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Washington is reeling as a result of racist tweets President Trump made Sunday, in which he blasted four women of color in the House and said they should return to where they came from, although all four are American citizens. Rep. James Comer, R-Ky, joins Judy Woodruff to explain why a “frustrated” Trump’s comments are “overblown” and how he knows his constituents aren’t offended by them.
And now, for a Republican perspective, I'm joined by Representative James Comer of Kentucky.
Congressman Comer, welcome back to the "NewsHour."
What do you make of President Trump's comments yesterday and today about these four women of color who are members of Congress?
Rep. James Comer, R-Ky.:
Well, I certainly do not think the president's a racist.
I believe the president shares a lot of Americans' frustration with Congress, particularly those four women congressman who, for no other reason, constantly criticizes not only the president, but also Congress and our country.
I think there's a level of frustration that the president has that he, unfortunately, took out in a probably not the best-worded tweet. But I think that the tweet has been overblown, and I think that we really need to move on and talk about the issues in Congress that the American people care about.
You said unfortunately.
What was it about the tweet that you think the president should not have said?
Well, there's just been — the whole term racism has been thrown around in Congress a lot more over the last two months than I have ever heard the word used.
Just last week, you had Ocasio-Cortez basically call Pelosi racist for some of the comments that she made about women of color.
And when you're a member of Congress or when you're the president of the United States, and you get to this level, and the debate is this contentious, and you have got an American electorate that's equally divided, sometimes, your emotions take control and you say things that you don't necessarily mean.
And, sometimes, things come out differently than you intended.
You mentioned your constituents. What are they telling you?
Well, I was in Kentucky all weekend. I was at the airport in Louisville this morning talking to a lot of people from all across my district and all across Kentucky.
And I can tell you, there — my people are not offended by the tweet. They have become accustomed to the president's tweets. I have told the president in conversations that I feel like he would be better served if he didn't tweet as much.
But I think we all know that the president is going to continue to tweet. That's his way of doing things. It's gotten him this far.
I personally would like to see a more civil Congress, a more civil tone between both parties and the national news media. But I don't think that's going to happen.
But as far as the people in the district, they still strongly support the president. They support the president's agenda. And they know that he shares their frustration with a lot of the policies that those four members of Congress continue to spew.
They — it doesn't seem like they're for securing the border. It doesn't seem like they are for any type of civil debate that the average taxpayer in my district would support.
You say it's not racist, in your view, and yet each one of these women is a woman of color.
And it's — it's — it's no different, in my opinion, than the national media saying, when they talk about the presidential debates, well, the Democrat base doesn't want Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden because they're a white male.
I don't view that as racist. I don't view the president's tweets as racist.
I wish the tone were better. But what we — we do here when I go back home, and most of my Republican colleagues here back home, is, why can't you all secure the border? Why can't you all balance the budget? Why can't you all fix prescription drug prices?
These are the issues that Americans care about. And I think that you there are, unfortunately, people in America who were probably somewhat offended by the — by the tweet. But, at the end of the day, I don't think that the tweet deserves the amount of press coverage that it's gotten.
One other thing, Congressman.
What do you make of the president's conversation — statements over the last number of weeks that he intends for there to be massive roundups of undocumented immigrants in this country? Now, we haven't seen that happen, but the president has talked about it a good deal.
What do you make of that?
What the president is experiencing right now, as witnessed by his tweets and some of his statements, is, he's frustrated that Congress won't support his agenda that he feels like is the same agenda he campaigned on and the same promises he made during the campaign.
And he's also frustrated that the tone, especially by the four female congresswomen who we're talking about today who were referenced in the president's tweet, their constant trashing of ICE.
The border agents are trying to do their job to secure the border. These facilities where we have all these migrants, they weren't built to house the number of people that they're housing. They certainly weren't built to house children.
So, they're — those four female members of Congress are constantly criticizing the president over things that really aren't his fault. He was elected to secure the border. Build the wall was one of — one of the main talking points in his campaign.
But yet we have an open border and we have people coming into the United States. It's a drain on the treasury. It's a drain on law enforcement. And I think that, because of the Democrats in Congress and their inaction on doing anything about border security, the president's very frustrated.
And when he gets frustrated, we know he goes to Twitter.
Congressman James Comer, thank you very much.
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