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- Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff on Monday became the first White House official to speak publicly about President Donald Trump's racist tweets about four Democratic congresswomen of color.
- Marc Short defended Trump's tweets, arguing that the president's "intent" was not "in any way" racist.
- Short said Trump was referring only to Rep. Ilhan Omar when he said the Democratic women should leave the US and return to "help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came."
- While Democrats have widely condemned Trump's attacks on the congresswomen as racist, the vast majority of elected Republicans have not criticized the president's messages.
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Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff on Monday became the first White House official to speak publicly about President Donald Trump's racist tweets telling four Democratic congresswomen of color to "go back" to the "crime infested" countries they came from.
Marc Short defended Trump's widely condemned attacks, arguing that the president's "intent" was not racist.
"I don't think that our president's intent in any way is racist," Short told reporters at the White House on Monday morning.
Short argued that the president was commenting solely on Rep. Ilhan Omar, who was born in Somalia and who Trump has repeatedly condemned for making remarks many believed were anti-Semitic. But Trump's language in his Sunday tweets made clear he was referring to multiple people, first referring to "'Progressive' Democrat Congresswomen" and then saying "they" should leave the US and return to "help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came."
"I'm making the case that this is not a universal statement that he's making," Short said. "He's making it about the very specific, pretty much an individual member of Congress that I think has said most things that she's most unhappy about about the United States."
The context around Trump's tweets suggested he was referring to four outspoken first-term congresswomen, Reps. Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts — known as the "squad." Of them, only Omar was born outside the United States.
Short also argued that Trump couldn't have "racist motives" because Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, an Asian American naturalized citizen, serves in his Cabinet.
While Trump's attacks on the congresswomen were widely condemned by Democrats as racist, the vast majority of elected Republicans have yet criticized the president's messages.
One GOP congressman, Rep. Chip Roy of Texas, said on Sunday that Trump was "wrong to say any American citizen, whether in Congress or not, has any 'home' besides the US," but added that he firmly supported deporting all immigrants living in the country illegally.
"I just as strongly believe non-citizens who abuse our immigration laws should be sent home immediately, & Reps who refuse to defend America should be sent home 11/2020," he wrote.
Here's Marc Short, Pence's chief of staff, defending Trump's racist tweets this morning by claiming that he can't have had "racist motives" because Elaine Chao serves in his cabinet, and he's making the point that Ilhan Omar never says positive things about the U.S.. pic.twitter.com/B7WkNxjQPG