Timeline of the chaotic series of events surrounding Trump’s racist tweets attacking ‘the Squad’

  • President Donald Trump’s racist tweets directed at four progressive Democrats, who are women of colour, have ignited a firestorm of criticism.
  • But the tweets didn’t occur in a vacuum. It was the president’s commentary on a battle between the progressive Democrats and the Democratic leadership.
  • Trump’s tweets, his subsequent response, and a controversial, xenophobic chant that occurred at one of his rallies on July 17 are a sign of what’s to come along the 2020 campaign trail.
  • Here’s a timeline of the chaotic series of events surrounding Trump’s tweets.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.


Trump on July 14 sent out a series of racist tweets directed at four progressive Democratic members of Congress who are women of colour. The president suggested they “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested” countries from which they came.

Associated PressPresident Donald Trump calls to the media as he waits to greet Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte as he arrives at the White House in Washington, Thursday, July 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)


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The four lawmakers are Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts. Three out of four of the lawmakers were born in the US and all are US citizens. Omar was born in Somalia, came to the US as refugee when she was a child, and became a US citizen at 17.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP ImagesFrom left, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass.

Trump’s tweets at the four lawmakers, who’ve become known as “the Squad” on Capitol Hill, played off of the racist “go back to Africa” trope.

Associated PressPresident Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, July 18, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Trump’s tweets also alluded to Democratic infighting that’s occurred between “the Squad” and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in recent weeks: “I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!”

J. Scott Applewhite/AP ImagesRep. Ilhan Omar and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi


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The fight between Pelosi and the freshman Democrats largely began in late June after she accepted a Senate version of a nearly $US4.6 billion emergency border aid funding bill. The progressive lawmakers felt it didn’t go far enough in terms of addressing conditions in detention centres being used by the federal government to house migrants. Ocasio-Cortez has referred to these facilities as “concentration camps.”

DHS Office of the Inspector GeneralOvercrowding of families observed by OIG on June 10, 2019, at Border Patrol’s McAllen, TX, Station


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“What we did today is continue to allow the atrocity to take place,” Omar said after the bill went through. “We’ve sent money that we don’t know if it’s going to continue to be used to put proper beds, to buy toothpaste, to assist these children in any kind of way and their families.”

Tom Williams/CQ Roll CallRep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., conducts a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center responding to negative comments by President Trump that were directed at the freshmen House Democrats on Monday, July 15, 2019.


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Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff Saikat Chakrabarti sent a tweet attacking moderate Democrats over the emergency aid bill after it passed. “I don’t think people have to be personally racist to enable a racist system,” Chakrabarti wrote. “And the same could even be said of the Southern Democrats. I don’t believe [Rep. Sharice Davids] is a racist person, but her votes are showing her to enable a racist system.”

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP ImagesRep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her chief of staff Saikat Chakrabarti


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Subsequently, in an early July interview with The New York Times, Pelosi went after Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Tlaib, and Pressley. “All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world. But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got.”


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Chakrabarti then took to Twitter and slammed Pelosi. “All these articles want to claim what a legislative mastermind Pelosi is, but I’m seeing way more strategic smarts from freshman members,” Chakrabarti tweeted on July 6 in reference to the speaker’s comments. “Pelosi is just mad that she got outmaneuvered (again) by Republicans.”

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)From left, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., and House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., appear for a Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony honouring the Office of Strategic Services in Emancipation Hall on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 21, 2018.


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Not longer after, on July 8, Ocasio-Cortez pushed back on the notion she shouldn’t speak out against Pelosi in public: “Having respect for ourselves doesn’t mean we lack respect for her. It means we won’t let everyday people be dismissed.”


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The House Speaker then scolded Democrats at a caucus meeting, telling them to come to her instead of tweeting complaints: “You got a complaint? You come and talk to me about it,” Pelosi reportedly said at the Wednesday caucus meeting. “But do not tweet about our members and expect us to think that that is just OK.”

J. Scott Applewhite/AP ImagesHouse Speaker Nancy Pelosi


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A spokesperson for Pelosi said the comments weren’t directed at anyone in particular, but Ocasio-Cortez went after the House Speaker in a subsequent interview with The Washington Post. The freshman Democratic accused Pelosi of “singling out of newly elected women of colour,” adding that the speaker had been “outright disrespectful.” Ocasio-Cortez later said she “absolutely” did not intend to accuse Pelosi of racism with her comments.

AP Images / Alex Brandon


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But the feud escalated significantly last week, when the official Twitter account for the House Democrats went after Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff for the tweet he’d sent going after moderate members of the party in late June, after the emergency border aid funding bill spat. The tweet said, “Who is this guy and why is he explicitly singling out a Native American woman of colour? Her name is Congresswoman Davids, not Sharice. She is a phenomenal new member who flipped a red seat blue. Keep Her Name Out Of Your Mouth.”


