GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham says Trump's racist statements aren't racist but 'more narcissism than anything else'

lindsey grahamSenate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., an ally of President Donald Trump, announces his proposal to revamp laws that affect the increase of Central American migrants seeking asylum to enter the U.S., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 15, 2019.Associated Press/J. Scott Applewhite

  • President Donald Trump is currently embroiled in a controversy over a number of racist tweets he posted Sunday attacking group of progressive congresswomen of color.
  • Trump suggested that the "progressive congresswomen," who he did not name, should leave America and "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came," despite all of them being US citizens.
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina - one of Trump's staunchest allies in the Senate - told reporters on Wednesday he believed the tweets were "more narcissism than anything else."
  • "I really do believe that if you're a Somali refugee who likes Trump, he's not gonna say go back to Somalia. A racist says go back to Somalia because you're Somali or Muslim or whatever," he said.

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President Donald Trump is currently embroiled in a controversy over a number of racist tweets he posted Sunday attacking a group of progressive congresswomen of color - but one his key allies in Congress thinks the tweets were more narcissistic than racist.

Over the past few weeks, House Democratic leadership has been engaged in a tense public feud with a group of high-profile freshman congresswomen known as "The Squad," made up of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, and Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts.

On Sunday morning, Trump threw a stick of dynamite into the controversy by suggesting that the "progressive congresswomen," who he did not name, should leave America and "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came," despite three out of the four being born in the United States.

One of the congresswomen, Omar, came to America as a refugee from Somalia at a young age and became a US citizen and state representative before serving in Congress.

Trump's "go back" comments played on racist tropes of telling black Americans to go back to Africa, with the implication that they should be happy just to be in the US and not criticize it.

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina - one of Trump's staunchest allies in the Senate - seemed to suggest to reporters on Wednesday that Trump told Omar to "go back" to her country not just because of her race, but because she's an outspoken Democratic congresswoman and immigrant who frequently criticizes him in strong terms.

"I really do believe that if you're a Somali refugee who likes Trump, he's not gonna say go back to Somalia. A racist says go back to Somalia because you're Somali or Muslim or whatever," he said, according to Capitol Hill reporters Frank Thorp from NBC and Jason Donner from Fox. "That's just the way he is. It's more narcissism than anything else."

Read more: Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham called Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her allies 'a bunch of communists' who 'hate our own country'

Graham, like many other congressional Republicans, has declined to publicly condemn Trump's remarks as racist. In a Monday appearance on "Fox & Friends," Graham encouraged Trump to "aim higher" and criticize the congresswomen for their policies - but still took aim at the congresswomen as "anti-America."

"We all know AOC and this crowd are a bunch of communists," Graham said, invoking a common nickname for Ocasio-Cortez. "They hate Israel, they hate our own country. Calling guards along our border, calling Border Patrol agents concentration-camp guards. They accuse people who support Israel of 'doing it for the Benjamins.' They're anti-Semitic. They're anti-America."

While Ocasio-Cortez has slammed the conditions in migrant detention centers as comparable to concentration camps and Omar has been accused of invoking anti-Semitic tropes in criticizing the close relationship between the US and Israel, none of the congresswomen have expressed hatred for America.

Read more:

House of Representatives votes to condemn Trump's 'racist comments' in a remarkable rebuke of the president

Here are all the prominent Republicans who have condemned Trump's racist comments targeting freshman congresswomen

Theresa May accuses populist politicians like Trump of trading on the 'politics of division'

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