“The Squad” Denounces Trump’s Attacks as an Intentional “Distraction”
In an extraordinary rebuke, the House voted to condemn President Trump’s attacks against four congresswomen of color as “racist.” The four freshmen congresswomen apparently targeted by the president are Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley, collectively known as “The Squad.” “The Squad” sat down with CBS THIS MORNING co-host Gayle King on Capitol Hill for their only joint interview, in which they shared what it’s like to feud with the most powerful politician in the country.
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Watch Part 2 Here: https://cbsn.ws/32sDtBo
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Credit: Lazarus Baptiste
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- REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY says President Trump is the “occupant” of this White House: “He is only occupying the space. He does not embody the principles, the responsibility, the grace, the integrity of a true president... I’m not dishonoring the office. He does every day.”
- REP RASHIDA TLAIB on profane comments she made about impeaching President Trump earlier this year: “70% of Americans curse. I’m real. This is who I am. I’m rooted in where I come from, and it’s very common for me and for many of my residents to say things like that.”
- REP. ILHAN OMAR on if she regrets her past comments suggesting some politicians’ support for Israel is motivated by money: “I do not. But I am grateful for the opportunity to learn how my words made people feel and have taken every single opportunity I’ve gotten to make sure that people understood that I apologize for it and I would never want them to.”
- REP. RASHIDA TLAIB regarding a potential meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: “She has every right to sit down with her at any moment, any time, with any of us. She is Speaker of the House. She can ask for a meeting to sit down with us for clarification. The fact of the knowledge is, and I’ve done racial justice work in our country for a long time. Acknowledge the fact that we are women of color, so when you do single us out, be aware of that and what you’re doing, especially because some of us are getting death threats, because some of us are being singled out in many ways because of our backgrounds, because of our experiences and so forth...”
Below is a transcript of the excerpts:
GAYLE KING: Quoting the president yesterday, you all are people who hate our country with a passion. You hate Jewish people. And you love enemies like Al Qaeda. You hear those statements coming from the president of the United States to describe you all and you think what?
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: I think that America has always been a story, and America has always been about the triumph of people who fight for everyone versus those who want to preserve rights for just a select few. And there is no bottom to the barrel of vitriol that will be used and weaponized to stifle those who want to advance rights for all people in the United States.
REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY: We can talk about and spin out on hate, about hateful words which are a predictable prompt by the occupant of this White House. And I call him that not because I don’t have respect for the Oval Office –
GAYLE KING: But it sounds like you don’t have respect for the Oval Office when you call the president of the United States the occupant.
REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY: No, because he is only occupying the space. He does not embody the principles, the responsibility, the grace, the integrity of a true president and so for that reason, I’m not dishonoring the office. He does, every day. This is a distraction, this is a disruption on our leading and legislating and governing on the issues of care and concern and consequence of the American people.
GAYLE KING: What did you think when you heard the tweet?
REP RASHIDA TLAIB: I mean, for me, I’m hearing about this from folks saying, “Did you see what the president just said,” at the same time that I’m getting text messages from people saying, “Rashida, what can we do? I heard ICE is now knocking on doors without warrants.” I’m trying to represent my district, a very diverse district with 20 different ethnicities. And I’m trying to fight on their behalf, trying to make sure that they have a voice here. At the same time, I’m dealing with the biggest bully I’ve ever had to deal with in my lifetime and trying to push back on that and trying to do the job that we all have been sent here to do, which is centered around the people at home. This is a distraction. This is a person that really wants to vilify, demonize, not only immigrants, but even communities of color as many of my sisters here have been talking about. It is very much a distraction, getting us unfocused.
GAYLE KING: It’s interesting that you all use the word distraction, that he is trying to, he is trying to distract away from real issues. You know, it’s been said about the four of you, that the four of you are a distraction. That you’re playing right into the president’s hands. What do you say to people, and you have your critics too, who say you are also a distraction?
REP ILHAN OMAR: The insinuation of that question in and of itself is a distraction. I think he wants you to focus on that, and you should be asking why we are being criticized. What is that we bring to this body?
REP RASHIDA TLAIB: I’ll tell you what we bring.
REP ILHAN OMAR: Exactly –
REP RASHIDA TLAIB: We’re an extension of a movement in our country that wants Medicare for all –
REP ILHAN OMAR: Right –
REP RASHIDA TLAIB: That wants us to end mass incarceration. That wants us to push back against the attacks on communities of color. I mean, I think all of us have incredibly strong residents in our district that have spoken volumes in electing people like us –
REP ILHAN OMAR: And we are a disruption to the business as usual that’s been Washington –
REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY: But Gayle –
REP ILHAN OMAR: We were elected for that purpose.
REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY: But can I also just add –
GAYLE KING: Yes.
REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY: That each of us represents very different districts.
GAYLE KING: Yes.
REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY: And each of us brings our unique and our authentic voice to this body. We govern in our own way. What we are, are four women who have an alignment of values, shared policy priorities. There is no insurgency here. There’s nothing conspiratorial.
GAYLE KING: There is no insurgency here?
REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY: There is no insurgency, and there’s nothing conspiratorial. What we are, are four lawmakers who happened to land in the same place on the same issue, time and time again.
GAYLE KING: Do you think that that kind of language is helpful, and what did you hope would come of that? On your first day?
REP. RASHIDA TLAIB: No, I mean, from day one I truly believe he has committed impeachable offenses. And you know –
GAYLE KING: But even if you believe that –
REP. RASHIDA TLAIB: But even with me cursing –
GAYLE KING: Even the fact that you called him –
REP. RASHIDA TLAIB: But I didn’t do it on the House floor. And I’m going to be unapologetic in myself. 70 percent of Americans curse. I’m real. This is who I am. I’m rooted in where I come from, and it’s very common for me and for many of my residents to say things like that. But for folks –
GAYLE KING: So you don’t regret – you don’t regret –
REP. RASHIDA TLAIB: Absolutely not. I’m unapologetic about it. I’m definitely, definitely going to push forward in saying we have to impeach him.