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Trump’s racist tweets attacking the progressive lawmakers were posted on Sunday, July 14. In an effort to rile up his base and further divide Democrats, the president appeared to be inserting himself in the ongoing battle between Pelosi and “the Squad.”

Associated PressPresident Donald Trump speaks during a ceremony where Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte will present a 48-star flag flown on a U.S. Naval vessel during the D-Day invasion, in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, July 18, 2019, in Washington. The flag will be given to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. The vessel was control vessel Landing Craft, Control 60 (LCC 60). (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)


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Trump’s tweets sparked immediate condemnation from Democratic leaders and some members of the GOP. Later in the week, Republican leaders rejected the notion Trump is racist.

Associated PressSenate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., pauses before speaking to reporters following the Republican Conference luncheon, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, June 25, 2019. The GOP leader said his two priorities this week are to pass the National Defence Authorization Act and the border security bill. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

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Trump on Monday said he was not concerned that the tweets were being characterised as racist, because he said “many people agree with me.” Meanwhile, a poll conducted after Trump’s tweets found his approval had gone up with Republicans.


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“The Squad,” at a press conference on Monday, ripped into Trump over his tweets and reiterated calls for launching impeachment proceedings against him. “He does not know how to defend his policies so what he does is attack us personally,” Ocasio-Cortez said of Trump.

AP Photo/J. Scott ApplewhiteFrom L to R: Reps. Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez


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And in what seemed to be an apparent jab at previously comments Pelosi made about “the Squad,” Pressley at the press conference said: “We are more than four people. We ran on a mandate to advocate for and to represent those ignored, left out, and left behind. Our squad is big. Our squad includes any person committed to creating a more equitable and just world.”

AP Photo/Susan WalshRep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley.


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Trump on Tuesday rejected that his tweets were racist and said he doesn’t have a “racist bone” in his body. Ocasio-Cortez responded in a tweet that said, “You’re right, Mr. President — you don’t have a racist bone in your body. You have a racist mind in your head, and a racist heart in your chest.”

Associated PressPresident Donald Trump gestures to the crowd as he arrives to speak at a campaign rally at Williams Arena in Greenville, N.C., Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)


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White House counselor Kellyanne Conway on Tuesday added fuel to the fire when she asked a reporter “what’s your ethnicity?” in response to questions about Trump’s racist tweets.


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Relatedly, Conway’s husband, George Conway, wrote an op-ed on Monday calling Trump a racist after his tweets. He’s a frequent critic of the president. “No matter how much I came to dislike him, I didn’t want to think that the president of the United States is a racial bigot. But Sunday left no doubt,” he wrote.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesGeorge T. Conway III, husband of White House Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, attends the 139th Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House April 17, 2017 in Washington, DC. The White House said 21,000 people are expected to attend the annual tradition of rolling coloured eggs down the White House lawn that was started by President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1878.


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The House on Tuesday passed a resolution condemning Trump over the tweets. Every single Democrat voted in favour of the resolution, with just four Republicans joining them.

Associated PressRep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., a target of racist rhetoric from President Donald Trump, responds to cheers from visitors at the Capitol seeking a raise in the minimum wage, as she leaves the chamber following votes, in Washington, Thursday, July 18, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)


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Before the resolution passed, Pelosi sparked a fierce debate on the House floor over using the word “racist” to describe Trump’s tweets. There are strict rules over the language lawmakers are permitted to use on the floor. Her words were ruled out of order, which led to a vote on whether to strike them from the record. The vote failed.


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The debate surrounding whether Pelosi’s word choice was so heated that Democratic Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri, who was presiding over the House floor, tossed his gavel and declared, “I abandon the chair.”

AP Photo/Jacquelyn MartinRep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.).


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At a rally for his 2020 re-election campaign on Wednesday in North Carolina, Trump continued his attacks on Omar, which prompted his supporters to echo his racist tweets as they chanted, “send her back!” Trump did not rebuke the chants at the time. He paused for 13 seconds before speaking again.

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty ImagesUS President Donald Trump speaks at a ‘Make America Great Again’ rally at Minges Coliseum in Greenville, North Carolina, on July 17, 2019.


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Trump on Thursday disavowed the “send her back” chants, stating he wasn’t “happy” about them. The president also falsely claimed he attempted to stop the chants, though video shows that’s not true.


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It didn’t take long for Trump to reverse his position. On Friday, he praised the supporters who were at his Wednesday rally: “Those people in North Carolina … that stadium was packed, it was a record crowd. And I could have filled it 10 times, as you know,” Trump said. “Those are incredible people. Those are incredible patriots.”

Associated PressPeople in the audience cheer as President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at Williams Arena in Greenville, N.C., Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)


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