A day after President Donald Trump’s supporters broke out in a racist chant that called for Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who immigrated to the United States as a refugee when she was a child, to return to Somalia, he’s now claiming that he was “not happy with it” and disagrees with the act.
Asked by reporters in the Oval Office on Thursday why he didn’t attempt to stop the chant of “Send her back,” Trump responded: “I think I did. I started speaking very quickly.”
“It was quite a chant,” he added. “And I felt a little bit badly about it.”
The president let the chant go on for about 13 seconds and never told the crowd to stop.
“It started up rather fast,” Trump continued, before going on to say: “I would say that I was not happy with it. I disagree with it, but, again, I didn’t say that. They did.”
The president also claimed that he “will certainly try” to stop the chants in the future, according to reporter April Ryan.
The chanting against Omar happened at a campaign rally in Greenville, North Carolina, on Wednesday night. After Trump continued his racist tear on Omar and three other Democratic congresswomen of color, rallygoers began yelling, “Send her back!”
Trump claimed that Omar and Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts “see our nation as a force of evil.” He also accused Omar of “launching vicious, anti-Semitic screeds,” a reference to widely criticized comments the Minnesotan made about “allegiance” to Israel.
Since Trump’s disavowal, many on social media have referred back to the footage of Trump at the rally to indicate that he didn’t appear to stop the chanting.
After standing in silence, Trump continued his remarks to the crowd. He revisited the congresswomen again later by saying: “I have a suggestion for the hate-filled extremists who are constantly trying to tear our country down. That’s why I say: If they don’t like it, let them leave. If they don’t love it, tell them to leave it. I’m just saying it’s their choice, they can come back when they want. I think in some cases they hate our country. And they’re so angry.”