US President Donald Trump has insisted he is not a racist after his Twitter attacks on four US congresswomen were widely condemned as racist.
Trump had suggested the four women – all US citizens – “can leave” the US.
Responding to the criticism, Trump tweeted: “Those Tweets were NOT Racist. I don’t have a Racist bone in my body!”
His remarks came as the US House of Representatives prepared to vote on a symbolic resolution condemning his previous comments.
The measure – which would have no force of law – is expected to pass because Democrats have a majority in the House, with any Republican support likely to enhance its censure.
Earlier, Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib – the targets of Trump’s attack and known as “the Squad”- dismissed his remarks as a distraction.
They urged the US people “not to take the bait” at a news conference on Monday.
The president did not explicitly name the women in his initial Twitter tirade on Sunday, but the context made a clear link to the four Democratic congresswomen, who are known as The Squad.
He sparked a furore after saying the women “originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe” and they should go home. “Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came”, he tweeted.
Three of the women were born in the US and one, Ms Omar, was born in Somalia but came to the US as a child.