Donald Trump, Who Stood Silent During 'Send Her Back' Chant at Rally, Now Says He Was 'Not Happy'

"It was quite a chant," Trump told reporters, but added, "I felt a little bit badly about it"

Donald Trump, Ilhan Omar
Photo: Ting Shen/Xinhua via Getty; Paras Griffin/Getty

Days after waving off the backlash to his racist tweets about four congresswomen of color, President Donald Trump said he did not agree with the “send her back!” chant that broke out this week at one of his rallies.

Trump also claimed he tried to stop the chant, despite video showing otherwise.

“I was not happy with it. I disagree with it. I didn’t say that, they did,” he told reporters Thursday from the White House of the crowd’s raucous response to his criticisms of Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. Supporters invoked Trump’s own attacks on Omar days earlier.

“It was quite a chant,” Trump told reporters, but added, “I felt a little bit badly about it.”

Trump also said he “started speaking very quickly” in order to cut his supporters short, though video shows he stopped speaking for more than 10 seconds as attendees chanted. (Chants are a regular feature of Trump’s rallies.)

The “send her back!” chant happened Wednesday in North Carolina, three days after the president criticized Omar and other progressive congresswomen of color on Twitter and urged them to “go back” to the “crime-infested places from which they came,” despite the fact that they are American and three of them were born in the U.S.

Though Trump was speaking specifically about Omar on Wednesday, his earlier tweets were also directed at New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, and Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, who, together with Omar, call themselves “The Squad.”

The four, who support progressive policies such as Medicare-for-all and abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement, regularly criticize the president’s administration and have called for his impeachment.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar. U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., speaks as, from left, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass
Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Ayanna Pressley. J Scott Applewhite/AP/Shutterstock

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Trump has continued to defend his inflammatory remarks, instead pointing to what he says is “vile” rhetoric on the part of the four congresswoman, whom he said “hate” America. On Tuesday, hours before the House of Representatives took the rare step of formally condemning his tweets, Trump tweeted, “I don’t have a Racist bone in my body!”

When asked by a reporter on Thursday whether the crowd was not just echoing what Trump had said in his tweets, the president responded, “Well, if you examine it, I don’t think you’ll find that.”

He previously said the backlash “doesn’t concern me, because many people agree with me. All I’m saying is if they want to leave, they can leave now.”

Omar, the first Somali-American representative and one of the first Muslims elected to Congress, responded to the “Send her back!” chants on Twitter, making it clear she was not intimidated by the crowd’s words, which came after Trump accused her of “look[ing] down with contempt on hard-working Americans, saying that ignorance is pervasive in many parts of this country.”

“I am where I belong, at the people’s house and you’re just gonna have to deal!” the Minnesota politician wrote, alongside a photo of herself wearing a hijab as she sat on the House floor.

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