Tapper: The History Of Trump's "Racist Attack" Of "Go Back Where You Came From"

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CNN’s Jake Tapper responds to President Donald Trump defending his racist attacks on US congresswomen of color, suggesting they can leave the country.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN: Today, President Trump is not backing away from his stunningly racist attack on a group of minority members of Congress. Instead, he's trying to defend it, denying it was racist and spewing even more divisiveness.



(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These are people that, in my opinion, hate our country. All I'm saying, that if they're not happy here, they can leave. They can leave. And you know what? I'm sure that they will be many people that won't miss them.

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TAPPER: Yesterday, Mr. Trump tweeted that progressive Democratic congresswomen who -- quote -- "originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe" -- unquote -- should -- quote -- "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime- infested places from which they came, then come back and show us how it's done. These places need your help badly. You can't leave fast enough" -- unquote.

President Trump seemed to be referencing Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley, who were born in New York City, Detroit, and Cincinnati, respectively, as well as Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who came to the U.S. as, a child refugee from Somalia. She's been a U.S. citizen since she was a teenager, longer than the first lady.

We are expecting to hear from those four members of Congress soon, as some Republicans, now a day later, are beginning to condemn the racist tweets. Many have stayed silent or even tried to play dumb, as demonstrated by acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli.

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ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: What did you think of that tweet?

KEN CUCCINELLI, ACTING DIRECTOR, U.S. CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES: Well, I didn't see that tweet, actually. I can hear what you're reading.

CAMEROTA: Did my colleague Jake Tapper read you that tweet yesterday?

CUCCINELLI: Yes, he did.

CAMEROTA: So you have heard this tweet before, and you have had 24 hours to process it.

CUCCINELLI: So what? So what?

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TAPPER: That's one approach, I guess.

Another approach has been to say the president was only giving voice to frustrations with sentiments that the four congresswomen, perhaps especially Congresswoman Omar, have expressed, the idea, I suppose, being that Congresswoman Omar has said things that people find offensive, even occasionally bigoted; therefore, it's OK to be bigoted to her.

Here's vice presidential Chief of Staff Marc Short.

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MARC SHORT, CHIEF OF STAFF TO VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: I don't think that the president's intent in any way is racist. I think he's trying to point out the fact that, since elected, it's hard to find anything Ilhan Omar has said that actually is supportive of the United States of America.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: So, anti-American sentiment, in this view, justifies racism.

It, of course, does not in any decent or civilized world, but a world in which religious and racial and nationalistic hatred is out in the open, well, it's certainly acceptable there.

In fact, the president was asked today if it bothered him that white supremacists had found common cause in his "Go back where you came from" tweets. Here's the president's response:

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TRUMP: It doesn't concern me, because many people agree with me.

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TAPPER: Right. And some of those people are white supremacists, and they think a lot of us should go back where we came from, me and him and him and her, even if we ourselves came from the United States of America.

Now, this isn't new. You can find -- and I did in a Kansas newspaper from the 1800s -- evidence of a local demagogue telling a Swedish American who had expressed concern about the then current state of affairs to go back to where he came from.

Now, the Kansas journalist who wrote this up mocked this -- quote -- "debasing insult" -- again, this is in the 19th century -- questioning whether not only those with heritage in Sweden, but those with heritage in Germany or Ireland or Norway, should go back where they came from. Of course they shouldn't, and thank God they didn't.

But in Manhattan, Kansas, in August 1892, they knew better.

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