comfortable? Are you being well taken care of?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    The changes comes after Vice President Pence, Senator Graham and other members of Congress visited a crowded border detention facility Friday.

    The administration argues that it needs to stem the flow of asylum seekers entering the U.S. In a statement, the ACLU called the Trump administration's move — quote — "patently unlawful" and vowed to — quote — "sue swiftly."

  • Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Flor.:

    The climate in this country, led by the president of the United States of America, causes fear.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    Communities across the country had braced Sunday for stepped-up immigration raids. Last week, the president publicly announced he would deport — quote — "thousands of people." The raids have so far fallen far short of that scale, but are slated to last into the coming week.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Yamiche Alcindor.

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