WE ALSO ASKED CONGRESSWOMAN ILHAN OMAR ABOUT HER PAST COMMENTS SUGGESTING SOME POLITICIANS’ SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL IS MOTIVATED BY MONEY.
LAWMAKERS ON BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE DENOUNCED THE COMMENTS AS ANTI-SEMITIC.
REP. ILHAN OMAR: Oftentimes there are, uh, things that you might say might not hold weight for you but to someone else, right? The way that we hear and consume information is very different from how the next person might.
GAYLE KING: So you don’t regret your words either?
REP. ILHAN OMAR: I do not. But I am grateful for the opportunity to learn how my words made people feel, and have taken every single opportunity I’ve gotten to make sure that people understood that I apologize for it and –
GAYLE KING: Would you like people to –
REP. ILHAN OMAR: I would never want them to –
GAYLE KING: – would you want to make it clear that you are not anti-Semitic?
REP. ILHAN OMAR: Oh, certainly not, yes.
GAYLE KING: Would you like to make that clear?
REP. ILHAN OMAR: Yes! And I mean that – nothing I said, at least to me, was meant for that purpose.
THE SQUAD OF FRESHMEN IS VERY PROGRESSIVE, AND THEIR VIEWS HAVEN’T ALWAYS ALIGNED WITH PARTY LEADERSHIP OR THEIR COLLEAGUES.
GAYLE KING: AOC, I’ve heard people say you’re new here. Shouldn’t you wait and get the lay of the land to understand how Washington works.
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: I think, one of the things that’s funny, and I’m not laughing at you. I’m laughing at the sentiment because –
GAYLE KING: You’ve heard that sentiment?
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: – I’ve heard – oh, absolutely –
GAYLE KING: I’m not the first person that has said that to you –
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: Absolutely not. But not just me, but the entire freshman class I would argue, regardless of ideology, was sent here because Americans are sick of how Washington works. So why would I learn a broken playbook, where lobbyists have taken over this place? Where they influence all the bills? Where we vote on things because that’s how things have always been done here. Americans are not getting wage increases. Our government is continuing to sow dysfunction. Why would we operate business as usual when business as usual is not serving the public?
GAYLE KING: As we sit here today, there appears to be a fractured relationship between the squad, the four of you, and Nancy Pelosi. Do any of you think that that relationship needs to be repaired? Or that there needs to be work done to heal that relationship? Is there a fracture?
REP. ILHAN OMAR: I don’t feel a fracture.
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: I don’t, I don’t. I think that just as there were members of Congress that did not vote for the speaker on the House floor the day of our swearing in, just as there are members who challenge her conclusions who disagree with her, so do we from time to time. But that does not mean that there is a fundamental fracture or a dehumanizing going on within our caucus.
WHEN PRESIDENT TRUMP FIRST TWEETED ABOUT THE WOMEN, SPEAKER PELOSI WAS QUICK TO JUMP TO THEIR DEFENSE ON TWITTER DESPITE PUBLIC DISAGREEMENTS OVER THE EMERGENCY BORDER AID PACKAGE.
OCASIO-CORTEZ REBUKED PELOSI FOR SINGLING OUT THE WOMEN FOR THEIR VOTE AGAINST THE BILL.
GAYLE KING: You know, when you say things like, the speaker of the House is being disrespectful to women of color. Is she, according to you, being disrespectful to women of color because of your color or because she doesn’t like your policies or the tactics that you all are taking –
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, I’ll clar –
GAYLE KING: To make your point.
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: Right, and I’ll clarify. I did not say that she was disrespectful of women of color. I found some of the comments disrespectful –
GAYLE KING: Okay.
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: And that was my personal opinion.
GAYLE KING: Okay.
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: And I did feel that singling out on the basis of one vote was creating an opening. But that doesn’t mean that we, that we fundamentally disagree or fundamentally disrespect each other’s position and power and ability to be here. And that’s what makes us united as a caucus.
GAYLE KING: Are you speaking to Nancy Pelosi?
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: Our teams are in communication. Our chiefs are meet –
GAYLE KING: But shouldn’t it be a face-to-face with you and the speaker
REPS. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ, RASHIDA TLAIB, ILHAN OMAR: (affirm, I agree)
GAYLE KING: As opposed to your people and her people, shouldn’t it be face to face?
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: Right, right.
REP. RASHIDA TLAIB: But we are new members of Congress, but no – I’m very protective.
GAYLE KING: With all due respect, she does not need protection, I want to know –
REP. RASHIDA TLAIB: She’s the new member, not the speaker.
GAYLE KING: But I want to know –
REP. RASHIDA TLAIB: She has every right to sit down with her at any moment, any time, with any of us. She is speaker of the House. She can ask for a meeting to sit down with us for clarification. The fact of the knowledge is, and I’ve done racial justice work in our country for a long time. Acknowledge the fact that we are women of color, so when you do single us out, be aware of that and what you’re doing, especially because some of us are getting death threats, because some of us are being singled out in many ways because of our backgrounds, because of our experiences and so forth. But I think –
GAYLE KING: Alexandria –
REP. RASHIDA TLAIB: the question should be –
GAYLE KING: – are you interested in having a conversation face-to-face –
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: Oh, absolutely –
GAYLE KING: With Speaker, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi –
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: Absolutely.
REP. RASHIDA TLAIB: Why wouldn’t she sit down with her?
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ: Yeah, no, absolutely, and we’ve reached out to that end.
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